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Political Parties in Islam

Since the destruction of the Khilafah, an erroneous concept has entered the minds of some Muslims, both in the Islamic lands and in the West. They mistakenly support non-Islamic political parties such as the Republican or Democratic parties in America, the Labour or Conservative parties in Britain and the PPP and Muslim League in Pakistan. Parties such as these that are based on secularism, democracy, socialism or nationalism are explicitly forbidden in Islam. Supporting them is tantamount to supporting prostitution and gambling. The Qur’an explains:

"Cooperate in righteousness and piety, and don't cooperate in sin and transgression"
[TMQ Al-Ma’idah: 2].

Ibn Kathir said concerning this verse, "Allah orders His servants, the believers, with cooperation in doing what is right, this is righteousness; and leaving that which is wrong, this is piety. He forbids them from helping each other in falsehood, and cooperating in sin and forbidden matters" [Ibn Kathir].

Supporting those who accept the rule of man above the rule of Allah (swt), by word or deed, whether it is inviting them to the mosque as part of their election campaign, canvassing for them in the streets or simply voting for them, is a major haram that is unacceptable to Allah (swt) regardless of people’s good intentions. The Qur’an states:

"Do I tell you about those who are the most lost in their actions, it is those who went astray in their lives, and they thought that they were doing good" [TMQ Al-Kahf: 103-104].

Parties in Islam

Political parties are allowed in Islam, whether under the Khilafah or prior to its re-establishment, provided that the basis of these parties is the Islamic Aqeedah and that the rules adopted by these parties are Shari'ah rules. Establishing a party does not require permission from any man, as Allah (swt) has allowed it.

The evidence for this is derived from the ayah:

"Let there arise from amongst you a group calling to the Goodness (al-Khayr) and enjoining what is good (al-Ma’ruf) and forbidding what is evil (al-Munkar); and those are the ones who will attain success" [TMQ Ale-Imran: 104].

The evidential aspect pertaining the establishment of political parties is reflected in Allah's (swt) command to the Muslims to establish from amongst them a group that undertakes the da'wa to al-Khayr (the goodness) i.e. the call to Islam, the enjoining of Ma’ruf (good) and the forbidding of Munkar (evil). Hence, Allah's (swt) saying: "Let there arise from amongst you." is a command to establish a group from amongst the Muslims, as the Qur’an specifies, "From amongst you." Therefore, the meaning of "Let there arise from amongst you," is let there be a group from among the Muslim Ummah.

This means two things. Firstly, the establishment of a group from among the Muslims is a duty of sufficiency (Fard Kifaya) and not an individual duty (Fard Ayn). Secondly, the presence of a group from among the Muslims is sufficient to establish this duty, regardless of the number of people within this group, as long as it is capable of undertaking the actions expected of it and stipulated in the verse. Hence, the phrase “Waltakun” or "Let there arise" is an address directed at the Islamic Ummah as a whole. However, the emphasis is on the word “Ummah” which means ‘group’ in this context.

Allah (swt) orders the Muslims to establish a group that carries specific attributes. The meaning of the verse is: O Muslims establish a group that will undertake two actions: calling for goodness and enjoining what is good (al-Ma'ruf) and forbidding what is evil (al-Munkar). It is, therefore, a request to establish a group, and within this request, the function of this group is determined. While the command “Let there arise" is an order, a qareena (conjunction) exists indicating that the order is decisive. The action that the verse has stipulated for the group is an obligation upon the Muslims, as confirmed in other verses and several Ahadith. This serves as a qareena (conjunction) denoting that this command is decisive and binding. Therefore, the establishment of a group is obligatory (fard) and Muslims will be sinful if this group doesn’t exist.

The evidence for political parties

The evidence (daleel) for the group being a political party has two aspects. Firstly, Allah (swt) did not order the Muslims in this verse to undertake the call to goodness and the enjoining of Ma’ruf and the forbidding of Munkar; rather He (swt) ordered the establishment of a group that undertakes these two actions. What is requested is not the undertaking of the two actions, but the establishment of a group that undertakes these actions. Hence, the emphasis in the command is on the establishment of the group and not on the two actions. The two actions are an indication of the actions of the group whose establishment is requested, thus they are characteristics that this group must possess.

For the group to be qualified as such and be able to assume the role assigned to it, it must meet certain conditions, in order for the group to acquire the quality mentioned in the verse. The formation of a group requires the presence of a bond that binds its members so that they become one single entity (jama’ah). Furthermore, what keeps this party functioning is the presence of an Amir whose obedience is compulsory. This is because the Shari'ah has ordered every group of three people or more to appoint an Amir. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "It is forbidden for any three people to be anywhere on earth without having appointed one Amir from amongst them" [Abu Dawud].

Disobedience would lead to the removal of a person from the group. The Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "He who sees from his Amir something that he dislikes, let him be patient, for whoever leaves the Jama’ah by a hand span dies, dies the death of Jahiliyya (ignorance)" [Bukhari and Muslim]. Therefore, Shari'ah deems the rebellion against the Amir as a separation from the group. What maintains it as a group is the obedience to the Amir.

These are two indispensable characteristics for the group to exist and to undertake its action. Therefore the verse, "Let there arise from amongst you a group..." means let there be from amongst you a group that has a bond binding its members and an Amir whose obedience is obligatory. This is the bloc or the party or the association or the organisation or any of these names that refer to the group that meets all the criteria.

Therefore, it becomes clear that the verse stipulates a command to establish parties, associations, organisations or similar. As for the fact that this command is pertaining the establishment of political parties, this is because the command is a request to establish a specific group by specifying the function that it undertakes, not just to establish any group. The verse has outlined the work that the group should undertake:

"Let there arise from amongst you a group calling to the Goodness (al-Khayr) and enjoining what is good (al-Ma’ruf) and forbidding what is evil (al-Munkar); and those are the ones who will attain success" [TMQ Ale-Imran: 104].

This description is very specific; hence, Muslims must establish a party that fulfils this description. As for the call to goodness (al-Khayr), i.e. the call to Islam, this can be undertaken by an association, organisation or party. However, the enjoining of the Ma'ruf and the forbidding of the Munkar, can be performed only by a political party. This is because it includes enjoining the rulers with Ma'ruf and forbidding their Munkar. It is even the most important type of enjoining Ma’ruf and forbidding Munkar. The words ‘al-Ma’ruf’ and ‘al-Munkar,’ which are preceded by the Arabic letters ‘Alif Laam,’ denote generality (i.e. it is a generic noun with a definite article denoting a general tense). The commanding of the rulers with Ma’ruf and forbidding them from Munkar, is the most important work of the political party, and this characterises it as political. Since this work of enjoining the rulers with Ma’ruf and forbidding their Munkar is the most important work, and since it is one of the two actions requested in the command, the verse is therefore targeted at a specific group whose work is to call to the goodness and enjoin the rulers as well as all other people with Ma’ruf and forbid their Munkar. It is this type of group that Allah (swt) has made its establishment an obligation upon the Muslims. A group that has such qualities is the political party. It is not fitting to claim that the establishment of a group that calls people to the goodness and enjoins them with Ma’ruf and forbids their Munkar, without tackling the rulers, is sufficient to fulfil the duty. This obligation cannot be met until the group fulfils the conditions incumbent upon it. Thus, the group must command the Ma’ruf and forbid the Munkar in addition to calling for Khayr because the coordinating conjunction (‘Atf) came using the letter ‘waw.’ This implies sharing i.e. indicates a participatory form. In addition, the order to command the Ma’ruf and forbid the Munkar is mentioned in the verse in general terms, and thus its implications should extend, in general, to include the rulers.

Therefore, Allah (swt) ordered in this verse the establishment of political parties that undertake the carrying of the Islamic Da’wa, the accounting of the rulers by enjoining them and the rest of the people with Ma’ruf and forbidding them from Munkar.

The allowance of more than one party

It is wrong to say that the verse says “Ummah," meaning one party, which entails a singularity of parties, because the verse did not say "one Ummah" i.e. one group, rather it said "Ummatun" with the form of indefinite noun (Nakira), and without any attributive. This means that the establishment of a group is obligatory; so, if one group is established, the obligation will be fulfilled. However, this does not mean that the establishment of several groups or parties is prohibited. Hence, if one person performed the duty of sufficiency (Fard Kifaya), this wouldn’t mean that others are prevented from performing the same duty. The word ‘group’ in this context is a generic noun (Ismu Jins), meaning any group; thus, it is used to indicate the gender not the individual. The Qur’an informs:

"You are the best Ummah" [TMQ Ale-Imran: 110].

This means all Muslims throughout time and not just the Muslim Ummah of a specific time. Similarly, is the saying of the Messenger of Allah (saw), "Whoever sees a Munkar he should change it". Clearly, the hadith does not mean one single Munkar but the gender of Munkar (Jinsul Munkar). Many similar evidences ask the Muslims to perform or refrain from an action without restricting the evidence to a specific item in the action. Hence, this could apply to the one single gender as well as to the entire action. Therefore, it is permitted to have, in the Ummah, one single party, and it is also permitted to have several parties. If one party is established, however, then the duty of sufficiency (Fard Kifaya) will be fulfilled if this party is performing the function requested in the verse; but, this does not prohibit the establishment of other groups.

The establishment of the political party is a duty of sufficiency (Fard Kifaya), so if one party is established and others wanted to establish other groups, i.e. to perform that particular duty, it would be forbidden for anyone to prevent them. That would be a prevention from performing an obligation (fard), and that is haram. Therefore, it is forbidden to prevent the establishment of several political parties. However, this is pertaining the Islamic parties that are based upon the verse’s stipulation, which is the da'wa to goodness and enjoining Ma'ruf and forbidding Munkar, including that of the rulers, as well as accounting them. As for parties who perform forbidden acts, such as calling to nationalism or spreading Kufr thoughts or anything similar - the establishment of such parties would be forbidden. The Khaleefah would prevent them, and anyone taking part in such parties under the State’s authority will be punished. If, on the other hand, a party is not established to perform haram, but is based on performing actions that are allowed (Mubah), then its existence is permitted. Nonetheless, such a party does not meet the conditions for fulfilling the obligation that Allah (swt) imposed in His verse, unless they were political parties fulfilling all the conditions stipulated.

The aim of political parties in the absence of the Khilafah

In today’s reality, the order to have political parties from amongst the Muslims stands. However, the aim of this party or parties would be different to one that would exist under the Khilafah. The establishment and maintenance of all the Ma’ruf and the removal of the Munkar are practically carried out through the State; it is impossible to do otherwise. Imam Qurtubi, in his tafsir, has pointed out that only the Sultan has the ability of executing the Ma’ruf and removing the Munkar by establishing the Hudood through the framework of authority (Imam Qurtubi Jami’u Ahkam ul Qur’an v4, 47). This is in accordance with the ayah:

“Those who when we establish them (in authority) in the earth they establish the Salah, collect the Zakat, enjoin all that is Ma’ruf and forbid all that is Munkar, and to Allah belongs the return of all matters” [TMQ Al-Hajj: 41].

Hence, the work of a political party is primarily concerned with ensuring that the Ma’ruf are established in the society and the Munkar removed. The work of such a party is political since it accounts the State to monitor the fulfillment of its duties and carrying the call to Islam to the rest of the world through da’wa and Jihad. Today’s situation is, however, that almost all the Ma’ruf have been removed due to the absence of Islam, and almost all the Munkar exist due to the absence of the state that implements Islam. The vital issue of the Ummah today is the re-unification of her lands and the ruling of her lands by Islam through the restoration of the Khilafah. The root Munkar from which all the Munkar will be removed is the removal of Kufr and the Kufr systems. The Ma’ruf that will bring back every Ma’ruf, and the whole Deen of Islam, is the Khilafah that would re-establish Islam in all walks of life and carry the da’wa of Islam to the rest of the world. Hence, the work of the political party is to re-establish this Khilafah and carry the da’wa of Islam to the rest of the world. It would need to take all the necessary steps in order to resume the Khilafah. So, for example, it must be acquainted with the details of the ruling, economic, social and educational systems and policies that Islam has laid down. Without them it would be incapable of resuming the Khilafah. It would also have to be unified in understanding as a structure; otherwise it would never be able to work collectively as a Party. This is based upon the qa’idah (principle) in Shari’ah: “That which is necessary to achieve an obligation is in itself an obligation”.

In conclusion, we as Muslims must abide by the Shari’ah rules and not contradict them for any reason. We must realise that supporting Kufr political parties is definitely haram and cannot be justified upon any basis, despite attempts to legitimise their support. Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Aisha (ra) that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said: "Whoever inserted anything in this our matter (Deen) that is not part of it, it is rejected."


Anonymous said…
Assalamu alaykum,

What about charity groups, or groups funded to deal with unjust arrest, or immigration etc.

Would you say they should not exist islamically under a non-islamic system ? Or that they are in principle Haram?

What about under the khilafah, would a charity group allow to exist?

Anonymous said…
I dont see how doing charitable work is covered by this ayah. Calling/forbidding is one thing. Charity is doing it.

Doing halal charity work is like praying or fasting it is doing good. This is not fullfilling the ayah which calls for a group to be politically active.

Charity groups do not account rulers rather they keep silent so they are not stopped by the rulers.

protesting against unjust arrests would be an action of such a group as that would be forbidding the munkar.

However the order of the ayah is not the actual action itself, but rather for the obligation of a group exisiting that does this,

If someone knows better, please respond.

Anonymous said…
Assalam aleikum

There will be no need of charity organisations as we know them today because the khilafah will take care of the needy and will take care of collecting and distributing the zakat inshaallah

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