Democracy: The Religious and the Political in Contemporary Islamic Debate - Part II

However, the downfall of the al-khilafa ar-rashida model, and the emergence of al-mulk al-`adud (snapping dynasty) model, cannot be explained merely by the hypothesis that the ideal model was perhaps too advanced or that it was only intended to be a minar et, or a lighthouse, or that it was meant to act as a source of guidance and inspiration for Muslim generations to come. The rapid changes in the nature of the Islamic state, which the Muslims could not at the time cope with at an equal rate, is the principal cause of decline. The disproportionate transformation of the Caliphate from a city state to an Empire state prevented the government of the day from coping with developments. In the meantime, the Sahaba were keen to preserve, as much as they could, t he model they inherited from the Prophet. Ghannouchi cites as an example the events of what is known in the history of Islam as al-fitna al-kubra (the great sedition), which led to the assassination of `Uthman (the third Caliph), and, henceforth, to a ser ies of hurub (inter-Muslim wars; pl. of harb) that were indeed the midwife that brought into being al-mulk al-`adud.65

Toward the end of `Uthman’s reign, disgruntled groups, what are known as ath-thuwwar (the rebels), arrived in Madina from Yemen, Egypt and Iraq during the pilgrimage season to protest against what they considered as injustices perpetrated by al-wulat (pl. of wali: a Caliph’s deputy or provincial governor). The rebels demanded the dismissal of al-wulat, but `Uthman refused to meet their demands. They then insisted that he should abdicate. He told them that this was not a matter for them to decide but for t he community of Sahaba, and this cost him his life.66

The failure here, Ghannouchi points out, was manifold. On the one hand, the capital of an enormous Empire could easily be occupied and taken hostage by a small group of rebels. There was no security whatsoever, and with many people away on Hajj (pilgrimage) the Caliph, who is the head of state, had no protection.67 Some Muslims offered to stand up to the rebels and defend `Uthman, but he refused to allow them to do so, fearing that the blood of many people would be shed because the rebels could not be out matched.68 On the other hand, he explains, the Caliph had no mechanism by which he could institutionally observe, control or bring to account his deputies some of whom were several weeks’ ride away.

Ghannouchi points out that the rebels may have committed a criminal act by murdering `Uthman, but their grievances were genuine. Thousands of people had embraced Islam upon the promise of justice and equality, but the corrupt relatives of the Caliph, who administered some of the very distant provinces, delivered neither.69 `Uthman governed for a total of 12 years before he was murdered. In the first six years, he is said to have done well in terms of controlling his deputies and of responding to complaint s against them from the public. In the second half of his reign, however, and bearing in mind the fact that he was over 80 years of age, his grip on his deputies loosened.70

What Ghannouchi finds interesting is that some of the junior members of the community of Sahaba had already begun realizing the dramatic changes in the nature of both the state and society, and increasingly felt the need to respond to them. One of them wa s Al-Hasan, the elder son of the fourth Caliph Ali and grandson of the Prophet, who tried to alert his father to the new reality.

The assassins of `Uthman came to Ali and offered to nominate him as the new head of state. Ali declined and told them that this was not a matter for them but for the people of Madina, specifically for al-Muhajirun and al-Ansar, or the community of Sahaba. Al-Hasan advised his father not to be content with the nomination of the Sahaba and to insist on nominations from all the other provinces such as Yemen, Iraq and Egypt, because the Umma was no longer just the Sahaba. Ali did not think much of his son’s advice, who in turn warned his father that he too would one day be murdered, and indeed he was.71

Ghannouchi observes too that the decline of the ideal model of al-khilafa ar-rashida was accelerated by the fact that the development of the system of government, in spite of the strides achieved during `Umar’s time, fell short of the full transformation of the state into an institution. For instance, while shura was truly implemented, no proper shura council was set up, or mechanism developed, to closely monitor and audit the performance of the Caliph and (or) his deputies. The inability of `Uthman, toward the end of his reign, to control his deputies was the first manifestation of this deficiency.72 The setback occurred when tribalism was reinstituted, and al-mulk al-`adud established, with the Umayyad take-over.

Ghannouchi suggests that al-mulk al-`adud was a blend of three main components: Islam, tribalism and a variety of administrative systems borrowed from other cultures.73 It was a form of governance positioned half way between the ideal form, represented in the al-khilafa ar-rashida and the tribal or imperial forms that prevailed elsewhere at the time. Tribalism, Ghannouchi stresses, was the evil component; its role was to create a schism, thus dividing the Umma and separating the state from society. This, he explains, was initially resisted by the `Ulama’ (scholars), who sought to maintain the unity and integrity of the Umma and who wanted the tradition of al-khilafa ar-rashida to continue. It was the `Ulama’, who were in fact the Sahaba, that were then in power. When al-khilafa ar-rashida was replaced by al-mulk al-`adud, many of the `Ulama’ joined, or supported, rebellious movements to reverse the status quo which they termed kusrawiyya (an adjective derived from Khosrau, the designate of the Persian king).

Ghannouchi cites as an example the historic fact that each of the four Imams, the founders of the four main schools of jurisprudence, supported the revolutionaries in one or another such movement.74 Abu Hanifah and Malik for instance supported the Ibn Al- Ash`ath revolution while Al-Shafi`i almost lost his life for supporting the revolutionaries of his time.75 But all these revolutions were futile and proved incapable of reinstating the ideal model of government. Little wonder that several hundred years later Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), and on this Ghannouchi agrees with him, ridiculed in his Muqaddima those preachers who incite the public to rise against the state. For states are founded on `asabiya (clan solidarity, or any such source of power)76 and can on ly be replaced by a stronger `asabiya and not by rhetoric.77

The bloodshed and destruction caused during the first century of Islamic history by the repeated attempts to reinstate al-khilafa ar-rashida, gave rise to a new discourse. The `Ulama’ started to warn against a greater evil than that of al-mulk al-`adud, t hat of fitna (sedition), which referred to inter-Muslim fighting. The `Ulama’ had agreed by then that although armed struggle to change a regime may not in principle be haram (prohibited), it becomes so if the outcome is bloodshed and destruction.

But there were, as there usually are in every age, extreme positions. Ghannouchi cites the example of Abu’l-Hasan Al-Ash`ari, founder of the Ash`ariyah school of thought, who declared it to be strictly haram to rise against the ruler. But such a position, Ghannouchi explains, might have been prompted by the fact that in spite of the huge sacrifices made, the rebels who rose against al-mulk al-`adud only reasserted the status quo and re-produced the autocratic models that prevailed at the time.78 Ghannouchi is, himself, critical of the opposition parties that rose against the state in the first century of Islam: the opposition groups which condemned the Umayyad coup and struggled to reinstate al-khilafa ar-rashida were driven by persecution and the legacy of autocracy to crystallize models or alternatives that were far from the shura-guided model they sanctified and much more autocratic than the regime they rose against. Even the Khawarij, who were most vehemently opposed to hereditary rule, did not differ from their opponents when they had the opportunity to set up their own state except in that they handed over power to another dynasty. As for the Shi`ia, they dropped the principle of shura altogether in favour of the concept of wasiyya (designation).79

Nevertheless, what may be described as mainstream scholars embarked on a comprehensive strategy, described by Ghannouchi as peaceful but not conciliatory, to reduce the powers of al-mulk al-`adud.80 State powers had to be restricted in order to curtail it s hegemony and prevent it from overwhelming society. The search for viable means to achieve this end led to the development of `ilm al-usul, the science of the foundations, the four foundations of Islamic jurisprudence: the Holy Qur’an, the Sunna, qiyas ( analogy) and ijma` (consensus). The objective, Ghannouchi explains, was to refute the rulers’ claim of a divine right to unconditional obedience. In this way rulers, it is argued, were stripped of the religious cloak they tended, with the assistance of what is known as `ulama’ al-sultan (ruler’s scholars), to drape their government in.81 `Ulama’ al-sultan is the term applied to scholars who provide rulers, in modern times as much as in olden times, with desperately needed legitimation by means of interpreting the text in a manner that suits their desires or meets their requirements.

It was Al-Shafi`i (d. 820) who, according to Ghannouchi, was the first to set the rules of `ilm al-tafsir (the science of expounding explanatory commentary on the Holy Qur’an). The purpose of `ilm al-usul and `ilm al-tafsir was to prevent manipulation by rulers or their entourage and refute their claims that God had given them the sole right to dispense with the Umma’s wealth as they deemed fit. Qualifying the right to public obedience was the first defensive measure employed against the state by the `Ulama’.

In the era of al-khilafa ar-rashida, a caliph knew his limits and sincerely believed that public obedience was conditional upon firstly, his own obedience to the Qur’an and the Sunna, and secondly his exercise of shura. After his election, Abu Bakr, the first Caliph, told his fellow Muslims: ‘I have been appointed as your leader whilst I am not the best man among you. I am following (the norms established by the Prophet) and not establishing new practices. So if I get it right help me, and if I go astray redirect me.‘82 Until the end of this era, Caliphs acquired legitimacy from the Qur’an and the Sunna on the one hand and from the Umma on the other.

However, the advent of the Umayyad dynasty introduced a new source of legitimacy, namely `asabiyya. Gradually the balance shifted from the traditional sources of legitimacy to this new element, which nevertheless still needed a religious cover that was of ten provided by `Ulama’ al-sultan. Such expedience was manifested in the interpretation of relevant Qur’anic verses such as the one in Chapter 4: ‘O you who believe, obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you di ffer in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is best and most suitable for final determination.‘83

The first task of the mufassirun (interpreters of the Holy Qur’an), was to establish stringent conditions for earning the obedience and respect of the public.84 Their second task, according to Ghannouchi, was to deny the rulers the power of legislation an d to assign its responsibility to the specialists, the jurists. This consequently liberated the judiciary from the authority of the state, and hence both legislators and judges, who in fact were the `ulama’ themselves, functioned freely and independently. 85 The third task was to develop a non-governmental financial institution to guarantee the independence not only of the legislature and the judiciary but also society as a whole, known as the awqaf (endowment fund). This is believed to be derived from, or based on, the Prophetic tradition: ‘When the child of Adam dies his (or her) good deeds cease except for three: a current charity, a knowledge that others benefit from and a righteous child who invokes God’s Mercy upon his (or her) parent.‘86

This implies that the scholars emanated from a strong religious position when they encouraged the Muslim public to donate generously to the establishment of public institutions such as schools, orphanages, traveller guest houses and other charitable projects. So, once they managed to define the rules for the proper understanding and correct interpretation of Islam, the `ulama’ turned to society, via the rendering of services in various educational and social fields, to further weaken the state and limit its powers. In doing so, they sought in every conceivable way to refute initial claims by the Umayyad Caliphs that the collection and dispensation of funds was, by way of a Divine will, their responsibility. Thus, Ghannouchi credits the early Muslim `ulama ’ for successfully preventing the transformation of the Islamic state at the hands of the Umayyads into a theocracy.87

Initially, the power of the `ulama’ was formidable. A Caliph or his deputy, instead of summoning a scholar to his palace, would usually apply for permission to meet the scholar in his own house or majlis (court) and would feel honoured to have been awarde d that opportunity.88 Ghannouchi finds strong evidence in the history of Islam to support the theory that Muslims had a viable civil society that derived its strength from the `ulama’ themselves. The authority of the `ulama’ was no less powerful than that of the government because they controlled the legislature, the judiciary, the schools and the mosques, and furthermore because they enjoyed financial independence. This power emanated from the people’s respect and reverence for, and therefore obedience t o, the `ulama’, a reality felt and dreaded by the rulers. Therefore, the negative impact of the transformation of the Islamic state from al-khilafa ar-rashida to al-mulk al-`adud was considerably mitigated.89 Another notable achievement by the `ulama’ was the development of a new science known as `ilm maqasid ash-Shari`a (the science of the purposes of the Shari`a), whose objective was to prevent rulers from exploiting what Ghannouchi calls zawahir an-nusus (the literal meaning of the Qur’anic text).90 A ruler might have been tempted to claim that so long as he did not order his subjects to violate the commandments of God, he would have to be obeyed in every other matter. Such an argument would have been intended to expand and consolidate the ruler’s powers, especially as pertains to the dispensation of wealth. The scholars, Ghannouchi explains, established through this branch of Islamic science that the Shari`a is not a mere text, but a set of rules intended for serving and preserving the interests of humans. He attributes the founding of this science to Imam Al-Haramayn Al-Juwayni (1028-85).91 It was then further developed and refined by a number of scholars such as Al-`izz ibn `Abdessalam, Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Al-Qayyim.

The apex of this development was reached by Al-Andalusi Al-Shatibi whose studies and thoughts were complementary to those of his predecessor Al-Shafi`i. The contribution of Al-Shatibi is of significance to Ghannouchi’s theory of the faraghat. Drawing on t he following Qur’anic verses: ‘We sent you not but as a mercy for all creatures’;92 ‘Allah does not wish to place you in difficulty, but to purify you, and to complete His favour to you’;93 and, ‘In the Law of Equality there is (saving of) life to you’,94 Al-Shatibi concludes: ‘From our exploration of the Shari`a, we have concluded that it was only set up to serve the interests of man. This is a conclusion which no one can dispute . . . Canon laws were made for only one purpose and that is to serve the interests of humans in this life and in the Hereafter.‘95

Ghannouchi considers Al-Muwafaqat by Al-Shatibi to be one of the foremost and greatest treatises in this field. He frequently quotes him citing his theory on `ilm maqasid ash-Shari`a, discussed earlier in the dissertation. Briefly, Al-Shatibi categorized the types of exigencies which Messengers were sent to fulfill in the lives of humans into three classes: masalih daruriya (essential requirements) without which life would be ruined; masalih hajiyya (requirements pertaining to general needs) without which man can survive but may be in distress and hardship; and masalih tahsiniyya (ameliorative requirements) whose absence would not seriously undermine the quality of life.96

However, the strategy of the `ulama’, though mostly successful, did not proceed smoothly or unhindered. On the one hand, the gradual sophistication of the Caliphate institution and its transformation from a simple traditional Arab-style clan rule to a pow erful bureaucracy posed a real challenge to the `ulama’. The climax of the tension between the two institutions was reached during the era of the `Abbasid Caliph Al-Mansur, who built a powerful state apparatus based on the army, most of whose members were of Khurasani descent, and on a bureaucracy, led by the Barmakid family, who continued the Sassanian traditions of financial administration.97 The bureaucrats, who had become so influential, entered into conflict with the `ulama’. Their means of winning t he competition was, according to Ghannouchi, the establishment of an alternative political theory. The `ulama’ saw the ruler as a servant whose powers are determined, and therefore restricted, by the Shari`a. Thus, a ruler’s legitimacy emanates from adher ence to the teachings of Islam and from the acceptance of the public. The bureaucrats, however, endeavoured to bestow upon the ruler characteristics similar to those of Khosrau (the Persian) or Caesar (the Roman). Because they derived their influence from the ruler’s power, they wanted him to become an absolute ruler and wanted the `ulama’ to be under his jurisdiction and not independent of him.98 Ghannouchi observes that the policy of persecuting the `ulama’ by the state, that is in spite of non-involvem ent in any rebellion, began to be pursued on a massive scale during the `Abbasid Caliphate.99 The rulers sought to counter the influence of the independent `ulama’ by either penetrating their front by rendering support to `ulama’ subservient to them or by establishing their own religious entourage which consisted of scholars that were prepared to issue fatawa (pl. of fatwa) to consolidate the power of the ruler by appealing to the public for unconditional obedience.

Ghannouchi traces this development to the early years of the Umayyads, when attempts were made to corrupt the `aqida (Islamic faith) by introducing `aqidat al-jabr (the ideology of fatalism). He considers Al-Jabriyyah, the school of thought that teaches t he inescapability of fate, to be a movement aimed at justifying absolutism on religious grounds.100 It was argued by its founders that if everything is fated, then the ruler, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’, is God’s will. It would follow then that whoever stands up to the ruler commits a sin in opposing the Will of God.101

The independent `ulama’ responded by refuting `aqidat al-jabr and reinforcing `aqidat al-ikhtiyar (the ideology of free choice), which, according to Ghannouchi, is the belief that man has a choice and is therefore responsible.102 The debate over this issue continued until Abul-Hasan Al-Ash`ari (873-941) came up, in the fifth century of Hijra, with what seemed at the time a middle-course solution.

His theory, known as al-kasb (from the root kasaba, i.e. to earn), tackled the question of sababiyya (causality). Under the pretext of defending God’s Will, he denied the link between cause and effect, and thus endorsed `aqidat al-jabr. He argued that burning is not necessarily caused by fire, nor does fire necessarily burn. Similarly, thirst may be extinguished without water, and water does not necessarily extinguish thirst.103

Ghannouchi blames this ideology, which he supposes must have been a source of comfort for despotic rulers, for the decline of the Muslim civilization.104 He also blames Sufism, which he suspects the rulers also encouraged, for effectively denying that man had a will or freedom of choice. He maintains that by subjugating the murid (novice of a Sufi order) to his shaykh (order leader), Sufism stripped its followers of their will-power. Both `aqidat al-jabr and Sufism, in his judgement, had the influence of narcotics, and at times the entire Umma seemed intoxicated.105

The relevance of the above to today’s debate within Islamic circles about democracy is that most of those who hoist the banner of ideological warfare against democracy in contemporary times do so on the basis of similar intoxicating beliefs. Al-khilafa ar -rashida, it is claimed, is the only acceptable system of governance, and until it is reinstated, by way of some unspecified - and perhaps unknown - magical formula, every other activity that is assumed to be the responsibility of the Caliph is haram beca use it obstructs the coming of the Caliph. In this sense, Hizb al-Tahrir, which openly denounces democracy and condemns Muslims who call for an Islamic democracy, is a modern manifestation of `aqidat al-jabr as much as the so-called jihadiyyun are a moder n manifestation of al-khawarij. What is common to these groups, Ghannouchi affirms, is the inability to distinguish between ad-dini and as-siyasi, both in theory and practice, and both in the Sunna of the Prophet and in the history of the Muslims. But Ghannouchi warns that this ad-dini/as-siyasi dichotomy is not to be understood to mean a separation as in the Western experience between religion and state, for Islam is ‘a comprehensive way of life and God is the Lord both in the mosque and in the market, in the school and in the factory.‘106 What it means, he stresses, is a distinction between the areas that have been filled by Divine commandments and the areas that were intentionally left vacant so as to be filled with what is needed to cope with changes through ijtihad but within the framework of `aqida.107

Still, the problem is not as simple as it may seem. The current tension between states and various Islamic movements, whether identified as mainstream or extreme, is the product of a radical change in the traditional relationship, which remained the norm for several centuries, between the state and the `ulama’. Throughout these centuries, Ghannouchi explains, the Umma was ruled in accordance with a historic settlement between the scholars and the rulers; a division of labour and a power-sharing arrangemen t whereby the rulers took charge of government affairs while the scholars pacified society, whose traditional institutions remained free from state intervention. Such an arrangement did not completely prevent armed mutinies from erupting now and then, her e and there. For this reason, the scholars maintained a pragmatic attitude, and when the rebels failed, and this was usually the case, the endeavour would be labelled as fitna (sedition), but if at all successful in seizing power and forming the new government, the rebels were ‘deservedly’ given allegiance and granted legitimacy. What is noteworthy, Ghannouchi stresses, is that the coup in every case would be directed against the ruling ‚lite, with little, if any, impact on society itself.108

The situation remained as such until what Ghannouchi calls the Civilisational cycle was completed. The cycle, as he sees it, started with the mission of tawhid (monotheism) that emerged out of Arabia more than 14 centuries ago and ended when division and backwardness overwhelmed the Umma under the leadership of the Ottoman dynasty in Istanbul less than a century ago. In fact, and this is contrary to what some Muslims prefer to believe, it was long before a death certificate was issued for the Ottoman Caliphate that the power-sharing arrangement between scholars and rulers collapsed for good. 

Since its creation in the aftermath of the First World War, the modern territorial state has had a different approach to dealing with scholars. They are given one of two choices: either become part and parcel of the state institution, or suffer persecutio n, banishment and even death. Some scholars have chosen to support those rulers who draw on the attitude of traditional `ulama’. While recognizing that some of these scholars may have opted for this position not necessarily out of personal ambition but out of what they deem to be the public good, Ghannouchi criticizes them for failing to realize the profound change in the nature of the state, an issue that was dealt with in more detail in the preceding chapter.109

The scholars who have joined the ranks of the opposition have been the source of much contemporary literature that inspires various Islamic groups. Sometimes, the same literature inspires both mainstream groups, that adhere to peaceful means of change, an d the more radical groups that believe in the use of force. The writings of Sayyid Qutb, Mawdudi and Al-Banna, for instance, are studied by mainstream Islamic groups, and also provide the right material for justifying the use of force as a means of getting rid of what is seen as the evils of the secularist state and establishing pure Islamic governance. Ghannouchi points out that the reason for this seemingly confusing situation is that, from the point of view of many scholars, declaring a regime to be blasphemous does not necessarily justify the use of force against it. Possessing the means of change is the most important criterion for deciding the type of methodology to be pursued for effecting change. It is true, he adds, that Islam makes it incumbent upon a Muslim to remove injustice and eliminate evil. But Islam calls on its followers to contemplate and choose the methods that are least costly and most rewarding. This is the essence of the Message inherent in the tradition: ‘He who sees an evil should change it using the hand, and if he cannot by the tongue and if he cannot by the heart, and this is the minimum one is expected to do.‘110

Ghannouchi is anxious to emphasize that in the process of struggling against the external obstacles to democracy in the Muslim world, it is of equal importance to struggle against endogenous obstacles through education, a re-reading of Islamic history and the activation of ijtihad. His writings and lectures, at least for the past six years he has been in exile, are considered an important contribution to this effort. This is particularly so because he has in the UK, and in the other European countries he has visited, been confronted with arguments put forward by jihadi, tahriri and salafi trends that not only oppose democracy but take it to be their main occupation, in spite of enjoying the fruits of democracy in the West, to attack and discredit those who defend its cause, including Rachid Ghannouchi.

It is regrettable that the political environment prevalent in much of the Muslim world nowadays does not make Ghannouchi’s task an easy one. In fact, it is this political environment which encourages the spread of radical ideas and the growth of extremist groups. Ghannouchi himself is the victim of a regime that does not tolerate the most moderate of ideas or groups if deemed threatening to it. His movement, the Renaissance Party, is outlawed and its members are persecuted or banished for no crime other than calling for the democratization of the regime.

The absence of mainstream Islamic groups creates an ambient environment for what Francois Burgat calls bilateral radicalization.111 Not only in Tunisia, but in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria, just to mention a few examples, despotism has led to the creation of repressive environments; with almost total lack of basic freedom and a complete disregard for human rights. Force is used to secure the status quo and to silence critics. This tends to marginalize majority mainstream Islamic movements and inc rease the membership of small radical groups. The radicals respond to repression with acts of violence and regimes mobilize the security forces or the army to quell the rebels or frustrate their plans. In time, a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence, becomes a way of life.

Notes
1 Ayman Az-Zawahiri, al-hasad al-murr, al-ikhwan al-muslimum fi sittin `aman, p. 8. No place or date given, but evidently published between 1991 and 1992. The publication is labelled on the front cover as a Jihad Group Publication. The document, whose tit le would read in English, The Bitter Harvest, the Muslim Brotherhood in Sixty Years, is intended to substantiate the group’s claim that the Muslim Brotherhood have strayed from the Path of Guidance.

2 Ibid. 
3 Ibid., pp. 11-13.
4 Hizb al-Tahrir, ad-dimuqratiya nizam kufr (Democracy is a system of blasphemy), p. 5. No date or place of publication given.
5 Ibid.
6 Ibid., pp. 11-23.
7 Musa Zayd Al-Kilani, al-harakat al-islamiya fil-‘urdun (The Islamic Movements in Jordan), (Amman, 1991).
8 Mahmud Abdulkarim Hasan, ‘radd iftira’at `ala al-imam ash-Shatibi’ (Refuting False Allegations Attributed to Al-Shatibi) in Al-Wa`y (August 1994), pp. 21-30. Al-Wa`y is the official publication of HT in Lebanon.
9 Ibid.
10 Ibid.
11 Ibid.
12 One such attempt was made when Ghannouchi was invited in January 1997 to speak to the Muslim public in Swansea. The salafis lost their bid.
13 A Muslim convert from the Caribbean by the name of Sheikh Faisal, who claims to be a leader of the so-called jihadi trend in the UK, told a crowd of Muslim students in Swansea in March 1997 that those who believe in democracy such as Rachid Ghannouchi are worse than Christians and Hindus.
14 Abdul Rashid Moten, ‘Democratic and Shura-Based Systems: A Comparative Analysis’, in Encounters, Vol. 3, No. 1 (March 1997), The Islamic Foundation, Leicester, UK.
15 Ibid.
16 Ibid.
17 R. Ghannouchi, interview with the researcher, London, June 1995.
18 R. Ghannouchi, interview with the researcher, London, June 1997.
19 Elie Kedourie, Politics in the Middle East (Oxford, 1992), p. 332.
20 Dilip Hiro, Islamic Fundamentalism (London: Grafton, 1989), p. 67.
21 S. Qutb, ma`alim fi’t-tariq (Beirut: Dar Ash-Shuruq Publications, 1980), Ed. No. 8, and S. Qutb, Milestones, an English translation of ma`alim fi’t-tariq (New Delhi: Naushaba Publications, 1991). Name of translator not given.
22 Ibid.
23 Ibid.
24 Ibid.
25 A. Mawdudi, al-Islam wa’l-jahiliya (‘Islam and Ignorance’), (Beirut: Dar-ut-Turath Al-Arabi, 1980), 2nd Ed., pp. 14-15.
26 R. Ghannouchi, interview with the researcher, London, June 1997.
27 Ibid.
28 Ibid.
29 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam (The Religious and the Political in Islam), a lecture delivered in Arabic at Cardiff Islamic Society, January 1997.
30 Al-Shahrastani (1086-1153) is a highly authoritative historian from Shahrastan in Persia. He is particularly known for his extensive studies into factionalism. His most famous book, to which Ghannouchi refers here is al-milal wan-nihal, in which Al-Shahrastani provides listings and a detailed study of the various political, religious and philosophical factions that emerged in the history of Islam until his time.
31 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
32 Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya wan-nihaya (The Beginning and the End), 3rd Ed. (Beirut: Maktabat-ul-Ma`arif, 1980).
33 As-Suyuti, tarikh al-khulafa (History of the Caliphs), (Cairo: Al-Fajjalah Press, 1969), p. 67.
34 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
35 Ibid.
36 The Holy Qur’an 5: 3. This and all subsequent translations of Qur’anic verses are taken from The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of the Meaning and Commentary (King Fahd Holy Qur’an Printing Complex, 1990).
37 The Holy Qur’an 6: 38.
38 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
39 The Holy Qur’an 11: 6
40 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
41 Ibid.
42 Ibid.
43 This incident is reported in all well-known references on Sira (Prophet’s life-history) including Ibn Hisham referred to in 32 above. See also for an excellent analysis of Sira, Imaduddin Khalil, dirasa fi al-sira (Beirut: Ar-Risalah Publications, 197 8); and Mustafa as-Siba`i, as-sira an-nabawiya, durus wa `ibar (Beirut: Al-Maktab al-Islami, 1972).
44 Ibn Kathir, al-bidayah wan-nihayah, op. cit. Vol. 3, p. 267. Badr is about 80 miles to the west of Madina. It was then strategically positioned on the trade route from Makka to Ash-Sham (Syria and Palestine).
45 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`,,op. cit.
46 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
47 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`, op. cit.
48 Ibid.

49 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
50 R. Ghannouchi, interview with the researcher, London, February 1997.                                          51 These developments are detailed in: At-Tabari, tar’ikh ar-rusul wa’l-muluk (History of Messengers and Kings), (Cairo: Dar al-Ma`arif, 1961), and Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya wan-nihaya, op. cit.
52 R. Ghannouchi, Al-Hurriyat, pp. 48-51.
53 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`, op. cit.
54 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
55 Ibid.
56 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`,,op. cit.
57 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
58 Ibid.
59 Ibid.
60 Imaduddin Khalil, dirasa fi al-sira, op. cit. This happened during the Battle known as al-Khandaq (The Ditch) five years after Muhammad migrated to Madina. The Islamic city-state was besieged by the invading tribes of the Arab pagans, and the ditch wa s suggested by Salman al-Farisi, a Muslim Sahaba of Persian origin. See also S. Al-Yahya, al-harakat al-askariyah lir-rasul al-a`zam fi kaffatay al-mizan (The Military Campaigns of the Great Prophet in the Balance), (Beirut: Ad-Dar al-`Arabiyah Lilmawsu`a t, 1983), Vol. 2, pp. 302-14.
61 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`, op. cit.
62 An account of the impact of the Arab Islamic civilization on the West is detailed in Sigrid Hunke, shams al-`arab tasta`u `alal-gharb (Allahs Sonne uber dem Abendland usner Arabisches Erbe), (Beirut: Dar al-Afaq al-Jadidah, 1993).
63 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
64 Ibid.
65 One of the best, and most detailed, accounts of these events is given in Ibn Al-`Arabi, al-`awasim min-al-qawasim (Cairo: Al-Maktaba As-Salafiyah, 1968).
66 Ibn Al-`Arabi, al-`awasim min-al-qawasim, op. cit. and see also As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa`, op. cit., and Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya wan-nihaya, op. cit.
67 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
68 Ibn Al-`Arabi, al-`awasim min-al-qawasim, op. cit.
69 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
70 Ibn Al-`Arabi, al-`awasim min-al-qawasim, op. cit.
71 Ibid.
72 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
73 Ibid.
74 Ibid.
75 Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya wan-nihaya, op. cit.
76 `Asabiya is derived from the root `asab (to bind) and `asaba (union), and refers to a socio-cultural bond that can be used to measure the strength of social groupings (The Oxford Encyclopaedia of the Modern Islamic World, ed. J. Esposito, 1995).
77 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit. See also Ibn Khaldun, muqaddimat ibn khaldun (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, no date).
78 Ibid.
79 R. Ghannouchi, `The Islamic Movement and the Dilemma of Choosing Between State and Society, The Islam and Modernity Symposium’, SOAS, London 6 July 1996. (Translated from the Arabic by A. Tamimi.)
80 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
81 Ibid.
82 Ibn Kathir, al-bidaya wan-nihaya, op. cit.
83 The Holy Qur’an 4: 59.
84 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
85 Ibid.
86 A hadith reported by Muslim in Kitab al-Wasiya and listed in An-Nawawi’s riyad-us-salihin (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, Beirut, 1989).
87 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
88 A. Al-Badri, al-islam baynal `ulama’ wal-hukkam (Islam Between the Scholars and the Rulers), (Madina: Al-Maktaba al-`Ilmiyah, 1965), pp. 36-8. Numerous examples are narrated by Muslim historians, including one involving two most prominent scholars, Im am Malik and Imam Al-Shafi`i. When the latter was still a young man longing to join the majlis of the former as a pupil, he requested a family friend, the wali (deputy caliph or governor) of Makka, to ask the wali of Madina to intercede on his behalf so a s to convince Imam Malik to include him in his study circle. The wali of Makka wrote a letter to his colleague the wali of Madina, which Al-Shafi`i took to him in person. Al-Shafi`i reported that when he delivered the letter to the wali of Madina, the lat ter said to him: ‘Young boy! Walking from here to the bottom of the valley in Mecca barefooted is easier for me than walking to the house of Malik; for I never feel so humiliated except when I stand at the door of Malik.’ Al-Shafi`i said astonishingly: ‘M ay Allah grant you righteousness, why don’t you just send for him?’ The wali said: ‘How preposterous! I do not guarantee that even if I rode to his house he would let me in.’ Eventually both left for Malik’s house. They knocked on his door, and it took a while for a servant to respond. The wali said to her: ‘Tell your master the wali of Madina is at the door.’ She went and took so long to come back and say: ‘My master says salam to you (greets you), and tells you that if you have come to ask a question th en write it down and you will get a written answer. Otherwise, if it is conversing with him that you are after, then you already know where his majlis is and it is there you should seek him. So go away.’ It is also reported that Malik later on strongly re buked Al-Shafi`i for asking a ruler, somebody who is not so honourable, to intercede in a matter that is so honourable, namely the seeking of knowledge.
89 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
90 Ibid.
91 Al-Juwayni was originally from Nisabur, a town in the northeast of Persia. He travelled to Baghdad where he performed his studies and then settled in Hijaz teaching at both Makka and Madina. Hence his title Imam al-Haramayn, that is Imam of the two Sa cred Shrines.
92 The Holy Qur’an 21: 107.
93 The Holy Qur’an 5: 6.
94 The Holy Qur’an 2: 179.
95 Abu Ishaq Al-Shatibi, Al-Muwafaqat (Beirut: Dar al-Ma`rifah, no date), Vol. 2, pp. 6-8.
96 Ibid.
97 As-Suyuti, tar’ikh al-khulafa` op. cit.
98 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
99 Ibid.
100 Ibid.
101 Ibn Hazm, al-fisal fi’l-milal wa’l-ahwa’ wan-nihal (Cairo, 1964).
102 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
103 Al-Ash`ari’s doctrine is outlined in his book maqalat al-islamiyyin wa-ikhtilafat al-musallin, 3 volumes, ed. Helmut Ritter (Istanbul, 1929-33).
104 R. Ghannouchi, ad-dini was-siyasi fi’l-islam, op. cit.
105 Ibid.
106 Ibid.
107 Ibid.
108 Ibid.
109 Ibid.
110 Ibid. This Prophetic hadith is reported by Muslim in the section on Iman, and is listed in An-Nawawi’s riyad-us-salihin (Beirut: Dar Ibn Hazm, 1989).
111 F. Burgat, ‘Bilateral Radicalisation’, in A. Tamimi’s Power-Sharing Islam? (London: Liberty for Muslim World Publications, 1993).

Dr. Azzam Tamimi is Director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London. This article originally appeared in their online Journal at

http://www.ii-pt.com/ and is published in The American Muslim with permission of the author.


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