Islamic Law

Part 1: “Establishing Political Parties…Unpacking 3:104”

Muqaddimat al-Dastur

Part 1: Establishing Political Parties (ahzab siyasiyyah)

  • In the proposed draft Constitution of the Islamic State it declares:

Article No 21: “The Muslims have the right to establish political parties in order to account the rulers or to reach the rule through the ummah, on the condition that their basis is the Islamic `Aqidah and that the rules they adopt are the Shari`ah rulings. The formation of a party does not require any permit. Any bloc formed on an un-Islamic basis is not permitted.”

The evidence for this is the words of Allah (Most High): {Let there be groups amongst you inviting to Islam, enjoining al-ma`ruf and forbidding al-munkar. And it is they who do this that are the successful}.[1] The angle of deduction for the establishment of political parties is that Allah (Most High) ordered the Muslims to have amongst them groups that carry out the da`wah to the khayr, i.e. da`wah to Islam, as well as enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar. So, His saying (Most High) {Let there be groups amongst you} is an order to create structured groups described as being from Muslims groups, because He said {from you}. The meaning of His words {Let there be groups amongst you} is ‘let there be groups from the Muslims’ and does not mean that the Muslims are to be a single group; in other words, it means ‘let their arise from the Muslims an ummah’ and not that the Muslims should be an ummah. This is because the preposition {min/من/‘from’} in the verse is ‘partitive’ (li ’l-tab`id) and not for ‘explicating the genus’ (li-bayan al-jins). The way to accurately determine this being the case is that the word ‘some’ (ba`d/بعض) should be able to replace it so it can be read as: {Let some of you be a group}. The word min/ cannot be replaced with ‘some/بعض’ in for example the verse “{Allah promised those who believe from you}[2], because it cannot be said {Allah promised some of those who believed from you} and so in this case it is for clarifying the genus. In other words, the promise is not restricted to the generation of the companions (may Allah be pleased with them all) but extends to all those who believed and did good actions. Based upon that, as long as {min/من/‘from’} in the verse is in the partitive sense, it entails two matters: [1] firstly, that establishing a group from amongst the Muslims is an obligation of sufficiency (fard kifayah) and not an individual obligation (fard `ayn), and [2] secondly that the presence of a bloc that has the characteristic of being a Muslim group is sufficient for this obligation as long as the number of this bloc is enough such that it retains the characteristic of being a group and as long it is capable of establishing the action required from it in the verse. So the word {and let there be} is addressed to the entire Islamic ummah but emphasised the word ‘ummah’, i.e. the group; in other words the request is made for all the Muslims and the thing that is requested is the creation of a group that has the characteristic of a group and so the meaning of the verse is: {bring about O Muslims groups which will carry out two actions: the first of them that it will call to the good and the second that it will enjoin the ma`ruf and forbid the munkar}. So it is a request for the creation of a group and this request has also clarified the action of this group. Although this request is simply an order {let there be}, there is however an indication (qarina) that defines it as a decisive request (talab jazim), since the action which the verse explains this group being established for is an obligation upon the Muslims to carry out as is confirmed by other verses and in numerous narrations and so that is an indication that this request is a decisive request and accordingly the order in the verse is an obligation. Therefore the verse indicates that it is mandatory upon the Muslims to establish groups from amongst themselves that will carry out the da`wah to the khayr – in other words to Islam – and will enjoin the ma`ruf and forbid the munkar. This is from the angle that the establishment of a group that will carry out these two actions mentioned in the verse is mandatory upon the Muslims and they will all be sinful if this group was not in existence…”[3]



  • Allah orders the Muslims to have groups from amongst them. The phrase ‘min-kum/مِّنْكُمْ’ restricts it to Muslims because that is the audience addressed in the verse.
  • The word ‘ummah/أُمَّةٌ’ linguistically can mean:

[1] a ‘situation’ (43:22);

[2] a ‘concern’ (16:92);

[3] a ‘complete way of life’ (21:92);

[4] a ‘length of time’ (12:45);

[5] a ‘people bonded together by the same belief’ (2:143);

[6] a ‘jama`ah/group’ (28:23);

[7] the Prophet Ibrahim (16:120) and

[8] ‘Obedience.’[4] Here in the verse it means ‘group’ (jama`ah).

  • The word ‘khayr/ٱلْخَيْرِ’ means ‘Islam’, i.e. all of Islam and all its laws legislated for human beings.
  • The phrase ‘commanding right and forbidding wrong’ as mentioned by Imam al-Jurjani (d.816/1413) means:

“الأمر بالمعروف: الإرشاد إلى المراشد المنجية، والنهي عن المنكر: الزجر عما لا يلائم في الشريعة. وقيل: الأمر بالمعروف: الدلالة على الخير، والنهي عن المنكر: المنع عن الشرّ. وقيل: الأمر بالمعروف: أمر بما يوافق الكتاب والسنة، والنهي عن المنكر: نهي عما تميل إليه النفس والشهوة. وقيل: الأمر بالمعروف إشارة إلى ما يرضي الله تعالى من أفعال العبد وأقواله. والنهي عن المنكر تقبيح ما تنفر عنه الشريعة والعفة، وهو ما لا يجوز في دين الله تعالى”. وقيل أيضا: “المعروف هو كل ما يحسن في الشرع” و”المنكر ما ليس فيه رضا الله من قول أو فعل”.

Amr bi ’l-ma`ruf means guiding towards salvific paths and nahy `an al-munkar means preventing something that is not in agreement with the Shari`ah. It is said: amr bi ’l-ma`ruf means: establishing what is good and nahy `an al-munkar means preventing evil. It is also said: amr bi ’l-ma`ruf means to command what agrees with the Book and the Sunna whereas nahy `an al-munkar means preventing the desires the nafs [s: self, ego-self, soul] inclines towards. It is further said that: amr bi ’l-ma`ruf means guiding to what pleases Allah (Most High) of actions and words and nahy `an al-munkar involves make abhorrent what the Shari`ah and decency has detested which is something not permitted in Allah’s religion. It is yet further said: amr bi ’l-ma`ruf is everything the Shar` has made good whereas nahy `an al-munkar is any action or word that does not have the pleasure [s: or acceptance] of Allah over it…”[5]

  • Imam Ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310/923) writes:

يعني بذلك جلّ ثناؤه: { وَلْتَكُن مِّنْكُمْ } أيها الـمؤمنون، { أُمَّةٌ } يقول: جماعة { يَدَّعُونَ } الناس { إِلَى ٱلْخَيْرِ } يعنـي إلـى الإسلام وشرائعه التـي شرعها الله لعبـاده، { وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ } يقول: يأمرون الناس بـاتبـاع مـحمد صلى الله عليه وسلم، ودينه الذي جاء به من عند الله، { وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنْكَرِ }: يعنـي وينهون عن الكفر بـالله، والتكذيب بـمـحمد، وبـما جاء به من عند الله بجهادهم بـالأيدي والـجوارح، حتـى ينقادوا لكم بـالطاعة. وقوله: { وَأُوْلَـٰئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْمُفْلِحُونَ } يعنـي: الـمنـجحون عند الله، البـاقون فـي جناته ونعيـمه

“What [s: this verse] means and may He be praised and Exalted: {let there be amongst you} o Muslims {an ummah} meaning a group {calling} the people {to the Khayr} meaning to Islam and its Laws that Allah has legislated for his servants. {enjoining al-ma`ruf} meaning to call people to following Muhammad (Allah bless him and grant him peace) and his din that he has come with from Allah and {forbidding al-munkar} meaning to prevent disbelief in Allah and belying the Prophet Muhammad and everything he has come with from Allah through jihad with the limbs until they are driven to obedience. {they are the successful one} those who have attained success with Allah, residing forever in His Gardens and eternal bliss […]”[6]

  • The duty is a fard kifaya although addressed to everyone.
  • If some of the Muslims establish a structured group or bloc and are able to carry out the duty, the rest are absolved of the sin.
  • Imam Qadi al-Baydawi (d.685/1286) comments:

{وَلْتَكُن مّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى ٱلْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنْكَرِ} من للتبعيض، لأن الأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر من فروض الكفاية، ولأنه لا يصلح له كل أحد إذ للمتصدي له شروط لا يشترك فيها جميع الأمة كالعلم بالأحكام ومراتب الاحتساب وكيفية إقامتها والتمكن من القيام بها. خاطب الجميع وطلب فعل بعضهم ليدل على أنه واجب على الكل حتى لو تركوه رأساً أثموا جميعاً ولكن يسقط بفعل بعضهم، وهكذا كل ما هو فرض كفاية

“{Let there be groups amongst you inviting to Islam, enjoining al-ma`ruf and forbidding al-munkar. And it is they who do this that are the successful}; and the preposition min here is partitive because commanding right and forbidding wrong is one of the fard kifaya actions because it is not proper for everyone in that the one who carries it out has conditions that all in the ummah do not share in like knowledge of the Islamic rulings, the different levels of accounting others as well as how to carry out the action and being able to do it properly. Everyone was addressed and some were requested to do the action in order to indicate it is a duty on everyone such that if they abandon it, all will be sinful but will be absolved of the sin if some of them carry it out. And this is the nature of all fard kifaya actions…”[7]

  • Other indications (qara’in) also make this a talab jazim, i.e. a decisive request such as:

The lam al-amr: this is the imperative instance of the letter ‘lam’/ل in {لتَكُن} which is that of an obligation because it is due to the obligation of carrying out da`wah and enjoining good and forbidding wrong which is also an obligation.[8]

The waw al-`atf: The letter ‘waw/وَ’ here commences the verse. It links or connects rather this verse with the verses before it (i.e. vv.102-103). Verse 104 begins with {and let there be…} indicating that prior to this verse, there existed a subject matter and so this verse is a continuation of that subject matter. The same effect holds true in English. The conjunction ‘and’ is used to connect clauses or sentences together so as to continue a single meaning. What, then, was the subject matter of the previous verses (i.e. vv.102-103)? If one looks at these verses, the following matters may be deduced:

Verse 102:

  1. The address is to the believers.
  2. To have fear and تقوى for Allah.
  3. Dying only in a state of Islam.
  4. Not to obey the non-Muslims.

Verse 103:

  1. To stay united on the “rope” (habl/حبل) of Allah – which is the Qur’an.
  2. Not to be divided as an ummah.[9]
  3. Being mindful of Allah and His favours.

            What is immediately preceding verse 104 is verse 103 warning Muslims not to disunite and divide and so the weight, value and ruling of this verse is identically carried by the particle ‘waw/وَ’. Thus the need for a group to arise is also now obligatory. It may help to see verses 103 & 104 as being almost one verse.

And with Allah is all Success.


London 2012.

[1] See Q. 3:104.

[2] See Q. 24:55.

[3] See Muqaddimat al-Dastur, pp.103-105, art.21.

[4] al-Himyari, Shams al-`Ulum wa Dawa’u Kalam al-`Arab min al-Kulum, vol.1, pp.121-122 and the smaller compendium Ma ’l-Ttafaqa Lafzuhu wa’ l-Khtalafa Ma`nahu of Ibn Shajari, p.7.

[5] al-Jurjani, Kitab al-Ta`rifat, p.46.

[6] al-Tabari, al-Jami` al-Bayan, vol.3, p.385.

[7] al-Baydawi, Anwar al-Tanzil, vol.3, p.68.

[8] Sh. A. Mahmud, al-Da`wah ila ’l-Islam, pp.65-66.

[9] The verse explicitly commands not to be divided as a nation. In any case, all the points above are some of the most important obligations (ra’s al-khayrat) in Islam. See I`rab al-Qur’an al-Karim wa Bayanuhu of Muhi al-Din al-Darwish, vol.2, p.13.


2 thoughts on “Part 1: “Establishing Political Parties…Unpacking 3:104”

  1. Pingback: A Tafsir of Surat al-Baqarah Verses 2-3 | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

  2. Pingback: “The Best Nation ever Raised up: A Tafsir of Qur’an 3:110″ | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

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