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Obligations of the Islamic Government

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Ali Rezaei 

Concept of government

The concept of government in Quranic teachings is much more extensive than what has been suggested by conventional political science. Although government means the process of enforcing policies and making decisions by officialdom, but in Quran, special tasks have been assigned to it which changes its nature. According to Quranic teachings, caliphate and guardianship of God aims to pave the way for human perfection. Therefore, everything takes its meaning in the light of monotheism and human perfection.

Review of Quranic verses on qualifications of rulers, will clearly show what responsibilities are shouldered by an Islamic government and in what fields it should be active.

Since in its Quranic sense, in addition to political legitimacy and popularity, a government also requires endorsement by religion, no government without that qualification can be considered legitimate. Perhaps in Islamic concept of rule, the issue of efficiency is as important as basic qualifications of rulers. That is, to the same extent that special qualifications are needed for rulers without which they lose their religions and political legitimacy, inefficiency of the government will face it with legitimacy crisis.

Obligations of government

Government’s obligations can be divided into two broad categories: Those obligations which are related to psychological, social and national security and peace; and obligations which pertain to economic comfort and welfare.

Establishment of order and security

From the viewpoint of Quran, the most important obligation and responsibility of an Islamic government is to establish order and security and to defend the lives and property of people and citizens. In Verse 99, Chapter Yusef, when he talks about immigration of Israel’s sons to Egypt, Yusef (AS) tells them if they went to Egypt they would leave in peace and security.

In verses 246-251 of Chapter Baghareh, it says that the Sons of Israel were attacked by their enemies after Moses (AS) passed away and some of them were taken into captivity while others were either killed or banished from their land. Therefore, they asked their prophet to give them a king who would take charge of political and military affairs of the society, help them achieve their political goals and prevent them from being sacked, killed or exiled. Therefore, the main goal behind the establishment of government is to establish security and this is a major obligation for any Islamic rule.

Forging unity

Another responsibility for the government from the viewpoint of Quran is to create unity among Muslim nations and the Islamic ummah. Therefore, the government should not only forge unity, but also sustain it and prevent differences. In Verse 59 of Chapter Nisa (Women), God has noted that while people should obey the government, the officials should make plans to prevent disputes and adopt correct decisions to manage the society on the basis of fundamental laws which have their roots in divine teachings as well as rational and logical principles. In case of any difference, they should try to protect unity by making correct judgments.

Realization of social justice

Just in the same way that the government should protect unity by making correct judgments about differences, those judgments should be based on justice. In Verse 26, Chapter Sad, Quran explains about the rule of Davood and notes that he was missioned by God to judge among people on the basis of truth and justice.

The rulers should also prevent innocent people from being punished instead of guilty ones and do not let any person’s rights to be ignored (Chapter Yusef: 78-79).

Fighting injustice

Fighting injustice and tyranny is another duty and responsibility for governments in Quran. Quran has noted that it is incumbent upon Islamic governments to fight injustice and try to facilitate social regulations and people’s affairs. They should not enforce austere laws and combine law enforcement with lenience and kindness (Chapter Kahf : 87-88).

According to Quran, the Islamic government should think about all human beings and humanity. Therefore, Quran has noted that Muslim governments are duty-bound to save the oppressed and has called on governments to fight for emancipation of the oppressed anywhere in the world.

In Verse 75, Chapter Nisa, God asks the faithful what happened to them that they won’t fight for the sake of God and for the emancipation of the oppressed from the rule of tyrants. It is incumbent upon the Islamic ummah and government to fight against tyrant governments and help people who have reached out to them for help.

Reforming the society

Another obligation of the government is to do its best to improve social conditions through needed reforms. Efforts aimed at improving the society is a critical principle, not only for statesmen, but also for all human beings. Therefore, social reforms are so important that Quran says prophets were assigned to implement them. Every government is duty-bound to get the society on the right track and try to prevent spread of corruption and all kinds of vice. This is the main point mentioned by Imam Hossein (AS) when he wanted to explain the reason behind his uprising. He said, “I have risen to correct ummah of my grandfather. I have only risen to correct the behaviors and norms of my grandfather’s ummah and to fight the tyrant government.”

Therefore, correcting the society and preventing spread of corruption is a duty of the Islamic government, which has been mentioned in Verse 205 of Chapter Baghareh.

Another important duty for the Islamic government is attention to reproduction and education of Muslim children. Social teachings should be such that they would protect Islamic identity of Muslim youth. Of course, when Quranic verses have touched upon reproduction of Muslims in a general sense, it both means encouraging people to have offspring and to raise their children on the basis of Islamic teachings. Reproduction is necessary because ummah will decline if due attention is not paid to reproduction. Also, in the absence of necessary education and laying needed grounds for sociability, the Muslim society will be faced with a serious identity crisis. Therefore, Quran has put special emphasis on the importance of reproduction (Chapter Baghareh: 205).

Management of economic affairs

When it comes to people’s comfort and welfare, Quran has mentioned management of economic affairs as another duty of the Muslim government (Chapter Nisa: 53; Chapter Yusef: 55) and has put emphasis on the need for government and planners to predict economic conditions (Yusef: 47-48).

Another economic goal for a Muslim government is to control production and distribution of essential commodities which are needed by human societies under critical conditions when crisis is on the horizon (Yusef: 47).

Quran has chided governments and rulers which do not pay due attention to economic affairs of their people and are careless about economic situation of the society and Muslim ummah (Chapter Nisa: 53).

Anyway, it is a duty of the government to pay special attention to economy, particularly agriculture, which supplies needed foodstuff, and formulate accurate plans to develop that sector (Chapter Baghareh: 205).

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم