The Necessity of Establishing an Islamic Government – Wilayah Al-Faqih

American Herald Tribune | Anastasia Fatima Ezhova: We’ve already enlightened such an item that laws should be enacted. Now we need to prove why Islamic government is really necessary to put these laws into practice.

Imam Khomeini underlines that enacting laws is a primary task of a government and political authorities. Moreover, he insists that enacting laws is possible only by the means of governmental institutions that possess political subjectness:

“A collection of laws is not sufficient to reform the society. In order to make the law an element of reforming man and making him happy, it needs an executive power and an executor. Thus, Allah, the Exalted, besides sending a collection of laws, i.e, the religious precepts, enjoined the establishment of a government and an organ for execution and management.

The noble Messenger (s.a.) was at the head of the executive-administrative organization of the Muslims. In addition to conveying the revelation, explaining the beliefs, precepts and regulations of Islam, he exerted his efforts to execute the precepts and to establish the regulations of Islam in order to create the Islamic state”. [1]

In order to prove this necessity Imam Khomeini gives an example of Imam Ali’s (a) announcing to be the successor of the holy Prophet (s) and explains the meaning of this event: “By appointing his successor the Messenger (s.a.) did not want him to merely explain the beliefs and the precepts. It was the duty of enacting those precepts and laws, and establishing the Islamic regulations that made assigning a successor a rather important matter, without which the noble Messenger (s.a.) would not have ‘conveyed the Message’. Certainly, after him, people did need somebody to enact the laws and to fix the Islamic order in the society so that the happiness of this world and the Hereafter may be ensured”. [2]

Imam Khomeini adds to this: “In principle, social laws and regulations need somebody to put them into practice. In all the countries of the world it has always been known that the mere coining of laws cannot be alone useful…After legislating the laws there should be an executive power in order to carry out the laws and the sentences of the courts, presenting the fruit of the just laws and judgments of the courts to the people. Therefore, as Islam legislated laws, similarly it assigned an executive power. The religious Waliyyul Amr is responsible for the executive power, too”. [3]

Imam Khomeini underlines that there’s a logical link between the obligation of implementing Islamic laws and the necessity of forming Islamic government:

“Naturally, the necessity of carrying out the precepts, which made it necessary for the noble Messenger (s.a.) to form a government was not only confined to his own days. It continued after the days of the Messenger (s.a.). According to honorable ayah, the precepts of Islam are not assigned for a particular time or place, they are to be applied forever…Therefore, since the application of the Islamic precepts after the noble Messenger (s.a.) is necessary forever, the formation of governments and executive organs and managements are necessary, too. Without forming governments and without having executive organizations and management to bring all the happenings and activities of people by means of application of the precepts under an equitable regime, there will be chaos and social, ideological and ethical corruptions”. [4]

Indeed, if we analyze a day-to-day practice of those Muslims who don’t live under Islamic governance where there are no institutions which duty is to enact Islamic laws, we’ll see that mant of them suffer from the absence of such institutions as their rights granted to them by Shari’ah aren’t protected by anybody. These are rights of husbands and rights of wives, as well as rights of children and other relatives. In different parts of the world we can find many examples when Muslim husbands refuse to sustain their wives, rather their wives sustain them, when a former husband doesn’t give any financial support to his ex-spouse during her ‘Iddah, as well as he doesn’t provide his children from a temporary or even permanent marriage with everything what they need (though according to Shari’ah he must do so), when wives violate against their Islamic obligations and the rules of modesty, when fathers in fact sell their daughters and appropriate their dowry (mahr) which is the lawful property of a daughter only, when Shari’ah inheritance rights are infringed by different means, when employers don’t pay their employees or don’t conclude adequate lawful working contracts, when rich minority enjoys prosperity while poor people suffer from the lack of money as Islamic taxes aimed to shortening a gap between the rich and the poor are not imposed upon financial elite.

Victims of such situations whose number is immense have no possibility to protect their rights as there are no institutions or authorities they can refer to in order to be judged according the Islamic laws. Nobody can compell their oppressors to observe their rights granted by Shari’ah. The condemnation of society is surely not an adequate substitute as many of its members are ignorant and can blame a victim instead of oppressors, thus judging according their personal opinions (ra’i) and customs (adat) but not Shari’ah laws as they are not specialists in this area. These are surely consequences of the absence of Islamic government, and we can hardly overestimate Imam Khomeini’s contribution into proving its necessity.

By the way, the Infallibles (a) condemned cooperation with any kind of tyrants and illegitimate rulers and even prohibited referring to their courts instead of Islamic courts (and judicial autocracy is in turn a part of political subjectivity).

For instance, the holy Prophet (s) said,

“Beware of associating with the [unjust] ruler for verily it causes faith to depart. And beware of assisting him for indeed you do not approve of his rule”. [5]

His Holiness also said,

“Whoever adheres to the ruler will be tempted away from the right course, and the closer one gets to the ruler the further away one is from Allah”. [6]

Imam ‘Ali (a) said:

“Keep away from the sultan in order to be safe from the deception of Satan”. [7]

We can also quote another hadith by Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a):

“So, the rulership of the tyrant and the rulership of his governors, their chief, the followers of the rulers, so besides them the subrulers under the rule of the main ruler, right down to the smallest one, is a door out of the doors of rulership upon whom he is a ruler. And working for them and having business and trade relations with them (as an acceptance of their rule) is prohibited and unlawful.
Whosoever does it, whether more or less of it, will get tormented and chastised. [8]

Because all that is done (as an assistance to them) is a big sin among the big sins.

And this is because during the rulership of the tyrant all the righteousness gets wiped off and all of that is falsehood will be revived in the rulership of the oppressor and tyrant ruler. And the cruelty and brutality and corruption manifested and the heavenly books will get falsified and forfeited. And the Prophets and faithful ones will be killed. And the mosques will get dislodged and dismantled. And the Sunnah and ordinances and religious laws of Allah will be changed. This is the reason why coworking with them, helping and assisting them except where there exists a necessity like eating (haram and prohibited) blood and corpse for saving life is prohibited”.

There is also a similar narration from Imam ‘Ali ar-Ridha (a): “About workers and officials of sultan (king, ruler):

becoming a part of the officials of them and putting in endevour to fulfill their needs and requirements is the equivalent to infidelity. And looking intentionally and purposely at them is one of the greatest sins which deems one fit to deserve hell fire”. [9]

These are serious proves for a revolutionary discourse and for establishing Islamic government which is the system that is alternative to a tyranny system, i.e. for the necessity of at least Islamic political (and, consequently, economical and judicial) subjectivity and Islamic governance. Imam Khomeini insists that it should take a form of Islamic state, and here he once again refers to the experience of the Infallibles (a):

“The tradition of the Prophet (s.a) prove the necessity of establishing governments. First of all, he himself had formed a government. History testifies that he formed a government, applied the Islamic laws and regulations and practiced the management of the society. He also sent governors to other parts of the country, practiced judgment and appointed judges. He further used to send ambassadors and representatives to other countries, tribes and kings. He concluded covenants and pacts and he himself used to command the army in war. In shirt, he conducted the governmental regulations.

Secondly, obeying Allah’s command, he assigned a governor to take over after him. When Allah, the Exalted, appoints the governor for the society after the Messenger (s.a.), it means that the government is also necessary after the departure of the noble Messenger (s.a), and, as the noble Messenger (s.a.) conveyed the divine commands, he also conveyed the necessity of forming the government”. [10]

Imam Khomeini pays a special attention to the fact that Islam covers all aspects of human life, including social, political and economical ones, and all of this is used to be under the jurisdiction of a government [11] :

“Another reason concerning the necessity of forming a government is the nature and the quality of the Islamic laws and precepts, which indicate that they have been legislated for establishing a government and for political, economical and cultural administration of the society. Firstly, the Islamic precepts contain diverse laws and regulations which form a general social order. This juristic order everything what is needed by man, as from being sociable with the neighbors, one’s children, tribe, relatives, citizens, personal affairs, marital life, up to the regulations for war and peace, international relations, penal code, commercial, industrial and agricultural rights”. [12]

Imam Khomeini underlines that the mere essence of the Islamic laws requires establishing a government for putting them into practice:

“…Through scrutinizing the nature and quality of the Islamic precepts we realize that to enact and practice them there is a need of forming a government, as without establishing big and vast executive-administrative system the duty of enacting the divine precepts will not be performed”. [13]

He brings many examples on this account, namely, the character and features of different Islamic taxes, such as:

1) Khums:

“It is one of the huge incomes pouring into the baytul mal, forming a part of a the budget. According to our sect, it is levied on the profits coming from agriculture, commerce, the internal and external land resources – in general, it is taken from all kinds of profits and incomes – equitably, including the vegetable seller sitting at the door of this mosque, up to the navigators of mine owners. After extracting their own expeditures, they will have to pay one-fifth of their surplus profits to the Islamic authority to be added to the baytul mal. Naturally, such an enormous income is for the management of the Islamic country and meeting its financial needs. If we calculate one-fifth of the incomes in the Islamic countries, or of all the countries of the world if they come to be Islamic, it will be quite clear that the aim of imposing such taxes was not just to relieve the Messenger’s offspring or the men of religion from their needs. The question is more important than that. The aim is to remove the financial needs of the big governmental organizations”. [14]

2) Jizyah and kharaj:

“The jiziyah, which was imposed on ahlul-Dhimmah, and the kharaj, which is levied on large agricultural lands, make an extraordinary revenue. The imposition of such taxes denotes that a governor and a government are inevitable. It is the responsibility of the ruler and the governor to decide the amount of the per capita taxes to be paid by ahlul-Dhimmah in proportion to their financial ability, or to impose taxes on their agriculture and cattle in a fair basis…Furthermore, there is the kharaj of the vast lands which are malullah, that is, they belong to the Islamic state and are exploited by it. The project requires orderly organizations, accountings, management, careful planning, away from chaos and disorder”. [15]

From these points Imam Khomeini makes a logical conclusion that Islamic governance is surely needed for collecting such taxes:

“You see that Islamic financial regulations confirm the necessity of forming the government, and carrying them out cannot be except through the establishment of the Islamic organization”. [16]

As well, Islamic governance is also required in order to provide Islamic Ummah by military defense, as it is said in the Holy Qur’an: “And make for them ready whatever you can of force and of horses tethered” (8:60). Imam Khomeini notes commenting this ayah: “[It] is an order to be on the alert by preparing as much as possible of the armed forces ad defensive power in general. It is an order to be ready and always to keep watching during peacetime”. His Eminence puts a remark that the lack of Islamic governance is the reason why Zionists have succeeded in occupying Palestine, as well as he quotes a narration by Lady Fatima al-Zahra (a): “The Imamate is for preserving the regime [17] and for changing the separation of the Muslims into their unity”. [18]

But at the same time the aim of Islamic ruling is wider than just performing obligatory technical tasks of collecting taxes, imposing penalties on crime-makers and organizing military defense. In accordance with the whole message of the Infallibles (a), the worldwide spiritual and political mission of Islamic government is defending the oppressed and poor of the world, as struggling well as struggling against injustice and tyranny. Imam Khomeini brings several quotation from Nahjul-Balaghah on this account, formulating the task of Islamic state and Islamic political structures with the words of Imam Ali: “To be enemies for an oppressor, and supporters for the oppressed”. [19]

Imam Khomeini points to the theory wilayah al-faqih that was slightly mentioned in the beginning of this research. This theory is derived from Shi’a ahadeeth, and Imam Khomeini gives a new interpretation of this principle which is in the accordance with his whole theory. For instance, Imam Khomeini gives a commentary to a hadith: “The faqihs are rulers over the sultans”. [20] Thus, he writes: “If the kings are Muslims they should follow the faqihs and ask them about the laws and precepts and execute them. In this case, the real rulers are the very faqihs. Thus, the government must officially belong to the faqihs, not to those who have to follow the faqihs due to their being ignorant of the law”. [21] This principle was developed by Imam Khomeini while he was elaborating the exact project of the Islamic Republic of Iran where the president and all other state officials are submitted to the wali al-faqih (Rahbar).

His Eminence depicts several requirements towards the ruling faqih: he should be sane, equitable, born from a lawful marriage, possess management abilities and legal (fiqhi)) knowledge.

Imam Khomeini points out:

“So long as there was an Imam (as) it was he who undertook the affairs, then, after the Imams, the faqihs, the committed ones, the expert Islamists, the ascetics, those who avoid mundane matters and are not attracted by the vanities of this world, those who are really worried about the ummah, and they regard the nation to be their own children”. [22]

Here we can observe a link between his understanding of the principle wilayat al-faqih expressed in some traditions (ahadeeth) from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (as) and Imam al-Mahdi (as), on the one hand, and his mysticism (‘irfan), as, generally speaking, ‘irfan is the spiritual teaching describing the ways of obtaining closeness to Allah and becoming a genuine muwahhid (monotheist). And as for Shi’a ‘irfan, it states that a human being can achieve proximity to Allah by following the Infallibles’ (a) spiritual role model.


[6] Ibid, v. 75, p. 371, hadith № 13; Ibid, p. 534.
[7] Ibid., v. 77, p. 215, hadith № 1; Ibid.
[8] Tuhf al-‘Uqul, p. 332; Fascinating Discourses of Fourteen Infallubles (A.S.), p. 155.
[9] Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 75, p. 374; Ibid, p. 195.
[17] Surely, here genuine Islamic regime based on Shari’ah is meant.
[18] Kashful Ghummah, vol.2, p. 109.
[19] Nahjil-Balaghah, letter № 47.
[20] Mustadrakul-Wasa’il, vol. 17, p. 321, Kitabul Qada, chapter on Sifatul Qadi, chapter 11, hadith № 33.
[21] M.J. Khalili. Manafi Anari. Fundamentals of the Islamic revolution, p. 192.
[22] Ibid, p. 144.

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