VIEW: Utopia or dystopia? —Arbab Daud
Two options in modern world for a Muslim state is either to fight infidel powers and die or be killed by their own mujahideen for keeping diplomatic relations with infidels
A few days ago, I saw a report in an Urdu newspaper, where a religious leader was promising his party workers by iterating “Pakistan would soon become an Islamic State.” The ‘news’ is a repetition of many claims by leaders of rightwing parties before elections all throughout the history of Pakistan. Looking at the report, there are some basic issues that are worth pondering.
The first question that comes to mind after reading this news report is whether currently Pakistan is an Islamic State. Our constitution states that anything against the Quran and religious texts will never become a part of the legal framework of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, while our religious scholars still believe that our country is still not an Islamic state.
Now, to understand the issue, first we have to find out what is meant by an ‘Islamic state?’ Through evolution of modern concepts, the state and its institution are legislature, the judiciary, administration and defence systems. In the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) these institutions and a democratic rule were somehow present in one way or the other as there were examples of these institutions in Greece and Roman empires. Our Prophet (PBUH) even invited the Caesar of Rome to convert to Islam through a letter.
On the other hand, in the same era there was the Persian Empire, where the king was all-powerful with total control over legislation, judiciary and administration, with the complete command of the army. Islam, however, never claimed to be a partly democratic state like Rome nor an authoritarian state like Iran, but the religion came only for the refinement and skill building of human beings. The Quran states repeatedly that the Prophet (PBUH) was sent so that he could deliver the message of Allah to people; to cleanse and improve the attitudes, make people think and learn. There is no ayat in Quran, as per the knowledge of the scribe, where Allah has claimed Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) as the king of Madina or the ruler of Arabs.
Furthermore, looking at the holy texts of Islam, there is no specific mode or method for appointment of a leader. Prophet (PBUH ) was a unanimous leader as he was guided by direct revelations from Allah. After Prophet’s (PBUH) demise, the first khalifa (caliph) was appointed after discussion and scrutiny among the few notables. The second khalifa was appointed by his predecessor and thus was not questioned by anyone. The third Khalifa was appointed by a council of six sahaba karaam (companions of the Prophet [PBUH]) while the council of Sahaba was appointed by the second khalifa. The last and fourth khalifa was appointed after a string of confusions and a divided approval. Amir Muawiya did not accept the appointment of the fourth khalifa.
Democratic process of the appointment of a head of a state is regarded as un-Islamic by almost all leaders of religious parties. If there is no process of appointment of leader in Islamic history and traditions, while there is no specific process available in the Quran and Hadith for the appointment of the head of a state or caliph and if there is no caliph appointed in a state than how could we call it an Islamic state?
We would go further and look at the system of governance after 25 years of the caliph rule in Islamic history. The ruling system in subsequent 1,100 years is most of the time denounced by notable scholars while the common religious leaders supported the rulers by iterating the concept of “Oolul Amr o Minkum” or “As per Allah’s will.” If we can call the authoritarian rule of Muslims for 1,100 years as per the will of Allah, then why should we call the modern democratic rule as something against the will of Allah? The democratic rule is in no way as unbridled as the hardcore post-Khilafat Muslim empires. Or maybe the only difference between the democratic rules of today and the elitist Muslim empires of past is that the latter are acceptable to our leaders of religious parties because these governments attacked and fought the ‘infidel’ countries and fiefdoms while the current democracies try to live in peace with their neighbours. In such a case the two options in modern world for a Muslim state is either to fight infidel powers and die or get killed by their own mujahideen and Taliban for keeping diplomatic relations with infidels.
Moving ahead of the 1,100 years of the post-25 years of the caliphate rule of Muslims then we can see scholars like Syed Qutb and Syed Maududi who raised their voices for ruling the world through an Islamic Khilafat system. Syed Qutb was quite explicit in stating that for Muslims any knowledge except the Quran is forbidden; that Muslims shall not learn anything from modern world but shall only benefit from that of modern communication, war technologies etc. He stated that only then a generation of Muslims would be evolved that would be able to overpower the world through jihad. With the help of modern war machines made by the ‘ignorant’ western systems, everything would come under the rule of Muslims. Syed Qutb further stated that jihad would go on until the ignorant west and the rest of the world was beaten by the forces of Islam and started paying jazya (tax) after accepting ‘disgrace’ at the hands of Muslim fighters.
Maulana Maududi also promoted the idea of international jihad to establish an Islamic state around the world. The idea was to first subdue the world through sheer force and later follow the concept of “La Ikraha Fiddin” or “there is no oppression in religion.” In other words, all non-Muslims would be allowed to follow their own religion after they were subdued by Muslim soldiers, and they would merely have to pay a jazya. Most of the banned religious and jihadi groups in Pakistan and followers of Dr Israr Ahamd are also of the same mentality and they follow almost the same theory.
Even if we accept the concept of subduing the world and the idea becomes a reality, in the Muslim world, the theories of the Wahabi sect, Syed Qutb’s, Maulana Maududi’s and others are rejected by many Muslims following other sects like Shiism, Barelvi etc. What will be the future of these sects of Muslims after the rule of jihadi or fighting groups? Would they all be declared as ‘murtad’ or whether countries like Iran, where the majority of people are Shia and the country is lead by Shia rulers, would also be attacked by jihadi groups and be subdued?
One person’s utopia can easily become other person’s dystopia. Thus, there is a need to evolve a system first that can be deployed to appoint a leader the Islamic way, then a framework on how would the legislature, administration, judiciary and defence system work in an Islamic state and most importantly, how the Islamic state would work in the modern world through diplomatic means. Then our leaders should start promising the people that Pakistan would soon become an Islamic state. And the newly evolved system must be acceptable to the majority of the people...oh no, again a democratic mean.
Acknowledgment: The article is deeply influenced by the book of Mubarak Haider named Mughaltay Mubalghay (Exaggerations and Misunderstandings)”
The writer belongs to a family of politicians and writers. He has worked as a research consultant in Afghanistan for more than eight years and is currently running a research and consulting firm by the name Kaar Pohan in Peshawar