Islam is a religion that has existed for over fourteen centuries, in many different countries. As such, diverse political movements in many different contexts have used the banner of Islam to lend legitimacy to their causes. Islam has had a significant impact on world history, not only as a major religion that has directed the personal beliefs and actions of individuals, but also as the basis of a distinct system of government that has developed its own institutions, practices and philosophies. By Political thought is meant, broadly, the study and interpretation of Islamic political culture, ideas, beliefs, and institutions; the contribution of key political theorists and authorities to the understanding or practice of governance; what people and groups believed about political authority and institutions and their political convictions; and how politics in the Islamic world has related to and interacted with other disciplines, such as religion, law, ethics, and philosophy.
Two points on the political thoughts of Islam
1. the Muslim commonwealth is based on the absolute equality of all Muslims in the eyes of the law. There is no privileged class, no priesthood, no caste system. The Law of Islam does not recognize the apparently natural differences of race, nor the historical differences of nationality. The political ideal of Islam consists in the creation of a people born of a free fusion of all races and nationalities. Nationality with Islam is not the highest limit of political development; for the general principle of the law of Islam rest on human nature, and not on the peculiarities of a particular people. The inner cohesion of such a nation would consist not in ethnic or geographic unity, nor in the unity of language or social tradition, but in the unity of the religious and political ideal. 2. according to the law of islam there is no distinction between the Church and the State. The State with us is not a combination of religious and secular authority, but it is a unity in which no such distinction exists. The Caliph is not necessarily the high-priest of Islam; he is not the representative of God on earth. He is fallible like other men and is subject like every Muslim to the impersonal authority of the same law.
The Sunni View of The Caliphate
During the days of the early Caliphate things were extremely simple. The Caliphs were like private individuals, sometimes doing the work of an ordinary constable. they always consulted the more influential companions of the Prophet in judicial and executive matters, but no formal ministers existed to assist the Caliph in his administrative work. It was not until the time of the House of Abbas that theCaliphate became the subject of scientific treatment. Al-Mawardy divides the whole Muslim community into two classes: (a) the electors, (b) the candidates for election. The qualifications absolutely necessary for a
candidate are thus enumerated by him:
(1) Spotless character.
(2) Freedom from physical and mental infirmity. The predecessor of the present Sultan of Turkey was deposed under this condition. (3) Necessary legal and theological knowledge in
order to be able to decide various cases. This is true
in theory; in practice the power of the Caliph,
especially in later times,was divided.
(4) Insight necessary for a ruler.
(5) Relationship with the family of Quraysh. This qualification is NOT regarded as indispensable by modern Sunni lawyers on the ground that the Prophet never nominated any person as his successor. (6) Full Age (al-Ghazali). It was on this ground that the Chief Judge refused to elect al- Muqtadir. (7) Male Sex (al-Baidawi). This is denied by the Khawarij who hold that a woman can also be elected as Caliph.
If the candidate satisfies these conditions, the representatives of all influential families, doctors of law, high officials of the State, and commanders of the...