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ISLAMIC CONCEPT OF STATE, REVENUE AND ELECTIONS

Islamic concept of state is that of a welfare state, which concentrates on the welfare and well-being of people, where rulers are custodians of public rights and property. There is no room for aristocracy, immunity and infallibility in Islamic concept of state and the rulers are having double responsibility and accountability. Firstly, like other Muslims they are accountable to Allah Almighty for all of their worldly deeds and secondly, unlike ordinary Muslims, they are also accountable to the people who are having powers to depose and punish them if they happen to be unjust, corrupt, oppressive, cruel and transgressors of the Islamic injunctions.

The concept of state according to Islam is that of a commonwealth of all the Muslims living as a community under the guidance and directives of a supreme executive head called Imam or Caliph. If there is no such commonwealth, then Islam does not prohibit existence of independent Islamic states. Islam has used the Arabic word UMMAH for the Muslim Commonwealth, that literally means a community, tribe or nation. In the Holy Quran the word Ummah has been used in different ways. For example, in verse No.38 of Surah Al-Anaam / Chapter Livestock, it has been used for groups of birds and animals. In verse No.120 of Surah-al Nahl / Chapter the Bee Abraham or Hazrat Ibrahim alone has been declared as Ummah and in verse No.213 of Surah al Baqarah / Chapter the Cow, Mankind has been termed as Ummah. Generally, this word is used for the Muslim community in Islamic history and literature; as declared by Allah Almighty in verse No.110 of Surah Al-e-Imran / Chapter the Family of Imran which states, ‘You (the Muslims) are the best Ummah/nation brought forth for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah.’ Similarly, in verse No.143 of Surah Al-Baqarah / Chapter the Cow also, this word has been used for Muslim community.

Islamic concept of state is that of a welfare state, which concentrates on the welfare and well-being of people, where rulers are custodians of public rights and property. There is no room for aristocracy, immunity and infallibility in Islamic concept of state and the rulers are having double responsibility and accountability. Firstly, like other Muslims they are accountable to Allah Almighty for all of their worldly deeds and secondly, unlike ordinary Muslims, they are also accountable to the people who are having powers to depose and punish them if they happen to be unjust, corrupt, oppressive, cruel and transgressors of Islamic injunctions.

Islam prescribes that the election of caliph and formation of government has to be based on consultation. Consultation is an important attribute of Muslim life as the Allah Almighty says about Muslim in verse No.38 of Surah Shura / Chapter Consultation, ‘Who obey their Lord and establish Prayers; who conduct their affairs by consultation and spend out of what We have bestowed upon them.’

 Islam prescribes that the election of caliph and formation of government has to be based on consultation. Consultation is an important attribute of Muslim life as the Allah Almighty says about Muslim in verse No.38 of Surah Shura / Chapter Consultation, ‘Who obey their Lord and establish Prayers; who conduct their affairs by consultation and spend out of what We have bestowed upon them.’
 The election of four rightly-guided Caliphs was also based on consultation. After the demise of Holy Prophet (peace be upon him),  Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was elected as the first Caliph of Muslims on the basis of consultation when the absolute majority of Muslims accepted him the best one to lead Muslim Ummah. Then, on account of consultation carried out by Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) with important companions of Holy Prophet (PBUH), he appointed Hazrat Umar-e-Farooq (may Allah be pleased with him) as his successor and the second Caliph of Muslims. During his last days Hazrat Umar (RA) constituted a committee of six important companions of Holy Prophet (PBUH) and directed Muslims to choose one of them as Caliph and again on the basis of consultation one of those six great companions, Hazrat Usman-e-Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him) was elected as the third Caliph of Muslims. After the tragic martyrdom of Hazrat Usman-e-Ghani (may Allah be pleased with him), Hazrat Ali Murtaza (may Allah be pleased with him) was elected as fourth Caliph of Muslims on account of consultation. Islam has left it to the discretion of people to choose a good system of government for them that suits them based on consultation. For example, if democracy is beneficial for them they may opt for it as it is based on consultation but one thing is to be noted that according to Islam only those people are to be consulted in the election of Caliph who possess intellectual and real political/tribal authority and Islam does not equate the vote of a PhD holder with an illiterate person. That’s why, democracy is highly successful in those countries where the people are literate as well as mature and are not dominated by certain selfish cartels. On the contrary, in countries where majority of the people do not have the caliber and potential to be consulted due to low literacy rate, democracy has failed to deliver as their elective representatives are not elected on the basis of integrity and true leadership qualities but on ethnic, linguistic, tribal, family and monetary lines.

When elected, the Caliph acquires certain powers and he can exercise those powers as per the standards set by Islam. The Caliph or Ameer of Muslims has enormous administrative powers, however taking into consideration the well-being of people he can delegate some of his administrative powers to ministers, advisors and governors of provinces chosen by him on account of their experience, integrity and piety. The Caliph is not authorised to nominate his offspring as successors in government. That’s why, the first four rightly-guided Caliphs did not appoint their sons or relatives as their successors in government because caliphate is not a hereditary one. The Caliph or Amir does not have legislative powers and if he happens to be a jurist, he enjoys only that juristic authority which is enjoyed by an ordinary jurist. On one occasion Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was giving instructions that the dower be limited to a small amount. A woman rose from the audience and said how could do you do that when in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, the limit of dower has not been fixed. The Caliph acknowledged his mistake, saying, ‘Umar has erred and a woman has said the right thing.’ He rescinded his orders.

For the purpose of providing justice to the people, the caliph can appoint judges and demarcate their jurisdiction but in the eyes of law he is equal to an ordinary citizen of state and does not possess any immunity as enjoyed by the president and governors of provinces in Pakistan according to the constitution of 1973. During his Caliphate, the fourth Caliph of Muslims Hazrat Ali Murtaza (may Allah be pleased with him) brought a suit against a Jew over the custody of an armor belonging to him before Qazi named Shuraih and the Qazi decided the case/suit against the Caliph as he was not having qualified witnesses although that armor was his property. The Caliph or Amir is also having disciplinary powers. He can enforce chastisement with a view to compel observance of religious injunctions and public decorum. The first Caliph of Muslims Hazrat Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) declared holy war against those tribes who refused to give Zakat after demise of the Holy Prophet (PBUH).

The Caliph or Amir must be true representative of people who is always aware of the problems of people, that’s why Hazrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) used to inspect different areas of Muslim empire in disguise in order to ascertain problems of people and he used to say, ‘Even if a dog dies within territorial jurisdiction of my government, I would be held accountable for it.’ The Caliph or Amir is not the owner but the custodian of public property and national exchequer. He is also the guardian of those orphans and destitutes who are having no guardian and it is one of his responsibilities to arrange proper and suitable marriages of adult destitute girls of Muslim state. The Caliph is not authorised to lead luxurious and royal life on the expense of national exchequer. All the four rightly-guided orthodox Caliphs led very simple lives having no royal palaces, personal attendants and guards.

Islam also provides sources of revenue generation in an Islamic state such as Zakat, Ushr, Khiraj, Jizya, Khums and Fay. Zakat is levied on all those financially stable Muslims who remain in possession of a certain amount of wealth and financial commodities for one year. At the end of year, it is obligatory upon them to spend a specified portion of it in charity as Zakat under certain heads elucidated in verse No.60 of Surah Al-Tawbah / Chapter the Repentance. The Caliph or Amir is having the authority to appoint officials for the purpose of collecting Zakat. Ushr is the Zakat levied on production of agricultural land belonging to Muslims. It is 10% of total production if the land is un-irrigated and 5% of total production if land is irrigated one. Khiraj is a tax levied on production of agricultural land belonging to non-Muslims. Its limit is not fixed however it must not be excessive. Jizya or poll tax is a tax that is levied on non-Muslim subjects living in an Islamic state known as Zimmis on account of their security/protection in Islamic state. This tax must be proportionate to their living standard and cannot be levied on female, children, aged and disabled people. Khums means one-fifth and according to Islam, booty or spoils of war are divided into five parts, four parts are distributed among those who took part in the holy war and one-fifth is deposited in national exchequer as Khums. Fay is that amount or property which is acquired from non-Muslims without war e.g. if a non-muslim state sues for peace without going to war and agrees to give certain monetary considerations. In this case the hostilities have to cease at once. The revenue generated from the said sources has to be deposited in national exchequer and has to be utilized for the welfare of people and not on the perks and privileges of rulers.

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