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     Question Forum :  Islam & The Nation State     Date Posted:  24 - April  -  2002




Is the Islamic ruling system applicable in the nation-state era?

Nation states are artificial man-made creations based on geographical features and ethnic or linguistic communalities of people. The Islamic state, on the other hand, is based on the belonging to a declared faith, and the blueprint of its constitution is found in Sura at-Taubah. The division of the Muslim world into nation states by competing colonial occupants has done much damage. Yet, this does not mean that many of the principals of governance of Islam are not relevant within a nation state setting. The Islamic rules on governance deal with a wide range of issues, from the integrity of the ruler, the eradication of corruption, the maintenance of law and order etc. all the way to the rights and duties of minorities. These standards are important for any society, irrespective of the detailed arrangements of government. In addition, it is important to realise that the Islamic Shariah is also flexible with regard to the detailed arrangements for the governance of a community, the selection of a leader, for example, or the makeup of a Shura (advisory council). It would be wrong, therefore, to conclude that Muslims cannot participate in the political and decision making processes of their respective countries simply because these countries are run under a non-Islamic system. The ideal system of governance for Muslims, of course, will always be one which is explicitly based on the Shariah of Islam and which includes Muslims irrespective of nationality or other such differences.

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