The word for belief in Islam is ‘Aqeedah, which itself is derived from the Arabic root word aqada. This root literally means ‘he ties a knot firmly’. This root defines the sense of the word ‘Aqeedah, in that it too is firmly tied. Hence belief in Islam is built on firm conviction in all of its elements. So a Muslim cannot believe in Allah (swt), yet deny His Messenger, Muhammad (saw). Nor can a Muslim believe in the Qur’an, yet deny the Day of Judgement. Hence there is no question that the ‘Aqeedah of a Muslim is complete, for if the ‘Aqeedah of a Muslim became incomplete he would cease being a Muslim.
However, this Aqeedah does not only explain the origin and the end of this life. It also defines with surety the purpose of life. Allah (swt) has revealed,
”And I have created jinn and man for no purpose but to worship Me” [ 51:56]
In this way, the Islamic Aqeedah defines the purpose of life as being to worship Allah (swt), by following His (swt) commandments in each and every action. Just as in any journey, no-one can ignore the eventual destination, in life no-one can ignore his inevitable return to Allah (swt). Hence the Islamic ‘Aqeedah must be understood with great care and precision, as failure to do so will have the gravest consequences.
The Islamic Aqeedah is a Unique Aqeedah
In the world today there are many aqaa’id (beliefs or creeds), other than that of Islam. Aqaa’id such as Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Qaadianism, Communism and Capitalism. However, Islam stands alone amongst all the other ‘aqaa’id in two important aspects. Firstly, it is the Truth. The conviction that others hold in ‘aqaa’id other than Islam is false. Muslims today understand this very clearly, so they will not confuse the Islamic Aqeedah with other aqaa’id.
However some Muslims fail to grasp a second characteristic of the Islamic Aqeedah, even though they believe in Islam firmly and do not reject any of its elements. That characteristic is in the manner of application of the Islamic ‘Aqeedah. They fail to understand that the Islamic Aqeedah is both a ‘spiritual Aqeedah’ and a ‘political Aqeedah’. All other ‘aqaa’id are either spiritual or political, but never both. This misunderstanding is due to the fact that some Muslims have been influenced by the beliefs of others.
What is a Spiritual Aqeedah?
A spiritual Aqeedah is one which addresses only issues of worship and ethical actions. Christianity and Hinduism are examples of this, as they provide guidance on actions of worship, such as prayer, fasting and pilgrimage, or individual actions of merit, such as not to lie or cheat. However, they do not give guidance regarding the affairs of society and its organisation, i.e. they do not give political guidance. This is clear when one considers the situation of the European countries, which are all essentially ‘Christian-majority countries.’ In their history, it can be seen that whilst they gathered for Sunday worship and Christmas celebrations, they competed with each other in trade, fought wars against each other, and failed to unify all together on issues such as economy. In this way, the spiritual ‘Aqeedah gives guidance on worships and morals, but leaves people to be guided by political ‘aqaa’id in the rest of life’s affairs.
What is a Political ‘Aqeedah?
A political Aqeedah is one which addresses only the affairs of society and its governance, but offers no instruction in the areas of personal worship, for example Captialism and Communism. Communism focuses on political and economic issues, but denies worship and condemns religion as the ‘opium of the masses.’ Accordingly, it leaves worship, which is an innate instinct in human beings, without organisation. To this end, one may see bizarre scenes of people making ‘pilgrimage’ to the embalmed body of Lenin in Russia, and others making ‘ruku’ towards statues of the late Kim II Sung of North Korea. The same way capitalism also addresses society and it’s governance only, leaving the matter of worship to the individual’s freedom.
The Islamic Aqeedah is both Spiritual and Political
The Islamic Aqeedah directs individuals to worship Allah (swt) in the way in which He commanded. This worship is not confined to their personal actions. For it does not only shape their conduct according to the Islamic adaab (etiquettes). It also gives comprehensive guidance for all affairs of the society and its governance. This characteristic of the Islamic ‘Aqeedah allows all aspects of the life of Muslims to be ordered according to it, and the concept of the Shari’ah (Islamic Law) provides the practical codification for this purpose.
The Shari’ah provides laws which can be categorised into three areas. First, are those laws which govern the relationship between an individual and his Creator Allah (swt), such as praying, fasting and Hajj. Second, are those concerning the individual himself, like how to dress, what to eat etc. And third, those involving the relationships between people, including transactions, government, economy and foreign policy. In this way, the Muslims base all their actions upon their Islamic ‘Aqeedah.
In reality, there is no distinction between Shari’ah laws, whether they are to do with individuals, or the society. Both emanate from the same Islamic ‘Aqeedah, and none are more worthy to be followed than the others and there is no basis whatsoever for their separation. So there are ayat and ahadith which address personal worship, like in the following Ayah Allah (swt) commanded prayer and Qur’anic recitation:
”Perform salah from mid-day till the darkness of night, and recite the Qur’an in the early dawn.” [ 17:78]
However, there are also ayat and ahadith which address the affairs of society and governance: e.g. Allah (swt) forbade placing non-Muslims in authority over Muslims, such as the present rulers do by legitimising Israel’s occupation of Islamic Lands through the ‘peace’ process, when He (swt) revealed,
”And Allah (swt) does not permit the Believers to place Kafireen in authority over them” [ 4:141]
and the Messenger of Allah (saw) commanded that certain properties are public properties, which cannot be owned by individuals or the State like oil, gas etc. Rasulullah (saw) said:
“People share in three things, fire, water and the green pastures” reported by Abu dawud. Anas reported from Ibn Abbas adding “and it’s price is forbidden.”
This, again, is not the case today in Muslim Lands.
All Sharia rules, whether emanating from the Islamic Aqeedah as ‘political matters’ or ‘spiritual matters’, are to be implemented in the lives of the Muslims. Neglect of the Islamic Aqeedah in either sense is a violation of Islam and places Muslims under the wrath of Allah (swt). So, no-one can claim that he has a ‘correct ‘Aqeedah’ if he strives to apply the Islamic Aqeedah as a ‘spiritual Aqeedah’ alone in the form of individual worships only. They must also strive to apply Islam as a political Aqeedah, in the form of Ruling,Judiciary,Economy, Education,Social and Foreign Policy of a State. Furthermore, it is the Islamic State (Khilafah) which ensures, by the authority it has over the citizens, that Muslims conform to the Islamic ‘Aqeedah in its political and spiritual sense.
Islamic Definition of Politics
With the absence of the Islamic State for over 80 years, the world has been accustomed to the corruption of the democratic system. As a result, many people define politics based on the reality they see. However, as Muslims we must define politics based on what is revealed in the Sharia. Islam defines Siyasah (politics) as looking after the affairs of the Ummah internally and externally. The linguistic meaning of this word in the root verb Sasa, Yasoosu, Siyasatan is to care for ones’ affairs. This definition can also be extracted from the ahadith addressing the rulers’ responsibility, the obligation of taking him to task, and the importance of caring for the interests of Muslims. The Messenger (saw) said:
“Any person Allah has placed in (a position) to foster the peoples affairs, and he does not give them his best advice, he will not even smell the scent of Jannah (paradise).”
“Any Imam or a Wali slept a dark night while he was deceiving his people Allah will prevent him from entering paradise (Jannah).”
Furthermore, this understanding of politics can be clearly seen in the example of RasulAllah (saw), who deeply cared about this Ummah. RasulAllah (saw) was involved in the daily struggles that faced the Ummah. For example, when the Muslims had to dig the trench to protect Madinah he did not sit on the sidelines while the Ummah dug the trench. Rather, RasulAllah (saw) was in the trench digging with the Sahabahs (ra) suffering as they suffered – as evidenced by the two stones pressed against his blessed stomach to suppress the hunger he felt. Can we imagine Karzai suffering with the Muslims that he is in charge of? In another incident, a collector of revenues in the Islamic State asked the Prophet (saw) which things were given as revenues for the state, and which were given as personal gifts to him (the collector). The Prophet (saw) became upset, and asked him whether people would have given him these gifts if he had remained in his parent’s home, and not been a state revenue collector.
The Khulafah ar-Rashideen who led after RasulAllah (saw) followed this understanding of politics. Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) is widely known for the great effort he exerted in taking care of the affairs of the Ummah. When Abu Bakr (ra) was the Khaleefah, Umar (ra) felt that the Quran should be written down, whereas Abu Bakr (ra) did not. However, Umar (ra) worked hard and convinced Abu Bakr (ra) of his opinion. In the year 18AH, famine gripped Madinah and the surrounding area. This came to be known as the “Year of Ash” (Am al-Ramadah). Umar (ra) set-up tents around Madinah to house and feed those adversely affected by the famine. Umar (ra) sent a letter to Egypt and Sham demanding that they send in food. Furthermore, it is said that Umar (ra) went pale because he refused to eat fat, butter, and milk, until all the Muslims were able to afford such food! Umar’s (ra) example is sadly forgotten by the current leadership in Pakistan. Instead of preventing a refugee crisis, they instigated one by sending in the army to fight the people of Swat whose desire is to be ruled by the book of Allah (swt)! And why? So that they can please their masters in Washington and London!
Umar (ra) also took care of the affairs of Ahl-al-Dhimma (non-Muslims that lived under Islamic rule). For example, he found an old, blind Jewish person begging for money. So he took him to the Bait-al Mal (Public Treasury) and ordered that they provide him with assistance from the Bait-al Mal and stop collecting the jizya from him.
Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) also exemplified the Islamic definition of politics. A man came to Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) in his study, and Umar (rh) asked him whether he came for a state-related matter or a personal matter. The man replied “a personal matter”, so before the man could speak, Umar blew out a candle that was lit and lit another candle nearby. When the man asked Umar why he did this, Umar replied “The first candle was paid for using state funds, whereas the second one was paid for using my own personal funds”. Contrast this to the millions that Zardari stole from the Muslims of Pakistan!
It is also important to recognize that Siyasah did not stop with the Rightly Guided Khulafah, but was practiced by the Khulafah that came after. For example, Abdur-Rahman an-Nasser was the Amir that opened Andalus (Spain) to Islam. As the Wali (governor) of the province, he assigned officers to ensure that the milk was not watered down. He appointed environmental health officers to inspect meat and other foodstuff on sale, ensuring that the produce was well protected from flies and insects. He also built hostels for the travellers. He was so busy with the affairs of state, that on his death when the people read his personal diaries they found that throughout his entire rule of 55 years, 7 months, and 3 days in office, he had only 14 days free. And on his death he had nothing to leave – he died poor.
Also, consider the example of the Khaleefah Abdul Hameed (rh) in his reply to Theodor Herzl (founder of the Zionist movement) who wanted to purchase Palestine to establish Israel: “I would rather push a sword into my body than see the land of Palestine cut and given away from the Islamic State.” Unfortunately, such a stance is non-existent today where the Muslim rulers are willing to give away the land of Palestine for the temporary comfort of this life.
Islamic Aqeedah: Key to Good Governance
By Allah’s (swt) leave, the examples of RasulAllah (saw), the Sahabah (ra) and the Khulafah that came after, towers over the current decayed political system that rules the world. However, when discussing this issue we should be clear that the Sahabah (ra) and the righteous Khulafah were products of the Islamic Aqeedah. That is, the mindset of the Sahabah (ra) and those that came after them, was one that was deeply concerned about how Allah (swt) would hold them to account on the Day of Judgement for their actions. For example, Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) said, “If a goat tripped on the road, I would be afraid that Allah would ask me why didn’t you pave the road for her O Umar”. Also consider Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (rh) who used to cry at night due to being afraid of his accountability to Allah (swt) for the “stranger, beggared and straying, and the poor and the needy, and the prisoners in captivity”. In other words, they did not act justly for the sake of morality or achieving some medal of honour. Rather, they did this because they knew each action they undertook would be scrutinized by Allah (swt) on a Day that will determine whether they will go to Jannah (Heaven) or Jahannam (Hell).
May Allah (swt) raise within this Ummah a leadership that will rule by what He has revealed and a leadership that will be on the footsteps of the Prophethood.
“Those who, if We firmly establish them on earth, remain constant in prayer, and give in charity, and command what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters.” [TMQ 22:41]
Understanding Islamic Aqeedah in it’s spiritual and political sense is indispensable in understanding Islam as a Deen (way of life). Failure of such understanding has generated misconceptions like “Islam has nothing to do with the politics” and so on. These misconceptions not only made some Muslims abhor politics but also made them indifferent to kufr political system that are imposed upon them by their current rulers. There is not a single Muslim land where Islam is being implemented comprehensively. But such a fact doesn’t stir enough resonance among the Muslims’ mind due their confusion and misunderstanding regarding the political aspects of Islam. We the Muslims can’t get rid of from foreign occupation, corruption, poverty, injustice that are rampant in the Muslim lands unless we adhere to Islam comprehensively, both in it’s spiritual and political sense.