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What Is the Essence of An Islamic State?

22 March, 2017
Q Please give me an idea about the Islamic state: its policy and its laws. I need to know what is the difference between an Islamic state and non-Islamic state. What are the advantages of establishing an Islamic state and what are the disadvantages? Thank you.


Salam Alvin, 

Thank you for contacting About Islam with your questions. 

Let me first state that your questions need a lot of time and space to be properly conveyed because they encompass big topics of Islamic Jurisprudence.

To start, the words “Islamic state” refer to the state where the law and constitution are based on the guidance of Allah embedded in his revealed Book – the Quran – and the Sunnah (tradition) of His Prophet, Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. 

The Islamic state to my mind is not only of that kind; rather, it is a state where people act in accordance with the lofty teachings of Islam.

This commands kindness, mercy, justice, and love. In the desired Islamic state, all people are equal and stand on equal footing before the law of Allah which is enforced without any discrimination or partiality. 

An Islamic state is where everyone takes his rights and everyone is held responsible for his mistakes and is reckoned for them. And the ruler deals with his citizens as he or she is one of them, not taking advantage. In an Islamic state, there is freedom of expression and thinking. Such freedom is clothed with morality and respect. 

In the Islamic state, no one is in need because everyone is feeling the pain of his brother and fulfilling his need before he asks for it. We need to establish this state which would definitely establish justice among us. 

Muslims have been living under despotic rulers who suppressed them for ages; they need now to breathe the life of justice and freedom. However, they need to be qualified for such a state before they ask for it, they themselves need to establish justice and love each other. 

The Islamic State is necessary for the enforcement of the laws of Allah. Still, we should establish them among ourselves first. 

Rulers are just like their people and people follow the footsteps of their rulers. It was reported that Caliph Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, once stood in front of people instructing them about being honest regarding the public money. One of the people stood and said:

O Commander of the Faithful! You are the example of people. If you are dishonest, they will follow your example and if you are honest, they will follow your footsteps.

A juristic approach to the issue:

An Islamic state establish its laws on the decisive rulings of Shariah. No ruler is authorized to administer whatever changes he likes to such rulings.

Bearing this in mind, we can make it clear that an Islamic state cannot be classified as democratic, since democracy means that people can choose for themselves whatever laws or regulations to abide by. 

However, if we mean by democracy that people have the right to express themselves and choose their rulers, then there is nothing wrong in describing the Islamic state as being democratic in this sense, for in such a case, democracy will be compatible with the teachings of Islam.

Being given the name ‘Islam’, we cannot describe Islam as being communist or secularist or whatever. 

The eminent Muslim scholar, Dr. Abdel-Fattah Idrees, Professor of Comparative Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, states: 

Establishing an Islamic state is an individual duty (fard `ayn) upon all Muslims. Every Muslim is asked to take the proper measures – such as enjoining what is good and forbidding what is wrong, calling to the application of the Islamic Shariah, abiding by Islamic systems in transactions, etc. – that lead to the establishment of the Islamic State.

I hope my answer is satisfactory. 

Thank you again for your questions and please keep in touch. 


Please continue feeding your curiosity, and find more info in the following links:

Islamic Government: Presidential or Parliamentary?

Non-Muslims under Islamic State: Any Rights?

What Are the Distinctive Principles of the Islamic Economy?