Islamic State and the
Demands of the Time
Question No. 21. In case of a contradiction between religious thought (texts and
traditions) and Islamic State, which one has priority? Do necessities allow
religious rulers to act against religious thought in case a necessity arises?
To answer this question, first it should be clarified what we mean by “religious
thought”. Here, there are some possibilities:
First. By “religious thought” we mean religious worldview and beliefs. In this
case, religious rulers and government are never permitted to oppose religious
thought, and no obligation can be a reason for such priority over religious
Second. By “religious thought” we mean the collection of primary religious
decrees in the realm of politics and society. In this case, if a more important
social demand arises, the Islamic State can temporarily recess the primary
practical decree and enforce the secondary governmental or emergency decree. It
should be noted, however, that this reading of “religious thought” is incorrect,
leading to a delusion about a contradiction between religious thought and
governmental decree, while the secondary and governmental decrees are also
subject to religious thought and should not be interpreted as priority of
something over religion.
Third. By “religious thought” we mean the primary, secondary and authoritative
decrees. In this case, there would be no contradiction between “governmental
decrees” and “religious thought” unless the government issues a decree contrary
to primary ones without observing the degree of importance and social
necessities or expediencies. Here, the government has done a wrong thing and
deviated from being religious. It is clear that in such a case, religious
thought would have priority; because as it has been stated in traditions, it is
not permissible to obey anyone if it involves disobeying God.1
Fourth. By “religious thought” we mean – as stated in the above question itself
– “religious texts”. Here, we should say such a definition of “religious
thought” is quite wrong, for it includes both rational and transmitted reasons.
Some of the transmitted reasons contain the authoritative and controlling
decrees (such as the principles of lā zarar (no harm), lā haraj (no impediment),
and ahamm wa muhimm (the degree of importance)) and some others contain the
controlled decrees. Islamic State, in case of necessity, can adduce
authoritative decreesto issue a decree contrary to the controlled ones. So,
these cases can not be regarded as instances of contradiction between “Islamic
State” and “religious thought”.
Question No. 22. What are the fixed and changeable elements in Islamic State?
Which parts of duties and functions of Islamic State are subject to change if
the situation demands?
No doubt, it is impossible to identify all fixed and changeable elements of
Islamic State in various times elaborately and comprehensively here.
Nevertheless, some points can be clarified synoptically:
First. Some elements in Islamic State are fundamental and essential, and
neglecting them would mean negation of Islamic State. These elements will always
be fixed and viable, not changing with the pass of time. One example is the
principle that a qualified person with necessary qualifications (such as
knowledge and justice) must be at the head of the Islamic State. The other
examples are the principle of commitment to justice, protecting the independence
[of the country], and negating the foreigners’ dominance.
Second. Along with abovementioned elements, there are some changeable elements
both in the structure of the government and in the State’s methods, functions,
duties, etc. For example, in Iran, Islamic State has been established in the
form of Islamic Republic, while it can take other forms as well. Anyway, this
model has been chosen among other alternatives as the most ideal one in the
Islamic State can also be formed as “centralized” or “decentralized”. Ayatullah
Mesbah Yazdi writes:
“The problem of separating the elements of power in Islamic jurisprudence is,
just like transaction, subject to changes of the time and place… [Decisions on]
whether the government should be conciliar or presidential, the elements of
power should be united or separated, are related to the expediencies of the
society in any time.”2
On the other hand, today, the states have been assigned a lot of duties – more
than before – and the Islamic State is no exception. So we may conclude that the
situations of the time and place can change both the structure of the government
and its functions and duties. Nevertheless, Islamic State can not accept any
change; rather, it always follows some fixed rules and principles, accepting
just those changes which are not in contradiction to fixed religious rules and
the authoritative rules controlling religious decrees.3
Legitimacy and Acceptability
Question No. 23. What is the basis of legitimacy of governments in different
schools? Compare them with the viewpoints of Islam and Shiism.
To investigate the idea of “legitimacy” in Islam and other schools, we should
first have a definition of it; then we can scrutinize its basis in different
views and test them.
The definition of legitimacy
“Legitimacy” is derived from the adjective “legitimate” (meaning legal). The
term “legitimacy” is used with relatively different meanings in sciences related
1. In political philosophy, theology and jurisprudence, “legitimacy” means
“being right” and is used as contrary to “usurpation”; here it can be called
2. In political sociology – which is a descriptive science seeking to explain
political phenomena, behaviors, and structures through economic, cultural, and
social factors, and looks at political structures free from values –
“legitimacy” is generally used in the sense of “acceptability”. In this view,
there is no room for asking about the relation of “legitimacy” and
“acceptability”, since they are used interchangeably. So this issue must be
studied with a normative view.
The sources of legitimacy
Philosophers and politico-sociologists have presented different views on sources
of legitimacy. Max Weber mentions three sources for legitimacy: (1) tradition;
(2) charisma or particular personal characteristics; (3) law. Accordingly, he
believes in three types of legitimacy:
A. Traditional legitimacy, which is rooted in the traditions common among people
of a nation, such as hereditary governments, patriarchy, apartheid, aristocracy,
and so on.
B. Charismatic legitimacy, which stresses the personal characteristics of the
ruler, and is based on the unusual and exceptional submission to a person due to
his sacredness, heroism, and exemplarity.
C. Rational/ legal legitimacy, which is based on rational agreements.4
Fredrich believes in five sources for legitimacy:
1. religious; 2. philosophical and legal; 3. traditional; 4. methodical; 5.
Some scholars have classified the origins of government and the sources of
legitimacy as follows:
First. The libertarian theories
These theories are divided into three groups:
a. The social contract theory. According to this theory, there is a contact
between State and the citizens, thereby they feel themselves liable to follow
the State’s ordinances and, in return, the State is committed to provide order,
welfare and security for them.
b. The public will theory. According to this theory, if all or most of the
people demand the ruling of some persons, their government would be legitimate.
c. The consent theory. The consent of the society members to a government is a
criterion for its legitimacy, leading to political obedience commitment on their
part; in this way, the government will have the right to order and the people to
The critique of the views
Each of the abovementioned views suffers from some specific and some common
defects; here, we only mention the common defects for the purpose of brevity:
First. All of these views lack comprehensiveness regarding the criterion of
legitimacy. In other words, all of them just consider the question of “where to
take the political power from”. However, they do not consider the question of
“how to use the power” as a criterion for legitimacy. As a result, if the
government does not observe the ethical values, it would be still legitimate.
This is not acceptable on any basis other than ethical positivism wherein there
is no room for ethical values.6
It may be said that the society can provide enough guarantee for observing moral
values in the social contract, change its attitude toward the rulers, or declare
its discontent to immoral behaviors to negate the government’s legitimacy, or
force the rulers to observe those principles.
It should be said, however, that observing moral principles would be subject to
social will, contract and consent, with no role in legitimacy or illegitimacy.
Thus, if the society submits to the oppression of the rulers, their legitimacy
Second. In every society, there is a minor opposition group. Based on the
abovementioned theories, it should be known how the situation would be for the
minor groups who do not want the government and have not taken part in the
social contract, or those who are not content with the existing government, or
those who are not qualified to have a role in government (such as minor persons,
the mad, etc.). In other words, if legitimacy is only subject to a contract,
public will, or the citizens’ consent, then it would no longer justify governing
the groups excluded, or obliging them to obey the government. Furthermore, the
opposition may be a major group of society, not a minor one. It is reasonable,
thus, to look for another source of legitimacy for government, which can justify
governing all people. Otherwise, there would be no government in the world
justifiable based on the “democratic” theories.
Third. In many cases, the social context changes. For example, with the legal
maturity of the minor persons, new individuals would become qualified to take
part in the social contract, and some previously qualified persons die. It is
probable that these new individuals might have attitudes, wills, or interests
different from the previous ones.
Besides, the previous individuals may change their minds. According to
democratic theories, as soon as the society’s view changes or the social context
alters, the government and the ruler must lose their legitimacy in principle. In
this case, by enforcing some changes – such as changing the number of the
opposing groups from 49% to 51% – the government or the ruler should be
substituted by a new one; here, the previous contract or consent can no longer
be effective in the new situation. Therefore, the viability of the government –
even for a few determined years – necessitates a better criterion.
Second. The functionalist theories.
These are the views which believe in the government’s role and function as the
criterion for its legitimacy. The most prominent theories of this kind are as
First. The theory of justice and moral values. In this view, enforcing justice
is the source of political legitimacy. Therefore, any government who attempts to
enforce justice is legitimate, and those governments or rulers moving in a
contrary direction lack legitimacy. Here, by “justice” it is not meant a most
essential moral value; rather, what is meant is the enforcement of justice in
the political behavior of the rulers. According to this theory, therefore, if a
person is oppressive out of the realm of political power but do justice in his
political behavior, his government would be legitimate; this legitimacy is not
dependant on the rulers’ “personal justice”.
Second. The theory of fulfilling needs. According to this theory, the effort to
provide welfare, security and happiness for the members of society is the basis
of political legitimacy.
Putting aside the problem of defining “justice”, the defect of these two
theories is their justification of the rulers’ ordinances only; they are silent
about other parameters underlying the puzzle of “legitimacy”. Nevertheless, the
ordinance’s being merely just, or its being issued for providing public welfare
and common good, does not justify a particular person or group’s government;
especially if different individuals or groups enforce justice or fulfill
society’s needs to an equal degree. In the latter case, which one is legitimate
to govern society? Why is it necessary to obey one, and disobey the other? Any
criterion in this respect would eventually lead to leaving the basis and moving
towards one of the rival theories.
Third. The theory of divine legitimacy.
In this theory, the source and criterion for legitimacy is God’s ordinance and
permission. The theory of “divine legitimacy” has been discussed in three ways
throughout history.7 Here, for brevity purpose, we just mention the viewpoint of
Legitimacy in Islam
In studying the theory of “legitimacy in Islam”, we should distinguish between
the origin of legitimacy and the sources for recognizing it. The origin of
legitimacy is where the legitimacy has originated from. By the source of
legitimacy, we mean the evidences and the sources of discovering legitimacy in
Islam, i.e. the Book and the Sunna.
The only intrinsic origin of legitimacy in Islam is God; for the Creator of the
universe and human, the owner of all existence, the influential power is the
Lord of the universe and all human beings. In Islam, government and political
sovereignty – as a kind of dominion over the creatures’ affairs – are considered
as matters within the jurisdiction of God. The doctrine of Unity in divine
Lordship – whether in the system of creation or the system of legislation – does
not accept any other origin along with God. The Holy Quran says on this point:
1. “In il-hukmu illā li-llāh” 8
(the decision is only for God).
2. “innamā walīyukum Allāh wa Rasūlahū wa-llazīna āmanū; allazīna yuqīmūn as-salāta
wa yu’tūn az-zakāta wa hum rāki’ūn”9
(Your rulers can only be God and his messenger and those who believe, who
establish worship and pay the poor due alms, and bow down [in prayer]).
3. “am ittakhazū min dūnihī awlīyā’a fa-llāhu huwa al-walī”10
(Or have they chosen Lords besides Him? But Allah is the only Lord. He quickens
the dead and He is able to do anything).
Therefore, no one has the right to govern people or interfere in their affairs
unless he is proved – through a valid religious evidence – to have been
appointed or allowed by God to do so. Divine appointment or permission can be
stated either directly or indirectly – by the Prophet or Imams. Besides, all
Muslims believe that the Prophet had been appointed by God. This has been
mentioned by the Holy Quran in numerous verses. Some of them follow:
1. “an-nabīyu awlā bi-l-mu’minīna min anfusihim…”11
(The Prophet is superior to the believers than themselves).
2. “atī’u-llāh wa atīur-Rasūl wa ul-il-amri minkum”12
(…obey Allah and the messenger and those of you who are in authority).
3. “wa mā kāna li-mu’minin wa lā mu’minatin izā qaza Allāh wa Rasūluhū amran an-yakūna
lahum al-khīyaratu min amrihim”13
(It is not right for a believing man or woman, when Allah and His messenger has
decided an affair (for them) that they should claim anything in their own
Besides, Imami Shiites, based on definite evidences, believe that Imams have
been especially appointed by God.14
Additionally, the Shiite scholars – based on rational and transmitted evidences
– believe that just and qualified Muslim scholars have been appointed by the
Legislator and are representatives of Awaited Imam in governmental affairs as
well as political and social leadership during the Occultation period. Of
course, this idea – called “Wilāyat-e Faqīh” – is not restricted to Occultation
period, but is realizable during Imam’s presence while he is able to exercise
discretion; Malik Ashtar, for instance, was appointed by Imam Ali (PBUH) as the
governor of Egypt.
Choosing the Authoritative Muslim scholar (“Walī Faqīh”)
Besides this view – called the theory of “appointment” and well-known to the
Imami scholars – a new theory has been presented by some other scholars.
According to this view, the “Authoritative Muslim scholar” is not appointed by
the Legislator; rather, He has obliged people to choose a just and qualified
Muslim scholar as the leader. This latter person enjoys authority after being
elected by people, and is allowed to exercise discretionary power in social
affairs, taking on the leadership.
A comparative study or value judgment of these views requires a special
opportunity. But the important point is to find out whether the basic question
of the present discussion has a different answer according to these two views.
If so, what is that difference?
Some have called the first view “divine legitimacy” and the second one the
theory of “election” or “divine-demotic legitimacy”. It should be noted that the
basis of both views is the very theory of “divine legitimacy”, for both of them
consider God as the intrinsic origin of legitimacy, not accepting any other
source besides Him. Thus, adding the adjective “demotic” is a kind of loose
expression of the idea. In other words, the demotic origin of “authority” in
this view is a conventional provision stipulated by the Holy Legislator in
conferring the authority to the Muslim scholar and affirming it. Therefore:
1. If the theory of “election” considers the government as an earthly and
ascending affair, it is completely far from the general attitude of Islam.
2. If it believes in two “earthly” and “celestial” sources, it indulges in
3. If it considers the demotic legitimacy at a level lower than the divine
legitimacy, it is not be a theory contrary to divine legitimacy; rather, it is a
subcategory of theory of “divine legitimacy”. Such a view is also consistent
with the theory of “appointment”. In other words, the theory of “appointment”
makes the “divine authority” conceivable in two ways:
First. Absolute appointment, according to which the Legislator does not include
people’s choice in the process of Authoritative Muslim scholar’s appointment,
insists on authority of the righteous and qualified Muslim scholar, affirms his
social controls and obliges submission to his orders in social affairs.
Second. Conditioned appointment, according to which the Legislator affirms the
authority of the Muslim scholar after his election by people, not before it.
Appointment or Election
Question No. 24. Is the Islamic State based on appointment by the Legislator or
election by people? In the former case, can we believe in any role for people in
affirmation or denial of the Islamic State?
In Shiite political thought, the “Authoritative Guardian” is appointed by the
Legislator. However, it does not mean that people have no role in affirming or
denying the government, for the Authoritative Guardian has no right to impose
his own views on people in establishing the government and exercising his
Thus, the Islamic government is formed with the people’s consent. There are
numerous evidences for this idea. For example Imam Ali reports from the Prophet
that “The Prophet said to me: ‘Oh, Abu Talib’s son! You are responsible for the
Guardianship of my community. If they confer you the power safe and sound,
agreeing upon your sovereignty contentedly, take on the guardianship of their
affairs; otherwise, leave them at that’”.15
Imam Khomeini, replying the Secretariat of Leaders of Friday Prayer, writes on
the scope and the nature of “Muslim scholar’s Authority”:
“[The Authoritative Muslim scholar] enjoys authority in all forms. But,
guardianship of the Muslim’s affairs and establishing a government depends on
the opinion of majority of Muslims. This has been mentioned in Constitution as
well, and called in the early years of Islam ‘paying homage to the Muslims’
Acceptability and Legitimacy
Question No. 25. What is the relationship between acceptability and legitimacy
in Islamic State, particularly regarding the theory of the “Muslim scholar’s
The two views mentioned on the theory of legitimacy (i.e. appointment and
election) are different as to the relationship between acceptability and
A. According to the theory of “election”, the relationship between
“acceptability and legitimacy” is of “absolute generality and specificity” type;
thus, acceptability is a more general idea than legitimacy. In other words,
acceptability – providing other conditions such as jurisprudential expertise (fiqāhat),
efficiency, and justice are fulfilled – culminates in legitimacy. Acceptability
is conceivable without legitimacy, but legitimacy is not conceivable without
acceptability. Thus, legitimacy is absolutely more specific than acceptability,
for “legitimacy” is always contingent upon “acceptability”. In other words,
three suppositions are conceivable in this respect:
1. (Acceptability + “jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency”→
2. (Acceptability – “jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency”→
3. (“jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency” – acceptability →
B. According to the theory of “appointment”, the relationship between
“legitimacy” and “acceptability” is “generality and specificity in some
respect”. That is, here it is different from the previous view just in the third
supposition. Thus, the conceivable suppositions is as follows:
1. (Acceptability + “jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency”→
2. (Acceptability – “jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency”→
3. (“jurisprudential expertise + justice + efficiency” – acceptability →
Nevertheless, according to this view, the “Authoritative Muslim scholar” is not
permitted to take the political power under any condition and in any form, and
to wield his power; this is because without a record of “acceptability”, it is
virtually impossible to successfully establish a government.
On the other hand, taking power through dictatorial and insidious methods is not
permissible in Islam. What is important according to the theory of “appointment”
is the authority of the “Authoritative Muslim scholar” in spite of no social
acceptability, while he lacks the nominal government; just as Imam Ali (PBUH)
enjoyed authority and legitimacy during the Caliphate of the three Caliphs,
while he was lacking the nominal government. As a result of this legitimacy, the
“Authoritative Guardian” is legally permitted to issue a governmental decree in
such a situation, and it would be incumbent upon people to obey him. But,
according to the theory of “election” he essentially enjoys no authority to
issue a decree, and if he issue one, it will not be incumbent upon people to
The Authoritative Muslim scholar’s power to issue governmental decrees does not
mean his dictatorship, for he cannot take political power and establish
government through force, dictatorship or deception, imposing his own will upon
others; however, people will be guilty because of not obeying him. Imam Ali (PBUH)
“The Prophet said to me: ‘Oh, Abu Talib’s son! You are responsible for the
Guardianship of my community. If they confer you the power safe and sound,
agreeing upon your sovereignty contentedly, take on the guardianship of their
affairs; otherwise, leave them at that”.17
This tradition shows that:
1. Imam Ali (PBUH) had been appointed by the Prophet to the guardianship of the
community; so it is not essentially dependant on people’s vote.
2. Imam Ali’s exercising his own authority is dependant on its acceptability by
people. Imam Khomeini says on “Muslim scholar’s Authority”:
“If it is impossible for the Muslim scholars to assemble and establish a
government, they would be exempted from establishing the Islamic government;
however, they would still enjoy the office of guardianship. Although they have
no government, they have authority over the Muslims”.18
In view of what was said, the role and function of the religious ruler’s “public
acceptability” – based on the two views – is:
First. The role of acceptability according to the theory of appointment:
1. Participation in establishing Islamic State and preparing the ground for
transferring the power to the ruler appointed by God.
2. Participation in making the Islamic State efficient, preserving it, and
supporting its viability. These two functions are actually in all instances of
Islamic State – including the Prophet’s, the Imam’s and the Authoritative Muslim
scholar’s government. As for the Authoritative Muslim scholar and Islamic
Republic regime, however, there are some other functions as well.
3. If there is just one person – among numerous Muslim scholars – qualified for
leadership, the choice of the majority of the people is their indirect
participation in the process of identifying the guardian appointed by God; this
identification is done through experts. If there are numerous persons qualified
for leadership, the people’s vote is preparing a reasonable ground for
exercising the authority by one of the qualified persons. Thus, there is no
chance for others to exercise power and they would have no responsibility here.
To prevent struggle and anarchy, they are deprived of any right to guardianship.
Second. The role of acceptability according to the theory of election:
This theory shares the same opinion on the functions stated in number 1 and 2
above, but has a different view on the third function. It believes that the
people’s vote and the experts elected by people is a religious method not a
rational one. In other words, the public affirmation is one of the religious
conditions for the Muslim scholar’s authority, just like justice and legal
expertise; without people’s vote, the qualified Muslim scholar does not legally
enjoy authority. So, there is no difference between the two assumptions – i.e.
one qualified person and numerous qualified persons.19
Question No. 26. Supposing the ruler is appointed in Islamic State and people
have no right in appointing or deposing him, how can we prevent Islamic State
from leading to dictatorship?
To prevent dictatorship and autocracy, there are various methods discussable
under the topic of “control” in Islamic State. What can be briefly stated here
First. The appointment by the Legislator is contingent upon the fulfillment of
the necessary qualifications. The first qualification is “impeccability”, and in
case of occultation of the Impeccable Imam, “legal expertise” and “justice” are
among necessary qualifications for the Authoritative Guardian. These are not
restricted to the moment of acceding to the power and starting the government;
it is also a necessary condition for viability of the power. That is, as long as
these conditions prevail, he will be the appointed Authoritative Guardian and
his government will be legitimate. As soon as he indulges in dictatorship and
corruption, he will lose the necessary qualification and will thus be deposed by
the Legislator; he then must abdicate. The society must also remove him and not
obey him any more.
Second. The ruler’s appointment does not necessarily negate people’s
participation in appointing and deposing him; rather, the religious ruler takes
the power only through people’s participation and social acceptability. In
Islamic Republic, people choose their leader indirectly through the experts.
Thus, in Imam Khomeini’s thought, the religious guardianship of the “Muslim
scholar” is mentioned along with people’s choice and voting. To clarify this
point, the following excerpts of his speeches are quoted:
“We comply with the people’s votes. We will do as they vote.”20 “The criterion
is the people’s vote.”21 “If there is no Muslim scholar, no Muslim scholar’s
Authority, there will be illegitimate sovereign. Either God governs or
illegitimate sovereign. If God’s command is not followed, and the president is
not appointed by the Muslim scholar, [the state] will be illegitimate. When it
is illegitimate, it is Devil…”22
Imam Khomeini, in ratifying the late president Rajaie’s presidential prescript,
said: “…and as its legitimacy must be ratified by the Authoritative Muslim
scholar, I ratify the people’s vote and appoint him as the president of Islamic
Republic”.23 He also wrote in a letter to the Council for Revising the
Constitution: “The effect of the Authoritative Guardian’s decree is based on the
In these statements, the “divine appointment” and the “people’s election” are
clearly found besides one another. Thus, divine appointment does not prevent
people’s election based on religious principles; the same God who has appointed
the “Authoritative Guardian” has attached a great importance to people’s choice.
Question No. 27. Are people’s will and consent regarded as necessary conditions
or elements in legitimacy [of the government]?
Three assumptions are conceivable in this respect:
1. A government may be both legitimate and acceptable, such as the Prophet’s,
Imam Ali’s, Imam Khomeini’s and Imam Khamenei’s governments.
2. A government may be illegitimate but acceptable, such as some democratic
3. A government may be legitimate but not acceptable, such as religious
authority of the Impeccable Imam, who is not obeyed or whose government is not
accepted by the society; a similar case happened to Imam Hassan. In such cases,
if the ruler cannot defend Islamic State peacefully and the society does not
support him, he is not allowed to impose dictatorship upon people and must
relinquish the government, just as Imam Hassan did so.
However, we may suppose many cases wherein “people’s consent and will” is to
some extent involved in legitimacy; that is, when there are two just Muslim
scholars who are equally qualified for government and leadership of the society,
but one of them enjoys more public acceptability. In that case, it may be said
that the public acceptability of one is a kind of reference for rational
reasoning [in this respect].25 Nevertheless, it must be noted that acceptability
is in general a condition for permitting the exercise of authority not the
Another point is that if someone has accepted the “Muslim scholar’s Authority”
not as the Legislator’s appointment but as a certain point – i.e. he believes
that expertise in jurisprudence is a necessary condition for leadership
according to goals of religion, and thus only the competent Muslim scholar is
qualified for leadership of Islamic regime26; according to this view, in the
case of numerous qualified persons, the certain point will be the priority of
the very elected Muslim scholar.
In other words, if two Muslim scholars have equal qualifications, with one
accepted by people and the other not, and we may doubt which one is affirmed by
the Legislator, we are certain about the Legislator’s affirmation of the one
elected by people, whereas for the other person – while the former is present –
the doubt still remains. Thus, with the certain person’s presence, the dubious
one would have no priority.
The Status of God and People in Islamic State
Question No. 28. What are the roles of God’s consent and the faithful people’s
consent in Islamic State? Which one has priority?
1. The government’s divine-orientation. The Islamic State is essentially a
“divine-oriented” government. Therefore, God’s will and consent is the most
essential cornerstone of the Islamic State. This point must be noted, however,
that God wishes the man’s felicity and good fortune. His will is exactly equal
to the man’s felicity and salvation.
2. People’s consent. People’s consent has certainly a high status in Islamic
system; it must be noted, however, that their will and consent are along God’s
will and consent. That is:
Firstly, The Most High God has ordered the rulers to do their best to win
people’s consent, and they will be questioned on this duty. Imam Ali (PBUH)
writes in his letter to Malik Ashtar: “Fill your heart with people’s love and
affection. Never be like a beast who grabs the opportunity to devour them….for
you are dominant on them, and the one who governs you is superior to you, and
God is superior to the latter. God has entrusted you the responsibility of
managing people’s affairs, and this is a test for you. Never enter a fight with
God, for you would not tolerate His chastisement”.27 Here, oppression to people
has been equaled to a fight with God.
Secondly, People’s consent and will is noted insofar as it is not against God’s
consent and His law. Imam Ali (PBUH) says: “No creature deserves obedience when
God is to be disobeyed…”28
Altogether, the following points are worth noting about the status of people’s
consent and will in Islamic State:
1. The Islamic regime itself is formed based on people’s will, and is never
imposed upon them. In other words, Islamic State is for a religious society and
the religious society accepts nothing but the Islamic State.
2. In cases where the Legislator has not issued a certain order on a specific
subject, leaving it to the government to choose the way, it is necessary [for
the government] to consider people’s will in a way consistent with their common
good. If, however, their will is contrary to definite divine rules, their will
is not considered and followed.
Therefore, Islamic regime is neither like dictator and autocrat regimes which do
not consider any value for people’s will, and nor like the so-called democratic
regimes which claim following people’s will unquestionably (though this claim
has never been realized). Islamic government is a third way wherein people’s
will is respected in accordance to divine will and decrees – which guarantee the
human’s felicity and good end in this and the other world.
The status of people
Question No. 29. What is the role of people in policy-making and enforcing laws
in Islamic State? What should we do in the case of a contradiction between
people’s opinions and views and those of the rulers?
In Islamic State, people play an active and decisive role in legislation,
policy-making and enforcing laws. For instance, people participate in
legislation and major policy-makings of the society by electing members of the
parliament. They participate in collective policy-makings by electing members of
the councils. They elect members of the Guardian Council to participate in
determining the leader and supervising him. And finally, they elect the
president as the highest state official after the leader.
The State Cabinet is elected by people indirectly: on one hand, the elected
president introduces the Cabinet, and on the other hand the elected MPs cast
vote of confidence for the Cabinet members after investigating their
qualifications. Nevertheless, it should be noted that people’s role in all these
affairs is in accordance to religious rules and cannot be contrary to them.
Article 6 of the Constitution states:
“In Islamic Republic of Iran, the state affairs must be managed based on the
public votes: through elections of the president, MPs, the members of the
councils, and the like, or through plebiscite”.
The problem of contradiction between people’s views and those of rulers has
1. People’s will and the decisions of the government’s agents may be equal as
far as consistency with religious rules is concerned. In this case, people’s
will will be preferable. Reasons such as “the necessity of counsel” can
religiously support this idea. Besides, from a sociological viewpoint, this
results in more “acceptability and efficiency” of the government. This is true,
except when changing the decision is not possible due to some reasons.
2. People’s will may be religiously and legally prior to the decision of
government’s agents. In this case, people’s will is preferable.
3. People’s will may be inconsistent with religious rules and principles, or may
be contrary to the common good of the society, but the decisions of the
government’s agents may be consistent with religious rules and principles; in
this case, the latter has priority.
The Role of Allegiance
Question No. 30. In case of establishment of the ideal form of the Islamic State
through Imamate and caliphate, what is the role of allegiance in Islamic State?
First, the nature of allegiance should be identified so that its role in Islamic
State may be found out. The equivalent of allegiance in Arabic, i.e. bay’at, is
derived from the root bay’¸ meaning “sale”.29 This is because those who give
allegiance do their best to be at the service of the person gaining allegiance.
The Holy Quran refers to the “Bay’at Ridhwān”: “fas-tabshirū bi-bay’ikum allazī
bāya’tum”30 (…rejoice then in your bargain that you have made).
As for the nature of allegiance, it has been stated that: “allegiance is a
promise and a pact; those who pledge the oath of allegiance promise to be
faithful to the one who gains the allegiance; and this depends on what the
latter suggests”.31 Thus, allegiance is a promise given by those who pledge the
oath of allegiance on what a supereminent person offers them in a specific
Allegiance in Islam
The allegiances pledged in the early years of Islam were on different subjects,
including the following ones:
1. The “First Aqaba Allegiance” took place during Hajj, between the Prophet (PBUH)
and twelve Ansaris. Ubadat bin Sabit has reported this event as follows: “Before
it became incumbent upon us to take part in war, we took the oath of Women’s
Allegiance (bay’at al-nisā’) with the Prophet; its content would bind us not to
believe in any partner for God; not to steal anything nor to commit adultery;
not to kill our offspring; not to slander or accuse someone; not to disobey God
and the Prophet in good things…”33 As seen here, the term Bay’at means faith in
Islam and obeying Islamic decrees.
2. The “Second Aqaba Allegiance” took place between the Prophet in one hand, and
seventy- three men and two women on the other hand. Here, the Prophet said: “I
gain your allegiance to protect me from anything you protect your household
from.”34 Here, Bay’at is a kind of defensive promise and treaty.
3. The “Shajaray-e Ridhwān Allegiance” was the Prophet’s third allegiance that
took place with a large number of people of Hudaybīya (nine miles from Mecca) in
the 7th year A.H. It was an allegiance of Holy War and was a renewal of the
second allegiance. Ibn Umar says: “We pledged the oath of allegiance with the
Prophet on obeying and following him, and he said ‘as much as you can’”35
From what was stated up to now, it is clarified that allegiance in the Prophet
and Imams’ age did not mean election and relegating political leadership.
Ayatullah Ma’rifat writes on this point: “Allegiance in the age of Presence (the
age of prophetic mission and the presence of Impeccable Imams) played just the
role of a religious duty in regard with preparing the necessary facilities for
the authorities. The Prophet and Imams’ political authority and leadership
originated from their prophethood and Imamate, and it was incumbent upon people
to prepare the necessary facilities for them so that they could perform their
duty in enforcing justice with people’s assistance; if the people refrained from
doing this duty, this would cause no impairment to their political leadership
and authority. In that case, people had disobeyed their Authoritative
4. Pledging allegiance to Imam Ali, which was the practical transfer and
depositing political power to him, and declaring faithfulness and pledging
obedience to him.
Republicanism and Islamic State
Question No. 31. What is the relationship between Islamic State and
republicanism or democracy? Is Islamic State inconsistent with republican and
“Republicanism” has no contradictions with “Islamic State”. Republicanism is a
form of government consistent with various governments, as far as content is
concerned. Islamic State can be organized in various forms, one of which is
republican, which is especially appropriate for the modern age.
“Democracy” and the explanation of its relation with Islamic State requires a
lot of study and review, because this notion has various degrees, models and
forms; besides, the term “democracy” is used in different senses.
In summary, if we define the word democracy as “public participation” – which is
called “methodic” democracy – it has no contradiction with Islamic State.
Rather, Islamic State cannot emerge without this kind of democracy, or it may
not sustain its viability. The “ideological and substantial” democracy or the
“liberal” form of democracy which affirm every human will – even though it may
be inconsistent with religious law – are, however, in contradiction with Islamic
The duties of people and Statesmen
Question No. 32. What are the mutual duties of people and Islamic State?
Generally speaking, the first and the most essential duty of the Statesmen is
their commitment to their responsibilities toward people, not refraining from
any effort for serving the society as far as their legal responsibilities are
concerned. Some of these responsibilities may be enumerated as follows:
1. Attempting to preserve the autonomy and glory of the society, and removing
foreigners’ dominance in all spheres;
2. Preparing the ground for scientific, religious, cultural and moral growth and
development of the society;
3. Creating inland and overseas security, and dominance of justice;
4. Spreading welfare and prosper, and attempting to fulfill the material needs
of the society;
5. Humbleness before people and preparing the ground for ever-increasing
participation of people;
Among the most important people’s responsibilities toward Statesmen are:
a. Providing serious and decisive support for the government and its agents so
that they can perform their legal duties, especially in times of crisis and
b. Providing suggestions and corrective and benevolent instructions along with
accurate studies and investigations according to demands of time.
Islamic State and civil institutes
Question No. 33. What are the most important issues concerning the relations of
a government with the society and the civil institutes? What are the views of
Islam and Constitution in this regard?
The most important issues concerning the relations of a government with the
society and the civil institutes are:
One. political participation;
Two. political pluralism;
Three. methods or organs controlling and supervising the performance of the
To clarify the abovementioned items, it should be noted that:
1. In Islamic thought, the idea of social and political participation is not
only people’s right but also their religious duty. In this view, all Muslims are
responsible for the destiny of the “Muslim community”. The Holy Prophet said:
“He who gets up and does not attempt to reform the Muslims’ affairs is not a
Muslim.” Islamic State is essentially contingent upon people’s participation,
will and agency. In Islam, political participation is based on divine
sovereignty and making human dominate his own fate to achieve the ultimate goals
of creation. Accordingly, it is stated in article 56 of the IRI Constitution
that “Absolute dominance over the universe and human belongs to God, who has
made human dominate his own social destiny; nobody can deprive human of this
divinely conferred right.”
2. Political pluralism has been accepted in Islamic State based on the
principles and norms of the Islamic law. In article 26 of the IRI Constitution,
it has been stated that “Parties, guilds, political leagues and Islamic
societies or recognized religious minorities are free; provided that they do not
violate the principles of independence, freedom, national unity, Islamic rules
and the bases of Islamic Republic. No one can be prevented from or force to join
one of them.”
3. “Enjoining good and forbidding evil” is one of the valuable and most
important teachings of Islam, according to which it is incumbent upon all
members of the society to treat suitably every diversionary phenomenon.
According to this principle, the behaviors of the rulers are accurately beheld
by members of the society, and they can put forward – as the common good of the
society demands – corrective suggestions and critiques.
Besides, all leaders and political authorities of the countries – even the great
Iranian leader himself – are subject to investigation and control by legal
organs originated from people. The article 111 of the IRI Constitution says:
“whenever the leader becomes unable to do his legal duties, or loses one of the
qualifications stated in the articles 5 and 109, or it becomes known that he had
lacked some of the qualifications from the very beginning, he would be
dismissed. The experts stated in the article 108 are responsible for discerning
the deficiencies mentioned here.”
The Basic Rights and Personal Freedoms
Question No. 34. To what extent are the public rights and people’s basic rights
ensured in Islamic State?
In Islamic government, the basic rights of the people have been established in
best accordance with religious high values and teachings. In IRI Constitution,
the basic rights of the people have been stated in various chapters, including
1. Equality. “Iranian people from different races and tribes enjoy equal rights;
and color, race, language, and the like are no criteria for priority.”38
2. Enjoying legal support. “All members of society, men and women, are equally
supported by law, and enjoy all human rights including political, economical,
social, and cultural rights based on Islamic principles.”39
3. Political rights. “Absolute dominance over the universe and human belongs to
God, who has made human dominate his own social destiny; nobody can deprive
human of this divinely conferred right or make it at the service of a special
individual or group; and the people exert this divinely conferred right through
devices stated in later articles.”40 In article 6, it is stated that “In Islamic
Republic of Iran, the country’s affairs must be managed based on people’s votes;
this is done through elections, electing the president, the MPs, the members of
the City Councils, or through referendum.”
4. Social rights:
a) The right to a suitable job (articles 43, clause 2; 28 and 29)
b) The right to social security (article 31)
c) Cultural rights (article 30)
d) Economical rights (the right to ownership) (chapter 4, articles 46, 49, …)
e) Judicial rights (the right to litigation, choosing a lawyer for lawsuits)
(article 34, 35 and 167)
f) Another section of the basic rights is concerned with “people’s basic rights”
to which we will deal with separately.41
Another related subject is concerned with impunities including the followings:
1. Personal impunity or individual security (articles 21-3, 38)
2. The judge’s impunity (article 164)
3. Judicial security (clause 114 of article 3)
4. Judicial principles:
a) The principle of necessity of observing Islamic rules (articles 159 and 163)
b) The principle of exemption (article 37)
c) The principle of legal prosecution and punishments of crimes and enforcing
them through legal authorities (article 169)
d) The principle of open trials (article 165)
e) The principle of no ex post facto criminal law (article 169)
f) The principle of the necessity of settling complaints and petitions (articles
158 and 167)
g) The principle of the necessity of restitution of material of spiritual harms
inflected due to judge’s mistake or fault (article 171)42
As for the question of whether the basic and public laws relating to the people
are valid and respected, it should be noted that:
Firstly, a Islamic State and regime is never formed without people’s will and
Secondly, the religious society – in view of its deep commitment to religion and
religious values – is seeking laws taken from the very context of religion or at
least accepted and affirmed by religion and not inconsistent with it. Such laws
enjoy special validity and importance in Islamic State, and nobody has the right
to oppose them. It is advisable here to refer to previous questions as well.
Question No. 35. To what extent are the personal and basic freedoms ensured? How
much are these freedoms respected by Islamic State and rulers?
One. Personal freedom. In Islamic view, this topic has been best dealt with. In
Islam’s view, human’s freedom is an “intrinsic and innate” right conferred to
him by God, not a “made-up or conventional” right. Therefore, nobody is allowed
to deprive others of their freedom unduly. Imam Ali (PBUH) says: “Oh people!
Verily, human beings have been crated neither as slaves nor bondwomen; verily,
they are all free.”43 He has also said “Do not be any one’s slave, for God has
created you free.”44 Nevertheless, in all schools of thought and in all regimes,
freedom has some limitations. The scope of freedom and its limitations differ
according to the epistemological, cosmological and anthropological foundations.
Thus, the personal freedom in Islam and Islamic State cannot be equalized to
liberal thoughts and regimes.45
Two. Basic freedoms. The IRI Constitution has recognized basic freedoms such as
personal freedom, freedom of thought and belief, political freedom, freedom in
choosing a job, freedom in choosing a dwelling place, and other types of
freedom. It stipulates in the seventh clause of article 3 that “To achieve the
goals stated in article 2, the IRI government is bound to use all its facilities
for providing political and social freedoms within the framework of the law”.46
The extent of religious rulers’ respect for personal freedoms can be evaluated
by noting historical experiences. The most complete and prominent instances of
Islamic State are those established by the Prophet and followed by Imam Ali.
The ruling method of these two great leaders is the best model of “observing the
individuals’ freedom”. This historical case was experienced in an age when there
was no freedom in the milieu of great political powers of the world. In Islamic
Republic, the individuals’ freedom in the framework of the Islamic laws and
religious norms has been stressed by the regime and its leaders.
Question No. 36. Are the State’s authority and jurisdictions not consistent with
the personal freedoms?
Generally speaking, social life and the establishment of the civil society
results in limitation of the personal and natural freedoms. This is found in any
society and is unavoidable. Therefore, defining and limiting the domain of
personal freedoms and the domain of the government’s interference is a concern
of all thinkers and scholars in the sphere of political and social issues. What
can be stated here in summary is that there are three general views on the
method of delimiting the scope of personal freedoms and government’s
1. Liberalism, whose essential spirit is “individualism”, insisting on more
freedom for individuals and more limitation of government’s interference; in
other words, it insists on a “minimal government”. In this view, the most
essential function of the government is protecting personal freedoms.
2. Socialism, which is based on the idea of “collectivism”; generally it is
found in totalitarian regimes such as Fascism, Nazism, etc. which stress more
authority, influence and interference on the part of the government and less
3. Islamic view, which is based neither on individualism nor on collectivism; it
neither accepts a minimal government, nor approves a totalitarian regime.
Rather, it offers a moderate alternative contrary to those extreme ideas.47
Pathology and Controlling Power in Islamic State
Question No. 37. How much do the Islamic ruler’s mistakes and faults negatively
affect Islamic State and religion? What are the methods of their control and
In this regard, it is necessary to note some points:
The Impeccable leader is free from any faults; expecting a non-impeccable person
to make no mistake, however, is nonsense. Nevertheless, Islam has determined
some qualifications for the Islamic ruler in Occultation period. Among these
qualifications are knowledge and piety, which are two important factors in
reducing mistakes. They entail two sorts of control: “rational control” and
“moral control”. Besides, the injunctions such as the necessity of counsel and
refraining from autocracy and other controlling factors are very effective in
reducing the probability of making mistakes. Enjoining good and forbidding evil
or the principle of “public supervision” is also one of the ways stressed by
Islam. According to this principle, it is incumbent upon every Muslim to
accurately supervise the performance of all authorities of Islamic government,
and in the case of noticing any mistake or diversion, to warn them in a
benevolent and useful way, offering guidelines or any other suggestions for
improving the situation.
Another point is that “making a mistake” is conceivable in two ways:
One. Expertise mistakes:
By expertise mistakes, it is meant that experts and specialists have different
views and opinions on some issues which are sometimes contrary to one another,
and just one of them is right. Naturally, the opinion of the ruler or the agents
of the Islamic government is also one of those opinions; and in case of a
non-impeccable person’s dominance, it is probable for that opinion to be right
or wrong. Such probable mistakes are quite natural and unavoidable.
Two. The mistakes resulting from deficiencies:
Some mistakes do not originate from theoretical or expertise foundations. They
originate, rather, from lack of knowledge, inability in discerning social needs,
and finding the appropriate solutions for social problems in religious sources.
Such errors are easily discernable by experts and authorities in religion and
those informed in social issues, revealing the person’s inability in social
management. Such mistakes would clearly cause more harmful and negative effects,
even leading to dismissal of the officials.
Dictatorship and Islamic State
Question No. 38. Is the Islamic State not a kind of religious autocracy and
To investigate this issue, it is necessary first to accurately define and
identify the qualities of an “autocrat and dictatorial regime”, then compare it
to Islamic State. There are different views on the accurate definition and
features of a dictatorial regime. Here, some of the major features and functions
of such regimes are mentioned.
One. Dictatorial government.
The word “autocracy” has been defined as “governing oneself” or “absolute
government”.48 Another similar word is “despotism” which is defined as “a regime
wherein the ruling power and limitless jurisdiction is conferred to an
oppressive and tyrant person such as a monarch”. Abd al-Rahman Kavakibi defines
“despotism” as “the seizure of a nation’s rights by an individual or a group
without fearing of admonition”. Still elsewhere, it has been defined as “any
kind of authority whose legitimacy or the method of exerting power is not
accepted by all people”.49 Sometimes the word “dictatorship” is used here,
defined as “the absolute dominance of an individual or a group or a social class
without people’s consent… Some of the features of dictatorship follow:
1. lack of any rule or law according to which the ruler would be obliged to be
held accountable for his actions;
2. acceding to power through illegitimate means;
3. no limitations set for exercising power;
4. no rule for succession;
5. exercising power through threat and terror in favor of a specific group;
6. People’s submission to it because of fear.”50
Individualism, arbitrariness, and exercising power according to personal will
and desire, and law’s submission to the desires of the ruling person or group
are among prominent features of a “dictatorial government”. “Lois XIV claimed
that ‘I am the Sate, and the State’s rules are in my chest’”.51
Two. The features of Islamic State.
a. In Islam, egoism, selfishness and domineering are severely rejected. In
Quranic view, one who accedes to power because of selfishness and capriciousness
is an illegitimate ruler (Taghūt) and should be combated.52
In Islamic view, “government” is not a prey, but a divine trust, and should be
accepted just through a benevolent motive and divinely intention. Imam Ali
writes in a letter to Ash’ath bin Ghayth, the governor of Azarbayjan:
“Governorship is not a prey for you, but a trust conferred to you”.53
One of the essential differences between Islamic State and dictatorial regime is
thus in its origin. The dictatorial government is egoistic, while Islamic State
is divinely inspired.
b. Another difference between these two types of government lies in the
qualifications of the ruler and the agents. Islamic State is a regime governed
by qualified persons, and those without the least scientific and moral
qualifications are not accepted. Dictatorial regimes, on the other hand, are not
essentially based on proper qualifications.
c. The dictatorial regime lacks any law or gives priority to the ruler’s will
over the law, while Islamic State is the rule of law and its main philosophy is
the enforcement of divine laws based on real expediencies of human beings.
d. In dictatorial government, there is no room for public participation and
there is no mechanism for controlling power; while in Islamic State, there is a
large room for public participation and it contains the strongest mechanisms for
controlling power.54 Therefore egoism, selfishness, individualism, sturdiness,
escaping law, escaping responsibility, neglecting people’s wills and
participation – which are the essential features of dictatorial regimes – are
inconsistent with the very nature of “Islamic State”. Rather, one of the
important philosophies of Islamic State is its struggling with oppression and
Imam Ali (PBUH), regarding the reason for his taking power, says to God:
“Oh God! You know well that we are neither seeking power nor willing to enjoy
worldly pleasures; we are trying to enforce teaching of Thy religion and reform
in Thy land so that Thy oppressed servants may feel secure and Thy already
ignored religious rules be established…”55
Question No. 39. What are the ways for people to control the power and supervise
the Islamic State?
The definition of power
One of the concepts which is, like many other social and human concepts,
difficult to define and is always defined variously with non-unanimous
definitions is the term “power”. Russel defines “power” as creating favorable
Max Weber defines it as the possibility of imposing one’s own will upon
Poulantzas defines power as the ability of a social class to realize its
specific objective interests.58
Hanna Arendt defines it as human’s ability for acting with other members of a
All these definitions suffer from some common deficiencies and some specific
deficiencies, which cannot be fully discussed here.60 One of the common
deficiencies of all these definitions is their material look at “power”. In
contrast, Muslim thinkers have a more general approach to power.
Some writers have used Imam Khomeini’s speeches and his political way of life to
conclude that power, in his view, is “the ability of actualizing all spiritual
and material sources available for men to achieve justice and salvation”.61 In
this view, in addition to material elements, spiritual sources and the ultimate
goal of power in this world and hereafter have been mentioned.
Power and corruption
Some thinkers believe that “power” naturally leads to corruption. Lord Acton
writes that power is tending to corruption.62 This view has been questioned from
some aspects.63 Certainly, unlimited power in the hands of a non-impeccable and
fallible person prepares the ground for many corruptions. Some of the
corruptions resulted from power are: ambition, autocracy, escaping law, and
depriving others from their legitimate freedoms. Thus, the issue of power and
its control is one of the necessary issues in any political theory.
Controlling power in non-religious regimes
Non-religious political systems mostly use external methods of controlling
power. The mechanisms of controlling power externally are not the same in
various non-religious regimes. What is noticeable in democratic western regimes
in modern age is the “structural control” or “separation of power centers”. The
theory of separating power centers has a long precedent in history but in modern
world, Montesquieu is regarded as the reviver of this theory. This theory is
based on the idea that power cannot be restricted except by power.
Structural control is one of the important methods for external control of power
in modern western societies. This method – thought to be a suitable way for
controlling power and preventing corruption – suffers from some deficiencies.
Some of these deficiencies are:
1. Impossibility of complete separation of elements of power;
2. Separation of elements of power has – at best – led to separation of
corruption instances and decentralizing them.64
3. Organizing people’s participation in elections by political parties has
negated the philosophy of separation of elements of power;
In countries such as United States – where there is an almost absolute
separation of elements of power – the power is in the hands of the Democrats or
Republicans, and what is really effective behind the external façade of
political institutes, which serves as an umbrella for all elements of power, is
the ruling party.65
Anyway, in the present situation of the world, separation of elements of power
seems unavoidable to some extent. However, it is not enough for preventing
corruption resulted from power. Although the separation of elements of power may
be accepted – just as the structure of Islamic Republic of Iran is based on this
idea – it cannot be considered as eradicator of corruption.
What then should we do? Can we leave this idea just because it is not
successful, and rely only on the internal control, that is the characteristics
of those in power? This alternative seems inadvisable too, for the highest
degree of internal control is Impeccability. With this, power would never tend
to corruption. Nevertheless, only a restricted number of persons achieve this
level of intellectual, spiritual and rational soundness. Therefore, some other
solutions must be sought for cases of non-Impeccable leaders.66 To do so, power
must be controlled both externally and internally.
Referring to religious texts shows that the illuminative religious of Islam is
the most comprehensive and most realistic school in this domain. Islam stresses
the external and internal control of elements of power, presenting solutions in
each domain. In the light of these mechanisms, the possibility of power
corruption reduces greatly.
The methods for internal control of power in Islam
These methods may be divided into two types: the method of “conceptual control”
and the method of “moral control”.
One. The insightful or rational control
One of the methods for controlling political and social behaviors of rulers is
through the body of their knowledge and insights. Some of these types of
knowledge are as follows:
1. Religious expertise (Fiqāhat)
Some believe that social behavior of knowledgeable Muslim scholars in leadership
is different from those non-knowledgeable leaders; the former is more successful
in observing the society’s rights. In Islam – wherever the Impeccability and
knowledge is not divinely inspired – expertise in religious decrees is necessary
for the leader. Since religious expertise refers to the whole body of value
system in Islam and is more general than merely legal knowledge67, faqīh is also
the Islamic Muslim scholar. Imam Ali says in this regard: “Verily, the most
deserving persons for leadership are the most competent and the most
knowledgeable ones in God’s decrees”.68
2. Devine worldview
Divinity, eschatology and deep wholehearted faith in God’s supervision of human
actions and a sense of duty toward Him are very effective in protecting power
from diversion and corruption. Hence, the Holy Quran negates the dominance of
the infidels.69 Imam Hussein (PBUH) also affirms true piety as a qualification
3. The type of attitude toward power
The epistemological structure of those in power and their attitude towards power
is effective in the way they exert power. In other words, the dominant worldview
and the idea of power in it are of great importance. One of the basic roots of
“power corruption” is the authority’s proprietary and desirous view of power. In
Islam, however, political power is viewed as a responsibility and a trust.
Imam Ali writes to Ash’ath bin Ghayth, the governor of Azarbayjan: “Governorship
is not a prey for you, but a trust conferred to you”.71 One of the most
important results of such an attitude towards power is refraining from
corruption and dictatorship. Hence, the Imam continues: “You have no right to
impose your arbitrary ideas upon people”.72 In another letter to one of his
governors, Imam writes: “Then, I appoint you as my partner in my trust (i.e.
Two. Moral control
Those moral characteristics deeply rooted in human’s soul are among the most
decisive factors in his behavior. Hence, Islam pays much attention to moral
qualities and traits of the ruler, regarding as qualified leaders only those who
enjoy the most prominent virtuous traits and lack any vicious qualities. The
most important characteristics of a leader as asserted in religious texts are:
In Islamic view, the right to leadership belongs only to those upright persons
who fight oppression.
The Holy Quran says:
“wa lā tarkanū il allazīna zalamū fa tamassakum u-nār”74
(“And do not incline toward those who do wrong lest the [hell] fire touches
Imam Hussein writes in his letter to the people of Kufa:
“No one is Imam except one who acts according to God’s ordinances, and
establishes justice; one who is pious and controls his soul for God’s sake”.75
Piety and chastity are among important qualifications of the ruler in Islam.
The Holy Prophet says:
“No one deserves to be Imam except one who has three features: piety and
chastity restraining him from disobeying God, …”76
3. Patience and good behavior
In the tradition quoted above, the Prophet continues mentioning the features of
“…patience which placates his anger, and good leadership of citizens which makes
him treat people like a kind father”.77
Three. The mechanisms for external control of power in Islam
The methods for external control of power in Islam are variegated and numerous.
In addition to methods ordained by Islam (textual), there are some rational
methods (non-textual) which may be used if they are not in contradiction with
religious authority and not opposing to the ruler’s playing his governmental
The issue of structural control and separation of power centers as well as
organizational control are among these methods. One example of organizational
control – which has been devised in Islamic Republic of Iran – is the
supervision and control exerted by the Assembly of Experts over the
Authoritative Muslim scholar.
Some of the methods for external control of power are:
1. The direct divine control
God is the most important controller and most powerful and knowledgeable
supervisor of power. He exerts His supervision through different methods,
One of the methods of power control is presenting comprehensive and appropriate
norms for the ways of exerting power and specifying the ruler’s manners. Divine
legislation and stressing the necessity of obeying divine decrees are very
effective in controlling power. The Holy Quran pays much attention to this
issue, calling the rulership oblivious of divine decrees as a kind of
oppression, debauch, and infidelity. Imam Hussein also asserts that the ruler is
the one who behaves according to God’s Book.
b. Negating legitimacy
In addition to specifying the character and scientific qualifications for the
ruler as well as defining the rules of behaviors for him, Islam has added a
strong executive guarantees so that in the case of power corruption, it can cure
the ailment, preventing its continuation.
One of the preventive and curative methods is “negating legitimacy”. The
conditions and rules of behavior for rulers have an executive guarantee only
once the ruler devoid of these norms is not considered legitimate. The ruler’s
legitimacy is negated as soon as a gap appears between him and the rules and
conditions specified by religion, and he is legally dismissed.
In Islamic view, the rulers and citizens are all subject to accurate divine
supervision and control. God is everywhere and every time watches men’s
behaviors and actions.78 He reacts to the oppressions by oppressors.
His reaction to oppression and power corruption is of several kinds:
1. Motivating believers and combatants to fight tyrants, and assisting them in
2. Conventional (wad’ī) and legal punishments in this world;
3. Genetic (takwīnī) punishment and recompensing vicious actions in this world;
4. Punishment in the hereafter.
Imam Ali says to ‘Uthman:
“Know that the best servant for God is the just leader who has been guided and
does his best to help others be guided; preserves the accepted traditions, and
eradicates the undue heresies…and verily the worst person for God is the unjust
ruler; the one who is deviated, and leads others astray; one who corrupts the
accepted traditions and revives the obsolete heresies. I heard the Prophet
saying: ‘The unjust ruler is brought in at the Judgment Day, while he has
neither any helper nor any intermediary; he is cast in the Hellfire, whirling
like a millstone, then is fastened by chains in the depth of Fire’”.79
d. Regulation of mutual rights
In Islamic government, the relations between people and the State are mutual and
based on mutual rights, their responsibilities towards one another, and their
responsibilities towards God. Imam Ali says: “Verily, I retain some rights over
you [people] and you retain some rights over me…”80
e. Equality before law
In Islamic view, all human beings are equal before law, and nobody enjoys
priority over others before law. This rule is unanimously accepted by all
Muslims as the principle of “commonality in verdicts”.
2. Public control
Islam believes that it is not possible to purify the power system without
widespread social participation. Thus, it has provided various mechanisms for
realizing this participation. In Islam, political and social participation is
not only people’s right, but also one of their duties. Some of the mechanisms
for realization of controlling participation in Islam are as follows:
a. The necessity of counsel
In Islamic State, it is condemned to shun people, be autocrat, and not
considering people’s opinion in social affairs. The Holy Quran explicitly orders
rulers to counsel people, and wants the Prophet to prepare the ground for public
participation through counseling.81
b. Public responsibility
In Islamic view, all people are responsible for protecting power from
corruption. The Holy Prophet says:
“All of you [rulers] are responsible to people”82
Imam Khomeini adduces this tradition and says:
“You are responsible to me, and I am responsible to you. If I deviated, you are
responsible [to admonish me]”83
c. Devoting all efforts to Muslims’ affairs
Attempting to bring about success and prosperity for Muslim community and
combating against agents of corruption is incumbent upon all Muslims and a
necessary condition for being a Muslim. The Prophet says:
“One who gets up in the morning and does not endeavor to deal with Muslims’
affairs, and one who hears a Muslim calling for help and does not help him, is
not a Muslim.”84
d. Enjoining good and forbidding evil
Enjoining good and forbidding evil as a divine obligation is one of the most
important grounds for social interaction and participation. The Holy Quran sees
this as one of the privileges of the Muslim community, saying:
“Kuntum khayra ummatin ukhrijat lin-nāsi ta’murūna bi-l-ma’rūfi wa tanhawna
‘an-il-munkari wa tu’minūna bi-llah”85
(“You are the best community that has raised up for mankind; you enjoin good and
forbid evil, and you believe in Allah”).
The Holy Prophet says:
“As long as my people enjoin good and forbid evil and cooperate in good
conducts, they would be successful and fortuitous. But when they refrain from
doing these duties, they would lose God’s blessings, and their vilest persons
would dominate them, with no helper in earth or in heaven.”86
e. Advising the Muslim leaders
The Arabic equivalent of the word “advice” is “nasīhat” derived from the root
“n-s-h” meaning benevolence and exhortation. Islam stresses being
well-intentioned towards the rulers, and consequently offering proper
guidelines, offering pieces of advice on time, and positive critiques.
The Holy Prophet says:
“There are three things from which no Muslim would consent to escape: devotion
to God, being well-intentioned towards Muslim leaders, and accompanying Muslim
community”.87 Imam Ali considers one of the rights of the community ruler to be
benevolent underhandedly and publicly.88
The abovementioned methods were some of the mechanisms for controlling power in
Islam. A deep scrutiny of these mechanisms and comparing them to the methods
found in other political thoughts and regimes reveal the considerable richness
and predominance of Islamic thought and its comprehensiveness. Based on what
passed, the methods of power control in Islam may be summarized in the following
The position of “enjoining good” (amr bi ma‘rūf)
Question No. 40. How much is “enjoining good and forbidding evil” acceptable in
Islamic State and by rulers in governmental affairs?
Here, we should say that the prominent and salient instances of Islamic State
were the Prophet’s government and that of Imam Ali (PBUT). The Holy Prophet
behaved, in the course of his divine government, in a way that – in spite of his
Impeccability – all people could easily comment on social issues and the
His true successor, Imam Ali, also behaved in the same way. Imam’s treatments
shows that he wanted to train the society in a way that people would never feel
a gap between themselves and the authorities, so that they could express
themselves easily. One of his invaluable sayings which best reveals such a
“I do not like you to think I’m pleased if you admire and praise me… then, do
not speak to me the way you speak to the tyrants! I don’t want you to praise me
unduly….then, do not refrain from saying what is right or counseling justly….”89
Such a behavior is actually treating the members of society with respect, and
prepares them to express their opinions, criticize, enjoin good and forbid evil
up to the highest social status.
A similar manner is found in Imam Khomeini’s way of life. He says:
“It is incumbent upon all people to supervise affairs; if I deviated even a
little bit, they must admonish me not to do so and to preserve myself.”90
He also says: “A Muslim must be so [dutiful] that if a person – even the
Muslims’ leader – deviated, he would take out his sword to make him return to
the right path.”91
The definition of Islamic State 1
The necessity and the goal of Islamic State 3
The arguments of proponents and opponents of “Islamic State and religious
• The arguments for Islamic State 7
Phases, varieties and structure of the Islamic State 25
• Imamate and caliphate 25
The advantages of Islamic State 29
• The church’s sovereignty 37
• Islam and the State 41
The Muslim scholar’s Authority (Wilāyat-e Faqīh) 43
• The evidence for Muslim scholar’s Authority 44
• The Absolute Authority of the Muslim scholar 47
• The role of the Muslim scholars 49
• Governmental prerogatives 51
• The governmental prerogatives of the Impeccable 52
• Jurisprudence and Legislation 55
• Praxis and Legislation 56
Definition of praxis: 56
Types of praxis: 57
The status of “praxis” in the Islamic jurisprudence and law 57
Secular Praxis 61
Jurisprudential and Scientific Management 65
• The Role of Achievement & Science 67
• Islam and Economics 68
• The Status of Reason 69
Islamic State and the Demands of the Time 71
Legitimacy and Acceptability 75
The definition of legitimacy 75
The sources of legitimacy 76
• First. The libertarian theories 76
The critique of the views 77
• Second. The functionalist theories. 79
• Third. The theory of divine legitimacy. 80
Legitimacy in Islam 80
• Choosing the Authoritative Muslim scholar (“Walī Faqīh”) 83
• Appointment or Election 85
• Acceptability and Legitimacy 86
• Preventing dictatorship 90
The Status of God and People in Islamic State 95
• The status of people 97
• The Role of Allegiance 98
Allegiance in Islam 99
• Republicanism and Islamic State 101
• The duties of people and Statesmen 102
Islamic State and civil institutes 103
The Basic Rights and Personal Freedoms 105
• Ensuring freedoms 108
Pathology and Controlling Power in Islamic State 111
• Dictatorship and Islamic State 112
One. Dictatorial government. 113
Two. The features of Islamic State. 114
The definition of power 115
Power and corruption 117
Controlling power in non-religious regimes 117
• The methods for internal control of power in Islam 119
• The position of “enjoining good” (amr bi ma‘rūf) 129
Detailed Index 131
• English Sources 141
• Magazines 141
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1 Lā tā’ata li-makhlūqin fī ma’sīat al-khāliq”, Nahj al-Balāgha, wisdom no.165.
2 Falsafiy-e sīyāsat, p.140.
3 For further information, see: Abdullah Nasri, Intizār-e basher az dīn,
p.140-66; Muhammad Soroush, Dīn va dowlat dar andīshi-y-e Islāmī, p.70-85.
4 Max Weber, Economics and Society, p. 273-4.
5 Bonyādhāy-e ilm-e sīyāsat, p. 107.
6 For further information, see Bonyādhāy-e ilm-e sīyāsat, ch. 6; nazarīyyihāy-e
khāstgāh-e dolat; falsafiy-e sīāsat, Imam Khomeini Educational an Research
7 See: Muhammad Taqi Mesbah Yazdi, falsafiy-e sīāsat, p.177.
8 An’ām (VI), 57.
9 Mā’ida (V), 55.
10 Shurā (XLII), 9.
11 Ahzāb (XXXIII), 6.
12 Nisā’ (IV), 59.
13 Ahzāb (XXXIII), 36.
14 For further information, see Ayatullah Makarim Shrazi, Payām-e Qur’ān
(thematic commentary of Quran),ix (Imamate in Quran).
15 Ibn Tavous, Kashf al-mahja, p.180.
16 Documant no.657, the Institute for Compilation and Publication of Imam
Khomeini’s Works, quoted by Mustafa Kavakibiyan, Mabānīy-e mashrū’īyyat dar
nizām-e wilāyat-e faqīh, p.258.
17 Ibn Tavous, Kashf al-mahja, p.180.
18 Imam Khomeini, al-biy’, ii, p.466.
19 For further information, see: Hukūmat-e Islāmī, 2nd year, no. 4, p.105-106,
20 Sahīfiy-e nūr, x, p. 181.
21 ibid, iv, p. 422.
22 ibid, iv, p.253.
23 ibid, xv, p. 76.
24 ibid, xxi. P. 129.
25 For further information, see Sayyid Kazim Husseini Ha’iri, Wilāyat al-amr fī
asr al-ghayba, p. 217-221.
26 Ibid, p. 113, 221.
27 Nahj al-Balāgha, letter 53.
28 Nahj al-Balāgha, Wisdom no.165; Bihār al-anwār, i, p. 227.
29 For further information, see Ibn Manzur, Lisān al-arab, sv. “b-y-‘”
30 Tawba (IX), 111.
31 Muhammad Hadi Ma’rifat, Wilāyat-e Faqīh, p. 182.
32 For further information, see ibid, p. 82-92.
33 Ma’ālim al-madrisatayn, i, p. 154, 2nd ed.; Sīriy-e Ibn Hishām,ii, p. 40.
34 Ma’ālim al-madrisatayn, i, p. 155; Sīriy-e Ibn Hishām,ii, p. 47.
35 Sahīh Bukhārī, (kitāb al-ahkām), Bab al-bay’a, v; Sahīh Muslim, (Kitāb al-Imāra,
Bāb al-bay’at alā al-sam’ vat-tā’a fī mā istatā’), p. 90; Sunan Nisāii, (Kitab
al-bay’a, Bāb al0bay’at fī mā yastaty’u al-insān); quoted by Ma’ālim al-madrisatayn,
ii, p. 156.
36 Wilāyat-e Faqīh, p. 91.
37 For further information, see Sayyid Abbas Nabavi, Mardum sālārī dar
hākimiyyat-e Islāmī; Ayatullah Misbah Yazdi, Pursishhā va pāsokhhā; Murtiza
Mutahhari, Pīrāmūn-e jumhūrī-e Islāmī.
38 Articles 1, 3.
39 Article 23, clause 14; Article 21.
40 Articles 56, 41 and 25.
41 See Question no. 37.
42 For further information, see Huqūq-e asāsī va sākhtār-e hukūmat-e jumhūrī-e
Islāmī-e Iran, p. 93-124.
43 Bihār al-anwār, xxii, p. 133, ch. 1, trad. 107.
44 Nahj al-Balāgha, letter 31.
45 For further information, see Mahmud Fath Ali, Tasāhul va tasāmuh.
46 Huqūq-e asāsī va sākhtār-e hukūmat-e jumhūrī-e Islāmī-e Iran, p. 110-19; also
Muhammad Ibrahimi Varkiyani, Islām va Āzādī.
47 For further information, see Tasāhul va tasāmuh.
48 Ali Aqa Bakhshi, Farhang-e ulūm-e sīyāsī, p. 24.
49 Ibid, p. 89.
50 Ibid, p. 91.
51 Bonyādhāy-e ilm-e sīyāsat, p. 278.
52 Quran, Nisā (IV), 60.
53 Nahj al-Balāgha, letter 5.
54 For further information, see Question no. 41.
55 Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 131.
56 Bertrand Russel, Power, pp. 25-34. Unwin Books, George, Allen and Ltd, Roskin
House; See Museum Street London, 1967.unwin.
57 Max Weber, Economy and Society, pp. 941-8.
58 Nicos Poulantzas, Political Power and Social Classes, pp. 104-14, translation
editor: Timotny O’Hagan, London, Newleft 1973.
59 Hanna Arendt, On Violence, ch.2, Penguin Books Ltd., London 1910.
60 For further information, see Sayyid Abbas Nabavi, Falsafi-ye qudrat, ch.2;
see also Muhammad Javad Arasta, Qudrat-e sīyāsī dar Islām (article), dar āmadī
bar andīshi-ye sīyāsī-e Islām (the collection of articles), ed. Sayyid Sadiq
61 Falsafi-ye qudrat, p.117.
62 Mahdi Mutahhari nia, Qudrat, insān, hukūmat, p.201.
63 For further information, see Qurdart-e sīyāsī dar Islām.
64 Falsafi-ye qudrat, pp. 398-405.
65 For further information, see Hussein Javan Araste, Bāzkhānī-e imāmat, hukūmat
va towzī’-e qudrat dar qānūn-e asāsī (article),hukūmat-e asāsī, 6th year, no. 4,
66 For further information, see Ali Akbar Alikhani, Mushārkat-e sīyāsī, p.2-149.
67 For further information, see Mustafa Danishpazhuh and Qudratullah
Khusrowshahi, Falsafi-ye huqūq, Imam Khomeini Educational and Research
68 Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 173
69 Nisā (IV), 149.
70 See Imam Hussein’s letter to the people of Kufa.
71 Nahj al-Balāgha, letter 5.
72 op. cit.
73 Nahj al-Balāgha, letter 41.
74 Hūd (XI), 113.
75 al-Kāmil ibn Athīr, iv, p. 21; al-Irshād al-Munīr, p. 186.
76 Kāfī, i, p. 407, Kitāba al-Hujja, Bāb mā yajib min haqq al-Imām al-ar-ra’īyya,
78 Nisā (IV), 1: “inna-llāha kāna ‘alaykum raqībā”
79 Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 164.
80 Ibid, sermon 34.
81 Ahmad Va’izi, Jāmi’i-ye dīnī, jāmi’-ye madanī, pp. 129-132.
82 Bihār al-anwār, lxxv, ch.35, trad.36, p.38.
83 Sahīfi-ye nūr, viii, p.47.
84 Usūl-e Kāfī, ii, (Kitab al-īmān va-l-kufr, bab al-ihtimām bi-umūr
al-muslimīn, trad.1 & 5.
85 Āli Imrān (III), 110.
86 Wasā’il al-shī’a, xi, p.398, trad.18, ed. Beirut.
87 Bihār al-anwār, lxxvii, bab 6, trad. 39, p.132.
88 Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 34.
89 Nahj al-Balāgha, sermon 216.
90 Imam Khomeini, Sahīfi-ye nūr, vii, pp. 31-35.
91 Ibid, p.34.
ISLAMIC STATE AND THE DEMANDS OF THE TIME / 3
LEGITIMACY AND ACCEPTABILITY / 23
THE STATUS OF GOD AND PEOPLE IN ISLAMIC STATE / 31
ISLAMIC STATE AND CIVIL INSTITUTES / 105
THE BASIC RIGHTS AND PERSONAL FREEDOMS / 39
PATHOLOGY AND CONTROLLING POWER IN ISLAMIC STATE / 59
DETAILED INDEX / 63
BIBLIOGRAPHY / 71
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Question On Islamic State - Part 1