This book has been written with certain central principles. The present discussion and dialogue on the Islamic state must follow some general guidelines that we need to make explicit and agree upon. The following section will provide general guidelines for us to start with and add to, subtract from and modify as we go along.
Sahih Muslim & Bukhari
The general attempt will be to use only hadith from Sahih Muslim and Sahih Bukhari as the basis for any discussion of the Islamic state. Using only the most authentic sources would enable us to keep the discussion from controversy and make obtuse arguments less likely. This in no way implies that the other books of hadith are not relevant or to lessen their importance or authenticity.
Example of the Sahaba
We will not take the example of the Sahaba blindly, noting that their interpretations may or may not be appropriate for all ages. Also noting that many decisions were made on the basis of pragmatism and political expedience. More controversially, noting that the Sahaba disagreed with each other on many points as to the nature of the state.
Reason over Blind Faith
We must be able and willing to take up the intellectual challenge of creating an Islamic state and not be afraid of fatwa's and opinions of the traditional ulema and accept these blindly.
Open Over Closed Society
We must accept that the state in Medina was not an authoritarian regime. Rather, it was an open society where differing opinions were tolerated, people where not arrested without charges and people where not forced to pray. Many people from the Quraish and Makkah accepted Islam when they saw the model state of Medina and how it was governed, with peace, justice and respect for all citizens, Muslim, non-Muslim and even the hypocritical.
Mechanism to Agree & Understanding Devolution
What is most important is not whether everyone agrees, but rather, it is finding a mechanism by which people can compromise. This has to be understood at different levels – at the level of the state, a province, a district, a city or village. Again, the main problem is not what I think or what you think, it is finding a mechanism by which each community can galvanize the collective thought and implement them. Thus, a community in X location may agree to certain policies and implement them, but one in Y location may think differently and implement their own interpretations and thoughts. We must be willing to accept that flexibility without being at each other’s throats.
The key element is to figure out what the mechanism is for agreeing (i.e. voting) and how the decision making levels are to be rationed.
Fatalism needs to be addressed for it can - and is - used by the Muslim clergy to create paralysis and inactivity amongst the Muslim people. The intricacies of fate, makes fate a tricky subject to handle. The concept of Fate and what is foretold, does not call us to inaction. It presupposes our actions, not necessarily because we believe in the prophecies, but because, as good Muslims, witnessing now and openly before us, Palestine, Bosnia, Chechnya, Iraq, Somalia, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Philippines, Thailand and many more places, we need to act if we are to follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) never believed in fate in such a way as to sit back and relax, but rather the opposite: he actively and in great earnest went about fighting against all the problems and issues that he came across. We must follow that example.
Japan Vs Turkey
Japan and Turkey provide two contrasting and diametric models of how to react to the rapid advancement of the Western civilization. Historically, both Japan and Turkey faced the West and had to make a number of hard decisions as to how they can react, what to take and what to reject. They provide a classic case of comparison - ancient empires, facing a stark choice of change in a similar period in history - and yet made completely different choices.
Japan combined its tradition and progress in a way that reinvented its culture while Attaturk's Turkey threw out their culture and belief system to transplant a Western imitation instead.
Our discussion and dialogue concerning the Islamic state will be set within finding the Japan Route for the Muslim world, rather than the Turkey Route.
Dialogue with Civility
This dialogue must be held with the utmost civility. We do not want to be dishonorable in our conduct, nor do we want to put a sword to the neck of those who disagree.
Free Market Over Planned Economy
While the free market will be restricted by Islamic laws and regulations and with welfare obligations that are ordained, the essential nature of the economic system must be that of a free market.
Non-Muslims Not Part of this Dialogue
No matter how well intentioned, we would rather keep this discussion, so close to our hearts and so close to our religion, exclusively a Muslim affair. We thank all Non-Muslims for their interest, but respectfully decline your contribution. Please allow us this space as a sign of mutual respect. As someone once memorably said, talking to a non-Muslim about an Islamic state would be like trying to convince someone that chocolate pudding is better than chocolate cake, when they dislike chocolate to begin with.
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