The Nature and Essentials of Islamic Government

Those who have accepted the above classification by the West and believe that governments are classified only into two—either dictatorial, or democratic and popular, ask: Is the Islamic government dictatorial? Does he who attains power, e.g. in our time the wali al-faqih, impose his authority on the people by force and rule according to his whims and caprice? Or, is it the democratic government of the West which is the opposite of dictatorship? Or, is it a third form of government?
According to the twofold classifications that have been accepted, the Islamic government is one of the two above mentioned types which is either dictatorial or popular. In case it is a popular government, it has to follow the same methods and ways existing and acted upon in Western countries and democratic governments. Or, it is not an Islamic, popular government and it is dictatorial and is based on the desire and will of an individual, and there is no third option. It is expedient for us to answer this important question and declare whether the Islamic government is dictatorial, akin to Western democracy, or follows a third option.
Among the questions being raised are the following: What are the preliminaries and main pillars of the Islamic government? Which elements must be preserved and observed in ruling and managing society so as to actually realize the Islamic government? Those who are familiar with our culture and jurisprudence know, for example, that there are some essentials of prayer which if abandoned intentionally or unintentionally, invalidate the prayer, for, without them, the essence and identity of prayer cannot be realized.
The Islamic government is also founded on certain pillars. In the presence of those pillars and columns, we call a government “Islamic”. If there is some defect or deficiency in those pillars and columns, the Islamic government will not be realized. Now, in view of the vital role of these pillars and columns, it is necessary for us to be aware of them, because unless we recognize the criterion and basis of the Islamic nature of government will be not be able to distinguish the form and nature of an Islamic government from non-Islamic governments. It is therefore necessary to answer to this serious question.

The form of Islamic government and the scope of prerogatives and duties
Another question raised is: Has Islam determined a specific form of government? As you are aware, there are many forms of government extant today, e.g. absolute and constitutional monarchy, presidential and parliamentary republic, and theocracy.
Has Islam accepted one of these forms, determined a specific form of government which is different from the abovementioned forms, not determined a specific form, or only determined a set of values and criteria of government which must be observed anytime and in every form of government? Islam has ordained that a government must observe justice, but the form observed depends upon the circumstances of time and space. Islam is not concerned with a specific form, as the proper form of government, according to Islam, depends on the observance of the criteria.
Assuming that Islam has determined a specific form of government, is this form of government according to Islam fixed and unchangeable, or a form which is more or less changeable? These kinds of questions are raised in relation to the form of Islamic government which must not remain unanswered.
Another question which is posed in connection with the philosophy of government is: What are the prerogatives and responsibilities of the ruling body or the ruler, in the Islamic government? Governments differ from one another in terms of prerogatives and responsibilities. In some governments, the prerogatives and duties of the government are limited. The government is only obliged to perform certain functions. The overall function of preserving the system is delegated to the government while other functions are given to the people.
In some forms of government, however, the government has vast prerogatives and equally heavy responsibilities. It assumes important responsibilities which it has to discharge. It can neither delegate them to the people nor shirk its duties because it is the people’s right to demand the performance of those responsibilities and duties from the government. It must be clarified that in the political philosophy of Islam, what prerogatives and duties dose Islam have set for the government. Undoubtedly, the performance and duties must be proportionate and balanced. It is not correct to delegate a duty to a person without providing him the necessary grounds to discharge the duty. So, the next question is: What duties and prerogatives does the Islamic government have?

The role of people in Islamic government and some other questions
Among the very serious questions which are raised today in society and periodicals is this: What is the role of the people in the Islamic government and what are their duties and prerogatives? Finally: What was the form and structure of the government during the early period of Islam, such as the time of the Holy Prophet (s),[9][8] the time of the Commander of the Faithful (‘a) and the initial part of Imam Hasan al-Mujtaba’s (‘a) time? Similarly, to what extent were the governments of the Umayyads and the ‘Abbasids that ruled over Muslim territories Islamic; and, which of the abovementioned governments we can present as the Islamic government? How has the formative course of Islamic governments throughout history led to this form of Islamic government, which finally materialized in Iran by the blessings of the Islamic Revolution?
Of course, alongside the aforesaid questions, secondary questions are also raised, some of which are as follows: Is our government one hundred percent Islamic, and does it fulfill all Islamic standards and essentials of an Islamic government? In case this government possesses all the essentials of an Islamic government, has it discharged all its duties, fulfilled its mission and faithfully observed all values? Finally, what are the defects and deficiencies of this government?

Author: Muhammad Taqi Misbah Yazdi


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