Fiqh Siyasa: Can Politics Be Free From Religious Thought?

Can rulers of an Islamic country run their politics without Islam and religious thought?

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Can rulers of an Islamic country run their politics without Islam and religious thought?

Steve Bruce, in his book “Fundamentalism” (Cambridge, UK : Polity ; Malden, MA : Blackwell, 2000 ) explains how secularization makes secular societies shift from religious culture to religious faith. If previously religion was like an adverb, then secularization has made religion just a noun.

If in the past people did things because of and according to religious teachings, now people do what they want regardless of and not because of religion. Eventually religion became Fideism and Eupraxophy. As long as you believe in God, that’s considered religion. (See: C. John Sommerville, The Secularization of Early Modern England: From Religious Culture to Religious Faith, (Nex York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 187).

Secularization like this is being carried out in the realm of Islamic politics, where Islam is denied as a religion that regulates politics, government and the state. Islam is to be positioned as a purely religious faith and eliminates its religious culture, or in other words, Islam is to be made an object, and humans are its subject.

Fiqh Siyasa, and Political Studies in Islam

In Islam, politics cannot be separated from religious rules (shari’a). Politics is wasilah with the main objective of implementing Islamic law. In the treasury of Islamic scholarship, politics has been studied for a long time and has even become a separate scientific discipline. This study is commonly known as Fiqh Siyasa (political/state jurisprudence) or as-Siyasah as-Syar’iyyah (political syar’i).

The essence of his study is to formulate the unification of Islam and the state. So that Siyasa Fiqh is meaningful, functional, and aims as an applicable framework for the implementation of Islamic law in the state.

Ibn Qutaibah ad-Dainuri (w.364 H), a state political scholar, in his book al-Sulthan quoted a message from the Persian king Sasan Yazdagird (226-240 AD) to his son. The message reads:

“O my son, the state and religion are like two inseparable brothers, religion is the foundation, while the state is the guard.” (Ibn Qutaibah ad-Dainuri, as-Sulthan, (Cairo: Maktabah al-Azhariyah li at-Turats, 2002), p.57)

The message above becomes a normative proposition about the unity of Islam and the state (al-Islam Din wa Daulah). Because in reality it is not only Islam that makes religion the basis of the state. But many kingdoms and political powers in this world make religion a support for their supremacy. For example, the Eastern Roman empire with its Orthodox Christians, the Persian empire with its Magi, and the Tang dynasty in China with its Buddhists. This is proof that the unification of ideology and the state is a norm and rule that has been in force for a long time.

Ad-Dainuri in his Fiqh Siyasah conception does not only use normative propositions as a framework for uniting Islam and the state. But also theological argument, as the main foundation that strengthens the position of the Islamic government (caliph). Many verses of the Quran, hadiths of the Prophet (PBUH) and the practices of his friends that he quoted. In his as-Sulthan, a special list is made of verses from the Quran, the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), and sayings of friends, kings, and political figures. The first three things are used as the main basis for strengthening and justifying the practice of Islamic politics.

From this, it can be understood that the Jurisprudence of Siyasah ad-Dainuri makes theological and normative propositions a reinforcement of the power of the Islamic government (khilafah), by giving it double legitimacy, namely world and religious legitimacy.

Al-Mawardi, Successor of the Fiqh Concept of Siyasah ad-Dainuri

After ad-Dainuri’s death, al-Mawardi (d.450 H), appeared as a statesman scholar who carried the same Siyasah Fiqh conception as him. That is the unification of Islam and the state based on theological and normative arguments.

In his book al-Ahkam as-Sulthaniyyah (state constitutional law), one of the masterpieces of Islam in the field of state politics, al-Mawardi states that Imamah (leadership) in Islam has two functions; namely Hirasah ad-Din (safeguarding religion), and Siyasah ad-Dunya (ruling the world).

In the book, it appears that he has carried out serious ijtihad in compiling an Islamic political framework regarding how the Siyasa Fiqh mechanism works in a state or government. There are 20 chapters that he explained, starting from the provisions for appointing state leaders (caliphs), regional officials, judges, and military commanders and their duties to issues of hisbah (community social security control).

In al-Mawardi’s political view, sharia is the highest symbol of government institutions. This is a style of Sunni political theory, in which sharia becomes the main spirit of all life structures. (see: Ahmad Syafi’i Ma’arif, Islam and State Issues, (Jakarta: LP3S, 1996), p.31)

In addition, social contract theory is the uniqueness of Siyasah al-Mawardi’s Fiqh thinking which was not owned by previous Islamic thinkers. In fact, this theory was only known by Western thinkers five centuries later. (See: Munawir Sjadzali, Islam and State Administration: Teachings of History and Thought, (Jakarta: UI Press, 1993), p.69).

Like Plato, Aristotle, and Ibn Abi Rabi’, al-Mawardi theorized that humans are social creatures who need each other to meet their needs. However, in this theory, he included elements of religion as the basis for reinforcement, like the Quran’s explanation of the creation of humans with different national, cultural and cultural backgrounds. Orders help each other and others. Meanwhile, in the hadith, there is much more explanation about this social relationship.

Al-Ghazali and His Two Books Reviewing Siyasa Jurisprudence

The formulation of the unification of Islam with the state through Jurisprudence Siyasa, was not only put forward by ad-Dainuri and al-Mawardi. Many other scholars have the same conception. Al-Ghazali (w.505 H) is one of them that deserves to be studied.

In his books at-Tibr al-Masbuuk fii Nashihat al-Muluk (golden advice for kings) and al-Iqtishad fi al-I’tiqad (moderate in belief), he explained the urgency of Islamic government as a tool for implementing religious rules (Nidzamu ad -Dunya Dharuriyun fi Nidzami ad-Diin).

The existence of an Islamic government (khilafah) is very urgent in his view, because it is a tool used by the head of state (caliph) to protect the Shari’a and carry out divine law in the midst of society. he said,

“Religious order cannot be produced unless there is a head of state who is obeyed” (see: al-Ghazali, al-Iqtishad fi al-I’tiqad, p.75-76).

The understanding of this expression is the importance of the head of state as the guardian and supervisor of the implementation of the Shari’a.

The distinctive feature of Siyasah al-Ghazali’s Jurisprudence is the ethical approach to power. This can be traced in his book at-Tibr al-Masbuk fii Nasihati al-Muluk. This book is a collection of advice addressed to Sultan Muhammad ibn Malik Syak from the Seljuq dynasty.

As a scholar who has a sharp mind and a clear soul, he tries to position himself as an agent of change in improving government. Interestingly, he did not work directly as a government practitioner, nor was he an opposition party.

However, he positioned himself as a partner in charge of amar ma’ruf nahi munkar (enjoining good and forbidding evil) to the authorities. For him, moral reform of the rulers is the responsibility of the clergy. he said:

“A faqih (religious expert) is a person who knows the political rules of Islam and knows how to mediate human disputes, if they clash with unjust laws. So a faqih should be a teacher and guide the sultan and direct him in managing humans. (see: Ihya Ulum ad-Din, (Beirut: Dar al-Ma’rifah), 1/17).

Al-Ghazali reminded that among the manners and ethics of a head of state is understanding that the nature of leadership (al-Wilayah) is a mandate. He confirmed this by quoting a hadith that the head of state must pay attention to three matters; when the people ask/need compassion, the leader must share love with them. When punishing them, it must be fair. And carry out what has been said alias keep promises.

He reminded the authorities that if these three things were abandoned, the integrity of the country would be threatened. To anticipate this, al-Ghazali advised the head of state (sulthan) not to leave the clergy, they should be made partners in supervising the implementation of government. However, scholars are not arbitrarily used as partners, namely not suu ‘ulama (bad scholars) who will actually bring the country to ruin.

According to him, the characteristics of suu’ scholars are always praising leaders unnaturally, the orientation of their da’wah is only worldly. On the other hand, true scholars (ulama al-Akhirah) do not expect monetary returns from the hands of the leaders at all, they give purely sincere advice because they expect good for the leaders, the state and society. (see: Al-Tibr al-Masbuk fii Advice al-Muluk, p.5)

From the three perspectives above, it can be concluded that Fiqh Siyasah is one of the scientific fields in Islam that formulates how to unite religion and the state. This formulation is based on prevailing theological and normative propositions.

The majority of Islamic scholars, in their Fiqh Siyasa studies, have the same goal of making religion the foundation of the state. The difference is only in the applicative formulation approach so their studies with each other have different characteristics.

Apart from that, Fiqh Siyasa also covers how to rule and control, think about politics, manage the country, control the world through religion, regulate relations between people, and many other dimensions.