The Purpose of the Islamic State
The Qur’an clearly states that the aim and purpose of the Islamic state is the establishment, maintenance and development of those virtues which the Creator wishes human life to be enriched by and the prevention and eradication of those evils in human life which He finds abhorrent. The Islamic state is intended neither solely as an instrument of political administration nor for the fulfillment of the collective will of any particular set of people. Rather, Islam places a high ideal before the state, which it must use all the means at its disposal to achieve.
This ideal is that the qualities of purity, beauty, goodness, virtue, success and prosperity which Allah wants to flourish in the life of humankind should be engendered and developed and that all kinds of exploitation, injustice and disorder which, in the sight of Allah, are ruinous for the world and detrimental to the life of His creatures, should be suppressed and prevented. Islam gives us a clear outline of its moral system by stating positively the desired virtues and the undesired evils. Keeping this outline in view, the Islamic state can plan its welfare policies in every era and in any context.
The constant demand made by Islam is that the principles of morality must be observed at all costs and in all walks of life. Hence, it lays down as an unalterable policy that the state should base its policies on justice, truth and honesty. It is not prepared, under any circumstances, to tolerate fraud, falsehood and injustice for the sake of political, administrative or so-called national interest. Whether it is domestic relations within the state, or international relations with other nations, precedence must always be given to truth, honesty and justice.
Islam imposes similar obligations on the state and the individual: to fulfill all contracts and obligations; to have uniform standards in all interactions and transactions; to remember obligations along with rights and not to forget the rights of others when expecting them to fulfill their obligations; to use power and authority for the establishment of justice and not for the perpetration of injustice; to look upon duty as a sacred obligation and to fulfill it scrupulously; and to regard power as a trust from Allah to be used in the belief that one has to render an account of one’s actions in this world but also, most importantly, to Him in the life hereafter.
Although an Islamic state may be set up anywhere on earth, Islam does not seek to restrict human rights or privileges to the boundaries of such a state. Islam has laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity which are to be observed and respected in all circumstances. For example, human blood is sacred and may not be spilled without strong justification such as criminal punishment after a fair trial or in a just war; it is not permissible to oppress women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded; women’s honor and chastity must be respected. These rights are for all people, irrespective of whether they belong to the Islamic community — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — or are from amongst its enemies. These and other provisions have been laid down by Islam as fundamental rights for every human being by virtue of his status as a creation of Allah.
Nor, in Islam, are the rights of citizenship confined to people born in a particular state. A Muslim ipso facto becomes the citizen of an Islamic state as soon as he sets foot on its territory with the intention of living there and thus enjoys equal rights along with those who acquire its citizenship by birth. And every Muslim is to be regarded as eligible for positions of the highest responsibility in an Islamic state without distinction of race, sex, color or class. These rights have been challenged, of course, by the division of the Muslim nation into nation states in the modern era after independence from colonialism. Many attempts have been made to unite these states but in vain, due to numerous reasons that can be discussed at length separately.
Islam has also laid down rights for non-Muslims who may be living within the boundaries of an Islamic state, and these rights necessarily form part of the Islamic constitution. The life, property and honor of non-Muslim citizens is to be respected and protected in exactly the same way as that of Muslim citizens. Nor is there difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim citizen in respect of civil or criminal law, though there are differences in family law in respect of the diversity of religious practices and family codes.
The Islamic state may not interfere with the personal rights of non-Muslims, who have full freedom of conscience and belief and are at liberty to perform their religious rites and ceremonies in their own way.
Even if a non-Muslim state oppresses its Muslim citizens, it is not permissible for an Islamic state to retaliate against its own non-Muslim citizens. It may not unjustly shed the blood of a single non-Muslim citizen living within its boundaries.