Tuesday, September 16, 2008



..............continued from part 23

Political Awareness of Muslims


The author is of the opinion that the first explicit political conciousness of the Muslims appeared with the introduction of the concept of ummah in the Sahifah Madinah (the Medina Constitution). With its introduction, the syariah was implemented on all aspects of life which could only be coerced with political power.
Enayat (1982) suggested that Muslim political schools of thought first appeared immediately following the death of the Prophet s.a.w. at the Saqifah assembly when the companions elected Abu Bakr as the Khalifah. The doctrine here was that the Prophet s.a.w. deliberately left the question of succession open. This was later known as the Sunni group.
Another group of Muslims, which proved to be a minority, believed that the Prophet s.a.w. had in fact designated his successor, and that was his son-in-law and cousin, Ali. This group came to be known as Syiah.
The third early political trend in Islam was known as the Khawarij (plural of Kharaji, meaning outsider or seceder) which came into existence twenty-five years after the death of the Prophet s.a.w. when a group of Muslims revolted against Caliph Ali when he agreed to refer his dispute with rebel Muawiyah to a tahkim (arbitration).
These early political trends set the course of the political thinking of the Muslims years to come. After the retirement of Ali as the Caliph and the ascension of Muawiyah, establishsment of Islamic states became natural. The conquests made by the Muslims throughout the world brought syariah into effect in areas liberated. The politics then was not whether or not to establish Islamic States, but whose family should be at the helm.
The enforcement of the Syariah gave a cloak of legitimacy to the existence of the state, no matter how tyrannical the ruling family was. The decadence ot the Abassid Khalifah marked the beginning of the slow and painful death of Muslims' political prowess. In 1492, Andalusia (Spain) was lost, which signalled the eclipse of the once brilliant political achievement.
Even though Islam continued to spread to all corners of the world then, such as in Europe under the Uthmaniyah Empire (Ottoman), in Central Asia and India under the Mongols, the mistakes perpetrated by the Ummayyads and the Abassids were repeated. Once the legitimacy of their rules were secured, the rulers were let loose on hedonistic life styles. The ummah was left almost unattended which caused their intellectual as well as material stagnation and eventual degradation.
Under such rules, the sultans, Khans, amirs, khalifas as so on and so forth, maintained that the syariah was the law of the land. But once alien interference crawled in, subjagation and colonization followed, with the result that man-made laws replaced the syariah. This stirred the Muslims' political conciousness.
............to be continued