Tuesday September 06, 2016
The Illusion of Islamic State
Over the period of last two centuries, the idea of ‘Islamic State’ has hurt Muslim societies the most.
We have seen country after country falling to the false perception of creating ‘Islamic state.’
Various intellectuals in different Muslim countries developed the idea of Islamic state, founded organizations to implement their ideologies that created strife and divisions across those societies. Most of those organizations developed special wings to use violent means to intimidate competing political forces.
There are several problems with this scenario. First, the focus of any religion, and Islam is no exception, is not to provide governmental system for any society. Religions focus on reforming human societies by providing means of spiritual growth to individuals.
Whenever and wherever religion becomes part of governance it turns government into ruthlessly repressive machine that takes away basic human freedoms from its citizenry. Human judgment becomes subject to religious consciousness, which impairs its neutrality to look at the world around independently. The desire to convert others into one’s religion grows stronger, consequently religious majority commits violence against its minorities.
Muslim scholars who enthusiastically propagate the idea of Islamic state proclaim Muhammad (PBUH), the prophet; himself established first Islamic state at Madina-tun-Nabbi.
They do not describe the details of various branches of the government established by holy prophet (PBUH) to run the state of Medina. They do not explain the mutual relationship among the various branches of the government.
The fact of the matter is, the system adopted to run the sate of Medina by the holy prophet was no different than the traditional tribal system prevailing in the time of holy prophet. Even in the times of first, second, third and fourth Caliphs of Islam, the system remain pretty much tribal.
Neither holy prophet (PBUH) nor any of the four Caliphs explained the rudimentary characteristics of governance. They never explained 1) what is Islamic state? 2) Who will rule that Islamic state? 3) How the ruler will take over and relinquish power? 4) What will be the citizens’ role in an Islamic state?
If Medina state should be followed as a model, there was not any set method adopted by all 5 individuals including holy prophet (PBUH) to take over and relinquish power. The ouster of three Caliphs: Omer, Usman and Ali through murder make the matter murkier.
Should we infer from it that there is no set way in Islam to come into power? Also, anyone who comes into power should stay in power till the end of his life? Is it okay if someone murders a ruler and takes over the Islamic state?
Lack of clarity on these issues, has marred our history with conspiracies around power centers, intrigues and killings in ruling families, thus causing instability in Muslim countries.
I think this confusion has been created in Muslim minds with the idea of ‘Islamic state.’ As I said earlier, Muslim scholars created the idea of ‘Islamic state’ in last few centuries. This idea of ‘Islamic state’ never existed in early or medieval Islamic ages.
In our times, the idea of ‘Islamic state’ gave way to the debate of ‘secular’ versus ‘religious’ and ‘secular state’ versus ‘Islamic state.’ With the introduction of the idea of ‘Islamic state’ ulema changed their traditional role and became contenders of power in Muslim countries.
Muslim countries where ulema have taken over the state, for example Iran, are not different where armies have taken over the country, for example Pakistan. On this basis, we can argue, if army does not have a prerogative to run a state, ulema also do not have any right to run a state. If we allow ulema to take over the country than why not army should have the right to take over the state?
I think if Muslims give up the idea of ‘Islamic state’ and instead adopt the idea of ‘Muslim state’ they can resolve the conflict that have plagued Muslim countries for the last two hundred years. This confusion has created space for adventurers like Saddam Hussein, Hosni Mubarak, Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq and General Musharraf.
By adopting the concept of ‘Muslim state’ instead of ‘Islamic state’ Muslim countries can also adopt democracy as a system of government. They can learn to follow constitutions, respect elected institutions and have set rules of game for the people to come in and leave out of power.
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