By Nastik Durrani, New Age Islam
August 20, 2013
(Translated from Urdu by New Age Islam Edit Desk)
I was reading the globally renowned book, Muhammad, by Dr. Muhammad Husain Haykal. On the page 308, I stumbled upon the text of the letter from the 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. Furthermore, I invite you to Islam and if you become a Muslim you will be safe, and 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 will come across many considerable aspects of it. 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 (pbuh) 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 administration 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 1,000 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 (peace be upon him) 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 cannot 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, 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 Saud citizen about his tribe, he will tell 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 it, 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 between 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 belief in God. She showed this letter to the ministers and advisors of her tribe and consulted 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 Islam.
The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) 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 it 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 organisations like the Muslim Brotherhood or the Jamaat-e-Islami.
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