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Muslim Loyalty to Non-Muslim Governments

Posted by paulipoldie on August 1, 2010

From: The Religion of Peace
Can Muslim citizens be loyal to a non-Muslim government?

Summary Answer:Many Muslims are loyal to the non-Muslim countries in which they live, of course, but it is in spite of Islamic teaching.  Unlike other faiths, Islam is not just a religion but a political system as well.  The state is intended to be inseparable from religious rule.  Islamic law, or Sharia, is complete and not designed to coexist with or be subordinate to other legal systems.

Muslims are not meant to be ruled by non-Muslims.  The Qur’an is very clear that they are to resist unbelievers by any means until Islam establishes political supremacy.  This doesn’t mean that everyone must be forced to become Muslim, but rather that everyone must submit to Muslim rule.

The Qur’an:
Qur’an (5:3)“This day have I perfected your religion for you.” This verse is often interpreted to mean that any government outside of Sharia is unnecessary at best, and corruptive at worst.

Qur’an (18:26)“[Allah] maketh none to share in his government.” This was probably intended as a slam against polytheists and the Christian belief in the Trinity, but it has also been used as the basis for criticizing earthly governments.

Qur’an (19:64)“And we do not descend but by the command of your Lord; to Him belongs whatever is before us and whatever is behind us and whatever is between these, and your Lord is not forgetful.”

Qur’an (4:141)“…And never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way (to triumphs) over the believers.”

Qur’an (63:8)“…might belongeth to Allah and to His messenger and to the believers; but the hypocrites know not.” The “hypocrites” are defined as Muslims in name only, those who do not submit to the theocracy of Allah.

Qur’an (5:49)“So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires, but beware of them lest they seduce thee from some part of that which Allah hath revealed unto thee” Allah’s Qur’an takes priority over the desires of the people.  A democratic nation is by nature one that is not governed by Islamic law, meaning that a Muslim citizen would have divided loyalty.  It’s clear from this verse which side he must choose.

Qur’an (3:28)“Let not the believers Take for friends or helpers Unbelievers rather than believers: if any do that, in nothing will there be help from Allah: except by way of precaution, that ye may Guard yourselves from them. But Allah cautions you (To remember) Himself; for the final goal is to Allah.” The word ‘friend’ is Awliyaa which is inclusive of friends, protectors and helpers – the components of civil society.  See also verse 5:51

Qur’an (4:123)“Not your desires, nor those of the People of the Book (can prevail): whoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides Allah, any protector or helper.”

Qur’an (28:17)“O my Lord! For that Thou hast bestowed Thy Grace on me, never shall I be a help to those who sin!” It is difficult to reconcile this verse with the civic duty of a public office holder in a pluralistic society.

Qur’an (4:59)“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you…” Oddly enough, this verse is sometimes used in an attempt to make the case that Muslims should respect a non-Muslim civil government.  However, a careful reading makes it clear that the rulers Muslims are to obey are from among their own body of believers.  This verse commands strict obedience to the leader (even if he steals and flogs them, according to a hadith reported by Sahih Muslim).  How can this refer to a non-Muslim leader when other parts of the Qur’an call for violent Jihad against persecution from non-believers?

See also 9:29, which establishes the ideal relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims.

From the Hadith:

Muslim (19:4294)“When you meet your enemies who are polytheists [Christians], invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them … If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah’s help and fight them”

Bukhari (53:392) – While we were in the Mosque, the Prophet came out and said, “Let us go to the Jews.”  We went out till we reached Bait-ul-Midras.  He said to them, “If you embrace Islam, you will be safe. You should know that the earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle, and I want to expel you from this land. So, if anyone amongst you owns some property, he is permitted to sell it, otherwise you should know that the Earth belongs to Allah and His Apostle.”

Additional Notes:

The Calcutta Qur’an Petition says of Muslim communities that “even fresh converts tend to become highly orthodox people and follow the sayings of [the Qur’an] with a fanatical zeal with the result that whichever country as their sizable number amongst its population can never have peace on its soil.” Where Muslim minorities exist, there is unusual social strain manifested by dissention, demand and disloyalty, as well as a cohesive group identity that resists self-reflection and thrives on the perception of victimization by the majority.

Islam teaches that nations are in one of two major categories – Dar-al Harb (house of war) and Dar-al-Islam (Muslim rule).  Any nation that is not Muslim is therefore, by definition, at war with Islam (or, at best, in contradiction to the preferred order).  Muslims cannot be expected to maintain loyalty to a nation that is at war with their religion.

To be fair, some Muslim scholars contend that there is a middle ground, Dar-al-Aman (land of truce), where Muslims are free to convert others to their religion without interference from the non-Muslim government.  This should be permitted without war, since it is a transitional period leading to the ultimate triumph of Islam.

Although Dar-al-Aman is a legitimate teaching, the supporting definition is somewhat nebulous, and neither is there a central authority to declare which nations fall into this category.  Some feel, for example, that denying Muslims their own system of law and Sharia courts constitutes an interference with Islam.  Others believe that Dar-al-Aman only applied in Muhammad’s day.  Still others, that a truce has a ten year-limit, and can be broken anytime by the Muslim party.

Even a government of Muslims is not necessarily a Muslim government.  Islam requires Islamic law, therefore theocracy is the only pure form of government.  In fact, this is what propels the vast majority of violence in the Muslim world, which victimizes Muslims more often than any other group.

Although Muslim apologists sometimes claim that Islamic terrorists aren’t Muslim by virtue of the fact that they kill other Muslims, the Qur’an advocates striving against both unbelievers and hypocrites, the latter of which are said to be those who profess Islam, but don’t act like it.  This would include anyone involved in supporting a non-Islamic government, which is why terrorists often target local police stations, troops and officials who support a government that does not uphold strict Sharia.

One of the most influential Islamic scholars of the modern age, Egyptian Sayyid Qutb, says that Muslims have a duty to overthrow any non-Islamic governments by violent means.  He explains:

“Islam is not merely a belief, so that it is enough merely to preach it.  Islam, which is a way of life, takes practical steps to organize a movement for freeing man.  Other societies do not give it [Islam] any opportunity to organize its followers according to its own method, and hence it is the duty of Islam to annihilate all such systems, as they are obstacles in the way of universal freedom.  Only in this manner can the way of life be wholly dedicated to Allah, so that neither any human authority nor the question of servitude remains, as is the case in all other systems which are based on man’s servitude to man.” [Quoted from Andrew Bostom’s The Legacy of Jihad]

Elsewhere, Qutb puts it even more bluntly:

The foremost duty of Islam in this world is to depose Jahiliyyah (unbelievers) from the leadership of man, and to take the leadership into its own hands and enforce the particular way of life which is its permanent feature.” [Quoted from Robert Spencer’s Religion of Peace?]

Whether or not a Muslim believes in active rebellion against secular or non-Muslim rule (and most may not), it is does not change the fact that Islam is defined by allegiance to Allah and his messenger (Muhammad).  Therefore any extraneous loyalty that is in contradiction to what Allah has already established would be strictly forbidden.

See also:

Is Islam compatible with democracy? (TROP article)

Respect for the national anthem and flag (Muslim fatwa)

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