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Message Not Government, Religion Not State

By:
‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq
Document type:
Articles and Essays

Message Not Government, Religion Not State

‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq

Commentary

‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq (Egypt, 1888–1966) unleashed a storm of debate with this controversial short book. A shari‘a (Islamic law) judge and an academic at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, ‘Abd al-Raziq argued that Islam does not specify any particular form of government, thus allowing Muslims to create democratic regimes. This reasoning may have been intended to undermine the Egyptian king's claims to the caliphate in the wake of the elimination of the Ottoman caliphate in 1924. 1 Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp. 184–192. However, the argument is worded in general terms, thereby challenging the holistic view of Islam as comprising both spirituality and politics. ‘Abd al-Raziq was fired from his judgeship and his academic position and was even criticized by Islamic modernists such as Rashid Rida. 2 Georges C. Anawati, “Un Plaidayer pour un Islam éclairé (mustanir): Le Livre du Juge Mohammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi, Al-Islam al-siyasi (L’Islam politique)” (French: A Plea for an Enlightened [Mustanir] Islam: The Book of Judge Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi, Al-Islam al-siyasi [Political Islam]), Mideo, volume 19, 1989, pp. 124–125. Beyond the borders of Egypt, his book “generated violent controversy throughout the Muslim world” and “continues to stimulate debate” today. 3 Eric Davis, “‘Abd al-Raziq, ‘Ali,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 1, pp. 5, 7. Other portions of ‘Abd al-Raziq's book were translated into English from a French edition in 1982. 4 John J. Donohue and John L. Esposito, editors, Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 29–37.

1

I saw then that there exist obstacles that are not easily overcome by those who are of the opinion that the Prophet, peace be upon him, in addition to the Message [which he carried], was also a political king and a founder of a political state. I saw that every time these people attempted to avoid a trap, they would fall into the next, and each time they attempted to rid themselves of a problem, the problem would confront them again more intensely than before.

There remains before the reader just one school of thought, and I hope that the reader will find that it offers a convenient starting point. . . . This is that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was a Messenger of a religious call, full of religiosity, untainted by a tendency to kingship or a call for government, and that he did not have a government, nor did he rule, and that he, peace be upon him, did not establish a kingdom, in the political sense of the term or anything synonymous with it. For he was but a messenger like his brethren, the preceding messengers. He was not a king nor the founder of a state, nor did he seek to rule. The above may not be a well-known view, and may in fact be resented by many Muslims, although it has great vision and is based on strong evidence.

2

Before we proceed to prove this, we must warn readers about an error that they may fall into unless they observe [the following] accurately and carefully—namely that the Message in itself obliges the Messenger to have some kind of leadership and authority over his people, but this is nothing like the leadership of kings and the authority they have over their subjects. Therefore, one should not confuse the leadership of the Message with that of kings, since they are so different that they could be opposites. Readers have seen that the leadership of Moses and Jesus with regards to their followers was not a kingly leadership, rather it was similar to the leadership of most messengers.

3

The nature of the honest religious call obliges its carrier to have primarily a perfection of the senses, whereby he will lack nothing in his body, sentiments, or feelings, and have nothing that would repulse. And, he must have—because he is a leader—a strong presence to awe those around him, and an attraction that would make him sympathetic enough that men and women would love him. He must also have spiritual perfection, which is necessary for his communication with the other world.

The Message requires its carrier to enjoy considerable social distinction among his people; and as it has been said: “God does not raise a prophet unless he is loved by his people, and unless he commands authority over his clan.” 5 As the two Shaykhs [Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, circa 821–875, and Muhammad ibn Isma‘il Bukhari, 810–870] have narrated: “Thus prophets are sent from the best families of their clans . . .” which is part of a long hadith [tradition of the Prophet]. See Taysir al-wusul ila al-jami‘ al-usul [The Facilitation of Arriving at the Compendium of Fundamentals, by ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Dayba’ (1461–1537)], part 3, p. 320. The Message also requires its carrier to have the kind of strength which will prepare him to influence the minds of people so that they will heed his call. For God, may He be elevated, does not take the Message lightly and does not raise a messenger of righteousness unless He wants his call to be heeded, and that its teachings be engraved on the tables of the world, eternally preserved and intermixed with the realities of this world: “We have sent no apostle but that he should be obeyed by the will of God.” (Qur'an, Sura 4, Verse 64) 6 [Translations of Qur'anic verses are taken, with modifications, from Al-Qur'an: A Contemporary Translation, translated by Ahmed Ali, revised definitive edition (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988).—Editor] “Surely messengers have been mocked before you; but what they had mocked rebounded on the mockers themselves. Say: ‘Travel in the land and see what happened to those who disbelieved.’” (Sura 6, Verse 10) “But God wished to confirm the truth by His words, and wipe the unbelievers out to the last, so that Truth may be affirmed and falsehood negated, even though the sinners be averse.” (Sura 8, Verses 7–8)] “Our word had already been given before to Our servants, the apostles, that they would be helped. And that certainly, Our armies will be victorious [over them].” (Sura 37, Verses 171–173)] “We will certainly help Our messengers and those who believe, in this world and on the day the witnesses take the stand, the day when their excuses will not benefit the evil-doers, and the condemnation and evil abode will be theirs.” (Sura 40, Verses 51–52)] The status of the Message grants its carrier a wider authority than that which exists between ruler and ruled, and even wider than that of a father over his children.

The Messenger may tackle the politics of his people as a king would, but the Prophet has a unique duty which he shares with no one, namely to communicate with the souls embedded in bodies, and to remove visual obstacles in order to look in upon the hearts embedded in chests. He has the right, nay, he must open up the hearts of his followers in order to reach the sources of love and hate, of good and evil, the passages of thought, the places of obsessions, the origins of intentions, the repository of morality. His is open work in general politics and concealed work in managing the relationship between partners, allies, master and slave, parents and children, and those relationships that only husband and wife are privy to. He has patronage over that which is manifest and that which is latent in life, as well as the management of the affairs of body and soul, and our worldly and heavenly relationships. He directs the politics of worldly living and that of the next world. The Message gives its carrier—as it is seen and beyond the way it is being seen—the right to communicate with each soul, care for it and manage its affairs, as well as the right to unlimited free conduct for every heart.

4

Readers should note that, in addition to the above, the Message of the Prophet, peace be upon him, specialized in a myriad of things that other messengers did not deal with. For he, peace be upon him, came with a call that God chose for him to rally the people to. And God ordained that he deliver it in its entirety, and that he preside over it in order to complete the call to religion, so that grace be established and conflict not arise, and so that all religion be to God. This Message grants its carrier the kind of extreme perfection that human nature seeks to achieve, the kind of psychological strength that is the end-limit of what God had fated for His chosen messengers, and enough of God's support that would be compatible with this great and general call. In this vein, God has said: “Great have been the blessings of God on you.” (Sura 4, Verse 113) “For you are always before Our eyes.” (Sura 52, Verse 48). And in the hadith [tradition of the Prophet]: “By God, God will never humiliate you.” 7 Reported by ‘A’isha [wife of the Prophet, circa 614–678] at the beginning of the Revelation. Recorded by the two Shaykhs. “For—without boasting of it—of all of Adam's children, I am my Lord's favorite.” 8 Reported by Anas [ibn Malik, a companion of the Prophet, 710–796], recorded by [Abu ‘Isa Muhammad] al- Tirmidhi [collector of hadith, died 892].

For this purpose, the authority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, was, because of his Message, a general authority; his orders to Muslims were obeyed; and his government was comprehensive. For nothing that the arm of government can reach is beyond the authority of the Prophet, peace be upon him, and any imaginable kind of leadership or authority is included in the Prophet's, peace be upon him, reign over the believers.

If it is reasoned that it is possible for a messenger's authority over his people to have gradations, then I would say that Muhammad, peace be upon him, should have the right to exercise the highest possible authority of all messengers, peace be upon them, command the highest possible obedience, have the strength of the prophecy, the authority of the Message, and the influence of the honest call, which God had fated to be raised over the call to wrongdoing and to remain on earth. The authority is sent by Heaven, from God, to him whose divine revelation is delivered by Heaven's angels. This sacred power, special to those worshipers of God whom He had raised as messengers, does not hold within it the meaning of kingship, nor does it resemble the power of kings, nor can the [authority of the] sultan of all sultans approximate it. This is the true leadership of the call to God and of the delivery of His Message, not kingly leadership. It is a message and a religion; it is a prophetic government not a government of sultans.

Once again we warn the reader not to confuse the two kinds of governments, and not to conflate the two kinds of trusteeships—the trusteeship of the Messenger, on account of his being a messenger, and the trusteeship of powerful kings. The Messenger's trusteeship over his people is a spiritual trusteeship whose origin is faith from the heart, and the heart's true submission followed by the submission of the body. On the other hand, the trusteeship of the ruler is a material one. It depends on subduing bodies without any connection to the heart. While the former is a trusteeship leading to God, the latter is one for managing life's concerns and populating the earth. While the former is religion, the latter is the world. The former is divine, the latter is human. The former is a religious leadership, the latter a political one—and there is much distance between politics and religion.

5

Having said this, we would like to draw readers’ attention to something else. There exist a number of words [dealing with our subject matter] that are used as synonyms, and others as antonyms. A disagreement or a difference in point of view arises as a result of such usage. In addition, this creates a confusion in judgment. Such words are “king,” “sultan,” “ruler,” “commander,” “caliph,” “state,” “kingdom,” “government,” “caliphate,” and so on. If we were to ask if the Prophet, peace be upon him, was a king or not, we would be asking if he, peace be upon him, had attributes other than being a messenger. Would it be correct to state that he indeed founded, or began to found, a political unity or not? Kingship in our use of it here—and there is no embarrassment faced by the reader who may wish to call him caliph, sultan, commander, or whatever pleases him—means a ruler over a people who have political unity and who have civilization. As for “government,” “state,” “sultanate,” or “kingdom,” we mean that which political scientists mean by the English words “kingship,” “state,” or “government” and the like.

We do not doubt that Islam constitutes religious unity or that Muslims form a unified group; or that the Prophet called for that political unity and had in fact achieved it before his death; and that he, peace be upon him, headed this religious unity as its only prayer leader (imam), its strong manager, its master whose orders are never questioned. And that in the interest of this Islamic unity, he, peace be upon him, struggled with all his might, and with the victorious support of God, conquered. He, peace be upon him, received the support of God's angels until he delivered his Message and completed his trusteeship. For he, peace be upon him, had the kind of authority over his people that no king before him or after him ever had. “The Prophet is closer to the faithful than they are themselves.” (Sura 33, Verse 6) “No believing men and women have any choice in a matter after God and His Messenger have decided it. Whoever disobeys God and His Messenger has clearly lost the way and gone astray.” (Sura 33, Verse 36)

And he who wants to term this religious unity a state and this authority of the Prophet, peace be upon him—which was an absolute authority—a kingship or caliphate, and the Prophet himself, peace be upon him, a king, caliph, or sultan, and so on, he is free to do so. For this is a matter of semantics which should not stop us here. What is important in what we have said is the meaning, and that we have specified to the reader with precision.

The crucial thing is to find out whether the leadership of the Prophet, peace be upon him, over his people was the leadership of the Message, or a kingly leadership. And whether the different aspects of his trusteeship that we observe at times in the biography [of the Prophet], peace be upon him, were aspects of a political state, or of a religious leadership. And whether this unity over which the Prophet, peace be upon him, presided was a unity of a state and a government or a religious unity proper, not a political one. And, finally, whether he, peace be upon him, was only a messenger or a king and a messenger.

6

The Glorious Qur'an supports the view that the Prophet, peace be upon him, had nothing to do with political kingship. Qur'anic verses are in agreement that his heavenly work did not go beyond delivering the Message, which is free of all meanings of authority. “He who obeys the Messenger obeys God; and if some turn away (remember) we have not sent you as a warden over them.” (Sura 4, Verse 80) “This (Book) has been called by your people a falsehood, though it is the truth. Say: ‘I am not a warden over you. A time is fixed in every prophecy; you will come to know in time.’” (Sura 6, Verse[s] 66–[67]) “So follow what is revealed to you by your Lord, for homage is due to no one but God, and turn away from idolators. Had He willed it, they would not have been idolators. We have not appointed you their guardian, nor are your their pleader.” (Sura 6, Verses 106–107)] “If your Lord had willed it, all the people on the earth would have come to believe, one and all.” (Sura 10, Verse 99) “Say: ‘O people, the truth has come to you from your Lord, so he who follows the right path does so for himself, and he who goes astray errs against himself, and I am not a guardian over you.’” (Sura 10, Verse 108) “We have not sent you as warden over them.” (Sura [17], Verse 54) “Have you considered he take his own lust as his god? Can you act as a trustee for him?” (Sura 25, Verse 43) “We have sent down this Book to you with the truth for all mankind. So, he who comes to guidance does so for himself, and he who goes astray does so for his own loss; on you does not lie their guardianship.” (Sura 39, Verse 41) “If they turn away (you are not responsible); we have not appointed you a warden over them. Your duty is to deliver the message.” (Sura 42, Verse 48) “We are cognisant of what they say; but it is not for you to compel them. So keep on reminding through the Qur'an whoever fears my warning.” (Sura 50, Verse 45) “Remind them: you are surely a reminder. You are not a warden over them, other than him who turns his back and denies, in which case he will be punished by God with the severest punishment.” (Sura 88, Verses 21–24)]

As the reader can see, the Qur'an clearly prohibits the Prophet, peace be upon him, from serving as a guardian of people, or their trustee, or a subduer . . . or a dominator. Moreover, he did not have the right to force people to become believers. In addition, he who is not a guardian or a dominator is not a king; for the prerequisite to kingship is absolute domination and might, which constitute an authority without limits. And he who was not a trustee over his people is also not a king. For God has said: “Muhammad is not the father of any of man among you, but messenger of God, and the seal of the prophets. God has knowledge of every thing.” (Sura 33, Verse 40)

The Qur'an is clear that Muhammad, peace be upon him, had no rights over his people except that of delivering the Message; and, had he, peace be upon him, been a king, he would have had the right to govern his people. For kings have other rights beside the Message, and other sources of legitimation beside the Message, and an influence other than its influence. “Tell them: ‘I am not master of my own gain or loss but as God may please. If had the knowledge of the Unknown, I would have enjoyed abundance of the good, and no evil would have touched me. I am only a bearer of warnings and bringer of happy news for those who believe.’” (Sura 7, Verse 188) “You may perhaps omit some of what has been revealed to you, and may be disheartened because they say: ‘Why was no treasure sent down to him, or an angel to accompany him?’ Yet you have been sent to warn alone, for God takes care of every thing.” (Sura 11, Verse 12) “But you are only a bearer of warnings, and a guide for every nation.” (Sura 13, Verse 7) “Say: ‘I am only a man like you, but it has been communicated to me that your Lord is one and single God, and that whosoever hopes to meet his Lord should do what is right, and not associate any one in the worship of his Lord.’” (Sura 18, Verse 110) “Tell them: ‘O people, it is my duty to warn you clearly.’” (Sura 22, Verse 49) “Only this has been revealed to me: that I am a distinct warner.” (Sura 38, Verse 70) “Say: ‘I am a man like you, (but) it is revealed to me that your God is one God.’” (Sura 41, Verse 6)

As readers have observed, the Qur'an is clear that Muhammad, peace be upon him, was but a Messenger preceded by other Messengers, and it is also clear that he, peace be upon him, had only to deliver God's Message to people and that he was not commissioned to do anything except deliver it. And it is not incumbent upon him [to ensure] that the people accept what he brought them, nor is it incumbent upon him to force them into believing in it. “If you turn away, remember, that the duty of Our Messenger is to give you a clear warning.” (Sura 5, Verse 92) “It is for the Prophet to convey the Message: God knows what you reveal and what you hide.” (Sura 5, Verse 99) “Have they not bethought themselves that their companion is mad? He is only a plain admonisher.” (Sura 7, Verse 184) “Are the people astonished that a man who is one of them was commanded by Us to warn them and to bring glad tidings to those who believe that they are on sound footing with their Lord?” (Sura 10, Verse 2) “Whether We allow you to see (the punishment) we have promised them, or end your life before (its execution), it is certainly for you to convey the Message; the reckoning is for Us to do.” (Sura 13, Verse 40) “Need messengers do anything except to convey the Message in clearest terms?” (Sura 16, Verse 35) “We have sent down this Book to you that you might explain to them what it is that they are differing about, and as guidance and a grace for those who believe.” (Sura 16, Verse 64) “If they still turn away, your duty is to warn them in clear terms.” (Sura 16, Verse 82) “We have sent you only to give good news and to warn.” (Sura [17], Verse 105) “So we have made this (Qur'an) easy in your tongue that you may give good news to those who take heed, and warn the people who are contentious.” (Sura 19, Verse 97)Ta Ha. 9 [Two letters of the Arabic alphabet. 28 of 114 suras of the Qur'an begin with letters.—Editor] We have not sent down the Qur'an to you that you should be burdened, but as an admonition for him who fears.” (Sura 20, Verses 1–3)] “The duty of the Messenger is to convey the Message clearly.” (Sura 24, Verse 54) “Yet we have sent you only to give good tidings and to warn.” (Sura 25, Verse 56) “(Say:) ‘I am commanded to worship the Lord of this land He has blessed, to Whom all things belong; and I am commanded to be one of those who submit, 10 [“Muslim” means “one who submits” to God.—Editor] and to recite the Qur'an.’ Whoever comes to guidance does so for himself; as for him who stays astray, tell him: ‘I am only a warner.’” (Sura 27, Verses 91–92)] “’But if you deny, then many a people have denied before you. The duty of the Messenger is to convey the Message clearly.’” (Sura 29, Verse 18) “O Prophet, We have sent you as a witness and a bearer of happy tidings and an admonisher, and to call (people) to (know) God by His leave, and as a lamp resplendent.” (Sura 33, Verses 45–46)] “We have sent you only as a bearer of good tidings and admonisher for all mankind; yet most people do not understand.” (Sura 34, Verse 28) “There is no madness about your companion. He is a warner against the dreadful affliction (that awaits).” (Sura 34, Verse 46) “You are only a bearer of warnings. We have sent you with the truth, to give glad tidings, and to warn. Never has there been a community to which an admonisher was not sent.” (Sura 35, Verses 23–24)] “(The messengers said:) ‘Our duty is to convey the Message clearly.’” (Sura 36, Verse 17) “Say: ‘I am only a warner, and there is no other god but God, the One, the Omnipotent.’” (Sura 38, Verse 65) “Say: ‘I am not a new Messenger to come, nor do I know what is to be done to me or you. I only follow what is revealed to me. My duty is only to warn you clearly.’” (Sura 46, Verse 9) “We have sent you as witness [of the truth] and harbinger of good news and a warner.” (Sura 48, Verse 8) “Obey God and the Prophet, and beware. If you turn away, remember, that the duty of Our Messenger is to give you a clear warning.” (Sura 5, Verse 92) “Say: ‘God alone has knowledge. My duty is only to warn you clearly.’” (Sura 67, Verse 26) “Say: ‘I call on my Lord alone and I do not associate any one with Him.’ Say: ‘Neither is your loss within my power nor bringing you to guidance.’ Say: ‘No one can save me from God, nor can I find a place of refuge apart from Him, unless I convey from God and deliver His Message.’” (Sura 72, Verses 20–23)]

7

If we were to go beyond God's Book to the sunna [practice] of the Prophet, peace be upon him, we would find the matter even clearer, and the argument more insistent:

One of the Prophet's biographers 11 The Biography of the Prophet, by Ahmad bin Zayni Dahlan, who died in the year 1304 of the hijra [1923 A.D.]. From the book entitled Iktifa’ al-qanu‘ bima huwa matbu‘ [The Contentment of the Satisfied with What Is Printed]. narrates the story of a man who came upon the Prophet, peace be upon him, to take care of a matter. As he stood before him, an intense shiver and fear overtook him. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Be calm, for I am no king nor a subduer, for I am the son of a woman of Quraysh who used to eat dried meat in Mecca.” And it has been said in the hadith that when the Prophet was given the choice by the angel Israfil of being a king-prophet or a worshipping prophet, the Prophet, peace be upon him, looked up to [the angel] Gabriel, peace be upon him, as his consultant. Gabriel looked down to the ground, indicating humility. And as the story goes, Gabriel indicated for him to be humble. So the Prophet said: “A worshipping prophet.” As is evident, this makes it very clear that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was not a king, and did not seek kingship, nor did he, peace be upon him, desire it.

Look between the two covers of the Qur'an for open or latent evidence supporting those who think that the Islamic religion has a political character, and then look for evidence, as hard as you can, among the hadiths of the Prophet, peace be upon him—these pure sources of religion which are within your hands, close to you. If you were to look in them for evidence or anything resembling it, you will find no proof, only guesses, and guessing does not replace Truth.

8

Islam is a religious call to God and is a school of thought, from among many such schools, which seeks to reform a certain type of people, guiding them to what will render them closer to God, may He be elevated, and opening up the path to everlasting happiness, which God had prepared for His righteous worshipers. [Islam] is a religious unity that God sought as a bond linking all people, and with which he wanted to surround all the regions of the earth.

It is a pure sacred call to the people of this world, the red [Arabs] and the black [Africans] among them, that they be beholden to one God, that they be one nation worshipping one God, and that they be brothers in their worship of Him. It is a call to the highest example of worldly peace. That it be adopted with the perfection befitting it [the world]. It is a call to the happiness that God prepared for the world; for this is the mercy of Heaven and Earth and God's bounty for this world. Calling on the world to be a fraternity in religion is a reasonable call. There is in the nature of human beings a readiness to achieve it.

Indeed God, may He be elevated, has pledged that this call be heeded. “Think not that God would go back on His promise.” (Sura 14, Verse 47) “God has promised to make those of you who believe and do right, leaders in the land, as He made those before them, and will establish their faith which He has chosen for them, and change their fear into security. They will worship Me and not associate any one with Me. But those who disbelieve after this will be reprobates.” (Sura 24, Verse 55) “It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the true faith, so that He may exalt it over every other creed. God is sufficient as a witness.” (Sura 48, Verse 28) “Who is more unjust than he who invents a lie against God when he is called to submit? God does not show the evil-doers the way. They want to extinguish the light of God by uttering blasphemies. But God wills to perfect His light, however the disbelievers may dislike it. It is He who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the true way to raise it above all faiths, however the idolators may dislike it.” (Sura 61, Verses 7–9)]

It is reasonable to say that the world could adopt one religion and that all human beings could be organized into one religious union. However, for the entire world to adopt one government and to be grouped in a shared political union would be foreign to human nature and have nothing to do with God's will. For this is a worldly aim, and God, may He be elevated, has rendered it a matter to be resolved by our minds, and has left people free to manage it in the manner that their minds, knowledge, interests, desires, and tendencies would guide them. God's wisdom in this aims at maintaining differences among people. “But if your Lord had pleased, He could have made all human beings into one community (umma). But they would still have differed from one another, except those on whom your Lord had mercy.” (Sura 11, Verses 118–119)] In addition, in order that competition continue among people so that [the] population [of the earth] would be achieved. “If God did not make people deter one another, this earth would indeed be depraved. But gracious is God to the people of the world.” (Sura 2, Verse 251) And, so that the Book's purpose be achieved and God's will be done.

This is one of the worldly concerns on which the Prophet, peace be upon him, had denied himself the right to pass judgment or arbitration. For he, peace be upon him, stated that “you are more knowledgeable of your worldly concerns.” This is a worldly concern; and the world from beginning to end, and all that it encompasses of concerns and goals, is too trivial for God to have it managed by anything beside the minds He endowed us with, and what He had placed within us of sentiments and desires, and what He had taught us of names and of what things are called; all this is too trivial for God to raise a Messenger to deal with, and it is too trivial for God's Messengers to be concerned with and occupy themselves in managing it.

9

The reader should not be alarmed by what he may occasionally observe in the biography of the Prophet, peace be upon him, which may seem to him like government work, as if it had the appearance of kingship and statehood. If the reader were to scrutinize it, he would not find it so. Rather, it was only a means that the Prophet, peace be upon him, would seek for the strengthening of his religion, in support of the call. And it is not strange that jihad [religious struggle] is one such means. It is a violent and tough way, but who knows, evil may be necessary at times for good to be achieved. Perhaps, destruction becomes imperative in order that construction take place.

They have said that it [jihad] is not free of problems, and we said that this is God's way in His creation. For the struggle between good and evil and between good thinking and evil thinking will persist in this world until God puts a stop to it. If God were to bring forth the springtime upon an arid land in order to revive what is dead in it, to benefit from its harvest and to grow its plants, would its worth be diminished if it came upon an obstacle in its way and overstepped it, or if it came upon a house with strong foundations and destroyed it? 12 Risalat al-tawhid [Treatise on Unity], by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh [1849–1905], pp. 122–123.

They said: Have you conquered! and God's messengers were sent not to kill a soul, nor did they come to murder anyone. Ignorance and leading astray, dreams and inanities, for you have conquered with the sword what you had first conquered with the pen. When those of good ilk followed you on their own, [it was left to] the sword to take care of common and ignorant people. If you confront evil with good, you will tire of the confrontation, But if you confront it with evil, you shall vanquish it. For you have taught them all that they did not know Including fighting and what it encompasses of morality. 13 Ahmad Bik Shawqi [1868–1932].

10

From this, the reader can see that it is not only the Qur'an which prohibits us from thinking that the Prophet, peace be upon him, was calling upon us, along with his religious Message, to found a political state. Nor is it only the sunna which also prohibits us from doing so. Rather, along with the Book and the sunna comes the wisdom of reason and what the meaning of the Message and its nature reveal. For the trusteeship of Muhammad, peace be upon him, over the believers is the trusteeship of the Message, untainted by anything that has to do with government.

Away with it, for there was no government, no state, and nothing of the tendencies to politics, nor of the aims of kings and commanders.

Perhaps, the reader has by now been guided to what he had questioned about the lack of any aspect of government or the aims of a state during the prophetic epoch. The reader now knows that there was no governmental organization, nor were there trustees or judges, a seat of government, and so on. Hopefully, the darkness of this dilemma which the reader faced has by now been transformed into light, and fire has been transformed into coolness and peace of mind.

Bibliography references:

1. Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (London: Oxford University Press, 1962), pp. 184–192.

3. Eric Davis, “‘Abd al-Raziq, ‘Ali,” in John L. Esposito, editor, The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), volume 1, pp. 5, 7.

4. John J. Donohue and John L. Esposito, editors, Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 29–37.

Notes:

2. Georges C. Anawati, “Un Plaidayer pour un Islam éclairé (mustanir): Le Livre du Juge Mohammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi, Al-Islam al-siyasi (L’Islam politique)” (French: A Plea for an Enlightened [Mustanir] Islam: The Book of Judge Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi, Al-Islam al-siyasi [Political Islam]), Mideo, volume 19, 1989, pp. 124–125.

5. As the two Shaykhs [Muslim ibn al-Hajjaj, circa 821–875, and Muhammad ibn Isma‘il Bukhari, 810–870] have narrated: “Thus prophets are sent from the best families of their clans . . .” which is part of a long hadith [tradition of the Prophet]. See Taysir al-wusul ila al-jami‘ al-usul [The Facilitation of Arriving at the Compendium of Fundamentals, by ‘Abd al-Rahman Ibn al-Dayba’ (1461–1537)], part 3, p. 320.

6. [Translations of Qur'anic verses are taken, with modifications, from Al-Qur'an: A Contemporary Translation, translated by Ahmed Ali, revised definitive edition (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1988).—Editor]

7. Reported by ‘A’isha [wife of the Prophet, circa 614–678] at the beginning of the Revelation. Recorded by the two Shaykhs.

8. Reported by Anas [ibn Malik, a companion of the Prophet, 710–796], recorded by [Abu ‘Isa Muhammad] al- Tirmidhi [collector of hadith, died 892].

9. [Two letters of the Arabic alphabet. 28 of 114 suras of the Qur'an begin with letters.—Editor]

10. [“Muslim” means “one who submits” to God.—Editor]

11. The Biography of the Prophet, by Ahmad bin Zayni Dahlan, who died in the year 1304 of the hijra [1923 A.D.]. From the book entitled Iktifa’ al-qanu‘ bima huwa matbu‘ [The Contentment of the Satisfied with What Is Printed].

12. Risalat al-tawhid [Treatise on Unity], by Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abduh [1849–1905], pp. 122–123.

13. Ahmad Bik Shawqi [1868–1932].

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