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Government Belongs To The Community

by G.A. Parwez

God says to the Muslims in Ale-Imran 3:110 ď You are the best community for (the good) of mankind: you advocate righteousness, forbid evil and believe in GodÖ.Ē

Earlier I said that individuals become one united community when they have ONE goal as their aim. It was explained as an example of a football game where there are eleven players who all have one goal. I also said that players are spread out right, left and centre on their half of the field. Some are at the front and others at the back.

The question is: Do the individual players decide who is to play in any particular position, and to play in whichever way they please? It is obvious that if this were so, then there would be many disputes. Frequent arguments would arise and even fist-to-fist fighting would be engaged in by players of the same team Ė especially when a particular strategic position was desired by more than one player. Instead of competing with the opposing team, they would be engrossed in their own bickering. To avoid the deplorable situation, one of the players is chosen as the captain of the team. It is unanimously decided that they will abide by the decisions, which the captain makes in his capacity as leader of the team. This includes allocating the position, which each player occupies within the team and resolving any dispute which may arise. This is how the players become one team.

            The circumstances of a team playing football are very similar to the conditions of a community. The individuals in a community cannot remain in the state of a community unless they have a captain. The members of a community select the most suitable person from amongst themselves to lead and all others follow according to the direction set by them. In this way they remain steadfast and constant in their aim and collectively, as a united community is able to achieve its common aspirations and reach its goal. This leader of the community is called the Head of State in todayís terms; in other words, the executive administrator of the affairs of the community. Previously such a person may have been called a Caliph of the muslimeen or Ameerul-Muímineen. The title may be different and modern but the responsibilities are the same. The truth is this: the individual who is chosen to be captain and leader must be the best in the community.

            The team and their captain or the community and its administrator have a peculiar relationship. The captain of the team does not direct his team from outside the playing field. He too is one of the eleven players. He too plays with the team. When he allocates positions he too takes one playing position. The position he plays is like one the other players. Besides offering instruction to his team he too has to maintain his own position. Looking at this, it appears that the captain has twice as many obligations as the other players.            

            The position of an Administrator or Head of State is similar to that of a team captain. This individual is an ordinary citizen. He has all the responsibilities of other citizens but in addition he has to lead his fellow citizens and be an example to them all. He must also satisfy himself that the other citizens are fulfilling their responsibilities too. This is why he needs to work much harder than anyone else.

            Picking a captain does not mean that the other players can take it easy and think that the captain will manage all the responsibilities by himself. They should not think that the captain can defend, attack and score the goals all by himself. Not at all. The team cannot win unless all the players hold their position with due effort. And the team cannot operate as one unless they follow the captainís advice.

            The obligations of the team are that they should pick a captain from amongst themselves. The captainís responsibility is that he should give good advice to his players who have a duty to endeavour fully to put all their energies into winning. The team that does all this can succeed.

            It is worth noting that when a team wins, the captain wins but when a captain fails the team does not necessarily fail. It is the team, which wins, and it is the team which loses. The community is in the same situation. If a community does not elect a good leader who is able to guide them, or if the community does not follow the good advice of their Head of State, then that community will experience nothing but defeat. This defeat is for the whole community just as in the case of the football team.

            It is also to be considered that when the Head of State makes decisions, they are not to be for his own personal advantage. The decisions must be for the community. This is why the Quran says about the community of Muslims that resolutions must be made by consensus. The job of government does not belong to any particular individuals or groups but the whole community, (42:38).

            As mentioned at the beginning, Muslims are those who advocate righteousness and forbid evil. This is the responsibility of the whole community and not just the responsibility of those in charge or the administrators of law and justice. In this way the whole community takes on the responsibility of government and actively takes part in making their place peaceful and secure.

            There is yet another aspect, which deserves special attention. Does the team captain have the right to make any rule he wishes? Does he too have constraints and limitations? To understand this you must again bring into view our game of football.

            The rule is that no player must touch the ball with his hand. If the player touches the ball with his hand then he will have broken an important rule. The captain has no right to say to his team player that he may touch the ball with his hands. The captain can never say that this is allowed. This means that the captainís rights are only within the limits of the unchangeable rules set for the game.

            We already know that God has decreed Permanent Values or principles in the Quran, which cannot be altered or amended. An Islamic government is an instrument to implement the Permanent Values. This is why an Islamic Head of State does not have the right to substitute any rule in place of the Permanent Values or decree any order in contravention of these principles.

            The words of God are complete in justice and truth and no one can abrogate His words (6:34). This is why a government or an administrator cannot change the Permanent Values to suit themselves. The decrees of God are eternal in the field of life and adherence to them is important and should not be sacrificed under any circumstances.

            One more point should be considered: A rule in football is that the ball should not be touched during play. It is not the case that players are not permitted to touch it but, should the captain wish, he alone can neither kick the ball nor pick it up with his hands. No, this is not so. The rules must be obeyed by all without exception. The same applies to the Islamic Government. The laws decreed by God are applicable to all. The highest in the government has to abide by His laws. It was commanded that even Muhammad the Messenger of God should say, ď I am the first to submit (become a Muslim),Ē and indeed Muhammad did follow Godís laws as decreed in the Quran (6:14-15). From this it is clear that without exception, no one is exempt from following Godís law, nor is anyone allowed to change His laws. If the Head of State were to violate His laws, he too would receive the same punishment, which would be given to any other citizen. Muhammad the Messenger of God was commanded to say that if he disobeyed Godís law then he too would fear the day of retribution (6:14-15).

            The members of an Islamic community elect one their best men to implement Godís laws and his decisions are carried out by the rest of the community; but in his ruling he does not become a dictator. He too must abide by the principles, which are given by God in the Quran. In this there is no difference between any other citizen and the administrators of law. The Islamic government does not belong by right to any caste, sect or group of people. It belongs to the Islamic community and all laws or regulations are made within the parameters of the Quranic principles and no one is permitted to go against them.

            What affect does this have on the other governments of the world and why is this better than the other forms of government? I have been writing about this for the last 30 years and it is detailed in my literature. I find it necessary to say that the Quranís principles, laws and decrees are given by God: the obligation of the Islamic government is to implement them.

            The permanent Values will always remain unchangeable principles but their execution and realisation can only be determined by an established Islamic Government through the formulation of by-laws and local regulations within the frame of the Quranic injunctions. These by-laws will be different and changeable according to the needs of the time.

            The Permanence and Change will ensure the continuance of the values and principles decreed by God. Godís eternal laws are not restricted by time or geography and in this way they remain in force forever. This is the uniqueness of an Islamic Government whose greatest obligation is to implement the Quran. God too has taken the responsibility for the guidance of human beings. The foundation of responsibility for an Islamic government is the total welfare of its community and citizens. If it can realise this through implementing the Quran, then its achievement is great. All other rules, regulations and by-laws will be easy to activate and, of course, will be amended as the needs and requirements of the Islamic nation demand.