Article in Crescent International (September 16-31, 1983) on the Muslim Institute World Seminar on ‘State and Politics in Islam’ . Reprinted in Issues in the Islamic movement, vol. 4, 1983-84 (1403-04), pp. 39-41. Writer unknown.
Ulama agree on all major issues in Muslim political thought
An unequivocal reassertion of the ‘indivisible unity of religion and politics’ and a deep commitment ‘to eliminate nationalism in all its shapes and forms, in particular the nation-States’ was made by a world seminar of ulama, scholars, journalists, students and Islamic workers held in London last month.
The theme of the seminar, arranged by the Muslim Institute of London, was ‘State and Politics in Islam’. This is the first occasion in all history that influential opinion from all parts of the world and from all schools of thought in Islam has come together to discuss a range of ideas, concepts and teachings of the Qur‘an and the Sunnah over which the Ummah is alleged to be deeply divided.
In particular, Sunni and Shi’i scholars of the highest rank sat together for four days and not a single cross word or divergence of opinion was expressed. When Sunni scholars talked of the khilafah as the desired political goal of the Ummah, the Shi’i ulama nodded in agreement. When Shi’i scholars talked of the imamah, the Sunni ulama listened with respect and understanding.
What emerged from the seminar was a clear message to the Ummah that its ulama and scholars of all persuasions are united at the highest level and on all vital issues of the day.
The seminar was also the first modern assembly of ulama and scholars to move away from broad platitudes and the reassertion of abstract fundamentals. When the seminar’s final declaration asserted that ‘all authority belongs to Allah’, in the same breath it spelled out what this meant: that ‘any Muslim State that makes itself subservient to a power or ideology outside Islam is in effect in revolt against the rule of Allah’. When the seminar declared its belief in the ‘indivisible unity’ of ‘deen and politics’, it also added that ‘any formulation of Islam on the basis of the separation of religion and politics will not be acceptable to the Ummah’.
The seminar was equally incisive in its analysis of the malady that has overtaken recent Islamic movements. The assembled scholars declared that ‘the political party framework… is divisive of the society and does not suit the Ummah’. After this seminar the ‘Islamic parties’ will have to re-examine their organization and behaviour. In the same mood the seminar said that jihad must be ‘an essential part of the modern Islamic movement’.
When it came to drafting the ‘political objectives of the Ummah’, the seminar was equally clear, precise and to the point. According to the ulama and scholars who assembled in London, the political objectives of the Ummah are:
- to eliminate all authority other than Allah and His Prophet;
- to eliminate nationalism in all its shapes and forms, in particular the nation-States;
- to unite all Islamic movements into a single global Islamic movement to establish the Islamic State;
- to reconstruct the world of [slam into a system of Islamic States linked together by such institutions as are necessary to express the unity of the Ummah;
- to eliminate all political, economic, social, cultural and philosophical influences of the western civilization that have penetrated the world of Islam;
- to re-establish a dominant and global Islamic civilization based on the concept of tawheed;
- to create the necessary institutions for the pursuit of al-amr bil ma’ruf wa al-nahy ’an al-munkar;
- to establish ’adl (justice) in all human relationships levels throughout the world.
In order to realise these objectives, it was recommended that an independent forum of ulama and Muslim intellectuals be established to coordinate and guide the struggle of the Islamic movement in all parts of the world. The Muslim Institute was charged with the responsibility of drawing up a working paper to implement this recommendation and to circulate it for discussion. The Muslim Institute was also asked to examine the possibility of publishing a journal of Muslim political thought.
Crescent International, September 16-30, 1983