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Islam & The State: A Response To Javed Ahmad Ghamidi, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Islam And The State: A Response To Javed Ahmed Ghamidi, By Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani

Translated by: Waqar Akbar Cheema – Headings By: Umar Anwar Badakhshani

Introduction: It is a great irony of this age that modern scholarship has started advocating secular views In the name of religion. Especially they want to get rid of the very basis of Pakistan, The Two-Nation theory. Recently Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani has written a response to Mr Ghamidi’s article “Islami riyasat: Aik Jawabi bayniah” (Islamic State -A counter Narrative). It is, in fact, a call to the political leaders and ruling elite to curb this kind of assertions and effort of insertion of secular ideas when Pakistan is passing through its most critical time of its history.

The foundation & ideology of Pakistan

The foundation of the Pakistan inovement in pre-partition India was the ideology of Muslim nationalism. In response to the British and the Hindus who considered all Indians as one nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah vociferously propagated the Two Nation Theory, that there are two nations in India namely, Muslims and Hindus. Muslim thinkers and religious scholars (1) fully supported this idea. The memories of the chanting of the slogan “Pakistan ka Matlab Kia? La Ilaha llla Allah!” (What does Pakistan stand for? There is no God but Allah!) are still fresh in my mind. Eventually the Muslim majority responded to the call of the Quaid and as a result of the unforgettable sacrifices the dream of Pakistan was realized.

The Ideological basis of the Constitution of Pakistan & its distinguishing feature

Though the foundation of the idea was already clear yet the first Constituent Assembly passed the Objectives Resolution which set the direction of the state. It determined that sovereignty belongs to Allah and the eIected representatives shall exercise their rights in accordance with the Qur’an and Sunnah. With slight variation of words this resolution has been a part of all constitutions of the country throughout its history (1954, 1956, 1962, and 1973) and is still a part of the constitution of which we can be rightfully proud.

After discussions for over a quarter of the century the entire nation agreed to it and when the constitution was framed it included the article, “All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Holy Quran and Sunnah, … , and no law shall be enacted which is repugnant to such Injunctions.”(Article 227). The now in force constitution of 1973 was approved by the consensus of all the political and religious parties of the time and even today all the (mainstream) political and religious parties seek to protect it. It has been further supported by the recent historical agreement between the government and the opposition. Apex courts have also declared it a part of the essential underlying spirit of the constitution.

A “narrative on religion” or An “advocacy of secularism”

Recently, however, some voices are again being heard that in order to rid the country of terrorism it should be secularized. In other words the call is being made to discard all the ideological, political and practical efforts to set the direction of the state and to make altogether a new start.

At this critical juncture when all the segments of the society have resolved to defeat the menace of terrorism, questioning the very foundations of the state and to call for changing the agreed upon outlook of the state is akin to opening a Pandora’s Box, and even the thoughts of ensuing troubles on this road gives one the goose bumps.

A reflection of the secularist agenda has come through a “counter narrative” in the name of religion. It was published in Daily “Jang” on January 22, 2015 under the title, “Islam aur Riyasat: Aik jawabi bayaniah” (Islam and the State: A Counter Narrative.) The author (Mr. Javed Ahmed Ghamidi) [2] has termed his thoughts as a “narrative on religion” instead of “advocacy of secularism.”

The objective of the narrative, in the words of the author; is that not advocacy of secularism but only a counter narrative on religion can bring the positive change. Despite repeated readings the points of the narrative do not cease to appear weird to me and despite thinking of a number of possible interpretations I cannot resolve the internal contradictions among these points.

As such there are a number of points in the article that need to be commented upon; however, in brief some of the mutually contradicting points and their repercussions need to be highlighted. It is important because not only that these points are against the very idea on which Pakistan was created, but they also tend to call for such a vague and loose system that has no conceivable practicability.

State and religion

His first point is, “it is baseless to think that a state also has a religion and there is a need to Islamize it through an objectives resolution and that it must be constitutionally bound to not make any law repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah.” The evident meanings of this assertion are that the Objectives Resolutions which is part of the constitution and article 227 is not just unnecessary; it is actually baseless.

The basic idea of the Objectives Resolution is the sovereignty of Allah. To call the Objectives Resolution unnecessary and baseless is nothing short of declaring the state recognition of the sovereignty of Allah is baseless.

This is the reality of the narrative presented as an alternative to “advocacy of secularism.” Firstly, it is difficult to understand the difference between ‘advocacy of secularism’ and this ‘religious narrative’? Secularism stands for divorcing the business of the state from religion as religion, it contends, is a private concern of an individual. Secularism also says there should be no religious obligation on the legislature and, therefore, the Objectives Resolution was misplaced. Mr. Ghamidi has said the very same things. Does mere change of label change the reality of the contention as well?

Further, under point 8 Mr. Ghamidi himself writes that the Qur’anic verse, “The affairs of the Muslims are run on the basis of their mutual consultation” (42:38) requires establishment of a parliament and “neither scholars nor the judiciary is above the parliament. The Quranic principle of “The affairs of the Muslims are run on the basis of their mutual consultation,” (42:38) binds every individual and every institution to practically submit to the decisions of the parliament even though they may differ with them. It is only this way which is justified in setting up the rule of Islam and to run it. If any other way is adopted to set up this rule, then it will be illegal.” Together these two points mean the parliament shall be established according to the Qur’anic principle of consultation but once it is established it cannot be bound to abide by Quran and Sunnah, yet all the individuals and institutions can be bound to submit to the decisions of the parliament.

First question is, if the state has no religion and its conduct cannot be bound by Quran and Sunnah on what basis then is the Qur’anic principle of consultation binding upon it? How can it be the ‘only way to set up the rule in Islam’ when the state has nothing to do with religion in the first place? Secondly, if following the lead of Western countries the parliament passes a law permitting same-sex marriages; will this Qur’anic principle still bind every individual and institution to submit to the parliament’s decision though they may differ? If it does not bind them, what’s the reason for it as the parliament is not bound by the limits set by Quran and Sunnah.

Demand for implementation of Sharia orders and the State

In point 9 he says, “that among the positive directives of religion, a collective communal Muslim setup can, if it desires, legally require from, them only to offer the prayer and pay zakat.” By “collective communal setup” perhaps he means the state. If so, then does it mean state can forcibly demand offering prayers and paying zakat and punish people for non-compliance? If legally binding the people to offer prayers is indeed a Qur’anic instruction as Mr. Ghamidi has stated, the condition “if it desires” practically means it is a discretion of the state to follow Qur’anic instruction or not. Against this what will be the significance of the verse, “It is not open for a believing man or a believing woman, once Allah and His messenger have decided a thing, that they should have a choice about their matter;” (33:36)?

The issue of supreme authority in islamic state

In his point 9 (i) related to social rulings Mr. Ghamidi says, “.Without their consent the state shall not impose any tax on the people other than zakat. If a dispute arises in their personal affairs like marriage, divorce, distribution of inheritance and other similar matters, then it shall be decided in accordance with the Islamic Shariah.” This again raises multiple questions;

1) When the state has no religion and it is under no obligation to legislate in the light of Qur’an and Sunnah, how could the judiciary be bound to decide these matters according to shariah? If the parliament legislated on such a matter without any regard for shariah why should it not be binding to submit to it as stated by Mr. Ghamidi under his point 8?

2) When it is said, “Without their consent the state shall not impose any tax on the people other than zakat,” naturally the consent of the people means the consent of their representative parliament. This effectively means for any other tax, consent of the parliament is required but it is not required to impose zakat. If this was the intended meaning, how will a tax be imposed without the legislative sanction of the parliament (given that state has no religion)? What will be the sanction for it? If the sanction for it is Qur’an then it will practically mean Qur’an is superior to the parliament. What then will become of the ‘state shall have no religion’ principle?

Thereafter, he says, “If a Muslim is guilty of murder, theft, fornication, falsely accusing someone of fornication (qadhf) or spreading anarchy and disorder in the land and a court is fully satisfied that he does not deserve any leniency arising from his personal, familial and social circumstances, then those punishments shall be meted out to him which the Almighty has prescribed in His Book for those who have whole-heartedly accepted the call of Islam.”

This again leads to two questions:

3) Is it mandatory for the parliament and the government to establish these penalties on such Muslims? If it is mandatory as per the Qur’anic instructions, how could the parliament be bound to legislate according to Qur’anic ruling when it is not bound to follow Qur’an and Sunnah? Why could it not legislate some other penalties or make any of these acts (like consensual sex) permissible?

4) When these penalties are to be established for the Qur’anic sanction, does the Qur’an limit them only to Muslims who accept Islam with clarity of mind and exempt the thieves, murderers and the mischievous from amongst the non-Muslims?

The basis of Nationhood in Islam

In his narrative Mr. Ghamldi has also stated, “The basis of nationhood in Islam is not Islam itself, as is generally understood. At no place in the Quran and Hadith has it been said that Muslims are one nation or they must become one nation.” This is the same of Two Nation Theory on which Quaid-e-Azam based his case for Pakistan. It is respectfully submitted that the issue is not whether Muslims have been referred to as one nation in the literal or general sense of the word. The issue actually is whether it is right to distinguish Muslims from non-Muslims as a separate political and social entity and to make the demand for separate land for them on this basis?[3]

In the literal sense the Prophets addressed their specific “nations” but none of them established a political unity on this basis and if they established a state they did not do it on the basis of race or color rather they established it on the basis of Islam. This is what happened in the case of rule of Prophets Musa, Dawud and Suleman (peace be upon them all) and also in the case of the Last Messenger of Allah’s rule in Madina. However, it guaranteed all civil and religious rights to the non-Musliins citizen.

The Political System of Islamic State

Under his point 2 Mr. Ghamidi has stated that, “Neither is khilafah a religious term nor its establishment at the global level a directive of Islam.” (Against this claim consider the fact that) Allah says in the narrative about Adam, “I am going to create a khalifah on the earth!” (Qur’an 2:30) Regarding Dawud (pbuh) it is said in Qur’an, “We have made you a khalifah on earth” (Qur’an 38:26). Moreover at another place it is said, “Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good deeds that He will certainly make them (His) khalifah in the land, as He made those before them, and will certainly establish for them their religion which He has chosen for them, and will certainly give them peace in place of fear in which they were before; (provided that) they worship Me, ascribing no partner to Me.” (Qur’an 24:55) ·

Further, there are numerous hadith reports in which the head of Islamic government has been referred to as “khalifah” and his rule has be termed as “khilafah.” For such statements in the Qur’an and hadith Islamic literature is replete with term. The genius scholar of the philosophy of history Ibne Khaldun defining khilafah writes; “The Khilafah means to cause the masses to act as required by religious insight into their interests in the other world as well as in this world. (The worldly interests) have bearing upon (the interests in the other world),” (Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldun vol.3 p.189) With all these statements of the Qur’an and hadith and the term’s being well known to the degree of tawatur I do not have appropriate words to comment on the claim that it is not a religious term.

Mr. Ghamidi claims his “narrative on religion” can rectify the prevailing situation and the current problem of terrorism. This is tantamount to say that scraping the current constitution and reformulating it based on his mutually contradicting points will keep the terrorists from their activities or it will automatically put them to end. In fact the truth is quite to the contrary. Alhamdulillah, except for some partial issues there is nothing wrong with our constitution. The problem, however, is that its core principles are not being truly followed. The fundamental rights protected in the constitution are not available to the people. The policy guidelines have not been followed even once. Provinces have not got the rights they were supposed to. People face problems at every step. They face corruption and injustice. Economic disparity is huge. Public offices offer no facilitation and people have no access to justice.

Though it is stated in the constitution that no law repugnant to Qur’an and Sunnah shall be enacted and for this the constitution provides a mechanism as well which, if duly followed, can very well check sectarianism. But there is no serious effort to put it into action. Collectively the whole situation is making people desperate and providing the mischievous an opportunity to make propaganda that these reforms cannot be made peacefully. That the governments do not give due attention to demands made in a peaceful, advisory and consultative manner has made people to believe that a demand will attract attention only if it is made through strikes or violence the extreme form of which is taking up arms against the state.

Enemies of the country are fanning such thoughts and on the same pretext emotion driven youth is being misguided. Therefore, the issue is not about some fundamental change in the constitution. It is about truly acting upon it. If the constitution is seriously and sincerely followed, people find justice according to Islamic ideals, Islam’s justice and laws are enforced in their true spirit and the criminals are punished after fulfilling the due requirements of the law, these militant movements will die down by themselves. For God’s sake instead of creating more chaos get together to work in this direction.

Mr. Ghamidi’s article was published in January 22nd issue of Daily “Jang”. Dr. Shehzad Saleem’s translation of the same was published in January 23rd in Daily “The News”. I have used Dr. Saleem’s translation with slight changes at some places. Mufti TaqiUsmani’s reply was published in Daily “Jang” on January 27th.
(1) That religious scholars (mostly from Jami’at Ulema-e-Hind) opposed partition is much highlighted these days; however, the reality is many of them fully supported the cause of Pakistan. Among the well-known religious scholars who supported the cause of partition were Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanwi, Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and Maulana Zafar Ahmad Usmani. Maulana Zafar Ahmad Usmani in his famous work on proofs of fiqh in ‘Ila al-Sunan, included a complete chapter refuting the idea of composite nationalism and upholding the Two Nation Theory.
(2) Mufti Taqi Usmani has not explicitly mentioned the name of Mr. Ghamidi in his original write up. I have, however, used it for clarity.
(3) Like Mufti Usmani, Allama Muhammad, Iqbal argues the same way against Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madni~s argument on similar lines. See Iqbal’s paper “Jughrafiyai :Hudood aur Musalman” (Muslims and the Geographical Boundaries) (1938), included in Syed ‘Abdul Wahid Mu’ini, Maqalat-e-lqbal, (Lahore: Al-Qamar Enterprises, 2011) 262-279

To know about another misleading opinion of Javed Ahmad Ghamidi Click on these Links:

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