The Quran about the state
It is generally believed that the state is an organized society that has management mechanisms, has the right to coercion, and establishes a legal order in a certain territory. Although there is no single and universally recognized definition of the concept of “the state” in science and in international law, this meaning can be found in the text of the Quran.
In the Quran there is no special term as “the state”. The Quran uses the words: “ard” – “earth” and “balyad” – “country.” However, in order to understand the main meaning of the existence of the society of people on earth (in the country) in the Quran, there is the Arabian root “malyaka“, meaning – to rule, to own, and to govern. From that word the word “malik” is originated, which is translated as “a king”, the one who rules, the one who owns, the one who governs.
The bottom line is that any society (nation) is governed by someone, and therefore has a certain hierarchy. The presence of hierarchy in the society of people is the law of God:
And it is He who has made you successors upon the earth. He has raised some of you above others in degrees that He may try you through what He has given you! Indeed, your Lord is swift in penalty; but indeed, He is Forgiving and Merciful! (6:165)
Do they distribute the mercy of your Lord? It is We who have apportioned among them their livelihood in the life of this world. We have raised some of them above others in degrees that they may make use of one another for service. But the mercy of your Lord is better than whatever they accumulate! (43:32)
Here is an illustrative example of the fact that the organization of people corresponds in essence to the organization of animals, which is inconceivable without a hierarchy. People are created different to perform different functions. In this sense, believers in One God are no exception. Moreover, believers are prescribed to be obedient.
O you who have believed! Obey God and obey the messenger and those in authority among you! And if you disagree over anything, refer it to God and the messenger, if you believe God and the last day. That is the better and greater in interpretation! (4:59)
As it can be seen, the principle of hierarchical management in society is prescribed by God. Of course, the forms of management vary depending on economic conditions, but the essence is always the same – the vertical of power.
According to the Quran, the most optimal form of government is one-man management. Earlier in the most cases it was a ruling of the king:
And their prophet said to them, “Indeed, God has sent to you Talut (Saul) as a king!”
They said, “How can he have kingship over us? We are more entitled to kingship than him. He has not been given any aspiration to wealth!”
He said, “Indeed, God has chosen him over you and has increased him abundantly in knowledge and stature. God gives kingship from Himself to whom He wills. And God is all-Encompassing, Knowing.” (2:247)
Now it can be the president, if he has not been limited in authority.
Now there is next question, are the government and people in management pleasing to God or not?
Have you not considered the one who argued with Ibrahim (Abraham) about his Lord because God had given him kingship!
When Ibrahim (Abraham) said,
“My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death,”
He replied, “I give life and cause death.”
Ibrahim (Abraham) said,
“Indeed, God brings up the sun from the east. So bring it up from the west!” So the one who closed himself was overwhelmed. God does not guide the obscurantists! (2:258)
This example gives an unambiguous answer – any kingship is from God. We cannot say that if the head of state does not believe in the One God, then such kingship is not legitimate before God. We are clearly shown that the kingship even to such a person is given by God:
Say, “O God, Owner of kingship!
You give kingship to whom You will and You take kingship away from whom You will!
You honor whom You will and You humiliate whom You will!
In Your hand is good!
Indeed, You are over all things competent! (3:26)
Of course, we should not be a silent “animal”, meekly standing when we are being cut, but to call for the overthrow of power, motivated by religious dogma or ideological slogans, is also wrong. The only criterion of resistance to kingship is the condition of the nation:
So let those fight in the way of God who sell the life of this world for the hereafter!
And he who fights in the way of God and is killed or achieves victory – We will bestow upon him a great reward! So why do not fight in the way of God for the weak men, women, and children who say, “Our Lord, take us out of this city of obscurantists! Appoint for us from Yourself a patron and appoint for us from Yourself a helper!”
Those who believe fight in the way of God, and those who closed fight in the way of transgression. So fight against the patrons of disobedient, indeed, the intrigue of disobedient is weak! (4:74-76)
If the government is tyrannical and leads the nation to despair, then in this case, as we see, God allows the armed resistance of the authorities. After all, justice and balanced attitude to people are prescribed by God, and violation of these postulates is a violation of God’s laws:
Say, “My Lord has ordered balance … (7:29)
The laws of God in their essence are socially directed, as can be seen from the attitude towards orphans:
And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity! And give full measure and weight in balance! We do not burden any personality except its capacity! When you speak, be just, even if it is a near relative! Fulfil taken obligation before God!
This is His testament for you that you may take thought! (6:152)
The principles of balance and justice must extend absolutely to all people:
O you who have believed! Be persistently standing firm in balance, witnesses before God, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives, whether one is rich or poor, God is near to both. So follow not passions, lest you not be just. And if you distort or refrain, then indeed God is ever, with what you do, Acquainted! (4:135)
…And when you speak, be just, even if it is a near relative! Fulfil taken obligation before God! This is His testament for you that you may take thought! (6:152)
Indeed, God orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives. He detains from excessiveness, hated and criminal. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded! (16:90)
What is very important, the principles of justice and balance must be strictly observed in the judicial process:
… And if you judge, judge between them with balance. Indeed, God loves those who act in balance. (5:42)
O you who have believed! Be persistently standing firm for God, balanced witnesses, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just, that is nearer to circumspectness. Beware of God! Indeed, God is Acquainted with what you do! (5:8)
They are avid listeners to falsehood, devourers of unlawful. So if they come to you, judge between them or turn away from them. And if you turn away from them – never will they harm you at all. And if you judge, judge between them with balance. Indeed, God loves those who act in balance! (5:42)
Indeed, God commands you to render trusts to whom they are due and when you judge between people to judge with justice. Excellent is that God admonishes you! Indeed, God is ever Hearing and Seeing. (4:58)
In trade, the principles of balance and justice must also be observed:
O my people! Give full measure and weight in balance! Do not deprive the people of their due and do not commit an evil on the earth, spreading corruption. (11:85)
Give full measure when you measure, and weigh in balance. That is the best! This is the best explanation! (17:35)
Weigh in balance. (26:182)
O you who have believed! When you contract a debt for a specified term, write it down. And let a scribe write between you in justice to both… (2:282)
In the Quran, God condemns acts of corruption, in particular bribes to officials:
And do not consume one another’s wealth in vainness! Do not send it to the rulers in order that you consume a portion of the wealth of the people in sin, while you know. (2:188)
Economics, according to the Quran, should not be percentage-speculative. Unjustified growth of money is unequivocally blamed by God:
O you who have believed! Beware of God and give up what remains of usury, if you should be believers! (2:278)
O you who have believed! Do not consume usury, doubled and multiplied, but beware of God that you may be successful! (3:130)
For wrongdoing on the part of the Jews, We made unlawful for them pleasant things which had been lawful to them, and for their averting from the way of God many, for their taking of usury while they had been forbidden from it, and their consuming of the people’s wealth in vainness. And we have prepared for the closed among them a painful punishment. (4:161)
Those who feed at the expense of usury will not exist, except as the one whom disobedient struck by insanity. That is because they say, “Indeed, trade is like usury.” But God has permitted trade and has forbidden usury.
So whoever has received an admonition from his Lord and desists may have what is past, and his affair rests with God. But whoever returns – those are the companions of the fire, they will abide therein. (2:275)
God destroys usury and gives increase for charities. And God does not like every closed sinner! (2:276)
And whatever you give for usury to increase within the wealth of people will not increase with God. But what you give for purifying expenditure, desiring the countenance of God – those are the multipliers! (30:39)
In Islam there are such concepts as “zakah” and “sadaka.” These financial actions are aimed at improving the social status in society:
And give the relative his right, and the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully. Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the disobedient, and ever has disobedient been to his Lord closed. (17:26-27)
O you who have believed! Spend from the good things which you have earned and from that which We have produced for you from the earth. And do not aim toward the defective therefrom, spending while you would not take it yourself except with closed eyes. And know that God is Rich, Praiseworthy! (2:267)
They ask you, what they should spend.
Say, “Whatever you spend of good is for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and the traveler. And whatever you do of good – indeed, God is Knowing of it.” (2:215)
Purifying expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those who collect them and for those bringing hearts together and for deprived and for those bearing losses on the way of God and for the traveler – an obligation by God. And God is Knowing and Wise. (9:60)
And now let’s think who in our time spends money on the listed category of people in the state? The state itself is. What is collected once in a mosque or in other religious institutes does not really embrace even a small part of the people. The state, through the taxation system, redistributes the finances to: pensioners, orphans, invalids, various kinds of concessionaries, education, medicine, etc. If we think about it, our taxes are the same “zakat” and “sadaqa”, directly going to the needy. After all, taxes are deducted from our income and salaries, so our earned money goes to payments to socially needy people.
The country’s defence capacity is also regulated by the state. It should not be aggressive, but more aimed at containing encroachments on the country’s security:
Fight in the way of God those who fight you but do not transgress. Indeed, God does not like transgressors. And kill them wherever you overtake them and expel them from wherever they have expelled you. Distemper is worse than killing. And do not fight them at the forbidden for battles place for earthly worship until they fight you there. But if they fight you, then kill them. Such is the recompense of the closed. And if they cease, then indeed, God is Forgiving and Merciful.
Fight them until there is no temptation to distemper, but there is an obligation before God. But if they cease, then there is to be no aggression except against the obscurantists!
The sacred month is the sacred month, but for violations is legal retribution. So whoever has assaulted you, then assault him in the same way that he has assaulted you. Beware of God and know that God is with those who are circumspect! (2:190-194)
And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of God and your enemy and others besides them. Whom you do not know whom God knows!… (8:60)
Of course, unity cannot be without a team. The presence of the team involves a meeting among themselves, because any decision should be thought through:
So by mercy from God, you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon God. Indeed, God loves those who rely! (3:159)
As can be seen from the above excerpts of the Quran, the state is pleasing to God, moreover, the power in such a state is from God. But appeals to overthrow the power by some religious radicals or the opposition have no basis from God. Moreover, if we look in the Quran there is no precedent for any messenger calling for the overthrow of power. And the example of Joseph (Yusuf) shows that even a righteous (messenger) can work under the guidance of a polytheist (pharaoh), work in such a state and on such a state.
I do not presume to judge about other countries, but from the position of the Quran, our state Kazakhstan fulfils the prescriptions of the Quran. Of course, we as citizens have the right to criticize these or other errors, but we should not simply criticize but offer an alternative, show the ways of correction and, most importantly, to correspond to our own wishes. It’s not a secret that we often offer bribes, we turn a blind eye to theft, and we ourselves participate in the illegal acquisition of property.