Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Issue on Islamic Government

Abdullahi Warfa
Monday, January 10, 2011

Let me start with this article by asking which is better:  a government that allows individuals unrestricted freedom to do whatever they please and enjoy or to live under umbrella of government that imposes a strict law and order?  Which would be better:  to let teachers, business and private sector to choose their way of doing things or to pass laws that require them admit and serve everyone, regardless their race and sex?

For many of us, none of these options are appropriate as it pose a difficult scenario of choices. But the legitimate question can be what do we mean by a government? What is the purpose of government? Academically, according to Dahl, Robert (1989) government can be defined as the legitimate use of force –including imprisonment and execution- within territorial boundaries to control human behavior. All governments require citizens to surrender some freedom in the process of being governed.  By doing so, the citizens in return will enjoy benefits that governments gives them. 

The purposes of the governments are firstly, to maintain order and secondly to provide public goods and finally to promote equality.  In his focus on the life, the philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) saw the government as the essential mechanism for survival, he argued that without rules, people would live like predators, stealing and killing for personal benefits.  Other theorists, likes of John Lock believed that government must morally and legally protect the “unalienable rights “of individuals such as life, Liberty and Property. According to Lock if the government cannot protect and guarantee these fundamental rights, it loses its legitimacy and therefore, any upraising against it morally is justifiable. Indeed, Lock’s theory inspired many in America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

The government can pursue other ends when it is a position to handle the fundamental order. It can provide a public goods such as education, health, road buildings etc. these public goods are all in beneficial to all citizens. The another purpose of the government is to ensure and promote the equality principle between the individuals by redistributing income, and implementing justice to all in order to improve quality of the life for whole people.

Ideology and the scope of the Islamic Government

 People hold different opinions about governmental policies, based on their beliefs and values. However, Islamic ideology of governing incorporates activities in the Universe with those of Here After (Akhiro). Islamic conservative of thought relates to the government’s role in every sector of the society including education, business, labor, sports. This school of thought regulates every aspect of individual behavior through wide range of Islamic jurisdiction. The proponents of this camp base their argument on that only ALLAH is the creator, sustainer, and master of the universe and of all that exists in it. He alone has the right to command or forbid.  Hence, we must act according to ALLAH’s teaching, furthermore, Allah alone is the Ruler and his commandments are the laws that govern our daily activities politically, economically, and legally independence of human being.  Similarly,  they point at concept of prophethood(RISALAH) which states that Mohamed( PBUH) is the messenger of Allah and the authoritative interpreter of his BOOK(The Qur’an) and it is him- the Prophet -who give us a model for the Islamic way of life by implementing the law and providing necessary details where required. Also, conservative school of Islamic thought developed the concept of Khalifah as the only legitimate political body.  The Khilafah concept does not recognize the boundaries between nations as the boundaries of morality. Therefore, according to this camp in respect to the Khalifah principle, boundaries are arbitrary determinant to the answer of morality question.

Modernists school of  Islamic thought, in contrast contend that Islam does not ban every thing and that Islamic ideology can be divided into two possible distinctions; one distinction is that of static provision such as Prayer, Fasting, Zakah, and going to Makah for Hajj.  This type of Cibaada (worship) is straight and immune from human being thinking. They are explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunna and they remain unchangeable.  The other distinction is that type of dynamic provision which encompasses all other aspects of the life.  And although this school of thought acknowledges the fact that all our activities must be shaped in way that does not contradict with the origins of Qur’an and Sunna, nevertheless, they argue that Islam gave us ample room for decision making in respect to many issues, particularly, when it comes to restructuring of social order.

Most of that debate between the two camps, however, is mainly concentrated on the interpretations of the Qu’ranic verses and the narrated Hadiths from the Prophet (PBUH). To this point our discussion of jurisdictional ideology has centered on conflicting views about how islamically a government   can be pursued?

In the next article, we will look at shape of the Islamic government and how both Islamic conservatives and modernist would like that government to be look like.

Abdullahi Warfa
E-mail: [email protected]