In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
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Political Model - 21st Century Islamic State

Political Model

While the dominant view of Islamic scholars is that we are not to discuss the differences of the companions of the Prophet (pbuh), it is imperative that we set this ruling aside if we are to understand and develop a political model of an Islamic state.

When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was on his death bed and in high fever, he at one point wanted to give some indication of what was to be the future politically, after he passed away. It was insisted that he took his rest. When the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, a split evolved as to who and by what mechanism a successor was to be chosen. Rifts and disagreements developed even amongst the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hazrat Ali (one of this 10 companions and his nephew) felt that they should have let him speak. This rift continued to widen thereafter. Many questions remained unanswered. Should the Islamic state be a monarchy? elected? If elected by what method? How long should the Khalifa (leader's) term be? If Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) didn't give out clear guidelines, then is Islam really complete?

These are important questions, and the last one is blasphemous. And Allah knows best. To be brief, my belief is that what the Prophet (peace be upon him) meant when he said that our religion was complete and that Islam was a complete way of life, is not that all possible actions and issues have been cataloged like an encyclopedia or a computer program. Rather, that all the principles needed to address every action has been given. Applications of those principles are also given, in the example of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Just as a student when he is working on his arithmetic, looks at the relevant formula, and then if he has further trouble, looks at an example on how the formula is used, Islam gives us the principles and then an example on how it is to be used. It does not mean that every time we are given a new problem to solve, our answer will be the same as the example, but we will look at the "formula" (Islamic principles) and fashion our answer on the same pattern as the "example" (the life of the Prophet, peace be upon him).

This represents a break from the present hard line approach taken where every problem has to come up with the same solution as the example or the secular approach where instead, they reject the formula itself and take one out of the western book. This is one of the central corners of the model.

The Quran and Sunnah define the relationship between Muslims and with the individual and the community, and a whole range of other relationships ranging from dealing with non-Muslims to the rules and responsibilities of war. What Islam does not provide is a fixed economic, social and political system. This world we live in is a test for Man, and while Islam guides us, it still gives us many challenges. Allah knows best, but perhaps this too is a form of intellectual challenge for Muslims to negotiate. And perhaps Muslims of each age would find different solutions to these as the circumstances around them change.
Muslims of our Age and time must rise up to the challenge, while understanding that these solutions can only be imperfect. They can also be of great value nonetheless, for these solutions would be built on those eternal truths and guidelines that Allah, in His Infinite Grace, has provided us.

Merit & Voting

The Islamic state is meant to be run on the principles of merit; knowledge, wisdom and experience. Islamic knowledge as well as knowledge of worldly affairs. The Islamic state must also be inclusive of all citizens. However, while all men are equal in Islam, they are not equal in their knowledge and wisdom, and this principle of the importance of gaining knowledge and wisdom, in this being a differentiating criteria between men, is well documented.

Now this concept comes in fundamental clash with modern ideas such as democracy. One person, one vote sounds great on paper and on slogans but has shown time and time again to lead to a whole host of problems and manipulations that in the end, do much harm. Even one of the earliest Western thinkers, Socrates, openly considered democracy as a flawed concept; that it required the wisdom of its leaders to be based on the opinions of all citizens held in equal weight.

We instead look to develop a system that addresses our Islamic principles - both that all men (and women) are created equal and thus have a say in government, and that there should be a differentiating criteria for those who are more learned. The political system will look to thus create a balance between universal participation, and appropriately value quality over quantity.

The Islamic State will do this by having a "voting system" that has different weights for each voter. Universal suffrage will exist in that every individual over the age of 16 can vote. However, if the voter holds a high school diploma he gets an extra vote (and public schools will be maintained by the state to make sure all children have access to free education to this level). Individuals typically become more responsible and care more about the future when they get married. Therefore, getting married would earn them another vote. Individuals graduating from college will also gain an extra vote. And so will individuals above the age of 35, based on wisdom through experience. Individuals above the age of 60 will lose a vote, because age beyond a point has shown to deteriorate mental faculties. Individuals who have spent a minimum of 2 years in the armed forces will also gain an extra vote. Thus an individual who has graduated from high school and college (or above) and is married, will have 4 votes to his or her name.

Voting systems today rely on what operations research professionals call the "batch process"; a whole batch of votes are selected and counted, gaining the elected representatives a term until the next batch comes about (typically between 2-6 years). Today, this system is fatally flawed; With the electorate only able to influence the elected around election time, while other interest groups do so 24/7/365, power is wrested from the populace. As has been seen in the US, this results in a great degree, the disenfranchisement of the electorate. In a truly Islamic state, a leader must be held accountable at all times, rather than just during the time corridors of elections.

Simultaneously, we also need to address the sheer logistics of the election system, often outside the logistical capacities of today's Islamic countries.

The method here would be to use a continuous flow process, one where voting takes place continuously. At first glance this may seem to present two issues - a logistical and practical impossibility and a problem of governance - how would there be continuity in government policies if the government changes every week?

However, if we took the voting process to involve one (or a few) voting district per month, then an entire country could be covered in a 6 year period, with each voting district getting an election once every 6 years. The electorate would in essence be able to influence and indicate approval continuously while greatly simplifying the logistic process (which could be handled by a much smaller administrative system). Governments would also not constantly be changing as marginally, one (or a few) voting districts would not be enough to topple a government typically, unless the majority was marginal.

The presidential election would still need to be on a batch-process basis, given that we want the president to be directly elected by the electorate. Possible presidential term could be 8 years. A preferential run-off voting system could be used in this case, ranking and simulating the preferences of the voters.

The voting system is decidedly longer than what is prevalent in the West. The idea behind this is to firstly, deal with the controversy and difficulty of holding elections in the Third World (where our Islamic state will be located) and in also giving continuity and purpose to the government, where particularly in the Third World, government never has enough time in 4 year terms to do what they were elected to, and often the next government would reverse policies. Further, the cost and controversy is a significant cost to elections, and this also needs to be weighed in terms the opportunity cost to the elections.

Checks & Balances

The executive and the legislative arms of the government are important as a check and balance on each other. Along with an independent Judiciary, independent Central Bank, independent Central Statistics and finally, an independent Government Audit arm (which we will go into greater detail below), the government checks and balances would ensure that none of the arms of government overpower the others, despite the lengthy term of the presidency.

Government Audit

A separate arm of government will ensure government audit. This arm will again be independent of the other arms of government. The central purpose is to ensure that government does not overstep its boundaries, that checks and balances are not ignored, that government corruption is effectively punished and that the government budget execution tallies. The Audit arm will have powers of not only investigation and search but also arrest, so as not to be dependent on the police force to act upon its investigations. The powers of this arm of the constitution will extend only to the government and government related agencies.

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