Friday, December 10, 2010

Restoration of Caliphate- Part III, The Political Rights of the Muslims

In Part I of this Treatise on the Restoration of Caliphate, we argued that the Ummah must choose its salvation, which are The Theories of Social and Political Justice inherent in the Deen wa Dawlat of Islam. Moreover, this will not only save the Muslims, but also provide an example for the rest of humanity as to how they should conduct their affairs and lives. Now more than at any other time in the history of our species, ‘mankind today is on the brink of a precipice, not because of the danger of complete annihilation which is hanging over its head…but because humanity is devoid of those vital values which are necessary not only for its healthy development but also for its real progress.’[1] Abdul Malik al Sayed has provided us with arguably the best definition of Islamic Nationalism from which the Ummah must construct a stable, commercially viable political edifice. Wan Daud elucidated the work of al Attas, who with superb accuracy, identified that a true, classical Islamic education produces men of virtue. Wan Daud writes:

He argues that a good citizen or worker in a secular state may not necessarily be a good man; a good man, however, will definitely be a good worker and citizen. It is obvious that if the employer or state is good as defined from the holistic Islamic framework, then being a good worker and citizen may be synonymous with being a good man. But an Islamic state presupposes the existence and active involvement of a critical mass of Islamically-minded men and women. In a later work, al-Attas emphasizes that stressing the individual is not only a matter of principle, but also “a matter of correct strategy in our times and under the present circumstances.”He further argues that stressing the individual implies knowledge about intelligence, virtue, and the spirit, and about the ultimate destiny and purpose. This is so because intelligence, virtue, and the spirit are elements inherent in the individual, whereas stressing society and state opens the door to legalism and politics. However, al-Attas asserts that Islam accepts the idea of good citizenship as the object of education, “only that we mean by ‘citizen’ a Citizen of that other Kingdom, so that he acts as such even here and now as a good man.”The primary focus on the individual is so fundamental because the ultimate purpose and end of ethics in Islam is the individual. It is because of this notion of individual accountability as a moral agent that in Islam it is the individual that shall be rewarded or punished on the Day of Judgment.

In the final analysis prior to our next beginning, we must emphasize-or reemphasize-that the individual exercise his own Allah-Derived volition in being, and not being named, Muslim. He must serve Allah (SWT) and not merely carry the title of servant. 

As Sayyid Qutb wrote:

Islam cannot fulfill its role except by taking concrete form in a society, rather, in a nation; for man does not listen, especially in this age, to an abstract theory which is not seen materialized in a living society. From this point of view, we can say that the Muslim community has been extinct for a few centuries, for this Muslim community does not denote the name of a land in which Islam resides, nor is it a people whose forefathers lived under the Islamic system at some earlier time. It is the name of a group of people whose manners, ideas and concepts, rules and regulations, values and criteria, are all derived from an Islamic source.[2]

It is the Islamic Nationalist who seeks to restore that which has been lost, with Allah’s Help and Provision. It is in 1952 and 1953 that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood-the founders of the Islamic Nationalist movement-called for what they believed to be their transition government to engage in the political principles of democratic-republicanism; thereby allowing the Egyptian people to chose their destiny in their nation. As previously alluded, there are sound, circumstantial reasons as to why the Egyptian people were never afforded that opportunity, which would end in Nasser banning the Brotherhood as a party and throwing its leading members, including Qutb into prison. However, it is now we must examine the relationship between democracy, more specifically democratic-republicanism, and Islamic Political Theory and Philosophy.

First and foremost, it is necessary to have an accurate and clear definition of what democratic-republicanism is on a purely theoretical basis. The Muslim world has a tendency to confuse the theory of democratic –republicanism with the practices of the United States and the Western world in general. There is no doubt that America is my homeland, and it is my countrymen who created this new system of government in the eighteenth century. Yet, that which is equally true is there is a stark demarcation between the theory of America and the practice of America. Nonetheless, the theory and principles of democratic-republicanism are not only sound, but also were called for by the first Islamic Nationalists in our contemporary times. Millions of Muslims yearn for the restoration of the Caliphate, but unwisely look to the seventh century model for the methodology of its administration. These same countless millions ignore the most simple of prophetic traditions, when our beloved Muhammad (SAAW) told us to take what is good and leave what is bad, and verily the political theory of the United States of America is good and worthwhile in its duplication, so long as said duplication is done within an Islamic framework. Although, admittedly Qutb would disagree with this claim, another Muslim scholar, al-Sayed would concur. If Aristotle is correct, which we believe he is, that man is a political animal then in actuality democratic-republicanism is simply another method by which he organizes himself without monarchy.

The greatest political theorist, the primary author of the United States Constitution, and the nation’s fourth President wrote in the tenth Federalist Paper:

It may be concluded that a pure democracy, by which I mean a society, consisting of a small number of citizens, who assemble and administer the government in person, can admit no cure for the mischiefs of faction. A common passion or interest will, in almost every case, be felt by a majority of the whole…hence it is, that such democracies have even been spectacles of turbulence and contention; have ever found incompatible with personal security, or the rights of property; and have in general been as short in their lives, as they have been violent in their deaths. Theoretic politicians, who have patronized this species of government, have erroneously supposed that by reducing mankind to a perfect equality in their political rights, they would, at the same time, be perfectly equalized and assimilated in their possessions, their opinions, and their passions. A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking…The two great points of difference between a democracy and a republic, are first, the delegation of the government, in the latter, to a small number of citizens elected by the rest; secondly, the greater the number of citizens, and greater sphere of country, over which the latter may be extended. The effect of the first difference is, on the one hand, to refine and enlarge the public views, by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens, whose wisdom may best discern the true interest of their country, and whose patriotism and love of justice, will be least likely to sacrifice it to temporary or partial considerations.[3]

After deposing the British-supported King of Egypt, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood called for elections to ascertain the views of the public as to who was best able to discern the true interest of their country. Unlike the Taliban and its al-Qaeda cohorts in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood did not trample on the rights of their sisters in Islam, compelling pseudo-Islamic practices under the threat of death by the AK-47. Nor did Qutb and the Muslim Brotherhood call for the destruction of the ancient statues of Ramses and the Pyramids of Giza, or destroy the Valley of Kings. Nor did Qutb call for brothers to slaughter zoo animals for human consumption. Twelve and thirteen year old girls were not wed to men thirty and forty years their senior, nor were boys of equal age convinced that killing themselves was an acceptable tactic of a mujahid. Qutb being the chief political ideologue of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood in 1952 and 1953 did not call for the establishment of a caliph, but elections within the democratic-republican process. This is a human sign for those who reflect. Sayyid Qutb has unfairly, and erroneously, been characterized as the ideological father of al-Qaeda and the entire Islamic extremist movement. Despite what many of my countrymen believe, a Qutb to 9/11 direct culmination is pure idiocy. It is just as preposterous as direct culmination from William F. Buckley, Jr. to Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City bombings. Qutb was the greatest voice for Islamic Nationalism in the twentieth century, who in a period of social transition in the Middle East would not remain silent. It is because he used the voice of a citizen that he is demonized, and referred to with the undeserving term of radical. Islam is both religion/creed and politics. It was Created in such a fashion by The One True and Living God, and as Allah is Eternal, so is His Law. Al-Qaeda and all extremists are violators, criminals, before His Laws. The evidence of their guilt lies, both prior and after, September 11, 2001. Yet none of their actions can be used to indict Sayyid Qutb. Indeed, it is the state initiated murder of scholars and oppression of masses that creates the climate for extremists. History has revealed that any line of culmination to al-Qaeda ironically must begin with Jamal Abd’ al-Nasser. It was after all, Nasser who disbanded and outlawed the Muslim Brotherhood from the arena of Egyptian politics. He ordered the arrest and subsequent torture of its leading members, including Qutb, his brother, and two sisters. It is with Nasser that Qutb’s life as a political prisoner begins in 1954 and ends with his execution in 1966. Imprisoned, tortured, and living under the constant fear of his death, Qutb being the writer he had been created, educated, and trained to be, used the pen with which to strike back to regime who labeled him a criminal, a radical, and a terrorist.

Social Justice in Islam was written during better, and certainly freer, days in Qutb’s life. The work is of vital importance to the Islamic Nationalist for it portrays our mission and ultimate goal within the modern, contemporary context of our lives. While it does provide some areas of debate, Qutb was the first to challenge us to think and to govern for ourselves, using our Deen wa Dawalt as The Criterion, because we are Muslims. He reminds us of Allah’s Message, of which, we have been entrusted. He reminds us of we are. 

Qutb writes:

Such was the birth of Islam and such its task; so it was not liable to be isolated in human idealism far removed from practical worldly life; nor was it compelled to narrow the circle of its action out of fear of an empire or a monarch. For the center of its being and the field of its action is human life in its entirety, spiritual and material, religious and worldly. Such a religion cannot continue to exist in isolation from society, nor can its adherents be true Muslims unless they practice their faith in their social, legal, and economic relationships. And a society cannot be Islamic if it expels the civil and religious Laws of Islam from its codes and customs, so that nothing of Islam is left except rites and ceremonials.[4]

When al-Farabi writes of Plato and Aristotle in Attainment of Happiness inquiring as to the certainty of the noble, virtuous, beautiful life that is derived from the human, voluntary science-the science specific to mankind alone- it is Qutb that answers with one word: Islam. Furthermore, it is Islam that is within his natural, fitra, possession. Simply stated: man knows that God, indeed, Exist. Qutb was a political theoretician who rejected all of al-Farabi’s notions and respect for the philosophy of the Greeks. Yet nonetheless, Qutb answer is simple, direct, and true for the Muslim who seeks to build a society and practice Islam beyond the Five Pillars. Qutb, again adds to the argument of the democratic-republican necessity of modern Islamic Nationalism, and unwittingly makes al-Farabi, Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle relevant for us. He states:

Furthermore, in Islam, there is no priesthood, and no intermediary between the creature and The Creator; but every Muslim from the ends of earth or in the paths of the sea has the ability of himself to approach his Lord without priest or minister. Nor again can the Muslim administrator derive his authority from any papacy, or from Heaven; but he derives it solely from the Muslim community. Similarly, he derives his principles of administration from the religious law, which is universal in its understanding and application and before which all men come everywhere as equals. So, the man of religion has no right to oppress Muslims; nor has the administrator any power other than that of implementing the law, which derives its authority from the faith.

The government of the Ummah derives its authority from the Muslim People, but unlike the American model of a democratic-republic, Allah is The Sovereign. There exist Laws Commanded by Allah (SWT) and His messenger (SAAW) that cannot be altered, negotiated, or ignored. It is from These Holy, Sacred Laws that individual human beings, both Muslims and non-Muslims derive their Inalienable and Islamic Political Rights. In his all-important text, Western Muslims and The Future of Islam, Tariq Ramadan has enumerated a list of seven of these rights, to which we have added another eight, which are essential to a viable, Islamic state and society. We will examine each of these rights at a later point, but highlight them now to juxtapose the actions and societal norms of the nation of Muslims who will received our highest criticism. It is this house that currently engages in the basest, degeneration within our Ummah. We submit their laws have degenerated a vast number of our brothers and sisters to an animalistic level, based on the denial of The Fifteen Rights Granted by The One True and Living God. However so there is no confusion, this house is not unique in the treatment of its citizens; yet for who these people are, the language they speak, and the sites inside of their borders makes them deserving of our highest criticism.

Ramadan identifies these seven rights that must be present within an Islamic State, to which we add the remaining: (1) The right to life and the minimum necessary to sustain it; (2) The right to family; (3) The right to housing; (4) The right to education; (5) The right to work; (6) The right to justice; (7) The right to solidarity; (8) The right to free speech; (9) The right to free press and media; (10) The right to vote; (11) The right of the citizen to petition and criticize his government, without fear of retaliation or reprisal; (12) The right to privacy; (13) The right to individual ownership of property; (14) The right of a woman to choose her husband and exercise all other rights of men, unless specifically and blatantly Limited by Allah and His messenger(SAAW); (15) In accordance with The Laws of The Holy Qur’an and Sunna of the prophet Muhammad (SAAW), The right of the free exercise of one’s conscience in religion and creed.

The Fifteen Rights of the Citizen of an Islamic Democratic-Republic represent the practical application of Islamic Theories of social justice. They are, paraphrasing the prophet (SAAW), the middle of the road between two bipolar extremes of American Liberalism/Laissez-Faire Capitalism and the literalism/violent determinism of the ultra-right wing Wahhabi/Salafi/Sahwah movement that has led countless millions of our brothers and sisters to their doom in this world and in the Next. Moreover, all Muslims throughout the Ummah who live under the tyranny and oppression of dictators and hereditary monarchs beseech their Guardian Lord for these Fifteen Rights and Liberty; for it is Liberty that is derived from Allah (SWT). In all places, on all continents, the Muslim is compelled to pay homage, and often to bow both literally and figuratively, to his fellow man. In Riyadh, in Amman, Casablanca, Kuwait City, and Muscat: his life, his ability to sustain it, and his dignity is all due to the whims, fancies, religious temperament of a fellow Muslim and that Muslim’s respective family. Whether al-Saud or al-Sabah, he must pay homage or risk political persecution, imprisonment, and ruin. He does not belong to himself, but to the family that controls his, and his nation’s, destiny. In Cairo, Algiers, Tripoli, Tehran, Damascus, and Islamabad, he must never speak of his oppression, do that which is expected of him, and be thankful for that which he has been given, or risk imprisonment, torture of himself and that of his family, or death. While several Muslim governments receive wide-ranging support from the West, in particular the United States and Great Britain, the deprivation of the Muslims’ their Inalienable Rights, derived from their Creator, The Lord of The Worlds, is a heinous sin and disease of the Ummah itself. No Muslim can lay blame on the West for the denial of his Fifteen Rights, for it is his governments sin, his people’s disease, and ultimately only his efforts that can, indeed, must discover the appropriate remedy.

Without The Fifteen Rights, there can be no choice. There can be no unbridled volition. There can be no freedom. Inshallah, in Part IV, we will support each of The Fifteen Rights with Edicts from The Holy Qur’an and Sunna of the prophet Muhammad (SAAW), but alas, we pause here.

Isma’il ibn Bilal

[1] Sayyid Qutb, Milestones
[2] Ibid
[3] James Madison, Federalist No. 10
[4] Sayyid Qutb, Social Justice in Islam

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