The Koranic View of Government1

Anwar Shaikh

The book Why I am Not a Muslim by Ibn Warraq is a nice aggregate of learning, intellect and courage. I was delighted when its author paid me a visit in the early part of 1997. During the conversation, I was impressed by his motive and mastery of the subject.

Ibn Warraq is the pen-name of the author whose parents emigrated from India to Pakistan as a result of the Partition. He was brought up in Pakistan, which was supposed to be an Islamic Republic. His experience revealed to him that the Muslims of India had been cheated in the name of Islam and its projected principles of equality, free will and democracy. As he grew up, he noticed that Islam had become an effective tool of convenient morality and achieving political goals; a religious or secular leader could prove anything from the Koran and Hadith to suit his purpose, yet every faithful believes that there is no contradiction in the verses of the Koran! During his long cogitation on the subject, Ibn Warraq became suspicious about the Divine Origin of the Koran: It is a case of intellectual anarchy, he realised. But the curiosity that had been spurred by the zeal of enquiry, demanded a thorough study of the Koran, the Hadith and the History to Islam. As a result, came into being his famous work: Why I am Not a Muslim. It testifies to the fact that he has abandoned Islam, which he once dearly loved as a matter of faith, without realising what it was all about. To him, faith is the enemy of reason, which is the root of humanity; a man with suppressed intellect is no better than a monkey: religion is the source of regression and not progression. Thus, blind faith, the essence of religion, is not acceptable.

Unless Ibn Warraq had the courage of his convictions, he could not have dealt with the major principles of Islam to expose their irrelevance to humanity in general, and problems of the modem age in particular. As it is not possible to enumerate all aspects of this book, I may mention the Koranic view of government as understood by the author. He laments the fact that Islam does not permit separation of government from the religious dogma. And he is quite right in his observation because the Koran clearly states:

God has created mankind only to worship Him (L1:55).

It goes without saying that worship denotes a mentality and discipline much viler than slavery. According to the Koran, man is God's slave and, therefore, he must do what he is told by Allah, the Master, who makes it crystal clear that "He associates in His government no one" (XVIII:25).

Thus, Allah is the greatest dictator that human mind can imagine. Therefore, a Muslim ruler being His representative on earth, is an absolute ruler, immune from public accountability. However, Allah does encourage the man, who rules in His name (the Caliph) to set up a consultative body (III: 150). The Caliph may consult his advisers but their advice is not binding on him. He comes to his own conclusions. The principle of majority-opinion has no relevance in this process of consultation. Yet the Muslim jurists have drummed up the idea of democracy!

This is nothing but a form of gross hypocrisy, which nauseates Ibn Warraq, who grew up in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, which boasts of an elected Parliament. From the Koranic point of view, it is an illegal institution because Islam, not only staunchly advocates Divine dictatorship, but also forbids law-making by declaring the Koran an eternal and unchangeable code of law.

Ibn Warraq's book is devoted to exposing the inadequacy of the Koranic law, which the Muslims cannot practise because of its irrelevance to the problems of the modem age, yet believe in the veracity and supremacy of the Islamic legal code. This is what has distorted the vision of the Muslim world, and has become the major cause of its regression.

He has also noted that the high-sounding Islamic slogan of human equality is nothing but an unfounded boast. He explains this fact with reference to the rights of:

1. The non-Muslims, and

2. Women.

With regard to non-Muslims, the Koran has stated in no uncertain terms that:

1. "The true religion with God is Islam" (III:15).

2. "Whoso desires another religion than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him" (III:75).

3. "It is He (God) who has sent His Messenger (Muhammad) with the guidance (the Koran) and the religion of truth (Islam), that he may uplift it above every religion…" (XLVIII:25).

These verses show that all religions are false except Islam, and therefore, no other faith is valid. This is why Allah has sent the Prophet Muhammad to raise Islam above every other religion. It is for this reason that the Koran declares:

"God is an enemy of unbelievers" (II:90).

In fact, hatred of non-Muslims is the fundamental law of Islam: LVIII: 20 has laid it down that non-Muslims are the party of Satan and Muslims are the party of God. Allah, assuring victory to His party (i.e. the Muslims), commands them to wage a war against the infidels until they are humbled and pay tax as an expression of their humiliation (IX:25).

Since Allah, being the enemy of unbelievers, has declared a perpetual war against them until they are humbled, it is obvious that in an Islamic state the non-Muslims cannot have any human rights. Ibn Warraq has stated the pathetic plight of the Dhimmis (non-Muslims) under Muslim rule.

The social status of woman in an Islamic state is even worse: she is just a sexual delight for man, who can have four wives at the same time, in addition to an unlimited number of concubines; Emperor Akbar of India had five thousand concubines whereas his son, Saleem, had a harem of six thousand women! A man can divorce his wife at will without giving a reason for it; his share of inheritance equals that of two women; her evidence is not readily acceptable in a court of law, and when it is admitted, two female witnesses equal one man. Again, women are forced to veil themselves and stay within the four walls of their houses; they are forbidden to participate in social activities or hold public offices. Still worse, a wife is a tillage for her husband who can treat her as he wishes (I1:220). If she does not please him, he is empowered to beat her until she surrenders (IV:35).

Disclosing the earthly sources of the Koran and artificiality of the Hadith, Ibn Warraq has displayed the inappositeness of Islam to real life. He has shown that Islam is neither a code of law nor can it be practised as such. It is only through the force of brainwashing that the believers are driven to acknowledge it as the Word of God. It saddens him to see that almost every Muslim has come to possess a split personality for unconsciously following a code of practice contrary to his Islamic faith, which declares the Koranic Law as perfect and infallible during all ages.

Why I Am Not a Muslim is a highly readable and instructive book. It consists of 402 pages, bearing ISBN 0-87975-984-4 and has been published by the Prometheus Books, New York 14228-2197.



1 This review is written for Liberty, July 1998. The monthly is published from Cardiff in England.


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