Flawed debatek

Zameer Ahmad

The great non sequitur committed by defenders of the State, including classical Aristotelian and Thomist philosophers, is to leap from the necessity of society to the necessity of the State – Murray N. Rothbard (1926-1995).
The debate on the necessity of state or its superfluosness has been going on since ages. Political philosophers, influenced by the geo-political circumstances of their times, have held views for or against the institution of state as opposed to that of the society. In the Muslim world this debate is relatively new. The advent of Islam under the prophetic leadership of the Messenger of Allah (SAW) saw the emergence of the Islamic society and the Islamic state almost simultaneously. Orientalist thinker R. Bosworth Smith, commenting upon the personality of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, He was “Head of the State as well as the Church. He was Caesar and pope in one. Pope without Pope’s pretensions, Caesar without legions of Caesar: without a standing army, without a bodyguard, without a palace, without a fixed revenue. If ever any man had the right to say that he ruled by the right divine, it was Muhammad, for he had all the power without its instruments and without its supports. He cared not for dressing of power. The simplicity of his private life was in keeping with his public life.”
The centrality of state in day-to-day affairs of Muslims remained, though in muted forms, until the downfall of the Turkish empire in early twentieth century. No wonder then, that the commander of the British forces after the balkanisation of the vast Muslim empire went to the grave of the legendary Sultan Salahuddin Ayoubi to announce that the defeat of the crusades had been avenged.
It was only after the downfall of caliphate that Muslim scholars in different parts of the world started conceptualising the essence of the state in Islam. Notable among those were Maulana Abu Ala Moudoodi and Sir Allama Iqbal from Indian sub-continent and Syed Qutub of Egypt. Their ideas and voluminous works shaped the minds of hundreds of thousands of Muslim men and women all over the world. Their ideas gave rise to many democratic movements in various countries. Though these movements could not achieve much politically but these became a major influence on all thought processes in the Muslim world.
Now that America after having burnt its fingers in Iraq and Afghanistan, is trying to wriggle out its self-created cauldrons, some fence sitters in the garb of intellectualism are trying to give legitimacy to the US’s misadventures in their own naive ways. Whatever is happening in the Muslim world especially in Pakistan is all before us. What is hidden from our eyes is the intense power play of the major world powers wherein Muslims are becoming mere cannon-fodder. Linking the emergence of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or the recent spate of suicide bombing in Pakistan to teachings of Allama Iqbal or Maulana Moudoodi is inconsequential intellectualism at its best. We are even being told that revisiting the ideologies and philosophies of Allama Iqbal and his ilk will stop suicide bombings and lysosomic terror attacks. There is no harm in revisiting Iqbal and Moudoodi. There is no harm even in criticising their treatises. Though the towering intellectuals they were, they were, but, products of their own times. Their thinking influenced by the circumstances they lived in. But revisiting Iqbal or Moudoodi to attain world peace is simply far fetched. This discourse, indirectly, gives legitimacy to US actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Israeli behaviour in Palestine. And it is not helping the Muslim world a bit.


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