By Mansoor Akbar Kundi
August 30, 2018
THE Medina state model as a phrase is
commonly used in context of good governance. It is on record that Pakistani
rulers have used the term from time to time in ceremonial and non ceremonial
addresses. Imran Khan and his party elite are no exception to the fact that
they have been using the term quite often. At least, I have heard them on many
occasions in pre-election days. The term is eventually applied in important
statements by PTI ministers. In Pakistan, the use of term as an application for
welfare state has not been new. Since 1947 both the politicians and praetorian
rulers have referred to the phrase to consolidate and legitimise their being in
power. The term was firstly applied in First Constituent Assembly debates.
Liaquat Ali Khan is on record to use it. The debates over insertion of
Objective Resolutions entailed the term frequently. Zia ul Haq in quest for
legitimacy drew on it for Islamisation of societal and state structure.
The term stands a universality of good
governance and tolerance character without being understood and applied in
Islamic countries including Pakistan. Many great constitutional landmarks which
the Western world assumed as beacon of hope and aspiration for human and
political rights i e Magna Carta and Rights of Men were indeed centuries later
to follow it. Medina state model was based on the Charter of Medina drafted by
holy prophet Muhammad (SAV) in 623 AD or 1 AH. Famous scholar of Islamic
history, Professor Hamidullah calls it “the first universal constitution in the
world” which amicably and comprehensively defined the relationship of state
& society in Medina which had reached the lowest ebbs of the anarchic state
of affairs. He along many western scholars justify its universal nature on the
grounds that nowhere in the world then divided into city or small
states/principalities or overwhelmed by mighty empires had such a written and
defined mechanism of governance to run a society in pluralistic sense.
Comprising the two-part 53 points hand
written agreement (divided into articles/clauses in modern sense of
constitutionalism) was better known as Charter of Medina (Mîthâq al-Medîna).
It was unanimously agreed upon by all the elders of the society which
population was slightly more than ten thousands. It changed the state of
affairs in Madina. The state of affairs in Madina compared to Mecca was far
governed. Apart from rivalry and aggression to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and his
followers, the historians agree that state of administration and governance in
Makkah was far orderly and superior. It did not suffer from lack of
administration, lack of law and order situation, and lack of central authority
to collect revenues.
Medina model principally addressed six major issues which were of governance,
socio-cultural, tribal, religious, security and economic nature. The issues
were essentially to be addressed which later on by scholars were claimed to be
the leading principles of human welfare and state development to seek a
peaceful, pluralistic and just society. And a sad reality is that in large
majority of Islamic countries including Pakistan fail to address them.
The Holy Prophet (PBUH) by mutual agreement
and consent became the central authority and order of the state. His leadership
was charismatic and rational charismatic in the sense that he exhibited
qualities of being pious, true and visionary for a better future and rational
that they agreed upon him to lead them for a better future. All important
matters were referred to him as the pivotal authority and the highest court of
appeal and were justly addressed. One principle of justice was applied to all
without any discrimination on sex, religion or ethnicity. He had made it clear
that in pursuit of justice if his beloved daughter, Fatima’s case comes, no
concession will be shown.
today’s world, democracy which is known as the best and possible alternate of
government is based on rationality and charismatic sense of leadership. The
modern and successful democracies are based on the principles that leadership
elected at micro and macro levels largely possess the said two qualities.
Hereditary bases of leadership though persistent in many democracies are not in
large regarded by analysts as very supportive of leadership.
Medina state established under the
authority of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) did not care much about the traditional or
hereditary bases of leadership. It is due to the fact that ruler leadership
bases holy Prophet defined in Medina became the base of rulership in the years
to come under the four Caliphs. None of the four Caliphs showed an inclination
to support hereditary trends in politics. Hereditary trends in politics have
been considered a bane of representative system in many Islamic countries,
The crux of the leadership for which Medina
state model is claimed to be of an example that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) claimed
himself not above the law or regulations. He was to live and lead a simple life
the others followed. Even his life as the head of the state compared to many
wealthy and middle class citizens of Medina was simpler. Michael Hart ranks him
in his book as the 1st in ranking of most influential men in history in showing
spiritual as well as temporal excellence in day-to-day affairs. Holy Prophet’s
famous saying at the helms of affairs was Love you son, but in front of an
orphan it is forbidden. There is a lesson for those at the helm of affairs
should realise that society is not based on Vanity Fair with discrimination
between have and have-nots.
The major character of the Medina state was
that it despite all resistance and odds of tribal, religious and ethnic
differences defined the existing population as one community (Ummah). Medina
was an ethnically, tribally and religiously divided with Muslims, Jews and
Pagans living in it. Jewish and Pagan tribes were always at neck to neck with
one another. By being defined as one Ummah it restored not only law and order
situation but enhanced its protection against outside intruders in years to
come. The notion of Ummah centuries later on assumed the concept of national
integration. It was designed to promote pluralism which is an essential
ingredient in promotion of successful representative system.
Mansoor Akbar Kundi is Professor, Dept of Politics & International
Relations, International Islamic University, Islamabad.