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Monday, April 12, 2021
Islamic Ethics as Basic Attribute of Good Governance
By Arman Neyazi, New Age Islam
12 April 2021
Justice, Righteousness, Equality and Piety Are the Core Points of Ethics that Islam Advocates for a Governance That promotes Peace and Happiness of the People
Four Points You should focus on:
1. Islam is a religion of equality and inclusiveness. It teaches lessons of better worldly life with a promise of divine life hereafter.
2. Islam, therefore, takes all the good deeds that make a human being a person of integrity and high moral grounds into consideration.
2. Governance is a basic element that defines our life, be it at the individual, community, national or global level.
4. Moral ethics make life better; hence Islamic moral ethics is needed for a government that focuses on the all round betterment of its people.
Almost all the definitions of ‘governance’ talk of accountability, rule of law, equality and inclusiveness as the indispensable character of ‘good governance.
A human being has all the above-mentioned characteristics in him by birth. He therefore instinctively appreciates ‘good governance’. As an infant one does not ever differentiate from one person to another i.e. inclusiveness and equality. He learns the rules of law followed by his mentors. Mother’s lap is said to be the ‘first school’ of a child. This means the child starts learning, good or bad, from his very first school. As he comes out of his mother’s lap he goes to other educational institutions and learns the rule of society as is prevalent there.
Thus for ‘good governance of a society or a state, the society provided to the infants should be laced with all the characteristics of ‘good governance. As is told, ‘old habits die hard’, the habits of our childhood leave impeccable imprints on our psychological and social behaviour that in turn affects the social orders, we live in.
Islamic Ethics for Governance
In his farewell address, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) shed light on the ethical ideals of Islam that comprises Inclusiveness, social justice, religious freedom among other things, and said:
“There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab, or of a non-Arab over an Arab, and no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except based on personal piety and righteousness.”
Based on the above mentioned Hadees the ethics of good Islamic governance should be ingrained in our personalities to strengthen the roots of our life tree right from our childhood through all the availed social institutions. The holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) has led the way and has given the world its first constitution, which if followed will rid the society from hatred and superiority complex to provide peace and inclusive development of the society. Muslims should let the world know that Islamic ethics comprise of Justice, Righteousness, Equality and Piety. These ethical ingredients if put together during our infancy and young age it could prepare a true citizen. This loyal nationalist citizen will be worthy of being a world citizen who will spread all these righteous Islamic etiquettes that he has learnt from the life of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) and the teachings of the Holy Quran in the world. In the following lines, we will discuss some of the divine qualities that should be there to create a brotherly and peaceful atmosphere all around us and introduce us to the world with good governance.
A just society is the backbone of a happy and peaceful state. History has seen the undoing of unjust societies and states. Islamic ethics considers ‘justice’ as the most powerful pillar of good governance. Allah, the Almighty in the Quran and Prophet Muhammad (SAW) while talking to his companions have always put faith in ‘being just’ for a peaceful and developing state. Following Ayats from the Holy Quran emphasized being just for a prosperous society and state:
“O you who believe stand up as a witness for Allah in all fairness, and do not let the hatred of people deviate you from justice (‘Adl). Be just, this is closest to piety (Quran, Al-Maidah, 5:8)
The above mentioned Ayat reminds me of the theme of a very famous short story by Premchand, namely, 'Panch Parmeshwar', that goes as follows:
Jumman Shaikh and Algu Choudhry, two best friends turn in to worst foes when Algu Choudhry, as a Sarpanch, presided over Jumman's case and decided as per the merit of the case which went against Jumman. Then, after some time Jumman presided over the Panchayat hearing a case against Algu Choudhry. Algu Choudhry was sure that Jumman Shaikh's judgement will go against him. But it did not happen. Jumman Shaikh decided the case on merit and decided in favour of Algu Choudhry. Both the friends came true to the adage, a judge is a god on earth. And they became friends again.
In the following Ayat Allah, Almighty addresses His Messenger (SAW) as he was sent as judge between warring peoples or groups:
....And if you judge, judge between them with justice. Indeed, Allah loves those who act justly. (Surah Al-Ma'idah - 5:42) Saheeh International
…Say: I believe in the Scripture, which God has sent down, and I am commanded to judge justly between you... (Surah Ash-Shura Verse 15)
Justice through mutual consultation also finds a place in the Holy Quran, as under:
....and those who have responded to their Lord (in submission to Him), and have established Salah, and whose affairs are (settled) with mutual consultation between them, and who spend out of what We have given to them, (Surah Ash-Shuraa - 42:38) - Mufti Taqi Usmani
…and consult them in affairs (of the moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in Allah. [Quran 3:159]
Rule of Law
Jurists of the Islamic understanding understood the necessity of establishing a rule of law that does not discriminate between the people based on their class. People of all religions, caste or creed, rich or poor, white or black should be counted equal before the law of the land. Where everybody is subjected to equal treatment for an equal crime. There are various instances where Khulafa appeared before a Qazi and accepted the judgement delivered by them. A Hadees narrated by Hazrat Ayesha (RA) will establish the above-mentioned facts. The Hadees goes as under:
The people of Quraish worried about the lady from Bani Makhzum who had committed theft. They asked, "Who will intercede for her with Allah's Apostle?" Some said, "No one dare to do so except Usama bin Zaid the beloved one to Allah's Apostle." When Usama spoke about that to Allah's Apostle, Allah's Apostle said: "Do you try to intercede for somebody in a case connected with Allah’s Prescribed Punishments?" Then he got up and delivered a sermon saying, "What destroyed the nations preceding you, was that if a noble amongst them stole, they would forgive him, and if a poor person amongst them stole, they would inflict Allah's Legal punishment on him. By Allah, if Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (my daughter) stole, I would cut off her hand."
On the authority of the chosen (elected) people to govern the state, the Holy Quran says:
O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you. [Quran 4:59]
Islamic tenets have ‘equality’ as the foremost principles of good governance. The world knows and quotes from Muhammad (SAW)’s last sermon, ‘There is no superiority of an Arab over a non-Arab…..’
The Holy Quran also says all human beings are equal except by piety and good deeds. The Holy Quran in the following verse says that it only one’s good deeds that differentiate from one person to another and raises his standing from among his fellow beings. The Holy Quran says:
"O you who believe! be maintainers of justice, bearers of witness of Allah's sake, Though it may be against your own selves or (your) parents or near relatives; if he be rich or poor, Allah is nearer to them both in compassion; therefore do not follow (your) low desires, lest you deviate; and if swerve or turn aside, then surely Allah is aware of what you do". (Surah An-Nisa - 4:135)
Equality described in the following Ahadees:
"He who sleeps on a full stomach whilst his neighbour goes hungry is not one of us." (Prophet Muhammad)
"A believer wants for his brother what he wants for himself." (Prophet Muhammad)
.....and acknowledge the rights of the poor, neighbours and beggars." (Prophet Muhammad)
Prophet Muhammad SWT said:
O mankind, your Lord is one and your father is one. You all descended from Aadam, and Aadam was created from earth. He is most honoured among you in the sight of God who is most upright. (At-Tirmidhi).
Equality is one thing that brings a sense of brotherly recognition in society and ceases the sense of hatred and jealousness among people. Prophet Muhammad (SAW) implemented the deed of Covenant of Medina (ميثاقالمدينة) in letter and spirit. He talked to the people of the city-State of Medina and governed it through the consent of its citizens which brought a sense of equality and brotherhood in the people.
We, the citizens of various nations are mired in controversies and hypocrisies of our world politics. There is a chaos of confusion. World is heading towards an economic slowdown because of different reasons and all this has widened the gulf between the people. The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poor, although the natural resources are in abundance. We need the Islamic ethics of ‘good governance more than ever.
The question is, why most of the Muslim nations are losing on the point of ethical governance based on the tenets of Islam. Whichever community of nation will lose its ethic, will lose its grip on the prosperity of its people.