Monday, February 5, 2007

Advice our modern muslim rulers could take to heart

It's funny where an internet rambling can take you.

Today, it started with the quiz "Which Arab Leader are you?"

My husband and I are both Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen by the way. Two peas in a pod, politics wonks to the end.

This lead to a discussion on different forms of economics and politics, which leads my husband talk about his favorite subject - islamic economics.

Which in turns leads to the topic of distribution of wealth.

Which leads to my husband mentioning the 5th rashidun caliph. I'm like, huh? There are 4. So, I get to learn about Caliph Umar ibn Abdel Aziz (717-720), who had some pretty cool ideas about equality of different races in the muslim ummah and the taxation system.

Finally, as I was attempting to google this Umar (there's not much out there on him online that I could find), I come across this gem from Imam al Ghazali from the Wikipedia's page on Caliph.

This is suppose to be from his "Nasihat al-Muluk" or "Advice for Kings," that he wrote to a seljuq caliph. I don't have the book to check for sure. If it's inaccurate, please let me know.

Every muslim in a leadership position should read this and take it to heart:

1. The ruler should understand the importance and danger of the authority entrusted to him. In authority there is great blessing, since he who exercises it righteously obtained unsurpassed happiness but if any ruler fails to do so he incurs torment surpassed only by the torment for unbelief.

2. The ruler should always be thirsting to meet devout religious scholars and ask them for advice.

3. The ruler should understand that he must not be content with personally refraining from injustice, but must discipline his slave-troops, servants, and officers and never tolerate unjust conduct by them; for he will be interrogated not only about his own unjust deeds but also about those of his staff.

4. The ruler should not be dominated by pride; for pride gives rise to the dominance of anger, and will impel him to revenge. Anger is the evil genius and blight of the intellect. If anger is becoming dominant it will be necessary for the ruler in all his affairs to bend his inclinations in the direction of forgiveness and make a habit of generosity and forbearance unless he is to be like the wild beasts.

5. In every situation that arises, the ruler should figure that he is the subject and the other person is the holder of authority. He should not sanction for others anything that he would not sanction for himself. For if he would do so he would be making fraudulent and treasonable use of the authority entrusted to him.

6. The ruler should not disregard the attendance of petitioners at his court and should beware of the danger of so doing. He should solve the grievances of the Muslims.

7. The ruler should not form a habit of indulging the passions. Although he might dress more finely or eat more sumptuously, he should be content with all that he has; for without contentment, just conduct will not be possible.

8. The ruler should make the utmost effort to behave gently and avoid governing harshly.

9. The ruler should endeavor to keep all the subjects pleased with him. The ruler should not let himself be so deluded by the praise he gets from any who approach him as to believe that all the subjects are pleased with him. On the contrary, such praise is entirely due to fear. He must therefore appoint trustworthy persons to carry on espionage and inquire about his standing among the people, so that he may be able to learn his faults from men’s tongues.

10. The ruler should not give satisfaction to any person if a contravention of God’s law would be required to please him for no harm will come from such a person’s displeasure.

Can you imagine what kind of world we would live in, if our muslim leaders would strive to enact even one of these pieces of advice? SubhanAllah!

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