AN EXCELLENT MODEL OF GOOD GOVERNANCE
Administration is mainly concerned with management of public affairs. For efficaciously administering the affairs, the head of the administration i.e. an administrator, must have exemplary character and faculty for the said purpose. He must also possess administrative skills. Being cognizant of these requirements, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) set high standards of administration and became a role model for administrators for all the times to come. The cornerstone of the administration set by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was welfare of people. On account of the successful administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the extremely barbarous, fiercely clannish and unruly people of the pre-Islamic Arabia became leaders of the world and standard-bearers for knowledge and human-friendly administration that was based on wellbeing of general masses and will of Allah Almighty. That administration produced a social order that made the slaves sultans, accepted as rulers also by the subjects.
The cardinal principles and salient features of administration established by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are briefly discussed hereunder:
1. Division of state into provinces
For effective administration, the Islamic state was divided into provinces of Makkah, Madina, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Tehama and Hadhramaut. Only the most reliable, most honest and learned companions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) were appointed as Wali – the governor of a province. Other government functionaries were also appointed. For example, Amileen were appointed in each province for the sole purpose of collecting Zakat. In the same way, judges (Qazi) were also appointed for disseminating speedy and inexpensive justice.
The administration established by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was based on consultation. All important decisions were taken in consultation with the learned and scholarly companions. It was especially so because it is a prerequisite for taking wise administrative decisions and is also an important trait of Muslims; Allah Almighty says in verse 38 of Surah Ash-Shura (Consultation) “And those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves…”. For example, the decision to dig trench for the defence of Madina at the time of Ghazwa Khandaq (Battle of the Trench) was based entirely on consultation.
3. Internal stability and law & order
Prior to Islam, the vast tract of land called Arabia was considered a desert inhabited by numerous Bedouin tribes who were always at daggers drawn with, and hostile to, each other. The administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave a conclusive end to that impression by forging unity and brotherhood among those tribes and it went a long way in creating internal stability that is vital for improved law and order situation, which, in turn, is the prime objective of administration. In the Holy Quran, it has been mentioned that when Hazrat Ibrahim was praying for wellbeing of the Makkans, first of all he prayed to Allah Almighty for making Makkah a city of peace and then he prayed for other comforts and benefits for people of Makkah, because without peace, other facilities are of no worth.
4. Absolute integrity and impeccable character
The administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) comprised the people who were men of absolute integrity. As the head of administration, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) led an exemplary life. Although he was the political, spiritual and military head of Muslims, he drew no perks and privileges from the national exchequer. He led a simple and humble life in his small mud house, having no servant or guard. The highest degree of honesty can be judged from a statement of Mother of the Believers Hazrat Aisha (RA) wherein she said: “On the day of demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), we were having nothing to eat at night”. Other members of administration were also selected keeping in view their level of integrity and efficiency.
5. Constitution and set guidelines
The administration of the Islamic state, under the supreme, dynamic leadership of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), was based on constitution and set principles. Its cardinal foundation was the Holy Quran. Furthermore, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) gave guidelines to officials from time to time. In this regard, the Charter of Madina and the Last Sermon of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are the glorifying examples. The former is the first written constitution of world that encompassed and ensured fundamental rights, religious freedom and collective security whereas in the latter, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) enunciated golden principles for the sanctity of human life, honour and property, as well as for equality, rights of the oppressed segments of society, prohibition of interest and stopping bloodshed. The administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) accentuated on attaining these set targets and prescribed objectives that were present in black and white. The focus of the Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) administration was on implementation of laws in letter and spirit.
Establishment of a place where members of administration are available during working hours is imperative for smoothly managing day-to-day affairs of the state. For that purpose, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used mosques as community centres and secretariat. The government functionaries were easily accessible to people, in the mosques. Being the head of administration, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used to lead congregational prayers five times a day in Prophet’s mosque (Masjid-e-Nabvi), and was accessible to everyone. Since administration where people do not have access to government officials cannot deliver, by declaring the Mosque as the secretariat of the Islamic state, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) resolved that issue in an effective manner.
7. Educational uplift
The primary responsibility of an administration is to take concrete, result-oriented steps for educational uplift of all its subjects. Being well cognizant of this responsibility, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) introduced innovative measures. Soon after the establishment of the first city-state of Muslims in Madina, he (PBUH) established the first residential school of Islam by the name Suffa, where pupils from far-flung areas would study and reside as well. The 72 person who were captured as prisoners of war in the Battle of Badr were set free on the condition that each one of them would teach the art of reading and writing to ten Muslims. At the time of the demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), there were nine mosque-schools in Madina. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said “Seek education from cradle to grave.” Under instructions of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), certain companions learnt foreign languages.
8. Impregnable defence of Islamic state
The administration is required to beef up internal and external security. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) took strong measures for making the defence of Islamic State impregnable. In the battles that were fought during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), the Muslim state was defended with full force and the Holy Prophet (PBUH) always led the Muslims from the front. Proper war plan, chain of command, timely strategies, military training and preparedness to face looming external threats were ensured. Practical steps were taken for developing cordial relations with other states.
9. Perfect justice
The administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was based on uniform, equal and equitable standards of justice; where all the people were equal before law. There was no room for immunity, aristocracy and infallibility. Once, a lady belonging to an influential family of Quraysh tribe was nabbed for committing theft. Members of her family tried to save her from punishment by taking help of an influential person. But, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “By Allah, if Fatima bint Mohammad (RA) had committed theft, I would have issued Hadd. The nations prior to you were annihilated for not having uniform standards of justice.”
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) ensured provision of speedy and inexpensive justice to people. The bedrock of judicial system was the Holy Quran, Sunnah and application of judicious mind. When Hazrat Ali (RA) was appointed Qazi, he sought guidance, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) told him, “When someone comes to you with a plea, don’t make your mind. First listen to all the concerned parties and then come to a decision.”
10. People-friendly taxation system
The administration of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) used only those sources of revenue generation that were poor-friendly. Main sources of revenue were Zakat, Ushr, Khiraaj, Jizya, Khums and Fay. Zakat and Ushr were taken from affluent Muslims on annual basis and distributed among the destitute. Khiraaj was a tax on the production of land belonging to non-Muslims and Jizya was a tax on them on account of their security in the Islamic State. Khums was about spoils of war. The booty was divided into five parts; four parts were distributed among the participating soldiers while the fifth part was deposited with the national exchequer. Fay (a property obtained from a non-Muslim state without war) was made a state property. No unfriendly and oppressive taxes were levied on people, owing to which people had full trust and confidence in the administration. The revenue and public properties were considered a sacred trust and were meant only for welfare of the people. The government officials were not granted unbridled powers for using public money on perks and privileges.
On account of these features, the administration established by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) attained zenith of glory and is an excellent model for good governance. The West and other developed countries have adopted and successfully applied majority of these attributes owing to which they are flourishing rapidly. On the other hand, the basic cause of our unending economic problems, political disorder, social turmoil and administrative collapse is that we have placed these golden principles on the back burner. For example, corruption has crept into our politics and administration. The massive corruption of our politicians has degenerated democracy into kleptocracy that is eating up the very foundation of our country. Our education system is replete with flaws and our literacy rate is pathetic. Although we have framed good laws, the pace of implementing these laws is sluggish, to say it mildly. We have also failed to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to the general public. The state has levied on its people oppressive and unbearable taxes that have caused numerous economic woes and a sense of exploitation prevails among the masses. Our leaders and high-profile government functionaries are out of the reach of general public and hence oblivious to their real issues. If we want internal stability and respectable status in the comity of nations, we will have to plug these loopholes on war footing. In this context, Imam Muhammad Ghazali in his book Tableegh-e-Islam says, “When the mud is too much, the elephant may also slip.”