Frederick P. Isaac

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Articles and book information on Assyrian issues including contemporary history, experiences under Islamic rule, leadership and Assyrian aspirations to nationhood.


Indigenous Peoples

Under the Rule of Islam

 

by Frederick P. Isaac

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Power Struggle 

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Progress and Contribution to Humanity

 

 

Tailored System of Government
 

 

In the early days of Islam, members of the Consultative Council controlled the wealth of the state. They ruled by tribal-sectarian law, as is now the case in Saudi Arabia. Land became state property. The state treasury financed its apparatus from collecting tax and accepting one fifth of the booty, as a result of raids and plunder from new conquests. Power was centralized. Absolute power was in the grip of a handful. Prophet Muhammad naturally assumed Leadership.

With the establishment of the Islamic religion, the sectarian and secular roles were both combined and held by Muhammad under his sole leadership. After Muhammad’s death, the Khalipha assumed the dual role, having absolute power in issuing dictates, as well as being the head of the Islamic Umma Nation. Currently, and as far as the Islamic countries are concerned, most of the states still follow this pattern but in a more evasive way than their predecessors. The Khilapha succession title being in limbo, many Islamic secular leaders find it hard to hold on to power. To remain in office, a government leader occasionally criticizes the style of the government he has inherited from past colonialism or his predecessor. To prolong his stay in power, he goes along with the clerics and changes certain secular laws because they are inconvenient and clash with their traditional Islamic customs. To consolidate his power, and win the support of the believers, he oftentimes dresses in traditional native costume and headgear portraying himself as protector of the faith.

Many Islamic leaders, out of necessity, to please their supporters, criticise the West and shift the blame of their shortcomings on foreign interference in the internal affairs of their countries. Somalia with its warlords and Iran with its armed mullahs are two examples in the extreme - residues of the Consultative Council. Afghanistan, Algeria and the Sudan are following suit. In between these two, it is monarchy, military or a one-party system.

Lack of a legitimate lineal descent from Prophet Muhammad, has resulted in the Khilapha title to remain in disuse. Some Islamic rulers use the term “Sultan” derived from the Assyrian word “Shultana” meaning (full) Authority. This “Sultan” term is the closest a Muslim ruler can come to the Khilapha title. There is no title higher than his. The Sultan can act as he pleases but cannot claim the Khilapha title. A Khalipha could act as a Sultan; a Sultan cannot do otherwise.

Apart from Israel, practicing democracy in the Middle East states is hazardous - like treading on a stretch of land infested with landmines or quicksand. It is a risky venture. The road to democracy in any Islamic country is full of pitfalls. Islamic leaders hold the high seat of government or presidency for life. The high seat falls vacant only by death or forcible removal of its holder. They groom their children for the high post, like Bashar, Assad‘s son of Syria; and Qusay, Saddam’s son of Iraq. Mubarak of Egypt and Qathafi of Libya are both grooming their sons to succeed them. That is their interpretation of the people’s choice of democracy – tailor-made to the individual taste of the ruler, not the people (Hiro, 1989: pp 11, 147; Pryce-Jones, 1989: pp 19, 29).

 

 

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Power Struggle 

Table of Contents

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Progress and Contribution to Humanity

 

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