Islam and Political Theory
Modern political theory exalts “the general will” Democratic government attempts to put that general will into practice by making law out of the policy voted for by «’the majority” (which need only be 51%) leaving null and void the will of the minority (which may be that of as many as 49% of the voters). The minority is thus not “free” at all, even though in some cases its will may be sensible, and in the circumstances right. But ‘«Government by the Will of the People” will never voluntarily strip off the sanctity and splendour with which it has endowed “the general will”, giving that concept precedence over all other material and spiritual values.
Islam, on the other hand, gives precedence to the Will of the Lord of this world, rather than to the uncontrolled inclinations and sentiments of a majority of humans. Islam refuses to strip the Godhead of control of the legislative and jurisdictional power Islam’s conception of Godhead and of divine government is wide enough to comprise everything that goes to make up human life everywhere on this planet. This makes Islam man’s unrivalled guardian. It demands total obedience to its statutes on the ground that these are God-given and that therefore no human being has a right to allow his own desires to dictate any action in breach of these statutes and rules of life.
How can God be proclaimed worthy of total commitment by people who arrange their lives on precepts deriving from other sources than God Himself? No person dare claim divine authority for a partner for God, nor substitute another lawgiver for Him. Islam’s aim is to champion truth and right in everything in human society, since truth does not specialise exclusively in social, political and financial matters but also clothes the stature of man himself in its most beautiful vestments.
The human physique is fearfully and wonderfully made. So are the rules and rights that govern human living. No-one can claim a complete knowledge of all the mysteries of man’s make-up, or of the complicated social structure it generates. For this structure comprises the specialised areas of the body and the spirit of all its individuals as well as of all their relationships with each other Nor dare anyone claim to be innocent of sin, of a shortcoming, a fault or an error. No-one is aware of all the elements which go to make up human happiness and welfare.
Despite all the devoted efforts of scientists to penetrate the mysteries of human being, the area they have succeeded in covering is still extremely limited. To quote Dr. Alexis Carrel again (“‘Man, the Unknown” p.4): “‘Mankind has made a gigantic effort to know itself. Although we possess the treasure of the observations accumulated by the scientists, the philosophers, the poets, and the great mystics of all times, we have grasped only certain aspects of ourselves. We do not apprehend man as a whole. We know him as composed of distinct parts. And even these parts are created by our methods. Each one of us is made up of a procession of phantoms, in the midst of which strides an unknowable reality.”
Without insight into the human make-up man cannot frame laws 100% suited to the human condition, nor justly cure the troubles that arise : witness the bewilderment of legislators, their constant alteration of their own statutes in face of today’s new problems and unexpected blind alleys. Motives of personal advantage, self-interest, profit, ambition, power, and even of environmental predilections, intrude to distort the legislators’ outlook consciously or unconsciously. Montesquieu said of legislation that “none is ever wholly objective and impartial, for the personal ideas and sentiments of the legislator influence his drafting”. Thus Aristotle, because he was jealous of Plato, influenced Alexander to denigrate his great predecessor.
Modern slogans of “Liberty and Equality” and “the Public Will” are empty words used by politicians to win support for their laws, laws which in fact represent the interests not of the masses but of the landowners and capitalists.
Henry Ford wrote of England, which boasts itself “the Mother of Democracy”. “We cannot forget the 1926 general strike or the way the government tried to break it with every means in its power. Parliament, tool of the capitalists, proclaimed the strike unconstitutional and illegal, and turned police and army out against the strikers with bullets and tanks. Meantime the media of radio and press declared the government to be the servant of the workers, a plain subterfuge contradicted by the fines imposed on the trade unions and by the imprisonment of their leaders as soon as the opportunity offered.”
Khrushchev declared in the 22nd Supreme Soviet Congress: “In the era of the personality-cult (i.e. under Stalin) corruption infiltrated our Party’s leadership, government and finances; produced decrees which trod the masses’ rights underfoot; lowered industrial output; filled men with fear in their work; and encouraged sycophants, informers and character-assassins.”
Thus both Eastern and Western systems of government falsely appear in the guise of the public will, Parliamentary rule, representation of the masses: while capitalism and communism alike frame inequitable laws because they neglect the heavenly decrees which establish fast what is best for man.