If Islam Were To Be Established in Iraq

Preventing Bloodshed

Bloodshed inevitably leads to the destruction and downfall of a government. The Messenger of Allah (S) is quoted as saying:

Anyone who aids in the murder of a Muslim, even by uttering a single word, will arrive on the day of Judgement with the phrase "Despondent from the Mercy of Allah" written between his eyes. The reverse countdown to the downfall of a system of government begins when it delves in the murder and bloodshed of the people.

People cannot tolerate the murder of their sons, brothers, sisters, fathers, relatives and friends, etc. They will pick its faults and errors and aim for its downfall. They will denounce its authority and turn public opinion against the regime. A regime that does not rely on the backing of the masses loses the mandate for staying in power.

The downfall of a ruler whose hands are stained with the blood of his subjects, begins with an odd killing here and a murder there, until such killings accumulate and lead to his downfall. Especially if the regime was founded upon the murder of individuals under the pretext that one belongs to a particular rival group, or an opposing political party or a religious sect. The regime may even attempt to eliminate its opponents through false accusations such as arms or drug trafficking charges, and subjecting them to mock show trials under the banner of law, which give the impression of being legal and protecting the state security. Through such illusionary practices, the regime aims to strengthen its position in power. Clearly, this is one of the greatest factors in the downfall of governments, since a government needs the greatest amount of popular support and legal authority to survive.

If such support is not at the government's disposal then not only would it be heading towards a downfall, but also its supporters will ultimately become part of the opposition.

I have seen many governments, and history shows us many others, that had the potential to reign hundreds of years, but they survived only a few years because of their murderous campaign against the people.

The Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S), did not kill even the murderer of his most beloved uncle Hamzah nor the murderer of his daughter Zaynab along with her child. This was not because they did not deserve to be killed, but for reasons mentioned earlier. Also Imam Ali (A) forgave all the war criminals taken prisoners during the three battles he engaged in during his reign. Are these not great lessons for those who want to establish Islam?

If, on the other hand, the (newly established Islamic) government was compelled to use force in order to implement the rule of law, it is imperative that that does not surpass imprisonment in the specific cases, which are very few indeed, and some simple fines. This of course must be prescribed through the legal and humanitarian courts of law, which provide all the guarantees necessary to carry out justice.8

In this way, a criminal may be prevented from carrying out activities without defiling a revolution with blood. Other factors, which weaken a government, are practices like torturing and terrorising the people, confiscating their wealth and properties, disseminating false accusations, or even personal sleaze, slander and scandals, etc.

For more details in this respect see al-Fiqh series, vol. 100, "Rights" and al- Fiqh series, vols. 101-102, "Islamic Government" by the author.

General Amnesty

It is imperative for the newly established Islamic government to announce general amnesty for anyone who has committed a crime before the advent of the Islamic government. This is of utmost importance, from one viewpoint, and of immense difficulty from another. A general amnesty gives reassurance to people about (the intentions of) the new government. In turn, this act would secure their co- operation with the new government. It would lead to stability and security at a time when the government direly needs widespread support and co-operation from the masses. We see that the Messenger of Allah (S) announced amnesty for the people of Makkah. Similarly, Amir_ol_Mu'meneen, Ali (A) pardoned the people of Basra and the people of Nahrawan when he overcame their rebellion.

Non-forgiveness will lead to untold difficulties for the new government as the killing and prosecution will not be confined to one place, but will spread to larger areas, just as ripples propagate on the surface of water. In addition, a consequence of not forgiving is confiscation of wealth. Both killing and confiscation generate enemies who sometimes manage to topple a new government as we have seen in many countries.

Furthermore, non-forgiveness incites unrest throughout the country. This results in the loss of the government's valour and reputation and subsequently in its failure. Allah states in the Qur'an: . . and fall into no disputes, lest you lose heart and your power depart . . . If the agencies of the young government become embroiled in killing, confiscation and animosity, it would provoke its opponents The holy Qur'an: The Public Estate [^8]: 46.

and encourage them to open old wounds and to engage in activities against the government. This would lead the government into more and more troubles, at a time when the new government should be engaged in tackling the country's old problems and not creating new ones that prevent it from developing the country. The general amnesty is a fundamental principle and if there is to be an exception, it is imperative that measures are taken accordingly as and when absolutely necessary.

Good Reputation

Usually an individual wants to live in a society with a good reputation. If an individual, whether a public figure such as a leader or an ordinary person such as a businessman, loses his good reputation, people would at least distance themselves from the individual, if not remove him from his position.

Similarly, a group or an organisation has the same fate as an individual. If a government loses its reputation and people lose their confidence in it, the government would fall and be replaced by another one under a democratic system. In an undemocratic system, however, the government would fall through a popular uprising and suchlike, as we have seen with despotic regimes throughout history. The use of arms, secret service and false propaganda would be of little help to save the government from falling.

Imam Ali (A) said: "The opinion-minded person is doomed." Reason ensures the continuity of life and if mankind - whether an individual or a group - replaces reason with dogmatic attitude, sooner or later this will lead to the destruction of the individual or the group concerned. It is incumbent, therefore, upon the new Islamic government to ensure that its good reputation remains untarnished. This may not be possible unless the government relies on consultative system and remains popular, humble, of service to the people and adheres to Islamic jurisdiction. The Muslim masses - who are the overwhelming majority in Muslim countries - would not tolerate even a civil servant who does not adhere to Islamic law, let alone a head of state.

The head of state or for that matter, any individual serving in the government should not assume that he could disregard major or minor Islamic legislation even covertly since the Almighty has stated:

And say: "Work (righteousness): soon will Allah observe your work, and His Messenger, and the Believers . . ."10 The holy Qur'an: Repentance [^9]: 105.

Action before Slogan

Decent members of society are generally dismayed by hollow slogans. More often than not, dishonest and scurrilous individuals use slogans that are offensive to others. It is therefore important to avoid the use of any slogans, except when absolutely necessary. Adherence to empty slogans might be considered to be useful in the short term, but in fact it is harmful since it distracts the attention and focus from the essence of deed to mere words. Moreover its effect is temporary and would not last long.

The slogan of a successful Islamic party used to be: "work and do not talk." The party thus managed to free its country from the grip of colonial powers that had lasted more than a century. Some of those who look at short-term objectives align their policies with slogans, but do not take any action in line with the slogans. However, responsible individuals follow the agenda that is logically and rationally planned and studied.

Imam Sadiq (A) has said, when addressing his followers: "Invite people (to Islam) without the use of your tongues." 11 'deed' and 'action' is the measure of life, not just mere 'words'. So Slogans usually exaggerate facts more than reality, which could prove counter-productive. For example if you claimed to have established a hundred organisations (to provide services to the community) whereas in reality you have only ninety, people would doubt your accomplishment and deny even the ninety organisations you have established.

However, if you kept a low profile and concentrated your efforts on your activities and improving your performance, people would trust That is you should invite them to Islam through your conduct and behaviour.

you and would appreciate your achievement greatly. People trust a hardworking individual who keeps quiet and credit him with more than his dues, whereas they tend to suspect the one who boasts about his activities. They would credit him less than his dues and may even deny his deed even if he had truly achieved. It is therefore important that the deed of a person (or an organisation) is more than just words. Action should not even equal words, let alone be less. Slogan is words whereas reality is the deed. For this reason, it said that one should be prepared for his enemy in two situations: First if his adversary observes him doing something with a worrying outcome. Second if he is sabre rattling i.e. if he is making claims greater than his capacity and reality, because this means he is heading in the wrong direction.

One problem with slogans is that it attracts the greed and temptation of friends whereas the person who makes such claims is more often than not, unable to fulfil their demands. As a result he loses even their friendship. Furthermore, slogans provoke the enemy since making great claims directs the attention (of others) to the person making the claim and the enemies would assume that he has great resources based on the claims he makes.

Therefore, on the basis of his claims, friends expect more from him while foes are provoked to destroy or incapacitate him so that he does not gain the upper hand.


The constitution and law in an Islamic system of government differ from those in democratic countries. The constitution in the Islamic system is based on the noble Qur'an, the sacred Teachings of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S), Consensus of religious scholars and Reason.

Unlike the rigidity that the constitution has in some countries, in an Islamic system of government the constitution varies according to the continuous legislation that evolves in light of new developments based on the Teachings of the Qur'an and the Messenger of Allah. The legislation is inferred by the scholars of the 'Council of Jurists' who are chosen by people as their religious authorities at regular intervals, generation after generation.

There have been many circumstances where the 'rigid' constitution written twenty years before was not in harmony with the developments of the day, which in turn causes severe fundamental crisis and socio-political shortfalls. As for the Islamic constitution however, it is able to cope and proceed with all new developments.

Under the Islamic system, the religious scholars or jurists legislate on the basis of the Teachings of the noble Qur'an and the holy Messenger of Allah. The jurists from all schools of Islamic Jurisprudence are the reference and authority for all Muslims following their own school of Jurisprudence. Therefore, there is no constitution in Islam, as it is formally known, but what we have are the four sources: the Book (the Qur'an), the Sunnah (the Teaching of the Messenger of Allah, Muhammad (S), Consensus (of the jurists) and Reason.

In fact, the advent of constitution in Muslim countries is only since the colonial powers entered those countries. It is befitting to note that Britain, which was behind the creation of constitutions in Iran and Turkey, does not have a fixed constitution as such, but follows what is known as a "constitutional understanding".

They introduced the constitution in the Muslim countries in order to stop the wheel of progress in those countries and hold them back. In doing so they replaced the four references with restrictive and stagnant laws, which brought about the shackling of the Islamic society and its people.

For example the 'Mashroutah' freedom movement in Iran, which was led by religious scholars, was derailed by the British in order to eliminate the Russian influence and establish control in Iran to their advantage. So by introducing the idea of this constitution, which serves their interests, they brought despots such as the Shah and Ataturk to power in these two Muslim countries and shackled their religion and their worldly fortunes.

Such a stagnant constitution will be problematic from both a legal and rational viewpoint. If we consider a scenario where 100 jurists legislated a law, but after their death people do have the option to follow other qualified jurists. What legal or rational justification is there to adhere to the law, which is considered the constitution, when a majority of the jurists alive hold an opposite view? Under Islamic jurisdiction, it is the opinion of the jurists who are alive that must be followed for issues of 'new developments' and for those who want to follow a jurist anew.

Rationally, what necessitates a person alive to follow laws legislated by the dead? If it is argued: because it is in accordance with the Book and the Sunnah, the reply would be: Why the go between? Let the Muslims refer (directly) to the Book and Sunnah. It may be asked: What will the laws be based on? The reply would be, the laws would be based on the treatises of qualified jurists otherwise known as "Islamic laws" Journals. Of course the ideal way of implementing that is the creation of 'Council of Jurists' through election of the jurists by the nation12.

For detailed discussion on this topic see "Consultation (Shura) in Islam", "al-Fiqh series, vols. 105-106 'Politics'", "al-Fiqh series, 'The Path of Salvation'" by the author and "Council of the Jurists" by Murtadha Shirazi.