Friday, August 24, 2018

Prime Minister Imran Khan and The State of Medina

August 23, 2018

By Saeed Qureshi

Imran Khan the 22nd elected Prime Minister of Pakistan with an overwhelming mandate offers a great hope for a prosperous and modern Pakistan. He wants to erect and build a new Pakistan on the pattern of the State of Medina that the Prophet of Islam, Hazrat Muhammad founded after migrating from Mecca to Madina in 622 A.D., along with his closest companion and the first Caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr who later also had the honor of being his father-in-law.

On August 19th in his inaugural victory speech, he spelled out his vision and mandate to restructure Pakistan and bring it in the comity of developed nations and earn international support, respect and dignity for Pakistan. It would be fruitful for the people of Pakistan to go through his charter of reforms and ponder how groundbreaking and revolutionary these are.

His agenda for a new Pakistan consists mainly 27programs or reforms that are essentially far-reaching and innovative.  Even if a part of this agenda is implemented, a new prosperous, truly democratic and stable Pakistan is believed to emerge that may earn respect in the comity of nations and have peaceful and friendly relations with neighbors mainly India, Iran and Afghanistan.

While Prime Minister Imran’s mission and mandate are noble and essential for the uplift of Pakistan, one may wonder as to how in a short space of time, he would be able to fashion Pakistan on the pattern of the Islamic State of Medina or Khilafat-e-Rashida. How the State of Medina could be worth emulation when three out of four Caliphs were assassinated. How then it could be rated peaceful and glorious era for the Muslims and to be assessed as ideal for emulation?

The life and mission of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) were threatened in Mecca from his opponents.)  Therefore in 622 A.D., he migrated to Medina clandestinely along with his close companion Hazrat Abu Bakr, later the first Caliph of Islam and Prophet’s father in law.  

During his life of 10 years (622-632 AD) spent in Madina, the holy Prophet laid down the fundamental structure of Islam and the contours of the newly emerging Islamic fraternity and the nation under the divine inspiration. The fundamental guidelines of Islam are preserved in the holy Quran and read and imbibed by all of us day in and day out.

The state of Medina originally was confined to a few miles and later expanded by the Islamic victories to as far as Iraq, Syria, Persia, Jerusalem and the entire Arab Peninsula came under the sway of the Muslims.

As pointed out earlier that the Medina State was founded by the Prophet when he migrated secretly from Mecca to Medina in 622 AD and headed it until his demise in 632 AD. It means that he headed the state of Medina for ten years. He created unity and fraternity among the hostile tribes and established brotherhood during his life time. It was a nascent small state confined to a small city of Yasreb or Medina but it was a truly Islamic state in the making.

Would a new modern state fit into the pattern of a small state of the past or vice-verse?  Spiritually and religiously the state of Medina was glorious but materially it was not a kind of modern developed state that came into being after the industrial revolution.

The modern comforts, learning and knowledge, democratic institutions, educational patterns and fast modes of transportation were not available in earlier times including Saudi Arabia, although both Mecca and Medina, and even Jerusalem were spiritually and morally on the highest level and still are. In the modern times the discovery of electricity by itself is the main vehicle of all the scientific inventions and the discoveries are the boons that we witness all over the world today. Education, health, fast transportation agriculture, housing and so on, are the boons of the modern times. Now every small and big city has masques and Islamic educational and learning institutions imparting latest knowledge to the people including Islam. There are mosques in every town and country where Muslims pray and perform their religious obligations much faster under a galore of comforts that were not available in earlier times. The whole world has become a village where the human beings can move and travel.

If Imran Khan means by state of Medina by law and order, unity welfare, equality, brotherhood and the unity then these fundamental obligations are taken care of in an absolutely perfect and safer manner by the courts and laws of the land and the relevant institutions. In the present societies, there is absolute freedom to follow one’s religion in every society more than the past. The number of the Muslim faithful is increasing by leaps and bounds all over the world. The State of Medina was morally high but by way of material comforts is no match to the modern nation states.   

There are four principle Imams who reinterpreted some of the confusing or complex Jurisprudence clauses and rules in Islam. The division of Islam into Shia and Sunnis needs two Islamic systems of jurisprudence and payers in Islam. But during the incipient state of Medina these differences were not there. Either you throw way all the Shias and other fringe sects out of the pale of Islam or reinterpret or redefine the injunction prevalent during the State of Medina headed by the Prophet himself (622-632 and Khilafat Rashida of four Caliphs which lasted for 39 years (632-661.The Khilafat-e- Rashida was succeeded by the Ummyad dynasty. Amir Muawiyah the founder of the Ummayad dynasty declared himself a Caliph while Caliph Ali had been an elected Caliph already with capital in Medina. Through a ruse of arbitration, Amir Muawiyah the founder of the Ommyad dynasty (680-743 AD).  also assumed the title of the Caliph. As such for quite some time there were two Caliphs in the Islamic empire. Their mutual fighting between the forces of Ali and Muawiyya for almost six years led to the   killings and death of thousands of Muslims from both the sides.

Ommyad dynasty came to an end in 750 AD and was replaced by the establishment of the Abbasid Caliphate (followers of Caliph Ali) or empire consisting of Persian, Syrian and Arabs. Banu Abbas killed each and every member of the ruling Umayyad clan except one youthful Abd-al-Rahman Ibne Muawiyya, the grandson of the tenth Ommyad Caliph Hisham. Abd-al-Rahman fled to Spain where he founded a new Islamic empire.

It is a part of the early Islamic history that most of the consolidation and extension of Arab domain in the Middle East and North Africa took place during the Ummayad Caliphate and Abbasid dynasty (750-861 AD). The Abbasids have the credit of setting up an international empire of the Persian, Syrians and Abbasid Caliphate.

The fundamental difference between what the founder of Islam achieved was to not only inculcate a set of divine rulers for a better conduct and sinless life style among the ill-informed and hostile people and tribes but to bring them together as brethren and members of the same faith. Hazrat Muhammad had to undergo extremely hard conditions and oppositions both in Mecca and Madina.

However, Prophet Muhammad received the guidelines from Allah the creator of the universe who conveyed his commands to him through the Angel Gabriele, besides creating those injunctions in his mind. As a result, a society of dedicated and the devoted Muslims came into being who spread the message of Islam far and wide though after a long trail of sufferings and difficulties. Prophet Muhammad’s companions had also to undergo extreme hardships and impediments in carrying forward the teachings of Islam among the community. That was a miracle as earlier Prophets couldn’t achieve these pristine and virtuous objectives.

Finally, the State of Medina and Khilafat Rashida was an ideal example of an Islamic state, yet it was not free of contentious issues and ideological conflicts. Immediately after the death of the Prophet and when still his body was to be buried, three incidents happened. One was the claim of three groups for the position of the successor. One such group favored Hazrat Ali the son in law of the Prophet who pressed their claim emphatically. The other claimant were from the Ommyad branch of the Qureshi tribe to regain their former position and status through the new religion. The third group emphasized the tradition prevalent among the tribes that the oldest and the wisest should be chosen as the successor of Prophet or Caliph after the demise of Prophet Muhammad.

Since Abu Bakr met these conditions he was chosen as the first Caliph of the state of Madina. Several Arab tribes revolted to get free from the new religion but were suppressed and subdued by the first Caliph Abu Bakr. Nevertheless, the family of the Prophet namely Banu Hashim including Ali and Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet claimed that it was their right to lead the Caliphate. Ali and their family members isolated themselves from the state affairs under the new Caliph for quite some time. Successor of Abu Bakr namely Umar bin Khattab and Usman were not from the Banu Hashim or Prophet’s family. Hazrat Ali became the fourth Caliph after the assassination of Hazrat Osman in 656 AD. Hazar Umar the second Caliph was the father in law of the Prophet and the third Caliph Usman was the son in law of the Prophet Muhammad.  There had been a division between the Muslims after the demise of the Prophet Muhammad which till this day is existing between the Sunnis and Shias or between Saud Arabia and Iran. Islam therefore has remained divided since the establishment of the State of Medina.    

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