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Intellectual Foundations of Islamic Political thought

Posted May 20, 2009

Filed under: Islamic Political Thought |


Q. Dear Abdullah thank you for the articles. I have another request, could you briefly explain to me the intellectual foundations of Islamic politics? Thank you.



A.  According Muslim scholars and political scientists Islamic polity is predicated upon three main pillars or principles:


1] Tawhid 2] Risalah 3] and Khilafa



Tawhid [Oneness of Allah]: Tawhid is the belief that there is one Creator, Sustainer and Master of the universe and all that exists in it – organic and inorganic, physical and the metaphysical. He alone commands and forbids and is the ruler, King and sovereign of all that exists. Thus, no individual, family, class or race can set themselves above of God since he’s is the command and his ordinances constitute the Shar’iah [Law of Islam].


Risalah [Prohethood]: Risalah is the medium through which humans have received the Shar’iah [Law] of God. There are two fundamental sources or authorities received through the medium of al-Risalah – the Qur’an, which is the book within which Allah expounded and laid the foundations of His law; and the quintessential interpretation and exemplification of the Book, by the Prophet Muhammad, through his words, deeds, approvals and his capacity as a political and spiritual leader and as the absolute and complete representative of Allah on earth.


Khilafa [Caliphate]: Khilafa translates as ‘representation’, since Man is the representative [according to Ibn ‘Ashur [famous commentator of the Qur’an], this should be understood in an allegorical [ma’nawi] capacity and not to be taken literally since that would create a number of problems. See tahwir wat tanwir] of Allah on earth. He [man] is entrusted to serve God by implementing His commands and prohibitions. This does not in way any mean that Islam is theocratic or autocratic; it is far above any human endeavours to establish political and spiritual authority. Conventional human endeavours have limitations and restriction but the command or the Laws of God have no limitation or restrictions.


One of the main maqsad [aim] of the Islamic state is to maintain a balance between the rights of individuals and the duties of government. The purpose of this is to prevent individual freedom from threatening the interest of the greater community. As Farhang argues, ‘’the liberal notion of freedom from external restraint is incompatible with Islamic theology, because freedom in Islam is not an inherent right. It is only in relation to obligations that human rights are recognised in Islam.’’ [Farhang, M. 1988, Opere Citato, p. 64. quoted from a magazine artcle]


God knows best


Abdullah Hasan

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