legitimacy both of that state and of their
won religious and juridical activites (as adherents of that
state) from sectarian attack."1"
To Sunni theorists, the Prophet's community in Medina and the
Rashidun (who inherited leadership of that community) - the
four "rightly-guided" successors (khulafa')
non-prophetic role as political military Commander of the Faithful
(amir al mu'minin), responsible for the defense of the community,
leading the community in prayer and judging (i.e., rulling)
according to the shari'a
, which governed the practices
of the community -constitute the orthodox model of an Islamic
society and an Islamic state in which a combined religious-military-political
(juridical) authority (referred to as caliphate, amirate or
imamate) implemented sovereignty of shari'a
If much of the history of Islamic political institutions is
an account of the devolution of this integral authority into
separate institutions, the task of Sunni Islamic political theory
has largely been to sustain the intention
of the lost
model - implementing the sovereignty of shari'a
reintegration of these separate institutions in an on-going,
flexible response to the changing historic circumstances. "2"
This sense of lost but ideal unity of authority was symbolically
preserved until recent years (and still is, in the most traditional
districts of Islam) in the practice of the khatib
preaches to the entire community assembled for obligatory congregational
Friday prayer - a responsibility undertaken by the amir
the earliest years, who may also have led the prayer that follows,
in his capacity as imam
of the community -taking in his
hand a wooden sword or a staff (equally representing the sword,
the lance or the bow) up upon the steps of the minbar
(pulpit) for the duration of the sermon."3"
When the Prophet founded his community (umma) in Medina, the
community was synonymous with Islamic society - dedicated companions
and followers of the Prophet who had experienced what has been
described as "total conversion" and who dated that
conversion either in fact or spirit back to the time of a hard
pressed and austere religious movement."4"
And the community as a whole, as mujahidun
, was at the
disposal of the Prophet as a fighting force - it was, in other
words, also synonymous with the Muslim Army.
But by the earliest years of the Rashidun Caliphate, the Prophet's
community was no longer synonymous with either the Army (now
garrisoned Bedouin legions, most effectively led by the more
worldly Meccan later-adherents to Islam) or Islamic society,
enlarged first by the massive conversion of Arabia and soon
after by growing number of converts most barely familiar with
the doctrine and practices of Islam - as well as the masses
of protected non-Muslims in Persia and the conquered Asian and
North African provinces of Byzantium, standing as a vast reservoir
of still more eventual converts in the coming centuries."5"
The Islamic state does not originate in the Prophet's community
but in the Army that conquered the empire and administered it
in the name of that community. The Ummayyad triumph in the civil
war ending the Rashidun Caliphate signals the transfer to political
authority(and with it, however begrudgingly, religious authority)
from the leadership of the Prophet's community to the leadership
of the Muslim Army as emerging state: a victorious military
institution shaped by the pre-Islamic social traditions of its
bedouin brigades and Meccan officers, by the varieties of Asian
imperial practice (first inherited along with the wealth and
bureaucracy of Persia and Byzantium, and recurring in later
centuries in the form of Mongol and Turkish practices) and by
raison d'etat as well by the Muslim identity and the beliefs
of its leaders.
It is helpful in understanding this rapid series of transformations
always to bear in mind that the "state" as we use the word,
in discussing the Islamic state, is not the state of classical
or Western political theory but rather the commander, the army
he commands, and the administration that is attached to him.
His "state" (dawla
) in a sense is his dynasty."6"
As an Islamic state, what endures is not the state itself, a
turn of dynasties, but the primacy of shari'a
The alternative for the `ulama
(who conceived of themseIves,
and are so described in hadith, as the direct or spiritual heirs
of the Prophet's community in Medina) in the earliest years
of Ummayad rule was to refuse to acknowledge the religious-political
authority of this new state, to refuse to recognize it as the
Islamic state. But the implications of such opposition were
already apparent in the disorders that plagued Imam Ali during
his struggle against the Umayyads and were confirmed in the
chaos and atrocities that accompanied subsequent uprisings against
the new state and which threatened the unity of the community."7"
The importance of preserving that unity, in contrast
to other universal movements, is in itself a reflection of the
role that the central doctrine of at-tawhid
played in the traditional political consciousness of Sunni Islam.
It is to this worldly, emerging universal state that the new
umma of the emerging Islamic society must turn for the implementation
of shari `a in order to practice the most outward requirements
of religious life, since it is this state which has inherited
the religious-political responsibilities of the Rashidun Caliphate,
if not its inner spiritual legitimacy.
In this context - Islamization as the sacralization of state
and society for the sake of the shari'a
practice of the
most outward requirements of Muslim life - the 'ulama
whether as jurists, hadith collectors or Quranic commentators,
or eventually as theologians, concentrated upon the - juridical
dimension: interpretation of the shari `a in order to subject
the activities of the state and society (outward by definition)
to religious and ethical considerations.
This determined that the earliest expositions on jihad would
be of its most outward dimesion as armed struggle. To that can
be added Gibb's suggestion that in the earliest phase of this
period, the momentum of 'the wars of conquest was the contributing
factor in the `ulama's formulation of the jihad
code of military conduct guiding the conduct of the ruler and
his army (in other words, the state) to the neglect of the other
dimensions of jihad
Initially treated as a chapter within the section of the Law
known as 'uqubat
- the penal code - the Law of Fihad
became an independent subject of study known as siyar,
treating in detail any number of conceivable juridical relations
(diplomatic, commercial, penal, personal status, as well as
military) between Muslim and non-Muslim communities."9"
The jurists were to recognise two broad categories of jihad
- against Unbelievers (what we shall characterize as the external
jihad) and an internal jihad strictly limited with the passage
of time (for reasons to be discussed below) to armed struggle
against sedition or subversion (fitna) that could could take
a variety of forms within the community.
As the most occasional form, jihad is understood by the Muslim
jurists as fard kifaya,
a general duty upon the community
as a whole that is satisfied as soon as there are a sufficient
number of male Muslims to fight on behalf of the community,
and an individual duty - fard'ayn - upon every Muslim within
the vicinity of an invasion, man, woman and child.
Juridical classification of jihad
within the category
fard kifaya based upon passages in the Qur'an
indicate that the community's duty to perform jihad can be satisfied
by a portion of the community tended to reinforce the on-going
professionalization of the jihad - a situation crystalized in
the saying of Abu Yusuf (chief Q,adi during the Abbasid reign
of Harun arRashid): "No army marches without permission of the
But the 'ulama never lost sight of either the ultimate responsibility
for jihad or its ethical and spiritual implications, even when
limited to the form of armed struggle.
Thus while the jurists stressed the impracticality of the entire
community abandoning farm, workshop, marketplace and court for
distant jihad, they also insisted upon the superior rewards
that await those who do fulfil the community's obligation on
the field of battle."11"
The hadith in which the Prophet is reported to have warned that
the farmer's plough made people lowly - a puzzle since the Prophet
and many Companions had practiced agriculture and had praised
the product of subsistence farming - was interpreted by the
jurists to describe not the vocation of farming but only "those
so absorbed in agriculture that they abstain from jihad and
thus become a prey to their enemies"."12"
In North Africa and Muslim Spain where the front line with Christendom
never achieved the sort of stand-off stability that developed
between the Muslims and Byzantium after the first century of
Islamic conquest, the jurists paid particular note to the "highly
meritious act" of the volunteers serving in a frontier fort
- the ribat - which maintained consciousness of jihad as an
individual act as well as an aspect of statecraft."13"
As jurisprudence of a personal rather than territorial character,
siyar also addressed itself to the wide variety of juridical
relations between Muslims and non-Muslims (as individuals and
as communities), not only within the territorial domain of the
shari'a system (dar al-Islam) but also beyond that domain (dar
al-barb), which gave also to siyar all of the characteristics
of an Islamic Law of Nations."14"
In addition to the obvious requirements of jihad to defend the
community from invasion, or the threat of invasion, or to defend
Muslims living in non- Muslim territory and oppressed by non-Muslim
rule, or to punish rulers who violate their treaties with the
Muslim or to guarantee "the free access of their subjects to
Islam" (a significant claim when considered later in the context
of Modernist Apologetics) the books of siyar establish two broad
principles: first, jihad is the ultimate weapon and duty of
the Imam in fulfilling the universal mission of Islam; second,
the universal mission of Islam is to restore social order by
imposing the sovereignty of shari'a byjihad if necessary; not
to compel that (personal faith) which cannot be compelled-"15"
In summary, the books of siyar declare it is the duty of the
imam when dar al-islam (the Muslim territory) is free of internal
strife and has sufficient .or victory, to invite the neighbouring
non-Muslim rulers to embrace Islam. If they do so (which by
definition also meant acknowledging hari'a as the law of their
land) then they are to be confirmed by the Imam
rule and jizyah (poll tax) is collected from their now protected
non-Muslim subjects, who pay this tax for the protection provided
their lives, property and houses of worship by the Muslim Army
in which they are never liable to serve. If they refuse, they
are to be fought.
Ibn Rushd, whose own siyar (written in the 12th century) surveyed
the earlier literature of all the Sunni schools, notes significant
disagreement among the jurists over a third option - truce."16"
Malik, Shafi'i and Abu Hanifa (founders of three of the four
enduring schools of Sunni Law) all maintained that the Imam
could conclude a truce with non-Muslims if he deemed it in the
interest of the community and without any other operative conditions.
Others, including some of their followers, insisted that the
non-Muslim ruler pay tribute as condition for truce; and some
of the jurists were prepared to allow the Imam to pay tribute
to the non-Muslim ruler for the sake of a truce if this should
be forced upon the Muslims by political-military contingencies.
Ibn Rushd comments that the cause for the considerable debate
as to the nature of this truce is to be found in apparently
contradictory verses; some jurists having argued that the peace
If they incline to make peace, incline thou to it, and set thy
trust upon Allah,"17"
supplements the militant verses of Qur'an
of which the
|....slay the idolaters, wherever ye find
and take them (captive) and beseige them, and prepare
for them each ambush. But if they repent and establish
worship and pay the poor-due, then
leave their way free.
|Fight against such of those who have been given the
Scriptures as believe not in Allah nor the
Last Day, and forbid not that which Allah hath forbidden
by His messeneer, and follow not the
religion of truth, until they pay the jizyah
readily, being brought low. "18"
The first first of these verses was addressed
to the Arabian Unbelievers who excluded from the option of "protected
community" offered in the second, militant verse. The minority
of jurists, according to Ibn Rushd, believed the supplementing
action of the "peace verse" allowed the Imam latitude to extend
the truce if the non-Muslims remain peaceful. But the prevailing
opinion among the jurists was that the "peace verse" was abrogated
in any binding sense by the later, more militant verses whereby
the principle is that non-Muslims must be fought until they
accept, Islam or pay jizyah (protected status under shari'a)."19"