In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
Grande Strategy

A Meritocratic Islamic State as Solution to Current Issues (SPEECH)

A Meritocratic Islamic State as Solution to Current Issues
Paper presentation at the International Conference on Islamic Solutions to Current Issues in the World based on 1 Malaysia Concept
January 2-3, 2011

Meinhaj Hussain,

Text of speech (roughly, actual speech was improvised and off-the-cuff):

(Arabic intro, translation of Arabic to English)

This paper focuses on two key problems in the Muslim World: the absence today of political and economic models indigenous to Islam. The general approach adopted by this paper in solving these two problems is to use Islamic principles to solve the problems before us. This approach has broadly been expounded by such thinkers as Allama Iqbal, Muhammad Asad, Malek Bennabi, Alija Izetbegovic and more recently by Tariq Ramadan and, if I may add, myself in my book 21st Century Islamic State.

We begin by considering the political paradigm. Politically, there are typically two choices presented to the Muslim World today - democracy or dictatorship. The offer is to either choose one or find a compromise between the two. It is my opinion that these solutions are not working for us.

I believe that our problems can be best addressed by looking outside the box of these paradigms and finding a solution beyond; a higher Hegelian synthesis built on Islamic principles. The paper rejects dictatorship outright and considers democracy to be a flawed as well as un-Islamic. For one, democracy assumes that everyone is equal. This is understandable at a human level. However, it is obvious that all men are not equal in their knowledge and wisdom. Giving all men equal weight is logically flawed, if we are attempting to aggregate the wisdom of a people. Democracy is  stuck forever as an aggregation of mediocrity and an average of the mediocre. Finding democracy neither Islamic nor theoretically efficient, we consider something different: A Meritocracy.

Meritocracy is government based on merit of the populace and the candidate. Meritocracy is a constant theme in Islam. For instance, in the Day of Judgment, each soul will be judged according to exactly what he or she earned. This can be described as a perfect meritocracy. A human meritocracy will be far from perfect, but built on those eternal principles, may still be the best comparative system today, insh'Allah.

The basic concept of meritocracy was possibly first thought of by Plato who outlined a meritocratic utopia in his work Republic. From an Islamic perspective, the noted Islamic scholar Zafar Bangash makes the point that according to Islamic principles, government is meant to be run on merit.

In building a meritocracy today, we seek to dissect democracy, picking what we want and desecrating the rest. Let us consider some ideas in turn. While we keep the idea of voting, we use the concept of multiple votes per voter based on merit instead of single votes. An extra vote can be assigned to a quality that society views as a merit.

As an example, in the context of the One Malaysia concept, Malaysia can choose assign proficiency of Bhasa Malay as a criteria for gaining an extra vote. This would discriminate against those who have refused to integrate into Malaysian society, provide better goal alignment in politics and give a positive incentive to integrate society under one language.

Another differentiating parameter of our meritocracy can be a continuous flow voting as different from the general elections in democracies. Rather than having elections on all districts at the same time, staggered voting of a subset of districts at a given time is proposed for our meritocracy. The will have the benefit of making government more responsible to the electorate, significantly lowering the cost of election administration, lowering the stakes of the elections and reducing controversy.

Expanded separation of powers is another characteristic of our proposed system. While the US constitution provisions an independent judiciary, executive and legislature, the system proposed can expand this list to include an independent Central Bank, Central Statistics and Government Audit.

Other differentiating salients of the proposed meritocracy are preferential voting over first-past-the-post  systems and simultaneous multi-tier voting.

Moving on to Economics, we find the financial system of capitalism flawed, exploitative and un-Islamic. Our principles of an Islamic meritocracy will seek to level teh playing field for all participants within a free market context, as is reflective of Medina during the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). The paper looks to a solution that goes beyond discussions of Islamic finance, Microeconomics and morality in Economics. The task instead, is to build the conceptual beginnings of an Islamic and meritocratic general macroeconomic framework. A framework that levels the playing field and at the same time is competitive vis-a-vis Western capitalism. One of the key questions to solve is the mechanism by which savings can be turned into investments outside framework of banks, riba, fractional reserve banking, limited liability and derivatives-based investing.

Other key questions include solving the conflict of interest in fiscal and monetary management, including questions of inflation and taxation. Also to consider is the question of private property rights today being outside of Islamic Law and perhaps one of the key underpinnings of exploitation today.

The salients of transitioning from the present state in the Muslim world to the Islamic economy proposed is also considered. Last but not the least, the paper considers the comparative strengths and weaknesses of the proposed system to the generic Western capitalist model.

In conclusion, the paper ahs underpinned the concept of Meritocracy as a key principle in solving the political and economic problems facing the Muslim world. The paper suggests that we need to look outside the blinders and mantras of democracy, capitalism and what can perhaps best be described as petty Islamism. The paper calls for a new synthesis, a new vision, built on the eternal principles of Islam applied to the real world.

Thank you.

All that I have said that is good and true is from Allah subhanahut'allah, and all that I have said that is wrong and imperfect is from myself or the accursed Shaitan. And Allah knows best!


Vision Without Glasses


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