In his second article on the MI seminar on ‘State and Politics in Islam’, Dr Kalim Siddiqui discusses the Consensus reached and some of the issues raised. Published in Crescent International, September 16-30, 1983, and reprinted in Issues in the Islamic movement, vol. 4, 1983-84 (1403-04), pp. 67-70.
The Revolution and the new political thought
By Kalim Siddiqui
The seminar on State and Politics in Islam held in London in August may also be viewed in relation to the Muslim Institute’s position vis-a-vis the Islamic Revolution in Iran. The Institute regards the Islamic Revolution as the first victory of Islam over kufr in modern times. In particular, it is the first defeat of the colonialists, the imperialists, the capitalists, the communists, the nationalists, the superpowers, and indeed of the western civilization as a whole at the hands of Islam The Islamic State that has emerged from the Islamic Revolution is as close an approximation of the ideal as it was possible to achieve in the particular circumstances of Iran and the history of the area. We also regard the leadership of Imam Khomeini as a manifestation of the highest standards of Islamic leadership. The future of the Islamic movement will depend on how closely Muslims elsewhere are able to emulate and repeat the achievements of the Islamic Revolution in Iran.
However, the seminar was about State and Politics in Islam. A world seminar on the Islamic Revolution in Iran is now overdue and should be held as soon as possible. I was anxious that the seminar on State and Politics in Islam should reach its conclusion directly from the original sources of Islam and not through an Islamic event in contemporary history. Nevertheless, when the drafting committee appointed by the seminar wrote out the ‘Basic Concepts’ on which there was general Consensus in the seminar, these could just as easily have been derived from a study and examination of the Islamic Revolution. The fact that the basic concepts derived by scholars from the original sources of Islam and from the Islamic Revolution were identical is proof, if proof were needed, of the truly Islamic nature of the Revolution. The following are the five ‘Basic Concepts’ on which the seminar reached a consensus. In my submission these basic concepts are common to Islam as a revealed body of knowledge and to the Islamic Revolution as a practical manifestation of Islam.
1. All authority belongs to Allah and any Muslim State that makes itself subservient to a power or ideology outside Islam is in effect in revolt against the rule of Allah;
2. Deen and politics form an indivisible unity and any formulation of Islam on the basis of the separation of religion and politics is not acceptable to the Ummah;
3. The political role of Islam and kufr are two opposite trends in history, and neither has anything in common with the other;
4. The political party framework as found in western ‘democracies’ is divisive of the society and therefore does not suit the Ummah;
5. Jihad is an essential obligation on every Muslim at all times and should become an essential part of the modern Islamic movement.
When the drafting committee came to write the ‘political objectives of the Ummah’, we were aware of our grave responsibility. As far as I knew no body of scholars had ever before attempted to formulate a set of ‘political objectives’ for the entire Ummah. Of the eight political objectives we were able to identify and formulate, only three caused prolonged discussion and a degree of difference of opinion which necessitated the inclusion of more than one view. The eight objectives formulated were as follows:
1. To eliminate all authority other than Allah and His Prophet;
2. To eliminate nationalism in all its shapes and forms, in particular the ‘nation-States’;
3. To unite all Islamic movements into a single global Islamic movement to establish the Islamic State;
4. To reconstruct the world of Islam into a system of Islamic States linked together by such institutions as are necessary to express the unity of the Ummah;
5. To eliminate all political, economic, social, cultural and philosophical influences of the western civilization that have penetrated the world of Islam;
6. To re-establish a dominant and global Islamic civilization based on the concept of tawheed;
7. To create the necessary institutions for the pursuit of al-amr bil ma’ruf wa al nahy ’an al-munkar;
8. To establish ’adl (justice) in all human relationships at all levels throughout the world.
The third objective clearly implies the establishment of a single global Islamic State. whereas the fourth visualizes a number of Islamic States ‘linked together by such institutions as are necessary to express the unity of the Ummah’. The seminar had not considered the question of leadership, which was also related to the question of one global Islamic State or several States. We realized that it would be unwise to expect a consensus from the seminar on this issue. A number of speakers during the four days had talked of khilafah and imamah. There appeared to be a silent consensus in the seminar to concentrate and expand the vast areas of agreement and to avoid all other areas. The drafting committee sensed this and reflected it. It is clear that the apparent contradiction between objectives 3 and 4 will have to be resolved eventually.
The fifth objective also caused some discussion. Why, it was asked, commit to eliminate the influences of the western civilization only? Why not all alien influences, such as those of Hinduism? The answer is that politically the western civilization is the oppressive civilization all over the world. Hinduism was oppressive only in a local environment. Of course, all regional alien influences must also be eliminated, but globally we must concentrate on the western civilization. The question was also related to the sixth objective, which is to establish a dominant and global Islamic civilization. At present it is the western civilization which in political terms is globally dominant. The Islamic civilization of the future, if it is to be dominant, will have to replace the western civilization in that role. A head-on clash between these two civilizations is inevitable. This point, too, is amply demonstrated by the West’s reaction to the Islamic Revolution, and the continued hostility of the west and its local agents to the Islamic State of Iran.
I have always held the view that once an Islamic State is established it must by definition become the centre of allegiance for all Muslims. In particular the Islamic State of Iran must act as the leading edge of the Islamic movement. These two factors, especially the services of the Islamic State to the Ummah, will lead to the emergence of an active partnership between the State and the global Islamic movement. This view was widely shared at the seminar and it was reflected in the recommendations, which included (a) that ‘all Islamic groups and movements should establish close relationship with the Islamic State of Iran and benefit from the experiences of the Islamic Revolution’; and (b) that ‘the Islamic State of Iran should seek active collaboration with all Islamic groups and movements’.
I was greatly pained to learn later that a senior lrani ‘diplomat’ had remarked that this amounted to ‘interference in the internal affairs of other countries’. The fact of the matter is that the Islamic State of Iran must be fully integrated with the Ummah and cannot remain isolated from Muslims outside its physical boundaries.
During the seminar an Arab scholar raised a point which he said was ‘important to the Arabs’. I insisted that ‘anything that is important to the Arabs only does not properly belong to Islam’. At this, cries of Allahu Akbar went up from all parts of the seminar.
The seminar clearly endorsed the Islamic Revolution as the desired goal of all Muslim societies and the elimination of Muslim nation-States as a prerequisite for the emergence of other Islamic States.
A single seminar, first of its kind, could hardly achieve more.
Crescent International, September 16-30, 1983.