The General Rules of Sharia in Managing State Affairs

Author : Dr. Jadallah Bassam

Date Added : 07-02-2024

The General Rules of Sharia in Managing State Affairs


All perfect praise be to Allah the Lord of the Worlds. May His peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Mohammad and upon all his family and companions.


It is known that Islamic Sharia comprises various types of rulings that benefit people in general, be they believers or non-believers. This type of rulings provides worldly benefits to its followers and shields them from harm and hardships that may disrupt their livelihoods. Our scholars have considered this feature as a manifestation of the generosity of the legislator (Sharia) and the virtues of the Islamic law.


This type is given in the Noble Quran where we find many verses addressing all people, such as the saying of Allah the Almighty: "O ye people! Eat of what is on earth, Lawful and good; and do not follow the footsteps of the evil one, for he is to you an avowed enemy." {Al-Baqarah, 168}.  As for the benefit in the hereafter, it is only for those who follow the divine legislation after believing in Allah the Almighty and His Messenger, peace be upon him, and submitting to the commands and prohibitions as acts of worship, obedience, and submission. Allah Almighty says: "But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against Thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction." {An-Nisa`, 65}.


Among the general Sharia rulings are those related to the management of state affairs and its administrative regulations that govern public life, in addition to political, economic, and social affairs, internally and externally. Various state agencies and institutions, whether advisory, legal, security, or economic, are responsible for overseeing, preserving, and facilitating these procedures. These agencies are considered capable of managing these affairs according to their expertise and authorities.


It is established among scholars of Sharia, philosophers of civilization, and legal experts that the forms of issues related to state administration are variable, renewable, and evolving by nature. They do not remain static or limited but may evolve rapidly and significantly. Therefore, it is evident that they do not fall under specific partial texts; rather, they are governed by general principles, comprehensive principles, and higher laws. These principles and laws are characterized by inclusivity, generality, and comprehensiveness to remain valid across time, place variations, changing circumstances, and generational transitions.


Upon studying the works of jurists and scholars of Islamic jurisprudence, especially in the books on The Position of the Caliphate and the chapters of general politics, we find that they have laid down general principles related to the subject we are discussing here. These principles address the methods of state administration in its general concept, regardless of the specific legal or constitutional form adopted by the state. This is based on the idea of general Sharia rulings that we introduced in our discussion, following the insights provided by the jurisprudential discourse of Imam al-Haramayn al-Juwayni in his book "Ghiyath al-Ummam fi Ittiyath al-Dhulam".


It is known that a deviation in the intellectual, ideological, or general principles does not prevent the implementation of this type of general Sharia rulings, which bring benefits, repel harms, and achieve the purposes necessary for fulfilling human needs in livelihood and related matters. With the help and guidance of Allah, let us mention some of these rulings in the form of principles and general guidelines:



1-Sufficiency in all cases with qualities that are appropriate.


 This means that the necessary conditions for assuming positions and functional tasks should be satisfied with what the position requires, without demanding anything beyond necessity. The primary objective is to fulfill the task and achieve the goals of the job.


One application of this principle is seen in the administration of a public interest such as managing finances and investments. The person entrusted with such responsibilities must be knowledgeable and expert in the affairs of that interest, capable of performing them in the best possible manner, without imitating others in these matters or being influenced by anything other than the authority of truth and reality. Their decisions should not be swayed by the deceit of deceivers who may fabricate facts, nor should they be ensnared by the tricks of the wealthy or the sympathy for the poor. Rather, their decisions should be based on justice and truth.


Another aspect of this principle leads to another rule, which is: Insufficiency of mere endorsement in assuming positions. This means that those who assume positions must truly be experts in all that the position entails. This cannot be achieved merely through unjustified endorsements, nepotism, or familial ties lacking the required competence for the position, or merely possessing certificates that may be superficial in some cases.


2-The foundation of administration is the preservation of the state and the concern for its affairs. 


This principle has applications that are almost endless because it serves as a guiding principle in resolving conflicts of interests where clear directives are lacking. This is because the primary objective of the state is not merely to deliver good to individuals but to deliver good to all people first. The well-being of individuals comes as a consequence, and then they strive collectively for societal progress and development. All of this depends on the state's vigilance, through robust precautionary measures and preservation from all aspects, and prioritizing its general interest over the interest of any individual or restricted group.


3- Preferring the lesser of two harms if it is not possible to avoid both. 


This is a fundamental principle with implications in various aspects of jurisprudence and especially in state administration. In situations where one in a position of authority is compelled to commit one of two evils, they should choose the lesser evil in terms of its impact, proximity for prevention, and feasibility for resolution, in order to prevent disturbances and mitigate the perpetuation of harm.


Associated with this principle is another principle: Prioritizing the more important matter. When one in authority is faced with multiple important matters that cannot all be addressed comprehensively, they should prioritize what yields the greatest benefit, broader outcomes, and sustained advantages for the nation's interests. Also related to this are principles such as assessing present harms against potential harms, ensuring that the prevention of one harm does not lead to a greater harm.


This principle can be expressed in various other similar phrases, such as "accepting the lesser of two evils". Many other principles align with this overarching principle, focusing on addressing harm and methods for its alleviation and removal, such as the principle of "no harm and no reciprocation of harm", which is one of the most comprehensive and important principles, and the principle that "hardship brings about facilitation".


4-Prioritizing those in higher positions over others according to the rank of the position. 


This principle has a profound impact and requires individuals in positions of authority to possess qualities of excellence as they handle the affairs of the people. It cannot be implemented properly if positions are merely names without designated responsibilities. Each position must have a defined scope and established authority, and the relationship between the branches of government and its institutions must be based on clear and stable foundations. If there is any conflict or imbalance in evaluations, the opinion of the higher-ranking position should be prioritized due to its broader impact and influence on the nation.


According to this principle, every individual in a position of authority should be competent in their role, possessing the necessary qualities required for that position, such as knowledge, piety, sound judgment, strength, and courage.


An application of this principle, for example, is that recommendations from military institutions should take precedence over recommendations from institutions related to financial matters and expenditures. This is because financial resources are limited compared to the value of human lives, the prestige of the state, and its position in the world.


5-Security is a fundamental consideration in state administration. 


This principle emphasizes that the decisions of the state should aim to achieve security and safety for its citizens. Any matter that jeopardizes the security of the people should not be implemented unless its necessity is assessed by those with expertise. This principle does not imply the overthrow of existing administrative systems, but rather highlights the importance of adopting measures related to administration in a manner that does not compromise societal security. If security is compromised, it indicates a disruption in affairs and undermines the foundations of the state.


6-Prevention is preferable to cure.


 This principle suggests that taking administrative measures and precautionary actions to prevent harm should be prioritized and governed by. A penny spent on prevention is better than a pound spent on cure. The term "payment (Daf`ei in Arabic)" here refers to preventing harm from occurring in the first place, which is preferable to allowing it to occur due to negligence or lack of foresight, and then dealing with its consequences by trying to remedy and alleviate it, often at a higher cost, whether in terms of finances or lives.


7-The actions of governors, rulers, and officials are subject to the welfare of the subjects. 


This principle implies that the tasks and methods of state administration undertaken by decision-makers can be determined according to the welfare of the people. Actions aligned with their welfare are deemed valid, while those contradicting the general welfare of Muslims are deemed invalid and can be annulled and invalidated.


It is known that the welfare guiding the actions and conduct of governors is based on a specific criterion determined by reputable authorities, ensuring that the welfare is not specific to a particular group or individuals but is a comprehensive general welfare.


Furthermore, interests may vary and may even conflict, as sometimes a lower interest might be neglected in favor of a higher one. This is how assessments are made in every issue or matter.




These are some general Sharia rulings and overarching principles under which dozens of rules may fall, governing various aspects of jurisprudence and law, or pertaining to specific areas. Understanding and applying them require diligence in reasoning, comprehensive knowledge, and steadfastness in piety, caution, and trustworthiness.


These overarching principles govern the rules below them, with issues falling under them through observation, contemplation, and judgment. These theoretical pathways are the most concealed, precise, and comprehensive pathways whatsoever. Therefore, scholars of Sharia, as well as other legal and intellectual experts, stipulate that those entrusted with positions in state administration should possess keen insight, extensive and complete knowledge, and a free, resolute soul not swayed by desires or prejudices, nor dominated by emotions and biases. They should have a balanced opinion and temperament, making decisions in administrative matters only after complete understanding, contemplation, and consultation.


Consequently, these jurisprudential rules alone are not the sole factor in the success of state administration. It is essential for the affairs of the state to be entrusted to individuals who are competent, knowledgeable, experienced, and fully qualified.


I beseech Allah to protect us from error and misguidance, to continue showering us with His evident and hidden blessings, to safeguard our lands from all evil, and to guide and protect us with His generosity and care.


Praise be to Allah, the Lord of all worlds.