Channel: Jamal Badawi
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Assalamu alaikum peace beyond you. Welcome to another episode of Islam and Marcus day we have our second program in our new series dealing with the political system of Islam. This is our ninth series. Today is our second program in this new series. We'll be talking about the nature of the political system of Islam. I'm your host, Hamlet Rashid and I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal better, we better Jamal assalamu aleikum wa Alaykum Santa Clara Have you very quickly as as our fashion summarize the main points that we touched on in our first program in this new series dealing with the political system of Islam, okay. In the first program, we tried first to
see the kind of tie between the series and the previous series.
But the major part of the time was spent on the discussion and examination of this notion of separation between so called church and state or religious and secondly, and we indicated that this whole notion has emerged in the West as a result of certain background as to how the church was conceived and the kind of struggle of power that took place in Europe. And he said that in the case of Islam, this is not applicable, neither on the conceptual level, nor on the historical and factual level.
It was also indicated that, more importantly, Islam is a more comprehensive and complete way of life that does not recognize duality of authority, that there is something under the control of God, something under the control of so called temporary rulers, all the life should be integrated and come under one harmonious authority, the authority of God, which includes, of course, the political aspect of human life.
And we indicated that on the very grassroot level, and in terms of the fundamentals of Islam, one has to go beyond just recognition of the existence of God or that God is the Creator, to something more than just this
robe obeah as it's called an Arabic to go to Aqua dia to serve that you don't get to translate that conviction by accepting God's directives in conducting our individual social, political and economic life. So again, politics is part of it our political life.
And the last part of the program, we tried to give quite a few citations from the Quran, which shows quite clearly, that Islam makes it incumbent on the Muslim community or community of believers to establish an Islamic system of government based on divine directives that Islam does not simply say, spiritual parts is the domain of the Quran and then the rest is left to others. It's so obvious the Quran it's even
clear that those who do not rule and judge in accordance with God's revelation are unbelievers and are rebels against God and wrongdoers. It's part and parcel just like prayer and fasting.
Now, does this heavy emphasis on revelation imply that the political system of Islam is mainly a theocratic one? No, it's not really a theocratic because you see, the term theocracy implies two elements or contains two basic elements in it. One element is the assumption or acceptance of the principle that God alone is the sovereign or the ultimate power. Yes.
But the second part also of the definition or meaning of sovereignty, is the assumption that there is a certain priestly class or clergy, who believe themselves or claim themselves to be the representatives of God on earth, who alone have the right to interpret the will of God. And who in some cases even are the ones who are supposed to enforce the divine law or gods knows. Now, with respect to the first element, and the meaning of delicacy, there is no problem for the Muslim This is coming.
compatible with Islam, because as indicated in the previous program, the whole structure of Islam is based on the acceptance of the supremacy of God and that his laws are ultimate, and that his wisdom is infinite.
But this is the only similarity with the term theocracy.
Because the second element into definition has nothing to do with Islam. I think you might recall from the previous program, for example, we said that,
in Islam, there is no church, as an institution as such, there is no clergy is supposed to be no clergy, or priestly. Class. Nor does Islam accept the notion that a particular group of people can claim for themselves to be representatives of God on earth, or human race is regarded as learning in a sense representative of justice, of God on this earth.
In Islam, legitimacy of any power or institution is derived mainly from people's acceptance beyond, of course, the legitimacy based on following the divine teachings. But in terms of mechanism,
you cannot gain legitimacy as a ruler, unless people agree to this not to be imposed on them.
So in other words, the one one element against theocracy might be similar to Islam, but it would be
incorrect. In fact, to call this system secrecy, I know that there are lots of writers who use that term. But it's not accurate. Indeed, on the basis of the same principle, the freedom of people to choose their rulers,
we find that Islam does not accept other system of government, which involves some kind of dictatorship in one form or the other because again, the freewill and the choice of the people is not there. Nor does it accept a system of monarchy where,
you know, power is inherited to within the same family, children or other relatives. This has no versus an Islamic paracon teachings.
Indeed, one would not only point out to a system that called themselves monarchies, because I think many people are aware that there are many countries that call themselves also Republic's. But indeed, the power seemed to be circulating only within a closely knit class, or it it just like the basket burned, everybody's just trying to pass through his own team and make sure that the other team won't get hold of that, or put the hands on. So what we're really saying here is that whatever system, you're talking about whatever title it takes, if there's no free choice, whether it's monarchy, whether it calls itself to Republic or whatnot,
not really based on the what Islam teaches with respect to the choice,
free choice of the of the rulers, so it's not a theocracy. I'm sure some of our viewers must be asking themselves, question about some of the so called Muslim governments who have monarchies and so on, we're gonna leave that for a moment back to a little later in the program. But I'd like to ask you about those people who are particularly writers who make comparisons between Islam and democracy.
From your understanding of these comparisons, how valid are these, in your opinion? Well,
let's look at one basic methodological issue the question of the nature of the comparison itself.
You have to remember, first of all, whenever make any comparison between Islam and anything else, that Islam is not a manmade idea. Islam is God or way of life.
And as such, it reflects the infinite divine wisdom, which is absolutely infallible.
with this kind of understanding, to the Muslim, the Word of God or Islam, fundamentals of Islam, as reflected in the Word of God, or saying of the Prophet,
which he also received by way of Revelation,
represent the ultimate truth in itself. It's not something that one can update or change or supersede in any way. It is free from error. Or x, of course, we'd not have any belief in God, given God was kind of a
contradiction is that is a logical contradiction.
But on the other hand, the other system when we talk about democracy, socialism, or other isms, we're only talking about manmade ideas or ideologies,
ideas which govern the social equity
or political life of the populace or the people.
Now being manly,
we realize that man is definitely set up. But I don't think that anyone has yet made that claim of any human who's infallible. So a human being is fallible in his wisdom, knowledge
are imperfect. Of course, in any of these manmade ideas, there may be certain positive things they may be some good ideas will not say, in a wholesale that this is bad or No, no.
But on the other hand, since if there's not complete, since it's imperfect, to me, it sounds like a reverse logic to say, as you might indicate it, some people put it
to compare Islam with the system, it makes a big difference when you say, which is compared with which. And like some people and even better, Islam is similar to democracy. This seems to carry a subtle implication that democracy is the way is the ideal. And then we go back to Islam to find out whether it needs these ideas or measures up measure up to this standards or not. And that's it's almost like saying, Let's take God's or
swirl of life, and judge it, in accordance with the criteria established by humans can see the logical contradiction there. So we're the first one to really comment on or emphasize here is that whenever we make any comparison, whether it relates to political system, economic or social or otherwise, I would prefer, actually to put it this way. We compare democracy with Islam, we see which areas or principles in democracy are similar to Islam, in which case we put the divine rose as the standard against which other things can be measured, and to some extent even
to be judged.
But with this kind of introduction, I think one can say that democracy and the political system Islam, while they may have some similarities,
they're not really synonyms. Could I perhaps have you gone and elaborate a little bit in and help us to develop perhaps a better appreciation of why Islam and democracy are not synonyms? Well,
some of the fundamental principles in democracy are similar test and use my own disability, terms of comparison,
the idea or notion of freedom of the people to choose, dollars they want or they trust most.
The idea of participation in the decision making process political decisions, in some form, or the other equal at Parliament, House of Commons, you name it.
The notion of removal of governments which failed to meet the expectations of the people, I bet if you talk to anyone about the democracy, this is basically the ideas that come to mind in fundamental principles.
Indeed, very this issues, I hope, will be discussed a little notice when we get into the process of political process under an Islamic system and an ideal Islamic system, you'll find that these principles are compatible with Islam. They are similar to an Islamic system. There's no problem with this.
as I indicated earlier, this does not mean that both are synonymous. And we have to be
careful also on that. Because, first of all, in democracies, the ultimate authority is for the people.
Like they used to say, it's government, by the people for the people, you know,
that ultimate authority lies with the people themselves. In Islam, however, the ultimate authority does not belong to people, it belongs to God and to God alone.
And that's one basic difference. No, that means that both rulers and rules and Islam, both of them are subject to more to a higher or more important criterion for decision making or yardstick and that is divine guidance.
Well, of course, you might say who is going to interpret
you know, what is divine guidance? He tells. Well, of course, in that sense, you can say that the people have the final say, but again, if they are truly believers, the finals
In the interpretation or understanding of this define wealth, or defined laws
would have to do with investors in other words that are really delivers the with sin, defer to God and defer to the divine guidance that God is given.
Of course, you might raise a theoretical question, say, suppose the majority of people refuse this or refuse to
accept divine guidance? Can they have supremacy? Well, of course, de facto, they can have supremacy but in this case, you cannot call the system really Islamic. But to be Islamic, presumes that people believe in Islam presumes that they accept willingly and convincingly God as the ultimate source to judge between the differences.
Now, some might feel or think that this difference or distinction between Islam and democracy is more of a of an academic or theoretical type of of distinction. In fact, it is not, it has some serious implications. Let me give you a few practical experience.
What happened in western democracies, for example, if the majority of people decide that
drinking age should be lowered to 13,
or 14, whatever the case may be, if the majority so decides no matter how detrimental or harmful this may be, it just becomes no because the majority of people want it.
under Islamic law,
the Word of God the Quran itself, prohibit drinking. And if you'd have actually established that there should be no
circulation of alcoholic drinks or intoxicant around.
So in that sense, even if the majority of people want that,
if they're still believers, they will feel that there's some kind of restriction or limits that we cannot do that. under Islamic system, you cannot, for example, legalize marijuana or opium or heroin or whatever, again, because this is something forbidden. So this, there's some limits there. Of course, you compare that, for example, with the prohibition laws in the United States, that when the majority of people said no, no, no more.
So it was not so under Islam.
A second implication, suppose, for example, in a given country,
adultery, or even prostitution is legalized. And as you know, there are some European countries which legalized prostitution.
Under a democracy, if the majority of people saw once, so it will be under an incentive system. If the Word of God the Quran itself has prohibited adultery, and prostitution, then the ultimate authority here is the word of God, not just the will, of the majority of people, unless, of course, as you said, before the United States, and this year, right, you know, we'll do whatever we want.
Another example that I think would be very interesting, which was the Islamic system would be ahead of democracy, even in some respects, the rights of minorities.
Suppose in a given society, the majority of people who belong to one particular race or class or group, whatever the case may be decided to deprive minorities from the rights. It's a constitution. Another, of course, under the Constitution prohibits that. But the constitution can be changed. Also, as you know, if a decision is taken to oppress certain minority or minorities, that could be done under a democracy, theoretically, at least, I hope that this will not be the case. But it could happen. under Islamic system, it can't happen. Why? Because the rights of minorities under an ideal Islamic State, our rights, which are enshrined in the Quran, enshrined in the prophetic tradition, a
prophetic saying, and as such, no human being can supersede them. So even if the majority wants to deprive the minority, they can do it because those that automatic restriction on the under action. So in a way, you can override in Islam, exactly. not exact, not restitution. More or less you can save the doctrine or prophetic tradition really, is like the ultimate constitution that is different from secular constitutions, of course, that you cannot change the constitution. In the secular system, you change constitution because you're human. And you may have better wisdom than those who put the constitution together first. But in case of divine constitution, you cannot say I know more
than, you know, God.
maybe I could add also one brief point here that in addition to the question of the supreme authority,
you'll notice that the mock
SCCM to go with systems which are which are basically secular.
In other words, assuming that religion morons, and all these things are the jurisdiction of church or temples or whatever, but nothing to do with the actual political system not at least as effectively as, as a church. And again, this could be one difference between Islam and democracy, that a system of government, Islam does not make distinction between the moral and temporal. And the whole notion of secularism is alien to Muslim thinking.
Now, I'm sure some of our viewers are probably scratching their head, they're saying, Well, if it's not a monarchy, if it's not a dictatorship, if it's not a theocracy, if it's not a democracy, what in fact, is it? Can you help the people who are maybe in that flow, quandary loden, explain what it is Islam.
Some attempts to give a title to that was meant, and one suggestion was made to credit to democracy to democracy is another was reflecting one aspect or one element of theocracy, at least the question of the supremacy of God and God's laws, and elements of democracy, that you don't have exclusive class, you have people participating in the interpretation of that.
I don't, I'm not too particular, too enthusiastic, in particular, about this title. Because again, when you say, See you, the notion of theocracy is tied in people's mind, not just to the supremacy of God, but with the abuse, or the interpretation of the will of God by a certain group of people or religious clergy.
And again, US democracy itself reflects some weaknesses. If you know, once you put the title of democracy to it, it makes it look acceptable in the minds of people. a better term, however, has been suggested by Maulana Modi,
when he called it more like a popular bias jensi or popular trusteeship, that the entire human race
is appointed on this earth, to be like the trustees of God, the Wise judgments of God on earth, but it's not one individual to climate, one group or class or family or whatnot. But rather, it's a common type of joint collective type of responsibility to fulfill
this duty, which means, of course, that the rules apply to rulers and ruined alike.
Now do we have in 1983, do we have an existence of any
system or any nation, or any country which exemplifies fully the Islamic political system? What I said, to discharge my responsibility before a lot, I forgot to say that, regardless,
to the best of my humble knowledge and understanding,
I do not know of any single example where you have the complete and perfect modern elven Islamic political system at the present time. But this does not mean that the system is a utopian system that exists on the theory of blocks. It existed in complete and perfect form, during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him. And during the the especially the first, the first four, rightly guided candidates existed. Also, throughout history, there were ups and downs, there were certain periods where you could actually say that the model was either perfect or close to as much perfection as could be expected.
But in later centuries, there have been lots of
ups and downs, there have been lots of decay also. And as I have indicated, that when you talk about 1983, it's very difficult really to point out to any single mother and say that that represents the true picture of an Islamic political system. And did there are many systems that are quite far off. You know, what Islam teaches and violates some of the very basic precepts and principles upon which a true, a truly Islamic political system can can be best. So I think we have to,
to be honest and facing these issues, not to apologize for imperfections, introductions are human, but they are not the ideal. And I do hope and pray that in the coming decades, we will be able to see better models of the Islamic political system but we have to make a clear distinction between Islam
As ideal as
enshrined in the Quran, the Word of God and the prophetic sayings, and between the degree to which Muslim themselves fail, or succeed, to measure up to those standards, you have to put it on us. Now we have said that, as you might recall previously in different topics, as well as to make that clear distinction in mind.
What you just said there seems to be
variance was the common notion that is held by many people, many people have the view that what happens in the Muslim countries represents as long as you perhaps explain why you don't accept the this particular view? Well, in order to answer a question like that, one has to refer to some criteria
to judge the behavior of any government without particular naming anyone but to judge any because the Euro there are so many countries that have similar claims also, and where there are lots of things that need to be also clarified in terms of their actions.
It's just like, the criteria that the teachers put for grading the students and then on the basis of that report card, if you will, can be given.
in order to have a system that can really be called Islamic system, Islamic political system,
it is not enough to simply implement some aspects of Islam such as the criminal law, while neglecting some more fundamental issues, such as the freedom of people to choose between different possible candidates to be loners, like the hereditary system, for example, it would definitely contradict the teaching of Islam if People's Choice is not there. So it would be just like applying one aspect, which is just a parent and leaving something which is more fundamental.
It is not enough to have an Islamic system to apply the criminal law,
for example, on a common man who commits, commits theft, but let's highly placed people get away with millions and millions in bribes or squandering the money or the funds that belonged to the people. Now, if you want to apply the penalties you have applied and partially
it is not enough in a system that can be called Islamic to, for example, apply the penalty of adultery. When it's proven
to the common man, while those in power might be committing the same thing on much larger
scale even and they get away with it. So that's not what Islam teaches, nor what the prophet peace be upon him has indicated in terms of the impartiality of the application of the law. Similarly, it would be not necessarily representative of the true approach of Islam and its true model to start immediately implementing certain aspects of criminal law in a brutal way, without allowing a transitory period sufficient time to change a decaying society and move it to the ideas of Islam because the philosophy of criminal law in Islam is not just punishing, go shopping, hands or heads. It's the idea of reforming society, preventing the causes or removing the causes of crime before
punishment can be applied. So it's not just again, being selected and going on brutally doing things before looking into the wisdom of legislation and why dependencies were there, and what are the prerequisites to implement those penalties? Perhaps you can discuss this later in the series on the question of criminal law, but I'm just making quick reference here on some of the mistaken notions as to what you need to present.
It's not it's not enough for a state or a government to call itself Islamic, unless the Constitution
gives equal credit and status to all schools of jurisprudence, so that you avoid having a government which might be regarded or perceived as a sectarian type
of government. These are only a few examples of what can be regarded as Islamic criteria to judge the degree of Islam necessity of any system. One does not wish to be particularly over critical of one or the other, but I hope that this will provide a trustful and straightforward
criteria or approach before one can judge and given this criteria. There is a lot to be desired and I do hope that reformation will take place. We will have to
And now because we've exhausted our time, we want to thank you for watching. I invite you back next week and we'll continue our discussion on the political system of Islam. Thank you for watching. Assalamualaikum peace be unto you