Al Mawardi - Philosopher

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Life Sketch
Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Mawardi was born in Basrah. in 972 A.D.  He was educated at first in Basrah where, after completion of his basic education, he learned Fiqah (Islamic jurisprudence) from the jurist Abu al-Wahid al-Simari. He then went to Baghdad for advanced studies under Sheikh Abd al-Hamid and Abdallah al-Baqi. His proficiency in jurisprudence Ethics, Political science and literature proved useful in securing a respectable career for him. Al-Mawardi died in 1058 A.D.

After his initial appointment as Qazi (Judge), he was gradually promoted to higher offices, till he became the Chief Justice at Baghdad. The Abbasid Caliph al-Qaim bi Amr Allah appointed him as his roving ambassador and sent him to a number of countries as the head of special missions. In this capacity he played a key role in establishing harmonious relations between the declining Abbasid Caliphate and the rising powers of Buwahids and Seljukes. He was favored with rich gifts and tributes by most Sultans of the time. He was still in Baghdad when it was taken over by Buwahids.

Al-Mawardi was a great jurist, mohaddith, sociologist and an expert in Political Science. He was a jurist in the school of Fiqh and his book Al-Hawi on the principles of jurisprudence is held in high repute.

His contribution in political science and sociology comprises of a number of monumental books, the most famous of which are;

Al-Ahkam al-Sultania w'al-Wilayat al-Diniyya (The Ordinances of Government) Qanun al-Wazarah (Laws regarding the Ministers)
Kitab Nasihat al-Mulk (The Book of Sincere Advice to Rulers) Kitab Aadab al-Dunya w'al-Din (The Ethics of Religion and of this World) Kitab Aadab al-Dunya wa al-Di

The books discuss the principles of political science, with special reference to the functions and duties of the caliphs, the chief minister, other ministers, relationships between various elements of public and government and measures to strengthen the government and ensure victory in war. Two of these books, al-Ahkam al-Sultania and Qanun al-Wazarah have been published and also translated into various languages. He is considered as being the author/supporter of the 'Doctrine of ' Necessity' in political science. He was thus in favor of a strong caliphate and discouraged unlimited powers delegated to the Governors, which tended to create chaos. On the other hand, he has laid down clear principles for election of the caliph and qualities of the voters, chief among which are attainment of a degree of intellectual level and purity of character.


Al Mawardi’s book Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah, which means the Islamic laws of Governance, was written between 1045 and 1058 AD. Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah is the first book by a Muslim scholar on the Islamic Classical Theory of State. This book is considered to be so comprehensive that it is the most cited book on Modern Political Studies in Islam. Moreover, Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah has also been adopted by numerous contemporary political movements calling for the reestablishment of the Caliphate. One such organization is Hizbut Tahrir, an international Muslim organization calling for the implementation of Caliphate in the Muslim world.

The book talks about some very important issues facing the Muslim State at the time of Al Mawardi. Firstly, it talks about the dichotomy of power between the Caliph and Emir. According to Al Mawardi, the Caliph had authority over religious issues whereas the Emir was to govern issues relating to civic management. It is important to note that at the time of writing, the strength of the Abbasid Caliphate was on the decline. He "was monarch legally, but at a time when real power was in the hands of others". Al Mawardi considered the need to strengthen the Caliphate was a religious...
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