Framework of Islamic Rule: An Analysis of Constitution of Medina
The constitution of Medina established sovereign Islamic rule through God (Quran) and Prophet (Sunnah). It is not a secular piece of legislation but a religious one, an Islamic one. This has shown how Islam as a religion can be inclusive and tolerant. It was formed in a time of pagan chaos and disorganization of Arabia; A model of law and order. It has essentially discussed morality, war, economy, religious freedom, criminal laws, immigration and family issue.
One of the first multi-cultural constitution is the constitution of Medina drafted by Prophet Muhammad pbuh. It is hard to say whether Medina was a Muslim majority country when Prophet initially arrived. The Islamic rule of Prophet was achieved through transfer of governing power from elders of Medina to the Prophet pbuh. This transfer of ownership was based on justice and righteousness, equity and good for the community. It may be that the first Islamic state was not a Muslim majority state eventually all of Arabia will become Muslim by God's grace and People’s acceptance of Islam.
When we Muslims talk of tolerance we need to understand the layers of tolerance. There is the layer of individual tolerance and then there is the layer of public political tolerance and group tolerance. A legal system won't forgive and forget just because someone murdered for first time or traded drug or ran prostitution ring for first time or for that matter spread anti Islam propaganda for first time. Based on the circumstances of one's evil actions reduced sentence or even full pardon may be given but this is not the norm but exception.
We see this also during the lifetime of Prophet pbuh who acted on three levels: Ruler, Judge and a Prophet. The constitution of Medina establishes laws and protocols of maintaining peace and order through Islam as sovereign, among Muslims while giving protection to all innocent people, immigrants and prohibiting collective judgement and punishment. In other words, Prophet as the Islamic ruler with Islamic governance-maintained peace, order and dispensed justice thereby defining the limit and standards of tolerance and freedom. He kept the unity and polity of Muslims and non-Muslims.
Freedom and tolerance are thus defined and demarcated by the sovereignty of Islamic system which translates to Shariah law, as only God (Quran) and Prophet (Sunnah) were the ultimate authority without restriction. We can make a statement such as, “in an Islamic governance freedom of minorities apart from freedom in their religions, do not mean aggression against Islamic laws. In fact, most of the religious freedoms of other religions under Islamic rule are allowed and tolerated. It is rather the pervert freedom that Islam stand against and in fact most of major religions too due to their source from God. Any freedom which aggresses on moral health of society is rejected. In another categorized way, we can say that in Islamic rule tolerance and freedom are not defined or determined by race and religion, rather they are determined by the five objectives of Islamic law: a) protection of religion Islam b) protection of mind and reason c) protection of wealth and honor d) protection of lineage e) protection of life
We stated the constitution of Medina established the sovereignty of Islamic system or rule through transfer of power to Prophet the Islamic ruler, irrespective of whether Muslims were majority or not. The power structure of first Islamic state thus establishes two principles of Islamic rule. First, power can be transferred from current rule to Islamic rule and second, power can be assigned to Islamic rule through the consultation of the elders (call it meritocracy). Islamic rule is thus established in these two ways. Third way is through war of defense as had happened through prophetic wars. The twelve Imams of Islam have been assigned by Prophet so their power is Divinely appointed under rule 1. Muslims today can follow rule 2 on behalf of rule 1 and through rule 3 (fight against Tagut).
We often see prophet allowed the people of Medina to decide on issues provided it is licensed by the Islamic system (Prophetic rule). Thus, we can establish a principle here that in Islam there are two representatives of political landscape: a) representative of system which is Islamic rule/governance b) representative of people which does not violate Islamic rule. Hence, a) is the foundation of Islamic governance while b) is the Democratic right of people to choose a leader or ruler subservient to Islamic system or governance. This is like the concept of wilayat faqehby great Imam Khomeini; Supreme leader representing the Islamic system and the president representing the people.
Can a non-Muslim become the ruler of people? This is like asking can a foreigner become a head of state? In secular nationalist system nationality is priority and similarly in Islamic system piety is priority. This is justified discrimination and rational. This is justified because only a pious ruler can be a barrier against corruption. Lack of godliness and piety in secular system is an essential reason of people’s suffering. Hence Islam demanding a Muslim pious ruler is not supremacy of Islam or Muslims but due to the wellbeing of the people. Another reason that goes with piety is knowledge of the religion as well. A person lacking Islamic knowledge is inefficient to attend to the matters of Islamic rule.
In Islamic rule everyone will enjoy equal opportunities in economy and jobs. Islam does not prohibit anyone to access God’s bounty just because the said is not a Muslim. However, in modern financial system the richness of someone can affect the politics and security of a country or government. That is why in Islamic rule it is essential that no one performs any act to undermine Islamic rule or security of the Islamic rule. Transparency and protocols will be in place to avoid internal sedition and conspiracy. A draft constitution of Islamic rule has been given.
The evolution of Islamic rule will not be a response to western political landscape or cultural revolution. This is what most Muslim countries are going through now i.e. blind copying of western cultural, social, economic and political constructs thereby expecting people to adhere by it forcefully. Islamic rule will have its own policies and protocols for change within the confines of Sharia law by preservation of five interests. The non-Muslims and minority will have their own religious freedom which are limited to their personal matters. Personal matters are matters which only affect people of a certain group and do not transgress or cross into the domain of other groups. Examples will be marriage, worship, rituals etc. Sometimes it is not easy to demarcate the boundary between personal and public and in these circumstances, people may address the Islamic courts. Public interests are judged by Islamic law such as issues of crime, moral health of society, economy, trade, security of the state and finance for example. One of the most important aim of the first Islamic state was to identify and marginalize hostilities and hostile elements against Islamic rule. Treaties and laws were already in place for maintenance of peace between Muslims and Jews. This meant no harm to Muslims and no harm to Islamic rule (Prophetic rule) and in return peace and safety for the Jews. Violating either of the two, prophet reacted in the following ways: a) Punishment of the guilty by Islamic law b) eviction of the accused (conspiracy, covert action etc.) as individuals or as part of a group due to association with the hostile and criminal Ideology c) War. Such measures were not racist, xenophobic or kafirphobic but rather common-sense security measures against criminals and active hostilities.
Islam provides not only laws of ritual but laws of our worldly activities so Islamic laws even though religious i.e. related to God, are also rational and relevant to our worldly affairs. Brushing aside Islamic laws by the excuse of secularism is naïve and ignorant.