Red, White and Black


Maududi, the Islamic State and Jamaat-i-Islami : Part III
21 April, 2006, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Pakistan

Part III looks at the structural conception of the Islamic state according to Maududi and then presents my own take on the system.


The earlier two posts outlined the theology and the political ideology that was developed by Maududi. The political ideology of Maududi leads to a certain structure of the state, which strongly resembles the modern presidential form of democracy.

Maududi's theo-democratic state has an amir as the head of state. The state has three functionaries – the executive, the legislature and the judiciary. The head of the state will also head all these bodies but the bodies will be independent within the state structure.

The head of the state is to be elected through mutual consultation among the Muslims, but the actual mode of election has not been elaborated upon. Maududi contends that it is an open decision dependent upon the society and the times.
The legislature is responsible for formulating laws for the state under the light of the injunctions of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet laid out in the Sunnah. The legislature does not have the right to formulate any law outside the powers vested in it by Divine Law and cannot also formulate any laws contradictory to the set of Divine Laws. The can develop new laws on matters upon which no direct guidance can be found in the set of Divine Laws. But this must of course be done under the purview of the Quran and the Sunnah.

The executive is tasked with creating a favorable society for the implementation of the law formulated by the legislature. The executive must ensure that the laws formulated by the legislature are implemented in society and the obedience of the masses is cultivated. The executive is also entitled with the task of maintaining a disciplined and order society.
The judiciary is present to execute the law of the state. The judiciary is not meant to pass judgments against Divine law, but to help uphold it.
The members of the legislature can be elected through general elections, but only on the condition that these elections are not reduced to the vile form they have attained in the modern world. Maududi says that the members who constitute the legislature must hold the confidence of the masses and must come with the desire to work towards a better society.

Lastly, the main concern would be to limit the powers of the head of the state so that he does not turn into a dictator. This would require that the head of the state is not only legally accountable but is also accountable to the masses – that is he must enjoy popular support. Further Maududi accords the judiciary with the right to nullify any law passed by the legislature which it deems to be against the principles laid out in the Quran and the Sunnah.

My Views

I held back my own views on the topic earlier for I felt that Maududi's conception of the state can only be understood if we know the theological and the ideological basis. I shall begin with addressing the questions raised in the comments of the last post.

Before I go on to answer whether this is a working model in the current world, let me answer the other two questions. Maududi does define some mechanisms for the election of the legislature and the head of the state. But as it can be determined from the above discussion, he leaves it open to the times. Now this makes it slightly problematic – since we are largely working with moralist qualities of the candidates. For example, considerd the head of the state – the traditional measure is that he is the most knowledgeable in the teachings of God, pious and wise.

But then how do you determine who is the most knowledgeable? And especially in our times when there is such variance in the views of the scholars themselves. So then what do you do? I can see this system working in smaller societies – but given the "choice" paradigm of democratic societies that Maria mentions – then it becomes quite difficult to gauge. If you have ten different interpretations for a single verse, so even if you go with the majority opinion and support one of the learned men, dissident voices will still be heard. This is no different from any democracy, but this case is more volatile because conceptually you are dealing with the ideas that are considered to be divinely ordained. 

Then I suppose, we need to define some other criteria to choose the head of the state. The selection of the legislature would be pose similar problems but on a smaller and manageable scale.

Similarly- what is to become of non-Muslims in such a society? Well – Maududi gives them the status of dhimmis and they have all right except that they have to be subservient politically to the Islamic state. They cannot attempt to introduce a political system that will challenge the basic ideological norms of the Islamic state. But then if we are to implement a certain version of Islamic Shariah in the state – then what about the sects who don't conform to that view? They would be given the same status as dhimmis. This doesn’t quite gel for me.

So to answer the question raised at the beginning:  it is evident that it will be very difficult to implement Maududi's model of the Islamic state even in a plural Muslim society in the curremt times. But his model is nonetheless intriguing as it attempted to assimilate the modern concepts of the state and governance. Only, I don't think that he has been quite so successful.

Part I

Part II

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Nice site. Thank to work…

Comment by maida

[…] Part II 6 Comments so far Leave a comment […]

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