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AS A RULER
Bosworth Smith has written in ' Muhammed and Muhammedism,
" Head of the state as well as of the church, he was Caesar and Pope in one; but he was Pope without the Pope's pretensions, Caesar without the legions of Caesar. Without a standing army, without a fixed revenue; if ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by a right divine, it was Muhammed, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports."
For centuries the Arabian Peninsula was without any government and the neighbouring empires and Persia to the East and Rome to the West dominated the whole region. Although these empires did not rule directly over the Arabs, they had tremendous influence over them.
The Arabs were very much divided into differing clans and tribes through which feuds ran high and wild. These tribal feuds gave rise to much bloodshed which continued for years. The division of the groups was one factor while another was the immorality of these groups which the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam was to confront as a ruler. During the divine Prophethood, unity was restored amongst these divided people giving them a strong central government which established law and order for the first time in this part of the world.
Another feature of his rule was that he established a system of virtue, goodness and justice in society and guaranteed justice and fairness for all, irrespective of colour, creed or race. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam emphasized the importance of just ruling through personal example:
"The one who will be dearest to Allah and nearest to Him in station on the Day of Resurrection will be a just ruler."
Furthermore, 'Aa'ishah ( R.A.) relates that the people were concerned about a woman who was to have her hands cut off as a punishment for stealing. The people hoped that the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam would reconsider her plight. Thus, Usaamah (R.A), known to be the Prophet's sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam beloved, was sent to forward the request.
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam rose and delivered a sermon in which he said that the people of earlier days were ruined due to their inability to prosecute the rich and reputed, and their promptness to prosecute the poor. He said, "I swear by Allah even if Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad stole, I would cut her hands off." (Mishkaat) The above is an evident example of his just and unbiased nature of rule.
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam would participate in work with his people, such that in the Battle of the Trench, he helped dig the trench with his people. By Allah, what kindness! In spite of all his power and authority, no one could ever distinguish him from other people while he was working with them. He never liked people to make any distinction between the ruler and the ruled.
Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam left his hometown, Makkah, and migrated to Madinah where he found himself the Head of State. Although he was Head of State he lived like an ordinary citizen and lead a very simple life. He was available to his people all the time and there were no barriers between him and the people.
The Prophet allallaahu 'alayhi wasallam lead a life of poverty in plenty and humility in authority. He was far above the desires of the crown and sceptre, or the need of the pomp and glory of a ruler. A narration of 'Umar (R.A) states, "When I entered the Holy Prophet's sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam home, I noticed the state of the furniture in it. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam had only one sheet of cloth around him to cover the lower part of his body. There was one simple bed with one pillow filled with nut fibre; on one side of the room was some barley and in one corner was an animal skin. There were some water bags made of skin hanging beside his bed."
'Umar (R.A) said that on seeing this tears came to his eyes. Allah's Messenger asked the reason for his tears. He replied, "Oh Allah's Messenger! Why shouldn't I cry! The strings of the bed have left marks on your body. This is a small room with all your furniture; I can see what there is. The Qaiser of Rome and Kisra of Persia enjoyed luxurious living, while you, Allah's Messenger, the chosen one, live like this. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam said, " Ibn Khattaab, don't you appreciate that they choose this world and we choose the Hereafter ?"
There was no administrative or clerical staff to assist the Prophet in his work (as there is today), which was conducted from the mosque or his house.
It is stated in the Holy Qur'an:
"It was by the Mercy of Allah that you were gentle and kind to them ( Oh Muhammad) for if you had been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about you." (3 : 159)
The rulers today set an impression of concern but in reality no such concern exists. While, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam was kind to his people; he was a ruler of their hearts.
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam succeeded in establishing the kingdom of Allah on the earth by recognising a right to a livelihood of every citizen of the state. The rights of the poor, the orphans and the destitute were fully looked after and cared for by his government and no one was left to beg or starve. He made it clear to his companions that the poor and destitute had a due right in the wealth of the rich members of the community. It was the result of their labour and that it must be returned to them as a right and not a charity. The Qur'an mentions this as a quality of true believers:
" And in their wealth and possession (was remembered) the right of the needy, him who asked, and him who was prevented from asking." (51:19)
Practically, another great contribution to political philosophy was the Prophet's sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam concept of consultation. He established a government which was conducted on the principle of consultation on all levels. It was the real and effective basis of a popular government of the people and by the people. Administrative decisions and decisions of policy on all levels were taken after proper consultation with the representatives of the people. The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam said,
"No one will rule ten people or more without coming to Allah who is Great and Glorious on the Day of Resurrection with his hands chained to his neck, being set free by his goodness or brought to destruction by his sin." He also said, "Anyone who is asked by Allah to take charge of subjects and does not protect them with good counsel will not smell the fragrance of Paradise." ( Mishkaat )
The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam was the first man to introduce the concept of a written constitution into the political history of mankind and gave his people a most comprehensive constitution, covering every aspect of human life from the cradle to the grave. It contained all the fundamental principles of good constitution, laying down the nature, scope and objects of the Islamic state, the powers and functions of the organs of government, the duties and rights of its citizens and its relations with foreign governments in war and peace. The primary source of this constitution is the Qur'an which contains instructions and directives governing every field of human activity. The second source of the constitution is the Sunnah, which gave practical shape to the philosophy of the Qur'an and evolved a political system which covered the entire life of man in light of the Revelation of Allah. The third important factor which helped in building the structure of the Islamic state was the principle of referring disputes to a consensus of high ranking jurists.
Conclusively, the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam gave a clear indication of the kind of society he wanted to achieve, a society wherein no poor and destitute would be left to die. Instead there would be an efficient system of social justice and security on an individual as well as a state level which would fully meet the economic needs of all its less fortunate members. This was the kind of society the Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wasallam dreamt of and bequeathed to his successors. All this he achieved in less than a quarter of a century. He first tamed his people into submission to the law of Allah through noble teaching, argument and reasoning; developed the concept of virtue and justice in them and brought political and religious unity with his skilful and shrewd judgement and efforts; established law and order and then introduced major social changes which completely changed their whole concept of life.
All this was the result of the Holy Prophet's sallallaahu 'alaihi wasallam just and benevolent administration.