The Concept of Ideal Islamic State
The idealised Islamic state is not utopian, in that it does not espouse near impossible themes that have little bearing to reality. Islamic states did once exist and can function again in contemporary times, provided the requirements of a contemporary Islamic state are understood and appropriately developed from the fundamentals that already exist within the Islamic polity.
A comparison between the modern secular state and the ideal Islamic state is unavoidable as an investigation of differences in the application of familiar themes in both systems is a useful way of understanding the basis of an Islamic state.
Potency of ...view middle of the document...
When Prophet Muhammad established the first Islamic state in the city of Madinah, he personally laid down principles by which an Islamic state would run, including the unity of religious, political and legal institutions. The idea of that original Islamic state, governed by a perfect ruler enjoying direct communion with God has remarkable potency for the Muslim even after fourteen hundred years.
The Islamic world was ruled for at least five centuries by some form of Islamic government partly or fully based on the original idealised model. A vast amount of material for such governship thus exists in the classical literature. There is a great attraction in looking into these texts to find means of developing the methods then used into something that would be applicable in contemporary times.
Sovereignty & legitimacy
The most fundamental principle of Islam is tawhid, which means unity or oneness of God. This principle is the spirit behind all ideas and practices in Islam. Translated into political philosophy, it asserts that sovereignty belongs only to Allah. This means that the explicit commands of Allah, as laid down in the Qur'an cannot be changed and must be adhered to by all. The principle of oneness further asserts that the sovereignty of God is fulfilled by the vicegerency of a single person in each age, called the Imam. It is a principle of faith that such an Imam, a divinely appointed direct descendant of the Prophet, will always exist on the face of the earth. This is the source of the political legitimacy for the leadership of the head of state, who is charged to exercise divine authority within the limits prescribed by Allah.
Another principle that applies here is that of the khilafah, that is the representation of the lordship of Allah as His trustee. Humankind is the recipient of a lordship over other creatures of Allah and ultimately bears the responsibility towards Allah of how this duty is executed. This responsibility is epitomised in a complete and perfect way in the person of the Imam, who for that reason is also called the khalif. The later term, popularly written caliph, commonly denotes the Imam in his capacity as the successor of the Prophet and the head of the Islamic State.
Head of state
There can be no doubt that the type of government espoused by Islam is a form of theocracy in which the head of state has ultimate decision-making powers. It is not a theocracy of the kind that once existed in Europe, as the suzerainty of God is not translated to an arbitrary rule of a priestly class but is invested in a single head whose rule operates within the divine injunctions of revelation, that is the Qur'an and the practice of the Prophet. He is the final interpreter and guardian of religion and its very embodiment, one to be emulated and one who provides the moral basis for law. His predecessor through an act of designation can only make his appointment.
The very basis for government in Islam is...