God is the Sovereign of Islamic state: ‘The Command is for none but God’ (12:40); ‘He is best to command’ (12:80); ‘Blessed is he in whose hands is the Sovereignty of the Heavenc and the Earth and all between them’ (43: 85).
He cannot be compared to the Sovereigns of the World, nor is the Islamic state similar to democracy wherein sovereignty is vested with the people. It is a state ruled by Divine law which precedes it and to whose dictates it has ideally to conform.
The purpose of Islamic state is to endow humanity with righteous life and ‘its affairs are conducted by mutual consultation’ (42: 38).
But there is no single method of consultation. The number, the form of election, the duration of representation etc. are left to be adopted as it suits the given time and place, the essence of consultation being to seek the advice of such as enjoy the public confidence.
Here, we would like to point to the Quranic verses (17: 23-39), which are the directives for state policy. It will be too lengthy to give here all of them. Suffice it to say that the spiritual and moral duties are, here, brought into juxta-position.
Moderation and temperance which find their expression in these directives testify to the intimate relationship which economics of Islam bears to its politics.
In these verses we find principles of morality par excellence as they enjoin upon man kindness to parents, giving to the kindred and the needy their rights, keeping of covenants, giving of full measure and weight, exchange of kind words etc., prohibiting at the same time all immoral acts such as adultery, deceit, false promise etc.
The state formed according to such directives cannot be designated by anyone of the terms applied to the different forms of governments known to the world. It is a state unparalleled in its norms of morality.
The law expounded in these verses is far in advance of the bare Decalogue (The Ten Commandments) in that it searches out what is inmost in the heart and draws pointed attention to the weak and the helpless, to the needy and the poor.
It begins with the mention of the One and Only God which sweeps off other ideas of class and creed, race and nation. It aims at universal brotherhood under the Sovereignty of One God.
Modern theories with regard to the forms of government and the differences of opinion therein may’ be traced back to Plato’s absolutism and Aristotle’s constitutionalism.
According to Plato, absolutism or despotism is the best form of government which is rejected outright by Aristotle, a lover of law and constitutional rule.
Islam has solved this problem in its form of government which is a happy synthesis of absolutism and constitutionalism as God’s Sovereignty means the superiority of his wise and impartial laws which are to be executed by his vicegerent on earth, in consultation with such as enjoy public confidence.
We refer to the problem of collectivism and individualism which has been the issue of fundamental controversy of political thought in the history of Western civilization.
Whether the individual or the community is the ultimate value, is a problem which was studied, from the point of justice, by Greek Philosophers centuries before the Christ.
Legal theories assume one of three attitudes: Either they subordinate the individual to the community, or they subordinate the community to the individual, or they attempt to blend to two rival claims.
Modern totalitarianism asserts the supremacy of the community by the complete destruction of individual rights. This is achieved through the abolition of the separation of powers and judicial independence, state supervision of all public and private activities.
The Catholic theory of society makes the community supreme over the individual in a different manner, for he has to accept the place and function into which he is born. The most outstanding of all such theories is Marxism which has crushed individual rights.
Hobbes stands for individualism but his doctrine leads to political absolutism. Bentham’s utilitarianism, Spincer’s theory of evolution all embody in different ways an individualistic philosophy but none of these theories represents perfect balance between the interests of the individual and those of society.
A synthesis between the individual liberty and the interests of society cannot be obtained unless the life of society is based upon righteousness.
It cannot be denied that society is but a collection of individuals, the problem is, therefore, to build the character of the individual in such a manner that, far from being injurious to society, he contributes his own good to its welfare.
This is achieved by the process of building character through moral education and purification of soul as explained in the scriptures it is against such background that the individual is offered full opportunities, in Islam, to develop his personality so that he may be better qualified to serve the interests of society.
In this way there can be no clash between the interests of society and those of the individual. Thus, the individual is for society and society for the individual.