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themselves (42: 36-39) 10. Under the political system of Islam, every citizen is entitled to enjoy freedom of belief and conscience, and freedom of thought and expression. He is free to develop his potentialities and improve his lot, to work and compete, to earn and possess, to approve and disapprove of things, according to his honest judgement. But his freedom is not, and cannot be absolute; or else it amounts to chaos and anarchy. It is guaranteed by the Law of God and governed by the very same Law. As long as it is in line with this Law it is the rightful privilege of every individual citizen; but if it transgresses the limits of Law or conflicts with the common interest, it becomes a violation of God’ s Law must, therefore, be controlled. The individual is part of the whole universe, so he must adjust himself to the Law and order of God, the Law by which the entire universe is administered. On the other hand, he is a member of his community or nation, and must adapt his own rights and interests to those of others in a mutually beneficial manner. If the individual takes an independent attitude on a certain matter of public concern and finds the majority taking a different attitude, he must in the end side with the majority to maintain solidarity and co-operation, provided the majority’ s decision is not contrary to the Law of God. Yet in the process of forming a public opinion he is fully entitled to express his own opinion and persuade others of his convictions without disturbance or distortion. When it becomes clear that the majority have chosen a different course, then he is bound to go along with them, because the matter in question is no longer under individual consideration or deliberation but is undergoing public implementation (3:102-105; 8:46) 11. The governorship of the Islamic State is a public trust, to which the administrators are entrusted by the word of God as well as by the common consent of the people. With God being the Supreme Sovereign of the State, whoever represents Him in the top office must be faithful to the Entrusting Authority, must be a believer in God. And with the majority of the people being Muslims, whoever assumes the office of Presidency or Caliphate must be a true Muslim. These measures are taken to serve the common interest and fulfill all the obligations of the State to God as well as to the citizens. They are able to secure and honor the rights of the so-called religious or racial minorities It is unfortunate for humanity that this ruling of Islam has been poorly understood and badly distorted. The fact of the matter is that this ruling is not discriminating against minorities but is rather protective and assertive of their rights. Whoever wishes to be a law-abiding citizen of the Islamic State is welcome to it, and shares with others the duties and prerogatives of responsible citizenship. His being a non-Muslim does not lower his status or drop him down to second class citizenship, as long as he obeys the common Law of the State and exercises his rights in a responsible manner. If he wishes, for example, to pay the religious tax (Zakah) and other state taxes, like the Muslim citizens, towards the maintenance of the State and in return for his own security and welfare, he may do so. But if he thinks that paying the Islamic Tax (Zakah) is humiliating to his dignity or injurious to his feelings on account of his being a non-Muslim, he may pay his taxes in different form known as “ tributes” or jizyah – so he in fact enjoys a choice which Muslims of the same state do not themselves enjoy. In return for his contributions to the State, he is fully entitled to protection and security by the State officials and the society Similarly, if such a citizen wants to administer his personal life of marriage, divorce, foods, inheritance, and so on, according to the Islamic Law, his desire must be recognized, and his rights must be respected. But if he wishes to administer these affairs according to his own religious teachings, he is absolutely free to do so, and no one can hamper the exercise of his rights in that respect. So in personal or sentimental matters, he may resort to his own teachings or to the public regulations. But in matters of public interest and common affairs he must abide by the Law of the State, the Law of God. No matter what he chooses, he is no less entitled to protection and security than any other citizen. All this is not a dream of a heavenly kingdom yet to come. It is

Islam in Focus  

By HAMMUDAH ABDALATI Table of Contents Chapter - II