Islam is not only a religion but it is a complete code of life. The religion of Islam guides people in all aspects of their lives ranging from how to behave inside the house to running business and government. No matter you are a husband, brothers, son, a businessman or employees, Islam is there to help you. Similarly, Islam is a perfect religion to follow if you want to implement the good governance in your home and office. In fact, the model of good governance offered by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is unmatched in all respects and the policies pursued by his followers especially the first four caliphs (R.A.) offer great insight for the modern world as well.
The Relevance of the Subject to Modern World:
Islam demands its followers to create a just society, the core purpose of which is to look after the welfare and betterment of the people who constitute that society. The topic under discussion is of utmost importance and extremely relevant to whatever happening around the world, especially in Muslim countries. This is the age of political transitions in Muslim countries that are doing away with monarchies and despotic regimes and embracing democracy as a system to run government.
Subsequently, different Muslim countries are formulating new constitutions and are looking to ways and methods in order to improve their governance model. In this regard, reverting to basic teachings of Islam about good governance can greatly help these nations to create a governance models that is not only acceptable to all but can also produce positive results both for authorities and masses.
Secondly, we are currently in an era of remarkable and unbelievable scientific and technological advancement. Every other day, we hear about new products being introduced in the market. This constant development in science and technology has improved the general standard of living and as a result, the expectations of the people are also on the rise. This situation has put government under extreme pressure to deliver the goods. If they fail to do so, people will simple trust an alternate force to look after their affairs. Again, Islamic principles of good governance can help these governments to perform according to the expectations of the masses.
Is Islam Really Concerned About Politics and Governance?
The biggest allegation against Islam by Non-Muslims is that it is a set of religious instruction and has nothing to do with anything else, especially science, politics and governance but this statement is as far from truth as anything else could be. As Allah says in Holy Quran,
“if you do judge, judge between them justly. Allah loves the just.” (Surat al-Maida, 42)
And Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) says in one of his Hadith or tradition,
“Authority is a trust. and on the Day of judgment it is a cause of humiliation and repentance except for one who fulfils its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties attendant thereon.”
The above statements explicitly state that Islam is concerned with the politics and governance and provide thorough and clear instructions about how to run the government affairs.
The Concept of Accountability in Islam:
In Islam, everyone is accountable for his own deeds both in this world and hereafter no matter he is a bagger or a ruler. In fact, a ruler is responsible for the entire country under his reign and if he fails to provide all the basic necessities to the masses, he will be held accountable for this. Islam gives everybody a right to correct the caliph or ruler if his actions are against Islam and general interest of people under his tutelage. On other hand, if he is doing well, it is the duty of others to support him and help him to strength his rule.
Islam as a Welfare State:
Islam is the first religion who gave the concept of welfare state and Hazrat Umer (R.A.) was the first ruler to practically implement this idea. The Islamic state is responsible to look after the poor, needy, orphans, destitute, widows and other such people. Islam insists to empower such a person who is knowledgeable, compassionate, brave and most importantly honest. In Islam, the person with the highest rank in the society that is the ruler is also the most responsible for the welfare and betterment of that society. Virtually everyone whether it is a beggar wandering in the streets can bring the performance and integrity of the ruler in question if he thinks that he is not performing according to the teachings of Islam.
Equality and Justice:
Islam is a religion of equality and justice. Before the advent of Islam, the world in general and Arabia in general were unaware of these concepts. It is the Islam who presented the idea that everyone in this world is equal regardless of his race, color, nationality and ethnicity etc. Similarly, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) made justice one of the pillars of first ever Islamic state established in Madinah. According to teachings of Islam, Justice is the only thing that can make any nation happy and prosperous and everything else is of secondary importance in this regard.
Appointment of State Officials:
It is necessary for the survival of an Islamic or every state that government official are appointed on merit. Similarly, a system of strict accountability should be in place to monitor their performance so that they stay on the right track and do not deviate from their main role as specified by the Holy Quran and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).
Five Central Principles of Good Governance in Islam:
Following lines mention five of the most important principles of good governance in Islam.
- Provision of justice for every citizen regardless of its status in the society or financial condition.
- Every Muslim, men and women, has the right to obtain both religious and material education.
- There should be centrality of consultation in decision making that is the matters should be decided by consultation among people.
- Welfare of people is the primary goal of governance in Islam.
- A leader should be knowledgeable and honest and should be accountable for his deeds.
The Purpose of Governance in Islam:
Islam encourages the formation of a just society based on the principles of equality, justice, rational thinking, tolerance and equity. The two primary goals of establishing an Islamic state are promoting justice and pursuit of knowledge. The Islamic idea of governance is to nurture humane and accountable leaders who would focus on the wellbeing of ordinary people by establishing different institutions. If we go through these teachings in more detail, we shall realize that they are valuable for any person aspiring to become a future political leader even in the modern world.