*Selections from the Munir Report (1954)*
2) Foundations of an Islamic State
a.) What is then the Islamic State of which everybody talks but nobody thinks? Before we seek to discover an answer to this question, we must have a clear conception of the scope and function of the State.
b.) The ulama were divided in their opinions when they were asked to cite some precedent of an Islamic State in Muslim history. Thus, though Hafiz Kifayat Husain, the Shia divine, held out as his ideal the form of Government during the Holy Prophet's time, Maulana Daud Ghaznavi aho included in his precedent the days of the Islamic Republic, of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, Salah ud-Din Ayyubi of Damascus, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Tughlaq and Aurangzeb, and the present regime in Saudi Arabia.
Most of them, however, relied on the form of Government during the Islamic Republic from 632 to 661 A.D., a period of less than thirty years, though some of them also added the very short period of Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Maulana Abdul Haamid Badayuni stated that the details of the ideal State would be worked out by the ulama, while Master Taj-ud-Din Ansari's confused notion of an Islamic State may be gathered from the following portion of his interrogation: --
"Q.-- Were you also in the Khilafat movement?
Q.-- When did the Khilafat movement stop in India?
A.-- In 1923. This was after the Turks had declared their country to be a secular State.
Q.-- If you are told that the Khilafat movement continued long after the Turks had abolished Khilafat, will that be correct?
A.-- As far as I remember, the Khilafat movement finished with the abolition of the Khilafat by the Turks.
Q.-- You are reported to have been a member of the Khilafat movement right up to 1928 and having made speeches. Is it correct?
A.-- It could not be correct.
Q.-- Was the Congress interested in Khilafat?
Q.-- Was Khilafat with you a matter of religious conviction, or just a political movement?
A.-- It was purely a religious movement.
Q.-- Did the Khilafat movement have the support of Mr. Gandhi!
Q.-- What was the object of the Khilafat movement?
A.-- The Britisher was injuring the Khilafat institution in Turkey, and the Musalman was aggrieved by this attitude of the Britisher.
Q.-- Was not the object of the movement to resuscitate the Khilafat among the Musalmans?
Q.-- Is Khilafat with you a necessary part of a Muslim form of Government?
Q.-- Are you, therefore, in favour of having a Khilafat in Pakistan?
Q.-- Can there be more than one Khalifa of the Muslims?
Q.-- Will the Khalifa of Pakistan be the Khalifa of all the Muslims of the world?
A.-- He should be but cannot be."
c.) Throughout the three thousand years over which political thought extends, and such thought in its early stages cannot be separated from religion, two questions have invariably presented themselves for consideration:-
(1) what are the precise functions of the State? andIf the true scope of the activities of the State is the welfare, temporal or spiritual or both, of the individual, then the first question directly gives rise to the bigger question: What is the object of human life and the ultimate destiny of man? On this, widely divergent views have prevailed, not at different times but at one and tbe same time.
(2) who shall control the State?
The pygmies of equatorial West Africa still believe that their God Komba has sent them into the forest to hunt and dance and sing. The Epicureans meant very much the same when they said that the object of human life is to drink and eat and be merry, for death denies such pleasures. The utilitarians base their institutions on the assumption that the object of human life is to experience pleasant sensations of mind and body, irrespective of what is to come hereafter. The Stoics believed in curbing and reducing all physical desires, and Diogenes found a tub good enough to live in. German philosophers think that the individual lives for the State, and that therefore the object of life is service of the State in all that it might decide to undertake and achieve. Ancient Hindu philosophers believed in the logic of the fist, with its natural consequence, the law of natural selection and the struggle for survival.
The Semitic theory of State, whether Jewish, Christian or Islamic, has always held that the object of human life is to prepare ourselves for the next life and that, therefore, prayer and good works are the only object of life. Greek philosophers, beginning with Socrates, thought that the object of human life was to engage in philosophical meditation with a view to discovering the great truths that lie in nature, and that the business of the others is to feed the philosophers engaged in that undertaking.
Islam emphasises the doctrine that life in this world is not the only life given to man but that eternal life begins after the present existence comes to an end, and that the status of a human being in the next world will depend upon his beliefs and actions in this world. As the present life is not an end in itself but merely a means to an end, not only the individual but also the State -- as opposed to the secular theory which bases all political and economic institutions on a disregard of their consequences on the next life -- should strive for human conduct which ensures for a person better status in the next world.
According to this theory Islam is the religion which seeks to attain that object. Therefore the question immediately arises: What is Islam, and who is a momin or a Muslim? We put this question to the ulama, and we shall presently refer to their answers to this question. But we cannot refrain from saying here that it was a matter of infinite regret to us that the ulama, whose first duty should be to have settled views on this subject, were hopelessly disagreed among themselves.
Apart from how these learned divines have expressed themselves, we conceive of Islam as a system that covers, as every systematic religion must, the following five topics:--
(1) the dogma; namely, the essentials of belief;The essential basis of the rules on all these subjects is revelation and not reason, though both may coincide. This coincidence, however, is accidental, because human reasoning may be faulty and ultimate reason is known only to God, Who sends His message to humanity through His chosen messengers for the direction and guidance of the people. One must, therefore, accept the dogma, observe the cult, follow the ethics, obey the law, and establish institutions which God has revealed, though their reason may not be apparent -- nay, even if they be opposed to human reason.
(2) the cult; namely, religious rites and observances which a person must perform;
(3) ethics; i.e., rules of moral conduct;
(4) institutions, social, economic, and political; and
(5) law proper.
Since an error by God is an impossibility, anything that God has revealed, whether its subject be something occult or preternatural, history, finance, law, worship, or something which according to human thought admits of scientific treatment -- as for instance, [the] birth of man, evolution, cosmology, or astronomy -- has got to be accepted as absolute truth. The test of reason is not the acid test, and a denial of this amounts to a denial of the supreme wisdom and designs of Allah -- it is kufr.
d.) Now God has revealed Himself from time to time to His favoured people, of whom our Holy Prophet was the last. That revelation is contained in the Qur'an, and covers the five topics mentioned above. The true business of a person who believes in Islam is therefore to understand, believe in, and act upon that revelation.
e.) The people whom God chooses as medium for the transmission of His messages are rasuls (messengers) or nabis (prophets). Since every action or saying of a prophet is, [as] in the case of our own Holy Prophet it certainly was, prompted by Allah, it has the same degree of inerrancy as the formal revelation itself, because prophets are ma'sum, incapable of doing or saying something which is opposed to Divine wishes. These sayings and actions are sunna having the same infallibility as the Qur'an. The record of this sunna is hadith, which is to be found in several books which were compiled by Muslim scholars after long, laborious, and careful research extending over several generations.
f.) The word hadith means a record of actions or sayings of the Prophet and his companions. At first the sahaba, i.e. people who had lived in the society of the Prophet, were the best authority for a knowledge of the sunna. Later people had to be content with the communications of the tabi'un, i.e. successors, people of the first generation after the Holy Prophet who had received their information from the sahaba, and then in the following generations with the accounts of the so-called successors of the successors (tabi'ul-tabi'un), i.e. people of the second generation after the Holy Prophet, who had consorted with the successors.
Marfu' is a tradition which contains a statement about the Prophet; mawquf, a tradition that refers only to the sayings or doings of the sahaba; and maqtu', a tradition which does not at most go further back than the first generation after the Holy Prophet and deals only with sayings or doings of tabi'un. In some of the ahadith the actual word of God is to be found. Any such tradition is designated Hadith-i-Qudsi or Ilahi as distinguished from an ordinary Hadith-i-Nabvi.
g.) A very large portion of sayings ascribed to the Prophet deal with the ahkam (legal professions), religious obligations, halal and haram (what is allowed and forbidden), with ritual purity, laws regarding food, and criminal and civil law. Further they deal with dogma, retribution at the Last Judgment, hell and paradise, angels, creation, revelations, the earlier prophets. Many traditions also contain edifying sayings and moral teachings by the Holy Prophet.
h.) The importance of ahadith was realised from the very beginning, and they were not only committed to memory but in some cases were reduced to writing. The work of compilation of hadith began in the third century after the Hijra, and the Sihah Sitta were all compiled in that century. These are the musannifs of --
(1) Al-Bukhari, died 256/870,
(2) Muslim, died 261/875,
(3) Abu Dawud, died 275/888,
(4) Al-Tirmizi, died 279/892,
(5) Al-Nasa'i, died 303/915, and
(6) Ibn-i-Maja, died 273/886.
i.) According to modern laws of evidence, including our own, the ahadith are inadmissible evidence of sunna because each of them contains several links of hearsay, but as authority on law they are admissible pro prio vigore. The merit of these collections lies not so much in the fact that (as is often wrongly stated) their authors decided for the first time which of the numerous traditions in circulation were genuine and which false, but rather in the fact that they brought together everything that was recognised as genuine in orthodox circles in those days.
j.) The Shias judge hadith from their own standpoint, and only consider such traditions reliable as are based on the authority of Ali and his adherents. They have, therefore, their own works on the subject ,and hold the following five works in particularly high esteem --
(1) Al-Kafi of Muhammad b. Yaqub AI-Kulini, died 328/939,
(2) Man La Yastahdiruhu'l-Fakih of Muhammad b. Ali b. Babuya Al-Kummi, died 381/991,
(3) Tahdib Al-Ahkam,
(4) Al-Istibsar Fi-Ma'khtalafa Fihi'l-Akhbar (extract from the preceding) of Muhammad Altusi, died 459/1067, and
(5) Nahj Al-Balagha (alleged sayings of Ali) of Ali b. Tahir Al-Sharif Al-Murtaza, died 436/1044 (or of his brother Radi AlDin Al-Baghdadi).
k.) After the ritual, the dogma, and the most important political and social institutions had taken definite shape in the second and third centuries, there arose a certain communis opinio regarding the reliability of most transmitters of tradition and the value of their statement. The main principles of doctrine had already been estahlished in the writmgs of Malik b. Anas, Al-Shafi'i, and other scholars regarded as authoritative in different circles, and mainly on the authority of traditional sayings of the Holy Prophet. In the long run no one dared to doubt the truth of these traditions, and this almost conclusive presumption of truth has since continued to be attached to the ahadith compiled in the Sihah Sitta.
l.) We have so far arrived at this result: that any rule on any subject that may be derived from the Qur'an or the sunna of the Holy Prophet. is binding on every Musalman. But since the only evidence of sunna is the hadith, the words sunna and hadith have become mixed up with, and indistinguishable from, each other; with the result that the expression "Qur'an and hadith" is not infrequently employed where the intention is to refer Qur'an and sunna.
m.) At this stage another principle, equally basic, comes into operation, and that is that Islam is the final religion revealed by God, complete and exhaustive in all respects, and that God will not abrogate, detract from, or add to this religion (din) any more than He will send a fresh messenger. The din having been perfected (Akmalto lakum dinokum, Sura V, verse 3), there remains no need for any new code repealing, modifying, or amplifying the original code; nor for any fresh messenger or message. In this sense, therefore, prophethood ceased with the Holy Prophet, and revelation stopped forever. This is the doctrine of the cessation of wahi-i-nubuwwat.
If the proposition that Muslim dogma, ethics, and institutions, etc.,
all based on the doctrine of inerrancy, whether such inerrancy lies in
the Qur'an, the sunna, ijma' or ijtihad-i-mutlaq,
is fully comprehended, the various deductions that follow from it will
be easily understandable. As the ultimate test of truth, whether the
be one of a ritual or political or social or economic nature, is
and revelation has to be gathered from the Qur'an,
and the sunna carries almost the same degree of inerrancy as revelation, and the only evidence of sunna is hadith, the first duty of those who desire to establish an Islamic State will be to discover the precise rule applicable to the existing circumstances, whether that rule is to be found in the Qur'an or hadith.
Obviously the persons most suited for the purpose would be those who have. made the Qur'an and hadith their life-long study, namely, among the Sunnies, the ulama, and among the Shias, the mujtahids who are the spokesmen of the hidden Imam, the ruler de jure divino. The function of these divines would be to engage themselves in discovering rules applicable to particular situations, and they will be engaged in a task similar to that in which Greek philosophers were engaged, with only this difference: that whereas the latter thought that all truth lay in nature, which had merely to be discovered by individual effort, the ulama and the mujtahids will have to get at the truth that lies in the holy Book and the books of hadith.
The ulama Board which was recommenrleli by the Basic Principles Committee was a logical recognition of this principle, and the true objection against that Board should indeed have been that the Board was too inadequate a mechanism to implement the principle which had brought that body into existence. .
o.)Ijma' means concurrence of the mujtahids of the people, i.e., of those who have a right, in virtue of knowledge, to form a judgment of their own, after the death of the Holy Prophet. The authority of ijma' rests on the principle of a divine protection against error, and is founded on a basal tradition of the Holy Prophet, "My people will never agree in error," reported by Ibn Maja. By this procedure points which had been in dispute were fixed; and when fixed, they became an essential part of the faith, and disbelief in them an act of unbelief (kufr). The essential point to remember abont ijma' is that it represents the agreement of the mujtahids, and that the agreement of the masses is espedally excluded. Thus ijma' has not only fixed unsettled points, but has changed [illegible word] doctrines of the greatest importance.
p.) The distinction between ijma' and ijtihad is that whereas the former is collective, the latter is individual. Ijtihad means the exerting of one's self to the utmost degree to form an opinion in a case, or as to a rule of law. This is done by applying analogy to the Qur'an and the sunna. Ijtihad did not originally involve inerrancy, its result being always zann or fallible opinion. Only combined ijtihad led to ijma', and was inerrant.
But this broad ijtihad soon passed into special ijtihad of those who had a peculiar right to form judgments. When later doctors looked back to the founding of the four legal schools, they assigned to their founders an ijtihad of the first rank (ijtihad-imutlaq). But from time to time individuals appeared who returned to the earliest meaning of ijtihad and claimed for themselves the right to form their own opinion from first principles.
One of these was the Hanbalite Ibn Taimiya (died 728). Another was
(died 911), in whom the claim to ijtihad unites with one to be
or renewer of religion in his century. At every time there must exist
least one rnujtahid, was his contention, just as in every
there must come a mujaddid. In Shia Islam there are still
because they are regarded as the spokesmen of the hidden Imam. Thus
leads to ijma', and the basis of ijma' is divine
against error -- inerrancy.
On to: *3) Essentials of an Islamic State*