Islamic Law

Part 2: “Establishing Political Parties…Description of the Groups”

Muqaddimat al-Dastur

Part 2: The Description of Political Parties (ahzab siyasiyyah)

  • In Part 1, the evidential basis for establishing groups and parties was discussed.
  • In Part 2, the work that characterises the group or party will be explained.
  • In the Constitution of the Islamic State it declares:

Article No 21: ‘As for this group that is to be established as mentioned in the verse and for it to be political, the evidence for that rests on two matters: [1] firstly that Allah did not request in this verse that the Muslims carry out the da`wah to the Khayr [s: i.e. Islam] and to enjoin the ma`ruf and forbid the munkar; rather the requested in the verse was to establish a group (jama`ah) which will carry out the two aforementioned actions. So, the request is not to carry out the two actions but rather to establish a group that will carry them out and so the order extends to or exerts itself over the establishment of a group and not over carrying out the two actions. The two actions are the explanation or clarification (bayan) of the group’s work whose creation is requested and the two actions are not in and of themselves the matter requested; they are rather the specific characteristics for the type of group whose creation is requested.

In order for this group to be a group which is able to undertake the action in its characteristic as a group, it is necessary that it possess specific things in order to be and remain a group while undertaking the action. In order for the group to gain this characteristic which came in the verse – and that is a group that undertakes the two actions – it is imperative that it possesses what brings it about as a group and keeps it as one while it carries out its work. What makes it a group is the presence of a bond (rabitah) that binds together its members such that they become a single body (jisman wahidan), that is, a bloc (kutlah). Without the presence of this bond the group whose creation is requested, in other words a group which works according to its characteristic as a group, would not be possible. What keeps the group as a group while it is working, is the presence of a leader (amir) to whom obedience is obligatory. That is because the Shari`ah ordered that every group of three and more must appoint an amir. The Prophet (upon him be peace) said: ‘It is not permitted for three in an open space upon the Earth not to appoint one of themselves as their amir.’[1] It was reported by Ahmad through `Abd Allah b. `Amru. It is also because abandoning obedience removes one from the group. He (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said in an agreed upon narration with this wording from Muslim: ‘Whoever sees something from his Amir that he hates then let him be patient since the one who separates from the group by a hand-span and then dies, the death is one of jahiliyyah; so he made separating (khuruj) from the amir tantamount to separation from the group. Therefore the matter that keeps the group as a group while it is carrying out its work is the obedience to the amir of the group. And thus two characteristics are necessary in order to bring about the group which will carry out the two actions while it is a group and they are: the presence of a bond within the group and the presence of an amir to whom obedience is obligatory. These two indicate that His (Most High) words, {وَلْتَكُن مّنْكُمْ أُمَّةٌ}/{And let there be groups from among you} means: ‘and bring about from among yourselves a group which has a bond which binds its members together and an amir to whom obedience is obligatory.’ And this is the bloc (kutlah) or the party (hizb) or the association (jam`iyyah) or the organization (munazzamah) or any other name which is applied to the group that fulfils [everything] that makes it a group and remains as a group while it is carrying out its work. And with that it becomes apparent that the verse is an order to bring about groups or associations or organizations or whatever resembles them.

As for the reality that this order [s: in the verse] is an order to bring about political parties (ahzab siyasiyyah), this is because the order is a request to bring about a specific group by specifying the action that it will carry out and not simply any group. The verse has explained the action that the group will carry out in its characteristic as a group and this explanation thus identified the type of group whose creation was requested. In other words, it identified the type of association whose creation was requested. Because the verse mentioned [s: in meaning], {To bring about from the Muslims an association that calls to the good and enjoins the ma`ruf and forbids the munkar}, this becomes a description or characteristic for this association, and it is a defined characteristic (wasf muhaddad); so the association that meets this characteristic is the one which is obligatory to be brought about and anything else is not obligatory. As for the call to the Good (al-khayr), i.e. the da’wah to Islam, then it is possible for an association (jam`iyyah) to carry it out, or for a party (hizb) or an organization (munazzamah) to carry it out. However, enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar which came in a general form, is an action which can only be carried out by a political party because it encompasses the ordering of the rulers by the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar. In fact, this is the most important action from enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar and it is included in this verse because it came in a general form {and enjoin the ma`ruf and forbid the munkar}. The letters alif and lam [s: which constitute the definite article al-/ٱلْ although the alif is merely prosthetic] represent the genus (jins) which is from the forms of generality. This action is from the most important acts of the political party and is what gives the political aspect to the party or association or organization and makes it a political party or a political association or a political organization. And since this action, i.e. the ordering of the rulers with the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar, is from the most important acts of enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar, and since enjoining ma`ruf and forbidding munkar is one of the two requested actions in the verse which are to be the actions of the group that must be created, the order in the verse is related to a specific group and that is the group whose work involves the da’wah to Islam, the ordering of the rulers with the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar as well as commanding the rest of the people likewise with the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar.

This is the group whose establishment Allah (Most High) made obligatory upon the Muslims, in other words it fulfils all of these characteristics found in the verse that describes it. The group which has this characteristic is the political party. It cannot be argued that the creation of a group which calls to Islam and commands the people with the ma`ruf and forbids them from the munkar and does not confront the rulers is sufficient to fulfill this obligation. That cannot be argued since the fulfilment of the obligation does not occur unless the group which the Muslims brought about fulfils all of its characteristics. In other words it fulfils enjoining of the ma`ruf and the forbidding of the munkar alongside the da’wah to the Good, since the conjunction (`atf) in the verse came with the letter waw/و/‘and’ which indicates musharakah (‘association’), and because the words to order the ma`ruf and forbid the munkar  came in a general meaning with a form from that of generality, therefore it has to remain upon its generality and its generality has to be fulfilled. So the obligation cannot be established unless the work of the group in enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar was general, as it came in the verse, with no exceptions made. So if the ordering the rulers with ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar is excluded, in other words if the political actions are excluded, then the group requested in the verse is not [s: in effect] present and this group would not the one requested by the verse because it excluded an important action from the enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar and the verse came in its generality and so this characteristic is not complete unless the ordering of the rulers with the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar is part of the group’s actions. For this reason, the obligation as mentioned in the verse is not fulfilled except by the establishment of a political group, in other words a political party or association or organization; that is, the group which carries out enjoining the ma`ruf and forbidding the munkar in general without excluding anything from it and this is not found except in a political party or association or something that resembles them.

Based on this, Allah has ordered in this verse [s: Q. 3:104] the establishment of political parties that will carry out the work of the Islamic da’wah, accounting the rulers by enjoining them with the ma`ruf and forbidding them from the munkar as well as commanding the rest of the people with ma`ruf and forbidding them from munkar. This is the angle of deduction from this verse as an evidence for this article of the constitution.

It cannot be argued that this verse says ‘ummah/أُمَّةٌ’ in other words ‘a single party’ and that this means the absence of multiple parties. This cannot be argued because the verse did not say ‘one group’ (ummah wahidah); it did not mention one group but rather it said ‘ummah’ in the indefinite form (sighat al-tankir) and without any description. That means to establish a group is obligatory. If a single group was established then the obligation has been met but it does not prohibit the establishment of multiple groups or multiple blocs. Carrying out of the obligation of sufficiency (fard kifayah) by one, in which one is enough to carry it out, does not prohibit other than that one to carry out this obligation. And the word ‘group’ here is the name of a genus; in other words the word ‘group’ is used and what is intended by it is the genus and not the single word (mufrad). Allah (Most High) said: {You are the best ummah raised for mankind}[2] and what is intended is the genus (jins). And comparable to that are the words of the Messenger: ‘Whoever from you sees a munkar then he should [s: attempt to] change it’[3] reported by Muslim through Abu Sa`id al-Khudri. So the intent is not a single munkar [s: that has to be changed] but the genus of munkar, and there are many similar examples. So it holds true upon the single unit from the genus, and also upon multiple units from that genus.[4]

It is therefore permitted that a single party exist in the ummah and it is also permitted that several parties exist. But if a single party is present, then the obligation of sufficiency has been met if that party carried out the required actions in the verse. However, this does not prevent the establishment of other parties, since the establishment of the political party is an obligation of sufficiency upon the Muslims, so if one party is established and others want to bring about a second party in other words to carry out that obligation it is not permitted for them to be prevented, since this would be prevention from carrying out an obligation, which is prohibited. Also, it is not permitted to prevent the establishment of multiple political parties. This only applies to those political parties that are established upon what the verse mentioned which is the call to the Good, the enjoining of the ma`ruf and the prohibiting of the munkar which encompasses the rulers and accounting them. As for anything else, then it has to be considered: if the group was established to carry out something prohibited such as the call to nationalism, or to spread un-Islamic ideas, or similar things, then the establishment of such structured groups or blocs would be prohibited and will be prevented by the State, with each participant being punished. If they were not established to carry out something prohibited, such as to carry out something permitted, then what is established upon a permitted basis would be permitted. However, it would not be considered establishing the obligation that Allah obligated in the text of this verse unless it was a political party which had all the characteristics mentioned in the verse.

If carrying out the obligation does not require the permission of the ruler (idhin al-hakim), then to make the fulfillment of that obligation reliant upon the permission of the ruler would be something prohibited and so therefore the establishment of political parties and their creation does not require a permit…”[5]



  • The command in the verse is primarily to establish groups, parties organisations and associations based on Islam and secondarily that the work that characterises these structures is that they:

[1] Call to all of Islam not a part of it (e.g. only prayer, rituals, etc) and

[2] Commanding right (ma`ruf) and preventing wrong (munkar).

  • The reality of the verse is essentially a discussion about two aspects:

[1] The nature of the group and

[2] The description of its work.

  • If the request to establish groups, parties organisations and associations based on Islam is decisive (talab jazim; i.e. an obligation as discussed in Part 1) and the actions required of them involve engaging in commanding right and forbidding wrong, then in order to fulfil these requirements of the obligation two matters are necessary:

[1] That there should a bond between the members of the party, group, organisation and association and

[2] There be an amir (‘leader’, ‘head’ and ‘chief’, ‘conductor’) of that party, group, organisation and association who must be obeyed. These two matters are required for it to function properly and to achieve the aim it is created for.

  • Thus, if there is no proper coherence, bond or relationship binding the members within a unit or no-one to steer the members in a unified direction with obedience and allegiance from all members, then the function and aim would not be realised.

Why political parties specifically?

  • Answer: The major or defining part or action of commanding right and forbidding wrong involves the sphere of ruling, i.e. the ambit and parameter of the duty extends to the rulers (hukkam) which is the political class. Hence, the group must be engaged in political work.[6]
  • Monitoring those in authority as well as accounting the Imam/Khalifah/Sultan, the governors (wali), mayors (`amil) or ministers (wuzara’) are both political actions.[7] This would entail that establishing groups and parties based on Islam in response to the verse would require it to be political otherwise it would not be fulfilling the designated description of it given in the verse by Allah.[8]
  • Moreover, in the classical usage of the Arabic language the verbs amr and nahy (‘commanding and forbidding’) in conjunction mean ‘political administration’ or ‘governance’. It is stated in the Qamus al-Muhit of al-Fayruz Abadi (d.818/c.1414):

سست الرعية سياسة اي امرتها ونهيتها

“I governed the people (sustu ’l-ra`iyyah) meaning ‘I commanded them and forbade them’ (amartu-ha wa nahaytu-ha)…”[9] Therefore amr bi ’l-ma`ruf wa ’l-nahy `an al-munkar is political.

  • The permission (tarkhis) of the ruler, i.e. a permit, registered license or official declaration is not necessary to form parties or groups because the duty of commanding ma`ruf and forbidding munkar is not conditional on anyone’s permission like the Prayer, Fasting, Hajj, Zakat, etc. and all acts of worship which are not conditional on a government’s permission unless the text specifies that. In this regard, Imam al-Ghazali (d.505/1111) writes:

وهذا الإشتراط فاسد فإن الآيات والاخبار التي اوردناها تدل على أن كل من رأى منكرا فسكت عليه عصى إذ يجب نهيه اينما رآه وكيفما رآه على العموم فالتخصيص بشرط التفويض من الإمام تحكم لا أصل له

“This is not a valid condition. Many verses and reports that we have mentioned indicate that whoever sees a munkar and is silent over it has disobeyed Allah because it is mandatory to prevent it in general and in whatever way possible. To specify [s: the permission] as being conditional on official permission (tafwid) from the Imam has no basis whatsoever…”[10]

  • Imam al-Ghazali then continues stating that:

فإذا جاز الحكم على الإمام على مراغمته فكيف يحتاج إلى إذنه  […] واستمرار عادات السلف على الحسبة على الولاة قاطع بإجماعهم على الاستغناء عن التفويض بل كل من أمر بمعروف فإن كان الوالي راضيا به فذاك وإن كان ساخطا له فسخطه له منكر يجب الإنكار عليه فكيف يحتاج إلى اذنه

“If the ruler himself is censured as part of his duty, how can his permission be needed? […] it was the continuous tradition of the salaf to account the rulers and this is a definite consensus of dispensing with the official permission [s: to perform the duty]. Moreover, whoever commands the ma`ruf and the ruler is pleased with him, then so be it but if he is displeased with it, then his displeasure is a munkar which must be brought to account and if this is so then how can his permission be sought?”[11]

  • Imam al-Taftazani (d.792/1389) writes:

كان المسلمون في صدر الأول و بعده يأمرون الولاة بالمعروف و ينهونهم عن المنكر من غير نكير من أحد و لا توقيف على إذن … فعلم أنه لا تختص بالولاة بل يجوز لآحاد الرعية بالقول والفعل…

“The Muslims in the early period of Islam and afterwards would command the right and forbid wrong to the rulers and were not met with any opposition from anyone. Nor were they in need of any permission […] what is learnt from this is that the duty is not specific to the rulers but to every citizen whether by word or action…”[12]

  • The word {ummah/أُمَّة} in the verse cannot be read as referring to only ‘one group’ because no such numerical qualification has been mentioned. Moreover, due to the indefinite form (nakirah) of the word, it would indicate any number of groups, parties, associations and organisations and not one specific group.
  • If groups were to be established based on Islam in order to generally undertake permissible or good actions, but did not undertake any political actions, then this would be permitted but it would not be fulfilling the request in the verse because it would not fit the specific description delineated in the verse.

And with Allah is all Success.


London 2012.

[1] Ahmad, al-Musnad, 10/134.

[2] Q. 3:110.

[3] Muslim, Sahih (#1849).

[4] Sh. Ahmad Mahmud, al-Da`wah ila ’l-Islam, p.67.

[5] See Muqaddimat al-Dastur, pp.105-109, art.21.

[6] Mahmud, al-Da`wah ila ’l-Islam, p.67.

[7] Ibid, p.67.

[8] Ibid, pp.66-67.

[9] al-Fayruz Abadi, al-Qamus al-Muhit, s.v.

[10] al-Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, vol.2, p.276.

[11] al-Ghazali, Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din, vol.2, p.277.

[12] al-Taftazani, Sharh al-Maqasid, vol.2, p.180.

One thought on “Part 2: “Establishing Political Parties…Description of the Groups”

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

Why not leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s