Ghamdi on Islam and the Taliban

A friend sent this piece with an introductory message that “Ghamdi’s life is under threat by the Taleban as they want to eliminate all who can challenge them. Can they eliminate 168 million of us?” Ghamdi is a beacon of hope and enlightenment in these dark days.

The Taliban say that democracy is a concept alien to Islam. According to them, the ideal method of establishing a government according to Islam is the method adopted by Mullah Omar in Afghanistan. Constitution, parliament and elections are evil innovations of modern times. Islam is not bound by any of these institutions for its enforcement. The interpretation of governance conveyed to us by the Hanifi School of jurisprudence is enough for us. The ijtehad of modern jurists are also vague. The ancient jurists have delivered their decisions regarding individual and collective life. These have all been arrived at from Islamic sources such as Quran, Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas which are available in the books of Jurisprudence and Fatwa. These juristic verdicts should be enforced. We do not need the approval of any Parliament for this purpose. The method proposed by the ancient Jurists is that the judiciary should be supreme over all other branches of government and the judiciary should be handed over to the Ulema because they are the experts on Islamic Sharia and the Taliban say that the history of twelve centuries is behind their knowledge. According to them, the appointment of the Imam Abu Yousuf as the chief justice by the Abbasid Caliphate Imam Abu Yousuf has set the precedent for this. Western imperialism discontinued this system but now that Muslims are independent and the mode of governance should be restored to its original state.

Their declared agenda has the following points:

  1. The hatred of people for the United States and their love for Islam should be exploited and the army/police and other state institutions should be infiltrated by their supporters, with the result that all people start to lose trust in their leadership.
  2. Ideological opponents should gradually be exterminated or compelled to run away. All those people who command positions of influence in society should also be eliminated.
  3. So much terror should be spread through suicide bombings that the confidence and morale of the army/police and public is undermined to the extent that they are no longer able to challenge.
  4. When the administration is forced to surrender, then dialogue should be initiated in order that the government should accept their conditions for the sake of peace and should hand over the administration of the area to them.
  5. The same mode of governance should be shown from their occupied territories as has been seen in Afghanistan. In this manner advances should be made from one territory to another.

This is objective and strategy of the Taliban. Whatever I understand of Islam I can say with confidence that this is not acceptable in light of the Quran. The mode of governance enjoined by the Quran is democracy. The Quran says “Amro Hum Shura Bainahum” (Muslims conduct their affairs through mutual consultation). The Caliph Omar has explained this further “Whoever accepts a leader without consultation from the Muslim community shall be liable to being killed”.

However, the first mentioned method is the one enjoined by the Quran. As to what are the ingredients required for this mode of governance in the modern day has been elucidated by Maulana Abulala Maududi in his interpretation (tafsir): “First of all matters concerning the community and the rights and benefits of the people should be open to expression of opinion by the people and they should be kept fully informed as to how their matters are being resolved. They should have the full authority to criticize any misconduct or mistake or shortfall which they notice. They can protest and if they find no improvement they can change the leaders. It is bad faith/misconduct to shut the mouths and tie down the hand and feet and keep people unaware of their collective matters. This cannot be accepted as Amro Hum Shura Bainahum.

Secondly, a person who is entrusted with the responsibility of governing the community must be appointed by mutual consent, which should be freely obtained. Any consent obtained by force, restraint, bad faith, purchase, fraud or misrepresentation is in reality no consent. A person who obtains leadership by using unfair means or foul is not qualified for leadership. The leader should be chosen happily and by choice.

Thirdly, the advisors of the leader should also be those who have the trust of the people and obviously those who obtain confidence by compulsion, fraud or lies, or by misleading people in order to obtain representation, are unsuitable.

Fourthly, advisors should advise according to their knowledge, their conscience and their faith, and they should have the freedom to do so. If these are absent and advisors advise on the basis of fear or greed or due to some ulterior motive/grouping and they give an opinion that is against their knowledge and conscience, this amounts to dishonesty, breach of trust and treason and it is not Amor Hum Shura Bainahum.

Fifth, the unanimous opinion of the gathering of parliament, or that, which has the support of the majority, must be accepted. Otherwise, if one person or one party does what it pleases after consulting others then the consultation becomes meaningless. God does not say that you seek their advice in their matters. God says their matters are conducted according to their advice. This injunction is not fulfilled by merely seeking opinions -whatever is decided by consensus must be acted upon.”

It is clear from the above that whatever is enjoined by religion must be interpreted in this manner.  Different scholars can present their own varied interpretations, but it only becomes effectively enforceable only when the majority of elected representatives accept such interpretation. Parliament is established for this purpose in modern day democracy. Ultimate decision in governance should rest with them. People have the right to criticize parliamentary decisions and point out their mistakes but they do not have the right to rebel against them. Neither the Ulema nor the judiciary is superior to Parliament. Each institution is bound, despite its reservations, to uphold and follow Parliament’s decisions. If we accept this position of Parliament, then the distinction between Islamic state and secular state becomes irrelevant. These devices are used by dictators. Our effort should be focused on establishing a true democracy. If this government is established where Muslims are living Islam itself will automatically manifest itself in state policies. This is the natural way of Islamic government; any deviation is based on hypocrisy, which we have experienced in Pakistan for the past 50 years.

The obligation/real duty of scholars and reformers is that they should prepare the minds of the public and the elite through education and awareness. They should invite people to this point of view in a kind gracious and persuasive manner. They should answer their questions and remove their doubts with convincing arguments as to why God revealed the Shariah and what it has to do with collective life, what is the basis of Quranic injunctions and why do people find it difficult to understand these today. They should adopt such strategies to explain and interpret these matters as would make their purpose their philosophy, and their understanding easy for people, and their hearts and minds should be able to accept it. The role of the Ulema is to extend an invitation to others to the Quran, they are not appointed as watchdogs who can organize their followers as militants to force people to accept Sharia by force of the gun. Leave aside the Ulema, even the state authority cannot impose prayers and zakat or other pillars of faith on the citizens through force or legislation. The Quran is clear that as far as the accountability of the believers on judgment day is concerned, that is something quite apart. The only method the state can use in this regard is through teaching, guide, and extend knowledge to its citizens. If the Ulema are keen on politics, then they should join a political party and get elected to parliament and then bring in laws in conformity with Islam through recognized modes

Leave a Reply