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Critique of Dr Tahir al-Qadiri's "The Islamic State"

The following is a detailed paper by a brother on this topic.

Dr Muhammad Tahir al-Qadri, a Pakistani scholar and writer, is the founder of Minhaj al-Quran and the political party, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT). In the Pakistani legislative elections of 2002, the party won 0.7% of the popular vote.[1]
Qadri wrote an article in 2006, “The Islamic State”, where he argued Islam does not have a detailed system of political governance.  The notion of Caliphate he argued is little more than a concept and Western systems of Republicanism, unitary or federal, can be adopted.
This critique examines Qadri’s argument that the Islamic political system accepts or is compatible with democracy and republicanism. It considers the two core arguments Qadri proposes to substantiate his assertion:
  • Islamic political thought has never advocated a system of governance, and,
  • Republicanism does not contradict Islam but is favoured by it.
The critique also considers flaws in a number of premises in Qadri’s article varying from methodological, definitions, political theory, jurisprudence, through to the contribution of classical scholarship.


This section reviews the scholarly literature on both Islamic and Western political theory, tracing the organic growth of both political theory and systems from the underlying philosophical perspectives of each tradition.

Islamic Political Thought

Traditional Muslim political and juridical theory was not concerned with democracy as a form of government even though Muslim writers were aware of it through translations of Greek texts.  Nowhere can one find a conscious systematic formulation of a democratic political order in which the ruled viewed themselves as genuine participants in the process of government. [2]
The Muslim philosophers (falasifa) subjected their own society, its beliefs and institutions, to critical analysis. The philosophers sought to determine the best political regime, confirming classical teaching that the best government is the one ruled by wisdom, viewing democracy as a regime in error. Orthodox Sunni scholarship and doctrine steered a middle course between the extremist sects of Islam: the Shia whose infallible Imam is an absolute ruler by divine right and the Kharijis with egalitarian doctrines where the Imam is simply primus inter pares, elected and deposed by the will of the whole community.[3]
The doctrinal premises which justified the formation of the Caliphate, both in conceptual and political form, were developed and commented upon by a large number of medieval Muslim jurists: Juwayni, Baqilani, Baghdadi, Mawardi, Abu Yala, Ghazali, Nawawi, Ibn Taymiyyah and subsequently by scholars like Shah Wali Allah. The monumental political treatises of Juwayni, Ghazali, Ibn Jama'a and Ibn Taymiyyah demonstrated that the mujtahids were the partners of the Caliph in governing the Muslim community.[4] Juwayni realizing the weight of jurists, determined that the institution of the Caliphate was in effect a combination of power and ilm, represented, respectively, by sultans and mujtahids.[5]
The scholars argued that authority in origin is with the Muslims, as they are the addressees of the divine texts - authority to enforce the Sharia and provide security is theirs whilst the right to legislate, sovereignty, is Allah’s alone. The Caliph is selected by their representatives, people of influence or through recommendation of a previous Caliph. Authority however must be transferred to a Caliph through the bayah contract (oath of allegiance) by each and every Muslim, directly or through their representatives. Supreme executive and judicial authority is thus vested in the Caliph and by the process of delegation (wakala) each and every official of state becomes his representative. Judicial competence results only from appointment by the Caliph - the Qadi therefore is subordinate to and subject to dismissal by the established political authority.[6] Thus the institution of the Islamic Caliphate comprises necessarily of the Caliph and the remaining officials are appointed by him according to need. Their qualifications and roles however are regulated through various texts. This includes the institution of the Shura which the Caliph should generally consult though it is not mandatory.[7]
The jurists generally accepted that rights and obligations are predetermined from Allah as he is sovereign, the legislator, and this comprised a fundamental political concept: [8]
By your Lord they can have no real faith until they make you judge in all matters between them... (Quran 4:65)
Indeed, the Rule is for none but Allah... (Quran 12:40)
Oh you who believe, obey Allah, obey his Messenger and those in authority amongst you. If you dispute in a matter refer it back to Allah and his Messenger... (Quran 4:59)
Authority was designated or originated in the Ummah:
We gave bayah to the Messenger of Allah to hear and obey in ease and hardship (Muslim)
The Prophet called us and we gave him the bayah for Islam, and amongst the conditions on which he took the pledge from us, was that we were to listen and obey (the orders) both at the time when we were active and at the time when we were tired, and at our difficult time and at our ease, in need of that which we give up, and that which we should not fight, contest with or dispute with (the Ameer) in his right except in case of such open kufr  which can be used as proof with Allah. (Bukhari)
The appointment of one Caliph with absolute political authority was seen as an obligation on Muslims: [9]
Whosoever dies without a bayah on his neck dies the death of jahiliyyah (Muslim)
When a bayah has been taken for two Caliphs kill the latter of them (Muslim)
It is forbidden for three persons to be together in a secluded place without appointing one of them as their amir (Ahmed)
When the companions met in the wake of the death of the Prophet(saw) at the saqifa of Bani Saida it was said: “One Amir from us and one Amir from you”. Upon this Abu Bakr replied: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two amirs (rulers) for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them..." (Bayhaqi)[10]
Adoption of Sharia was the right of the Caliph as was the constitution and canons:
The Imam is the guardian and he is responsible over his subjects... (Bukhari, Ahmed)
Whoever sees something in his Ameer that displeases him let him remain patient... (Bukhari)
The title of Caliph, Imam or Sultan was adduced through a number of traditions including:
The Prophets ruled over the children of Israel; whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him, but there will be no Prophet after me. There will be Khalifahs and they will number many... (Muslim)
Prophethood will remain among you as long as Allah wills. Then Caliphate (Khilafah) on the lines of Prophethood shall commence, and remain as long as Allah wills... Then, the Caliphate (Khilafah) shall come once again be based on the precept of Prophethood. (Ahmed, Mishkat)
Behold, the Imam is but a shield from behind whom the people fight and by whom they defend themselves. (Muslim)
The institution of the Caliphate and the Caliph was commented on by a number of jurists:
(The scholars) consented that it is an obligation upon the Muslims to select a Khalif... (Nawawi)[11]
The Imams agree the Caliphate is an obligation, and Muslims must appoint a leader who would implement the injunctions of the religion, and give the oppressed justice against the oppressors. It is forbidden for Muslims to have two leaders in the world whether in agreement or discord. – (Joziri)[12]
It is obligatory to know that the office in charge of commanding over the people (ie: the post of the Khaleefah) is one of the greatest obligations of the Deen. In fact, there is no establishment of the Deen except by it... this is the opinion of the salaf, such as al-Fadl ibn 'Iyaad, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and others (Ibn Taymiyyah)[13]
This Ayah is a source in the selection of an Imaam and Khaleef, he is listened to and he is obeyed, for the word is united through him, and the Ahkam (laws) of the Caliph are implemented through him, and there is no difference regarding the obligation of that between the Ummah, nor between the Imams except what is narrated about al-Asam, the Mu'tazzili ... (Qurtubi: Tafsir of the verse, “Indeed, man is made upon this earth a Caliph”)[14]
The Muslims must have an Imam, who will carry out the administration of their decisions, the maintaining of their restrictive ordinances, the guarding of their frontiers, the equipping of their armies, the receiving of their alms, the subjugation of those who get the upper hand and robbers and highwaymen, the performance of worship on Fridays and the Festivals, the settlement of disputes which take place amongst creatures, the receiving of evidence based on legal rights, the giving in marriage of young men and maidens who have no guardians, and the division of the booty and things like these which individuals of the people are not entrusted... (Taftazani)[15]
It is forbidden for the Ummah (Muslim world) to have two leaders at the same time. (Mawardi)[16]
In summary these generally comprised the arguments and positions of the classical scholars in relation to the Caliphate.
The demise of the Ottoman Caliphate saw a new set of political ideas emerging initially in the West and increasingly in the Muslim world thereafter. In 1919 the Italian scholar Nallino published a study in which he tried to demonstrate that the Ottoman Sultan had no valid claim to the Caliphate. This occurred at almost the same time that Italy was rejecting any Ottoman say whatsoever in Tripolitan affairs. Likewise, in the early 1920s the British orientalist Arnold set out to demonstrate that the formal transfer of the Caliphate from the last scion of the Abbasids to the Ottoman Selim I in Cairo, in 1517, did not occur. Some years before, Great Britain had been eagerly seeking alternatives to the Ottoman Sultan-Caliph Abd al-Hamid II.[17]
A study, entitled “The Caliphate and National Sovereignty”, was commissioned in 1922 to justify the Turkish National Assembly’s abolition of the Caliphate. Supervised by Seyyid Bey, a parliamentarian, it argued the Caliphate was not critically important to Islam since the Prophet(saw) had left the matter of succession unresolved. In March 1924 whilst arguing for the abolition of the Caliphate, Seyyid Bey gave a speech stating there was no ruling in the Quran or hadith that explicitly prohibited a body of individuals, such as a parliament, from omitting the election of a Caliph. A return to the “real caliphate” would be impossible, Seyyid Bey argued, since the noble qualities that were exhibited by the early Muslims were lacking in the contemporary ummah.
After he sent the last Caliph packing, Ataturk tried to offset Muslim indignation by offering the “spiritual caliphate” to Ahmad al Sharif al-Sanussi (d. 1933), a Libyan Sufi leader of Qurayshi descent, but the offer was turned down. The prospect of an exiled Ottoman Caliph was problematic for King Fuad’s aspirations for the title. The liberal opposition to Fuad took up the points made by Seyyid Bey’s study, and repackaged them as a book by Ali Abd al-Raziq.[18] Ali Abd al-Raziq had studied at Oxford and was a senior member of al-Azhar University and in 1925 wrote, "Islam and the Bases of Government", arguing that the Prophet(saw) had not set out to establish an Islamic state nor did Islam lay down any particular political system or have anything to do with the Caliphate. He said the rules the Prophet (saw) had laid down only related to prayer and fasting. He was expelled from al-Azhar, his books were condemned and he was dismissed from his post as a religious judge. The political writer Rosenthall commented: "we meet for the first time a consistent, unequivocal theoretical assertion of the purely and exclusively religious character of Islam."[19] Rashid Rida commented that al-Raziq’s book constituted, “a last attempt on the part of the enemies of Islam to weaken Islam from within”.[20]
Muhammad Khalaf-Allah, an Islamic liberal and similarly controversial figure, took Abd al-Raziq’s argument one step further by suggesting that the Quran requires management of government in a democratic manner. Khalaf-Allah advocated shura interpreted as democracy – controversially he claimed when Muslims came to a decision, they should ‘execute this decision without waiting for divine opinion’, either in the form of revelation or even of religious scholars’ explanation in light of religious texts.[21]
Thus scholarship in relation to the secular nature of the Caliphate generally commenced around the demise of the Ottoman Caliphate in a charged political atmosphere. Though many scholars criticised this new trend,[22] this turn has and remains to affect, to one degree or another, overall research.[23]

Western Political Thought

“Democracy is a notoriously loose and overstretched concept”[24]
Secular political philosophies emerged during the Renaissance after centuries of theological political thought dominated by scholastic and Christian influences. The enlightenment was an outright attack on religion, particularly Christianity. Political and economic relations were drastically influenced by these theories as the concept of the guild was subordinated to the theory of free trade, and the pan-European Roman Catholic dominance of theology was increasingly challenged by Protestant churches subordinate to nation states.
The most influential works during the early period was Niccolò Machiavelli's “The Prince” and “The Discourses”. Machiavelli supported the Republic of Florence presenting a pragmatic and consequentialist view of politics, where the end was a secure and powerful state. Thomas Hobbes, known for his theory of the social contract, expanded this view during the English Renaissance. Both believed in the need for a strong central power to prevent the disintegration of social order due to what they believed as the inherent selfishness of the individual.  
John Locke’s book, “Two Treatises of Government”, proposed a state of nature theory and how it can be founded through contractual obligations refuting Robert Filmer's defence of the “divine right of kings”. Unlike Machiavelli and Hobbes, Locke accepted Aristotle's dictum that man seeks to be happy in a state of social harmony as a social animal. St Thomas Acquinas, a Christian theologian and philosopher had propounded thoughts concerning original sin, reverence to God and subjection to absolute divine concepts – Locke represented the transition period between Christian philosophy and secular/science/knowledge based philosophy. Unlike Aquinas's view of the soul and original sin, Locke believed man's mind commences as tabula rasa, knowledge is neither innate nor revealed but subject to uncertainty tempered by reason, tolerance and moderation. An absolute ruler as proposed by Hobbes is unnecessary, for natural law is based on reason and equality, seeking peace and survival for man.
In the wake of the English Civil War and American and French Revolutions, Rousseau, began his social contract by proclaiming that “man was born free, and he is everywhere in chains” and the Declaration of Independence announced the intrinsic freedom and equality of humanity: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal". Rousseau, Montesquieu and Locke were driven by two basic questions: by what right or need do people form states; and what the best form for a state could be. These fundamental questions involved a conceptual distinction between "state" and "government." It was decided "state" would refer to enduring institutions through which power would be distributed and its use justified. However "government" would refer to a specific group who occupied institutions of the state, creating laws by which people, themselves included, would be bound. This conceptual distinction continues to operate in political science.
Urbanization and capitalism during the industrial revolution greatly reshaped society. In the 19th century, Marxism was developed, and socialism in general gained increasing popular support. By the late 19th century, socialism and trade unions were established members of the political landscape. The Russian Revolution of 1917 brought communism on the world stage. A group of central European economists lead by Austrians Ludwig von Mises and Friedrich Hayek identified the collectivist underpinnings to the various new socialist and fascist doctrines of government power as being different brands of political totalitarianism. In general, there was a marked trend towards a pragmatic approach to political issues, rather than a philosophical one.
The development of Western political thought has contributed a number of normative ideas to the political landscape which are intertwined in the institutions and processes that have resulted. Freedom and equality have meant societies can determine their own paths in seeking happiness, free from interference from the state - societies were to be managed according to principles of the majority and power was to be managed collectively. Destruction of absolute truth ushered in notions of moral relativism where all ideas and notions were acceptable, leading to the development of political pluralism. Secularisation of religion meant that “the people” were sovereign. Governments thus reflecting these notions came to be categorised into three normative systems: presidential, parliamentary and convention (in the case of communism).[25] The parliamentary form fuses legislative and executive powers, presidential tries to separate powers, and the conventional results in the supremacy of the legislative power.
The term Republic however was derived from the Latin, res publica, ‘public matter’.[26] The idea of a republic was discussed by Italian Renaissance scholars, such as Machiavelli, who divided governments into two types: principalities ruled by a monarch and republics ruled by the people.[27] The term has developed and come to refer to a system of government which derives its power from the people, rather than a basis such as heredity or divine right, where power in a republic lies with a charter which is the driving force for individual rights and the powers of state.
Federalism comprised a set of interlocking principles of government. In addition to popular sovereignty and a written constitution distributing powers between a central governing authority and constituent political units, it also meant the separation of the legislative, executive, and judicial powers, checks and balances, multi-party elections and, in due course, judicial review. Above all, the framers believed in a political philosophy in which the powers of government are limited and the liberty of the individual is basic.[28]
However some democratic systems of governance, although incorporating concepts of majority, are differentiated on the basis of the ultimate source of official power. In the case of a republic, it lies with a charter defining rights and limits of state power; in a democracy power lies with the rule of the majority.[29]
Despite the appeal of western systems and processes, there is considerable critique in relation to them:
 “Beneath the thin veneer of ‘accountability’, in reality Western political systems are deeply flawed, controlled by large corporations and largely indifferent to the needs of ordinary citizens. This is why voter turnouts in the West are at an all time low and people are obliged, as we saw at the time of the Iraq war, to go out to the streets in their hundreds of thousands to express their frustrations. Though people currently have some 'freedom' to criticise and change their politicians in the West, the reality is that whichever politicians come in, they are of the economic elite and they rule on behalf of the economic elite - an incestuous system indeed.
The record of Western governments in the Islamic world shows that they pay more attention to their own interests than to any notion of accountable governance. That is why, for example, elections in Algeria were annulled by the Western backed regime, when the results indicated that Islam won the votes of the electorate. They are happy for countries to swing like a pendulum from "democrats" like Nawaz Sharif and Bhutto to military dictators like Musharraf - as long as their interests are maintained they have no qualms in propping up totalitarian, brutal and oppressive regimes that have no mandate from their people. The UK Government ended the Serious Fraud Office corruption inquiry into a £43bn Saudi arms deal, claiming that it was against ‘British interests’, as well as ‘a threat to the War on Terror’. This corruption enquiry not only threatened to expose the relationship between BAE, and the British government, but also the relationship between the British government and the Saudi dictatorship.
While the USA never misses an opportunity to accuse other nations of vote rigging and fraudulent elections, President Bush, despite the election rigging in Florida, is considered legally and constitutionally the legitimate political leader of the United States of America. Even though Al Gore won the popular vote by over half a million votes, Bush took the White House. Indeed, the American ‘democratic elections’ are merely an opportunity for corporations and multinationals to ensure that their interests are represented in the White House. After the 2000 US elections, over 40 per cent of the major fundraisers for George Bush were given jobs and positions including appointments as Ambassadors and members of the Cabinet. In the US Senate elections, 85 per cent of the candidates who spent the most money were successful at the polls. In the 2008 US Primaries, both contenders have already spent in excess of $100m on campaigning, and whoever reaches the White House in January 2009 will have to return these favours. In the UK, just in recent years we have witnessed ‘cash for questions’, ‘cash for peerages’ and the exploitation of parliamentary expenses - scandals which reached the heart of the political establishment.”[30]
“Philosophers of modernity, from Spinoza to Locke to Kant and even Hegel, spoke not simply of human rights but emphatically of 'natural rights', issued in moral 'laws of nature's God', and accompanied by such foundational concepts as the 'state of nature', 'the social contract', and 'the categorical imperative'. Nothing characterizes the spiritual climate of the West today so much as the persuasive disbelief in these once all-powerful philosophical pillars of modernity. Our philosophical currents are negative, skeptical, disillusioned… The cultural, moral, religious and even the civic permission of the Enlightenment were fulfilled in a much more ambiguous and controversial fashion than the mathematical, economic, and technological promises. The great attempts by the political philosophers of the Enlightenment to provide systematic, rational and generally acceptable foundations for public and private existence have proved to be inadequate...”[31]


“It is fashionable nowadays to be democratic; modern Muslim political scientists and writers are no exception. Prompted by the desire to portray Islam as a modern ideology and a progressive system of government, they have reinterpreted Islamic political and juridical theory in democratic terms. Ample use has been made of such notions as "equality of men before God irrespective of race, color or ethnic differences"; "freedom of belief and thought for Muslims and non-Muslims alike"; "bay'a, shara and ijma'," all of which attest to the essentially humanistic character of Islam and the "democratic" temperament of its political constitution and social life.”[32]
This section considers Qadri’s views on the Caliphate and Republic form of governance.

Qadari and the Caliphate

Authority and Sovereignty

Qadri argues that “the Khilafah does not vest absolute authority in the ruler, whether it takes the form of a presidential government or a parliamentary government, rather his obedience is primarily to the Qur’an and Sunnah which override any form which government might take.”[33] To justify Western political philosophies and models, Qadri must address the fundamental problem of absolute rule in one individual. This has been exemplified by the rule of the Prophet(saw), the Khulafah Rashida and the successive Caliphs where all legislative, executive and judicial powers rested with the Caliph. Qadri appears to consider the fact that obedience to Quran and Sunnah precludes the possibility of absolute authority being vested in one individual - thus resolving the problem. Sadly for Qadri, such assertions are grossly simplistic and do not address the issue at hand and the problem remains.
It is narrated through a multitude of authenticated narrations that the norm in early Islam was of one absolute rule. These rulers exercised absolute authority over state and society – with all authority flowing from their authority including appointment and removal of all state officials - an anathema to Republic forms of governance where division of powers is of fundamental importance.
Firstly, the term authority needs to be clarified as there are potentially multiple political notions embedded within it:
  • The first notion is “the legitimate power or right to rule, give orders or make decisions” which can be vested in an individual or a group of individuals, and,
  • The second notion is “the supreme independent authority with the ability to make law”, which is for Allah(swt) alone.
This conceptual division is not important in Western political thought as both notions originate with society. Islamic political writers however have had to separate the concepts – resulting in the former notion, authority (sulta/mulk) vested with society (and to the Caliph) and the latter notion, sovereignty (siyadah/haakimiyah) to Allah(swt). Multiple Quranic verses make this distinction clear, by attributing hukm to Allah and ordering Muslims (and mankind) to implement his laws. Thus authority to implement Allah’s laws was transferred from the society to the ruler during the life of the Prophet(saw) and the Khulafah Rashida through the bayah whilst sovereignty remained with Allah. As such it is incorrect to state absolute authority is not with the Caliph and to use it as a basis to equate it with the Republic system.
Furthermore, the notions of Caliph in the Caliphate system contradicts the notions of President/Prime Minister in republic systems as the latter have limited and not absolute authority - as authority is divided amongst a number of individuals and institutions through separation of powers. Thus Qadri’s assertions that Islam allows the use of different terms for the title of the ruler, such as Caliph, Imam or Sultan, which no doubt it does, this does not extend to terms like President or Prime Minister which are ideologically loaded terms that carry meanings ideologically at odds with Islam.

Bayah – Appointment of Caliph

Qadri’s view of the bayah is confusing – it ranges from “ is basically a form of giving an opinion, casting a vote, consenting to someone or appointing them as your representative or head of state” and “bay’at possesses the same connotations as a Parliament... requesting to make bay’at is permissible, since the basic requirement is in the fundamental character of the authority...”,[34]  through to, “Bay‘at, therefore, is not only a part of the process of the appointment of a khalifah, but may also be a declaration of consent, commitment, conviction, intention and desire in all kinds of situations.”
Putting aside Qadri’s attempts at conflating the bayah of appointing a Caliph with other permissible bayahs,[35] making it all things to all men, there are a number of problems with Qadri’s conception of the bayah in the Caliphate system.
The first problem is his belief that it is a permissible matter only, whilst the ahadith on the matter order the bayah to be fulfilled and indicate punishment in its absence - indicative of an obligation (fard) and not just permissibility (mubah):
Whosoever dies without a bayah on his neck dies the death of jahiliyyah (Muslim)
There is no prophet after me, but there will be Khulafaa (plural of Khalifa). They asked, “what do you order us to do? He replied, “Give them bayah one after another, for Allah will ask them about what He entrusted them with. (Bukhari)
There will be Nabuwwa with Rehma. Then there will be Khilafah with BAYAH. Then Allah will change it when He wishes. Then there will be Mulkan ‘Adoodan (Rule by force). Then Allah will change it when He wishes. Then there will be Mulkan Jabriya (against people’s will). Then Allah will change it when He wishes. Then there will be Khilafah on the path of Prophethood. The earth and the sky will bestow their treasures. (Ahmad)
Secondly, Qadri argues that the bayah is a form of election. However, he fails to note his own citations of how the early Caliphs were appointed, bayah was given once a Caliph had been selected by a small number of people and not before. Thus it is difficult to argue it is a means of selecting the Caliph.
Thirdly, Qadri believes that a bayah is not necessary in the formation of the Caliphate. The term bayah is derived from bay which means selling. As such it denotes a contract between one who makes an offer and the one who accepts it, the latter being engaged in bayah. In a political context the use of the term bayah refers to the act of declaring and accepting political allegiance. On reviewing the ahadith one notices that the Sharia requires a bayah be given from the people to the ruler and require obedience on completion. The nature of a bayah in Islamic law is to commit oneself to a course of action, and in the context of confirming a Caliph, this indicates that the people are transferring authority to the Caliph, and will listen and obey him in all permitted matters and once it is given it cannot be revoked. If this was not a means of transferring authority, how did the early Caliphs have political authority? Something which Qadri fails to explain:
“Whoever gives his oath of allegiance to a leader and gives him his hand and his heart, let him obey him as much as he can.” (Muslim)
There are three people whom Allah will not look at on the Day of Resurrection, nor will he purify them and theirs shall be a severe punishment... A man who gave a pledge of allegiance to a ruler and he gave it only for worldly benefits. If the ruler gives him something he gets satisfied, and if the ruler withholds something from him, he gets dissatisfied. (Bukhari/Muslim)
When we gave the bayah to the Prophet(saw) to hear and obey, he used to say “As much as you can.” (Bukhari/Muslim)
A Bedouin gave the bayah to the Prophet(saw) but he became ill and asked the Prophet(saw) to “Relieve me of my bayah”. The Prophet(saw) said “Medina is like the mason’s bellow, it cleans its impurity and its goodness manifests. (Bukhari)
Whoever withdraws his hand from obedience will meet Allah on the day of judgement without having proof for himself. (Muslim)
Though the form of bayah can vary as indicated by some evidences, its nature and requirement are necessary.[36] The scholars commented as follows on the subject:
With regard to bayah (oath of allegiance): the scholars are agreed that in order for it to be valid it is not essential for all the people or all the decision makers to give their bayah. Rather, if bayah is given by those scholars and people of virtue and status who are present, that is sufficient. It is not obligatory for each person to come to the leader and put his hand in his and give his oath of allegiance to him. Rather what is required of each individual is to submit to him and not go against him or rebel against him. (Nawawi)[37]
With regard to bayah being given to the leader of the Muslims, it is sufficient for the decision makers to give him their bayah. It is not essential for each individual Muslim to come to him and put his hand in his, rather it is sufficient to commit oneself to obeying him and submitting to him by not going against him or rebel against him.  (al-Maaziri)[38]

Unitary Leadership

Qadri expresses the view that Muslims are not confined to one ruler and can have as many as they wish. His view of the traditions on the subject are explained away as forbidding more than one ruler in one region - or rebelling against a ruler. Regarding the texts that are unqualified and general in their prohibition of more than one ruler, he begs the question, where the text mentions that this applies across the world.
There are many ahadith confirm that Muslims are forbidden from having more than one state, and from having more than one ruler in the whole world.
When the oath of allegiance has been taken for two Khalifs, kill the later of them. (Muslim)
Whoso comes to you while your affairs have been united under one man, intending to divide your staff or dissolve your unity, kill him. (Muslim)
Abu Hazim who said: "I was with Abu Hurairah for five years and I heard him narrate from the Prophet(saw) that he said: The Prophets used to rule Ban Israel. Whenever a prophet died another prophet succeeded him, but there will be no prophets after me; instead there will be Khalifs and they will number many. They asked, “What then do you order us?” He said, “Fulfil allegiance to them one after the other. Give them their dues. Verily Allah will ask them about what he entrusted them with.”" (Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Majah, Ahmad)
Other hadith confirm Muslims are obliged to have one Amir, no more, even if they were only three persons in isolation or on journey.
It is forbidden for three persons to be together in a secluded place without appointing one of them as their Amir. (Ahmed)
The phrase one of them implies that there should be no more than one Amir. This carries the same weight in terms of evidence. The evidence cannot be cancelled out unless there is a text indicating so; and there is no such a text. So they should appoint one Amir and no more. Furthermore, if the Sharia verdict compels the appointment of an Amir on three persons, this proves that the obligation on the Ummah world-wide is of greater magnitude. Furthermore, the same idea was expressed by the companions:
Al-Habbab Ibn Al-Munthir said when the Sahaba met in the wake of the death of the Prophet (saw) at the saqifa (hall) of Bani Sa'ida: One Amir from us and one Amir from you (meaning one from the Ansar and one from the Mohajireen). Upon this Abu Bakr replied: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs..." Then he got up and addressed the Muslims. Reported in the Sirah of Ibnu Ishaq: "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Amirs for this would cause differences in their affairs and concepts, their unity would be divided and disputes would break out amongst them. The Sunnah would then be abandoned, the bida'a (innovations) would spread and Fitnah would grow, and that is in no one's interest."[39]
Abu Bakr(ra) delivered the Sharia verdict on the unity of the Khilafah, stressing that it is forbidden for the Muslim Ummah to have more than one Amir. The Sahabah heard him and approved and consented, no one disputed the verdict, but submitted to it and accepted it as law. The Ansar then conceded their claim to the Khilafah, and Al-Habbab Ibnu Al-Munthir(ra) was the first to give the pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr (ra).
This opinion has been adopted by a number of classical scholars:
  • "People must have an Amir.” (Imam Ali)[40]
  • "It is forbidden for the Ummah to have two Imams at the same time." (Mawardi)[41]
  • "It is forbidden to give an oath to two Imams or more, even in different parts of the world and even if they are far apart." (Nawawi)[42]
  • "It is forbidden to appoint two Imams at the same time." (Qalqashandi)[43]
  • "It is permitted to have only one Imam in the whole of the world." (Ibn Hazm)[44]
  • "It is forbidden for Muslims to have in the whole world and at the same time two Imams whether in agreement or discord." (Sha’rani)[45]
  • "It is forbidden to give the oath to more than one." (Al-Qadhi Abdul-Jabbar)[46]
  • "It is forbidden for Muslims to have two Imams in the world whether in agreement or discord." (Joziri)[47]

Time Period of Appointing Caliph

Qadri believes there is no time limit on selecting a Caliph believing it should be done within a short time. His justification appears to be, “Common sense dictates that it must be done with alacrity, but there is no specified time limit in the Shariah of two nights and three days: these time limits were simply specified because of what the individual circumstances required.”[48]This argument appears to be driven by the need for more time to allow for mass elections which cannot be completed in any state within three days.
This view is problematic as the requirement to select a Caliph within three days was stipulated by Umar(ra). As part of the process of selection of a new Caliph he ordered the companions to start killing dissenters, a serious matter in Sharia, due to the time limit – no companion complained that what Umar(ra) was asking was forbidden. This is supported by comments made by Abd al-Rahman. All this is indicative of an obligation and not simple permissibility.
O group of Muhajireen! Verily, the Apostle of God died, and he was pleased with all six of you. I have, therefore, decided to make it (the selection of khalifa) a matter of consultation among you, so that you may select one of yourselves as khalifa. If five of you agree upon one man, and there is one who is opposed to the five, kill him. If four are one side and two on the other, kill the two. And if three are on one side and three on the other, then Abdur Rahman ibn Auf will have the casting vote, and the khalifa will be selected from his party. In that case, kill the three men on the opposing side. You may, if you wish, invite some of the chief men of the Ansar as observers but the khalifa must be one of you Muhajireen, and not any of them. They have no share in the khilafat. And your selection of the new khalifa must be made within three days.[49]
When Members of Majlis al-Shoora started arguing, Abu Talha(ra) warned them that they have three days to decide and By Allah who has taken the life of Umar(ra) I will not sit by and see you create animosity among yourself, you have three days and there is no extension of time.[50]
Abd al-Rahman(ra) spent most of time consulting the people, including companions(ra), army leaders and other notable of the city, they all agreed on Uthman(ra). At last the night came the morning after which would the time limit expire.[51]
He was pledged allegiance as khalifah three nights after the burial of Umar.[52]

Political Terminology

Regarding the use of terminology, Qadri states, “...the point being made is that the terms used to refer to governance and rulers are not particularly significant in themselves and it is the actual nature of the institutions which are the important thing.”[53]
No doubt the nature of institutions is of considerable importance but it makes no sense to label Islamic institutions with non-Islamic labels. However, if one wishes to legitimise foreign and alien culture and concepts, such symbolic terminology can be an impediment and in fact, help protect the Islamic heritage.
One needs to ask the question, why would one not want to use established Islamic terminology that has been utilised for over a millennium? The answer appears to lie with the secular nationalists across the Muslim world. Educated in Western institutions during colonial occupations, they studied western politics, history and philosophy and returned to the Muslim lands to oppose colonialism using these ideas. Their terminologies were western as were their ideas, philosophies and arguments – something that still continues with ruling elites to this very day.
It is this historical baggage that Qadri cannot wish away and attempts to justify.

Etymology of Jumhuriya

Having assumed away the Caliphate form of governance, Qadri’s reconciliation of the remaining “Caliphate concept” with Republic begins with consideration of the etymology of the term jumhuriya (republic). He explains it is derived from “Islam and its Arabic terminology, for the word jumhur is commonly used in Islamic jurisprudence and classical Arabic literature”.[54]
Reviewing the etymology of the term jumhuriya (republic) shows this to be only partially true. The word currently used for republic in Arabic, Persian, Turkish and other Muslim languages is jumhuriya.[55] Reviewing the terms used by Muslims to express republic over time, one finds the Ottomans first felt the need in their dealings with the Republics of Venice and Ragusa, using the term jumhur, a classical Arabic term referring to the public or the mass. The term jumhur took on new life after the French Revolution where Turkish documents cite the term to describe the French Republic as well as other republics that were formed on the French model. Napoleon’s expedition in Egypt in 1798 when proclamations were issued in the name of the French Republic found the term mashyakha being used, a noun meaning conveying a sense of rule by the elders. Its use did not survive long after the expedition.
Through the nineteenth century the word was increasingly used in Turkey and the Middle East in connexion with the new liberal and constitutional theories coming from Europe influencing Western-educated Turkish intellectuals. The modern word jumhuriyat - jumhur with an abstract ending - appears in Turkey which first encountered the ideas and institutions of the West and sought to find new words to describe them. From Turkey the term spread eastwards to the Arabs, Persians, and others. Jumhuriyat was first used as an abstract noun denoting a principle or belief and meaning republicanism. In its first appearance in the Turkish dictionary it is defined as 'the principle of government by the public-the mass'. Only towards the end of the nineteenth century did the word mean republic as well as republicanism. It was in I918 that the word made its first appearance in the title of a Muslim state with Russian Azerbaijan proclaiming the first Muslim republic in modern times. In 1923 the word returned to the country of its origin when the Turkish Republic rose from the ruins of the Ottoman Empire - shortly after the word was adopted in Arabic with the Republics of Syria and Lebanon under French Mandate and Egypt and Pakistan.[56]
Thus the term jumhuriyya did not come into circulation from Islam but through the Turkish need to describe the Western Republics from where its use became adopted across the Muslim world. As such its connotations are distinctly secular and European in origin referring to a “government of the masses”.

Concept of Elections

Qadri defines jumhuriyya as, “the election system based on the concept of the majority opinion of the people, whereby this opinion is preferred and respected”.[57] He concludes “this basic concept is Islamic in character”[58] and “Given that this condition is imposed, the Sultan system would be Khilafah”. [59]
This approach to understanding political systems is taking reductionism to the extreme. Neither Western nor Islamic political theory defines their respective political systems according to the selection process alone. Republic systems require elections whilst the Caliphate system simply permits elections as one of a number of ways of selecting a Caliph.
Qadri’s dogged determination in arguing the importance of elections however invites careful consideration.
His first assertion that Abd al-Rahman’s(ra) “basic duty was to conduct the election by consulting the people and by doing so, finding out what the majority wanted and get their vote” is not substantiated by the texts. The hadith of Bukhari clearly states that Umar(ra) had put a process in place where 6 members were to select a Caliph between themselves – in the event of a tie in votes, Abd al-Rahman(ra) was to cast the deciding vote. There is no mention of consulting people or majority opinion in this process.
The second line of argument Qadri pursues to justify the importance of majority opinion and elections is derived from Umar’s(ra) process and what subsequently happened. There are a number of problems with his argument. First and foremost, when one considers how the Prophet(saw) became the leader of Medina, one notes that the decision was made by a minority who pledged allegiance to him with the populace of Medina unaware of the appointment – including those who had accompanied this minority on the pilgrimage to Mecca. This implies that importance was attached to the decision of influential members, the ahl al-hal wa al-aqd and not to majority opinion or participation. The appointments of Abu Bakr(ra), Umar(ra), Ali(ra) and Hasan(ra) also reflects this principle and not that of majority opinion. The appointment of Umar(ra) by Abu Bakr’s(ra) recommendation appears to reflect the notion that significant numbers of ahl al-hal wa al-aqd are not even necessary in the decision making process as he individually made the recommendation – what seems to be important is that an appropriate candidate is selected through careful consideration.
The process for the selection of Uthman also followed this principle and not one of elections or public opinion as is mentioned in Tabari:
”O group of Muhajireen! Verily, the Apostle of God died, and he was pleased with all six of you. I have, therefore, decided to make it (the selection of khalifa) a matter of consultation among you, so that you may select one of yourselves as khalifa. If five of you agree upon one man, and there is one who is opposed to the five, kill him. If four are one side and two on the other, kill the two. And if three are on one side and three on the other, then Abdur Rahman ibn Auf will have the casting vote, and the khalifa will be selected from his party. In that case, kill the three men on the opposing side. You may, if you wish, invite some of the chief men of the Ansar as observers but the khalifa must be one of you Muhajireen, and not any of them. They have no share in the khilafat. And your selection of the new khalifa must be made within three days.” [60]
and it was when this process reached a deadlock between those who had been appointed to choose a Caliph, Abd al-Rahman(ra) having the casting vote, sought to break the deadlock. He was entitled to make a personal choice on whatever criteria he chose – this indicates the main process did not consider the importance of majority opinion of Medina in the selection process of a Caliph as Qadri tries arguing.
A different problem that Qadri faces is his attempts at building conclusions on unauthenticated narrations found in books of history. For the writing of history non-authentic traditions from Muslims/non-Muslims were accepted by historians for information purposes. However, in Islamic law this was never the case and reliable traditions were necessary as divine law was being expounded. Qadri is not writing about history in his paper but trying to establish legal and political concepts, the domain of jurisprudence, for which non-authentic traditions are invalid across all legal schools of thought.
Notwithstanding this, there are differing narrations of what Abd al-Rahman(ra) actually did. Some narrations in books of history state the opinion Abd al-Rahman(ra) he gauged was not on the choice of candidate but preference for style of rule, namely, what their preference was regarding the continuation of policies of the preceding Caliphs. This helped Abd al-Rahman(ra) resolve the deadlock by imposing the condition on the new Caliph, a condition which Uthman(ra) accepted and Ali(ra) rejected. Bukhari however narrates the most authentic narration which makes no mention of the population of Medina being consulted:
When he was buried, the group (recommended by Umar) held a meeting. Then Abdur-Rahman said, "Reduce the candidates for rulership to three of you." Az-Zubair said, "I give up my right to Ali." Talha said, "I give up my right to 'Uthman," Sad, 'I give up my right to Abdur-Rahman bin 'Auf." Abdur-Rahman then said (to 'Uthman and 'Ali), "Now which of you is willing to give up his right of candidacy to that he may choose the better of the (remaining) two, bearing in mind that Allah and Islam will be his witnesses." So both the sheiks (i.e. 'Uthman and 'Ali) kept silent. Abdur-Rahman said, "Will you both leave this matter to me, and I take Allah as my Witness that I will not choose but the better of you?" They said, "Yes." So Abdur-Rahman took the hand of one of them (i.e. 'Ali) and said, "You are related to Allah's Apostle and one of the earliest Muslims as you know well. So I ask you by Allah to promise that if I select you as a ruler you will do justice, and if I select 'Uthman as a ruler you will listen to him and obey him." Then he took the other (i.e. 'Uthman) aside and said the same to him. When Abdur-Rahman secured (their agreement to) this covenant, he said, "O 'Uthman! Raise your hand." So Abdur-Rahman gave Uthman the solemn pledge, and then 'Ali gave him the pledge of allegiance and then all the (Medina) people gave him the pledge of allegiance. (Bukhari)
Finally, even after all of the above, if one relied on Qadri’s narration, it is clear that Abd al-Rahman(ra) did not consult anyone beyond Medina – given the state dominated the Arabian peninsula and beyond, this means that only a small minority of the state’s population were in fact consulted – undermining Qadri’s claim that the majority opinion of people was preferred or respected – it simply was not true.
Qadri’s citation of Muslims providing the bayah post-selection of the Caliph is not proof that they participated in the selection of the Caliph as it was a pledge of allegiance to someone who had already been selected.
Reviewing these processes leads one to conclude that Qadri is seeking to impose a predetermined understanding on the texts rather than extracting an understanding from the texts – the former methodology being forbidden in jurisprudence. The Prophet(saw) and companions believed the leader should be chosen by those who could give the matter careful and substantive consideration and gave no consideration to majority participation. It is debatable that public opinion was consulted to resolve a deadlock amongst the council but even there the texts appear to indicate at best this was to determine the desire for a continuation of current policies. As such, one can conclude that there are a number of modes of selecting the Caliph, however importance appears to be given to processes comprising small numbers of politically experienced individuals from society who carefully select Caliphs. Majority participation appeared to count for little possibly due to their lack of general political participation or knowledge of political figures and affairs.
This appears to be the conclusion of the classical jurists who though differing on the details expressed a similar theme. Some examples are cited below:
  • The Caliphate is contracted by the consensus of all the influential people (Ahl al-hal wa al-aqd). It is the opinion of Abu Ya'la, Ibn Hazm and Ahmad (one of the two opinions attributed to him).
  • The Caliphate is contracted by the consent of the people who have the power and can protect the new Caliphate and sustain his authority. It is the opinion of Ibn Taymiah and Ahmad (the second opinion attributed to him).
  • The Caliphate is contracted by whoever is there from the influential people. It is the opinion of Nawawi, Mawardi and Shawkani. Al-Qalqashandi said it is the opinion of the Shafii school of thought.
  • The Caliphate is contracted by any number and it does not need any consent. It is the opinion of Amidi, Imam Al- Haramin and Al-Jarjani.
Qadri attempts to conflate the notion of elections in the selection of the Caliph with elections in a democracy equating the two systems in conclusion,[61] “all these concepts of democracy and their roots and origin in Islamic history and when democracy is applied in America, England, Canada and all other countries, they adopt these concepts according to how suitable they are to their own situations.”[62]
Democracy is derived from the Greek terms demos and kratos, ‘empowered people’, encompassing the notion of “government of the people, by the people, for the people” - sovereignty and authority rest with the people. People are subject to the laws of their own making. As a reaction to the governance of church and monarchy, it comfortably embraces the notion of secularism, that religion must be separated from the political arena and is not the source of legislation. Furthermore, it incorporates the need for political plurality, accountability and separation (division) of powers.
It is difficult to see how Qadri makes such a conclusion from a limited example. At best one can argue that social consensus or public opinion can be utilised in the selection of a Caliph. However, it is not tenable to conclude that the system of governance should be democracy, oligarchy or autocracy as all three result from elections.[63] Clearly, further evidences are needed to determine the structure, legislative processes, institutions and other rights and responsibilities to determine the shape and form of governance.

Concept of the Majority

Qadri’s core argument for conflating the Caliphate with Republic where the basis of majority is the modus operandi is “...the opinion of the majority is preferred and respected in Islam just as it is respected and preferred in the West; this is a common feature of both systems.”  In this simplistic and crude argument Qadri uses a broad assertion that “the opinion of the majority is preferred and respected in Islam” to equate two disparate systems. However, a “preferred and respected” majority opinion, which is itself questionable and controversial, is not the same as a revered and indisputable founding principle that pervades an entire system, from elections through to legislation – something Qadri fails to note.
In Islam legislation and ethical opinions are not built around majority – hugely problematic, as Quranic texts oppose such notions.[64] Faced with such a blasphemous assertion, Qadri immediately qualifies his justification by stating, “the opinion of the majority, or even a unanimous decision, cannot suspend, repeal, abrogate or amend the Shariah”[65] – in effect arguing sovereignty belongs to God. Given Muslim scholarship has traditionally argued that no matters in relation to legislation (ethics) have been omitted from revelation based on texts such as:
We have not omitted anything from the Book... (Quran al-An'am:38)
this results in a severely limited and compromised principle of “preference and respect” for the majority opinion. Furthermore, matters of legislation can not only contradict revelation but must also be determined from divine sources through a process known as ijtihad and not through votes of a majority. This is supported by the ahadith of the Prophet(saw) where he would instruct companions to judge by revelation and in the absence of any clear text refer to the process of ijtihad:
When the Messenger (saw) intended to send Mu'adh ibn Jabal to the Yemen, he asked: “How will you judge when the occasion of deciding a case arises?” He replied: “I shall judge in accordance with Allah's Book”. He asked: “(What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in Allah's Book?” He replied: “(I shall act) in accordance with the Sunnah of the Apostle of Allah (saw)”. He asked: “(What will you do) if you do not find any guidance in the Sunnah of the Apostle of Allah (saw) and in Allah's Book?” He replied: “I shall do my best to form an opinion and I shall spare no effort.” The Apostle of Allah (saw) then patted him on the breast and said: “Praise be to Allah Who has helped the messenger of the Apostle of Allah to find something which pleases the Apostle of Allah.” (Abu Dawud)
The divine sources provide rules for all normative matters, known as hukm sharia and have been elaborated through the science of jurisprudence (fiqh) and not through opinion of the majority. Thus reliance on the fact that the opinion of the majority is preferred and respected in Islam is inaccurate.
Qadri however appears to rely on the fact that men can legislate as he argues for a legislative assembly. One can only assume he refers to aspects of Sharia where divine injunctions have not had their means prescribed leaving it to Muslims to make these decisions. No doubt, there are obligations such as jihad or zakah where rules are not prescriptive – however that does not mean that they are left totally unregulated. Warfare has numerous regulations in relation to initiation of warfare, treaties, conduct during war etc. However some areas allow for human creativity and reason such as innovation of weapons, military strategy and tactics. This domain of reason is divided into two: the domain of expert opinions and that of consultation.[66] The former domain is addressed by technical and expert views and there is no room for mass opinion. The latter domain allows consultation to be undertaken however the jurists have even debated the nature of this domain and whether it is necessary or not with the strongest view being it is simply recommended.
Furthermore, there is no requirement that the masses must be consulted or a majority view must be adopted. The consultation process provides mixed examples and no theme of respecting the majority opinion - during the battle of Badr the Prophet accepted the advice of Abu Bakr(ra) regarding the treatment of the prisoners of war and rejected the advice of the other companions. In signing the treaty of Hudaibiya the Prophet(saw) rejected the overwhelming consensus of the companions present. The Prophet(saw) consulted his wife Umm Salama(ra) concerning sacrificial animals illustrating even one person being consulted is sufficient. After the death of the Prophet(saw) the order to dispatch Osama bin Zaid(ra) as the leader of the Muslim army was issued by Abu Bakr(ra) against the opinion of the majority of the companions. One of the first orders of Umar(ra) as a Caliph was to remove Khalid bin Waleed(ra) from his position of authority despite him being the favoured choice of the companions. Conversely, the Prophet(saw) consulted his Companions about whether to go out of Medina to meet the attacking army or to stay in he followed the majority opinion and met them in the battle of Uhud in 3H. In the attack of a tribal coalition against Medina in the year 5H, when the Prophet’s suggestion to give an attacking tribe some of its fruits to persuade their withdrawal was not approved by some of his Companions, he went along with them. During the time of Ahmad bin Hanbal(rh), he was in the minority in having the courage to stand and declare the Quran was not creation. As such a domain of the majority is a questionable one and not as significant as Qadri would lead us to believe.
Qadri’s own acceptance of Quranic texts that condemn majority opinion indicates another restriction on majority opinion. Although Qadri limits these verses to disbelief, his comment that Quranic criticism of disbelievers should not be applied to believers is incorrect – the Quran came as guidance for believers so if disbelievers are condemned believers must take guidance from this condemnation too and learn from it - otherwise the textual condemnation would appear absurd. His stance also contradicts his own hermeneutic style where he extracts principles from some texts where such principles are not apparent while here he adheres to the literal wording. Embedded in these verses is the implication that truth is not with minority or majority but with the evidence and the example used to demonstrate this principle is disbelief. This is seen in the generality of Iblees’s claims which are known as not being restricted to matters of belief:
"[Iblees] said: 'By Your Might, then I will surely mislead them all, except your chosen slaves amongst them.'" (Quran 38: 82-83)
However, that said jurists expanded this notion to any matter that is factual or that can be reasoned as mass opinion can be mistaken as is seen in the following narrations which Qadri fails to mention:
Allah will say, 'Bring out the people of the Fire.' Adam will say, 'O Allah! How many are the people of the Fire?' Allah will reply, 'From every 1,000 take out 999.' (Bukhari)
Whoever seeks Allah's pleasure at the cost of the majorities' displeasure, will win the pleasure of Allah, and Allah will cause men to be please with him. And whoever seeks to please the majority at the cost of Allah's displeasure, will win the displeasure of Allah, and Allah will cause men to be displeased with him.  (Ahmad)
I was shown the Hell-fire and that the majority of its dwellers are women. (Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Nasai, Ahmed)
There will never cease to be a small group (taai'fah) from my Ummah clearly upon the Truth until the Hour is established. (Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn Maajah and Haakim)
The classical scholars seem to have given the concept of majority opinion short shrift. Ghazali for instance argued that truth was not with the majority or the minority but would be found in the evidence. Some modern scholars have expressed similar views – Professor Mutawalli is representative of such views when he said:
“In Islamic affairs, numerical majority is not the criterion of truth, for the Qur'an has repudiated any such idea. There are many Qur'anic verses which have clearly set out this truth. For example, the saying of God the Exalted, "most people do not understand", "if you were to follow most of those on the earth, they would lead you astray from God's path" (Quran 6:116) "We did not find in most of them any (reliability in their) pacts and we, indeed, found most of them unrighteous" (Quran 7:102) "most of them are ignorant." (Quran 6:111) and for this reason, God said, "Ask the People of Admonition if you do not know." (Quran 16:43)”[67]
Qadri’s citation of texts that praise the jumhur have been misapplied in this discussion. The subject matter of each text is not to determine the shape or form of governance or to establish that majority opinion is correct and should be followed but to address the issues of sedition and rebellion which Qadri states later in the article. The mention of jamaa’ah in each text refers to the body politic of Muslims who adhere to the truth (regardless of numbers) and is not a discussion of majority, which is a totally different concept:
Abdullah ibn Masood(ra) said: "Be with the jama'ah (the Haq) even if you are by yourself."[68]
Abdullah ibn Masood(ra) said: “The jama’ah is the Quran and the Sunnah even if you are all alone.”
 “The jama’ah and the group refers to the people of truth. Even if there may be only one of them in this entire world, they will be referred to as the jama’ah and the group. When only Abu Bakr (ra) and Khadijah (ra) embraced Islam, they were the jama’ah while the rest of the world apart from them and apart from Rasulullah(saw), were those who were against the jama’ah and were separated from the jama’ah. There is no difference whatsoever among the ulema regarding what we said in this regard.” (Ibn Hazm)[70]
“Look at the wonderful words of Abu Shamah in his book al Hawadith wa al Bida’, with regard to the order to hold on to the jama’ah. “It means clinging to the truth and following it even if those holding onto it are few while those opposing it are many. This is because the truth was always what the first jama’ah was on from the time the Prophet (may Allah send peace and salutations upon him) and the Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them). This is irrespective of how large the number of those involved in innovations (ahl al bida’) may be.” (ibn al-Qayyim)
Amr ibn Maymum al Audi said: “...I remained in the company of one of the most intelligent people, Abdullah ibn Masood (ra). I heard him saying: ‘Hold on firmly to the jama’ah because the hand of Allah is on the jama’ah.’ Then one day I heard him saying: ‘There shall rule over you such rulers who will delay the salah from its appointed times. You should therefore offer salah at its appointed time which is compulsory salah. You should then offer the salah with them [at the time appointed by the rulers] for it will be the optional salah for you.’” Amr ibn al Maymum says: “So I asked, O companions of Muhammad [saw], I do not know what you are saying to us.” Abdullah ibn Mas'ud (ra) asked: “What do you mean?” I replied: “You are ordering me to adhere to the jama’ah and encouraging me to follow it. And then you are telling me to offer my salah individually despite it being the compulsory salah, and to offer salah with the jama’ah which is and optional salah?!” He replied: “O ‘Amr ibn Maymun! I thought that you were the most intelligent person in this village. Do you know what the jama’ah is?” I replied: “No.” He said: “The jama’ah is what confirms to the truth even if you are all alone.” In another narration, the words are: “He then struck me on my thigh and said: ‘I am disappointed with you. The majority of the people have left the jama’ah. Surely the jama’ah is that which concurs with the obedience of Allah.”[71]
Nu’aym ibn Hammad said: “If the jama’ah degenerates you should hold on to what the jama’ah was on before it degenerated, even if you are all alone. For you are the jama’ah at such time.”[72]
This is furthermore confirmed in the following narrations:
(A time will come) when there will be people standing and inviting at the gates of Hell. Whoso responds to their call, they will throw them into the fire... I said, `Messenger of Allah (saw), what do you suggest if I happen to live in their time?' He said, 'You should stick to the main body of the Muslims and their leader' I said, 'If they have no (such thing as the) main body of the Muslims and have no leader?' He said, 'Separate yourself from all these factions, though you may have to eat the roots of trees until death comes to you and you are in this state.' (Muslim)
There will be after me calamity upon calamity and so he whom you see leave the Jama'ah or wishes to cause separation in the matter of the Ummah of Muhammad - then kill him whoever he is, for certainly Allah's Hand is with the Jama'ah, and certainly Shaytaan is with the one who leaves the Jama'ah, urging him on. (Nasai, Ibn Hibbaan)
"One who found in his Amir (the ruler of the true Islamic state; which is absent today) something which he disliked should hold his patience, for one who separated from the main body of the Muslims even to the extent of a handspan and then he died, would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya." (Muslim, Bukhari)
Even the citation of Qadari that two are better than three has been curtailed to prove a point,[73] the full narration is in fact relation to adhering to the community and not the subject of majority:
The Prophet (Peace be upon him) that, "Two are better than one, and three better than two; so stick to the Jama'ah for verily Allah, Most Great and Glorious, will only unite my nation on guidance." (Ahmad) 
Finally, one notes that in judicial matters, one judge has always been appointed by the Prophet(saw). If the principle of two are better than one and three are better than two was correct, surely in such serious matters that include the implementation of the had punishments the jury system would have been introduced or at least, multiple judges as is seen in Western systems. One notices a similar theme in other offices of state from the Caliph, governor (wali), mayor (amil) through to military leadership (amir al-jihad) etc all have historically been unitary.
In conclusion, it is not possible to equate the republican system of governance with the Caliphate on the basis of “majority opinions are respected in Islam” as Islam does not give credence to such notions – truth is with neither majority nor minority but with the evidence.

Concept of Parliaments

Qadri claims that, “the present day Parliament in Britain constitutes a bicameral legislation... Islam does not object to this idea”. He further argues that, “In fact, the type of government which was in force during the period of the Khulafa ar-Rashidun was itself bicameral as there was the Shura khas (special assembly) and the Shura ‘am (general assembly).  The basic concept is that all government or legislation consists of two assemblies although their functions may vary.”[74]
Legislatures called parliaments operate under a parliamentary system of government in which the executive is constitutionally answerable to the parliament. This can be contrasted with a presidential system, on the model of the United States' congressional system, which operates under a stricter separation of powers whereby the executive does not form part of, nor is appointed by, the parliamentary or legislative body. Typically, congresses do not select or dismiss heads of governments, and governments cannot request an early dissolution as may be the case for parliaments.
The notion of Shura has been encouraged through Quranic verses that requested the Prophet(saw) to take decisions in consultation with the companions:
...those who answer the call of their Lord and establish the prayer, and who conduct their affairs by Shura (are loved by God)... (Quran 42:38)
...consult them (the people) in their affairs. Then when you have taken a decision (from them), put your trust in Allah... (Quran 3:159)
Jurists have differed as to the necessity of the institution of Shura with general acceptance that the Caliphate was valid without the institution. The key characteristic of the institution was that of consultation. The Prophet(saw) would regularly consult the shura body of his time, and the Khulafah Rashida would consult more in relation to matters of war. However, advice was taken on some occasions and rejected on others.[75]
Unlike Shura the key function of parliaments are as seats of legislation, they can critique and even block government proposed legislation and they allow for modification of foundational laws and principles. Shura remains non-binding while parliamentary processes and laws are binding and can only be reversed through a democratic process and not by unilateral processes. Finally, the Caliph initiates the consultation process and can by-pass it if he chooses.
As such, the attempt to conflate parliaments with the Shura institution that existed during the time of the Khulafa al-Rashidun is inexplicable.


The problem which today confronts those scholars whose aim is the establishment of a system of guaranteed individual liberties is no small one. For the possibility of such a system is denied by the fundamental doctrines of the Sharia itself. Turkey deemed the only practical solution to lie in the abolition of the Sharia and the secularisation of the State. The alternative experiment is the example set by the Constitution of Pakistan, where doctrines of the classical texts are abandoned, and a system of fundamental rights is established upon the basis of a new and liberal interpretation of the original sources of Islamic law. Legitimate it may be argued according to the criterions of Muslim legal modernism, however it involves a radical reformulation, to say the least, of traditional Islamic principles. [76]
What is one to make of Qadri and his contribution to the discussions surrounding the Islamic state. Qadri’s traditional works tend to confine themselves to traditional topics, addressed by traditional Islamic scholarship and he builds his views around those. However, this project has little precedent with the classical jurists and his weakness as a jurist and thinker is apparent – Ibn Rushd’s comments though made during Muslim rule in Spain have a certain resonance:
We find the (so called) jurists of our times believing that the one who has memorized the most opinions has the greatest legal acumen. Their view is like the view of one who thought that a cobbler is he who possesses a large number of shoes and not one who has the ability to make them. It is obvious that the person who has a large number of shoes will (some day) be visited by one whose feet the shoes do not fit. He will then go back to the cobbler who will make shoes that are suitable for his feet. This is the position of most of the faqihs of these times.”[77]
Qadri appears to be driven by a need to introduce principles and systems adopted from “successful” Western political systems. Despite considerable academic critique of normative democratic and republican systems and the questionable causal relationship of these political systems to Western material progress Qadri appears to adopt them as a lesser evil to predominantly dictatorial systems in the Muslim world. His methodology also appears to be heavily influenced by these considerations, so rather than originating his political discourse in Islamic law and culture, he appears to be engaged in a process of reconciliation. Selectivism is visible in his arguments rather than a natural emergence from the divine texts. This approach is inexplicable given the Prophet(saw) and his Companions managed vast political states followed by centuries of Muslims who followed in their traditions. Qadri’s project is akin to that undertaken by the earlier Muslim Mutazalites and philosophers who attempted to reconcile Greek thought to Islam – being condemned by the jurists for such an endeavour. Dr. Al-Nabulsi whilst rebutting Yusuf al-Qaradhawi for undertaking a similar venture said,
"Democracy is not that simple and superficial. It is not a religious council, nor the obligation to promote virtue and eliminate vice… Democracy is the rule of the people, by the people, and for the people. Its tenets are imported from the West, and have nothing to do with Islam. Democracy is not religious tolerance, justice, or any other religious value. Democracy is a civil principle, not a religious value.”[78]

El-Fadl further argues:
If Islam is to provide theoretical support for liberal democracy, it must also make the case for... the sovereignty of the people and the inviolability of individual rights. It is here we find the real “challenge” to Islamic political thought.
One would have expected Qadri to have undertaken a review of this scholarly literature commenting on their conclusions and incorporating it into his thinking – sadly this is totally lacking though it is not a process he is unaware of considering his other works.[79] Such an omission is significant as a review of classical scholarship reveals his assertions to be substantively at odds with the Islamic notions of political theory and institutions but surprisingly consistent with a number of post-Ottoman modernist works on the subject.  A review of Western political thought and systems brings into sharp focus their emergence and evolution based on European secular philosophies, with characteristics and concepts reflecting the philosophic needs and goals – something Qadri appears to be oblivious to in his quest to equate two disparate socio-political religious traditions and political philosophies and systems.
Qadri exposes a mode of thinking that pervades the modernist scholars in the contemporary Muslim world. Instead of considering Islam a driving force that determines, shapes and moulds political and social philosophies, systems and the institutions that emerge from them, they see Islam as a religion, incomplete and in need of assistance of foreign ideologies and normative paradigms, where anything can be adopted from whatever civilisation so long as it does not “contradict” Islam. And in this is the inherent problem – Islam does have something to say about the matter. The two paradigms result in sharply differing strategic outlooks – Islamists who adopt the former, call for a radical overhaul of the foreign ideologies, systems and institutions across the Muslim world replacing them with an Islamic Caliphate, driven by the Islamic ideology. Modernists who call for contemporary political ideologies, systems and institutions provide little contribution to solving the socio-economic and political problems that plague the Muslim world. The key question is who will the Muslim masses believe and follow.
Imam al-Darimi reported Ziyad Ibn Hudair saying: "Umar (ra) said to me: Do you know what can destroy Islam?" I said: "No." He said: "It is destroyed by the mistakes of scholars, the argument of the hypocrites about the book  and the opinions of the misguided leaders." (Mishkatul Masabih).

[1] The party subsequently boycotted the 2008 general elections.
[2] Fauzi M. Najjar, Democracy in Islamic Political Philosophy, Studia Islamica, No. 51, 1980, pp. 107-122
[3] N J Coulson, The State and the Individual in Islamic Law, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1957), p. 49
[4] E J Rosenthal, "The Role of the State in Islam: Theory and Medieval Practice," Islam, 50, 1 (April 1973), pp. 1-28; W B Hallaq, "Caliphs, Jurists and the Saljuqs in the Political Thought of Juwayni," The Muslim World, Vol. 74, No. 1 (1984); Lambton, State and Government, pp. 115, 119.
[5] W B Hallaq, On the Origins of the Controversy about the Existence of Mujtahids and the Gate of Ijtihad, Source: Studia Islamica, No. 63 (1986), pp. 129-141, Maisonneuve & Larose
[6] N J Coulson, The State and the Individual in Islamic Law, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1957), p. 57 - Qarafi, al-Ihkim, 6f.
[7] Mawardi, Ahkaam al-Sultaniyya
[8] A Lambton, State and government in medieval Islam
[9] The khassa caliphate has two basic components: first the actual presence of the caliph in authority; secondly his complete control of the community, and the community's unanimity in accepting his rule. Here the underlying point of Wali Allah's theory is the necessity of the agreement of the entire community on the caliphate of a single individual; a view which in the context of the general caliphate (khildfat-i 'dmma) is different from that of Ibn Khaldun - Ibid., i, 337. Cf. Ibn Khaldan, Muqadimma, Eng. tr. Franz Rosenthal, New York 1958, i, 392-94.
[10] Al-fasil-fil Milal by Ibnu Hazim, Tarikh of Al-tabari, Al-A'kd Al-Farid of Al-Waqidi, Al-Sira of Ibnu Kathir, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra of Bayhaqi and Siratu Ibn Hisham
[11] Al-Nawawi, Sharhu Sahih Muslim page 205 vol 12
[12] Al-Joziri, Al-Fiqh Alal-Mathahib Al- Arba’a (the fiqh of the four schools of thought), volume 5, page 416
[13] Ibn Taymiyyah, Siyaasah Shariyyah - chapter: 'The obligation of adherence to the leadership'
[14] Qurtubi, Tafseer ul-Qurtubi 264/1
[15] Taftazani, Sharh ‘Aqidat an-Nasafiyyah, p.147
[16] Mawardi, Al-ahkam Al-Sultaniyah page 9
[17] C.A. Nallino, Notes on the Nature of the "Caliphate" in General and on the Alleged "Ottoman Caliphate ", Rome, 1919; T.W. Arnold 1924: 139-83. About the Italian and British interests at stake in the caliphate controversy, see C. Farah, " The Islamic Caliphate and the Great Powers: 1904-1914 ", Studies on Turkish-Arab Relations (STAR), 1987, pp. 37-48 and H. Inalcik, " Recession of the Ottoman Empire and the Rise of the Saudi State ", STAR, 1988, pp. 69-85.
[18] N Kazimi, Zarqawi's Ideological Heirs, their Choice for a Caliph, and the Collapse of their Self-Styled "Islamic State of Iraq", Hudson Institute, Volume 5
[19] Black, A, "The history of Islamic Political Thought", Edinburgh University Press, 2001, pp. 316-9
[20] G Luciani, The Arab state, p. 254
[21] M Browers, Edited by G Gaus and C Kukathas, Handbook of Political Theory,  p. 375
[22] Rashid Rida, Hasan al-Banna, Abd al-Karim al-Khatib, Taha abd al-Baqi Surur, Mohammed Yusuf Musa, Muhammed al-Mubarak, Taqi al-Din al-Nabhan and Yusuf Qardawi.
[23] Abderrahmane El Moudden, The Idea of the Caliphate between Moroccans and Ottomans: Political and Symbolic Stakes in the 16th century, Studia Islamica, No. 82 (1995), pp. 103-112
[24] I Weismann, Democratic Fundamentalism? The Practice and Discourse of the Muslim Brothers Movement in Syria, Muslim World, 00274909, Jan 2010, Vol. 100, Issue 1
[25] D. V. Verney, The Analysis of Political Systems, Routledge,
[26] "Republic" New Dictionary of the History of Ideas. Ed. Maryanne Cline Horowitz. Vol. 5. Detroit: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2005. pg. 2099
[27] Pocock, J.G.A. The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition (1975; new ed. 2003); Haakonssen, Knud. "Republicanism." A Companion to Contemporary Political Philosophy. Robert E. Goodin and Philip Pettit. eds. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1995; William R. Everdell. The End of Kings: A History of Republics and Republicans. University of Chicago Press, 2000. pg. xxii – xxiii; Niccolò Machiavelli, 1532, The Prince, Chapter 1; "Republicanism." Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Mon Jun 19, 2006
[28] D V. Verney, Federalism, Federative Systems, and Federations: The United States, Canada, and India, Publius, Vol. 25, No. 2 (Spring, 1995), pp. 81-97, Oxford University Press, pp. 86-7
[29] This was what The Framers of the United States Constitution meant in 1787, in debates in the Federal (framing) Convention, when they condemned the "excesses of democracy" and abuses under any Democracy of the unalienable rights of The Individual by The Majority. It was in this connection that Jefferson, in his "Notes on the State of Virginia" written in 1781-1782, protected against such excesses by the Virginia Legislature in the years following the Declaration of Independence, saying: "An elective despotism was not the government we fought for . . ."
[31] T L. Pangle, The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age, Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1992
[32] M. D. El-Rayes, al-Nagariyyat al-Siydsiyya fi'l-Islam (Islamic Political Theories) 2nd ed. (Cairo: The Anglo-Egyptian Bookshop, 1957), pp. 9, 159, 302-310; Ibrahim Haddad, al-Dimuqradiyya 'ind al-Arab (Democracy among the Arabs) (Beirut: Simya Press, 1960); Muhammad jHamid al-Jamal, 'Adwa' ala'l-Dimuqratiyya al-'Arabigya (Lights on Arab Democracy) (Cairo: Maktabat al-Nahda al-Misriyya, 1960), pp. 24-40, 92; Abbas M. al-'Aqqad, al-Dimuqrdtiyya fi'l-Islam (Democracy in Islam) (Cairo: Dar al-Ma'arif, 1952), pp. 37, 43 if.
[33] P.1
[34] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 2
[35] Akin to confusing a discussion on military Jihad with jihad against the nafs, the obligatory Salat with the nafila Salat, or the mandatory Siyam with the nafila equivalents.
[36] Traditionally it has been given by the handshake, but the narration of ibn Dinar indicates ibn Umar had given in writing to Abd al-Malik – other means are acceptable too.
[37] Nawawi, Sharh Saheeh Muslim
[38] Fath al-Baari
[39] Al-fasil-fil Milal by Ibnu Hazim, Tarikh of Al-tabari, Al-A'kd Al-Farid of Al-Waqidi, Al-Sira of Ibnu Kathir, Al-Sunan Al-Kubra of Bayhaqi and Siratu Ibn Hisham
[40] Imam Ali (ra), Nahj-ul-Balagha, part 1, p.91
[41] Mawardi, Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniyah, p. 9
[42] Nawawi, Mughni Al-Muhtaj, volume 4, p. 132
[43] Qalqashandi, Subul Al-Asha, volume 9, p. 277
[44] Ibn Hazm, Al-Muhalla, volume 9, p. 360
[45] Al-Imam Al-Sha'rani, Al-Mizan, volume 2, p. 157
[46] Al-Qadhi Abdul-Jabbar, Al-Mughni fi abwab Al-Tawheed, volume 20, p 243
[47] Joziri, Al-Fiqh Alal-Mathahib Al- Arba'a (the fiqh of the four schools of thought), volume 5, p. 416
[48] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 13
[49] Tabari, History of the Prophets and Kings by Muhammad, Vol 3, pp. 294-5
[50] Ibid, pp 25-9
[51] Ibid, pp. 260-1
[52] Suyuti, Tareek al-Khulafah
[53] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 11
[54] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 6
[55] Arabic  jumhuriyya, Turkish  cumhuriyet, Persian and  Urdu jumhuriyet,  etc.
[56] B Lewis, The Concept of an Islamic Republic, Die Welt des Islams, New Series, Vol. 4, Issue 1 (1955), pp. 1-9
[57] Ibid.
[58] Ibid.
[59] Ibid.
[60] History of the Prophets and Kings by Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari, Vol 3, pp. 294-295
[61] “Abd ar-Rahman (ra) was appointed for the istiswaab al-‘am (general elections, lit. public approval) in order to garner public opinion... So this is where the concept of voting and of adult franchise comes in, for every sane (‘aqil) adult (baligh) was entitled to give his opinion. What is this but a vote? So all these concepts of democracy and their roots and origin in Islamic history and when democracy is applied in America, England, Canada and all other countries, they adopt these concepts according to how suitable they are to their own situations”, M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 5
[62] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 5
[63] Fareed Zakaria, The Future of Freedom: Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2003)  
[64] But no, by your Lord you can have no faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them... (Quran al-Nisa:65)
And rule between them by whatever Allah has revealed... (Quran al-Maidah:49)
And those who do not rule by whatever Allah has revealed are the disbelievers... (Quran al-Maidah:44)
[65]  Ibid.
[66] Examples of the former include the recommendation made to the Prophet(saw) regarding utilising the Persian trench system of warfare during the battle of khandaq, the diwan system introduced by Umar ibn al-Khattab to manage the administration of jihad, the use of ledgers to document zakah collection or the establishment of contemporary schools and hospitals and related processes and procedures. Public consensus or opinion is relevant in matters such as the election of the Caliph, members of a shura council, reporting and addressing of grievances and expressing preferences where the revelation permits, such as the Prophet(saw) consulting the Muslims whether they wanted to fight a battle within or outside of Medina. Thus some consultation mechanism needs to be put in place by the state for this domain.
[67] Abd al-Hamid Mutawalli, Mabda' al-Shra ft'l Islam [Cairo, 1972]
[68] Ibn Asaakir in Taareek Dimashq; Mishkaat
[69] Al-Khatib al-Bagdadi: al-Faqih wa al-Mutafaqqih, vol. 2, p. 191
[70] Ibn Hazm, al-Ihkam fi Usul al-Ahkam, vol. 5, p. 87
[71] Ibn al-Qayyim: Igatha al-Lahfan min Masayid ash Shaytan, vol. 1, p.69.
[72] al-Bayhaqi; al-Lalika’i, as-Sunnah, vol. 1 , p. 109
[73] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 14
[74] M T al-Qadri, The Islamic State, p. 1
[75] During the battle of Badr the Prophet accepted the advice of Abu Bakr(ra) regarding the treatment of the prisoners of war and rejected the advice of the other companions. In signing the treaty of Hudaibiya the Prophet(saw) sought advice and rejected the overwhelming consensus the companions presented. After the death of the Prophet(saw) the order to dispatch Osama bin Zaid(ra) as the leader of the Muslim army was issued by Abu Bakr(ra) against the opinion of the majority of the companions. One of the first orders of Umar(ra) as a Caliph was to remove Khalid bin Waleed(ra) from his position of authority despite him being the favoured choice of the companions.
[76] N. J. Coulson, The State and the Individual in Islamic Law, The International and Comparative Law Quarterly, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Jan., 1957), p. 60
[77] Ibn Rushd, The Distinguished Jurist’s Primer, Garnet Publishing Limited, p. xxvii
[78] Criticism of Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi's 'Islamist Democracy' Doctrine,
[79] Dr M T ul-Qadri, “Islamic Concept of Intermediation (Tawassul)”, Minhaj ul-Quran Publications, pp. 357-84



Anonymous said…
Assalamu ALikum. Brother/s, May Allah have his mercy on you. Can we haev the ARABIC version of this write-up, Please??? URGENT and EVIDENT.
Munzir said…
I wish there was similar refutation of Maududi's "The Islamic State". Maududi is the founder of Jamat-e-Islami in Pakistan.

Also, refutation of the concepts of Islamic state put forward by Allama Iqbal, the muslim philosopher whose thought is supposed to have inspired the idea of Pakistan and whose thoughts are a source of inspiration for Pakistanis to this day.

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