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Laws were decided based on the Ijma consensus of the Ummah community , which was most often represented by the legal scholars. Practically, for hundreds of years after Rashidun Caliphate and until the twentieth century, Islamic states followed a system of government based on the coexistence of sultan and ulama following the rules of the sharia.

This system resembled to some extent some Western governments in possessing an unwritten constitution like the United Kingdom , and possessing separate, countervailing branches of government like the United States — which provided Separation of powers in governance. While the United States and some other systems of government has three branches of government — executive, legislative and judicial — Islamic monarchies had two — the sultan and ulama. According to Olivier Roy this "defacto separation between political power" of sultans and emirs and religious power of the caliph was "created and institutionalized The state was instrument to enable Muslims to live as good Muslims and Muslims were to obey the sultan if he did so.

The legitimacy of the ruler was "symbolized by the right to coin money and to have the Friday prayer Jumu'ah khutba said in his name. Sadakat Kadri argues that a large "degree of deference" was shown to the caliphate by the ulama and this was at least at times "counterproductive". When Caliph Al-Mutawakkil had been killed in , jurists had retroactively validated his murder with a fatwa.

Eight years later, they had testified to the lawful abdication of a successor, after he had been dragged from a toilet, beaten unconscious, and thrown into a vault to die. By the middle of the tenth century, judges were solemnly confirming that the onset of blindness had disqualified a caliph, without mentioning that they had just been assembled to witness the gouging of his eyes. Sunni Islamic lawyers have commented on when it is permissible to disobey, impeach or remove rulers in the Caliphate. This is usually when the rulers are not meeting public responsibilities obliged upon them under Islam.

Al-Mawardi said that if the rulers meet their Islamic responsibilities to the public, the people must obey their laws, but if they become either unjust or severely ineffective then the Caliph or ruler must be impeached via the Majlis ash-Shura. Similarly Al-Baghdadi believed that if the rulers do not uphold justice , the ummah via the majlis should give warning to them, and if unheeded then the Caliph can be impeached. Al-Juwayni argued that Islam is the goal of the ummah, so any ruler that deviates from this goal must be impeached. Al-Ghazali believed that oppression by a caliph is enough for impeachment.

Rather than just relying on impeachment, Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani obliged rebellion upon the people if the caliph began to act with no regard for Islamic law. Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani said that to ignore such a situation is haraam , and those who cannot revolt inside the caliphate should launch a struggle from outside. Al-Asqalani used two ayahs from the Qur'an to justify this:. And they the sinners on qiyama will say, 'Our Lord!

We obeyed our leaders and our chiefs, and they misled us from the right path. Give them the leaders double the punishment you give us and curse them with a very great curse' Islamic lawyers commented that when the rulers refuse to step down via successful impeachment through the Majlis, becoming dictators through the support of a corrupt army, if the majority agree they have the option to launch a revolution against them.

Islam in World Politics - ANU

Many noted that this option is only exercised after factoring in the potential cost of life. The following hadith establishes the principle of rule of law in relation to nepotism and accountability [32]. The people of Quraish worried about the lady from Bani Makhzum who had committed theft.


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They asked, "Who will intercede for her with Allah's Apostle? By Allah, if Fatima , the daughter of Muhammad my daughter stole, I would cut off her hand. Various Islamic lawyers do however place multiple conditions, and stipulations e. It is well known during a time of drought in the Rashidun caliphate period, capital punishments were suspended until the effects of the drought passed. Islamic jurists later formulated the concept of the rule of law, the equal subjection of all classes to the ordinary law of the land, where no person is above the law and where officials and private citizens are under a duty to obey the same law.

A Qadi Islamic judge was also not allowed to discriminate on the grounds of religion , race , colour , kinship or prejudice. There were also a number of cases where Caliphs had to appear before judges as they prepared to take their verdict. According to Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University , the legal scholars and jurists who once upheld the rule of law were replaced by a law governed by the state due to the codification of Sharia by the Ottoman Empire in the early 19th century: How the scholars lost their exalted status as keepers of the law is a complex story, but it can be summed up in the adage that partial reforms are sometimes worse than none at all.

In the early 19th century, the Ottoman empire responded to military setbacks with an internal reform movement. The most important reform was the attempt to codify Shariah. This Westernizing process, foreign to the Islamic legal tradition, sought to transform Shariah from a body of doctrines and principles to be discovered by the human efforts of the scholars into a set of rules that could be looked up in a book. Once the law existed in codified form, however, the law itself was able to replace the scholars as the source of authority. Codification took from the scholars their all-important claim to have the final say over the content of the law and transferred that power to the state.

According to scholar Moojan Momen, "One of the key statements in the Qur'an around which much of the exegesis" on the issue of what Islamic doctrine says about who is in charge is based on the verse. For Sunnis, uulaa al-amr are the rulers Caliphs and kings but for Shi'is this expression refers to the Imams. According to scholar Bernard Lewis, this Qur'anic verse has been. But there are also sayings that put strict limits on the duty of obedience.

Two dicta attributed to the Prophet and universally accepted as authentic are indicative. One says, "there is no obedience in sin"; in other words, if the ruler orders something contrary to the divine law, not only is there no duty of obedience, but there is a duty of disobedience.

This is more than the right of revolution that appears in Western political thought. It is a duty of revolution, or at least of disobedience and opposition to authority. The other pronouncement, "do not obey a creature against his creator," again clearly limits the authority of the ruler, whatever form of ruler that may be. However, Ibn Taymiyyah — an important 14th century scholar of the Hanbali school — says in Tafseer for this verse "there is no obedience in sin"; that people should ignore the order of the ruler if it would disobey the divine law and shouldn't use this as excuse for revolution because it will spell Muslims bloods.

In Shia Islam, three attitudes towards rulers predominated — political cooperation with the ruler, political activism challenging the ruler, and aloofness from politics — with "writings of Shi'i ulama through the ages" showing "elements of all three of these attitudes. Extremism within Islam goes back to the 7th century to the Kharijites. The Kharijites were particularly noted for adopting a radical approach to Takfir , whereby they declared other Muslims to be unbelievers and therefore deemed them worthy of death.

In the 19th century, European colonization of the Muslim world coincided with the retreat of the Ottoman Empire , the French conquest of Algeria , the disappearance of the Moghul Empire in India , the Russian incursions into the Caucasus and Central Asia. The first Muslim reaction to European colonization was of "peasant and religious", not urban origin.

Sharia in defiance of local common law was imposed to unify tribes. All these movements eventually failed "despite spectacular victories such as the destruction of the British army in Afghanistan in and the taking of Kharoum in The second Muslim reaction to European encroachment later in the century and early 20th century was not violent resistance but the adoption of some Western political, social, cultural and technological ways. Members of the urban elite, particularly in Egypt , Iran , and Turkey advocated and practiced "Westernization".

The failure of the attempts at political westernization, according to some, was exemplified by the Tanzimat reorganization of the Ottoman rulers. Sharia was codified into law which was called the Mecelle and an elected legislature was established to make law. These steps took away the Ulama 's role of "discovering" the law and the formerly powerful scholar class weakened and withered into religious functionaries, while the legislature was suspended less than a year after its inauguration and never recovered to replace the Ulama as a separate "branch" of government providing Separation of powers.

In addition to the legitimacy given by medieval scholarly opinion, nostalgia for the days of successful Islamic empire simmered under later Western colonialism. This nostalgia played a major role in the Islamist political ideal of Islamic state, a state in which Islamic law is preeminent. Many democratic Islamist movements, such as the Jamaat-e-Islami and Muslim Brotherhood have used the democratic process and focus on votes and coalition-building with other political parties. Radical movements such as Taliban and al-Qaeda embrace militant Islamic ideology.

Al-Quada was prominent for being part of the anti-Soviet resistance in Afghanistan in the s. There was also concern that Western ideas and influence were spreading throughout Muslim societies. This led to considerable resentment of the influence of the European powers. The Muslim Brotherhood was created in Egypt as a movement to resist and harry the British. During the s, the predominant ideology within the Arab world was pan-Arabism which deemphasized religion and emphasized the creation of socialist, secular states based on Arab nationalism rather than Islam.

However, governments based on Arab nationalism have found themselves facing economic stagnation and disorder. Increasingly, the borders of these states were seen as artificial colonial creations - which they were, having literally been drawn on a map by European colonial powers. According to scholar Vali Nasr , political tendencies of Sunni and Shia Islamic ideology differ, with Sunni Islamic revivalism "in Pakistan and much of the Arab world" being "far from politically revolutionary", while Shia political Islam is strongly influenced by Ruhollah Khomeini and his talk of the oppression of the poor and class war.

Sunni revivalism "is rooted in conservative religious impulses and the bazaars, mixing mercantile interests with religious values. Khomeini's version of Islamism engaged the poor and spoke of class war. Graham Fuller has also noted that he found "no mainstream Islamist organization with the exception of [shia] Iran with radical social views or a revolutionary approach to the social order apart from the imposition of legal justice.

The following sources generally prescribe to the theory that there is a distinct 20th-century movement called Islamism:. These authors in general locate the issues of Islamic political intolerance and fanaticism not in Islam, but in the generally low level of awareness of Islam's own mechanisms for dealing with these, among modern believers, in part a result of Islam being suppressed prior to modern times.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the issue of politics in the religion of Islam. For the movement of "Political Islam", see Islamism. Profession of faith Prayer Fasting Alms-giving Pilgrimage. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan , and Indonesia whose million people make it the most populous Muslim country.

There are other countries, such as Nigeria and the Philippines, in which Muslims constitute an important political force. Indeed, only about one of every four Muslims is an Arab. To explore political Islam, we can examine five factors: The attitudes of Muslims toward the non-Muslim world are shaped by three historical elements Lewis, The first is a triumphant past.

Islam and the World

During Islam's early period, Muslim zeal sparked rapid religious and political expansion by peaceful conversion and violent conquest. This drive was led at first by Arabs, then by Ottoman Turks and other Muslim dynasties. Conflict with Christian powers, especially those of Europe, is a second element of Muslim political heritage. Muslims also clashed for hundreds of years with Christianity's Orthodox emperors of Byzantium and later with the Orthodox czars of Russia.

Later still, most Muslim lands fell under the colonial rule of Christian European powers. Even today, in the view of many Muslims, Christian powers still dominate the world and beset them. Many Muslims are dismayed, for example, by the fact that all of the UN Security Council's permanent members except China are countries with a Christian heritage. Moreover, two council members, Great Britain and France, are the same countries that led the Crusades and later colonized a good portion of the Muslim world.

The third element of Muslim political heritage is the decline of their power and the eventual domination of Muslims by others. After about the year , Muslim secular strength declined slowly over the centuries. A variety of European powers had by the late s come to dominate many of the Muslim areas from Mauritania in Africa to Indonesia in Asia.

Politics and New Media in the Muslim World

In the aftermath, the British and the French became the colonial overlords of the Middle East. As a result, most Muslim countries, whatever their location, share an experience of recent colonial domination by mostly European, Christian-heritage powers Lustick, During the last half century, direct political domination ended with the collapse of colonialism. New countries came into being; others moved from autonomy to full independence. As with most new countries, the Muslim states fiercely guard their sovereignty.

Most Muslims also chafe under the foreign control that has frequently persisted through economic dominance and other neocolonialist techniques exercised by the Western powers. In recent years, this indirect domination has been eased by the growth of oil power, and there has been a concurrent growth of Islamic fundamentalism, pride, and militancy that has interacted with and supplemented the nationalism of Islamic countries.

There are elements of the reawakening of Muslim assertiveness that support the unification in the ummah. After centuries of outside political, economic, and cultural domination, the people in the region that stretches from Morocco to Afghanistan have begun to reclaim their heritage in what might be called a "Muslim pride" movement. The resurgence of Islam also includes international support for the strengthening of Muslims.


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Islamic solidarity efforts have ranged from coordination in protecting Islamic holy places, through support of the Palestine Liberation Organization, to some Muslim leaders' support of Pakistan's possession of nuclear weapons referred to by some as "Islamic bombs". This Pan-Arab feeling has led to the establishment of some regional cooperation the Arab League , for example and even attempts to merge countries. Despite all of these elements of Pan-Muslim and Pan-Arab sentiment, it is unlikely that Muslims will reestablish the ummah in the foreseeable future.

Ethnonationalism is one factor that will prevent this. Many Muslim countries have sharp differences and vie with one another for regional influence Tibi, ; Lefebvre, Some Muslims, notably the Kurds who live in Turkey, Iraq, Iran, and elsewhere, want to form their own countries. Further solidifying nationalism, there are major ethnic differences within Islam.

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Culturally, Indonesians are no more like Syrians than are Canadians. Indeed, Indonesians are ethnically not even like one another, and their political views are more strongly tied to ethnicity and other factors than to religion. According to a study of Indonesia's elections, there was a "lack of strongly positive relationship between religion, especially Muslim variants, and partisan choice. Muslim political history influences current Muslim attitudes toward the domain of unbelief in several ways.

One is the frequent evidence of anti-Western feeling. Americans have therefore inherited Muslim resentment based on what one Arab leader describes as "Western behavior over centuries that has been unfair to Muslims. They tend to view Israel as partially a creation of the Western powers in the latest round of the ancient contest for control of Jerusalem and the surrounding region. The Muslims' often unhappy history of interaction with the West also explains why so many of them were ambivalent about Iraq's aggression.

Many Muslims were appalled when Iraq invaded Kuwait , yet they also admired Saddam Hussein because, as a rug merchant in Damascus proclaimed colorfully, "He is breaking the head of the U. He is sticking his finger up its nose. He has made America crazy. Arabs often note, for example, that the United States has never protested against Israel's nuclear weapons capability, and they suspect that racism is the reason.

Religion is not always a source of Islamic unity. Instead, religious conflict has been sparked by sectarian splits. The issues between the two sects involve doctrinal matters beyond our scope of inquiry here.


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What is important here is that the sometimes quiescent Sunni-Shiite rivalry was reignited in when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led fundamentalist Shiites to power in Iran. One of Khomeini's proclaimed goals was to reestablish Islamic unity under Shiite leadership by displacing Sunni control of Saudi Arabia which controls Mecca , the holiest of Muslim places and other countries. The most serious clash was Iran's war with Iraq There were territorial and other nationalistic causes behind the war, but Khomeini's determination to overthrow Iraq's Sunni-dominated regime was also a cause of the war and of the millions of casualties that occurred.

The death of Khomeini in eased, but did not end, Sunni-Shiite strife. Among other places, Muslim sectarianism has spelled continuing tragedy for Afghanistan. Various rebel factions fought together in a year effort to evict the Soviet invaders and to oust Afghanistan's communist government. Then, with victory in , rebel unity dissolved, and the various factions have continued to fight a civil war that has taken countless lives and utterly destroyed the country's cities and infrastructure.

Ethnic divisions were one source of the trouble, but these intermingle with and are supplemented by the contest for power between Sunni and Shiite factions.