Page 102 - Islam In Focus

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public affairs. Islamic history provides authentic records of how the chief rulers and
Caliphs were questioned, advised and corrected by common people, men and women
alike. The principle of mutual consultation is so fundamental in Islam that not only
has one to speak up his mind, but also to do so in the sincerest and most effective
manner, for the best interest of society. Consultative methods in politics, or in any
other field for that matter, are not only a democratic formula of government, but a
religious injunction and a moral duty enjoined upon the rulers as well as the ruled.
Besides his constant practice of this principle, the Prophet said that it is an essential
part of religion to give good counsel. The purpose of such counsel is to insure that the
Law of God is observed and that the rights of citizen are honored and their obligations
fulfilled. To prevent the rise of professional politics and counteract the underground
politicians of opportunist platforms, the Prophet, speaking on the authority of God,
said that whoever speaks – be it in a form of counsel or any other form – must say the
right and good things; or else he had better keep silent. This is to warn counselors and
advisers against selfish inclinations or egoistic temptations. It is to guarantee that
counsel is given with the sincerest intentions and in the best interest of the public,
because it is authorized by God, carried on His behalf and aimed at the common
welfare. The seeking of counsel on the part of the ruler and rendering it on the part of
the public is not a matter of choice or a voluntary measure. It is an article of Faith, a
religious ordinance. Muhammad himself, although wise, “ infallible” and unselfish,
was not above the maxim or an exception to the rule. God instructs him in this way :
It is by the mercy of God that you dealt gently with them (your people). Were you
severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you. So pass over
their faults, and ask for (God’ s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of
moment). Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust (in Him) (3:159)
Enumerating the characteristics of Believers, the Qur’ an makes clear mention of
mutual counsel as an article of Faith. The Believers are those who believe in God and
put their trust in their Lord, those who avoid the greater crimes and shameful deeds,
and, when they are angry even then forgive; those who hearken to their Lord, and
establish regular prayer, and conduct their affairs by mutual consultation, and spend
out of what We bestow on them for sustenance (by way of charity); and those who,
when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, (are not cowed but) help and defend
themselves (42: 36-39)
10. Under the political system of Islam, every citizen is entitled to enjoy freedom of
belief and conscience, and freedom of thought and expression. He is free to develop
his potentialities and improve his lot, to work and compete, to earn and possess, to
approve and disapprove of things, according to his honest judgement. But his freedom
is not, and cannot be absolute; or else it amounts to chaos and anarchy. It is
guaranteed by the Law of God and governed by the very same Law. As long as it is in
line with this Law it is the rightful privilege of every individual citizen; but if it
transgresses the limits of Law or conflicts with the common interest, it becomes a
violation of God’ s Law must, therefore, be controlled. The individual is part of the
whole universe, so he must adjust himself to the Law and order of God, the Law by
which the entire universe is administered. On the other hand, he is a member of his
community or nation, and must adapt his own rights and interests to those of others in
a mutually beneficial manner. If the individual takes an independent attitude on a
certain matter of public concern and finds the majority taking a different attitude, he
must in the end side with the majority to maintain solidarity and co-operation,