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Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam

The worst of creations with Good are those deaf, those dumb who do not use their intellect (Quran;2:18) . "And Allah gives another...


Extremism to Pacifism 

It took time, however, for the absolutely pacifistic attitudes to harden.

At the time of the downfall of the Umayyad and the establishment of the 'Abbasids, the state of affairs was naturally still very liquid. Ibn al-Muqafa' (second quarter of the second century) complains that Muslims largely suffer from political extremism, one party contending that the political authority must be upset if it disobeys God or, rather, if it seeks to implement what constitutes disobedience to God, while the other party contends that the political authority must be placed by definition, as it were, beyond criticism, Ibn al-Muqafa' roundly dismisses the second group. With the first group he agrees that:

"there is no obedience (to the ruler) in disobedience of God," but he pointedly asks, if anybody is to be obeyed in righteousness, including the political authority, and if everybody is to be disobeyed, including the political authority, in what is deemed to be not righteousness, then what is the difference between the. Political authority and non-authority? How can, therefore, any political authority, worthy of the name, survive ?

Ibn al-Muqafa', therefore, suggests that while the dictum itself is correct, it is used as a camouflage for sedition and rebellion and, further, that whatever any particular group thinks to be the correct interpretation of the obedience or disobedience to God, it seeks to impose it on others by attempting to seize the political machinery.

It is to be remarked that Ibn al-Muqafa', while stating the view of both political extremes, does not refer to any Hadith or even alleged Hadith, either on the side of rebellions or absolute pacifism. And, indeed, no such Hadith is contained either in the Muwatta of Malik or the Athar of Abu Yusuf two eminent men of the second century. Ibn al-Muqafa certainly assumes that the state stands under the moral norms of Islam, but he insists that, in judging whether a particular state is so conforming or not, all contending groups must exercise that robust, healthy and constructive common sense which Islam did so much to inculcate and that, above all, the integrity of the Community and the stability of the state must never be lost sight of. We do not deny that pacifist Hadith was there: indeed, our analysis of the political Hadith in the last chapter has clearly shown that this Hadith was proved by Kharijism. What we are saying is that neither Ibn al-Muqafa' nor Malik nor yet Abu Yusuf makes any reference to such Hadith.

But the collectors of Hadith during the third Century zealously collected pacifist Hadith and, at the political level, pacifism henceforward is permanently erected into the dogmatic structure of Islam. A Muslim, from now on, does not possess the right of political resistance—that is to say, not only actually, but  even formally and theoretically. Many students of Muslim political history and theory—both Westerners and Muslim Modernists—have postulated an increasing influence on Islam of old Iranian ideas of kingship, where kings were regarded as sacred and inviolate. This story does not seem true. It is true that the political authority was vested with a quasi-inviolate character and later also expressions like "the shadow of God" are used, even by the orthodox—e.g., by Ibn Taymiyah.  But when the orthodoxy contends that "even an unjust ruler ought to be obeyed" and that:
"the Sultan is the shadow of God," we get the apparently strange result that "even an unjust ruler is the shadow of God".
Since by no stretch of imagination can this extreme construction be literally attributed to orthodoxy—least of all to a man like Ibn Taymiyah, the only meaning we can attach to the phrase "shadow of God" is that of a rallying point and a guarantee for security. And when we look at the earlier insistence of the orthodoxy, couched in Hadith form,  to keep to the majority of the Muslims and their political authority," the meaning becomes absolutely clear. No metaphysical implications, therefore, of the Old Iranian or other equivalent doctrine of ruler ship may be read into this dictum.
However, a closer reflection will reveal that a total conformism and pacifism, no matter through what noble purpose motivated, is completely self-defeating, for it inculcates political passivity and indifference and, subsequently, a fatal sense of suspicion against the government. And this is exactly what happened in Islam. If the maintenance of the solidarity of the Community was an overall objective.

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