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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Islamic State 15: Necessary Characteristics of State Officials

Now we take up the qualities required of the political leaders and administrators of the Islamic State. If someone lacking these attributes is appointed at such positions in the Islamic State, he will not only prove a great problem for the people in this world but will also create a great misfortune for himself on the Last Day because of his position. Before we discuss these qualities, it is necessary to address a relevant question: what objectives and tasks does the sharī‘ahset for the leaders and administrators in the Islamic State? After we have determined the objectives of these position holders, in the Islamic State, it would be easy to learn the required qualities. The nature of the duty itself will tell us what qualities are required in the people pursuing it and what other qualities mismatch them.
This discussion may look weird and strange to all those who are acquainted with only a misinformed view of the government and the government officials in the Islamic state. They keep in their mind the examples of the governments and the rulers of the Great Britain and the USA as a guide. They are usually taught certain concepts regarding the governments and the form of governance in their studies for competitive examinations in the modern institutions. The models of constitutions and etiquette for the rulers they are taught are not only different from that the Islamic teachings intend to set but also contradict the Islamic principles. Things considered to be the primary duties of the officials in Islam for example, are treated by these people as duties of the clerics whose role is confined to leading the Prayers in the mosques. Similarly, the way of life the rulers follow in the modern forms of governance, which is considered the true beauty of effective governance in the present day, is not only Pharaonic but absolutely satanic in an Islamic System. Because of the extraordinary gap between the two systems, the present generations, overawed by the West, are not easily convinced of the Islamic System. Until the present concepts of the ideal way of life are changed completely, the present values are replaced with the true Islamic values, and the Islamic values are loved and cherished, there is not a least chance that people can understand the real responsibilities of the Islamic government. They will not be ready to adorn themselves with the moral behaviour and the qualities which are required for the workers in the Islamic State.


Let us now see that what target an Islamic system sets for the caliph, the governors, the viceroys, and the lower officials. What is the prime objective they all must work for and which, if ignored, can render them useless for the purpose of the state? We will start with the instrument of instruction the Prophet gave to ‘Amr b. Ḥazam when the latter was appointed governor of Yemen. This will help us learn that it is one of the basic objectives of the state to lead the people to seek God’s pleasure in a unified and systematic manner under the state authority. The aim of the head of the government and his deputies, therefore, is to make sure that the state meets its objective. They must purify the society of all kinds of evils, big and small, which can hinder progress to the goal on the one hand, and to promote and teach all kinds of virtues, big and small, which are helpful in the journey to the goal on the other. This well defined objective of the Islamic state entails that the government officials are not merely engaged in enforcing the will of the authorities on the subjects and establish the writ of the state. Contrarily, they are to act like loving fathers and compassionate teachers and remove the evils from the lives of their subjects, mend their weaknesses and remove their ignorance. The relevant parts of the Prophet’s letter of instructions are produced below:

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Ever Merciful. This is a document of instructions from Allah and his Messenger.
Believers, fulfil the promises you contract. Following are the instructions, the Messenger of God and his Prophet Muhammad has given to ‘Amr b. Ḥazam at the time when he (the Prophet) appointed the latter as governor of Yemen. He instructed him to fear God in every matter; for God is with those only who fear him and are righteous. He instructed him to hold fast to truth, as God commanded; to give the people glad tidings of virtue; to instruct them to righteousness; to teach them the Qur’ān; to create in them understanding of their religion; to stop them from touching the Qur’ān without having performed ablution; to inform them about their duties and rights; to be lenient to them with regards to the truth; to deal them sternly when they commit injustice, for God has disliked injustice and has prohibited it where He says: “beware, curse of God be upon the transgressors”; to give them glad tidings of the paradise and of the actions which lead one to it; to warn them of Hell and deeds which take one to it; to sympathize with them so that they are inclined towards attaining understanding of the religion; to teach them the rituals and etiquette of the ḥajj; and to impart to them the importance of this duty. The great ḥajj is but the great ḥajjand the lesser ḥajj is the ‘umrah. He (the Messenger of God) instructed him to stop people from praying in short clothing; they should be wearing a cloth which they can wrap around both of their shoulders; to stop people from wearing a small piece of cloth so that when they sit their private parts are not revealed; and to stop people from binding their hair behind their heads. If a dispute arises among the people he should see to that the people do no utter tribal and national slogans. On the contrary, their call should be limited to the name of the Almighty Allah, the one and only who has no partners. If they, instead of using the slogan of the name of the Almighty Allāh, insist on using the slogan of tribal and national feelings they should be put to sword until they are made to turn back to the Almighty Allah, the one and only who has no partners, abandoning the slogans depicting their national and tribal feelings. He (the Messenger of God instructed him) to order the people to perform wuḍū properly; they should wash their faces and their hands to the elbows, wash their feet to their ankles and wipe their heads, exactly as God has commanded; to direct them to observe the timings for the obligatory Prayers; to offer their bowings and prostrations in the Prayer fully, and with humility. The Fajar Prayer should be offered while in the dark, the Ẓuhr Prayer should be offered after the sun declines, and the ‘Aṣr Prayer when the sun turns its face, and the MaghribPrayer when the night sets, it should not be delayed till the time the stars become prominent, and the ’Ishā’ Prayer should be offered in the first part of the night. People should be commanded that when they are called for Friday Congregation, they should actively and diligently turn to the mosques. They should take a bath before leaving their houses. [1]

The document of instructions also deals with many other commands regarding for example, booty, zakāh, kharāj, jizyah etc, which we have not mentioned partly because they are irrelevant to the present discussion and partly for the fear of lengthiness.
This issue has been taken up by ‘Umar in one of his sermons in the following abbreviated manner.

Allah, I take you as witness against my officials appointed in all the regions. I have indeed appointed them so that they educate the masses in the religion and the Sunnah of the Prophet, distribute among them the booty and refer to me the issues which they cannot decide for themselves. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 186)

In another sermon he talked about the responsibilities of his deputies. He hinted toward this reality in the following words:

I have not appointed the regents in order that they beat you, dishonour you and appropriate you wealth. On the contrarily, I have appointed them to teach you the Book of the Lord and the Sunnah of the Prophet.[2]

A little deliberation on the document of instructions issued by the Prophet and the sayings of ‘Umar reveals that the first and the most important duty of the regents of the Islamic government and its rulers is to teach the people the Book of God and the Sunnah of his Messenger and to make them practice these in their lives. All the other duties are secondary and, therefore, of lesser importance. They have to fulfil this in its entire dimensions. In case of their failure, the foundation of the Islamic society and the Islamic State will collapse. For according to the Islamic teachings, the rulers are held responsible for the evil, small or big, among the people living in the country under their control. It is not enough for a ruler of a country or a governor of a province to make sure that law and order prevails under his rule and that he makes his subjects pay the taxes. These two achievements are only a part of his duties. These make a fraction of the targets set for him. He cannot be said to have fulfilled all of his obligations. In order to fully accomplish his duty, he needs to construct the government system and design his rule in such a way as to educate his people, improve their moral behaviour and establish peace and justice among them. We learn that ‘Umar would hold people into account for every big and small mistake. Once, during the ḥajj, he learnt that the pilgrims stormed at the spring of zamzam and started struggling against each other he instantly reached at the spot and taught them how to behave. This was because he was fully aware of the fact that he had to correct whatever individual or national evil were found among his subjects.


Our predecessors, in their efforts to properly fulfil the duties attached to rulership, followed the principle of demonstration rather than mere exhortation. They practiced what they targeted their subjects to perform. They had to act as exemplars so that people could emulate them and adopt a desired good. Founding an example for an act desired in others is in fact the most important convincing force one can have. If one requires others to adopt a good trait while he himself fails to do so then the others would have a best possible excuse to relieve them of the obligation. They would not take mere exhortations seriously. They would maintain that why they are obliged to do what their leaders can never accomplish. Therefore, we see that all those instructors who fail to adopt what they preach and merely go on to sermon tirades never achieve their target. People find their practical behaviour more convincing than their verbal orders for actions speak louder than words. Words are not deeds. history has never seen adulterers and drunkards making people realize that drinking and adultery are evil. The dishonest and the prodigal can never bring others to honesty and moderation. The bribable and the black marketers can never convince other people to be truthful and honest. The people whose habits and traits are like that of the disbelievers, the followers of jāhilīconcepts, have never been witnessed implementing the Islamic behaviour of life. All of these things which, I believe, never happened will never happen because this is totally in opposition to the laws of nature. ‘Umar explained this fact principle in the following words:

People will remain straightened as long as their rulers and leaders are on the right.[3]

At another occasion he said:

People will keep fulfilling their duties to their rulers as long as the rulers fulfil their obligations towards God. People will go unrestrained when the ruler will show recklessness.[4]

‘Umar reminded Abū Mūsā Ash‘arī of this principle in one of his epistle to the latter.

The most fortunate ruler in the eyes of God is the one who is the cause of prosperity for his subjects. The most wretched ruler is the one who causes misery to his subjects. Save yourself from deviation so that those under you do not deviate or else your state will be comparable to the quadruped which spots grass and instantly proceeds to graze there seeking nourishment while this step of it proves fatal.[5]

Honesty and trustworthiness of the rulers greatly influences the subjects. It can be realized by the honest behaviour of the Muslim armies when they captured the Persian city of Madā’in. The Muslim army, through this conquest, got such abundant wealth in the form of booty. However, we see that honesty the army showed outmatches the riches they earned. It is narrated that at this juncture of great trial, not even one soldier among the entire army could be doubted. Observing this unmatchable show of honesty from his soldiers, the Muslim commander observed: “Had the people of Badr not praised that much (in the Qur’ān), I would have been justified in saying that these solders (under my command) obtained the same degree of excellence as that of the participants of the Battle of Badr.” Jābir b. ‘Abd Allāh narrated: “Not one soldier among the army which captured Qādisiyah mixed his liking for the world with his yearns to earn reward in the afterlife. Three people, however, were doubted to have shown dishonesty. In an investigation, it transpired that they were the best among the disinterested (in the worldly gains).” When ‘Umar looked at the riches they had obtained, he spontaneously expressed: “Those who have (honestly) presented this wealth (to the state) are indeed trustworthy.” At this Alī raised a very meaningful and insightful point. While explaining the basic force behind this show of honesty and trustworthiness, he pointed out something which can only be penetrated by the eyes of ‘Alī. He said: “Your subjects are honest because you remained honest; if you were dishonest, they too would follow the suit.”[6]



Absolute justice is the backbone of the Islamic governance and the guarantee of the Islamic State. This makes it incumbent upon the administrators in the Islamic State not to fear any force while administering justice nor should they make allowance for the influential in this regard. The Prophet said: If Fāṭimah, the daughter of Muhammad, committed theft I would have got her hand amputated.” (Muslim, No: 1688) It was not a hollow claim. It was sure truth. The Islamic rule has to reflect the divine justice. It does not discriminate between an important or ordinary citizen while deciding cases neither does it afford showing expediency or sense of generosity. The Prophet of God has said:

The dearest to God and the nearest to me on the Last Day will be the just rulers. The most disliked personalities to God are the tyrant rulers who will, that day, be facing severest punishment and will be placed in the station farthest from me. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 11542)

Abū Bakr explained the basic purpose of his government in the following words:

I consider an uninfluential man among you as powerful until I return him his right usurped by others and the influential among you is nothing in my eyes until I have made him pay the rights of others he usurps.[7]

The same was stressed by ‘Umar when he assumed the chair of the caliphate. He said:

By God, under my rule, none is more influential than a powerless person until I make sure that he is given his due, and, none is more insignificant than an influential person till I do not make him pay what is due to him.[8]

This means that according to ‘Umar, weakness and strength of the citizens is not judged by their financial, social and political status but by their justness or unjustness. No matter how poor and without support one is, the mere fact that he has been wronged or has been denied his rights makes him the most powerful person in the eyes of ‘Umar. An oppressed person remains the most powerful and most influential until he is paid back his rights for the whole state machinery backs him. Similarly a very powerful and financially stable and socially superior person is, having committed oppression and injustice, is the most weak and rootless individual in the eyes of the law until he is made to amend for his injustice and make compensation for the wrongs he does for until then the whole state machinery pursues him. In the truly Islamic State such a one cannot draw intercessional help from any corner.
‘Umar uncompromisingly showed this conduct and fulfilled this duty without fear. He has set an example for the righteous rulers of the true Islamic State. We will now present two examples of his justice. This will help us see the extent to which the rule of ‘Umar observed impartiality in judging people and disregarded even the interests of his relatives and the influential people in the society. We will also learn that familial and political relations had grown worthless under his rule.
‘Umar would warn his family of the consequences of using their position. He would say:

If I found any among you committing things which I have forbidden you, I will penalize him twice of the original punishment.[9]

Once his son, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān, drank and become inebriated. Later on, he presented himself before ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ, the governor of Egypt and confessed his crime. He requested the governor to sentence him to the prescribed punishment. ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ says: “I tried to dismiss ‘Abd al-Raḥmān after a little rebuke. But he insisted that if he was not sentenced according to the sharī‘ah, he would go back to Madīnah and complain before his father. I feared that if I let him go unpunished he would go directly to the caliph and report to him who would instantly dismiss me. This made me punish ‘Abd al-Raḥmān in my house. Later on he shaved his head off in a corner of my house. I did not inform the caliph about this issue. But after a few days later the following letter from the Caliph reached me.

This is from the chief of the believers, servant of God, ‘Umar to the Sinner son of the Sinner. You baffled me by daring to break the promise. I believe you deserve removal from governorship. You dared to implement the punishment on ‘Abd al-Raḥmān in the yard of your house and to shave off his head under your roof. While you well know that this kind of leniency is not my attitude. ‘Abd al-Raḥmān was but one of your subjects. You were obliged to deal with him the way you deal with the ordinary subjects. But you have dealt with him considering him son of the Caliph. While you know that, with regards to justice, I do not show leniency to any. Now I order you to send ‘Abd al-Raḥmān instantly to Madīnah so that I can make him taste what he did.[10]

‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ says: “Afterwards I sent ‘Abd al-Raḥmān to the Caliph and confessed that I had committed a great mistake by punishing Abd al-Raḥmān inside the walls of my house while I would not deal with other Muslims and the dhimmīsthis way. I sent a written confession and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān under the custody of ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar.” Since ‘Abd al-Raḥmān was not allowed to use but a saddle on the back of his conveyance he could not move easily over his mount. When they reached Madīnah, ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. ‘Awf tried to intercede with the Caliph. He requested the Caliph to forgive his son for he had already been punished. ‘Umar did not consider his requests. When ‘Abd al-Raḥmān saw the rage of his father, he cried and pleaded that he was unwell. He lamented that his father was about to kill him. It has been narrated that ‘‘Umar punished ‘Abd al-Raḥmān while he was still unwell. He was put in custody till he fell ill and died.[11]
Now we turn to another example set by ‘Umar in this regard.
‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ was the governor of Egypt. It was he who had conquered the country. It has been narrated that his son Muhammad flogged an Egyptian and while doing so he said: “Take this. I am son of an influential man.” ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ held that man in custody fearing that he might go to Madīnah and complain. After some time the Egyptian was released and he went straight to Madīnah and reported to ‘Umar the whole affair. ‘Umar asked the victim to stay there and commanded ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ and his son to report to the capital. Both came to the Caliph and were put to trial by a court of retaliation. Then the caliph called upon the Egyptian, gave him a strip and asked him to flog the son of ‘the influential person’. The Egyptian flogged Muhammad till he severely bled. While he was flogging Muhammad ‘Umar kept on saying: “beat the son of the influential man.” When he was through with Muhammad and started to hand over the strip to ‘Umar the caliph said: “a few strips to ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ too, for the son has been led to commit injustice only because of his father’s position.” The Egyptian said that he had revenged the wrong done to him by flogging the offender. Justice had been done. He did not want to flog anyone else. ‘Umar told him that he might forgive the governor if he desired but he could strike the father as well and that he would not be interfered till he himself halted. Then he turned to ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ and said to him enraged: O ‘Amr, since when have you held the people in bondage while they were born of their mothers free men.[12]



Once ‘Umar delivered a sermon in which he said:

I am an ordinary believer and a weak man. I rely on God alone for help. The present position bestowed on me will not change my person. All exaltedness and highness is exclusive for God. Men do not partake in it. None among you will, God wiling, be able to say that ‘Umar has changed after becoming a caliph. I will make myself pay the rights due on me. I will voluntarily explain my position whenever needed. If someone among you is in need or has been wronged or wants to criticize me, he should come to me straight. I am but one among you. Your welfare is dear to me. Your displeasure is heavy on me. I have to be held responsible for the trust entrusted to me. I will directly investigate the mattes reported to me. I will not burden someone else with that. However, there are matters which are not in my approach for they happen in the far flung areas of the state. In this case I cannot help burdening with such tasks those among you who are trustworthy and well-wishers of the people. This trust, however, will not be laid but on only the like of these.[13]



Narrated ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Abbās that the Prophet said:

When God intends to do good to a people, He appoints serious and insightful rulers over them. He entrusts their wealth to the generous persons. When He intends to put a people through trial, He puts them under the rule of the dullard and entrusts their wealth to the misers. Beware! If a man of position among my ummah fails to diligently fulfil the needs of those under him, God will erect a strong wall of door keepers and concierge between him and his needs. Thus God will conceal himself from him when he needs him.[14]

Just after assuming the chair of Khilāfah, the Caliph ‘Umar prayed to the Almighty in the following words:

God, I am hardhearted. Soften me. I am weak. Give me strength. I am a miser. Make me generous.[15]


It is necessary for the rulers and the administrators of the government to strongly encourage their subjects to point out the flaws and weaknesses of the rulers. Rather than checking any criticism through different ploys and legal references, they are obliged to encourage the public on pointing out their mistakes. The true Islamic system is not weak enough to break apart when exposed to accountability and criticism. If there is any threat to this system, that is only from the failure of the people to perform self accountability and to exhort others on the right and forbid evil. In a state where spirit of criticism is alive among the people, they are daring enough to criticize others on their mistakes and are always ready to hold them into account for their blunders, it signifies life in the system and ensures its continuity. If, however, this feeling to criticize each other on unbecoming and errant behaviour is drying up, then it is the duty of those on the helm of affairs to curb this tendency and cure this evil. For real danger for the system lies in indifference towards the prevalent decay. When indifference to evil prevails in the Islamic State, it becomes difficult for the Islamic State to maintain its necessary elements. This extraordinary importance of criticism and accountability in the Islamic System obliges the Muslims to keep on exhorting each other on good, forbidding evil and pointing out mistakes and shortcomings of others. Every citizen has to perform this duty in his own sphere of influence. Islam warns of grave consequences to those who knowingly avoid this duty. This attitude amounts to the greatest form of treachery and betrayal to the Islamic State. In the eyes of Islam, those who do not stop their fellow Muslims, rules and the administrators in their society while knowing that the latter are treading the wrong path are dumb satans.
The first righteous caliph of the Islamic State, Abū Bakr explained this reality in the very first sermon he delivered after assuming the responsibility. He said:

By God, I have never longed for this position, neither during the night nor in the day. I have never prayed to God for it, neither publicly or privately. I have been burdened with a heavy responsibility. I do not find requisite strength to fulfil this duty. Yet I cannot escape from it. I wished from the core of my heart that someone else, the strongest among all of us, had taken this responsibility. Follow me when you find me following God. When you see me going against the injunctions of God, you are not obliged to obey me.[16]

He went on crying:

O People, I have not been appointed at this position so that I behave like a superior to all of you. I desired in my heart that someone else took up this responsibility. If you will measure me with the measure of the revealed guidance through which God kept his Messenger straight, then you will not find me suitable for this position. I am but a common man like you. Follow me as long as you find me on the right path. When you see me deviating then straighten me up.[17]

Once during the rule of Abū Bakr, people developed a belief that one is responsible for the deeds of oneself alone to the exclusion of others. They believed they would not be called into account by God for other’s wrongdoings. None but the offender himself will be questioned. These people founded this belief on the following verse of the Qur’ān:

Believers, save yourselves. The misguidance of the strayed folk will not harm you while you are on the right guidance. (Q 5:105)

When Abū Bakr came to know this, he was greatly upset. He took the matter seriously. He thought if this wrong belief is let to spread, it would kill the practice of exhorting others on good and forbidding them the evil. He knew that the Islamic society and the Islamic political system cannot work properly in absence of this virtue. Therefore, he gathered the people and addressed them in the following words:

People, you refer to the verse yā ayyuhalladhīna ‘āmanū ‘alaykum anfusakum [….], interpret it while divorcing it of its true context. Your interpretation is not valid for I have heard the Messenger of God say: "When people stop curing evils which they notice, they can very well be afflicted by a great chastisement sweeping them all." (Abū Dāwūd, No: 4338) [18]

‘Umar is renowned for his strictness. Yet, he entertained all kinds of criticism on his policies. He also encouraged others on doing this service. his attitude in this regard is unparalleled. In the following paragraphs, we will discuss some of the examples he set. Ḥasan Baṣrī narrates:

A man asked ‘Umar : "O ‘Umar fear God." He repeated this severally. Another man interrupted and asked him to stop. He said that it was enough. ‘Umar said to the latter to let the man say whatever he wanted. He said that if those people were stopped from voicing objections then they would be of no good.[19]
           
Once ‘Umar explained the rights and duties of the subjects in the following words:

You can help me against my self by exhorting me on good and forbidding me evil. You can also do that by continually counselling me regarding the responsibility of managing your affairs God has entrusted to me.[20]

‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz once said:

God does not hold into account the generality on the sins of a few among them. However, when an evil is committed openly in the society and no body raises voice against it, then all deserve equal punishment.[21]


Ma'qal b. Yassār narrates that he heard the Messenger of God saying:

He whom God makes ruler over a people will not be admitted into Paradise if he dies while having cheated his subjects. (Muslim, No: 142)

Another variant of the same narrative reads:

A person made responsible of the affairs of the Muslims will never be admitted into Paradise along with his subjects if he does not struggle for their wellbeing and does not wish well for them. (Muslim, No: 142)

‘Ā’ishah narrates that she heard the Messenger of God say:

God, be hard on him who after being made responsible for the affairs of my ummah, treats them harshly, and treat compassionately the one who when appointed head of my ummah,is lenient to them. (Muslim, No: 1828)


Abū ‘Usāmah Hudhalī narrates that once ‘Umar addressed the people and said: O People, it is our right upon you that you wish well for us in our absence and help us in good works. Addressing the rulers and the administrators he said:

Longanimity of none is dearer to God than that of a ruler and administrator. Leniency and longanimity of a ruler and an administrator is vastly useful and effective to the generality, something which the same qualities of a commoner lack. Similarly, the most abhorrent form of bad temper and ignorant behaviour is that shown by a ruler and administrator for coming from them, these things are vastly harmful. He who adopts peaceful manner while dealing with the people earns peace and security in reward from God.[22]

‘Allāmah Ibn Qayyim explains some intricate points implied in the verse 199 of the Sūrah al-A‘rāf (7) of the Qur’ān. The verse reads: "Take to forgiveness and enjoin good and turn away from the ignorant." (Q 7:199) Ibn Qayyim writes:

This verse epitomizes all the moral excellences and positive characteristics of rulers. A ruler can possibly face three kinds of situations in dealing with his subjects. First, the subjects have to fulfil in all circumstances the rights of the rulers imposed on them. Second, the rulers enjoy the right of command and authority. Third, in some cases the subjects may have shortcomings. Regarding the first case this verse directs the rulers that they should only expect of their subjects what they can do comfortably and what they readily accept. They should not be expected to deliver what is burdensome for them. The word ufw in the verse means what is not taxing for the subjects. Regarding the second case, the rulers have been advised to command them what is established as good, is rational, is acceptable to the pure natured people and is generally considered useful by the subjects. Then it has been said that the rulers should command to them, what they intend to command, in a customary manner. They should not be stern in giving them commands and must not show hardheartedness. He who behaves ignorantly and insolently, his evil should not be paid back by evil. Rather he should be shown condonation.[23]


Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf offered the following advice to the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd:

The rulers will be questioned by their Lord just as a herdsman is questioned by his master. Therefore, you are required to follow the truth in discharging the responsibility God has entrusted you even for a short time. The fortunate ruler in the eyes of God is the one whose subjects are prosperous because of him.
Do not deviate from the truth. If you do then your subjects too will deviate from it. Do not command things based on the desires of your self. Do not hold people into account in fury. When you face two paths, one taking to betterment in the Afterlife and the other ensuring the worldly gains, you should adopt the path leading to the Afterlife and abandon the one paying in this worldly life.
Do not discriminate between your near ones and the strangers regarding the affairs of the Almighty and his laws. Do not fear anyone regarding the religion. Keep fearing God. True fear is found in the heart and not what you say verbally. Adopt taqwā. Taqwāmeans avoiding defiance to Almighty God. Whoever desires to avoid defying God, God saves him from doing so.[24]


Qaḍī Abū Yūsuf continues advising the caliph in the following words:

O Chief of the Believers, I counsel you to guard the trust God has entrusted to you. Carry out your responsibility to guard what God has commanded you to guard. Do not turn to anyone except God for help and guidance. If you will seek guidance and acquire help from any source other than God, you will find it difficult to get to the right guidance. You will lose vision of the signs of the road to guidance and its width will shrink for you. You will start to see good for bad and bad for good. […..] Everyman will be held accountable for the loss occurring in the herd entrusted to his guardianship. For if he willed, he could have saved the herd from suffering loss by keeping it away from the points of danger by the will of God. He could have thus brought it to the path of life and safely. If such a person will look to other than God for help and guidance, destruction will approach him speedily. On the contrary, if he seeks good for all, then the reward awaiting him on the Last Day will be granted, a far greater success and prosperity than what he enjoys in this worldly life. The loyalty he shows to the Almighty will be paid back to him more abundantly by God than the loyalty he shows in this life. You should, therefore, avoid wasting your subjects. If you do not, you will find yourself forced to repay their rights. Remember, one has to take necessary steps in order to support the building before it collapses. You will surely be rewarded for whatever you do for the betterment of the people put under your rule and given in your guardianship. You will similarly be held accountable for their rights you fail to fulfil. Do not, therefore, forget your duties to the people you have been burdened with, God will not forget you. Do not be indifferent to their rights and betterment, God will not ignore you.[25]


Qaḍī Abū Yūsuf points out to the Caliph Hārūn al-Rashīd the most important deeds which can help a ruler keep on the straight path. He says:[26]

Do not lose the opportunity to earn your share which you can secure by exalting and glorifying God with his praises in your heart days and nights. Invoke Allah’s blessings on the Prophet. God has mercifully declared that the rulers are his vicegerents in this world. He has revealed his light for them (in the form of the Qur’ān). It decides the matter disputed among the subjects and judges the disputes about their rights. The rulers and the caliphs can keep this lamp of light shining by implementing the limits set by God. This way the rights of the rightful can be actively and justly fulfilled. The Sunnah established by the pious caliphs should be upheld and carefully followed. Keeping the precedents set by the righteous ancestors is an everlasting virtue. Oppression by a ruler is destruction of the subjects. Sharing the rule with the crooked and unreliable men is even more destructive for the subjects. Fulfil the responsibly entrusted to you and be grateful to God. Try hard so that God makes you perfectly able and fit for this service. For God says in his book: "If you give thanks, I will increase my favours on you." (Q 14:07) Nothing is more likeable to God than reform. Similarly, nothing is more abhorrent to God than destruction. Defiance of the directives of God is but ingratitude to his bounties. God takes away the honour granted to a people who do not thank God on his bounties and fail to follow it with quick repentance.[27]


The true honour for the governors and the administrators of the Islamic State is that which they earn because of God and his religion. This is indeed the everlasting honour. Therefore, they must not yearn for any other honour. Neither should they adopt a path of earning themselves honour other than adhering to the religion and obeying God. All the dark ways of earning fame and honour generally applied by the worshippers of the worldly gains and fame like court mannerisms, keeping batteries of courtiers, courtly grandeur, batteries of guards, guard of honour, and the like are completely in negation of the spirit of service to the Lord. They reflect human pridefulness and signify human’s claim to divinity. All these demonstrations mismatch the Islamic way of life. There are those who adopt these worldly shows of grandeur claiming that this adds to the grandness of the religion of God. Such people, in fact, want to cover their feelings of pridefulness by their untrue religious affiliations. Obviously religion cannot coexist with these evils.
There was no show at the occasion of ‘Umar’s ascension to the caliphate. Neither any grand court was held, nor was there any procession. Neither were any flags hoisted nor were any guards of honour held. Contrarily ‘Alī gave him some golden advices which still survive on the pages of history. The way ‘Umar followed these instruction is another chapter of the Islamic history shining to all the students of the early history of Islam. He is reported to have said:

If you want to take the stead of your predecessor, embellish your shirt with patches, keep your lower garment above your ankles, mend your shoes with your own hands, patch your socks, cut your desires and eat not to your fill.[28]

If superficial shows could have made the religion reign supreme, then the time when ‘Umar visited Jerusalem was the most suitable occasion for holding such processions. his visit followed the conquest of the country and the newly conquered people were accustomed to such grand shows because of their interaction with the Roman emperors. ‘Umar did not consider anything of the kind. It was not that he avoided such show of grandeur because of his simple nature. We know that many people tried to convince him to observe this decorum and show expediency. Yet he never gave ear to any such advice. He fully made it clear that those who adopt such tactics of earning cheap fame and ignore the religion sink in defame. Now study the following historical narratives which depict the entry of the caliph in the conquered land. These also include his response to the people who advised him to observe some of the mannerisms which were, according to them, a requirement of expediency.

‘Umar rode a camel from Madīnah to Jābiyah. He had two sacks with him, one containing flour the other dates. He also had a canteen and a bowl. A group of companions accompanied him. At meal times he would put his bowl before the company. All the people would join him in the meals. The Caliph continued teaching and training the people on his way. Wherever he saw Muslims who lacked little knowledge of their religion, he would educate them. A little before Syria, he met few horseback riders whom Abū ‘Ubaydah had sent in order to bring the news about the caliph. When the caliph entered the sacred house in Jerusalem, he wore clothes with fourteen visible patches on it. his companions advised him to ride a horse instead of a camel considering the occasion. They also advised him to put on white clothes. At their insistence ‘Umar put on white clothes and took a cotton napkin presented to him by Abū ‘Ubaydah. Then a horse was brought for him to ride. He rode it. The horse walked along arrogantly and he got off. Addressing his companions he said: "Believers, forgive me my mistake. Your chief was about to perish. This opulence created a strange pride in my heart." He quickly put off the new clothes and put on the patched dress.[29]
‘Allāmah Ibn Kathīr narrates the events of the caliphal journey to Jerusalem in the following words:

‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb rode a white camel to Jābiyah via ‘Īliya. his forehead was exposed to the sun; he was not wearing a cap or turban. his feet suspended from the sides of the saddle. There was no stirrup. He had a blanket with him which he also used as a mattress. When he rode the camel, he put the blanket on the saddle. He wore a worn-out shirt made of khaddar. As soon as he reached his destination, he called upon the leaders of the tribes. People called upon a priest. ‘Umar asked the priest either to wash his shirt and mend it for him or lend him clothing. The priest brought the caliph a linen shirt. ‘Umar asked what kind of cloth that was. Linen, he responded. The caliph asked: What is linen? The priest explained. Then ‘Umar took off his shirt. The priest got it washed and mended. ‘Umar put on his shirt and returned the priest his. The priest said:
You are the king of Arabia. This part of the country is not suitable for a camel rider. It would be better if you rode a horse and put on a new dress. The Romans will definitely respect that.
‘Umar responded: The honour God has blessed us with, we draw from Islam, God’s chosen religion. We do not intend to make any other thing a mark of our honour.
Later on, a horse was brought. He got on the horse without any saddle. He put an ordinary piece of cloth its back. Just after getting on the horse, he shouted: "Stop, stop. I have never seen anyone riding a Satan." And he got off. Later on his camel was brought which he rode.[30]

Ibn Kathīr has narrated another incident relating to the caliphal journey to Jerusalem. He says:

Ṭāriq b. Shihāb narrates: On his way to Syria, ‘Umar had to cross water. He got off the camel casually. He took off his leather socks and held them in his hands. While leading his camel he entered the water. The commander in chief of the Muslim armies, was accompanying him. He observed: "O Chief of the Believers, the people of this country would find it very odd." The Caliph said: "O Abū ‘Ubaydah, I wish you had not said this. Do you not know that no nation in this world was humbler than us? None was more contemptible than us. None was of less in number than us. God honoured us through Islam. Keep well in mind that if you targeted honour other than the one granted you through Islam, God will humble you."[31]

This is the state of the journey of a conqueror through the land he himself had fought into his control, the conqueror whose armies flooded out of Arabia to China and Afghanistan in the east, to Anatolia and the Caspian Sea in the north, to Tunisia in the west and to Abyssinia in the north. He had brought the great Persian Empire as well as the Eastern Roman Empire to the low.
‘Umar behaved the same way during his rule. He made sure that his governors and officials as well as common men under his rule follow the same conduct. Whenever he came to know that a government official deviated from this attitude, he would hold him into account severely disregarding the social status of the culprit and without considering expediency.
Once he came to know that ‘Sa‘d, the governor of Kūfah had built himself a palace. ‘Umar dispatched Muhammad b. Muslimah to Kūfah with the command to burn the doors of the palace and turn back instantly. When Muhammad reached Kūfah, Ibn Sa‘d learnt about his arrival. He called on Muhammad in his palace who declined to enter. The governor came out and wanted to show respect to the guest and entertain him. This too was declined by the caliph’s envoy who handed over to the governor the caliphal epistle which read:

I have learnt that you have erected yourself a palace rather a castle. It is called Sa‘d’s Castle. You have established a wall between you and your people. It is not your palace indeed. It is the house of destruction and nuisance. You are directed to settle in a part of the palace adjacent to the bayt al-māl and shut the remaining. Do not keep doors which hinder people from accessing you. Do not deny them their rights. Make sure that people have access to you in all circumstances.[32]

Having read the letter Sa‘d explained the whole situation to the envoy of the caliph and he departed satisfied. The caliph desired that similar colour of simplicity and moderateness prevailed in the lives of the commoners. He considered it the Sunnahand saw in it the guarantee of the perpetuity of the ummah. We see that at the time the garrison town Kūfah was being built, he ordered the Muslims to observe that nobody builds more than three rooms in his house. He also forbade them erecting high buildings. At this occasion, he said: Hold fast to the Sunnah, your rule will continue to prevail.[33]


Umar once explained the rights of the citizens over the rulers in the following words:

It is your right upon me that I do not take anything from your kharāj and from your booties unjustly. It is your right upon me that once such income comes under my control, I spent it on just causes. It is your right upon me that I increase your allowances and daily rations, and I guard your frontiers. It is your right upon me that I do not put you in danger nor do I separate you from your children continually. It is your right upon me that I take the stead of a father to your children when you are kept engaged in wars on the frontiers.[34]

In the following paragraphs we will present some examples of ‘Umar’s conduct which show how he fulfilled the last mentioned right of the citizens. It will help us understand what it means to become a father to the children of the citizens. Many people in the world have claimed this honour. All those who are fortunate enough to rule a people pose to be feeling for the citizens like a father to his children. Under this pretension they have indeed demanded more than their due rights from the subjects. Rarely ever has a ruler acted like a father with his subjects. Theoretically, it is indisputable fact that the rulers are to deal with the subjects as does a father with his children. Yet, practically, people are in fact unaware of such dealing. We will now explain this fact with examples so that we can learn how this idea reflects in the Islamic State.
1. One night ‘Umar left the city in the company of his slave, Aslam. Seeing a tent along the way, he turned towards it. When he reached near it, he found out that a woman was going through excruciating delivery pains. ‘Umar asked her how she was feeling. She told the caliph that she was a Bedouin woman and she had nothing with her which could be of use at that trying hour. Having heard this, ‘Umar hurried towards his home and asked his wife, Umm Kulthūm b. Abī Ṭālib, to get ready to render a service for which God has graciously selected her. Then he narrated the whole affair to her. She was already ready to render such a service. ‘Umar put a sack of flour at his back and also some ghee. Umm Kulthūm took all such things as needed in a child birth. Both the husband and the wife hurried to the tent of the Bedouin. Umm Kulthūm entered the tent and the caliph joined the Bedouin and talked to him. The poor Bedouin did not know whom he was talking to. Suddenly the wife of the Caliph spoke from within the tent saying: "O Chief of the Believers, give glad tidings of a son to your companion." At this the Bedouin came to know that he was taking to the Caliph. He was august. He started to apologize. ‘Umar consoled him and gave to him some more things of need and departed.[35]
2. One night ‘Umar was patrolling when he heard a child crying. He called out to the mother of the child and said: "O woman, fear God and treat the child well." After a while he passed the hut again and heard the child crying. ‘Umar called the mother again and repeated what he had said earlier. During the last part of the night, he heard the child crying one more time. At this, ‘Umar went near their dwelling and said to the woman: "What a cruel mother you are! Your child kept on crying the whole night." The woman explained that she was trying to wean him but he would not get weaned. ‘Umar asked her why she was trying to wean him. Because ‘Umar would not issue the grant to him until he is weaned, she replied. ‘Umar enquired about the age of the child. She informed the caliph about his age. At this, ‘Umar said: "Woe to you! Do not be that hasty." Next morning, he addressed the people after the Prayer, while his eyes were watered. He said: "Woe to ‘Umar, how many a believing child he has killed!" Later on, he appointed his caller to declare to the people that thenceforth children on breastfeeding too would get the allowance. They must not be weaned prematurely.[36]
3. One night ‘Umar was patrolling the town. On his way, he saw that a woman had put a pot on the stove and was watching over it. Her children were crying. ‘Umar asked the woman the reason of their distress. He also wanted to know what was being cooked on the fire. She told the caliph that the children were hungry and that she had put some water on the fire so that they could be lulled into sleep. "God will judge between me and ‘Umar " she remarked. At hearing this, ‘Umar hurried towards the bayt al-māl. He put a sack of flour on his back and got back to the woman. He himself sat down beside the stove and poked the fire to life. He departed the family only when the food was prepared and the children went to sleep having eaten their fill. He repeatedly said in a heartfelt manner: "These children were crying because they were hungry and were awake because of hunger."[37]


In the Islamic state system, accountability of the officials is a religious obligation. It cannot be ignored without earning the just displeasure of God. Accountability in the Islamic state system includes ruler’s strict observation of the functioning of the officials as well as holding them into account for shortcomings. If they commit oppression while in the office they must be put to retribution. A failure of the rulers in this regard necessarily leads to the diffusion of the evil in the whole society. This ultimately creates nuisance in the land which breaks the whole system apart.
‘Umar would, as a rule, assess the financial worth of a person before appointing him on a key position. He would then continue watching over his financial progress during the period of his service. If income of the administrator did not vary greatly during the period of his service he would not be interfered. However it was found out that his financial status substantially improved after his appointment, an investigation would ensue. If it was proved that the administrator committed embezzlement, the caliph would get his wealth accumulated and distributed among the deserving people. He would make it plain to the person involved that he had been appointed to serve the people and not to trade.[38]
When ‘Umar was informed that the governor of Egypt ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ had amassed wealth, he wrote to him as follows: "I have been informed that you have accumulated wealth, slaves, cattle, pottery and the like while at the time of your appointment as governor of Egypt you did not own these things." The governor responded as follows: "This is a country rich in trade and cultivation. We get more than what we need which we easily set aside." ‘Umar wrote back: "I have good experience of dealing with evil administrators. Your letter betrays that it has hurt you that I held you accountable for something. I doubt your conduct. Therefore I am sending Muhammad b. Muslimah to you with the command to distribute your wealth among the deserving. You are required to cooperatively provide him the details he asks of you. Hand over to him whatever he decides to confiscate. If he shows you any strictness in this regard, forgive him.”[39]
Once ‘Umar was told that Khāild b. Walīd gifted ten thousand dirham to a poet called Ash‘ath b. Qays in prize. The Caliph then wrote to Abū ‘Ubaydah to go directly to Khālid b. Walīd and tie him in the cloth of his turban, to denude him of his cape and ask him from where did he take the money he gifted to Ash‘ath b. Qays, from his personal wealth or from the bayt al-māl. If Khālid admits that he took it from bayt al-māl that is embezzlement. And if he says that it was his personal wealth, that amounts to extravagance. In both cases, he is worthy to be removed from his position. He should, therefore, be removed.[40]


Once ‘Umar addressed the people and said:

O People, I have been given charge of your collective affairs. Beware that my previously renowned strictness has increased. However, it will only be directed towards the oppressors and those who victimize the Muslims. As for those who lead a life of peace, honesty and moderation, I will deal with them more leniently than they can be lenient to one another. I will leave none with a chance to oppress others. If someone dares do so, I will put one cheek of him on the earth and press the other under my foot till he surrenders before the truth. And in spite of this strictness and hardness to the evil factions, I will lay my cheek on the earth.[41]





In the Islamic State, the officials cannot be rewarded by lofty salaries, great allowance and opulently furnished mansions. Standard of living for every worker in the Islamic government and especially the high officials has to be kept approximate to that of the commoners so that people take their example and society is not plagued with the ailments like extravagance, show off, pridefulness, usurpation and worship of the mundane gains. When Abū Bakr assumed the chair of caliphate, he did not at first accept any salary from the national treasury. And when he did, after much reluctance, that too after asking the Muslims to ascertain how much he could deservingly take in salary. ‘Umar responded to this enquiry of the caliph upon which the other Muslims agreed. He said:

 ‘Umar spoke out: “Let me tell you how much you can take from the national treasury. As regards your children, who are no longer living with you and have assumed their financial responsibilities, you should determine a share from the national treasury just like the common Muslims. As regards your younger children and the relatives, who are not able to feed themselves, you should provide them from the treasury along with your family.” Abū Bakr said: “‘Umar, I fear it is not lawful for me to feed myself and my family from the fay which belongs to Muslims.” ‘Umar responded: “O Successor of the Messenger of God, you have been able to take up this responsibility only after abandoning the efforts to earn a livelihood for the family.”[42]

Abū Bakr served as caliph a little over two years. During all this period, the money he spent for his personal and family needs, when calculated later on, proved to be only eight thousand dirham. Even this meagre amount he took for himself was returned to the treasury as he left a will to this effect.

Then he asked the people to find out how much of the national money he spent on his personal needs. They looked into it only to learn that it was merely eight thousand dirham. He then directed his heirs to pay the money to his successor. [43]

‘Umar explained his understanding of his right over the national treasury in the following words:

What I consider allowable for me to take from the treasury as my personal need is but a pair of clothing in the Summer and one in the winter, two in the whole year, an animal of carriage for ḥajj and ‘umrah, provision for my family, for each person a share equal to that of an mediocre Qurayshite, who is not opulent not poor. All this done, I am like a common Muslim. I will get a share as does a common Muslim.[44]

He believed that the bayt al-māl is to the ruler as the wealth of an orphan is to his guardian. The guardian of an orphan, according to the Qur’ān, can take only as much money as to fulfil his basic needs that too if he is needy. A well-off man should avoid taking anything from the wealth of the orphan under his care. This was actually the legal status of the bayt al-māl for the ruler in the eyes of ‘Umar. He took from it only as much money as he considered lawful to take for his personal needs. He explained his stance on the matter so that the people are not led to believe that his attitude was merely a reflection of his personal piety and that he did not believe it to be a divine command. He is reported to have said:

I have put the wealth in the bayt al-māl at the stead of the wealth of an orphan. I will avoid taking anything from it when not in need. Whenever I be in need I will take only what meets my basic needs.[45]

The view of ‘Umar regarding the right of the ruler over the national treasury resulted in his extraordinary care bordering with extremism. Once he fell ill and needed honey which was there in the bayt al-māl. He, however, did not consider it right to take it himself. When compelled to take it, he did so only after seeking permission from the Muslims. He said that if the people did not allow him to take some, it would have been ḥarām for him to take it.[46]
The Muslims noticed that ‘Umar’s care and consciousness regarding benefiting from the national treasury bordered with extremeness so much so that he avoided to take his obvious right from it. They sent their representatives to the Mother of the Faithful, Ḥafṣah and told her that the caliph had imposed upon himself extreme care with regards to the use of the money he deserves from the national treasury. God had made the treasury grow and the Caliph had the right to meet his financial requirements from it, they added. They further explained that all the Muslims were readily allowing him to do so. They wanted the wife of the Prophet to communicate their wishes to the Caliph. When ‘Umar came to her she told him about the wishes of the Muslims. To this ‘Umar responded as follows:

O Ḥafṣah, daughter of ‘Umar, you have wished bad for your father while intending good for your nation. My family has rights in my life and property only and not in my religion and the trust entrusted to me.[47]

‘Alī too showed extreme cautiousness with regards to the bayt al-māl. This is evidenced by the fact that, according to Ḥasan, he left behind only seven hundred dirham which he had saved from his salary in order to buy a slave.[48]
‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Azīz’s attitude too was the same. After assuming the chair of khilāfah,he directly went to his wife, the daughter of the late caliph ‘Abd al-Mālik. He called her and she came to attend him. Seeing her he cried a lot. Later on he asked her either to choose him or continue wearing her expensive clothes, a gift from her father. He told her that if she chose him he would make her hand over the dress to the bayt al-māl and if she chose the dress then there would remain no relation between them. She responded: “O Chief of the Believers, what will I do with the dress after abandoning you! You can do whatever you want with it. I would not object.” In the meantime, his son passed by with a worn out shirt on. The Caliph told him to get it patched for he was never more in need to do that.[49]
 The Islamic government considers the basic and fundamental needs of the workers while deciding their salaries etc. The Prophet himself explained the necessities of the people to be considered in this regard. He has been reported to have said:

An unmarried state official should get married. He who has no servant, should keep one. He who has no residence should build one. However, those who go beyond this limit are embezzlers or thieves. (The narrator is not sure whether the Prophet used the word embezzler or thief). (Abū Dāwūd No: 2945)

This ḥadīthrelates to all kinds of officials, lower or higher. It also explains that in the Islamic State, all the officials are to be considered equal as for as the basic needs are concerned. The government is responsible to provide all of them similar kinds of basic needs. Thus, as regards the personal needs of the officials, all of them are equal whether they are serving at insignificant posts like that of a peon or a key post like that of an influential governor. During the pious caliphates, the criterion to determine the salaries of the officials working in ordinary posts and the ones working in high positions was the same as stated in the ḥadīth mentioned above. War booty, for example, was equally distributed between a soldier and the commander in chief. Similarly, there was no difference between the salary of a governor and a tax collector. The same criterion is applied in determining the salaries of both the high officials and ordinary workers. This criterion was the needs of the personnel. Though, various historical narratives tell us that during the period of the pious caliphate some high officials were granted large salaries etc yet we believe that such isolated reports contradict the established principle which we have produced above and, therefore, should be ignored. We believe that the narrators have misunderstood what they narrated. The truth of the matter is that in those times all the citizens were granted a share in the national treasury. This grant was given to all, the commoners as well as officials. Some narrators have disregarded this difference and included this grant with the salaries of the officials, making it extraordinary amounts.
Since we have referred to the grants given to the Muslims the issue calls for a little explanation. Abū Bakr’s policy in this regard was to equally distribute the income from the fay among the Muslims that would be over and above the needs of the state. This, according to him, was because the sharī‘ahdeclared the citizens of the state as legal owners of this kind of income. ‘Umar, however, objected to this equal distribution at two occasions. He believed that the money should be distributed among the people in proportion to their services to Islam and the order of their acceptance of faith. Abū Bakr was not convinced of ‘Umar’s arguments. He held that one’s service to Islam and his outdoing others in accepting the faith was a matter between man and God. God will reward people on this basis in the Hereafter. The issue of distribution of the income in the form of fay, however, related to the distribution of wealth in this world. He maintained that it would not be possible to decide a matter which relates purely with this world in the light of an issue which relates to the afterlife.
When ‘Umar became a caliph, he adopted a different policy and set the following principle in this regard:

People will be granted share according to their order of entering the faith, the persecution they suffered, the size of their families and their needs. (Abū Dāwūd, NO: 2950)

However, we learn that a little before his death he abandoned this view. He is reported to have resolved that he would distribute this wealth equally as Abū Bakr did. He did not survive to implement his new policy.
We have learnt from the example of the two great caliphs that the fayincome should be distributed among the Muslims equally. Similar was the view of ‘Alī who managed the affair accordingly during his caliphate.[50]
In the present times, however, this method of distribution of grants is not possible. It was possible during the time of the rightly guided caliphate because the income was huge, thanks to the conquest, and the needs of the state were little and unsophisticated. The modern states need a lot of resources. There are little chances of any income out of conquests. Moreover, there are various new kinds of welfare works born out of cultural changes. Therefore, it is practically more useful and productive to spend resources on collective good rather than distributing it among the individuals.


‘Umar has set an example for the rulers and servants of the Islamic State with regards to the extent they are required to guard the national asset. The example he has set is indeed a unique one in the political history of the world. Some historical narratives tell us that once ‘Alī saw ‘Umar hurrying outside the city. ‘Alī asked him where he was heading in the burning sun. The Caliph replied that a camel belonging to the bayt al-māl had lost and that he was going to find it. At hearing this ‘Alī said: “You have indeed worn out the caliphs succeeding you.” ‘Alī meant that if this was the example to be followed with regards to service to the nation and protection of the national assets, then it would be real hard for anyone after ‘Umar to meet this criterion. Who would be willing to be adorned with such a thorny crown?[51]
It was perhaps at the same occasion or a similar one when he was seen leading a herd of camels belonging to the state treasury in the burning sun, heavily sweating. At this Uthmān said to ‘Umar why he was troubling himself. He offered him that he would send his personal slaves to do that chore for the caliph. ‘Umar thanked him and asked the party to rest in the shade. He clarified that the responsibility has to be discharged by the one burdened with it by the Almighty.


A very major characteristic of the Islamic political system is that Islam does not condone to an official, no matter how ordinary, to pose himself superior to others, to behave like a self-important way and to brag about his distinctive status. Sayings of Abū Bakr, ‘Umar and ‘Umar b. Abd al-‘Azīz have been discussed above under different topics that substantiate this point. It is, therefore, not necessary to repeat them. We will, however, present some incidents from the early history of Islam which will portray the general atmosphere of the Islamic State. It will then help us understand that in a political system guided by the divine laws, justice and equality prevail in all spheres. The usurpers and the oppressors who claim divinity over the weak practically cease to exist in such a society.

During the Persian conquests, at some place people wanted to entertain the commander in chief of the Muslim army with special food. Those who offered food explained that it was to be presented to the commander exclusively. The commander asked them: “Have you offered such a feast to the Muslim soldiers?” The Hosts responded in the negative. At hearing this, the commander rejected their invitation and said:

We do not need this. Abū ‘Ubaydah would be the worst man if he prefers himself over the soldiers once he gets hold of booty after he led his people out, they shed their blood on his command or in some case did not shed it (being victorious)? Never. By God, this servant of God will not take from what God has granted him except what the others can share.[52]

Maqūqas sent some of his representatives to hold talks with the Egyptian governor ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ. When his representatives got back to him, he asked them to inform him about the conditions of the Islamic army. In response, the leader of the group of representatives portrayed the Muslim army in the following words:

None among them cherishes love for any mundane thing. They sit on the earth. They eat their food while sitting, their leg akimbo. Their commander is an equal. No discrimination is observed between the elite and the commoners, masters and the slaves. When the time of the Prayer approaches, all of them make sure that they attend the congregation. They wash their hands and faces with water and offer the Prayer with great humility.[53]

At hearing this, Maqūqas said: “I swear in the name of the one in whose name people take oath, if such people will attack the mountains they will definitely move them. No nation on the earth can defeat them.”[54]


Serving the state is worship to God. This worship to God is not acceptable to him but only from those who are not infected with dross like power hunger and love for fame and those who do not desire and covet toppling one another in their struggle for the worldly gains. Ibn-i Kathīr narrates that when Khālid b. Walīd had laid siege on the city of Damascus, a command from Caliph ‘Umar reached Abū ‘Ubaydah directing him to take command of the army in his hand and remove the present commander, Khālid b. Walīd. Abū ‘Ubaydah kept this to himself till the city was conquered. It had then been twenty days since the command reached him. Later on, when Khālid was informed by Abū ‘Ubaydah about this matter the former remarked: “May Allah forgive you. Why did not you inform me the moment this directive reached you?” Abū ‘Ubaydah responded:

I did not like myself to disturb your expedition. I do not desire authority in this world nor do I work for the worldly gains. What you see here is ephemeral. We are all brothers to each other. It does not harm religion and the world of a believer that his brother is given authority over him.[55]

It will also not be out of place to mention the text of the letter which Khālid wrote to Abū ‘Ubaydah when Abū Bakr replaced the latter by the former as the commander in chief of the Muslim armies in Syria.

I have got a directive from the successor of the Messenger of God telling me to go to Syria, take charge of the army and lead it. God bears witness that I have never requested him to appoint me as such nor did I write to him in this regard. God bless you, you will continue enjoying your present respect. Neither your commands will be defied nor will any serious issue will be decided without your consultation. You are the leader of the Muslims. We can neither deny your status nor disregard your opinion. May Allah bless you and us and save us from the chastisement of Hell.[56]

Both, Khālid b. Walīd and Abū ‘Ubaydah, were equally great commanders. Both were experts in the same field and enjoyed great respect. Therefore, both had reasons to envy each other’s position. Especially the events quoted above could be very tempting for them. But those who had stood up for the cause of Islam with serious resolve to live and die for the sake of God never permitted their personal desires to spoil their purity of intention even in the most tempting and trying situations.


Officials of the Islamic State have also to avoid spoiling the national assets in unduly favouring their relations. Though favouring the near kindred and their kind treatment is a great virtue rather it is the greatest virtue second only to belief in the unicity of God, yet there is no greater vice than to do so on the expense of the state. When ‘Umar formed a committee of senior companions to select one among them as their caliph after him, he greatly stressed the point that they should make sure that the one selected as the caliph does not force the Muslims to bear the cost of financial betterment of his family and friends. To quote his exact words:

‘Alī, I entreat you in the name of Allah not to load the people with the financial responsibility of the children of Hāshim if you assume the responsibility of leading the people. Uthmān, I entreat you in the name of Allah not to load the people with the financial responsibility of the children of Mu‘īṭif you assume the responsibility of leading the people. Sa‘d, I entreat you in the name of Allah not to load the people with the financial responsibility of your near ones if you assume the responsibility of leading the people.[57]

The Caliph ‘Umar set great examples in this regard. He showed extraordinary care while dealing with his family. When he established the office to administer the distribution of the grants the people insisted that he should put himself and his family on the priority list. He did not listen to anyone and decided that the family of the Prophet is made the point of reference and others should be considered in their nearness to it. Thus he put himself and his family beyond those who were nearer to the Prophet. When his family Banī ‘Adī came to know about this, their delegation came to the caliph asking him to place himself and his family at the position in this regard at which the nation has put them. When 'Umar heard this talk from the delegation he cast upon them a piercing look and said:

Banī ‘Adī, be gone. You want to benefit from my position and make my good deeds go waste for your sake. Never. For the sake of God, never come to me unless you are called upon. Your names will number last in this register. My two predecessors have developed this convention. If I went against their example, then I will be treading a crooked path. By God, the respect I have earned in this life and the reward I expect in the Afterlife, all I owe to the Prophet Muhammad. It is only the Messenger of God who is the cause of all the respect we enjoy since he is the most respectful among all the Arabs. Other people will be placed (in this register) in proportion to their relation to the Prophet. The nearer a person in relation with the Prophet the weightier his right will be in this regards.[58]

The way he treated his son ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar at different occasions may seem to a commoner a clear example of usurpation of his rights. Islam targets curbing the practice of favouritism to the extent that such extremist approach as was held by ‘Umar becomes perfectly appropriate. It was so that his act works as an example for the people in this regard in the view of all the political leaders and the scholars of Islam.
Before the death of ‘Umar, someone praised piety and knowledge of Abd ‘Allah b. ‘Umar and followed it with a request to make him his successor. ‘Umar replied: “Woe to you, your intention is not good. How can I make a man my successor who does not know how to properly divorce his wife? Now I do not find it appropriate to interfere in your (Muslims) affairs. If this rulership was a good thing, we have taken our share in it. If it was a bad thing, then God has removed it from us. The family of ‘Umar has had enough to have only one person to be held accountable regarding the affairs of the ummah. I have worn myself out in this matter. I denied many rights of my wife and children. If I am saved at par, not gaining nor losing, that would be very satisfying situation for me.” [59]
When the people insisted that he should appoint a successor to follow him, he said that he did not consider anybody more rightful to leadership than those with whom the Prophet was pleased when he died. He referred to Alī, Uthmān, Zubayr, Ṭalḥah and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. ‘Awf and explained that ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar can only be consulted by these people. He should not be given any share in the caliphate.[60]
‘Umar decided that the earlier converts who migrated with the Prophet were given four thousand dirham in grant. In principle the same rule applied to the case of ‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar. Still he was granted only three thousand five hundred dirham. When the caliph was asked about the reason of this discriminatory dealing with ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar, he replied: “It was his father who took him to Madīnah. How can he be considered equal to the Emigrants who migrated on their own?”[61]


The greatest trial of the present time is the ‘party system’. Generally the party in power reserves all the rights for itself. The members of the ruling party are given free hand to indulge in all kinds of dishonesty and frauds. All the party members, leaders and the workers, make the party benefit a criterion to decide right and wrong. Anything that goes in the party benefit is right no matter how manifestly wrong and evil, morally, legally and intellectually. Anything against the party benefit is considered wrong even if it is clearly and unequivocally declared to be truth by the Almighty Allah, the Messengers of God and his angels. In system so plagued by the party system every function and organ is infected. No institution in such an ailed system can render its natural duty truthfully and honestly. All its functions and organizations revolve around the benefit of the ruling party. So much so that the judicial system treats the affairs in the light of the party benefit alone. The whole political system is affected by this malady like a rabid body. This ignorant party worship is not in line with the true Islamic system. It is rather quite the opposite of it. In the Islamic system, the criterion of good and bad and right and wrong transcends all mundane benefits. The will of God and his injunctions determine what is right and what is wrong. Those caught in any form of worldly bias and feeling for their group cannot establish the religion of God under their rule. ‘Umar has explained this principle in some of the advices to Muslims. He is reported to have said:

The sharī‘ah of God can only be implemented by the one who does not indulge in ostentatious acts and flattering, does not become greedy, does not shut his eyes to the injustices of his party.[62]

At another occasion, while addressing the people, he explained this fact in the following words:

To see that the subjects are fulfilling their religious obligations to God is the duty of a ruler which demands his utmost attention. It is our duty to command you to follow what God has commanded you, to stop you from disobeying God and doing what He has forbidden and to follow the injunctions of God while dealing with the near ones and remotely related ones, without considering the status of the one on the wrong.[63]


In the discussions above we have referred to various warnings sounded to the rulers who distance their subjects from them through various strategies and who do not keep their doors open for the subjects hesitating to hear the pleadings regarding their difficulties and needs. In the present discussion we wish to present a very important prophetic ḥadīth in this regard. It has been recorded by Tirmidhī and Ibn Ḥambal.

‘Amr b. Murrah narrated that he heard the Prophet say: “If a ruler or a governor shuts his door to the destitute, the needy and those in want of shelter, God will close upon him the doors of the heavens on the day when he will be in need, want and poverty. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 18062)

Based on this clear prophetic directive, a group of the jurists including Imām Shāfi‘ī holds that it is not lawful for a ruler to appoint guards and door keepers. Another group of jurists have however allowed this with the following three conditions:
1. The guards are appointed in order to facilitate people, to make better arrangement of the tasks and to save time. They are not appointed merely in order that the rulers are not disturbed while taking rest.
2. Proper management of the meetings with the ruler is targeted. The guards are appointed to ensure that the people can meet the ruler in turn on the basis of first come first served. Those coming from the far flung areas are given priority making the local people to wait. The people are not granted access to the ruler only because of their personal influence, their status, and influential links. Any kind of discrimination is avoided.
3. The guards are reliable, trustworthy, pious, good mannered and respectful.


Islam doesn't allow the believers to advocate fraudulent causes and help out the untruth. The Prophet of God said:

The one who helps a wrongful party in a dispute earns the wrath of Allah. (Abu Dāwūd, No: 3598)

No doubt the transgressor too has to be helped. However, the only way to help him is to stop him from committing aggression. Those as who render such a service to the oppressors and help them avoid committing aggression earn blessings of God. Those who help the oppressors in their crimes and prove to be accomplices in the crime driven by ignorant bias and tendency to help the Satanic powers and protect their personal interests may blindly believe that they have launched a jihād and favoured their brother. However, they will, in reality, earn the wrath of God.
Another prophetic tradition contains even a severer warning.

He who helps an oppressor, while knowing that the one he is helping is an oppressor, leaves Islam. (Mu‘jam al-Kabīr, No: 619.

It should remain clear that this sever warning relates only to those who help their brothers in committing oppression under their ignorant group feeling. Though such an ignorant group feeling is a satanic motive, yet it is far lesser evil than pursuing personal interests. If this relatively better motive for helping oppressors earns one wrath of God, the severity of the wrong committed in order to protect the personal interests is obvious. The fate of those who persist in helping the forces of evil on the basis of their personal interests while their whole life is shaped on this behaviour can be clearly seen.


The mankind has considered bribery as the worst ailment inflicting collectivity even since the time they developed the sense of collective life and identified elements disastrous to the collective system. The evil of bribery has always been hated as such. Every collective system depends, for its life, on the role of intellectuals and men of understanding who can cure such collective ailments as are the product of forces destructive for the collectivity. Bribery is the most affective weapon that can destroy the power of men of understanding and prudence. A collective system inflicted by bribery becomes barren as far as the production of intellectuals and sages is concerned. If there are a few people of this kind at all they can be blinded by bribery sprayed in their eyes. Consequently we see that a society where bribery is a rampant disease the leadership and guidance goes in the hands of the blind. The destination of a system run by the blind and foolish is predictable. Considering this disastrousness of bribery, Islam has taught that those who take bribe as well as those who offer it are certain to go to Hell.

Abu Hurayrah narrates that the Prophet of God said: “Curse of God be upon the one who offers bribe and the one who takes it.” (Ibn Mājah, No: 2313)

Another prophetic tradition says that the one who works as an agent in the process of bribing will meet the same punishment. This is because he is the one who promotes an evil destined to bring disaster to the collectivity.

Thawbān narrated that the Prophet of God cursed the one who offers bribe, the one who takes bribe and the one who brokers between them. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 22452)


Muslims have been guided with added stress that, in order to make their lives worth living and beautiful and in order to give life to interpersonal relations, they should offer gifts to their relatives and neighbours and to accept any such good-will from others. However, Islam, at the same time, prohibits this otherwise pious act for the government officials. This is because this creates a subterfuge for the evil practice of bribing.

Abū Ḥamīd al-Sā‘idī narrates that the Prophet said: “A government official who accepts gifts, commits dishonesty.” (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 23649)

Another narrative says:

If a well paid official appointed by us accepts gifts from people, he is corrupt. (Abū Dāwūd, N0: 2943)

Imām Bukhārī, Imām Muslim and Abū Dāwūd have recorded a narrative that tells us that the Prophet appointed a man called Abu al-Labtiyyay as tax collector on the tribe of Azdar. When the tax collector returned from the tribe he subscribed two separate collections before the Prophet and explained that one part he had received as a zakāh and the other had been gifted to him by the people. Later on the Prophet addressed the people. After thanking God he said: “I appoint some people among you to render a certain service and seek their help in managing your affairs given under my command by the Almighty. Then, I see that an official comes back and tells me: “This is the portion of the bayt al-māl and this one has been gifted to me.” If they were true in what they state then why do they not sit at their homes and wait that the gifts reach them there.” (Bukhārī, No: 1429)
However, in order to strengthen the international relations and ties between the states, the rulers of the Islamic state have been allowed to offer gifts to the rulers of the other states. Various rulers sent gifts to the Prophet Muhammad. The Prophet accepted such gifts and generally gave them away to the companions. The Prophet would sometimes choose something for himself from the gifted items. He would often distribute all the gifts among the public. Imām Bukhārī has recorded a ḥadīth that tells us that once the Prophet received some outer garments made of silk with gold work. He distributed them among the companions except one which he separated for Makhramah b. Nawfal. Makhramah and his son went to meet the Prophet. When the Prophet heard him reach his house he felt happy and greeted Makhramah. He called him in and said to him: “O Father of Mansūr, I have kept it hidden for you.” (Bukhārī, No: 2514) The Egyptian king, Maqūqas gifted two slave girls, Māriyah and Sīrīn, to the Prophet. The Prophet handed Sīrīn over to Ḥassān. The same king had sent to the Prophet a mule and a donkey. Najāshī too sent a gift to the Prophet. The Prophet not only accepted the gift but also sent him some gifts in return. Farwah b. Nafāthah Jadhāmī sent a white mule to the Prophet as a gift which he rode during the battle of Ḥunayn. According to the Ṣaḥīḥ of Bukhārī the king of Īliya sent a white mule to the Prophet as a gift. The Prophet gifted a garment to him in return. There are numerous such examples which show that the Prophet received gifts from the kings and gifted many. There is, however, a difference of opinion among the scholars on the question whether such gifts from the kings of other states are the personal asset of the ruler or they must be submitted to the state treasury. The majority holds that all such items will be included in the state treasury. Imām Awzā‘ī holds that all such gifts will be considered the ownership of the people and the ruler will pay them from the state treasury if he uses any. Imām Aḥmad and his followers hold that any gifts from the non-Muslim kings to the Muslim rulers or the Muslims will be dealt with as the war booty and will be distributed as such.[64]



[1] Ibn hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 4: 184.
[2] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 196.
[3] Ibid., 198.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 14-5.
[6] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 188.
[7] Haykal, al-Ṣiddīq Abū Bakr, 62.
[8] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 196.
[9] Ibid., 2: 197.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid., 2: 198. I have taken this story from Muhammad Ḥusayn Haykal’s Al-Fārūq ‘Umar. The author maintains that ‘Abd al-Raḥmān was punished again. I, however, doubt this. Some scholars have explained that ‘Umar did not sentence him to the sharī‘ahpunishment again. He only punished him just as a father disciplines his child. This I believe is correct.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid., 1: 102-3.
[14] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 8-9.
[15] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 91.
[16] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imāmah wa al-Siyāsah, 1: 16.
[17] Ibid.
[18] The narrator has reported only a part of the sermon. Obviously Abū Bakr must have explained the meaning and implication of the referred to verse in its proper context. Seen in its proper context the verse marks the extent to which the callers to the truth are obliged to go. The verse says that they are obliged only to communicate the truth to others. Having fulfilled this responsibility, they will have saved themselves of any accountability. It is upon their addressees to accept or reject the truth. It is only they who will be questioned on the Last Day. It is not upon the callers to convert the addressees.
[19] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 12.
[20] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 94.
[21] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 11.
[22] Ibid., 12-3
[23] Ibn Qayyim, Zād al-Ma‘ād,3: 162.
[24] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 3-4.
[25] Ibid., 5.
[26] While reading through these advices, one needs to keep in mind that they do not emanate from a parochial mentality of a religious cleric. Rather they have been offered by a person who is the Chief Justice of the most advanced and the vastest empire of the time. He was an erudite scholar both in practical and theoretic politics. The one whom these advices are given too is not an ordinary ruler. He could very contemptuously address the European rulers of his time.
[27] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 5.
[28] Ibid., 15.
[29] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 235.
[30] Ibn Kathīr, Ḥāfiẓ Abū al-Fidā’ Ismā‘īl, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, 5thed., vol., 7 (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah: 1999), 64-5.
[31] Ibid.
[32] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1, 203-4.
[33] Ibid.
[34] Ibid., 94.
[35] Ibid., 2: 195.
[36] Ibid.
[37] Ibid., 2: 195-6.
[38] Ibid., 2: 202.
[39] Ibid., 2: 178.
[40] Ibid., 1: 252-3.
[41] Ibid., 1: 93-4.
[42] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imāmah wa al-Siyāsah, 1: 17.
[43] Ibid., 1: 19.
[44] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 194.
[45] Ibid.
[46] Ibid.
[47] Ibid.
[48] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imāmah wa al-Siyāsah, 1: 162.
[49] Ibid., 2: 116.
[50] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 210
[51] Ibid., 2 : 196
[52] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 107
[53] Ibid., 2: 105.
[54] Ibid., 2: 106.
[55] Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, 7: 27.
[56] Haykal, al-Ṣiddīq Abū Bakr, 269.
[57] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 282.
[58] Ibid., 2: 209.
[59] Ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī, Ṣaḥīḥ wa Ḍa‘īf Tarīkh Ṭabarī, 2:580.
[60] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 282-3.
[61] I could not find the source of this report. (translator)
[62] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 15.
[63] Ibid., 13.
[64] Ibn Qayyim, Zād al-Ma‘ād,5: 79.