The System of Islamic Government
The following is an extract from the introduction to the Risalah by Imam Muhammad Shirazi.
THE ISLAMIC SYSTEM
2. The Economy
3. The Army
5. The Justice System
6. Department Of Health
9. The Family
10. The Supplement
Praise be to Allah, may peace and blessings of Allah be up on Prophet Muhammad and his family, and may Allah condemn their enemies.
There is no doubt that Islam has its own particular system and there also is no doubt that the Islamic system was working, whether when fully or partially implemented, for thirteen centuries until its downfall about half a century ago.
One also hears that the Islamic civilization was an exemplary one to a great degree, and that the Islamic System has sufficient solutions to world problems and if is brought back the world will become
Then what is that system? Is it possible for an Islamic system to come back to life during the space and nuclear age? And how it would solve the problems if it did really took charge of the running of the affairs (of a state)?
These are questions worth answering . . . The Answers that will be given to such question in this book may astonish the reader and he might think that we are talking of some Utopian city. The author is ready to meet the challenge of giving such answers and to present proofs and evidences according to the teaching of Islam for such answers, and he would prove that it is quite possible for the Islamic system to come back to life. The author has written several books on this topic, both brief and detailed works and this discourse is a brief presentation in this respect.
Question: Is there politics in Islam?
Answer: Yes, Islam has the best form of politics to bring order in the society.
Q. Is the Islamic system a republic or monarchist system?
A. It is neither republic nor monarchist in the conventional sense. It is a form of consultative and advisory government and it would be correct to call it democracy. There is no monarchist or heredity system of government in Islam.
Q. Who would be the head of the Islamic government?
A. He is a faithful person who has thorough expertise in Islam. He is proficient about the worldly affairs and is armed with the ability not to deviate from the standards of justice in all matters. Whoever possesses these qualities and the majority of people accept him, he can be the head of the government even if for fifty years. Whenever he looses any of these qualities he is removed from his position immediately. However, if the people would not agree with his leadership they have the right to change him and choose another individual who also possesses those qualities.
Q. Who chooses the Islamic head of government?
A. The majority of the people do.
Q. Are there elections, voting, parliament, and municipalities in the Islamic system?
A. Yes, it has all of these. The parliament is to apply and implement the general laws to whatever they are applicable but it is not for legislating task.
Q. What would the Islamic Government do?
A. It upholds justice between people, inside and outside the country and pushes life forward to progress.
Q. What are the laws that work in the Islamic government?
A. The laws that are taken from the Book of Allah, traditions of the holy Prophet, consensus, and reason.
Q. Who gives these laws the final shape for practical purposes?
A. The people who specialise in the study of the Islamic laws and who do not to deviate from the standards of justice who are scholars both in religious and worldly matters.
Q. Are there political parties in Islamic system?
A. There is no problem with the existence of parties that are introductory to the parliament that enforces the laws, but there is no party that would work as an introduction to a parliament that is a legislative parliament; legislation is in the hands of Allah, the Most High, only.
Q. Is there any system of economy Islam?
A. The best system the world has known.
Q. Is the system of economy in Islam, capitalist, socialist, communist or distributive?
A. It is none of the above in the conventional sense.
Q. What is then the system of economy in Islam?
A. It allows private ownership, provided earnings are not obtained by unlawful ways and he pays all of his liabilities.
Q. What are the government's sources of income?
A. It will have money through the taxes that Islam has sanctioned.
Q. What are these compulsory taxes?
A. There are four categories of taxes: Khums, Zakat, Kheraj, and Jezyah.
Q. Can you explain these taxes?
A. Khums is a tax of 20% levied on untaxed, superfluous annual income from all forms of earnings. These earnings include earnings from the minerals, found treasures, pearls and other artefacts from the sea, the earnings that are mixed with unlawful earnings, the spoils of the battlefield and some sorts of land.
Zakat tax rate ranges from one-out-of-one-hundred to one-of-out-forty on sheep, cows, camels, gold, silver, raisins, date, barley, and wheat.
Jizyah is the tax levied on non-Muslims under the protection of Islamic state.
Kheraj is the income from letting conquered land to farmers.
Q. Is there any banking system in Islam?
A. Yes, there is but without usury, provided, all the banking laws comply with the Islamic laws. The expenses of its employees are met from various incomes of the bank and if they were not sufficient then the department of treasury would pay. [This is in the case of a government bank, where profit of the bank goes to treasury, hence when income not enough the treasury department covers the deficit.]
Q. Would the Islamic government take other taxes like those that people pay today?
A. There will never be such taxes, besides the ones mentioned, except in the cases of emergencies, and as soon as such situation is over the normal condition prevail.
Q. What would the Islamic government do with the money she receives from public?
A. The government uses the Bayt-ul-Maal (the treasury department) to meet all the expenses of the Muslims. In addition, it will pay for the expenses of all the projects of reforms and developments in the country, help the needy to run their affairs so that there no destitute is left in the society, like helping people to get married, start a business, buy a house, treatment of illness, travelling for necessity or one is left without money while on a journey etc. if he could prove - in a simple way, like providing evidence or witness, or even swearing on oath - his needs, then the treasury would provide him assistance. In this way there will be no destitute left without help in the Islamic system of government.
Q. Will those four categories of taxes be enough for all such expenses?
A. It will be enough in addition to the government's other income from its tenements and possessions as well as natural resources such as oil etc.
Q. How it could be enough when we see today that all the big taxes still are not enough?
A. The number of government employees in the Islamic government will be small, because, in the Islamic government there is no need for many of the departments and their associated army of civil servants. Under an Islamic system of government, the public will do many of the jobs done by today's governments, and jobs left for the government to do will be done in a very little time and expense and in the simplest way. When there are just a few employees, and bureaucracy is reduced, the expenses will be reduced and there will be more money available.
Q. Is there any pension system in the Islamic system of government?
A. If one is needy and not able to earn he receives help for what he needs, not a fixed amount, as it is in governments today otherwise there will be no such payments unless an establishment requires it.
Q. Does the Islamic system of government have an organised army?
A. Yes, it has an organised army in the best form.
Q. Is there compulsory draft system?
A. No, serving in the Islamic army is voluntary except in an emergency.
Q. How would that work?
A. Those who would like to serve in the army may do so if they wish to stay in the army permanently and they would receive salary on that basis. The Islamic government would also arrange training opportunities for members of the public so that every one receives training and this would reduce the expenses for the army. In this members of the (territorial) army would remain near their families and places of their work. Every one will attend training courses every day for some hours and then go to their own work. When there is an attack on the country every one rises to defend the Islamic government.
Q. What is the Islamic opinion about the modern tools of warfare?
A. The Islamic system considers it necessary to manufacture and possess whatever tools required, as Allah, the Most High, has said, "And make ready for them whatever you can of power." [8:60]
Q. What the Islamic government will do for the relatives of those killed in the battlefield?
A. If they are needy and not able to make their living the government will help them with whatever they may need and if they are not needy they will not receive any thing unless there is a certain interest in helping them.
Question. Is there freedom in the Islamic system of government?
Answer. Yes, there is the best form of freedom in Islam, a freedom of which the world has not even dreamed of, and it is found only in Islam the best form of civilisations of the world.
Q. What are the Islamic freedoms?
A. There are many forms of freedoms and we will only mention a few in the following:
1. Freedom in trade, in which every one can import or export goods and buy or sell without restrictions at all. There is no custom charges or tariffs and no conditions, however, the goods must be lawful for buying and selling and not things like liquor etc., and that there is no unlawful interest involved or that the transaction is unlawful or the trading involves monopoly and that it does not constitute harm to the Islamic government.
2. Freedom in agriculture. One would be allowed to farm any amount of land and in any manner that he wants he would be entitled to it and there is no land reform in the conventional sense, in Islam. However, if the land is taken from the enemy by force by the government then the farmer has to pay a small amount of rent to the government, this rent is called Kheraj, and if the farmer is poor the government must help him out. One is allowed to farm as much land as he can, provided, this will not seize other people's opportunities. The government cannot demand for more taxes other than Khums and Zakat with all the conditions required.
3. Freedom in manufacturing and construction, one is allowed to develop the land in any way he wants and there will be no tariffs on such developments. The government has no right to make him pay even a single penny for the land or other things. Islam has said, "whoever develops the barren land it becomes his", except if the land has been taken forcibly by the government from the enemy in which case the developer would pay rent to the government. There is also freedom in all forms of manufacturing technology in every sense of the word except unlawful products.
4. Freedom in business and work, like hunting, mining, procurement of the permissible and doing all kinds of lawful businesses in whatever way one wants and the government will not ask for any taxes for the land etc., however, it is not permissible to do those businesses that are not lawful in Islam.
5. Freedom of travelling and residence; one may reside wherever he wants or travel to wherever he wants and there will be no condition required of him. There are no geographical borders (between Muslim countries) in Islam, no racial conditions, no discriminations due to colour or language etc. With this freedom there will be no identity cards, permits and passports and other things related to this except, for exceptional circumstances and the emergencies are only for the time needed.
6. Freedom of activities of all forms and shapes except those prohibited in Islam, which are just a few and, thus, no secret police will be needed, besides the department for collecting information for the benefits of the government. There is freedom to speak, write, form organizations and corporations and publishing magazines, newspapers, setting up broadcasting stations etc.
Q. The issues mentioned here would require dismantling many of the government departments we see today.
A. Yes, and this is how an Islamic system of government would work. There will not be many government departments under an Islamic system of government, but just a few as mentioned before, and because of this, the number of government employees the government will not have to struggle financing huge budgets.
Question. Is there any justice department in the Islamic system of government?
Answer. Yes, a system of justice in the best form exists in the Islamic system of government.
Q. How is the Islamic system of Justice?
A. The judge must be a man of faith, and practicing Muslim who is expert in Islamic judicial laws. He will judge the cases without any fees and he does not require formal applications for the hearing. One judge will look into all kinds of cases to issue the Islamic verdict for each case. The criterion for the witness is that he must be a practicing Muslim. There are no formal protocols and bureaucracies in the Islamic judicial system. Thus when the Islamic system had been established (be it partially), for a city of several millions population, there was one judge dealing with the cases such that there was no case unresolved.
Q. Where does the judge receive his salary?
A. He will be paid from Bayt-ul-Maal (or the department of treasury).
Q. What is the job of a judge?
A. With the help of his assistants he would be involved in many tasks. He would supervise the affairs of charitable properties and religious endowments, the properties and affairs of individuals who are not independent, mentally or because of age etc., such as looking into the marital problems of such people and the management of their properties and wealth, i.e. he would safeguard their wealth and properties and return them to them when they are older or when they are fit to take charge of their affairs. He would supervise marriage, divorce, and certify contracts between parties, etc. He would also be involved in settling disputes among individuals and executing the penalties and punishments to be carried out.
Q. Is there any role for the attorneys in the Islamic system of justice?
A. Under an Islamic system, there will be no need for such an extensive network of attorneys, since the affairs concerned run with ease and simplicity.
Q. What the government will do for the attorneys who will not be needed in the Islamic system?
A. The system will provide for them other projects and activities that will be progressive and constructive and will pay them from the treasury to help them out until they find a different job. Should then those who are not given jobs by the system revolt against the system despite the fact that the system provides for them projects useful to their status?
The Islamic system abolishes brothels and prostitution, finds lawful jobs for those involved, and provides them the opportunity to settle in the families.
Question. Is there any health department in the Islamic system?
Answer. Yes, it has the best of preventive and treatment systems.
Q. How does this system work?
A. Islam through general guidelines provides the following three measures for the health care programs.
1. The preventive measures that help control the spread of disease.
(a) It prohibits getting involved in matters that cause the disease, like Alcohol, adultery, and music that bring anxieties etc.
(b) By etiquette, tradition, and general discipline in life and health like cleanliness, occasional blood-letting by cupping or venesection, personal hygiene, fasting, marriage, use of certain ointments, snuffing certain medications, the use of certain eye powders, and manners of eating and drinking etc.
2. Treatment of disease; by means of proper medicine and certain dietary procedures all of which are simple and easy. Such measures although may not be comprehensive but they would stop the disease especially at the beginning, as it is mentioned in health guide lines of the holy Prophet and the Imams, peace be up on them.
3. Supervision of the health care program includes dose examinations of the physicians' treatment of the patients. The Islamic law holds a physician responsible, even though being an expert. This creates a strong sense of responsibility in the physicians and makes him more observant when or diagnosing and treating the disease, and prescribing medicine.
Q. Has not medical knowledge made a lot of real progress?
A. There is no doubt about progress in the medical science, however, the basic foundations that we have mentioned, which are the principle pillars of general health care, have destroyed and, thus, we see mankind afflicted with all sorts of diseases to the degree that the huge numbers of physicians and health care facilities are not enough to bring back the health of the general public. We remember that our forefathers had enjoyed good health until the last days of their lives and today we see that every household has one or more people suffering from a certain illness and many people suffer from one or several illness.
Q. What is the remedy then?
A. The Islamic health care program must come back, and as well as all the useful of the new discoveries (of the health care programs today) while removing all the unlawful things in it. The way for the tried-and-tested old medical programs should be opened up so that both the old and modern methods merge, and in this way mankind will be saved from the grip of diseases and will not suffer because of devastating sickness.
Question. Does Islam have any educational program?
Answer. Yes, it has the best educational programs.
Q. What are those programs?
A. Islam has made it compulsory for the Muslims, male and female, to acquire knowledge, and it provides the means for it, and it has made it compulsory for the government to support the program.
Q. Why then the Muslims are so behind?
A. They remained behind from the day they abandoned the Islamic teachings. At the time when the Muslims were adhering to its teachings they were much ahead in the field of education and there is no better proof for this than the western people's own acknowledgements of this fact. The number of books, libraries, schools, and educated people, with regards to those days facilities, much more than the books, libraries, schools and educated people today despite all the means and conditions available.
Q. Does Islam prohibit schools, newspapers, televisions, radios, and cinemas?
A. Islam prohibits unlawful, harmful and of evil temptations of such educational means if they would be free of such problems, Islam will be of the strong supporters of such educational means.
Q. What are the major differences between the Islamic educational programs and the conventional educational programs today?
A. The general difference is that Islam combines knowledge, faith, and virtue, while conventional educational programs ignore faith and virtue and instead has mixed atheistic and immoral ideas in it. Thus, knowledge, which is the best means for progress, peace, and security, has become a tool of degradation, destruction, and distress.
Q. Is Islam a religion of peace or a religion of war?
A. Islam is the religion of peace, as the holy Qur'an says, "O believers, enter into peace completely." [2:208] However, if any one would commit an act of aggression against people, or against the Muslims, Islam then defend itself to protect justice, truth and to repel the aggression.
Q. How Islam supports peace?
A. In Islam it is necessary to let peace prevail both internally and externally. Inside the country it abolishes crimes, outside the country it does not commit acts of aggression against any one, and it holds back the hands of the aggressors.
Q. How Islam would abolish crimes?
A. The causes behind committing crimes are: poverty, elements of evil temptations, ignorance, animosity, and sufferings etc. Islam fights against all of such elements until they are eliminated, and when they are eliminated, crimes will subsequently be abolished. A destitute person, for example, steals to survive, attractive women could lead to adultery, and liquors lead to crime. Ignorance causes transgression and animosity causes hurting others and murder. Family problems cause tribulation and crimes. Islam abolishes poverty, stops unlawful display of sexual beauty and liquors, provides education for all, removes the causes of animosity etc., and settles problems with easy judgments and quick decisions.
Q. How are the criminals punished in the Islamic system?
A. After abolishing the causes of crimes and providing a tranquil environment, Islam comes down with stern punishment up on the criminals. That is because he has committed them due to his meanness of nature and his deviation in the desires of his soul. With quick and stern punishment the environment is sterilized and crimes would not be repeated.
For example, four fingers of a thief are amputated, after all the conditions for such a verdict are present of which one is for the destitute to have adequate and sufficient means of living, no one would contemplate stealing. For this reason, history shows that very few fingers were cut during the two centuries of the Islamic government.
Q. What would Islam do with the prisons?
A. Islam does not recognise any of the conventional, man-made laws. The only laws are the divine laws. Thus, many of the things called crimes today are not crimes according to Islam for anyone to be jailed for them. Whatever Islam considers a crime, like theft or fornication, it has set a certain quick punishments for them, like cutting the fingers and whipping. However, for a few crimes there is jail in Islam, like a delinquent in paying his due debts. Jail is what the judge asks an individual to keep the criminal in a room of his home, for example. Thus, there is no jail in the conventional sense in Islam at all. In the case of urgent needs jails are built in simple forms.
Q. How Islam will keep peace out side the country?
A. Islam does not allow transgression against any one at all. Whatever country would like to have peace, Islam also likes to have peace. The holy Qur'an says, "If they incline to peace, incline to it too." [8:61] If war is created, Islam deals with it in the most decent manners as history has recorded its uniqueness. Whatever country would commit aggression against Islam it will repel such acts of aggressions.
Q. How Islam will keep peace between the people and the government?
A. The government in Islam is the government of the people in the true sense of the word. What would people want other than the right to vote, self-sufficiency, education, freedom, security, health and virtue that Islam provides for them in the best form? This is why the good governments of the Muslims had lived for so long. It was because of the mutual love between the nation and the government. The leader did not need security forces and bodyguards to protect him against the people except in the case of emergency.
Question. What does Islam say about the family?
Answer. From the Islamic point of view it is necessary for women to have proper Hijaab as Allah has said, "if you ask from them (women) (for an object) ask from behind the Hijaab." and this reduces problems and strengthens the relations between the husband and wife and the family lives in an environment of love and serenity. Hijaab means that women must cover their hair and beauties.
Q. Does Islam prohibit women from learning and work?
A. Never, Islam has not prohibited women from learning and work, it only has prohibited abusive and pervert manners and bedecking themselves in public. Islam also prohibits women from the kind of works that would be against their chastity and status.
Q. What is Islam's view of women?
A. According to Islamic viewpoint, family life is incomplete without the hard work out side the house and tranquillity and work inside the house. Therefore, it has divided the matter: Man's share is outside and woman's share inside the house, thus, the house is the best place to grow and develop physically as well as intellectually and emotionally. Islamic wisdom views this that if women would start to undertake men's works it would necessitate to leave her works inside the house for men and this would be a waste of two abilities, waste of the noble emotions of women that is very vital for inside the house and waste of the work power of men required for the outside the house. Work is work except that if turned upside down it gives undesirable results. For this reason it is best for women to do works inside the house.
Q. What is the Islamic view of marriage?
A. Marriage is permissible for the female after the age of nine with maturity and after the male's adulthood, which comes at the age of fifteen at which time getting married is very much recommended so that they would not fall in indecency.
Q. What is the Islamic view about boys and girl's mixing during different phases of life?
A. It is not permissible at all, whether it is during recreational times, at cinemas and swimming pools, at school, factories, social gatherings and clubs etc. From the Islamic point of view such mixing would lead to immorality which requires the system to take quick preventive measures against it, unless the mixing is out of necessity like those that take place during pilgrimage or Hajj.
Q. What are the duties of both spouses in family life?
A. The husband must provide all the expenses and satisfy her emotionally in accordance with the rules of law. The wife must obey the husband about going out of the house and her availability to the husband for emotional pleasures. It is not of the duties of women to work around the house. For marriage the consent of both the husband and wife is required. Divorce is in the hands of man alone unless specified otherwise in the marriage contract, when it will be in her hands too.
Q. What is the Islamic view about polygamy?
A. It is permissible in Islam to have up to four wives, but it is obligatory to maintain justice among them. In this way the Islamic system solves the problems of unmarried and widows.
1. The Islamic society has a special characteristic that other societies today do not have. It enjoys from the benefit of faith, which regulates the behaviour such that no other earthly system can ever do. And for this reason Islam gives a very sublime meaning to man while today's world speaks of man in terms of iron and machines. In an Islamic society many psychological and today's problems go away. Trust, love, and kindness to individuals and the society will increase.
2. Life, in all dimensions, will blossom under the Islamic system. Housing, farming, industrialization, expansion of trades and growth of wealth in an environment free of injustice, restrictions and conditions and a society free of sufferings and poverty. For this reason, developments, love of progress and trust in each other in the beginning of Islam were the norm, a fact that no one has experienced today, even though there is an abundance of means to improve standards of living.
3. It is imperative for everyone to do their best to re-establish the single universal Islamic government for all Muslims, and in the process Allah is the supporter.
Exalted be your Lord, the Lord of Glory, above what they ascribe. And peace be upon the Messengers. And praise to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. [37:180]