Part 1 of a 5 part special of the advent of Islam: Lessons we should never forget. Article 1) on the power of the state
11 Mar 2012 01:09 GMT
Pre Islam Arabia was a very different time for not just the female population of the region but for all the occupants of the land. Apart from the basic religious implications, Islam brought about a lot of other changes as well. These changes have helped shape the future of the region for the better and have given a lot of space for idealism that did not exist before.

Part 1 of a 5 part special of the advent of Islam: Lessons we should never forget.

Article 1) on the power of the state

The Importance of political organization, the right to habeas corpus and taxation to keep the state running

G. E. Grunebaum

"In the century before the rise of Islam the tribes dissipated all their energies in tribal guerrilla fighting, all against all." (Classical Islam – A History 600-1258 – 1970)

One of the first principles any politics student will learn is that anarchy is the permissive cause of war as there is no central body with official authority to control the region keeping the interests of all as a central tenant. Pre-Islam, the people of Arabia did not have a government of any kind. It was the very definition of the political term anarchy. The advent of Islam brought about better state organization and made the state of Arabia a power to be reckoned with for the outside world by forming a capable government.

Even during the time that Islam was beginning to gain secure roots in Arabia, the religion kept the state secure despite there not being a fully formed central government in that time. It did so by trying to introduce a system of treaties to form alliances, which would have the amalgamated effect of a government-like system. The Constitution of Medina (622 A.D.) set out rules to provide for the security of the various communities (many of whom were divided along religious lines and tribal lines), religious freedoms, the role of Medina as a sacred city where blood could not be shed (by barring all violence and weapons), the security of women, stable tribal relations within Medina, a proper tax system for supporting the region in times of conflict, parameters for foreign policy, systems for granting protection of individuals via a proper judicial system for resolving disputes and a very well organized state.

While a functional model, it proved to be quite hard to enforce the terms of the treaties and the constitution. War between the tribes did ensue but it must be acknowledged that the system was far more stable than before. The time after the wars, with a united Arabia, a proper government was introduced making the concept of a central government a reality in a country previous governed by tribal grievances and feuds.

So for the first time, a proper government ran the region as opposed to it being run only along tribal lines with no official central body to hold them accountable.

With a federal government of sorts in place, the rule of law (implying universality and access to a state sanctioned system of redress) was properly instated, making the residents of the state free and giving them rights they had not known before. Peace was promoted as a result of generations of tribal scores being settled by the state and thereby ending further bloodshed. Patronage for the rich was discouraged while encouraging universality and accountability.

With such radical changes that benefitted much of humanity at large and established the concept of the power of the state in Arabia, the system set up by the newly formed Arabian state followed an important moral code - one that did much to help human rights in the time and make Arabia a strong state with a much better off and secure society.

-- Al Arabiya Digital