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Here’s the most Basic Islamic Concept of State and Sovereignty

The Islamic Concept of State and Sovereignty has been discussed for years and many states claimed to be the Islamic States.

These Islamic states claim that they are based on the Islamic values described by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and exercise the laws set by Islam in their states.

But have you ever found in the Islamic Scriptures or the Holy Quran that there has ever been the concept of State in Islam?

The state is a political institution and has Islam ever described the formation of values of any political institution?

Islam has always described the social values which have a broader spectrum than the values of any state. The Islamic values like prayer, fasting, zakat, etc can not be imposed as the Islamic Laws in any state.

The relation of these ritualistic values is with the soul of a person and anything imposed as laws can never serve the purpose of spiritual nourishment which is the main focus of Islam.

Most of the students in their CSS or PMS preparations consider that Pakistan was established as an Islamic state but that is not true completely as it was established for the perseverance of the values of Muslims in the sub-continent.

Let’s see what are the answers to these questions and understand the Islamic concept of State and Sovereignty.

The System of Nation-state in International Relations

History of the Islamic concept of State:

Islamic Concept of State

We find the roots of the Islamic State in the state of Madina established by the Holy Prophet (PBUH) of Islam.

But when we go deep into the concept of an Islamic State in the Holy Quran, it does not seem to have any concept of an Islamic state in the Quran.

Even the laws which were made in the times of Khalifa Umar (R.A) were entirely Political and were made on the principles of Human Rights.

Islam teaches us the values, rules, and concepts of Islamic Society, not the Islamic State. Then, the instant question which comes to mind is “What is the difference between an Islamic State and Islamic Society?”

The Principles and Political Systems that Islamic States adopted in History

Difference between State and Society

Society is just a combination of different groups of people bound together in social relationships. On the other hand, State has some important elements to be called a state i.e. Population, Territory, Government, and Sovereignty.

Society is a very broad concept and consists of all the human values and morals while the state is just limited to the political issues and exercising power within it.

The state is the political unity of the people while society is the natural unity of the people which can be based on any value.

The state can have a particular territory or nationality while society is free from both of them.

State, before the Holy Prophet (PBUH)

Before the Islamic State was established by the Holy Prophet (PBUH), there was not any concept of state. Rather, people were living in different tribes having their own rules of Justice and the only combined Law was the Law of Retaliation.

This Law of Retaliation brought the tribal wars to their peak and as a result, the Arab society was on the verge of chaos crumbling to pieces.

So in actuality, there was no definite state there in Arabia but people were living in a combined society having different groups in the form of tribes.

What are the values for an Islamic State?

An Islamic society has the values of respect for rights and freedoms, benevolence, justice, honesty, and respect for differences, among a few others.

This Islamic concept of state must not discriminate between any race, color, or creed. When we go back to the times of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), he allowed people of different religions like Jews, Christians, and even the plagal Arabs to live with their own rules and laws and did not impose any Islamic Law on them.

An Islamic State must respect the Human Rights of every religion, race, or creed.

This brings us to the question: should an Islamic State have been completely Islamic or exist within a Secular State?

When we thoroughly examined the scripture of the Holy Quran and Hadith, we see that there is not exactly any concept of the Islamic state there.

As the main focus of Islam was to teach people strong social values not any laws for the establishment of a state.

A state must form its laws and values(its constitution) based on the condition of its people, territory, and values of the people.

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Political System in Islam

Political system in Islam

It is stated in the Quran, “I have perfected your religion for you”(5:3) If we closely observe this line, we get that Islam is a true religion that gives us the best social system.

But for a political system, has to be developed over time according to the needs of the people and type of territory.

So, the Islamic Concept of state does not give us the system of government but gives us the standards of living which must be adopted by the whole Islamic Society.

Islam has not sought any political system because politics has always made people power-seeking and corrupted their minds.

Politics always lead to the formation of different groups and these groups, in turn, lead to division and Islam has never wanted division.

Islam has always desired its people to be united not divided. That’s why, Islam lays stress on the development of a strong social system, not a political system.

However, the Caliphates after the Holy Prophet governed the state with a political system called the Khilafat because it was favorable for the Arabs at that time.

For any other state, it will need to have a political system that must support its people and fulfill their requirements.

The Caliphates of that time governed through the Khilafat but did not impose any Islamic values on all the people of that state rather they protected the rights of every person, no matter to which religion it belonged.

Important Political Concepts in the Political Science

Islamic Concept of Sovereign

There is no Sovereign in Islam but Allah. That is the true Concept of Sovereign in Islam and it can never be compromised under any condition.

The leader of the state must be given the power to exercise throughout the state but this power is just given by Allah as his Power and the leader use that power for the welfare of all the human beings of that society.

If that leader does not protect the human rights of people in that state then that power is taken from him and is given to someone else.

Is Khilafat the only Islamic Concept of State?

Khilafat is considered as the religious Political System which is governed by a supreme leader called Caliphate. The Caliphate rules the state with the rules prescribed by the Holy Prophet(PBUH).

As described earlier, in this Islamic Concept of State, Sovereignty does not belong to the Caliphate but Allah. The Caliphate can not make any decision against the rules of Islam and most of the decisions that are made, are prescribed by the cabinet of the Caliphate according to the laws of Islam.

For Political affairs, the decisions were made for the people according to the requirement of the time. Keeping in view, the rights of every person, religion, race, or creed in the state.


The Islamic concept of state is not limited to some political system, rather it can be found in other political systems like Democracy.

Islam has just emphasized the concept of social values and that is the real meaning of Islam.

People often seek a political system in Islam which is not the best thing to do because Islam can be found in any political system which is protecting human rights and is working for the progress of the state.


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