The Antithesis of Madani System of Government
No system of government is perfect. Dawla madaniya or civil state is a system of government that is governed by laws, institutions and orders that respect and protect the rights of its citizens. It is a system that is led by qualified and virtuous leaders who can lead the people to peace, prosperity, and progress. To achieve it, every person is bound to the do’s and the don’ts of the development of the civil state.
A civilised state is precious and fragile that needs to be protected and nurtured. It is the product of human history and the result of the accumulated knowledge and experience of generations of people. Many countries have strived to build and maintain a civilised state while some have been more successful than others, but all have faced challenges along the way. One of the biggest challenges is to create a just and equitable society. It is a complex system that is made up of many different parts, each of which plays an important role. We must all work together to overcome the challenges.
A civilised state will inevitably decline and give way to an underdeveloped, barbaric, and kakistocratic form of government, if we do not collectively struggle to build and maintain it. Kakistocracy is the opposite of madani or “dawla madaniya”, in which the worst, least capable, or most dishonest citizens hold authority. The word kakistocracy has its roots in the Greek words kakos, which means “bad,” and kratos, which means “rule.” When leaders impose their will on the people rather than consider their wants, kakistocracy is established.
To prevent kakistocracy from taking over, we must be aware of the importance of civic engagement, support the rule of law, uphold the rights of others and be respectful in society. To distinguish between both, there is a need to look at the early stage of the appointment of officials and ministers through track record, level of transparency and accountability, participation of the people in government.
The Quran also has verses that warn us against the dangers of corruption and tyranny. For example, the Quran says: “And do not obey the one whose heart We have made heedless of Our remembrance and who follows his own desires and whose affair is ever going wrong.” (Quran 28: 28). “And never do those who are unjust prosper.” (Quran 8: 129). The verses teach Muslims that they should not obey leaders who are corrupt or tyrannical. They should instead stand up to these leaders and demand that they be held accountable.
In a letter to Malik Al-Ashtar, Saidina Ali details picking the best person to be a minister:
The worst minister for you is he who has been a minister for mischievous persons before you, and who joined them in sins. Therefore, he should not be your chief man, because they are abettors of sinners and brothers of the oppressors. Then, more preferable among them for you should be those who openly speak better truths before you and who support you least in those of your actions which Allah does not approve in His friends, even though they may be according to your wishes. Associate yourself with God-fearing and truthful people; then educate them, so that they should not praise you or please you by reason of an action you did not perform, because an excess of praise produces pride and drives you near haughtiness. (Nahjul Balagha)
Another challenge in developing a civil society is to promote peace and understanding among the different cultures and groups. This can be difficult in a world where there is so much diversity and conflict. However, it is essential if we want to build a truly civilised state. Additionally, we need to protect the environment and ensure that future generations can enjoy the same benefits of civilisation that we have. This means taking steps to reduce pollution, conserve natural resources, and combat climate change.
The struggle against kakistocracy never ends. Muslims, however, can contribute to the development of societies free from tyranny and oppression by being cognizant of the risks of kakistocracy and trying to protect the values of justice and virtue. The best method to avoid kakistocracy is to educate the populace, enforce the law, and encourage harmony and understanding within society. Indeed, societies that are more resistant to kakistocracy can then be developed and sustained.