Islami Governance is True Democracy in Action
Allah Helps Democracy Be Triumphant In Islam
By M.A. Qaiyum
The moment I read the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States of America,
I blessed the great statesmen who had framed the epoch marking document
in the History of All Humanity.
For in every line of it, I read the truths immortalized in the Holy Qur’an. I remembered their reiteration in the last sermon of the Holy Prophet Syedina Muhammemd Sallallahu Alaihi va Sallam: “All mankind is from Adam and Eve; an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab. So too a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over a white; except by piety and good deeds.
“O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women; so too they have rights over you. Remember: you have taken them as your wives only by Allah's trust and with His permission. If they abide by your rights then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness .
“Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they must not be friends with any one whom you do not approve and they must never be unchaste”.
The date was March 7th, 632 C.E., the 9th Zul Haj of the Hijri year 10th. Concluding the rites of the only Haj he had performed, Our Leader Rasoolullah S.A.W.S. reminded us that the best service we can render to Islam is to defend it from every type of disinformation. He forecast the need for, and counseled us to be adept in, the art of communication, the prized tool the modern world is perfecting. It is the only way, Gracious Friendship and Persuasion, that is allowed to us to win over powerful allies.
The essential basis of modern democracy are found enshrined in the magnificent truths that were endowed to humanity from 611 to 632 C.E.in the Holy Qur’an revealed to us by Allah and elucidated in the Hadith, the Prophet’s authentic life account. These are the two inviolable guides to Islami life and governance.
I was sure the Holy Qur’an had crossed over to the United States years before the US Constitution was written. I sought proof and it came when Congressman Ellison asked for the Holy Qur’an to be brought to him for his swearing in ceremony. The Library of Congress obliged and the precious copy of the Holy Qur’an endowed by Thomas Jefferson, the chief law giver and President, was brought in. None can thereafter assert that the Qur’ani values were unknown to the world’s authentic democracy.
All the essentials to a nation’s health, belief, unity, harmony, security and survival against odds are enshrined in Islam. And the foremost criterion for a nation’s pride, the integrity and inviolability of the law is emphatically ordained to be the vital feature of every nation’s constitution.
Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of the entire Universe,
chose democracy to be the way of life of all Muslims.
A full chapter of the Holy Qur’an is titled al Shourah, “Consultation Among People”.
We are also counseled how best to implement its laws in our lives
and in the political culture of every land:
YA AYYUHALLAZEENA AAMANUS’BIROO
VA SAABIROO VA RAABITHOO, VATH’THAQULLAAHA
Believers! Persevere and be patient,
Remain steadfast: Excel (others) in such perseverance,
Sustain and strengthen each other and
Fear Allah much, that you may prosper
(The Holy Qur’an: Surah 3rd: Aal-e-Imraan: verse 200)
Almighty Allah has set for us the standard of excellence we must aspire to reach:
“The most eminent among you, in the sight of Allah, is the one
who is the best behaved and has the most excellent character”.
(Holy Qur’an: Surah 49th: Al Hujuraath: verse 13)
This citation from Allah to His Prophet S.A.W.S. and to his followers
is proof positive of the gracious and righteous stance Our Creator expects from us.
He has placed on us the duty and responsibility to be a blessing to all humanity:
Islam is unique and unalterable from its basic tenets:
One Creator, Allahu Sub’hanahu va tha Aalaa.
One Leader, Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. and
One Book: The Holy Qur’an, the Word of Allah.
The saving grace of civilization is the commitment of all nations to one clear and well defined objective: we need to survive. If we try to destroy one another, we will end up in the debris of a planet blown up by man’s inhumanity to man.
Intelligent and educated people from different beliefs are therefore encouraged to be in constant dialogue with one another and bring about interfaith understanding and interracial harmony. The unwritten but widely accepted code that sustains modern civilization and makes possible its glorious triumphs is integrity. The integrity and the resolve that all humanity search for and abide by the truth and care for nothing but the truth.
Honest and unbiased minds have never bowed to political expediency in advancing their research in history along the right lines.. From their studies on Islam they inform us that nations seeking the perfect form of democracy may yet find inspiration from the Commonwealth of Islam as it was established in its earliest years.
From 632 to 666 of the Common Era, the rule of the people, by the people and for the people found its best and uncorrupted form in Islam. The magnanimity of the State of Islam. It was founded by the Prophet Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. in Medinathul Munawwarah and cherished by his four illustrious successors. They are the most honored of the Holy Prophet’s Companions: Syedina Abu Bak’r, Umar, Usman and Ali (May Allah bless them with peace).
They are revered in history as the Rightly Guided Khalifahs. For their utmost devotion to the Qur’ani Commands of Allah, everyone of these righteous rulers was adored by the people as Ameerul Momineen, the Leader of the Believers.
They established a perfect administration and Allah, the Real and Everlasting Ruler of All Humanity, blessed them with triumphs. Their mission to convey the divine light of the Holy Qur’an to all people and the simplicity, integrity and dynamism of their lifestyle, brought the World of Islam sincere adherents from North Africa to south eastern Europe
In the Hadith, we follow the day to day account of events as they occurred in the state and in the individual lives of the people of the Commonwealth. Theirs was a dedication and zeal, unmatched in history, of human beings leading lives of transparent integrity, sharing their bounties and abjuring every form of temptation and corruption.
Visiting the Prophet S.A.W.S. during a rare bout of illness, Umar R.A.A., his esteemed companion, found him resting on a mat woven from palm leaves that was spread on the mud floor and a leather pillow stuffed with the same material.from date palms. There was no other furnishing in the small dwelling built of unbaked bricks of clay and a roof thatched with palm fronds.
The spiritual and temporal ruler of all Arabia could have built a palace for himself and adorned it with every luxury. In Makkah and Madinah at the time, persons of wealth and power had built and furnished for themselves palaces as grand and awe inspiring as any in richer cities elsewhere. But not so, for Our Leader, the Last Messenger of Allah accredited to transform humanity into the best possible shape before the advent of the Day of Judgment.
The legacy Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. bequeathed to his successors was Salaah, the sincere, gracious and timely performance of Islami prayer at regular timings five times every day.
All through world history, we find that poverty has always been rampant and is still prevalent in most regions of the world. The political culture that has been gaining the widest acceptance is that leadership of any kind, in politics, trade and commerce, or in the underworld or even the holy premise of religion, is but a once in a lifetime opportunity for the acquisition of huge wealth by fair means or foul. With such a mindset would anyone believe that 15 centuries ago, when the craving for wealth was far deadlier than now, the Glorious Ruler of All Arabia, Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. chose for himself, the privilege to remain poor all his life.
He was grateful to Allah that he was born among the Miskeen (“those who have nothing but You, My Lord!”). Whatever wealth he earned as a leader in caravan trade and by bequest from his beloved wife Syedathi Khadija R.A.A., who predeceased him by 28 years, he gave it all away to the indigent. He prayed to Allah to keep him among the Miskeen and (at the time of Allah’s choice) take him from among the Miskeen unto Himself. And before breathing his last, he gave away in charity even the few coins that were left with him.
Surath an Nas’r, the concise and dynamic chapter 110th of the Holy Qur’an, is a source of great moral and spiritual support to Muslims:
IZAA JAA'A NASRULLAHI VAL FATH'HU VA ARAIY’THANNAASA
YAD'QULOONA FEE DEENILLAHI AF'WAAJAA.
FASABBIH BIHAMDI RABBIKA VASTHAGH'FIR'HU.
INNAHOO KAANA THAW’WAABAA.
When from Allah comes to you succour and triumph
And you witness mankind embracing the Religion
Of Allah in legions, sing the praise of your Lord
And seek from Him forgiveness (of your sins). Indeed
He is pleased to forgive (your sins).
When this Surah was was revealed, people rejoiced that it confirmed the triumph of Islam all over Arabia. But the Holy Prophet’s young nephew, Abdullaah ibn Abbas, R.A.A. was in tears. And he ranked high among the scholars of the Holy Qur’an. The companions asked him to take them into confidence and tell them what they could not realize themselves: the pointer from the Surah. With great pain, he told them that the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. might not be with them for long. His mission had been accomplished and he might leave.
The highest station that any human being could reach, the Maqaame Mahmoodah, had been promised him in the Holy Qur’an.
Quietly and with great courage the blessed companions reconciled themselves to Allah’s Supreme Will. With great circumspection, they approached the Leader S.A.W.S and begged him to inform them who should be his successor. They received no reply and they persisted in asking him to relieve their anguish and name the next Commander himself so future conflicts could be avoided among them.
Again and again they asked and again and again he remained silent. The companions finally realized what his preference was. Let the people elect their own leader!
Among all the great and epoch marking reforms that the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S brought about in the faith and in the political culture of man, the system of democratic elections and accountability of the government to the people, are also the glorious bequests of Islam to the world.
The truest democracy in history was established in Medina in the very first year of the Hijrah and the world’s first full fledged Parliament came into being. The Hijrah commemorates the migration of Muslims from Makkah to Medinah and the Hijri Calendar came into being. The Hijri New Year commenced on Friday the 16th July, 632 C.E.
At a time, when democracy is widely flaunted and rarely practiced, Muslims are held to ridicule and contempt as citizens of the so called “rogue states”. Readers are kept ignorant of the truth that Islam brought modern civilization and its fruits, democracy and accountabiity to the world. We have mentioned earlier how the Holy Qur’an and its Surah 38th, titled “Shoorah” set forth and lauded “mutual consultation” as vital to peace, understanding and harmony in every country and in every home.
From this Surah we quote Allah’s Command praising: “those who respond to their Lord and keep up prayer and (conduct) their affairs (of government) by counseling among themselves and who spend (generously) out of what We have given them.”
As in all political systems, there were factions in those days. However, they cherished truly the memory of all the blessings they had received from Allah for their devotion to His Chosen Prophet S.A.W.S.
The jockeying for power was reined in. From Allah’s Commands in the Holy Qur’an, the remembrance came to them. Leadership and Political Power are a benediction from Allah and it is not for individuals or their admirers to stake a claim on the basis of charisma and group loyalty conjured up by any individual anywhere.
And when the moment of decision arrived, they honored the memory of the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. and matched it with their own brand of dynamism.
They opted for compromise. And consensus became the basis of Muslim polity, not only in elections but in bringing together all factions and reinforcing the unity of the Ummah. True Understanding, Harmony and Good Neighborliness were established among the people.
Assertions toned down to suggestions. Consensus and compromise became the order of the day. And they endured. Despite upheavals and a few violent takeovers, the grandeur of the Islami form of government prevailed over the most vital areas of the world for over a millennium.
Islami history has a niche of respect and love for Bilaal, R.A.A. He was a black and a slave owned by a harsh and merciless person. But Allah had chosen Bilal for an important service to Islam. He was inspired and heartened by the ground swell in Makkah for Islam and the charisma that was drawing people from even far off centers to Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S.
Bilaal found from Allah the courage to defy his cruel owner and he reverted to Islam that had been humanity’s original faith since Patriarch Prophet Abraham R.A.A. His master had no love for Islam and Bilaal was subjected to unimaginable torture and trauma. He was stripped of clothing and thrown on the burning desert sands and branded with hot iron on his back. With each brand that scorched his skin and ripped deep into his flesh, the brave Muslim praised Allah still more.
Muslims felt deeply the unmerited torture and brutality endured by a helpless brother. And Syedina Abu Bak’r came forward to rescue him from his cruel master.
The Prophet’s dearest friend and honored companion and a top ranker in Makkan business, Syedina Abu Bak’r was not among the richest of Makkan traders. Yet he felt duty bound to liberate Bilaal from the trauma. He negotiated patiently with the arrogant owner and paid him, without protest, the huge price demanded.
Bilaal was released from bondage. He was given a place of honor and sat with the Companions of the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. He brought his own contribution to the advancement of Islam in its earliest years. As Muslims debated as to the best form of inviting humanity to the Masaajid for prayer to Allah, Bilaal stood up and rendered a soul stirring style of Adhaan, the call to prayer, of his own composition.
Syedina Umar R.A.A. heartily endorsed the performance and said it accorded with a vision he had been feted to himself in an earlier vision. That dynamic evocation reverberates to this day through the Prophet’s Masjid in Medina and the Haram al Shareef in Makkathul Mukarramah as the present Muezzins in the Haramain Sharifai’yn continue his magnificent tradition and render the Adhan in such mellifluous rhythm and prfection.
Syedina Abu Bak’r R.A.A.’s emotional involvement with Bilaal R.A.A. was for a Muslim brother suffering severe beatings and brandings in bondage. To see him now as a free man, living his own life, was such a delight he would be gushing with love and friendly banter every time they met. Bilaal, however, could not relish this and complained to the Prophet S.A.W.S. that his benefactor appeared to be making fun of him once too often.
The Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. was grateful to Abu Bak’r R.A.A. as the patriarch stood by him through every test to which he had been subjected by the Kuffaar. Nevertheless in their next meeting, the trusted companion was informed of the complaint and lightly admonished.
Since that moment, every time they met, Abu Bak’r R.A.A. addressed his friend and brother as “Syedina Bilaal!” meaning “Our Esteeemed Leader, Bilaal!” and they remained the best of friends for the rest of their lives.
Syedina Abu Bak’r R.A.A. was the Prophet’s most constant companion and trusted friend. A gateway in the Prophet’s Masjid is named ‘Bob Abu Bakr’. In his last days, when admission to the Leader’s home was restricted, Abu Bak’r had free access through this door.
One of the most poignant moments for the Muslims was witnessed in those painful days. The time for Isha’a prayer arrived and it was the fond desire of everyone that Allah’s Chosen Rasool S.A.W.S might come and lead the salaah. But he did not appear. The Jama’ath, assembly, had already lined up for salaah. Sensing their trepidation, Allah’s Messenger S.A.W.S asked for two of his companions to come in and support him to join the salaah. He was so weak that he rested his arms on their shoulders and they almost lifted him and carried him to the Masjid. On the hallowed dust en route, his toes drew a line as he moved on. (A pointer to the Ummah: Even in such a state of utter helplessness, we are not exempted from Salaah!)
Abu Bak’r had been asked to take his stand on the Meh’raab, the niche reserved for the leading Imam. On seeing his master, he stepped aside and asked the Messenger of Allah to lead the prayers. The Prophet S.A.W.S. stood by his trusted lieutenant and signalled him to proceed. To Syedina Abu Bak’r R.A.A. was thus accorded the honor of being the only Companion to lead a Far’d salaah with the Incomparable Leader of Islam standing among the Musalliyeen.
Hours later, the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. expired in the Huj’rah (the one room dwelling) of Syedina Ayesha R.A.A. Abu Bak’r was to lead the funeral prayer.
He said the Prophet S.A.W.S. would be laid to rest at the same spot on which he lay. It was the heart’s desire of Syedathi Ayesha R.A.A. to be buried by his side. But the years passed. First her father Abu Bak’r and thereafter Syedina Umar R.A.A. died. Each had expressed his ardent desire to be buried by the side of their Leader S.A.W.S.
The noble hearted and glorious Mother of Momineen Syedathi Ayesha R.A.A. had no word of protest. Gracious and exemplary as she had ever been to the women of Islam, she gave up her right to the place and left.
The succession debates on the Prophet’s demise, were of a sudden ended when Syedina Umar R.A.A. addressed the people and prevailed upon them to be unanimous in electing Syedina Abu Bak’r to the highest office. The people remembered how devoted Abu Bak’r had been to the Leader of Islam all through his life.
He had risked life and property to accompany his leader and braved the danger and wrath from the Kuffaar on the Hijrah, their joint migration, from Makkaah to Medinah. He had acted the Imam and led the the last Salaah the Prophet S.A.W.S. had performed on earth. They remembered also his incomparable services to Islam and elected him to succeed the Glorious Prophet S.A.W.S.
Islam had to face the severest threats to its existence on the demise of the Holy Prophet S.A.W.S. A renegade named Mansoor proclaimed himself a Prophet with his tribe’s support.
Syedina Abu Bak’r R.A.A. rose to the challenge and proclaimed Jihad. The pretender Mansour and his tribe were frustrated and the Commonwealth remained intact. His administration is a shining chapter of righteous principles and precepts. But he did not live long. His wish to join his Glorious Friend S.A.W.S was fulfilled.
People around the world, Muslims and others too, name their favorite son after him. The Second Khalifah,Umar R.A.A. continued the tradition of selfless service laid down by his peer and by sheer excellence, he rose to be the greatest of the world rulers of all time.
A man whose ferocity was the quality associated with him in his pre-Islami life, Umar R.A.A. disciplined himself and mellowed to urbanity as the responsibilities of heading a vast republic weighed on him.
He gave the Islami Commonwealth and its people every reason to feel proud of him. With him at the helm, they had been part of the exciting and inspiring chapter that he wrote into human history.
The most dynamic head of government in world history, he excelled in public administration. He felt he had to match the excellent tradition in social service that his predecessor had left him. For the dynamic new Khalifah Umar R.A.A., this was a challenge and an inspiration.
He remembered how, in the years of his predecessor’s rule, he had watched every move of the First Khalifah and tried his best to equal his achievements. One day, early in the morning, he had presented himself to a family to whom the First Khalifah had acted as honorary janitor.
He tapped on the door and when they answered, he told them the object of his visit. Hiding their glee, the children told him the Khalifah himself had arrived earlier and finished washing the dishes and sweeping clean the floor. There was no work that was left undone. Omar R.A.A. had been checkmated again.
But now he was Khalifah and Abu Bakr R.A.A. would not deny him the job satisfaction he sought.
Far and away from all habitation, he climbed a mountain in whose crevasse lived a blind woman, old and enfeebled. He went to her, took out the bread he had brought for her and held it to her to eat.
She grabbed his hand and asked if Abu Bakr R.A.A. had died. He said “yes “and identified himself. And he enquired of her: “How come you know it already?” The old lady explained: “He knew I had no teeth. I told him to chew the bread himself and then feed it to me. He never failed in this.”
It is from such gracious traditions that Islam has gained the devotion of millions around the globe. Compassion to all in our lifetime and accountability to Allah after death. Muslims value their faith above their own lives and are not dismayed by the disinformation beamed at them.
Much has been written about the causes for the Muslim decline over the last five hundred years. These have been years of acute stress and strife. Every advance recorded after years of painful effort was, of a sudden, put to naught by vested interests from both outside and from within our ranks. Perhaps, this “man eat man” feature is common in international affairs. With pain and anguish we are learning now to live with it and overcome it by our own superior Eimaan.
This, however, was not always the case with our history. We started as desert dwellers. We were wild, we were lawless; we flaunted all the qualities the bad guys were noted for. But, when we accepted Islam, we were instantly transformed. The dynamics of the True Faith opened our hearts and minds to the grandeur of a destiny never imagined before.
Devotion to Allah and His Rasool Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. raises ordinary mortals to rank high in world affairs. Dynamism in them is inborn and their hearts and minds are illumined with the the light of Eimaan. Though Muslims had no experience of public administration when they reverted to Islam, they learnt fast, skipped unnecessary detail and mastered the arts of diplomacy and statecraft by inspiration from Allah and comprehensive guidance from the Holy Qur’an.
They made a covenant with Allah and set forth to convey the good news to a world that was in the worst possible state fourteen centuries ago. Magnanimity was what Islam had taught them to live by. Other nations were impressed by, and convinced with, their good intentions. And they gladly accepted Islam.
It was not the sword but the word of Allah that performed the miracle. And our way of life became open, at once, radiant and glorious enough to earn us the love of all people. The Holy Qur’an led us to our victories: "God will exalt to high rank those among you who believe and those who have knowledge.” (Holy Qur’an: Surah 58th : Mujaadilah: 11)
More than anything else, the very first revelation of the Holy Qur’an inspired us and led us to our grandeur and glory as human beings. Allah commanded us “Read!” Even to those who were unlettered, like the Ummi Prophet S.A.W.S. to whom it was first addressed, the divine orders were to read and develop the human intellect and perception to such great heights as had never before been known to man.
The crowning glory of the Holy Book is the spiritual and motivational uplift encased in every chapter for every believer who recites and absorbs its true meaning. Everyone is welcome to the experiment and the challenge. When you study science and experiment with high technology in the light of this knowledge and the initiative it imparts, your mind awakens to the limitless possibilities of what you can achieve.
The Hadith complements the Holy Qur’an as an invalubale bequest to every Muslim. It is the meticulous record of how the Greatest Human Being in World History, the Incomparable All-time Leader of Humanity, Syedina Muhammed S.A.W.S. lived, endured unimaginable hardship and brought about all by himself, the liberation of human thought from the myths and superstition of past centuries.
By his teachings and by his own magnificence, he led the Muslims to a righteous triumph over evil. All Arabia embraced Islam within 23 years of his empowerment in 610 C.E. as the Ultmate Apostle of Allah. The glory of the awakening he brought us is now embracing every human being in every country of the world. And the two manuals of guidance provide them:
The dynamic perception of the present,
True and comprehensive vision of the future and
The most eminent objectives and the most commendable means, insha Allah, of realizing them for the good of all.
If we are to be worthy of the glorious traditions of Our Leader S.A.W.S., we must never be frightened by anything nor feel any sense of inferiority before anyone.
Our Glorious Creator has commended us:
You are the best of people brought up for mankind;
You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong
And (you are steadfast in) believing in Allah
.(The Holy Qur’an: Surah 3rd: Aal-e-Imraan: 110)
No sword could have brought to Islam the magnificent leaders like Khalifah Omar R.A.A. and scientists like Avicenna R.A.A. Their life achievements brought the world a thousand years and more of peace and all round advancement never before witnessed in world history.
The word of Allah performed the miracle. The Holy Qur’an and the Hadith are for us, the founts of Truth and Righteousness. In them we find the criteria to weigh and evaluate and then accept or reject all other knowledge that comes in from various sources. And our way of life has remained transparent, radiant and admirable over the years. For all of us Allah has declared it a religious duty that we must read, develop our intellect to the fullest and raise our inborn wisdom to the highest heights.
Islam is the Faith that guarantees peace, orderly progress and international harmony for all time. When Muslims realize the immense responsibility that Allah has placed on them as His Vice Regents on earth, the door to high achievement is opened wide for them by Allah.
A note of caution, however, is provided us by Allah. We must not forget that from day one of Allah’s proclamation of the human being as the best of His Creation and also His “Vice Regent on Earth”, we had to contend with the malice and deadly enmity of Iblees, who was the chief of Jinns and had fancied himself till then as the favorite of Allah. He had protested openly and sworn enmity to Adam and his lien.
He had mourned his ill luck as a jilted lover and challenged Allah to empower him to dethrone humanity from the eminence Allah had accorded them. He demanded and Allah gave him the powers to reach into the human psyche so he could seduce and alienate all of us from Allah. This ongoing tussle between the devil and ourselves is at the back of every conflict and crisis that we endure today.
The panacea is to recite “A’OOZUBILLAHI MINASH SHAIY’THAANIR RAJEEM” and be entitled to Allah’s Protection that will save us from all calamities. With Allah’s Help we will be saved from the (devil) Shaiythaan’s invisible tentacles that could otherwise reach deep into our subconscious and fill us with base thoughts and evil motivations. We will be well guarded from these blocks to our progress and development that have been leading us away from Allah and onward to decadence.
Every Muslim leader, teacher, scientist, computer wizard, media person and artist, in fact everyone who is in a position to help the community, must feel inspired to dedicate his/her life achievements to the good of all humanity. Insha Allah this dedication and collective effort will regain for Islam worldwide esteem and high regard.