The interview with Shaykh Abu Sulayman Al-Muhajir by Bilal Abdul Karim about Islamic governance in the liberated territories discussed a number of relevant topics, which I like to highlight, hoping it will be of benefit with the blessing of Allah. A government is typically divided into three powers; a legislative, an executive and a judiciary power. One of the objections made in the interview was the fact that the recently formed salvation government in Idlib does not have any identified executive power. The Muslims in Syria derive their legislative power generally from the Book of Allah, the Sunnah of the Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) and the consensus of the scholars. While the scholars, judges and jurists form the judiciary power. As for the executive power, this currently remains a grey area.
A government lacking an executive power, or any of the three divisions of powers for that matter, can not function properly. We have seen how the government of Muhammad Morsi collapsed within a year as some divisions of powers turned against him. However an executive power in Syria is highly dependent on the unification of the factions to guarantee its neutrality. Unfortunately the factions do not want to unity on this meaningful level. Many factions do not even want to recognize the authority of the salvation government in Idlib.
A well known example which shows the importance of an executive power are Islamic marriage contracts which take place outside the legal framework of a government or regime. These marriage contracts endanger especially women who could be deprived of their Islamic rights because they can not be enforced by an executive power. Legally the conditions of an Islamic marriage are very simple, however upholding the marriage responsibilities and conditions are not. Many Muslims who believe in the legal Laws of Allah unfortunately do not abide by them. So they do not only need a legislative power that stipulates the responsibilities and conditions of a marriage, but they also need an executive power that motives them to abide by them. We all agree to a certain extent that speeding could be dangerous, yet we still need speeding fines that motive us to abide by the limits. A guiding Book (legislative power) supported by a sword (executive power) is a universal foundation.
Mostly women living in the West are deprived of their rights when an Islamic marriage contract is concluded outside the legal framework of a central government or regime. Especially Muslim converts in the West are victims in a lot of these cases. These marriages however have a much higher rate of success in the Muslim countries, especially in decentralized tribal regions in countries such as Mali, Waziristan and Afghanistan. There is no official executive power in all of these cases, but there is one major difference which compensates the lack of an executive power. It is social control. Tribal regions depend the most on social control, and in the case of Muslim converts living in the West there is the least amount of social control that could compensate the lack of executive power. Because Muslim converts in the west come from a very individualistic environment and they rarely live in an environment of social control, unlike many Muslims, especially in tribal regions.
When looking at the current salvation government, its goals and the environment in which it is established, we will come to understand that the underlying structure of this government differs from the aforementioned typical structure of governance. It is called a salvation government with a reason; for the lack of a vital necessity creates a vacuum which can only be filled with its salvation. So the lack of governance demands the establishment of a salvation government. Meaning, this is not the best and most ideal solution, however we are in dire and immediate need of a solution and this is the best thing we have come to establish so far, since we weren’t able to establish anything else as of yet. Stale bread is not the best of food but when starving you do not have any other choice. Or to put it in more suiting words, if the only ambulance we have can not run on all four cylinders then we will have to drive on two for the time being, at least until we can fix the engine.
The armed rebel groups can not carry every responsibility in Syria, they can not guard and repel the transgressing enemies, while controlling the liberated territories, spreading order and providing security, and busy themselves with health care, education, economics, politics, etc. This is why the civilian administration’s initiative was launched and the consequential salvation government was formed; to share the responsibilities and divide all of these heavy burdens. Maybe we do not have any responsibility towards the salvation government but we are collectively accountable for all of these responsibilities and burdens. We can not sit and wait for someone else to serve us and carry them for us. This is not suitable for a nation built on sacrifice. The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said we should support our brother whether he is oppressed or the oppressor, so how about supporting the one who is trying to serve us? We have to pitch in and help in every which way we can, and support those who carry our burdens. One of the biggest defects in our Ummah is not only the lack of a just Islamic government, it is also the lack of collective civilian initiative if you ask me.
We are an Ummah that enjoys good and forbids evil, this is our collective responsibility, rather it is an individual responsibility. If the salvation government is lacking in executive power we have to support them with civilian social control. They are trying to lift our burden, this does not demand from us that we sit and wait for handouts, rather it demands sacrifice and support. A lot of times we look at the ruling period of the rightly guided Caliphs when looking at Islamic governance, however we should currently look at the Ansaar and their sacrifice and support to build an Islamic government in Madina. When they asked about their reward in return the Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) did not promise them better housing, lower food prices or employment opportunities. Rather he promised them Paradise.
We are currently in a building phase so we should not look at our rights; we should look at our responsibilities. We are not building for ourselves, or not even for the next generation, but for generations to come. We are living in a period of division, ignorance, lawlessness and war, this is not the ideal situation for governance, so we shouldn’t look at typical structures of governance in ideal situations. Even the Islamic laws are adjusted during war times. We are now trying to manage and salvage what we can. This is the awareness we should spread among the people in Syria, whether they are Syrians or Mujahireen, and this is the practical course we should walk instead of theoretical visioning. The civilian administration’s initiative and the salvation government should spark the light of participation in us, not the darkness of hindrance. This is a people’s initiative, we should join and support it no matter how weak it is.
Removing harm from the road is not only one of the responsibilities of those in power, but it is also one of the branches of Imaan. We should adopt the mentality of forming civilian initiatives which help clean our cities, help spread order and security, support the needy, etc. Even Western democratic countries have started to publish several participation laws because they can not handle all the heavy responsibilities and burdens of governance. And these are strong governments with all the necessary capacities, resources and means they need. So how about us with our very limited means and the harsh circumstances we live in? Civilian participation should not even be a voluntary choice, it should be an obligated responsibility. But unfortunately there is no executive power that could enforce such civilian participation..