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The Principles of State and Government in Islam Paperback – January 1, 1980
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About the Author
Muhammad Asad, born Leopard Weiss in the Polish city of Lvov in 1900, was the grandson of an orthodox Rabbi. By this early twenties he could write and read German, Franch and Polish languages. He took to journalism and travelled Middle East as the correspondent of 'Franfurter Zeitung' of Germany.
After his conversion to Islam, he again travelled and worked throughout the Muslim world, including Arabia, Iran, Jordan, North Africa and Pakistan, In 1953 he was appointed as Pakistan's plenipotentiary to the United Nations. He moved to Morocco where he completed his magnum opus, the 'Message of the Qur'an.' He later settled in Lisbon where he died on 20th February 1992.
Asad's other works include 'Islam at the Crossroads', 'Road to Mecca,' Principles of State and Government in Islam', and 'Sahih Bukhari: Early Years of Islam.'
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This book is a must for anyone who wants to get fundamental insights into Islamic statehood and lawmaking.
Asad writes clearly & concisely. His analysis offers a legitimate rationale for a democratic-republican constitution for an Islamic state that does not conflict with the over-riding principles of Islamic law.
For obvious reasons, Islamic societies are suspicious of Western powers efforts to persuade them to adopt Western models of governance. The Western models don't necessarily meet the needs or wants of these societies; there have been occasions in history when high-sounding Western rhetoric masked the raw power of imperial states that would not let the principles stand in the way of their own political goals.
Asad demonstrates how, consistent with the Quran & Sunna, an Islamic State could establish a strong executive, checked by a strong assembly and a strong constitutional court, borrowing mechanisms from different Western societies, to establish a government that is subordinate to a higher law but responsive to current social, economic & political conditions. This government could enact laws that do not conflict with the clear, undisputed commands & prohibitions of Islam, just as the earlier Islamic states could.
Asad demonstrates that consent of the governed and consultation of the legislative branch by the executive, as well as accountability of the executive to the Muslim population, were part of Islamic government under the Caliphate.
Asad does not purport to design a single, infallible constitution. Instead, he shows how Islamic principles can be applied to develop workable models of Islamic government that respect the voices of all citizens of the Islamic community. I would be interested in reading books that build on Asad's ideas & further develop the idea of establishing an Islamic polity that engages its population in the consultation process & that maintains checks & balances against potential abuses of power by a leader who chooses to lead his people away from their principles.
I think Islam's best hope of developing workable systems of self-government is to base their efforts on sound Islamic scholarship, rather than to uncritically adopt a Western system. I don't see anything wrong with an Islamic society borrowing forms & mechanisms from other societies, so long as the "tools" fit the needs of the Islamic society.
I think any Westerner who wants to "help" Islamic cultures build "rule of law" and "democratic governance" should start his preparation by reading this brief treatise. These concepts have deep roots in Muslim history.