Quranic Indexes of Religious Government from Viewpoint of Martyr Motahhari

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seyed Samad Mousavi

Martyr Morteza Motahhari has discussed various aspects of religious and Quranic issues. Such issues as structure of religion, divine origin of religion, the reason for inclination toward religion or rejection of it as well as the relationship between religion and government were his major interests. In this paper, the approach taken by Motahhari to religious government and its Quranic origin will be discussed.

Definition of government

Government is derived from the Arabic word, “Hukm” which means preventing reforms  or preventing tyranny.

In the book called “Lisan ul-Arab (Language of Arab)”, hakim (governor) has been defined as a person who prevents tyranny and despotism.

In political and social sciences, government means “a connection between people and the ruling body, which attaches them together and protects laws as well as political and civil freedoms.”  Governance also means a superior power which enforces laws and implements them and there is no power above it.

Quran has expressed this concept, which is closely related to political sciences, using such words as “hokm”, “molk”, “khalaf”, and “wali”.

Goals of the religious government

Islam does not limit the goals of the religious government to establishment of welfare and security and also pays attention to spiritual aspects of the Islamic society. A Quranic government should pave the way for a desirable moral life based on religion. In addition to ensuring public welfare, especially for needy people, it should also provide good grounds for promotion of religion and divine culture. One of the goals of faithful rulers is that they care both for spiritual promotion of the society as well as welfare of people and solving economic problems of people . A divine rule in one in which security, industry, management and natural resources accompany spiritual values.

Implementing obligations

One of the most important goals of a religious government is implementing obligations. As put by Quran: “Those who, if we established them in the land, will establish the prayers and pay the obligatory charity, order with honor and forbid dishonor, and to Allah is the end of all affairs.” (Chapter Haj:  41)

Establishment of justice

Another goal of such government is establishment of justice. Quran has noted that endeavoring to establish justice is a religious obligation for monotheists . The Almighty God orders Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) to tell people that: “I am ordered to be just among you” (Chapter Shoura: 15). It also considers implementation of justice as the main duty of rulers  and says: “And when you judge between people you judge with justice” (Chapter Nisa: 58).

Establishment of security

Another goal of the government is establishment of security. As Quran has said in Verse 55 of Chapter Nour (Light), the main goal behind the rule of the faithful is to establish divine religion on Earth and realize monotheism and complete security.  Quran maintains that if God were obeyed, the result would be security and calm: “Allah has promised those of you who believe and do good works that he will indeed make them successors in the land as he made those who were before them successors, and that he will indeed establish their religion for them; that which he has approved for them, and will exchange safety for them after their fear. They worship me and associate nothing with me. After that, those who disbelieve are the impious” (Chapter Nour: 55).

Protecting borders

From the viewpoint of Quran, another goal of a divine rule is to bolster defense capabilities and protect boundaries of the Islamic lands. Quran say: “Muster against them whatever you are able of force and tethers (ropes) of horses, so that you strike terror into the enemies of Allah and your enemy, and others besides them whom you do not know but Allah does. All that you spend in the way of Allah shall be repaid to you. You shall not be wronged.” (Chapter Anfal: 60)

Reforming society

Reforming various aspects of the society is another goal of the Islamic government. Quran maintains that correcting people’s beliefs and human behavior as well as determining the limits of their freedoms is a mission for prophets . Quran also asserts that reforming the society and bolstering agriculture as well as protecting human race is among major characteristics of a religious government.

Establishment of welfare

Establishment of welfare is another goal of the religious government   which includes development of the country, protecting public assets and fair distribution of those assets in the society, as well as promoting education, social welfare, and protecting the oppressed.

Allameh Martyr Morteza Motahhari has noted: “The government and ruling system, in fact, is manifestation of social power against foreign invasion and is also manifestation of justice and domestic security and manifestation of domestic laws as well as social decisions made on foreign relations.”

Necessity of government

Quran has emphasized on the necessity of law and government for the human society  and has noted: “…and with them he sent down the book with the truth, that he might rule between the people in that which they differ” (Chapter Baqara: 312).

It also puts emphasis on the necessity of the government for guiding human beings. Quran says: “If it was not for the bounty of Allah and his mercy, all but a few of you would have followed Satan.” (Chapter Nisa: 38). If in this Quranic verse, “bounty” and “mercy” denotes the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), then God has made guidance of people conditional on the rule of pious people. Therefore, there is no other way to guide people, but to establish the rule of the pious.

Martyr Motahhari has updated viewpoints about the need to establish such a government. He rejects the viewpoint of Marxism which considers the government a product of the affluent social classes in order to exploit the poor, and has written about the need for the establishment of government, even in a classless society as such: “As we said before, even in a classless society, internal justice is not realized spontaneously and crime cannot be uprooted automatically. Even a communist society needs national defense and foreign relations unless we assumed that future human society would be a single society and, therefore, there would be no foreign enemies or foreign relations. In that case, there would be no need to ministry of defense or ministry of foreign affairs. Since the root cause of all aggression and unrests is ownership, there would be no need to justice department or the police force. Therefore, there would be no need to government. However, even in that case, the question that arises is what about secondary human needs? The government is needed to guide people in an age of development.”

When talking about the need for government, Martyr Motahhari quotes Imam Ali (AS), saying, “Ali (AS) has frequently emphasized on the need for establishment of a powerful government and fought the idea of Khawarij who claimed that in the presence of Quran, there would be no need for government.

“Khawarij believed that “the rule is only for God”. This slogan had been adapted from Quran and meant that God is the only authority which can pass laws. However, Khawarij interpreted that sentence in another way and as put by Imam Ali (AS): “They intended something wrong by asserting a correct fact.” They maintained that human beings have no right to rule because it was an exclusive right for God. Imam Ali (AS) said the right to pass laws was God’s right, but it was not rational to expect God to rule the people. God’s laws should be enforced by humans and people had no choice, but to have a ruler, either good or bad. It is under the rule of a government that the faithful work for God and infidels enjoy worldly pleasures. It is the government that collects taxes, fights the enemies, secures the roads and takes the rights of the oppressed from the oppressors. Like other men of God, Ali (AS) disdains worldly posts and government which simply serves human ambitions…. However, he considers a rightful government as something sacred and prevents rivals from usurping it. He even goes as far as using sword to prevent their access to government.”

Fundaments of Legitimacy
Velayat Faqih

Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and his progeny were religious authorities, judges and rulers. There is no argument about transfer of the first two powers from Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Infallible Imams (AS) to Shiite jurists; there are arguments about the third power.

The issue is whether the rule of jurists is ordained by God, as was the case with Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and Infallible Imams (AS), or does it depend on people’s votes?

As for possible transfer of these posts to jurists, Motahhari writes: “The position of prophethood is personal and cannot be transferred. However, judgment and rulership are general titles. Therefore, it is not possible to describe specifications of prophethood in general and say that everybody who enjoys those specifications can be prophet. However, judgment and rulership can be described in a general manner. That is, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) may say whoever with specified qualifications can be judged after him. Therefore if somebody enjoyed those qualifications can claim that he has been appointed by God because I can be judge according to specifications which have been given by Prophet of God.”

Qualifications of Leader and Ruler

According to Article 109 of the Iranian Constitution, leader of the Islamic society should have the following qualifications:

  1. Necessary scientific qualification for issuing fatwas on various issues related to Islamic jurisprudence;
  2. Justice and piety needed for leading Muslim ummah;
  3. Correct political and social insight, good management, courage, and enough stamina to be a leader.

Explaining about qualifications of a Muslim leader, Martyr Motahhari has mentioned conditions for leader of the Islamic system. Here, three conditions, which are most important will be explained:

Knowledge of Islam

The leader of the Islamic system should have good knowledge of Islam and be aware of issues of his time. “Who then is worthier to be followed he who guides to the truth, or he who cannot guide unless he (himself) is guided? What is the matter with you, how then can you judge?” (Chapter Younes: 53). It is evident from this Quranic verse that the jurist leader implements orders of God and guides people toward him. Therefore, he who guides people toward truth would be most eligible to lead the Islamic society and the jurist leader is the best choice for Muslim ummah.

From the viewpoint of Martyr Motahhari, leadership of one who has no knowledge of Islam will cause diversion in the Islamic society. He maintains that social leaders should be specialists in religion and the clergy is embodiment of this idea.

He says: “Who and what group is qualified to lead an Islamic movement whose goals are Islamic? Obviously, it can be led by people who in addition to general qualifications would be genuine Islamic scholars and quite familiar with goals as well as moral, social, political and spiritual agenda of Islam. They should have good knowledge of Islamic worldview and be aware of Islam’s viewpoint about humans and human society. The ideology of Islam means the general plan that Islam has for humanity and human society. It tells us how human beings should live, how they should shape their society, and in what direction they should move. Obviously, only people can take charge of that leadership who are fully aware of Islamic Sunna and jurisprudence. Therefore, the clergy is the only choice for the leadership of the Islamic movement.”

i  Al Mufradat fi Gharayeb al-Quran; 1st edition, p. 842
ii  Mu’jam Maqayyis al-Lughat, vol. 2, p. 19
iii  Lisan ul-Arab, vol. 3, p. 72
iv  Social Contract; p. 94
v  Dictionary of Quran, vol. 21, p. 88
vi  Tafsir Nour, Mohsen Qara’ati, vol. 8, p. 15
vii  Ibid, vol. 1, p. 211

طراحی و توسعه آگاه‌سیستم