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POLITICAL POWER: A RESPONSIBILITY

Solomon, an Israelite prophet as well as a king, was the ruler of Palestine and Syria. While engaged in trying to win over the Queen of Sheba in both the political and religious sense, he asked for the throne of the Queen of Sheba to be brought to him. The queen and her throne were hundreds of miles away at that time, but because he had been endowed with special powers, he expected his order to have immediate effect. The Qur’an refers to how Solomon responded to his order being instantly complied with within the chapter Al-Naml (The Ants) of the Qur’an. The relevant verse is as follows: But one of them who had some knowledge of the Book said, ‘I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye.’ When Solomon saw it placed before him, he exclaimed, ‘This is by the grace of my Lord, to test whether I am grateful or ungrateful. Whosoever is grateful, it is for the good of his own self, and whosoever is ungrateful, then surely my Lord is self-sufficient and generous.’ (27:40)

This verse illustrates the Qur’anic concept of political power, i.e. it is not a kind of a worldly blessing; it is a test set by God. Just as everything that one possesses in this world is a test paper, so also is political power a test paper. God Almighty is constantly watching the behavior of the ruler to ascertain whether he is just or unjust in performing his duties. A king is accountable before God just as the common man is.

According to this Qur’anic concept, political power is a responsibility rather than any kind of blessing. The possession of political power does not mean that a ruler is a superior person, that the ruler is the master of his subjects, or that the ruler is great and others are not great. The ruler will be presented—just like all other human beings—before God on the Day of Judgement. This concept of the political rule makes the ruler extremely serious in his official dealings. He must consider himself to be the servant of God and, as such, has no option but to follow the divine principles. The ruler is inherently bound to be modest and a well-wisher of all of his subjects. He has to accept the fact that he is not supreme. Only God Almighty is supreme and it is for the ruler to obey His orders. This means that the ruler is compelled to adopt a culture of simplicity rather than a royal culture in his way of life. He has no time for royal entertainment. He is not allowed to impose his whims as the law of the land. He has only one option and that is to obey God’s commandments. Otherwise, he should step down from his throne.

The possession of political power does not mean that a ruler is a superior person, that the ruler is the master of his subjects, or that the ruler is great and others are not great. For the exemplary ruler, the rule is not a source of pride, the rule is not a source of superiority, the rule is not a mandate to become the master of the people. For him, the rule is simply a service to his people and nothing beyond that.

According to this concept, a ruler is the head of an administration. He is a manager of his nation and not the nation’s overlord. He has no right to exploit the people and he cannot consider his territory to be his property, but rather, it has been bestowed to him by God for the service of his people.

President

The divine scriptures are God’s beacons to the world. Surely God offered His trust to the heavens and the earth, and the hills, but they shrank from bearing it and were afraid of it. And man undertook it.
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