Political theory of Islam
With certain people it has become fashionable to identify Islam or one or the other system of life in vogue at the time. There are also people who say that Islam is a democracy, and by this they mean to imply that there is no difference between Islam and democracy in the West. Others suggest that Communism is but the latest and revised version of Islam and it is in the fitness of things that Muslims imitate the Communist experiment of Soviet Russia. Still others whisper that Islam has the elements of dictatorship and we should revive the cult of ‘obedience to the Amir’ (the leader).
All these people, in their misinformed and misguided zeal to serve what they hold to be the cause of Islam, are always at great pains to prove that Islam contains within itself the elements of all types of contemporary social and political thought and action. Most people who indulge in this prattle have no clear idea of the Islamic way of life. They have never made a systematic study of the Islamic political order – the place and nature of democracy, social justice, and equality in it.
Instead they behave like the proverbial blind men who gave altogether contradictory descriptions of an elephant because one had been able to touch only its tail, the other its legs, the third its belly and the fourth its ears. Or perhaps they look upon Islam as an orphan whose sole hope for survival lies in winning the patronage and sheltering care of some dominant creed.
That is why some people have begun to present apologies on Islam’s behalf. This this attitude emerges from an inferiority complex, from the belief that we as Muslims can earn no honour or respect unless we are able to show that our religion resembles modern creeds and is in agreement with most contemporary ideologies.
These people have done a great disservice to Islam. They have reduced the political theory of Islam to a puzzle, a hodgepodge. They have turned Islam into a juggler’s bag out of which can be produced anything that holds a demand! Such is the intellectual plight in which we are engulfed. Perhaps it is a result of this sorry state of affairs that some people have even begun to say that Islam has no political or economic system of its own and that anything can fit into its scheme.
In these circumstances it has become essential that a careful study of the political theory of Islam should be made in a scientific way, with a view to grasp its real meaning, nature, purpose and significance. A systematic study can put an end to this confusion of thought and silence those who out of ignorance proclaim that there is nothing like Islamic political theory, Islamic social order and Islamic culture. I hope it will also bring to the world groping in darkness the light that it urgently needs, although it is not yet completely conscious of such a need.
It should be clearly understood in the very beginning that Islam is not a jumble of unrelated ideas and incoherent modes of conduct. It is rather a well-ordered system, a consistent whole, resting in a definite set of clear-cut postulates. Its major tenets as well as detailed rules of conduct are all derived from logically connected basic principles. All the rules and regulations that Islam has laid down for different spheres of human life are in their essence and spirit a reflection, an extension and corollary of its first principles. The various phases of Islamic life and activity flow from these fundamental postulates exactly as the plant sprouts forth from its seed.
And even though the tree may spread in all directions, its leaves and branches remain firmly attached to the roots and derive sustenance from them. It is always the seed and the root which determine the nature and form of the tree, similar is the case with Islam. Its entire scheme of life also flows from its basic postulates. Therefore whatever aspect of Islamic ideology one may like to study, he must, first of all, go to the roots and look at the fundamental principles.
Then and then alone can he have a correct and satisfactory understanding of the ideology and its specific injunctions and a real appreciation of its spirit and nature.
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