The founder-ideologue of Jamaat-e-Islami Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi opined in his book "Islami Riyasaat" (Islamic State) that the "complete and perfect code of Islam" can be rightly implemented only by Mullahs belonging to Jamaat-e-Islami. His idea was that a Jamaati Mullah dictatorship was feasible not only in a Muslim or Muslim-majority state but even in a non-Muslim-majority state like India. He was inspired by Lenin who believed that a communist dictatorship did not require the majority of people to believe in communism. Maudoodi considered Islam a political project meant to provide governance. However, the author of this article negates this idea and asserts that Islam has no interest in running a state and that Prophet Mohammad (saw) never showed any such inclination despite his having to govern the city of Madina for some time. -- Editor
By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam
August 20, 2013
I was reading the globally renowned book, Muhammad by Dr. Muhammad Hussain Haykal. On page 308 I stumbled upon the text of the letter from Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantines (Eastern Roman Empire). The text of the letter, that is really thought-provoking, was as follows:
“In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful. This letter is from Muhammad the slave of Allah and his Apostle to Heraclius, the ruler of the Byzantines. Peace be upon him who follows the right path. I invite you to Islam and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, Allah will double your reward, and if you reject this invitation of Islam you will be committing a sin by misguiding your subjects. And I recite to you Allah's statement:
“O People of the Scriptures! Come to a word common to you and us that we worship none but Allah and that we associate nothing in worship with Him, and that none of us shall take others as Lords beside Allah. Then if they turn away, say: Bear witness that we are Muslims (those who have submitted to Allah). (Qur’an: Surah 3, Ayah 64).”
If we ponder over the text of this letter, we come across many aspects of it that are worth considering. While addressing Heraclius, the Messenger of God called him “the Emperor of Rome” but he did not call himself “the Emperor of Arabia”, because he was a prophet, not the emperor. Since Heraclius was a statesman, it was due to give him titles of honour, but unlike Heraclius, the Prophet (peace be upon him) was not even the least interested in the politics, rather he was greatly worried about preaching the message sent to him from God without any addition or deletion. Therefore, the Prophet did not ask Heraclius for any political surrender or change in the politics, or economy, or administrative structure or governance system. This is because governance has never been among the areas of interest for either the Prophet (pbuh) or Islam. That is why the Prophet confined himself to calling for the only thing assigned to him, and that was inviting people to Islam.
He did not say to Heraclius that “the Holy Quran is our constitution” because the people of Rome were the most aware about the constitutions and laws and they had formed a democratic constitution 1000 years before the advent of Islam. Given this, they were supposed to observe the new constitution so as to compare it with their own constitution and gain benefits out of it, as they had sent delegations to benefit from the constitution and laws of Greece with a view to perfect their constitution. It is also noteworthy that the Holy Quran had not been completed at the time of dispatching this letter, rather it was being memorised by the Prophet’s companions and was written on the bones and stones.
If state and politics were the prime concern of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would not have rejected the title of Emperor that his tribe “Quraish” had conferred upon him. The Holy Quran describes the monarchy as a form of control over the state:
"Indeed kings - when they enter a city, they ruin it and render the honoured of its people humbled.”.
Monarchy calls for the complete surrender to the king, something that the carefree Bedouins of the deserts could not put up with. That is why the Bedouins of the Arab peninsula never surrendered to any central government except for the era of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), that too in the form of a tribal alliance. But it disintegrated after the demise of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and could never be restored. Later on, Ibn Saud made an alliance with Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhab in an effort to forcefully unite them and establish an Arab monarchy that has now become a centre of tribal disintegration. Even today, Arabs memorise their lineages and boast about their tribes to the extent that if you ask any Saudi citizen about his tribe, he will give you a long chain of lineage. On the contrary, if you pose the same question to an American or French, he will not get it, and in case he understands your question, he will surely declare you mad.
We know the Quran tells us about Alexander the Great in Surah Al-Kahaf. Though Allah, without any doubt, knew that Alexander the Great was trained and mentored by a famous philosopher Aristotle who was Plato’s student, he did not condemn philosophy or Aristotle, nor did he criticise Aristotle’s politics or Plato’s democracy. For Islam has no interest in politics. Had it been interested in politics, the Quran would have made a comparison between the Islamic kingdom and other kingdoms of the world such as Persia, Athens, Rome and Egypt, much in the same way as it compares Islam and other religions. But the Quran did not do so.
In Surah Saba, the Holy Quran tells us how the Prophet Suleiman (peace be upon him) sent his ambassador (Hudud) to the kingdom of Bilquis, a queen whose people worshipped the sun instead of God. A letter was sent to Bilquis to invite her to believe in God. She showed this letter to the ministers and advisors of her tribe and did a consultation with them in a democratic way. But the Holy Quran did not say that a woman could not assume the position of a king, neither did it condemn her system of governance nor did it order to eliminate it. The Quran asked her only to accept the faith of Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was a preacher of religion not of the Islamic state. If state were the goal of Islam, then, obviously, a question would arise as to why the Prophet (pbuh) did not establish a state, while he was fully supported by Allah and His angels. This makes it amply clear that Islam does not aim at establishing states. Had that been the case, an Islamic state would have been established by the messenger of God then and there, and it would have been running till today without any need for an organisation like the Muslim Brotherhood.
(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)