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Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Islamic State 6: Conditions of Citizenship

The Islamic state is based on the principles teachings of Islam. Only such people can rightfully be considered full citizens of the state as have faith in Islam. The citizens must declare belief in the unicity of God and Prophethood of Muhammad. They should offer the ṣalāh, pay the zakāh and make the Ka‘bah their qiblah. They are required to follow the edicts of the sharī‘ah in social issues including nikaḥ, divorce and other divine commands concerning the lawful and the unlawful. To sum up, they must express themselves as Muslims at least apparently.
The following Qur’ānic verse sums up this prerequisite for the citizenship of the Islamic State.

However, if they repent, persist in offering the ṣalāh and pay the zakāh they are your brothers in the religion. (Q 9:11)

What this verse puts in brevity has been explained by the Prophet in detail. He has said that, as for as the Islamic State is concerned, it only deals with the external behaviour of the individuals. The internal state of one’s belief may not be investigated by the state. It cannot deprive any individual of the basic rights of citizenship until and unless he practically proves his disbelief. The Prophet says:

‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar narrates that the Prophet of God said: “I have been commanded to continue fighting these people until they declare that there is no God but Allāh and that Muhammad is the Messenger of God, persist in the Prayer and pay the zakāh. When they do these things they will have saved their lives except if (they are killed) rightfully. Accountability of their inner faith rests upon God. (Muslim, No: 22)

Another narrative explains the same theme in slightly different words.

I have been commanded to fight these people until they declare that there is no God but Allāh, offer the prayer following our way, face our qiblah and slaughter animals as we do. Then their lives and wealth would be inviolable for us except what is legally due. Their accountability is upon God. (Bukhārī, No: 385)

Another prophetic narrative further explains that violating rights of citizens, in fact, amounts to violating the guarantee God has given to them concerning their rights.

Whoever prays like us and faces our qiblah and eats animals slaughtered by us is a Muslim and is under the protection of Allāh and his Apostle. So do not betray Allāh by betraying those who are under his protection. (Bukhārī, No:384)

Another narrative stresses the point that all citizens have the right to equal treatment by the state. No discrimination may be observed with regards to the rights and obligations of the citizens. All have equal rights as well as duties.

Maymūn b. Yassār asked Anas b. Mālik, “O Abū Ḥamzah! What renders the life and property of a person sacred?” He said: “Whoever says that there is no God but Allāh, faces our qiblah(in the prayer), offers prayers like us and eats animals slaughtered by us, is a Muslim;[1] he will enjoy the rights granted to Muslims and will be burdened with their obligations.” (Bukhārī, No: 385)





The Islamic State does not render a foreigner Muslim ineligible for citizenship. A foreigner is not required to complete a complex legal procedure in order to acquire citizenship of the Islamic State. A mere intent from him to permanently settle in the Islamic State makes him a citizen of the state. He is entitled to all the rights conferred on the members of the state who acquired membership by birth.[2] In this case the maximum care that can be taken is confined to investigating whether he has come to live in the country for good and whether he does not harbour evil. Before sending his followers on some military campaign the Prophet would give the following principle advice:

When you face the enemy among the polytheists, call them to three things. Whatever of these they submit to accept it from them and stop fighting them. First, call them to embrace Islam. If they acquiesce trust their declaration of faith and stop fighting them. Then ask them to leave that place and migrate to the Muslim land. Inform them that if they do so they would be conferred the rights of the emigrant believers. They would be burdened with responsibilities which the other Emigrants have been obliged to fulfil. If, however, they do not agree to migrate they should be informed that they will be given the status of badawī Muslims.[3]Then they will have to fulfil all the commandments of God meant for this kind of Muslims. However, they will not be given share in war booties and fay unless and until they participate in the holy war along as the other Muslims do. (Muslim, No: 1731)


An individual who fulfils the above mentioned requirements necessary for the citizenship of the Islamic State is accorded several rights. The Islamic State protects their rights on behalf of God and his Messenger. If a government confiscates any of their rights wrongfully it, in fact, violates the protection given them by the Almighty Allāh and his Messenger, which is a major sin.
Now we turn to discuss the rights of a citizen in the Islamic State in order:


The most important and sacred right of a citizen is protection of his life and property. The state must guarantee that it will not violate their right to life, property and repute. It makes sure that those who infringe upon these rights of the citizens are put to justice. The Islamic State, by doing so, acts as a representative of God and his Messenger who have vowed the projection of these basic rights of the citizens. It means that if the state fails to fulfil the obligation to protect these rights of the citizens, it, in fact, violates its pact with the citizen it swore in the name of the Almighty Allāh and his Messenger. Its attack on the life and property of its citizens means violating something which it vowed to protect on behalf of God and his Messenger. Consider the words of the hadīth quoted earlier:

Such a person is a Muslim and is under the protection of Allāh and his Apostle. So do not betray Allāh by betraying those who are under his protection. (Bukhārī, No: 384)

The Prophet stressed these rights of the individuals in different words at different occasions. He is reported to have said:

Everything belonging to a Muslim is inviolable for another Muslim, his life, his wealth, his honour. (Muslim, No: 2564)

The Prophet compared the sacredness of these things with the Day of ‘Arafah.[4] He said that life, wealth and honour of a Muslim are ḥarām and inviolable like the Day of ‘Arafa which is held inviolable by the Almighty: no one may violate the sacredness of the Day and no one may violate the life, wealth and honour of fellow Muslims. On the occasion of the Last ḥajj he said:

Your lives, your wealth and your honour are sacred and inviolable to you just as this day (of ‘Arafah) is sacred and inviolable. (Bukhārī, No: 67)

The condition expressed by the words, “illa biḥaqqihā (save for rightfully)” serves to clarify that the state can only encroach these rights if required by the law. In this case, too, it has to consider their apparent behaviour. It may never discuss the religious sincerity of a believer. The only instance of exception that may be noticed is someone bearing a clear sign of hypocrisy. However, that too depends on some clear and observable facts. The sincerity of a clearly known hypocrite may be doubted but to ascertain whether one is a clear hypocrite rests on his express acts.


Lawful personal possessions may never be confiscated by the state. Private property of all the citizens will be protected by the state. Confiscating or infringing upon one’s private property means violation of the sharī‘ah. Writes Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf in his treatise Kitāb al-Kharāj:

The government has no right to confiscate property of a citizen except what is legally and conventionally due.[5]

When, a compelling collective need arises the properly and possessions of the citizens can be used by the state provided the owner willingly subscribes for the collective good or he is paid proper compensation. There is ample evidence in the practice of the Prophet to substantiate this right of the state.
A number of women and children of the Hawāzan tribe was taken as war captives by the Muslim army. The Prophet did not distribute them among the people as war booty for a few days. He was expecting their relatives to contract him. He intended to hand over those captives to their relatives. Nobody approached the Prophet for few days. He distributed them among the Muslims. However, shortly afterwards their relatives came and requested for the release of their brethren. The Prophet readily accepted their request and intended to release the captives. This, however, was not easy. The captives were no longer in the state custody. They were in possession of certain citizens. Therefore, the Prophet immediately ordered the release of those of the captives who were still in the state control. He called the masters of the captives in individual occupation and spoke to them. He asked them to release the captives without any return or payment from the state. They were, promised proper compensation once the state treasury received the fay money.
Before the battle of Ḥunayn the Prophet took some hauberks from Ṣufyān b. Umayyah. The later sought clarification asking whether they were being confiscated by the state. The Prophet replied in the negative. He explained that they were being borrowed. He assured Umayyah that they would be returned back. Damaged items would be compensated for.
Similarly, at one occasion the Muslims got hold of a Quraysh caravan along with their trade assets. This caravan was being led by the Prophet’s son in-law Abu al-‘Āṣ. He went to Madīnah to recover the assets. Political considerations made the Prophet decide to return the assets to him. He, however, did not command his followers to return whatever assets came to their share. He asked the Muslims to return to him whatever they freely intended to abandon.[6]


The Islamic State guarantees personal freedom to its citizens. God Almighty has granted man with free will. Man can decide upon acts and perform them in a set sphere. It is only on the basis of this free will and choice of act he is rendered accountable for his behaviour in this worldly life. God has ordained that, in his collective life too, man is not forced by the state to act in a specific way. The divine will therefore, acknowledges freedom of action for the individual in a set sphere of life. It is again this freedom of will which determines his success or failure on the Last Day. He can attain success and prosperity by making positive use of this freedom of choice or mar his destiny by misusing it. Thus it would be perfectly in accord with the divine will that an individual’s personal liberty is guaranteed protection unless and until he does not misuse this liberty in damaging the personal liberty of other individuals or harming the collective interests. Therefore, if the government confiscates his personal freedom without any valid grounds it commits the crime of curbing the freedom of those whom God has granted liberty. It is rather held responsible for minimizing the chances of success of the victim in the Afterlife by hindering his way to do good deeds. This entails that unless and until it is proved beyond a shadow of doubt that someone poses threat to the liberty of other individuals and their fundamental rights he may not be deprived of freedom and liberty. Any restrictions may not be imposed on him. Islam does not approve of denying the basic and natural rights of an individual which have been guaranteed on behalf of the Almighty and his Messenger merely on hearsays and baseless accusations. Islam does not warrant denying the personal freedom of the citizens even if they are accused of harming collective good and interest of the nation without sufficient proofs, not to speak of allegations pertaining to inter-personal affairs. Islam does not see denying the individuals their freedom can any way be in interest of the state, the collective will of the nation. On the contrary, Islam holds that if the government is disposed to attacking personal freedom of its citizens merely on baseless accusations, unfounded apprehensions and unwarranted reports, it, in fact, destroys cultural and social potentials of the nation rather than constructing and improving them. Such an offence is counter productive. The state is then inevitably destroyed. This principle affecting individual and collective freedom of the citizens has been explained by the Prophet in the following words:

Narrated Miqdām b. Ma‘dīkarib and Abī Amāmah that the Prophet said: “when a ruler looks for points to accuse the public he ends up in corrupting them. (Abū Dāwūd, No: 4889)

This narrative highlights a very important political principle. It should, therefore, not be read in passing. By the words ‘he corrupts them,’ the Prophet does not only mean that his acts harm the positive relation between the ruler and the ruled and create distrust. Rather such an attitude on the part of the government ultimately harms the national consolidation. Consider for example, a government whose officials announce that the country is full of rebels. The foreign spies run rampant, destructive works are openly committed and a lot of people are sowing chaos, they baselessly becry. The state officials do not define these allegations or legally determine them. Nor is any of the allegations put precisely and proved properly. This becrying and this wailing would gradually make the public lose trust. Nobody will trust another including the state. If, God forbidding, some national crisis arises, in meanwhile, the nation will not be able to face it as a united force; every one distrusting others and looking them with suspicion. One would be seeing every other individual as a foreign agent or a rebel engaged in destructive activities. Thus the true intent of the prophetic words, it seems, is that neither unfounded accusations are played on the citizens of the Islamic State as a sport nor are these used as a political stratagem. The state should therefore legally define accusations, if it has to make some, under a well-defined procedure and then prove them in a specific court of law. If the accused is found guilty he must be punished in an exemplary manner. If it is not possible for the accuser to follow the set procedure and prove the charges in an established legal manner he may hold his tongue and refrain from voicing accusation in the first place.
Islam obliges the rulers to trust the public and expect better from them instead of looking at them with suspicion and dealing them accordingly. This attitude guarantees positive growth and flourishing of the political sense in the masses. It helps make them grow into more sensible citizens. The rulers should search for reasons to acquit the public of charges. They should not hunt for excuses to punish them. Acquitting a citizen by mistake is better than punishing him mistakenly. The Prophet said:

Avoid punishing the Muslim citizens as far as is possible. Leave them on any excuse available. That a ruler commits mistake in acquitting someone is better than that he sentences someone mistakenly. (Tirmidhī, No: 1424)

Another narrative attests this legal doctrine:

Avoid applying the ḥaddpunishment wherever you are able to find some way out (for the accused). (Ibn Mājah, No: 2545)

Government, in Islam, is not an end in itself. It is only a tool to ensure freedom of opinion and act; the very right Islam bestows upon the believers. The right to freedom of opinion and action provides the citizens with necessary condition and optimum circumstances for the test and trial of this worldly life, which is the basic purpose of creation of man. Therefore, Islam does not allow the government to restrict or curtain the personal freedom of individuals even in a state of emergency, without providing them a fair trial and fulfilling all the conditions of justice and fairness.
Various examples in the life of the Prophet and the rightly guided caliphate provide undeniable proof to the fact that both in normal circumstance and in time of emergency the state may not incarcerate any citizen. If it does it has to make sure that he is provided a fair trial and is properly convicted. In the following paragraphs we will refer to some pertinent incidents. We will start by narrating the relevant incidents followed by an exposition of the background and the context. An analysis of the directives discerned from them will be presented at the end.
1. Grandfather of Bahz b. Ḥakīm went to the Prophet who was at that time addressing (the people). He asked the Prophet why his neighbours were imprisoned. The Prophet, (engaged in addressing the people), ignored his question twice. He (the questioner), however, again gave expression to whatever he willed. At this the Prophet commanded that his neighbours be released. (Abū Dāwūd, No: 3631)
2. Egypt was conquered during the reign of ‘Umar under the command of ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ, governor of the newly conquered land. One day, his son, Muhammad b. ‘Amr flogged a native. ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ put the victim in prison fearing that the news, if allowed to spread, could lead to rebellion. The prisoner, however, escaped from his custody and went directly to the Caliph. ‘Umar listened to his pleadings and commanded ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ and his son to report to Madīnah. When both came to the Caliph, he, after proper investigation of the matter, directed the Egyptian to flog the son of the governor in public. Then he said that the son has been led to commit injustice only because of his father’s position. On this he ordered the Egyptian to flog the governor as well. The Egyptian said that he had avenged himself by flogging the offender. ‘Umar told him that he might forgive the governor if he willed but he had all the right to strike the father as well for the latter too was indirectly responsible for the injustice committed by his son. Then he turned to ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ and said to him:
O ‘Amr, since when have you held the people in bondage while they were born of their mothers free men.[7]

3. Rabī‘ah b. Abī ‘Abd al-Raḥmān narrates that an Iraqi came to the Caliph ‘Umar and said: “I have come to you with a very complex matter which has no head or tail.” “What is it?” asked ‘Umar. “The evil practice of bearing false witness has broken out in our land.” ‘Umar exclaimed, “Has it, really?” The man answered in the affirmative. At this ‘Umar said, “(Do not worry). By God, none is put into prison in the Islamic (rule) without the requirements of justice are fulfilled. (Muwaṭṭā, No: 1402)

Now we study the circumstances in which these incidents occurred.
The first incident occurred right during the prophetic time. We all know that the city of Madīnah remained under continual crisis during the life time of the Prophet. No single day passed while the city was immune against emergency. The state was still in its infancy. It was threatened by internal chaos and exposed to external aggression. At one side the Jews were busy intriguing against the state and at the other the hypocrites, found in the very ranks of the Muslims, were working as the fifth column, creating unrest and seeding confusion among the masses and dividing the Muslims. They never relented from trying to discover military might of the state, steal out their strategies, leaking out their military plans, and exporting their secrets. As regards the external threats, it is a known fact that, before the conquest of Makkah, the Quraysh waged wars one after the other on the nascent Islamic state, aided and abutted by the Jews and the hypocrites. When the threat from the Quraysh ultimately died down after the conquest, the neighbouring tribes flocked to Madīnah. The state was not yet recovered from curbing their mutinies that threats from Romans and Persian were felt. These were still hovering above the horizon when the Prophet died.
In these circumstances, the state officials of Madīnah arrest some suspicious individuals. One of their neighbours comes to know that. He approaches the Prophet immediately. He finds the Prophet addressing his companions. He never bothers to wait till the Prophet is finished, interrupts him in this state and asks him to explain why his neighbours have been arrested. The Prophet, however, ignores his question and continues to speak. The man does not understand the situation and repeats his question. The Prophet is forced to responds to him. In his response, however, the Prophet does not give an explanation. Usually authorities in similar situation are found very rich in explanations. An ordinary political leader would have told that the government arrested those people for it was sure that they indulged in suspicious activities and that they were actually guilty. The reason of their arrest cannot be disclosed for fear of harming national interests and law and order situation. Making public the reason of their arrest can expose the sources of information which are better kept secret. The Prophet rather straightforwardly directs the state officials to release the captives. This Sunnahestablishes the constitutional right of freedom for all the citizens. It dictates that none can be held in custody merely on the basis of suspicion. The authorities must properly charge the accused with some illicit action and prove it according to the law. He should thus either be punished if found guilty or released instantly if innocent. He may not be kept under pre-trial arrest.
The second incident narrated above happens in Egypt. It is the time of the Caliph ‘Umar. Egypt has recently been conquered. Those who have lost the country to Muslims are still lying on the borders while their political centre is still strong and well established. They are planning to take back their province. Besides, internal unrest is no less disturbing. Local community, though unhappy with their former rulers, are not yet at good terms with the Muslim rulers who too are foreigners. Thus any mutinous act is always an expectation and the external threat is hovering above the heads of the rulers.
In such circumstances, conventionally, the newly conquered areas are under the direct control of the conquering army. There is no question of civil rights. In such circumstances the military rule is in effect. In similar situation, the Muslim governor, who is the head of the administration, not an ordinary police official, on some compelling considerations, holds a common citizen in custody. Islamic law takes the rights of the citizens so critical that even in such extraordinary circumstances, they cannot be held in abeyance. We see that in this case, the Caliph takes notice on the complaint by the victim and calls the governor and his son at once to the capital and administers perfect justice. When, after due investigation, it is proved that injustice was committed by the Muslim citizen and the governor and the citizen was unlawfully beaten and held in custody, not only the victim is given an opportunity to retaliate in equal coins and the offender, the son of the governor, is flogged in public, but also the governor is declared responsible for the unwarranted act of his son. This later action is being taken in spite of the state of emergency in the new conquered land. Nothing like impendent external oppression, inner chaos in the province, law and order situation and loss of honour and power of the authorities is considered. The governor is held accountable for putting someone in jail without fair trial and without waiting to see if he is really a culprit or not.
The third incident quoted above occurs in Iraq. Though there is no war going on in Iraq, yet the state of war prevails. First, the land has newly been conquered. The state cannot trust the newly conquered people. Second, in the immediate neighbourhood a decisive battle is being fought. The base camp of the Muslim armies is in Iraq. Therefore, the state is not completely secure from any possible harm from the enemy spies and other elements looking for an opportunity to create disturbance in the land. In such circumstances, a citizen from the province of Iraq comes to learn that some misinformation has been conveyed to the authorities regarding him. He fears that (like the other state officials of the Iranian empire) he too could be put in jail. He flees to Madīnah, approaches the Caliph and says that some people have laid a snare for him. He fears that he could be captured by the state authorities on the basis of false accusations. The Caliph expresses his astonishment, for he fears that things foretold in context of the unrest and fitnah in the ummah have started to manifest. Then he assures the complainant not to worry and tells him that no citizen can be held in custody and jailed unless and until a fair trial is provided him.
Worth mentioning is the point that here the Caliph swears and explicitly states that in Islam this is not allowable. By using the words “in Islam” he wants to communicate that the guarantee he is giving the citizens is not his personal view. Rather it is a right of the citizens acknowledged by the religion of God. None has the right to disregard this right of the citizens. Therefore, the complainant should not worry. If some people are reporting wrong things regarding him they should be left free. None can put hands on any individuals until they are proven guilty by a proper court after a fair trial.
The Islamic law does not let the authorities punish a citizen without a proper and fair trial. By proper and fair trial we mean a trial conducted following the procedure dictated by the sharī‘ah. If, for example, nine out of ten conditions of justice have been met and one is lacking then, according to the sharī‘ah, such a trial is deficient. If someone is convicted and punished through such deficient proceedings it would be, in the eye of Islam, a naked injustice even if the person being subjected to punishment has really committed the crime. Though, we do not intend to discuss the conditions necessary for the proper justice in a trial here, yet in order to briefly depict the Islamic concept of legal justice we will refer to a prophetic tradition.

‘Alī narrates that the Prophet said: ‘Alī, when two contestants [in a case] appear before you, do not hasten to judge between them until you have heard the view of the second party just as you listen to the first one. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 882)

This requirement of justice has been mentioned in the Bible in the following words:

The first one to plead his cause seems right, until his neighbour comes and questions him. (Proverbs 18:17)

The only case when holding someone in custody before trial can be exonerated is during the initial investigations and that too for a short time. In the light of this initial investigation a case may be filed against the accused leading to the trial while he is provided full opportunities to defend himself. If there is no sufficient evidence he must be set free. Writes Imām Khaṭṭābī:

Detention can be of two kinds, in punishment and for investigation. As regards detention in punishment that can only be implemented after the criminal is convicted and the punishment is legally due. As regards the issue of detention for the sake of investigation, someone can be held in custody for this purpose. It has been narrated that the Prophet put a man in detention in a case for sometime and then released him.[8]

Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf, who had been Chief Justice (qāḍī al-quḍāt) in the Islamic state under the Abbasid Dynasty during the golden days of the Empire, despite his knowledge of the needs of an expansive state, expressed the same view. It clearly shows that he did not consider it allowable to hold someone in detention merely on the basis of accusation. In his book Kitāb al-Kharājhe writes:

It is no way permissible to put a person is prison merely because someone has accused him. The Prophet would never hold a man in custody merely on the basis of accusations. In such cases the complainant and the defendant both should be given equal opportunity to come and explain their position. If the plaintiff has convincing evidence for his case a verdict should be passed in his favour. Otherwise the defendant should be released on bail. Afterwards the defendant may not be disturbed until and unless the plaintiff is able to furnish sound proofs affirming his claim.[9]

It should, however, always be kept in mind that this discussion relates only to the proper nationals of the Islamic state. The Islamic state guarantees its citizens certain rights. These rights cannot be fulfilled if the state continues punishing the citizens, hindering their personal freedom on the mere basis of an accusation. The state must therefore offer a fair trial to the accused no matter how serious the allegations against him and how critical the political situation of the state. Not a single instance from the life of the Prophet and the period of the rightly guided caliphs can be cited to attest that a man was punished before proper trial, without giving him full right and opportunity to defend himself and before proving him guilty. However, two examples in the Prophet’s life show that some enemy spy crept into the Islamic state and the Prophet directed his followers to pursue and kill him. There is however no example of similar dealing with the citizens of the Islamic state.
The case of Ḥāṭib b. Abī Baltah is well known. He stealthily sent a message to the Makkans informing them that the Prophet was planning to march on their city. The Prophet shortly came to know of this. The letter Ḥāṭib b. Abī Baltah had sent to the Makkans was discovered. Every sensible person can imagine the severity of the matter. The delicacy of the circumstances is also evident. However, the Prophet did not even hold him in custody without giving him a fair trial not to speak of punishment. The matter was put before the Prophet in his mosque. Ḥāṭib b. Abī Baltah confessed that he actually did write the letter. However, the investigation showed that it was not because of any ill will on his part that he sent the letter warning the Quraysh of the possible attack rather he succumbed to weakness and proved to be uncommitted. He was acquitted.
In short there are two possible distinct situations for which different directives have been introduced. First, an enemy spy enters the Islamic land with malicious purpose or a foreigner illegally enters the country. Second, a citizen of the Islamic State is accused of treachery and spying for the enemy. In the first case the state can take any proper action to prevent the person from fulfilling his purpose and in the second case it has no authority to go beyond the judicial enquiry and just trial. If it adopts some other course that will be an open transgression against the Almighty and his Messenger for the Islamic State guarantees these rights on the behalf of the Prophet and the Almighty.


Since in the Islamic State full citizenship and related rights are awarded only to Muslims, on the basis of religion of course, there is undoubtedly no choice of religious freedom for its citizens. One can put it in the form of an objection. The right to religious freedom awarded to the citizens of secular states is negated the citizens of the Islamic State. We, however, believe that concept of religious freedom in a secular state is mere illusion. Our view needs some clarification for this illusory aspect of the religious freedom in a secular state cannot be fully comprehended unless a sharp distinction between the Islamic state and a secular one is drawn. To this end we now turn.
In the Islamic State same religious and ideological principles command the public and political as well as personal and private life. There is no dualism in the public and private life of the citizens of the Islamic State. On the contrary, in worldly and secular democracies citizens are free to choose any philosophy and religion to provide them with a code of conduct. They are free to take either God or Satan as their guide. The state cannot interfere in this sphere of individual life. They are, however, subjected to follow the state religion in their public and private life. The rights of citizens are no more acknowledged if they violate and go against the state Religion in political and collective affairs.
The irreligious mundane democracies have, by creating this dichotomy between private and collective religious behaviour, made a show of religious freedom. They very vociferously claim that religious affiliation of a citizen does not affect his rights in the least. He is free to follow any religious tradition without incurring any loss of rights entailed by virtue of his citizenship. These rights are never denied him as long as he continues honouring the national constitution and law. This view of the present day liberal democracies can only be lauded by those who believe in a passive religion which does not guide man in social and political affairs. Such a religion fails to provide any guidance regarding political and collective life of its adherents and accommodates influence of any Satanic or evil system. Based on my knowledge of the religious traditions of the world, I can safely claim that no divine messenger taught hollow religious teachings as are tolerating views which are in direct opposition to the religion itself. A religion which claims to be divine in origin and, at the same time, holds that its originator did actually teach tolerance for unbelief, in fact, betrays its Messenger and accuses him of something a Messenger cannot be imagined to have indulged in. We need to appreciate that, in reality, this professed claim of religious freedom is nothing but a form of illusion and deception. One wonders why, after all that stressed contingency of the rights of citizens on their unfailing submission and unconditional adherence to the constitution, modern nationalist secular democracy cannot be called a distinct religious creed. What differentiates between the Islamic state, which, grants the rights of citizenship only after one vows to remain loyal to the Almighty Allāh and his Messenger, and the irreligious democracies, which attach the rights with loyalty to their country, nation and the national constitution? Nature of the demand by both sides is the same. Though both attach loyalty to a different entity –one demands that the citizens remain loyal to the Almighty Allāh and the other wants this right reserved for the national constitution – yet there is no difference in the nature of both the views; both hinge the rights upon fulfilment of the condition of loyalty to some entity which ties the citizens in a common bond and thus works as a centre and reference point for all collective affairs. This principle is shared by both systems. Keeping this fact in perspective we can say that it would be utterly fallacious to claim that the modern secular democracies do not consider the religious affiliation of the citizens of the state while deciding upon their fundamental rights. One can, at best, claim that an irreligious state compels the citizens to follow the national religion and abandon the true religion they believe in order to merit the rights of citizenship. It bases the rights and obligations of the citizens on the question of their acceptance or rejection of this state religion. It would therefore be utterly wrong to claim that these states do not deal with the question of the religious affiliation of the individuals.
In short, the Islamic State, which is an ideological state by nature and is founded on the principle guidance of Islam, does not give rights to the individuals who do not believe in Islam and are rebellious to it. However, those rejecters of Islam, who are ready to submit before the political dominion of the faith and who intend to live in the Islamic State while being loyal to it are awarded some distinct rights. As for the rebels the sharī‘ah has prescribed punishments which cannot be detailed here.
The Islamic State awards its citizens great religious and creedal freedom within the boundaries of basic Islamic teachings. A Muslim citizen thus can hold and express his understanding of the religion. In this sphere, the Islamic State does not interfere. The only instance where it does interfere is in connection of the teaching and propagation of the religion. Therefore, intellectual stagnation never occurs in the Islamic State. People are never left to follow a set intellectual course, deaf and dumb. Those who observe wrong models of the Islamic State are led to believe in such a perception. They are not aware of the true form of the Islamic State and the ideology on which it is founded.
Apart from differences of sects and religious schools within the Islamic tradition, the Islamic State also tolerates different political views, different interpretation of the source texts, and different philosophical discussions of the religious issues. Many examples from the reign of pious caliphate show that different political views, as did not amount to intolerance and did not lead to violence, were readily accepted. Similarly, in interpretation of the religious teachings certain different views, as did not match the orthodox interpretation, were tolerated unless the upholders of these dissenting views engaged in creating disorder in the community, terrorizing the public and challenging the state authority. Political tolerance in the Islamic State is best demonstrated by the fact that the pious caliphate was indeed formed by the collaboration of two major political groups of the time, namely the Emigrants and the Hosts. Students of early history of Islam know that the Hosts viewed that both the groups should rule in turn. Rule of one of the leaders of the Hosts should be followed by the rule of one of the Emigrants. The Emigrants, however, did not accept this proposal and opposed it. This situation could have been aggravated and a great dissention could have arisen among the nascent ummah. This could be prevented by the political insight of the great leaders from both sides. They settled the issue amicably. All accepted Abū Bakr Ṣiddīq as their caliph. The leader of the Khazraj tribe, Sa‘d b. ‘Ubādah, however, did not take a pledge of allegiance to Abū Bakr till his death.
Abū Bakr was succeeded by ‘Umar. Sa‘d b. ‘Ubādah did not accept his authority as well. He separated himself from the political system and that too openly. Writes Ibn Qutaybah:

Sa‘d would not attend daily congregational prayer with the rulers nor would he attend the Friday Congregation led by them or offer the annual pilgrimage under their headship. Had he found some supporters he would have confronted the rulers and if these supporters were ready to enter an oath of pledge with him he would have been unhesitant to fight the rulers. He did not budge from this behaviour till the death of Abū Bakr. When ‘Umar assumed the chair of Khilāfah he moved to Syria and died there.[10]

If this statement by Ibn Qutaybah is true then the behaviour of Sa‘d Ibn ‘Ubādah is clearly against the Islamic Law. The government could have taken stern measures against him. Here we see the most glaring example of tolerance; Sa‘d b. ‘Ubādah sticks to his viewpoint but the rulers do not coerce him into accepting their authority. One can be led to think that Abū Bakr was a naturally lenient person but how to explain ‘Umar’s conduct who would never show lenience in disciplinary matters. Yet he showed such longanimity, displayed extraordinary permissiveness and avoided holding Sa‘d into question for his behaviour. One may not hold that at that time the government was not strong enough to take action against such disobedience. No doubt the government was going through very crucial time yet Abū Bakr Ṣiddīq, who did not budge from taking action against those who refused to pay the zakāh, could not have been afraid of taking action against the leader of the Anṣār. Even if somebody thinks that he did display leniency because it was not expedient to take any action against the Anṣār what would have stopped ‘Umar —whom the entire Arab and ‘Ajamworld dreaded—to tolerate this affair. The truth of the matter is that the only reason ‘Umar refrained from taking any action against Sa‘d was that though Sa‘d did not take oath of pledge yet he never took any action to overturn the government. Neither could he do so for every one among the Anṣār had taken the pledge of allegiance to Abū Bakr. There was none to back him. In such a state of affairs some rulers devoid of political acumen and lacking in confidence could have taken vindictive measures against a lifeless opposition and vent their displeasure but the great caliphs of Islam like Abū Bakr and ‘Umar would not.
Within two major political groups, consisting of the Emigrants and the Hosts, there existed three major political factions, namely the Umayyads, under the leadership of ‘Uthmān Ghanī, Banū Zuhr headed by Sa‘d b. Abī Waqqāṣ and ‘Abd al-Raḥmān b. ‘Awf, and Banū Hāshim under the headship of ‘Alī and ‘Abbās b. ‘Abd al-Muṭṭalib. Some of these groups were open opponents of the rulers. Abū Bakr and ‘Umar very nicely and tolerantly handled their opposition. It is a known fact that ‘Alī too delayed taking oath of pledge with Abū Bakr for several months. Yet Abū Bakr did not take action against him. He did not think that leaders like ‘Alī would lead political difference into a kind of rebellion leading to disorder.
The way ‘Uthmān tolerated the sever criticism of his political opponents needs no explanation. He was assassinated in a very pitiful manner. Still he did not opt for curbing the opposition by force; a choice he could rightfully adopt at least after attempts on his life.
The above discussion, it is hoped, sufficiently explains the fact that though Islamic rule is based on fundamental Islamic principles, yet it tolerates various kinds of differences within the broader religious framework. People may follow any given creed among many and uphold unorthodox view both in political and religious matters. As regards the basic and true form of Islam which one needs to follow, in order to succeed in the afterlife, it is the one dictated by the Qur’ān and taught by the Prophet. It does not accept independent individual views. If someone tries to mix untruth with its teachings, no matter how small and insignificant, he incurs the wrath of God and is held accountable by him.
As for the principle guidance, the Islamic State is set to follow the pristine form of Islam. It targets continuation of the basic guidance of Islam through formal teaching and propagation. To this end it establishes the state department of amr bi al-ma‘rūf and nahy ‘an al-munkar (calling to good and virtue and prohibiting evil and vices). The state departments co-ordinately serve this purpose. Still the political system of the state can deal only with the apparent and external form of Islam. It has no right to discuss or judge the internal state of faith. This is because of this fact that secession and anarchism is tolerated as far as such an opposition fulfils the basic conditions of meriting the basic rights of citizenship. As regards the internal condition of people’s faith and their thoughts and plans buried in their bosoms, the state cannot scrutinize and judge them. This is the domain of the Almighty who will judge people on the Last Day. He will judge the hidden and declared plans meticulously. He will detect the most minute and reduced pieces of evil. The sieve of God can sift even the hidden and the unseen particles. On the contrary the sieve given to the Islamic State cannot screen out such evil parts from the right ones which have been garbed in something else, making the evil mixed with evil.


Islam puts all the citizens of the Islamic State, rich and poor, noble and commoner, ruler and the ruled, on equality in the eyes of the law. Every person from each class is subjected to the same laws under same judicial system. Neither will different laws prescribed for different classes, nor the laws be enforced to different people in different terms. Political, economic or social status of the citizens will not affect their position in the eyes of the law. The head of the state, in all the democracies, small or big, is considered beyond law. The Queen in the Great Britain, for example, may not be sued in a court of law, not for misdemeanours and nor even for graver wrongs. On the contrary, in Islam, even the Messenger of God has to be treated just like a common citizen of the state, needless to say of the common political leaders. In fact the only thing that lends the Messenger prominence is that he is the first to believe in Islam and the first to submit to the sharī‘ah. He is the leader of those who follow the laws. Just as the Qur’ān requires the believers to follow the sharī‘ahof God it commands the Prophet, in no unclear terms, to submit before him.

The Messenger and the believers have believed on what has been revealed to him. (Q 2:285)

When it comes to the question of following the law, the Prophet is required to take the lead. His responsibility is far graver than that of the believers. This is demonstrated by the fact that failing to obey the law earns punishment both in this world and in the one to come. The law the Prophet brought for us was observed by him more diligently than anyone else ever does. He would surpass others in fearing the consequences of failing to obey the law. He never committed legal injustice to anyone. Still however, he presented himself before his followers at many occasions and gave them a choice to pay back any injustice and wrong he might have committed against them.
Once, a woman from a very noble family of the Quraysh was charged of theft. Theft in Islam is punished by cutting hands of the criminals. Some people considered the severity of the prescribed punishment and the social status of woman. They found it hard that a noble lady is punished so severely for theft. They desired to practice legal discrimination to which they were accustomed in the days of ignorance. ‘Usāmah b. Zayd, who was very dear to the Prophet, was requested to intercede with the Prophet in this regard. Forced by the insistence of those people he approached the Prophet only to find him greatly displeased at this. After listening to ‘Usāmah the Prophet said: “You dare to intercede regarding the implementation of the laws of God?” Later on the Prophet addressed a congregation of the people and said that many bygone nations were annihilated only because of legal discrimination and injustice. If a nobler committed theft they would let him walk free and when some commoner committed such a transgression he would be put to justice. He stressed that he would not follow their stead. He said:

By God, in whose hand is my life, had Fāṭimah, the daughter of Muhammad committed theft I would surely have cut her hands. (Muslim, No: 1688)

Then he called for the thief and had her hands cut.
Jablah b. ‘Ayham Ghassānī slapped a poor countryman. The law granted the victim the right to slap the offender in retaliation. Since Jablah was a tribal chief he found it real hard to accept that humiliation and tried his utmost to avoid the punishment. When he realized that, in Islam, such discriminating was not possible he fled during the night. Once out of the Islamic territory he denounced Islam. The Caliph of Islam readily accepted the loss of a courageous convert, a former prince. He did not tolerate seeing that a poor citizen is denied justice merely because the offender was a respectable chief.
The present world of ‘enlightenment and civilization’ echoes with slogans of freedom, equality and brotherhood. France boasts to be the pioneer land which realized these slogans. She has however failed to implement these ideals in pure form. The way this theory of freedom and equality has been applied in France is surely faulty. Two parallel judicial systems operate concurrently, judicial and administrative. The former kind of courts deal with the laws controlling relations between individuals i.e. private law and the latter with the laws controlling the relations between the state and individuals in society i.e. public law. Nearly similar discriminatory systems (with negligible changes) are working in all the democracies of the modern world, the vociferous advocates of democracy and freedom. These republics, at the one hand, guarantee civil and legal equality to all the citizens in very pleasant language and, at the other hand, their administrative laws cancel such rights altogether. Knavery and infidelity, oppression and transgression, if committed by a common citizen, are instantly punished through private law. Commoners are arrested within no time, held in pre-trial custody and put in jail in according to the dictates of the private law. The same crimes, if committed by state officials, ministers or governors, even if in more sever form and with graver consequences, are not to be brought in the court of justice without the permission from the authorities. Even the Supreme Court is helpless in this regard. If the government is kind enough to consider some expediency or the public pressure and approves that the case be brought and prosecuted, that too in a limited way. The special court set for the purpose can only hold the criminal for a while till it records evidences related to the case. The court cannot punish him. It is the sole discretion of the government either to implement the punishment or let him walk free.
The introduction of separate laws, private law for the public and public law for the state officials, and setting up parallel judicial systems for both save the government and state officials from intervention by the judiciary. General public, as a result, is deprived of the legal protection awarded to the state officials. Unapproachable by the judicial courts, the state officials enjoy a free hand against the rights of the public and a kind of sovereignty over the common man. They do not, therefore, find it necessary to honour the rights of the general public. The general public, whose mutual affairs are governed by the private law, on the contrary, is required to honour and fulfil the duties imposed on them.
Islamic law is absolutely pure of such legal and judicial duality. The Prophet of Islam has given same law for all. The Caliph who runs the state and a farmer who rears the herds are subjected to the same laws. There is a single judicial system which judges disputes between a caliph and a dhimmī just as it does decide cases between two hawkers in the bazaar. The arguments put forth by the advocates of the dualism in judicial and legal systems are not new. Scholars of early Islam were fully aware of such a line of arguments. It was precisely on the basis of these expediencies and so-called wise points – often presented today in favour of the unjust theories – that some people asked ‘Umar to introduce separate law and distinct judicial system for the settlement of disputes between the state authorities and the individuals. If the authorities are subjected to the private law, they argued, and sentenced accordingly just like a common man, disregarding their status and responsibilities, they will lose heart. As a consequence their efficiency in keeping law and order and maintaining of administration would suffer. The government as a whole would, they argued, lose prestige. The caliph did not give ear to this line of argument. He stated that since the Prophet had not held himself above law, ordinary humans cannot be granted special treatment.

‘Amr b. Maymūn narrates that ‘Umar b. Khaṭṭāb spoke to the people and said, “O people, I do not send my administrators to you in order to beat you or appropriate your wealth. I send them to you in order that they teach you your religion and the Sunnah of your Prophet. Those among you who are wronged should bring that to my notice. By God in whose hand is my life, I will certainly enforce qiṣāṣ (talion).” On hearing this ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ stood up and said, “O Amīr al-Mu’minīn, if a governor punishes someone will you allow the victim to retaliate?” ‘Umar said, “By God in whose hand is my life, I will enforce qiṣās and make sure that the victim is given opportunity to retaliate. I have seen the Prophet offer himself for retaliation. Do not humiliate the Muslims by beating them.[11]

‘Umar did not engage only in theoretical discussion with ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ. His vow was practically implemented. During the reign of ‘Umar a few administrators were reported to have wronged their subjects. ‘Umar punished the offenders openly according to the private law and did not show leniency. He did not consider opposition from ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ and disregarded all political and administrative expediencies.

‘Aṭā narrates: ‘Umar sent for all of his governors to join him at the occasion of ḥajj. All of them obeyed. When all were gathered, ‘Umar stood up and addressed the people in the presence of his governors. He said, “I have appointed these people to discharge their duties with justice not in order that they wrong people by transgressing against their persons, life and wealth. If any among you has a complaint against them he should rise and present his case.” He (the narrator) further said, “That day only one man stood up[12] from the entire gathering and told the caliph that one of the governors had flogged him a hundred strips. The caliph asked him if he wanted to flog the governor a hundred strips (in retaliation)? The caliph then asked him to rise and flog the governor if he so willed. At this ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ came forward and said, “O Chief of the Believers, if you opened the way for the public against your administrators then it will be hard for them (i.e. the administrators). It will assume the status of an established practice to be followed by those coming after you.” ‘Umar responded in the following words: “Do I have to stop from making this person retaliate whereas I have seen the Prophet of God offering himself for retaliation? (Then addressing the complainant he said,) “Get up and avenge the wrong done to you.” At this ‘Amr b. al-‘Āṣ pleaded, “Well, then allow us make this man agree somehow (on forgoing his right for retaliation).” To this, ‘Umar consented. Then they made the complainant forgo his right of retaliation against a sum of two hundred dīnar, each flog for two dīnar.[13]

There are numerous examples from the history of the rightly guided caliphate showing that the caliphs presented themselves as defendants in the courts. They faced charges like common citizens. We cannot go into details of such incidents for fear of length. We will, nevertheless, discuss one such incident which reveals that Islam sharpened the sense of its followers regarding legal and judicial equality to a great extent. Islam could achieve this when the world was not even aware of the words like legal equality.
There was a dispute between ‘Alī and a dhimmī. The case was brought before the caliph ‘Umar. For some reason the judge (‘Umar himself) addressed ‘Alī saying; “Abū Turāb (‘Ali’s nickname), take a seat besides the complainant.” This sentence created a sort of expression on ‘Ali’s face which alarmed ‘Umar. Thinking that ‘Alī did not like to sit with the complainant ‘Umar asked ‘Alī if he had felt it. He reminded ‘Alī that the Islamic commands regarding judicial and legal equality demanded that he sat beside the complainant. ‘Alī explained that he did not feel bad on that he was made to sit with the complainant. What hurt him was that he was addressed by his nickname something which reflected that he was being honoured whereas the complainant was not addressed that way. This according to him was a clear example of injustice against his rival.[14]


The Islamic state does not discriminate among its citizens on the basis of their social status, bloodline, race, colour and trade etc. These things are often made the marks of difference among the humans. Islam declares that differentiating between the progeny of Adam at these bases is evil. Islam teaches that the only basis of superiority of one individual over the other is righteousness and God-consciousness. Individuals may not judge others on this basis too. It is only the prerogative of God to judge the inner faith and internal piety of individuals and determine their nobility or disgrace. None but He has the access to the realm of the unseen. The Islamic State may not throw wild guesses and do the duty of God. It rests its policy on the external behaviour of individuals. This is why it considers all those citizens as fulfil the prerequisites of citizenship socially equal and treats them as such. The Qur’ān provides the following guidance in this regard:

O People, we have created you from a male and female and have made you clans and tribes so that you know each other. Indeed in the sight of Allāh the best among you is the one who is more God-conscious among you. Indeed God is all-knowing, omniscient. (Q 33:13)

While explaining this principle the Prophet said that no Arab enjoys any superiority over any non-Arab except by virtue of his religious behaviour and God-consciousness. All are progeny of Adam. And Adam was created from clay.

‘Umar while directing one of his commanders to this principle said:

Nobody has any relation with God but through obedience to him. People, in the religion of God, are equal, nobles and commoners.[15]


The national income in the form of fay belongs to the entire population of the state. It can either be spent on the collective good and welfare of the citizens with their consent or equally distributed among them. The expenditure of the first type, however, must directly benefit the entire population. Such projects may only be determined through mutual consultation of the public representatives. During the earlier days of Islamic history the income of faywas more than the administrative needs of the government. It would be spent on the works of collective welfare. Many times there was still plenty which was equally distributed among the citizens of the state. Abū Bakr would divide such income among the entire population without any discrimination.[17] ‘Umar, however, allotted different portions to different people on the basis of their services to Islam. Later on he too accepted the view point of Abū Bakr. However, he could not implement his new policy in his life. Nevertheless at one occasion he expressed his view regarding this constitutional right of Muslims in the following words:

No one deserves more than their due share in this fund. I too do not have the right to take more than my share. By God, if I lived long enough I will arrange for the dispatch of the share of a herdsman busy in rearing his herd on the mount of Ṣafā. He will not be bothered to do anything for this. (He will receive his share) wherever he is found keeping his herd.[18]

At another occasion he repeated this assertion while explaining the rights of the Muslim citizens.

And it is your right upon me that I do not receive your fay and your kharāj except rightfully. It is also your right upon me that I do not spend these funds, when I get some, except on rightful expenditures.[19]

‘Alī too, during his rule, followed the practice set by Abū Bakr. He used to distribute the funds which survived the state expenditures among the Muslims.

Regarding distribution of the fay‘Alī followed the precedent set by Abū Bakr. Whenever funds of this kind came to his hand he divided among the Muslims whatever of it was left after meeting the state expenditure. The only thing that would remain undistributed till the end of the day would be the part which he could not distribute that very day. He neither spent that money extravagantly on his own nor did he ever give it over to some of his undeserving friends or relatives.[20]


The Islamic State is responsible for the welfare and financial provision of every helpless destitute. Islamic State has been burdened with this responsibility of the welfare of the citizens against the following right accrued. The Islamic State inherits the wealth and property of all such citizens who die without leaving an heir. Likewise, it is obliged to provide for those who do not have guardians and financial protectors. The Prophet said:

I am the heir to the one who has no heirs. I will pay diya due to him and inherit his wealth (if he leaves some). (Abū Dāwūd, No: 2899)

‘Allāmah Ibn Qayyim gleaned the following points from this ḥadīth:

And the scholars have opined: Since the government inherits the estates of the one who does not leave any heirs it has to pay off his debts if he leaves some unpaid. Furthermore, the government (on the very same basis) is responsible for providing him during his lifetime if he has no guardian to provide for him.[21]

The principle laid by the Prophet can be explained as follows. If a citizen dies heirless, his estates will be inherited by the state. If he dies while others owed him money, the state will collect that too and use it. If somebody owed him diyah money, that too will go to the state treasury. Against all these rights of the state over the wealth of the citizens who die heirless, the state, guarantees that it will pay off the payable debts of its citizens who die without paying them off and without leaving enough assets. Similarly, if a citizen died without paying blood money owed to him that too will become the responsibility of the Sate. If a needy citizen does not find a guardian for himself, his family and children to provide for them then the state will look after his needs. The Caliph ‘Umar said:

By God if I lived long to serve the widows of Iraq, I will make sure they are not left to look for help to caliphs after me.[22]

The rightly guided caliphs always diligently discharged this obligation and never created procedural hindrances for the needy. Every needy person in the state could unhesitatingly approach them. Consider the following examples:

Zayd b. Aslam narrated on the authority of his father:
Once I accompanied ‘Umar to the bazaar. A young woman approached him and said, “amīr al-mu’minīn, my husband died leaving behind children too little to take food to their mouths. Their father has to them no land, no cattle. I fear these children might die from impoverishment. I am daughter of Khafāf b. Anṣārī. My father accompanied the Prophet at the occasion of the Ḥudaybiyyah.” ‘Umar stopped. He was glad to know that her father was closely related with the Prophet. Then he got a camel loaded with wheat, put some cash and clothes with it and handed the bridle to the woman and asked her to leave and expect a fresh delivery before the present one exhausted.” (Bukhārī, No: 3928)

‘Umar was patrolling at night. He saw a woman apparently cooking something in a pot. She was surrounded by her children who were crying. ‘Umar enquired of her what she was cooking and why the children were crying. She explained that they were hungry and that she had put some water in the pot to lull the children. She expected God to decide between her and ‘Umar (as to the reason of her unattended wretchedness). Hearing this, the Caliph ran to the bayt al-māl. He put a sack of flour on his back and hurried back to her. He sat beside the fire and started to poke it. He did not return until after the meal was ready and the children had eaten to their fill it and gone to bed. He kept uttering the following words out of passion: “these children were crying out of hunger when they should be sleeping![23]


The Islamic State provides for the basic needs of all insecure citizens. It is responsible to pay off the debts left over by those of the needy citizens who depart without settling their financial obligations and do not leave any assets to be used for the purpose. The basis of this responsibility of the state is again the rights of state over the estates of heirless citizens. The Prophet of Islam said:

Whoever leaves a burden behind him I am responsible to settle that whereas inheritance of deceased will go to his rightful heirs. I, however, will inherit those who have no heirs; I will be responsible for paying off any diyah due to him and will inherit (amounts owed to him). (Abū Dāwūd, No: 2899)

‘Allāmah Ibn Qayyim attributes to the scholars the view that this responsibly was taken by the Prophet as the ruler of the Muslims. According to this view every Islamic government has to assume this responsibility. It was not particularly related with the person of the Prophet. Every government that is based on Islamic sharī‘ah will have to pay off the debts of those Muslims who die without discharging their debts.

It has been opined that this directive applies to all the rulers after the Prophet. Thus, the ruler is guarantor of the debts of the deceased Muslims who have not left anything which could be given against the debt. Such debts are a responsibility of the rulers which they will pay from the bayt al-māl. These scholars argue that since the ruler is considered the heir to the one who dies without leaving an heir he (i.e. the ruler) has to pay off the outstanding liabilities of a person who does not leave behind anything to be used in paying off his debts.[24]







The Islamic State has to protect each and every citizen from all kinds of coercion. It guarantees instant provision of justice to all, poor or opulent, commoner or influential. The citizens are not subjected to pay anything in violation of this fundamental right. ‘Umar referred to this right of the citizens of the Islamic in the following words:

I am not going to let anyone coerce others and usurp their rights. Whoever commits such a transgression, I will put one of his cheeks on the ground and the other I will put under my feet till he surrenders before the truth.[25]

At anther occasion he put this principle in very eloquent words:

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.[26]

The above quoted saying of ‘Umar contains profound meanings. However, he is not alone in pledging this. Abū Bakr also expressed same conviction in almost same words. He is reported to have said:

An un-influential person among you is powerful, to me, until I return him his right usurped by others and an influential person is nothing in my eyes unless I have made him pay the rights he has usurped.[27]

Both the elders have particularly stressed a specific aspect of social and legal justice. It requires proper analysis and full explanation. Democracies today, so vociferously claim that they guarantee provision of justice to each and every citizen. But they have devised systems and procedures in this regard. These procedures make justice unattainable except for the influential and the resourceful. It is only power and influence which opens the door of the courts. It is only wealth that enables the opulent to pay the cost of justice. In such democracies just is not accessible for un-influential commoners with little or no economic support. Justice is dear and costly. Depicted in the above statements is the distinguishing trait of the judicial system of Abū Bakr and ‘Umar. This system keeps its doors open to all, the poor and the rich, the influential and the insignificant. It is not the case, as is in present day democracies, that justice welcomes only the opulent and the powerful factions of the society. It embraces only those with the golden keys operative in such worldly systems. The commoners, without power and opulence, are never admitted. The Islamic Judicial System is not based on the principles of trade and commerce where those possessed of money are welcome, even if they are oppressors rather than the oppressed, and, contrarily, those having nothing in their pockets meet denial and depression, no matter how openly wronged. The Islamic Judicial system sees respect for truth and only truth. The mere fact that someone has been robbed of his rights makes it imperative for the judicial machinery of the state, from a local court to the higher ones including the Supreme Court, to animate and make sure that the victim gets justice, that too without incurring any fee for judicial process or legal aid from the attorneys. The simple fact that he has been victimized and oppressed and is seeking justice is sufficient to mobilize the legal organ of the Islamic State till he acquires justice and his rights are preserved.


The Islamic State arranges for the basic education of its citizens. That the Prophet of Islam stressed educating the citizens of the state is born out by the fact that he, after the Battle of Badr, decided that the educated war captives would be ransomed by teaching reading and writing to some of the Muslim children of Madīnah. The Prophet made some Muslims to learn foreign languages. Such people would be useful for the state in that they could work as secretaries in communicating with the international community. He promoted adult education and used to send, now and then, some preachers and teachers to different cities of the state. The population living outside Madīnah was required to send some of the able persons among themselves to Madīnah to learn the religion and then improve literacy in their respective towns. When delegates from some far off tribes would come to the Prophet and embrace Islam he would try to know whoever among them was able and learned one. He would appoint the ones he could pick as teachers over his tribe. It was one of the official duties entrusted to the state servants in different centres to teach the local populace. On appointing ‘Amr b. Ḥazam, governor of Yemen, the Prophet instructed him regarding his duties.
The Prophet advised him to always do justice in accordance with the command of Allāh, to give the people good tidings, to bid them doing of good, to teach them the Qur’ān and to help them understand the word of God, to stop them from touching the Qur’ān in the state of impurity and to sympathize with them so that they are inclined towards understanding of the religion.[28]
Knowledge and learning was considered the only criterion of superiority and privilege in all social institutions. This stressed the importance of knowledge in the society. This step ensured that the people vied each other in acquiring knowledge. Understanding of the Qur’ān and the Sunnah of the Prophet was considered the most basic qualification for all the officials, from an imāmof the mosques to the highest administrative officials. Sometimes, it so happened, that a position was decided between two equally deserving individuals on the basis of knowledge of the Qur’ān. Merely having memorized some verses of the Qur’ān was considered an inestimable wealth for a destitute person. He could on the basis of this wealth marry a woman thereby his merit being considered as a dower to his wife. All these steps were taken for no other purpose but to disincline the masses from guiding principles derived from the jāhiliyyahcustoms and make them incline to the teachings of Islam. ‘Umar sped up this movement. He promoted the adult education so enthusiastically and with such great fervour that does not find any parallel in history. Despite myriad administrative activities he was always interested and engaged in this task. During his journey to Syria he never relented from teaching the masses. Wherever on his way he found some illiterate Muslims he started educating them in the teachings of Islam. This, however, did not hinder him fulfil his regular official duties. All his position holders, from a district manager to the governor, had the instructions that they must give preference to teaching the subjects over all other obligations. This desire of his he expressed at many occasions. Once he said:

Allāh, I take you as witness against my officials appointed in all the areas, to the fact that I have appointed them to educate the masses in the religion and the Sunnah of their Prophet. (Musnad Aḥmad, No: 186)

Once he educated the people regarding the responsibilities of his deputies in the following words:

Rather, I have appointed them so that they teach you the Book of your Lord and the Sunnah of your Prophet.[29]

Within only three decades, owing to these important steps, there were sufficient number of able and competent individuals to run the diverse departments of such a vast empire expanding over from Afghanistan to the Syrian and African border. The illiterate Arabs were now the leaders and administrators who could decide the affairs of the ummah in complete conformity of the principle teachings of the religion.


The Islamic State does not subject the citizens to duties and responsibilities which are impossible for them to accomplish. It is not permitted to subject them to burdens disproportional to their capacities. It may also not knowingly coerce them into doing something which necessarily brings them destruction. It should not disregard their feelings in a proportion which is beyond their power to comply with.
The believers took oath of obedience to the Prophet. They would commit to listen and to obey. The Prophet would make them say: I will listen and obey to the best of my ability. Thus the ones pledging allegiance understood that they were being demanded obedience in proportion to their might. They were not supposed to obey in all circumstances what they had the power to do or not.

‘Abd Allāh b. ‘Umar says: When we took oath of obedience to the Prophet he would tell us, “say, “as for as is possible for me””. (Muslim, No: 1867)

‘Umar explained and applied this principle in a different context. He said that the government should not, while estimating the military might of the state, expose the citizens to danger. It should not thus, for the sake of recklessness of some individuals and for interests of the rulers, put the security of the masses in jeopardy. According to ‘Umar, it was a right of the masses on the government. Their natural needs are also not curbed by putting them affront the enemy for a very long period of time. The citizens may not be severed from their children and family for long. He is reported to have said:

It is your right upon me that I do no put you in danger and I do not keep you on the borders for long.[30]







The Islamic State is established to promulgate the religion of God. The nature of this purpose entails that the state does not require the citizens to defy the teachings of Islam. The Prophet said:

Obedience to the rulers is a religious duty until one is ordered to disobey Allāh and his Messenger. One may not obey [the rulers] when required to disobey God and his Messenger.” (Bukhārī, No: 2796)

After assuming the chair of khilāfah Abū Bakr addressed the people. In his public address he made it clear to the people that once they had appointed him their khalīfah they had to obey him as long as he followed God’s commands. He asked them to cease to obey him at the point when they observed him turning away from obeying God.

Obey me as long as I obey God. When I disobey him you are no more obliged to obey me.[31]

At one occasion ‘Umar explained that a ruler has to see, above all, whether his subjects are discharging duties towards God or not. He stressed that it was in fact the duty of the rulers to subject the people to observe God’s commands and to stop them from what God has forbidden them.[32]


A citizen of the Islamic State has all the right to petition. He should have access to the rulers when, for example, he is caught in need, has been wronged, has been ill treated by a state official or has grievance towards the rulers. He can bring his problems to the notice of the head of the state himself or any other authority appointed for this purpose. Islam has not subjected the petitioners or claimants to follow any complicated procedure in this regard. If for example the petitioner is a civil servant he does not need to forward his claim only through the department he is serving. He is not required to state his request in a set formal language. He can put his petition in whatever language he can. He can word it the way he likes. He is not forced to adopt a particular way of filing his complaints. He has all the right to present his petition to the head of the state. If the head of the state himself is the defendant he is legally bound either to fulfil the rights of the petitioner or to acquit himself through legal evidence. If someone objects to the behaviour of the head of the state he explains his position and seeks to be excused. If the person approaching the ruler is needy the ruler has to fulfil his needs. If the petitioner has been wronged the ruler has to provide him justice and deal with him with compassion.
The Prophet set may examples in this regard. Many people feely approached him with complaints and requests for favours. They expressed themselves boldly. Some even talked to him with utmost immodesty. History attests that the Prophet always swiftly responded to petitions. Some people may attribute this display of generosity and open heartedness to the prophetic prudence and exemplary character of the Prophet. They may thus, based on this assumption, claim that this model of prophetic conduct is not practicable in ordinary political life. It is, they may maintain, not possible for an ordinary human being to display such lofty character. We therefore confine our discussion to the conduct of the rightly guided caliphs about whom such a case cannot be built.
Abū Bakr guided the people how to determine the eligibility of a caliph in the Islamic State. He asked the people to observe the caliph on the yardstick he introduced to them and not to show any leniency in assessing the caliph. He explained to the people the points where he expected them to show some leniency. He revealed to them, without reservation, his human weaknesses so that the people did not find any difficulty in dealing with him. He told them to judge the eligibility of the caliphs by seeing if he followed and obeyed the Messenger of God. He admitted that he had no option but to follow the path defined by the Prophet. He was not to innovate anything. If he diverted from this path, he told his people, they would be rightful in stopping him form proceeding and setting him back on the straight path. He, however, sought a little lenience. He wanted not to be compared with the Prophet. He expected himself not to be put on that strict criterion. After all, he was a common man not a prophet. He was therefore not immune to error. He stated that sometimes quick temper overtook him. He wanted people to consider this aspect of his personality in dealing with him. All these things he expressed before the masses in a speech he delivered at the occasion of sending the expedition to Tabūk under ‘Usāmah b. Zayd a little after he assumed the chair of khilāfah. He said:

O people, I am a man like you. I fear you may not expect of me what could only be expected of the Prophets of God. [It would not be right to do so.] Muhammad was chosen by God as a Messenger. God guarded him from all kinds of evils. [This is not my share.] I am only a follower. I am not an innovator. If I follow the path set by the Prophet, follow me; if divert from his path, set me right back on the track. One thing I would like you to observe is that there is an evil which overpowers me at occasions. If you find me overpowered by it then avoid me.[33]

This extraordinary conduct is awe-inspiring. One wonders how seriously he takes slight weaknesses in his person. He publicly admits his weakness. God blessed him, as a reward for his sharp sense of responsibility, by saving him from suffering from this shortcoming during the entire period of his rule.
‘Umar, after assuming the responsibility of khilāfah, addressed the people in the following words:

I will fulfil the rights owed to me. If an objection is raised about my conduct I will come forward, explain myself and seek your excuse. A needy person or a complainant against my administrators or myself should inform me directly. This I say because I am a human being, one among you. Your welfare is dear to me. Your pain inflicts me. I am answerable to you about the responsibility entrusted me.[34]

Every word of this caliphal speech deserves consideration. I would, however, call upon the readers to carefully reflect upon the following words of his speech. “Bring that to my notice, for I am only a human being, one among you.” He does not highlight the fact that he has become a ruler. Therefore do not present any petition in my court except through proper channel, following the procedure set for the purpose. The application should be composed in such and such language inscribed on a certain kind of paper. It should not exceed a specific number of lines. Specific formal expressions of address should be adopted. The petition should reflect utmost humility. All these specification fulfilled, the application should be submitted through proper channel, failing which can render the petition subject to rejection.
What ‘Umar expressed, that too in utmost humility and simplicity, can be summarized as follows. If anyone faces some difficulty or has some complaints against the state officials he is invited to bring that to my notice without reservation. The rulership has not rendered me a supernatural creation so that people should dread me and run away from me. They are not required to follow a set formal procedure to approach me. I am but a person entrusted with a grave responsibility by the people themselves. I am answerable to them for what they have entrusted me with.[35]
His conduct during his period of his rule evidences his true intention. He respected the rights of the people. The following two examples from the period of his rule would suffice an evidence for and a specimen of his conduct in this regard. These incidents, it is hoped will help to realize the extent of freedom granted to people in the Islamic State. It shows that they are given full right to present their petitions. They can criticize the high officials and even the ruler himself. It will also help us grasp that in the Islamic Sate the ruler places himself in the stead of his subjects. He is always eager to listen to the cries and petitions of the public. He is forced to patiently welcome all kind of criticisms and complains against him.
Once ‘Umar went out into the bazaar. Jārūd ‘Ibadī accompanied him. When he had walked a couple of paces a woman appeared from the opposite direction. ‘Umar greeted her. She responded to his greetings and barraged him with the following complaints. “Umar!” said she, “yours is a sad misery. Once you were nicknamed ‘Umayr. I have seen you carry a stick and follow a herd of goats in Ukkāz. Then you were started to be called ‘Umar before our eyes. Now I see you as the amīr al-mu’minīn (Chief of the Believers). Fear God regarding the rights of your subjects. Whoever fears God finds the apparently far off world of the Afterlife near him. Whoever is mindful of death remains ready to avail the opportunity given him (and does good.)” At hearing this lecture from the lady, Jārūd said to her: “You have done the Amīr al-Mu’minīn great injustice.” ‘Umar interrupted Jārūd and said, “Let her give vent to her feelings. You do not know her. She is Khawlah b. Ḥakīm. The Almighty once heard her complaint from above the seven heavens.[36] How can ‘Umar dare to ignore her?”[37]
The governor of Yemen dispatched some shawls to ‘Umar. He distributed them among the Muslims. Every Muslim got one. ‘Umar also got one. He got a shirt made out of the cloth. One day he put on the shirt and ascended the pulpit to address the people. He exhorted the believers upon participating in Jihad. A man stood up and said, “We are not ready to listen to you. Nor would we follow what you command us.” ‘Umar asked the interlocutor to explain the reasons of his vows. The man told him that he (the caliph) had preferred himself over the common believers. He explained that every believer got one shawl. How could he (‘Umar ) take more than that? The share of an individual was not enough for a shirt for of his size. ‘Umar did not respond to his objection. He asked his son ‘Abd Allāh to come forward and explain. ‘Abd Allāh explained to the people that he had given his share of the cloth to his father. That is how ‘Umar could get a shirt prepared for him. After hearing this explanation from ‘Abd Allāh, son of ‘Umar, the interlocutor said to ‘Umar, “Now proceed". We will hear to you and obey what you say.[38]


[1] In this context, the word muslimhas been used as a term. It refers to a citizen of the Islamic State. It must be kept in mind that the conditions mentioned in these narratives mark the qualities of a Muslim in the external sense. To become a citizen of the Islamic State, an individual has to fulfil all these conditions. Therefore, these conditions do not deal with the inner faith of a believer. This clarification is necessary because those who ignore the context of these narratives tend to fall in confusion. They can be led to believe that the requirements mentioned in these narratives form the basic tenants of Islam. It would mean that all the remaining teachings are attached to these columns as subsidiary or secondary articles. We have, therefore, considered it necessary to highlight that the definition of a muslim given in these narratives only provide criterion for the legal status of a citizen. They refer to the external traits of a believer. A person must be characterized by these qualities if he is to be considered a Muslim citizen and awarded the rights of a believer in the Islamic State. These narratives, therefore, should not be pleaded to while discussing the inner faith of a believer.
Another important thing to be noted is that these narratives refer only to certain examples. These do not count all the external traits a believer must hold. These do not exhaust the duties pertaining to collective life of a person. The implication is that it is not the only requirements of the religion. Other important obligations may not be abandoned. This issue was explained by Abū Bakr when ‘Umar objected to the caliph’s decision to fight those who refused to pay the zakāhwhile they professed faith in the unity of God. Abū Bakr referred to the Prophet’s statement wherein the latter says that whoever declares faith is under the guarantee of the state authority. He explained that the guarantee of life and wealth of the citizens is contingent to the fulfilment of the rights imposed by the Faith. Zakāh, he said, is a right of the state due to an individual. Therefore, whoever refuses to pay zakāh will be fought with. This discussion has been reported by Abū Hurayrah in the following words:
When the Prophet died and Abū Bakr succeeded him as his successor, some of the Arabs reverted to disbelief. [Abū Bakr decided to fight them into submission.] ‘Umar said: “O Abū Bakr, how can you fight these people while the Apostle of God said: “I have been commanded to fight the people till they say that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah, and he who said that will have his property and his life saved, unless [he does something for which he receives legal punishment] justly, and his account will be with God?”” Abū Bakr explained: “By God! I will surely fight whoever differentiates between the Prayer and zakāhas zakāh is the right imposed on one’s property. (Bukhārī, No: 1335)

We see that Abū Bakr offers two different kinds of argument. One, zakāh and ṣalāhhave been mentioned in the holy Qur’an side by side. Neither can be considered to have been fulfilled unless one performs the other complement. Therefore, if the ṣalāh is mentioned as a condition for citizenship, zakāh too has to be considered as an equally crucial condition. Both may not be separated in any context. Second, the guarantee of the rights of citizens is conditional to the fulfilment of the rights of Islam and the State, imposed on a Muslim. Those who decide not to pay the zakāh, the right of the Almighty Allah in our wealth, in fact, themselves cancel the guarantee given them. They are to be fought with.
[2] In recent times, the concept of geographical nationalities has held sway. Even the Muslims of an Islamic state close the door for their co-religionists from other countries. The situation is very grave. The earliest Muslims of Madīnah set an example of universal brotherhood for the rest of the world at the time of famous prophetic migration. They invited all the Muslims who were being persecuted in Makkah and adopted them unconditionally. The only condition that bound the two parties was their common faith. Now the same Arab world which once cradled the Madinan community has been badly affected by the idea of geographical nationality. If an oppressed Muslim leaves his country turned into the house of war (dār al-ḥarab) where he is no longer able to adhere to his faith, he is not admitted unless he fulfils the conditions for naturalization set for the aliens. Without fulfilling these legal requirements, he is never admitted to enter the universal refuge for Muslims.
[3] Badavīs are those of the Muslims who did not settle in Madīnah. They accepted the faith but chose to live among their tribes.
[4] Arafah is the 9th day of the 12th lunar month, Dhū al-Ḥijjah. On this day, pilgrims meditate, pray to God, and worship him on the dry desert of ‘Arafah. (translator)
[5] Qāḍī Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, (Beirut: Dār al-Ma‘rifah li Ṭabā‘ah wa al-Nashr, n.d.), 65-6.
[6] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Istī‘āb fī Ma‘rifah al-Aṣḥāb, 1st ed., vol. 4 (Beirut: Dār al-Jīl, 1992), 1702.
[7] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 198.
[8] Khaṭṭābī, Ma‘ālim al-Sunan, 2nd ed., vol. 4 (Beirut: Dār al-Kutub al-‘Īlmiyyah, 2005), 165-6.
[9] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 177.
[10] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imāmah wa al-Siyāsah, 1: 10.
[11] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 115.
[12] All gratitude is due to God alone. The world has seen examples of perfect justice and exceptional equitability. In the vast empire of ‘Umar, only a single citizen has some grievance. What is more, this man confidently expresses his concerns. He is sure that his complaint will not invite unwelcome consequences be it against the most influential office bearer.
[13] Ibid., 115-6. It must be appreciated that this apparent favour too does not mean that the governor was given a preference over his contestant. The Islamic Sharī‘ah allows two contestants to settle an issue between them.
[14] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 265-6. Calling someone by their nickname signified respect for the addressee in the Arab culture of those times. It disturbed ‘Alī that he was addressed by his nickname, Abū Turāb, whereas his contender was called by his real name. ‘Alī held that the legal canon of Islam required that the complainant and the defendant are treated equally in all respects.
[15] Ibid., 142.
[16] By fay is meant the national incomes which are not an exclusive right of the poor.
[17] In the discussion of the prerequisites of the right to nationality and resultant rights and obligations, we stated that only those Muslims were refused a share in the income of fay who had not migrated to Madīnah and who chose to remain in the areas not under the Islamic state.
[18] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 210.
[19] Ibid., 93.
[20] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Istī‘āb fī Ma‘rifah al-Aṣḥāb, 3: 1111.
[21] Ibn Qayyim, Zād al-Ma‘ād,1: 162-3.
[22] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 37.
[23] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 195-6.
[24] Ibn Qayyim, Zād al-Ma‘ād, 5: 162.
[25] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 93.
[26] Ibid., 2: 196.
[27] Muhammad Ḥusayn Haykal, al-Ṣiddīq Abū Bakr, 9th ed., (Cairo: Dār al-Ma‘ārif, 1986), 62.
[28] Ibn hishām, al-Sīrah al-Nabawiyyah, 2nd ed., vol. 4 (Damascus: Dār al-Khayr, 1995), 184.
[29] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 196.
[30] Ibid., 94.
[31] Ibn Qutaybah, al-Imāmah wa al-Siyāsah, 1: 16.
[32] Abū Yūsuf, Kitāb al-Kharāj, 13.
[33] Ibn Jarīr al-Ṭabarī, Ṣaḥīḥ wa Ḍa‘īf Tarīkh Ṭabarī, 1sted., vol. 8 (Beirut: Dār-i Ibn Kathīr, 2007), 24.
[34] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 1: 102-3.
[35] It needs to be appreciated that Islam binds the head of the state to appear before his subjects on every Friday Congregation and to share important state policies with his subject in the sermon. The people have all the right to interrupt him, object to his plans, seek clarification and present their complaints if any.
[36] Her husband had separated her through the pre-Islamic custom of zihār. She complained about the matter before God and his Messenger. God responded to her cries and revealed to the Prophet laws about atonement for zihār. These laws form part of Q 58. (In the pre-Islamic Arab society, a husband would say to his wife that touching her would amount to touching the back of his mother. This statement entailed not only a divorce but a vow that she would be permanently prohibited for him like his mother. This was called ẓihār. Translator).
[37] Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr, Al-Istī‘āb fī Ma‘rifah al-Aṣḥāb, 4: 1731.
[38] Haykal, al-Fārūq ‘Umar, 2: 194-5.