يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّـهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ ۖ فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّـهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّـهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ خَيْرٌ وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلًا “O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” (An-Nisaa, 4:59)
The Caliphate’s judiciary is responsible for issuing judgments that are enforced by the state. It settles disputes between people, prevents whatever may harm the rights of the community and also settles disputes between people and any person who is part of the government whether this is the Caliph, his cabinet, civil servants or any other official.1
Executive powers of the Caliph The executive branch of government is responsible for the day-to-day management of the state. Islam does not believe in collective ruling where the executive powers are shared among a cabinet of ministers. In parliamentary democracy the Prime Minister is ‘first among equals’, having limited powers of interference in his cabinet minister’s departments. Sharing executive power among government ministers with separate portfolios (departments) leads to immense bureaucracy and lengthy delays in resolutions to problems. It also leads to political infighting and rivalry between government departments. Normally the head of the treasury emerges as the second most powerful minister since he must approve the budgets for all other departments which he can use to wield political influence. Tony Blair and Gordon Brown’s fractious relationship in the UK is an example of this.
Ruling Contracts The relationship between the ruler and the ruled and their corresponding rights was discussed by thinkers such as Rousseau during the enlightenment period. Rousseau developed the theory of a social contract which underpins modern western societies. While Islam views the relationship between the ruler and the ruled as a contract this bears no resemblance to the social contract theory. There are three ruling contracts in the Caliphate. These are: Bay’ah – contract between the Muslims and the Caliph Dhimmah – contract between the non-Muslim citizens and the Caliph Mu’aahadaat (treaties) – contract between other states and the Caliph The Bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) The second principle of the Islamic ruling system is that ‘Authority belongs to the Ummah.’1 The Caliph is not a king or dictator who imposes his authority on the people through coercion and force. The Caliph’s authority to rule MUST be given willingly by the Muslims through the Islamic ruling contract known as Bay’ah.2 Without this Bay’ah the Caliph cannot rule. The Bay’ah contract is between two parties – the …
Legislation in the Caliphate Unlike a King or dictator, the Caliph cannot legislate laws from his own mind that suit his personal or family interests. Although the Caliph holds all executive powers within the Caliphate his powers are restricted by the shari’a. Many orientalists acknowledged this separation of powers. C.A. Nallino said:
Adam Smith, the 18th Century founder of modern economics whose picture is printed on the current UK £20 note, was exceedingly inspired by the Islamic method of governing. He proclaimed that:
A team was dispatched from the US State Department in 1877 to assess the treatment of Jews in the Ottoman Caliphate. Their findings that Jews were very well treated and not persecuted are described in the news article below published on Wednesday 23rd August 1877 by the New York Times.