84. Should I obey my Government and its laws?

God’s people obey those in authority unless they are choosing or being forced to do evil. The prophet John gives us insight into the work of evil and good, in nations and leadership: ‘The whole world has now become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He will reign forever and ever. The twenty- four elders sitting on their thrones before God fell with their faces to the ground and worshiped him. And they said, ‘We give thanks to you, Lord God, the Almighty, the one who is and who always was, for now you have assumed your great power and have begun to reign. The nations were filled with wrath, but now the time of your wrath has come. It is time to judge the dead and reward your servants the prophets, as well as your holy people, and all who fear your name, from the least to the greatest. It is time to destroy all who have caused destruction on the earth.’ (Revelation 11:15). This is a reference to people who disobeyed the ordained authorities and brought havoc to the earth.

Paul instructed Timothy to ‘pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity.’(1 Tim 2: 2). From the wisdom of King Solomon we learn, ‘When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice, but when the wicked are in power, they groan.’ (Proverbs 29:2).

From the first Islâmic state in Medina, a city in Arabia, until just after World War I, there was a Caliph (Khalifa), the leader of the Muslims, and an Islâmic government somewhere in the world. In 1923 of the Common Era (CE), with the end of the Caliphate, Islâmic government ceased. In Muslim majority countries, all of which were at that time under the influence or direct control of European governments, the legal and political systems introduced were modelled on those of the Christian states of the West. Various countries copied or had imposed upon them, the systems of Europe. The British political and legal system was introduced to some areas, others copied the French, and some the Swiss. In nearly every country the institutions based upon the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islâm, were abolished. In the last part of the twentieth century, and now in the early part of the twenty first century, the demand for the Islâmic system of government is reviving. After years of neglect it is once again becoming a question for serious study. Revolutions are happening in many Muslim countries seeking to overthrow dictators who usurp Islâmic authority and have resisted the implementation of Shariah law.

The Sunni system of government under Islâm is based upon the Qur’an and the Sunna or Traditions of the Prophet Muhammad. As an Islâmic government has to suit many different times and situations, the basic rules and principles are set out in the Qur’an but the details are for the Muslims of a particular time or place to decide. There has always been a lot of discussion amongst Muslim scholars about the best way to implement these rules and principles.

The sovereignty of God, the message conveyed by all the prophets, is the foundation of the system. Legislation contained in the Qur’an becomes the basic law of the state. This puts the fundamental law of the society beyond the lobbying power of particular interest groups and tries to ensure that legislation is just and equitable for Muslims. The Islâmic government must make decisions on the basis of what God has revealed. If it does not, according to the Qur’an, it is not Islâmic, for those who make decisions on other than what God has revealed are unbelievers (Surah 5 Al Ma’idah ayah 44). In cases not covered by revelation, decisions based on Islâmic principles are left to the Mujtahids, Islâmic experts on legal interpretation. The Muslims can make laws or regulations dealing with such matters, but these do not have the same permanence as Qur’anic injunctions.

Allâh said in the Qur’an that He was going to create a ‘caliph’ or representative upon the earth (2:30). Human beings are these caliphs. This means that all humanity is responsible for the establishment of the laws and principles revealed by God, not some superior class of priests or holy men. Thus Islâmic government is not a theocracy in that sense. All human beings are supposed to be equal. The only distinction made by Allâh is in their degree of righteousness. Islâm allows no distinction amongst people on the basis of tribe or race, ethnic group or amount of wealth, but it does distinguish on the basis of faith. Dhimmis are second-class citizens. The Muslims are different from all other people in that they are conscious of the importance of submission to Allâh’s decrees.

The establishment of justice for all citizens of the state, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is one of the major purposes of the Islâmic system of government. However non-Muslims remain second- class citizens and must be subdued (4:141; 18:26; 3:28; 9:29). It says in the Qur’an, ‘We sent before

Our apostles, with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance (of Right and Wrong), that humanity may stand forth in justice.’(57:25). Corruption, bribery, abuse of authority, the creation of social conflict for personal or group benefit, torture, exploitation and oppression are all evils against which the Islâmic system must struggle. It is the duty of every individual Muslim, and of the Islâmic government, to strive for justice and to prevent and oppose evil. If injustice spreads in a community with none to denounce it, then that whole community and its government is considered to be transgressing the law of God. Where injustice is rife there cannot be peace. The Qur’an warns that nations in the past have been destroyed for such neglect.

Consultation has a high status in Islâm. This is indicated by the name of Surah 42 Al Shura or ‘Consultation’. It is in this surah that those people who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation are linked to those who establish regular prayer and those who spend on helping others (42:38). The extent of the consultation to be carried out is not defined in detail. Some scholars argue that only those knowledgeable about Islâm need be consulted. Most Muslims do not attempt to try to understand or interpret the Qur’an without consulting scholars. Others argue that this is an endorsement of mass consultation through general elections. The principle of consultation is however quite clearly essential, and how it is implemented will be related to the temper of the time or the location. Although non-Muslims were not involved in consultation in the early period of the birth of Islâm, and Surah 3 Ali ’Imran ayah 28 excludes non-Muslims from consultation on national affairs or affairs dealing with the beliefs of the Muslims. The head of state must implement the Qur’an and Sunnah, so it is necessary that this position should be held by a Muslim.

Islâmic government is a system of government which follows the laws and principles of the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Muhammad. Government is the responsibility of all humanity, especially of those people who understand that they are the ‘caliphs’ of God, not the privilege of a ruling class of theocrats. Islâmic government enforces the law of equality and it establishes the rule of justice except for non-Muslims. It is based upon consultation. Muslims believe that only when this system is established can there be justice and harmony in society. Non-Muslims have very few rights in an Islâmic Society and they are regarded as dhimmis. They are like foreigners in their homeland. This concept of the alienation of the non-believer is a breach of God’s moral code in the Torah (Surah 3 ayat 3, 93; 5 ayat 46, 66), that the Qur’an states should be revered by Muslims. Read Exodus 22:21; 23:9; Leviticus 19:34; 23:22; Deuteronomy 10:18 – the second, third and fifth books of the Torah’s five books.

For Shia the idea of government is expressed in the words of Khomeini who believed that the need for governance of the faqih was obvious to good Muslims. That ‘anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islâm’ would ‘unhesitatingly give his assent to the principle of the governance of the faqih (a scholar who understand the Theology of Islâm) as soon as he encounters it,’ because the principle has ‘little need of demonstration, for anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islâm ….’ Nonetheless Khomeini listed several reasons why Islâmic government is necessary:

• To prevent ‘encroachment by oppressive ruling classes on the rights of the weak,’ and plundering and corrupting the people for the sake of ‘pleasure and material interest,’ To prevent ‘innovation’ in Islâmic law ‘and the approval of the anti-Islâmic laws by sham parliaments,’ and so

• To preserve ‘the Islâmic order’ and keep all individuals on ‘the just path of Islâm without any deviation,’ ‘it is because the just fuqaha have not had executive power in the land inhabited by Muslims … that Islâm has declined.’

• To destroy ‘the influence of foreign powers in the Islâmic lands.’

In its operation, Islâmic government is regarded by Muslims as superior to non-Islâmic government in many ways. (Though Islâmic government is to be universal, and Khomeini sometimes compares it to (allegedly) un-Islâmic governments in general throughout the Muslim world, more often he contrasts it specifically with the Shah’s government in Iran—though he doesn’t mention him by name.) In an interview with Consul Ali Banafsheh Khah of ‘The Islâmic Republic of Iran’ in Wellington, New Zealand, in October, 2011, Mr Banafsheh Khah informed the author that Iran had the perfect Government, and Islâm was the perfect religion, so he could not understand why anyone would leave Iran. His conclusion was that all Iranians seeking asylum in New Zealand were either liars or mentally deranged.

Islâmic government is constitutional, but ‘not constitutional in the current sense of word, i.e., based on the approval of laws in accordance with the opinion of the majority.’ Instead of the customary executive, legislative and judicial branches of government, ‘in an Islâmic government, a simple planning body takes the place of the legislative assembly that is one of the three branches of government’ — a legislature is unnecessary because ‘no one has the right to legislate … except … the Divine Legislator.’

Islâmic government raises revenue ‘on the basis of the taxes that Islâm has established – ‘khums’ (booty taken in war), ‘zakat’ … ‘jizya’ (tax from infidels), and ‘khaja’ (tax).’ Muslims regard their tax system as providing an abundance because ‘khums is a huge source of income.’ This is indicative of the tribal mentality of continually conquering others to gain wealth. Islâmic Government is intended to be just but it will also be unsparing with ‘troublesome’ groups that cause ‘corruption in Muslim society,’ and damage ‘Islâm and the Islâmic state.’ In this regard it will follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad who eliminated the tribal heads of Bani Qurayza, after their murderous treachery. Those who assist Muslims in their apostasy will likely be treated the same way.

Islâmic government will follow the unflinching courage and rectitude of Imam ’Ali. His seat of command was simply the corner of a mosque; he threatened to have the hand of his daughter cut off if she did not pay back a loan from the treasury; and he ‘lived more frugally than the most impoverished students.’ Scholars who support Islâmic government say it will follow the ‘victorious and triumphant’ armies of early Muslims who set out from the mosque to go into battle and ‘fear only God,’ and follow the Qur’anic command ‘Prepare against them whatever force you can muster and horses tethered’ In fact, ‘if the form of government willed by Islâm were to come into being, none of the governments now existing in the world would be able to resist it; they would all capitulate.’ It is hard to imagine ‘peace’ in a society where the ummah listening to a zealous Imam on a Friday morning can leave the mosque, and go out and implement justice on those whom the Imam has espoused are the enemies of Islâm without any judicial process. Living in Jakarta for just two weeks in the riots of 1998, Mr and Mrs Pengajar Rohani were first hand witnesses to the murder and rape of innocent Indonesian citizens done in the name of Allâh and learned what terrible consequences can come from this type of mob rule.

Khomeini spends a large part of his book explaining why Islâmic government had not yet been established, despite the fact that the need for governance of the faqih is obvious to ‘anyone who has some general awareness of the beliefs and ordinances of Islâm.’