Democracy: The Politics of Deceit
The politics of democracy are the politics of deceit. Simultaneous scandals raging in the centres of power in Canada, the US, and the UK only serve as current examples of this fact. However, the greatest problem is that the politicians in the Muslim lands blindly emulate such politics of deceit. Only Islam has the ability to produce politicians - such as the Sahabah (ra) - who truly care for the citizens of the state. This is due to the fact that these individuals embraced the idea that they will be accountable to Allah سبحانه وتعالى for all that they took charge of.
Politicians of Canada, US, and the UK have found themselves mired in scandals. In Canada, former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney attempted to defend his failure to disclose the receipt of $225,000 in cash payments (which he kept in a safe and reported as taxable income 6 years later) from arms lobbyist Karlheinz Schreiber. In the UK, MPs have been caught using public funds to pay for "dubious living expenses". For example, the Wall Street Journal reported that an MP used public funds to pay "more than £16,000 ($24,222) for interest payments on a mortgage he had paid off more than 18 months earlier". In the US, as reported by AFP, President Barack Obama has revived Bush-era military tribunals (i.e. for Guantanamo Bay detainees) that he once branded a "failure".
Democracy: Politics of Lying and Deceiving
These incidents reveal the underlying mechanics of the democratic political system. Although touted to be fair, just, and "accountable to the people", the reality is that politicians lie. They lie to get elected - as Obama did on the issue of the Guantanamo Bay military tribunals - they lie to governmental inquiries - as Mulroney did in 1996 claiming he "had never had any dealings with him [Karlheinz Schrieber]" (when he later admitted to receiving envelopes stuffed with 1,000 dollar bills in 1993 and 1994) or they misappropriate public funds - as the British MPs have done.
The democratic system of politics is corrupt due to the Aqeedah that it is based upon and not that some individuals "lack morals". The mindset of those that have adopted the secular-Capitalist ideology (and its political system - democracy) is that Allah سبحانه وتعالى has no role in determining the affairs of people. As a result, they do not believe that Allah سبحانه وتعالى will hold them to account on the Day of Judgement for their actions. So, acts of lying and stealing public funds only matter to them when they get caught. And when they do get caught, they engage in spinning the facts. For example, Canwest reported that "Mulroney told a federal inquiry... there was nothing "sinister" about accepting cash-stuffed envelopes".
Politicians in the Muslim World: Cheap Imitators
The democratic approach to politics is not restricted to the G8 Nations, but is also practiced by the corrupt politicians and rulers in the Muslim world.
In Afghanistan, Karzai, remaining true to the democratic model of politics and refused to take any responsibility for the continuous bombings of Afghan civilians by the US. For example, earlier this month, the US bombed the Farah province killing 140 people, which included 95 children. The US initially blamed the deaths on the Taliban, but locals in the area reported that the Taliban had left 2 hours earlier. Instead of taking concrete steps to prevent such attacks, Karzai simply sent feeble complaints to his American masters - just as he did in August 2008 when the US bombed Azizabad killing 90 people - just as he did when the US bombed a wedding in Herat in November 2008 killing 40 people.
In Pakistan, the current rulers in government are known for their corruption. For example, the current president Asif Zardari is also known as "Mr. Ten Percent" because of his reputation for kick-backs. In 1998, he was charged with corruption for taking millions of dollars in bribes for military contracts and granting a gold-importing monopoly to a gold dealer. Also, in Pakistan, when the American Senator Dianne Feinstein revealed that drone attacks (that are killing hundreds of Muslims in Pakistan) have been taking off from Pakistan, Ahmed Mukhtar, the Defence Minister of Pakistan, denied any knowledge about this. However, the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, later quoted him as saying "drones have been allowed to land in Pakistan only for "logistical reasons". That is, he lied. It is a sad state of affairs when the rulers in the Muslim lands follow the example of the corrupt democratic politics of "lie-then-spin" instead of taking the example of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Sahabah (ra).
Islamic Definition of Politics
With the absence of the Islamic State for over 80 years, the world has been accustomed to the corruption of the democratic system. As a result, many people define politics based on the reality they see. However, as Muslims we must define politics based on what is revealed in the Sharia. Islam defines Siyasah (politics) as looking after the affairs of the Ummah internally and externally. The linguistic meaning of this word in the root verb Sasa, Yasoosu, Siyasatan is to care for ones' affairs. This definition can also be extracted from the ahadith addressing the rulers' responsibility, the obligation of taking him to task, and the importance of caring for the interests of Muslims.
The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
"Any person Allah has placed in (a position) to foster the peoples affairs, and he does not give them his best advice, he will not even smell the scent of Jannah (paradise)." [Bukhari]
"Any Imam or a Wali slept a dark night while he was deceiving his people Allah will prevent him from entering paradise (Jannah)." [Al-Tabarani]
Furthermore, this understanding of politics can be clearly seen in the example of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم, who deeply cared about this Ummah. RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم was involved in the daily struggles that faced the Ummah. For example, when the Muslims had to dig the trench to protect Madinah he did not sit on the sidelines while the Ummah dug the trench. Rather, RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم was in the trench digging with the Sahabahs (ra) suffering as they suffered - as evidenced by the two stones pressed against his blessed stomach to suppress the hunger he felt. Can we imagine Karzai suffering with the Muslims that he is in charge of? In another incident, a collector of revenues in the Islamic State asked the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم which things were given as revenues for the state, and which were given as personal gifts to him (the collector). The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم became upset, and asked him whether people would have given him these gifts if he had remained in his parent's home, and not been a state revenue collector.
The Khulafah ar-Rashideen who led after RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم followed this understanding of politics. Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) is widely known for the great effort he exerted in taking care of the affairs of the Ummah. When Abu Bakr (ra) was the Khaleefah, Umar (ra) felt that the Quran should be written down, whereas Abu Bakr (ra) did not. However, Umar (ra) worked hard and convinced Abu Bakr (ra) of his opinion. In the year 18AH, famine gripped Madinah and the surrounding area. This came to be known as the "Year of Ash" (Am al-Ramadah). Umar (ra) set-up tents around Madinah to house and feed those adversely affected by the famine. Umar (ra) sent a letter to Egypt and Sham demanding that they send in food. Furthermore, it is said that Umar (ra) went pale because he refused to eat fat, butter, and milk, until all the Muslims were able to afford such food! Umar's (ra) example is sadly forgotten by the current leadership in Pakistan. Instead of preventing a refugee crisis, they instigated one by sending in the army to fight the people of Swat whose desire is to be ruled by the book of Allah سبحانه وتعالى! And why? So that they can please their masters in Washington and London!
Umar (ra) also took care of the affairs of Ahl-al-Dhimma (non-Muslims that lived under Islamic rule). For example, he found an old, blind Jewish person begging for money. So he took him to the Bait-al Mal (Public Treasury) and ordered that they provide him with assistance from the Bait-al Mal and stop collecting the jizya from him.
Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) also exemplified the Islamic definition of politics. A man came to Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz (rh) in his study, and Umar (rh) asked him whether he came for a state-related matter or a personal matter. The man replied "a personal matter", so before the man could speak, Umar blew out a candle that was lit and lit another candle nearby. When the man asked Umar why he did this, Umar replied "The first candle was paid for using state funds, whereas the second one was paid for using my own personal funds". Contrast this to the millions that Zardari stole from the Muslims of Pakistan!
It is also important to recognize that Siyasah did not stop with the Rightly Guided Khulafah, but was practiced by the Khulafah that came after. For example, Abdur-Rahman an-Nasser was the Amir that opened Andalus (Spain) to Islam. As the Wali (governor) of the province, he assigned officers to ensure that the milk was not watered down. He appointed environmental health officers to inspect meat and other foodstuff on sale, ensuring that the produce was well protected from flies and insects. He also built hostels for the travellers. He was so busy with the affairs of state, that on his death when the people read his personal diaries they found that throughout his entire rule of 55 years, 7 months, and 3 days in office, he had only 14 days free. And on his death he had nothing to leave - he died poor.
Also, consider the example of the Khaleefah Abdul Hameed (rh) in his reply to Theodor Herzl (founder of the Zionist movement) who wanted to purchase Palestine to establish Israel: "I would rather push a sword into my body than see the land of Palestine cut and given away from the Islamic State." Unfortunately, such a stance is non-existent today where the Muslim rulers are willing to give away the land of Palestine for the temporary comfort of this life.
Islamic Aqeedah: Key to Good Governance
By Allah's سبحانه وتعالى leave, the examples of RasulAllah صلى الله عليه وسلم, the Sahabah (ra) and the Khulafah that came after, towers over the current decayed political system that rules the world. However, when discussing this issue we should be clear that the Sahabah (ra) and the righteous Khulafah were products of the Islamic Aqeedah. That is, the mindset of the Sahabah (ra) and those that came after them, was one that was deeply concerned about how Allah سبحانه وتعالى would hold them to account on the Day of Judgement for their actions. For example, Umar bin al-Khattab (ra) said, "If a goat tripped on the road, I would be afraid that Allah would ask me why didn't you pave the road for her O Umar". Also consider Umar ibn Abdul Aziz (rh) who used to cry at night due to being afraid of his accountability to Allah سبحانه وتعالى for the "stranger, beggared and straying, and the poor and the needy, and the prisoners in captivity". In other words, they did not act justly for the sake of morality or achieving some medal of honour. Rather, they did this because they knew each action they undertook would be scrutinized by Allah سبحانه وتعالى on a Day that will determine whether they will go to Jannah (Heaven) or Jahannam (Hell).
May Allah سبحانه وتعالى raise within this Ummah a leadership that will rule by what He has revealed and a leadership that will be on the footsteps of the Prophethood.
الَّذِينَ إِن مَّكَّنَّاهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ أَقَامُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتَوُا الزَّكَاةَ وَأَمَرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَنَهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَلِلَّهِ عَاقِبَةُ الْأُمُورِ
"Those who, if We firmly establish them on earth, remain constant in prayer, and give in charity, and command what is right and forbid the doing of what is wrong. And with Allah rests the end of (all) matters."[Al-Hajj, 22:41]