Les quatre saisons
The Quran is strong in its condemnation of those who indulge in schismatic squabbling after the Book of Allah has been revealed, so causing a weakening of faith; yet there has been considerable disagreement over the correct interpretations of the Quranic injunctions, not only among later scholars, but even among the founders of the legal schools and the Second Generation of Companions. Indeed, disagreement can be traced back even to the times of the First Generation who basked in the light of Prophecy. One can hardly point to a single Quranic verse of legal import which has received complete unanimity as regards its interpretation. One is bound to ask whether the Quranic condemnation applies to all who have disagreed in this way. If it does not, then what kind of schism and disagreement does the Quran denounce?
This is quite a problem and its ramifications should be considered at length. The reader may rest assured that the Quran is not opposed to differences of opinion within the framework of a general agreement on the fundamentals of Islam and the broad unity of the Islamic community. In addition it is not opposed to disagreement arising from an earnest endeavour to arrive at the right conclusions on a particular subject; the only disagreements condemned by the Quran are those arising out of egotism and perversity, leading to mutual strife and hostility.
The two sorts of disagreement are different in character and give rise to different results. The first kind is a stimulus to improvement and the very soul of a healthy society. Differences of this kind are found in every society whose members are endowed with intelligence and reason. Their existence is a sign of life, while their absence only serves to demonstrate that a society is not made up of intelligent men and women but of blocks of wood. Disagreements of the second kind, however, are of an altogether different character and lead to ruin and destruction of the people among whom they arise. Far from being a sign of health, their emergence is symptomatic of a grave sickness.
The first kind of disagreement exists among scholars who are all agreed that it is their duty to obey God and His Prophet. They also agree that the Quran and Tradition are their main sources of guidance. Thus, when scholarly investigation on some subsidiary question leads two or more scholars to disagree, or when two judges disagree in their judgement on some dispute, they regard neither their judgement, nor the questions on which their opinion has been expressed, as fundamentals of faith. They do not accuse those who disagree with their opinion of having left the fold of true faith. What each does is rather to proffer his arguments showing that he has done his best to investigate the matter thoroughly. It is then left to the courts (in judicial matters) and to public opinion (if the matter relates to the community at large) either to prefer whichever opinion seems the sounder, or to accept both opinions as equally permissible.
Schism occurs when the very fundamentals are made a matter of dispute and controversy. It may also happen that some scholar, mystic, mufti, or leader pronounces on a question to which God and His Messenger have not attached fundamental importance, exaggerating the significance of the question to such an extent that it is transformed into a basic issue of faith. Such people usually go one step further, declaring all who disagree with their opinion to have forsaken the true faith and set themselves outside the community of true believers. They may even go so far as to organise those who agree with them into a sect, claiming that sect to be identical with the Islamic community, and declaring that everyone who does not belong to it is destined to hellfire!
Whenever the Quran denounces schismatic disagreements and sectarianism, its aim is to DENOUNCE this latter kind of disagreement. As for disagreements of the first category, we encounter several examples of these even during the life of the Messenger of Allah.
The Holy Prophet not only accepted the validity of such disagreements, he even expressed approval of them. For this kind of disagreement shows that a community is not lacking in the capacity for thought, for enquiry and investigation, for grasping or wrestling with the problems it faces. It also shows that the intelligent members of the community are earnestly concerned about their religion and how to apply its injunctions to the problems of human life. It shows too that their intellectual capacities operate within the broad framework of their religion, rather than searching beyond its boundaries for solutions to their problems. And it proves that the community is following the GOLDEN PATH of moderation. Such moderation preserves its unity by broad agreement on fundamentals, and at the same time provides its scholars and thinkers with full freedom of enquiry so that they may achieve fresh insights and new interpretations within the framework of the fundamental principles of Islam.
Modèle, déviations et réponse islamique
“Caliphate and Kingship”, in this context, presents a bold step forward in examining critically the past. Unconventional as he is, with openness of mind and with due reverence for the companions of the Prophet rising above the sectarianism or school of thought, he makes a distinction at a methodological level between the norm and deviation, between essential and incidental, central and peripheral, permanent and the changing.
Progress, development and advancement constitute a dynamic process in which instead of re-inventing a wheel: an existing wheel is improved, perfected, and made to excel on other wheels. Progress is neither a matter of rejection of the past nor a matter of holding to the past. It calls for capturing the normative foundations and universal principles of good governance while applying an innovative approach in order to discover an appropriate and viable separation of powers, realisation of justice and peace and observance of human rights or the people in the present and future context.
The post-colonial challenges faced by the Muslim world have been multidimensional. For some elitist Muslims, Western secular political model, thanks to its apparent success in delivering political liberties to the people in Europe and America deserves to be embraced in the Muslim world as well. They hypothesize that the values of freedom of expression, civil society, security and fair play are essentially a heritage of the Muslims; therefore, their adoption does not infringe Islamic norms. They further add that a secular political system also provides space for personal religious practices. One can go to church or mosque without any hindrance while at collective and social levels a political order should have no religious interference.
The Islamic revivalist and innovative school of thought represented outspokenly by Mawdudi, on the contrary, holds that the norms and values contained in the Quran and the Prophet’s Tradition have universal relevance and applicability. Therefore, an Islamic political order is essentially a matter of translation of these norms and values in a futuristic political order. An Islamic state, however, shows no reluctance in adapting processes and measure, which does not conflict with Islamic norms and values.
The conceptual confusion that a state may be called Muslim instead of Islamic is perhaps due to a basic error in defining a Muslim. Some people think that a person is also Muslim by virtue of being born in a Muslim family. Two basic conditions as manifested in the confusion of faith and to be fulfilled by all who want to be Muslim, are namely acceptance of undisputed authority and sovereignty of Allah, and second, total acceptance of the Prophetic conduct and behaviour as an ideal pattern. If a person with his apparent Muslim name acts contrary to both the above requirements, his Islam becomes doubtful; therefore a -Muslim State- which does not subscribe to the above two basic principles can be neither Muslim nor Islamic.
Similarly, Islamic state versus Muslim state dichotomy appears to be based on certain misgivings. For example, it is assumed that the Islamic state is utopian and idealist while a Muslim state stands for a pragmatic, liberal and westernised socio-political order with ceremonial observance of Islam. This is a contradiction in terms. A Muslim is Muslim only when they observe Islam. It is true for the state as well. It has to be de jure Islamic, and in the process of evolution becomes a de facto Islamic state. It is an IDEAL but viable and manifested reality.
In Jewish tradition, a Jew is defined as one born of a Jewish mother. A Jew remains a Jew whether he is Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud or Martin Buber or a terrorist Menachem Begin or a confirmed atheist. This is not so with Islam. Islam means conscious acceptance of obligations and responsibilities as a Muslim; simply gene, race or cast, as in Hinduism, does not inherit Islam, for example; similarly, an Islamic state, being ideological refers to a conscious, dynamic process of BECOMING; its identity lies in its Islamicity. Thus, a Muslim state cannot be other than a de-jure Islamic state.
An apparently very intelligent point is made that if we call a state Islamic, we will end up in differences of opinions on all policy matters. But if we call a state Muslim it will only mean it is Muslim by name, though it may not follow and implement Islamic teachings. We fail to understand the logic of this self-contradictory position.
If the intention of a people is not to observe and apply Islam in state why to call it even Muslim?
In fact, in Islam difference of opinion is welcome. Islam assumes that research-based differences of opinion are a pre-requisite to people’s success.
Does it mean that since there is room for difference of opinion therefore constitutions should be set aside? Or, if in a criminal case lawyers differ in their interpretation of law, should the law be suspended?
Possibility of different interpretations is a sign of maturity and dynamism. The secret of success and development lies in constructive disagreement, critical views and an ongoing educative process through intellectual interaction. If we stop people from disagreeing on various issues, we may create a totalitarian society or a -secular theocracy-
Islam rejects the theory established by secularists and wants its followers to interpret the Quran and the Tradition, with proper tools, in order to find solutions for emerging problems in a growing and developing socio-political order. Since scriptural texts are interpreted with the help of a scientifically developed methodology, which makes use of lexicography, external and internal criticism, understanding the context, identification of the core and the periphery, the Cause and the Wisdom, specific and general and so on, the textual study provides a variety of possible applications in solution of emerging problems. This process is dynamic and not static. It is progressive and not retrogressive. It is modern and futuristic and not backward and conservative.
In the Islamic framework the enterprise of thought and theory is different. The call for going back to the Quran whether by Ibn Taymiyah or Iqbal and Mawdudi simply means liberating the Muslim mind from the traditional corpus of law and conduct of fresh interpretation of the texts of the Quran and the Tradition in order to address modern and contemporary issues through Deduction. As a methodology, it is not to be confused with imitation and adoption of secular culture and law in the name of modernity, post-modernity or enlightenment. It stands for use of professional skills in discerning the intent and purpose of the manifest and implied legal commands, directions and teachings of the Quran and the Tradition and discovering their relevance and application in emergent situations. It is not freelance and personal opinion but a professional exercise of reasoned judgement founded on the two non-variable principles namely the Quran and the Tradition. The process being dynamic leads to an ever-expanding meaning of the same text. While the text remains non-variable, concentration on its meaning should reveal new dimensions.
Mawdudi, like Ibn Taymiyah, is concerned with the institution of state and the supremacy of the Law. The caliphate for him provides a historical model, successfully exercised in Madina. He wants to reshape the spirit of this ideal and glorious eon, in order to evolve a new and modern framework, with Holy Law as its source of inspiration. Madina however as model of a viable Islamic state does not stand for a literal reproduction of society and state as it once was. On the other hand, it means learning from this experience while using most modern available means for the development of a Law-based political order capable of meeting the problems of our time and translating their eternal and universal values into contemporary idiom and context. It is the technology of the times, which is to be harnessed in the service of principles and values; therein it is found the dynamism of the Islamic model.
The lesson learned from the Madinite model is that the most efficient means of the age have to be harnessed to better the statecraft. We need to capture its spirit and make our system more efficient in order to follow the model of Caliphate. A warning, however, is needed in areas where the Quran and the Tradition are specific; there is no scope of wild interpretations in the name of modernity and innovation. Deduction is a dynamic process aimed at discerning guidance from the Quran and the Tradition to reach solutions for modern problems, not to subvert its teachings to pander to modernity whims.
Some secularists also assert that the state is not supposed to make a people pious and ethical; it is the individual conviction, which makes a people moral. The problem with this approach, in our view, is twofold. First, it does not elaborate what it means by piety. Even if piety for some means wearing a specific kind of dress or speaking in a civil tone, state does have a role in it. If piety means observance of ethical conduct in economy, political policies, educational system, cultural activities, social relations and everyday transactions, then state cannot leave these matters for the individual judgement.
If state has no role or authority in policy-making on economic, educational, cultural and social matters, society shall end up in a state of anarchy. This does not reduce the importance of personal piety and individual conscience. Nevertheless, family, education, society and state are the four stakeholders, which have equal importance in building an ethical vision and moral conduct and behaviour of citizens. That is why the Quran makes state responsible for ensuring implementation of ethical and moral measures in economy, in family, and application of justice and equity in social, economic, political and legal matters.
The concept that -religion- is a personal relationship between a person and his or her God is not new either. This was common among the Greek, Romans, Indians, and the Jewish and Christian religious traditions. Islam is perhaps the only faith, which has taken a social stance and not an individual-centered approach of one’s salvation. Piety, Goodness and Allah-consciousness, while intensely personal and of internalised nature, have a distinct and quantifiable manifestation in human behaviour. To that extent, they represent measurable, behavioural social categories and not confined to an individual heart. “Righteousness does not consist in turning your face toward the East or the West. True righteousness consists in believing in Allah and the Last Day, the Angels, the Book and the Prophets and in giving away one’s property in love of Him to one’s relatives, the orphans, the poor, and the wayfarer, and to those who ask for help, and in freeing the lives of slaves and in establishing prayer and dispersing Alms. True righteousness is attained by those who are faithful in their promise once they have made it and by those who remain steadfast in adversity and affliction, and at the time of battle (between truth and falsehood). Such are the truthful ones, such are the Allah fearing” (2:177)
This Quranic definition of what is virtue, righteousness and moral conduct, not only specifies its nature but also provides a scale and measure for quantification and morality assurance of human behaviour and conduct. It is not true with reference to Islam, to say that virtue and ethical attitudes is something abstract, invisible, non-measurable and non-tangible. Individual as much as civil society and state are responsible for establishment of an ethical and moral social order embodying virtue and righteousness at individual and collective levels.
If state policies do not take care of contracts and promises it makes, if it does not take care of minimising the gap between those who have and those who have not, if it does not use the same scale in dispensing justice to the poor and the rich, the polity becomes a mockery. The state, the society as well as the individual are to shoulder the burden of immorality and unethical behaviour. Therefore, in the context of Islamic morality, -religious- values are not a domain of the individual and his or her motivation. State and society have legal, constitutional, and moral obligations to make sure that Good prevails and Evil and excess are eradicated from state, society and individual’s behaviour. State is a major player in implementing Islamic moral norms, laws and values in society as stated very clearly in the Quran;
“Those if We give them authority in land would establish Prayers, Alms and enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong” (22:41)
State in the Islamic thought, therefore, is not value neutral, neither secular nor theocratic. It is morality-centered, not situational or relativistic but representative of universal values of justice, peace, equity, fraternity, coherence or in the single term monotheistic. The foundational function of interactive decision-making does not allow state to turn into kingship. It does not welcome conservatism, dogmatism, kingship, and authoritarianism. It has the potential to address the socio-economic problems humanity is facing today.
“Caliphate and Kingship” is more than a systematic treatment of the issue from a historical critical view point; it is an exercise in discovering Islamic foundations of a modern democratic order, therefore kingship is a deviation from the historical paradigm; this makes Mawdudi the champion of a new Islamic political order called –theodemocracy–
Striking at the very roots of dictatorial and hereditary monarchical systems, Mawdudi addresses the core issue of the real source of political authority. In the Western secular democratic model, the electoral college, at a hypothetical level, enjoys ultimate authority. In Islamic framework of thought, the doctrine of monotheism implies that the true and real sovereign is Allah. People are the instrument for the realisation of the Islamic ethical and political values. They have to seek guidance from these primary sources in the development of modern solutions, legislature, and strategic need to respond to change.
While kingship represents concentration of power in a person, Islamic political order empowers morality and law for the realisation of peace, harmony and justice in society. Divine Commands should not be confused with the corpus of Islamic Law, developed in different periods by the Jurists and proclaimed as law of land in various parts of the world. Islamic political order is founded on the Quranic principles of
شوراى Council Decision-making
إجمع Gathering of Jurisprudence and Verdicts
through an ongoing interaction at different levels in society. The will and aspirations of the people interact with the guiding principles of the Law in order to improvise viable solutions needed for development, progress and sustainability of a society.
This concept of Caliphate appears at variance with the historical view of the Caliphate put forth by Rashid Rida or Abdul Kalam and others; focusing on the dynamism of its people and their elected representatives and legislators in creation of a just and moral social order. It paves the way for a representative political order wherein supremacy of law, norms, and values prevails over the classical Greek or even modern Western view of the simple majority rule.
Misconceptions about the Islamic state develop when intellectuals try to read in the Muslim history clash and conflict, which existed in the European Christian context. They try to discover imaginary conflict between religious and secular, sacred and profane in Islam while this dichotomy is non-existent in the case of Islam; as such it can be said that kingship or dictatorship are alien concepts in Islam. The Islamic state stands for a Consultative, Just and Ethical socio-political-economic order of its own.