Ideal Islamic State
Source: Understanding Karbala, By: Allamah Sayyid Saeed Akhtar Rizvi
The relationship between religion and rulership is very delicate. Until the time rulers are content to follow the religion, it is all right. But when their aspirations exceed the limits and they aspire to also control religion and keep it under their subjugation, it is the beginning of strife and destruction. This is the time when the Genghis Khan gets the sword of religion in his hand. In such an event, it is only religion that has to bear the loss. For example the acceptance of Christian religion by Emperor Constantine was more harmful to Christianity than open opposition of the previous irreligious kings.
Ideal Islamic State
Islam did not remain heedless of this peril and it had provided the cure right from the beginning. No Muslim had the right to make any kind of changes or distortions in the Islamic law. In an Islamic government there is nothing as “Law-making committee.” The Almighty Allah, alone is the supreme authority and the sole lawmaker, Whose laws have been conveyed to us through Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w). These laws are final and complete. They have solution of every imaginable problem and every possible condition. And if some problem requires elucidation or interpretation only those appointed for this by the Almighty are eligible to discharge this duty. These are the holy Imams, specified by Allah Almighty. They are infallible and they have been appointed by Allah through His Prophet.
Because Islam continued to give a disciplined way of life and progressed during the lifetime of the Prophet and because all the departments of this Islamic state functioned under the divine guidance of the Holy Prophet, it was suitable, rather utmost necessary that after the passing away of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w) the reins of the kingdom should remain in the hands of those impeccable Imams who were the divine representatives after the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w), and who were appointed by Almighty Allah. This method would have saved Islam from distortion and would have established it on a firm foundation forever.
In this way Islam would have remained free from the claws of materialist proud rulers and it would have remained pure of the emotional ups and downs of the kings and Emirs and their unwarranted zeal and nuances.
This was the reason that the Holy Messenger declared, on the basis of the specific directions of the Almighty, that after him there would be twelve Imams, and he also informed that, “Of whosoever I am the master, this ‘Ali is also his master.” This step was taken so that Islamic Shariah may not be sacrificed at the altar of political intrigues.
However, some people, whose aspirations did not discriminate lawfulness and illegality, did not like this, and they deemed it such that rulership should not remain in the hands of ‘Ali and his successors. In this way Islam was forever deprived of the security that was bestowed upon it by Allah.
As a result Islam became a target of all those ills that had befallen the previous religions.
Why Islam became a target of destruction
It is very painful to write on this subject. However, if we are able to survey the past without any bias and bigotry it would be a very firm step for benefit of our future guidance. I have heard people expressing astonishment that how could a person like Yazid acquire the rulership of Islamic dominions? What created a favorable atmosphere for such an eventuality? Nothing in this world happens without a cause.
Those who were flowing in the current of the events may not have realized the importance of each and every incident, but when we consider those events today we can place each and every incident in a proper perspective. And our judgment would be more correct than the judgment of those who had practically acted in that drama.
The root cause of every calamity of the early history of Islam as we have stated above, was that Islam was deprived of the guidance of ‘Ali and the Imams after him. This in itself was a great calamity. In addition to this those caliphs who occupied the seat of rulership derived full benefit of their temporal authority and they imposed the view on the public that religious leadership is subservient to temporal authority.
And whosoever succeeds in acquiring temporal authority (in whichever way) he would be considered a lawful caliph and religious guide. He also (as history witnessed) had the power to make changes and abrogations in the Islamic Shariah. Due to this wrong notion people considered every act of the rulers as the criterion of religion. As a result of which there began decadence in following the Islamic law and Shariat.
Decadence of Islam
This decadence began soon after the passing away of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). Those who got the political power did not waste a moment in making it absolute and permanent. Therefore naturally the laws of economy and justice were modified in such a way that they should serve the purpose.
The method of equal distribution of Sadaqah,1 Zakat2 and war booty was given up and a fixed amount as pension was awarded to the companions of the Prophet. This pension varied from two Dinars to a thousand Dinars. In this way, tongues were sealed of those who could have supported the opposition group.3
On the other hand, steps were taken to weaken the economic condition of those from whom there was chance of danger. That is why clear disobedience was committed of the Islamic laws of inheritance and gifts in the case of Fatima Zahra, who was the daughter of the Holy Prophet and wife of ‘Ali.
The land of Fadak gifted by the Holy Prophet to his daughter was confiscated illegally. The first caliph claimed thus while Fadak was in the possession of Fatima. Thus the first caliph was a plaintiff. According to universal law the burden of proof was on the caliph and not on Fatima. Instead Fatima was asked to provide witnesses to prove her right. She presented witnesses but they rejected them on the pretext that they had personal interest in the property.
The caliph presented a solitary tradition, which was against the clear commandments of Qur’an and whose veracity could not be established by any companion at that time. In spite of this the verdict was based on this tradition. Also since in this case the caliph was himself the plaintiff, legally and ethically he was not eligible to hear the case. But he did preside over the case. He delivered a verdict and declared that his claim was valid. In this way, through this extraordinary case, a new form was given to the Islamic Shariah and the rule of justice.4
Khums5 money, which was the right of Fatima, was also denied. Though it was the right given to her family by the Holy Qur’an.6
Here it would not be out of place to mention that during that same period a companion of the Prophet, Jabir Ibn Abdullah claimed that the Messenger of God had promised him some things. This claim of his was accepted without calling for proof and witnesses. Due to this policy, Fatima and her family members were even deprived of her personal heritage while those supported by the government managed to pile up huge wealth and properties.7
A few examples of such machinations will suffice here: When Abdur Rahman bin Auf (who was favored by all the first three caliphs) died, he left besides other things, four widows. Every widow was entitled to receive 1/32 of the inheritance according to the Shariah. One of them was also in the waiting period (Iddah) of a revocable divorce. That is why she was compelled to accept less than what was her legal right. (This is another example of subverting the Islamic law). Thus she received less than 1/32 part. In spite of this she was given a hundred thousand in cash.
Talha bin Ubaidullah (another favored one of the government) had a fixed income of 2000 Dinars besides other incomes. When he died he left behind 2200000 Dirhams and 2000000 Dinars in cash. Apart from this he had unspecified property worth millions.
At the time of his death, Zubair bin Awwam left 50000 Dinars, 1000 horses and hundreds of bonded servants.8
The Islamic emphasis against hoarding of wealth was disregarded. A new society was brought into shape in the Islamic world, which was exactly opposed to Islam in nature and character. However, the people considered it to be in consonance with Islam only because it was established by those who were considered to be the interpreters of Islam.
2. Poor Tax
3. Sharh Nahjul Balagha (Ibne Abil Hadid Mutazali), Vol. 1 , Pg. 133, Rauzatul Ahbab, Vol. 1, Pg. 410 and Vol. 2, Pg. 25
4. Futhuhul Bayan, al-Balazari, Pg. 42-43, Tarikh Khamis, Vol. 2, Tarikh Kamil of Ibne Athir, Vol. 2, Pg. 85, Tarikh Tabari, Vol. 3, Pg. 95-98, Sirah Ibne Hisham, Vol. 3, Pg. 408, Kitabul Imamah wal Siyasah, Ibn Qutaybah, Wafa al-Wafa, Vol. 2, Chapter 6, Marijun Nubuwwah, Rauzatul Auf Saheli, Vol. 2, Pg. 247, Tafsir Durre Manthur, Vol. 4, Pg. 177, Habibus Sayr, Part 1, Pg. 58, Insanul Uyoon, Vol. 3, Pg. 400, Balaghatun Nisa, (Sermons of Fatima Zahra).
5. 20 percent tax
6. Kanzul Ummal, Vol. 3, Pg. 129-135, Musnad Ahmad Hanbal, Vol. 1, Pg. 4, Al-Farooq, Allamah Shibli Nomani, Vol. 2, Pg. 117.
7. Sahih Bukhari, Book of Khums, Sahih Muslim, Tabaqat Ibne Sa’ad.
8. Al-Istiab, Ibne Abde Barr, Vol. 2, Pg. 560, Vol. 1, Pg. 208 and 215, Politics in Islam, Khuda Bakhsh Khan, Pg. 151, Muruj az-Zahab, Masudi, Vol. 2, Pg. 222