2. "Pardon them and ask protection for them, and take counsel with them in affairs of state. (3:158).
3. "Allāh commands you to make over trusts to those worthy of them, and that when you judge between people you judge with justice" (4:58).
4. "O David! We have made thee a ruler in the land, so judge between people with justice and do not follow (thy) desire" (38:26).
5. "They said: How can he hold kingship over us while we have a greater right to kingship than he, and he has not been granted abundance of wealth. He said: Surely Allāh has chosen him in preference to you, and He has increased him abundantly in knowledge and physique" (2:247).
6. "Obey Allāh and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you, and if you quarrel about anything, refer it to Allāh and the Messenger" (4:58).
Amr means a command or an order; imārah, the possession of command or the office or authority of a commander or a ruler or a king; and amīr, the person who commands or rules, or the head of a state. The word imām (originally, a person whose example is followed or who is imitated) is also used to indicate the chief or head of a state, and so also the word khalīfah (originally, a successor or a vicegerent, or a prophet's successor).
According to the Holy Qur'ān, the Muslim State is a democracy, counsel being the foundation-stone of government (v. 1); even the Holy Prophet is ordered to consult with his followers in conducting affairs of state (v. 2). The People are required to elect as their rulers persons who are fir for this office--to make over trusts to those worthy of them--and those chosen as rulers are required to be just (vv. 3, 4). Vast knowledge and strong physique are the qualifications which should be sought for in a good ruler, not the possession of wealth (v. 5). The highest authority is that of Allāh and His Messenger, so that no law should contravene the Holy Qur'ān and the Sunnah (v. 6).
Hadīth lays it down that government is needed for the good of the people, the king or head of a state being as much responsible for the welfare of the people whom he rules, as a father or mother for the welfare of his or her children, or as a servant for the property entrusted to him (h. 1). The people's responsibility to the State is to respect its laws and obey its orders, so long as they do not require disobedience to Allāh and His Messenger (hh. 2-5). Opposition to constituted authority or rebellion against it is not allowed (h. 6), but the authority of the head of the State may be disputed in extreme cases and he may even be deposed (hh. 7, 8). The Muslim State founded by the Holy Prophet chose the fittest man as his successor after his death, and it was agreed that the State should have a single head who should carry on government with the help of his counsellors and ministers (hh. 9, 10). The Khalīfah was a paid servant of the State, like all other public servants (h. 11). No public servant could accept gifts from the public (H. xvi:18). Those entrusted with carrying on the work of government, including the head, were required to work for the good of the people (h. 12), to be gentle to them (h. 13), to lead simple lives (h. 14). to be easily accessible (h. 15), to be God-fearing (h. 16), to tax the different classes of people according to their capacity, to provide for those who could not earn and to have as much regard for the rights of their non-Muslim subjects as for those of Muslims (h. 17). In his private capacity the ruler was to be treated as any other individual Muslim (h. 18).
1 Ibn 'Umar reported,
I heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:
Every one of you is a ruler and every one of you shall be questioned about those under his rule; the king is a ruler and he shall be questioned about his subjects; and the man is a ruler in his family and he shall be questioned about those under his care; and the woman is a ruler in the house of her husband, and she shall be questioned
about those under her care; and the servant is a ruler so far as the property of his master is concerned, and he shall be questioned about that which is entrusted to him."1
2 Anas reported,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"Hear and obey though a Negro whose head is like a raisin is appointed (to rule over you)."2
3 Ibn 'Umar reported,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"To hear and obey (the authorities) is binding, so long as one is not commanded
1. The Arabic word rā' (from ra'y, pasturing cattle) means a keeper, guarder, ruler or governor. Imām means a leader, and the king is also called an imām. The king or ruler is here placed in the same category as a servant. Just as a servant is entrusted with certain property for which he is responsible to the master, the king or the ruler is entrusted with the care of the people and the guarding of their rights; and for the proper discharge of his duties. He is responsible in the first place to God Who is the real Master, and then to the people in relation to whom he occupies the position of a servant. Hereditary kingship is therefore foreign to the Islamic conception of the State.
2. Thus even a Negro, if he is fit for the job, may be placed in authority over people of a white race; considerations of race and colour carry no weight Islām. According to another version, the words are a Negro slave (M. 17), so that even a slave may be entrusted with command.
to disobey (God); when one is commanded to disobey (God), he shall not hear or obey."3
4 Abū Hurairah reported,
He heard the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:
"He who obeys me obeys Allāh, and he who disobeys me disobeys Allāh and he who obeys the amīr obeys me, and he who disobeys the amīr disobeys me; and the imām is an armour for protection4--the battle is fought for his defence and through him protection is sought. So
3. Law is above all, even above the king or supreme authority; an order against the Holy Qur'ān and authoritative hadīth cannot therefore be accepted.
4. Amīr literally means one who holds command, and the word is applied to any person who is entrusted with any kind of authority over others. The highest ruling authority in Islām was called Amīr al-Mu'minīn (Commander of the Faithful). The amīr or the imām is here called junnah, or an armour for protection, because without the institution of imārah, or subjection to authority, a people cannot protect themselves either from an enemy or from one another's injustice.
if he commands the doing of duty to Allāh and does justice, he has a reward for it; and if he does otherwise,' he shall suffer the evil consequences of it."
5 'Alī said,
The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said
"Obedience is due only in that which is good."6
6 Ibn 'Abbās said, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
"He who dislikes an order of his amīr should withhold himself from
5. The maxim that the king can do no wrong is not known to Islām. As h. 6 shows, however, constituted authority is not to be opposed simply because a person thinks that justice has not been done to him.
6. These are the concluding words of the hadīth, according to which the amīr appointed over a small force required those under him to enter fire. but they refused to obey him. The Holy Prophet approved of their action, and added the words quoted here. According to another hadīth (B. 64: 60), when Khālid, who was appointed commander of a small force, ordered certain prisoners of war to be put to death, Ibn 'Umar and others refused to kill as the order was against the clear teachings of the Holy Qur'ān; and the Holy Prophet approved of their action. So an order should be disobeyed when it is against the clear precepts of the Law.
opposition, for he who rebels against the king by a span dies the death of jāhiliyyah."
7 Abū Sa'īd said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, said:
The most excellent jihād is the uttering of truth in the presence of an unjust ruler."
8 'Ubādah ibn Sāmit said,
'The Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, invited us so we swore allegiance to him; and among the conditions which he laid down on us to follow was this that he had a promise from us to hear and obey, whether we liked or disliked (an order,) and whether we were in adversity or ease, even if our rights were not granted; and that we should not dispute the
authority of those entrusted with it, (adding) "Unless you see (an act of) open disbelief in which you have a clear argument from Allāh."
9 'Ā'ishah reported,
'The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, died and the Ansār gathered together around Sa'd ibn 'Ubādah in the porch of Banī Sā'idah and said, There shall be an amīr from among us and an amīr from among you (the Quraish). Thereupon Abu Bakr and 'Umar and Abū 'Ubaidah went to the them, and 'Umar intended to speak, but Abu Bakr asked him to remain silent ..... Then Abu Bakr spoke, and
7. Kufr, as already shown (H. ii:13) means disbelief as well as an act of disbelief, or an evil deed. Kufr bawāh thus includes both open disbelief and evil deeds which are manifest to an ordinary eye. In such a case, the authority of the ruler may be contested, and he may even be deposed. It was on this ground that Imam Husain contested the authority of Yazīd, and fought against his rule.
he spoke as the most eloquent of all people, and he said in his speech, We (the Quraish) are the amīrs and you (the Ansār) are the wazīrs. Thereupon Hubāb ibn al-Mundhir said, No! By Allāh! We will not accept this; there shall be an amīr from among us and an amīr from among you. But Abu Bakr repeated, No! We are amīrs and you are the wazīrs; they (the Quraish) are the most exalted of all Arabs in position and the noblest of them as regards family: so swear allegiance to 'Umar or Abū 'Ubaidah. 'Umar said, Rather we swear allegiance to thee, for thou art' our chief and the best of us and the most beloved of us to the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, So 'Umar took his hand and swore allegiance
to him, and the people swore allegiance to him."8
10 Anas reported,
He heard the second sermon of 'Umar when he ascended the pulpit, and this was the day next to that on which the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allah, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, died; . . . . . he said . . . . .
8. Conclusive evidence is afforded by this hadīth that the Islamic State was a democracy in which the head was chosen by the people themselves. Abū Bakr was admittedly the best among the companions and the fittest man to be the head of the State and to control its affairs. as this hadīth and the one that follows show. The Ansār were at first under the impression that there could be two amīrs or two heads of the State, but they were ultimately convinced that this position was untenable, and there was an agreement on the point that the State must have a single head, with ministers and counsellors to help him. Wazīr ( from wizr, burden ) means an aider or helper, and hence a king's minister. 'Umar's election as the head of the State after Abū Bakr was made in a different way. Before his death Abū Bakr consulted the leading men of the Muslims community, and nominated as his successor 'Umar, who during his own caliphate had acted as his right-hand man, and who was, admittedly the most outstanding personality in Islām after Abū Bakr. 'Umar. on his death-bed, adopted yet a third course by appointing an elective council. There were then six eminent men, every one of whom was fit to hold the reins of government, and 'Umar decided that these six should choose one from among themselves as the amīr, and the mantle fell upon 'Uthmān. There were some differences when 'Uthmān died, but the majority favoured 'Ali who was the fourth head of the Islamic State after the Holy Prophet. In all four cases, election was the basic principle in appointing the head of the State, though different methods were adopted to avoid dissensions.
But if Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, is dead, Allāh has given you the light9 by which you may be guided--(with it) Allāh guided Muhammad, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, and Abū Bakr is the companion of the Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, the second of the two; he is the fittest of the Muslims to control your affairs; so get up and swear allegiance to him.
Some of them had sworn allegiance to him before this in the porch of Banī Sā'idah and the masses swore allegiance to him while he was on the pulpit.
11 'Ā'ishah said,
When Abū Bakr was chosen as successor (to the
9. By Light is meant the Holy Qur'ān, the basis of the Islamic law, to which even the head of the State was subject. Abū Bakr is called the "Second of the two" because during the Flight he was in the cave with the Holy Prophet.
Prophet), he said, My people know that the profession I followed was by no means lacking in supporting my family; and now I am occupied with the affairs of the Muslims, and so the family of Abu Bakr will eat out of this (public) treasury, and he (Abu Bakr) will do work for the Muslims.10
12 Ma'qil said,
I heard the Prophet, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, say:
"There is not a man whom Allāh grants to rule people, then he does not manage their affairs for (their) good but he will not smell the sweet odour of paradise."11
10. The head of the State was thus paid a fixed salary from the public treasury, like all other public servants.
11. Officers of government are, thus required to manage the affairs of the public for the good of the public.
13 Abū Burdah said,
The Messenger of Allāh, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, sent Abu Mūsā and Mu'adh ibn Jabal to Yaman, and he appointed each one of them to govern a part of Yaman, and he said, Yaman was divided into two parts; then he said "Be gentle (to the people) and be not hard (on them), and make (them) rejoice and do not incite (them) to aversion."
14 It is reported about 'Umar that when he appointed his governors, he laid down upon them certain conditions:
You shall not ride a horse that is not of Arabian breed; you shall not eat bread made of fine flour; you shall not wear fine clothes; and you shall not shut your doors against the needs of the people. If
you do any of these things. punishment shall descend on you.
Then he went forth with them to bid them farewell.12
15 Hasan said,
Allāh has given orders to the rulers that they shall not follow their low desires, and shall not fear people, and shall not take a small price for Allāh's injunctions.13
16 'Amr ibn Maimūn said,
I saw 'Umar at Madīnah a few days before he was wounded. He stopped to talk with Hudhaifah ibn al-Yaman
12.A governor was thus required to lead the life of an ordinary Muslim citizen. That there is a direction not to ride any but a horse of Arabian breed shows that governors were required to be good horsemen as well. The ruling authorities were further required to be easily accessible to the public. The Holy Prophet himself set an example in this respect as he had no door-keepers even after he became ruler of Arabia (B. 23:31).
13. Selflessness was thus the first requisite of those who were entrusted with rule.
and 'Uthmān ibn al-Hunaif. He said, How have you acted (In 'Irāq)? Do you apprehend that you may have placed a burden on the land which it cannot bear? They said, We have placed on it a burden which it can easily bear.14 Then 'Umar said, If Allāh keep me alive, I would certainly leave the widows of the people of 'Iraq so (well-provided for) that they shall not need the help of any one after me.15 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . And he said, To him who succeeds me, I enjoin as regards the early Muhājirs that he shall respect their rights and protect their honour; and
14. Hudhaifah and 'Uthmān were appointed by 'Umar to assess land revenue. The total amounted to a very large sum. and therefore 'Umar's apprehension that the people might have been taxed too heavily. He was assured that assessment was according to the capacity of the land.
15. 'Umar apparently was thinking of making the State responsible for the maintenance of widows He had already introduced old-age pensions and made arrangements for the grant of allowances to the weak and the disabled.
I enjoin him to be kind to the Ansār . . . . receiving with approbation (the deeds of) those from among them who do good and pardoning those from among them who do evil; and
I enjoin him to do good to the dwellers of the towns, for they are the support of Islām and the collectors of tribute and the terror of the enemy, and that nothing shall be taken from them save what they can spare, (and that too) with their assent; and
I enjoin him to be good to the dwellers of the desert, for they are the original stock of the Arabs and the auxiliaries of Islām, so that only the less valuable of their cattle shall be taken (as zakāt), and these shall be returned to the poor among them;16
16. The conditions under which the urban and the rural populations lived were different, and 'Umar was therefore anxious that the Muslim State should have regard for the welfare of both. People were to be taxed with their assent, which shows that the State worked on purely democratic principles.
I enjoin him as regards those under the protection of Allāh and the protection of His Messenger,17, peace and blessings of Allāh be on him, that the covenant made with them shall be fulfilled, and that battles shall be fought for their defence, and that they shall be burdened only with what they can bear.
37. The non-Muslims living in a Muslim state were known as ahl al dhimmah or dhimmīs, dhimmah meaning a covenant. Here they are spoken of as being under the protection of Allāh and the protection of Allāh's Messenger, and the sacredness of their right is thus enhanced. They enjoyed freedom to the same extent as the Muslim subjects of a Muslim state, and had the additional advantage of being free from military service on payment of a small tax. which was by all means a smaller burden than zakāt which Muslims were required to my in addition to their liability to military service, being required to fight in the defence of Islām as well as non-Muslims.