The State and its Organization

It appears contradictory to maintain that the influence of Islamic civilization brought about separation of the State from the Church and the subsequent changes or movements which changed the meaning of the words State and kingdom, and the relations of the subjects with their kings.

It is apparently contradictory, because Islam is known to have declared the State and religious supremacy as one and the same thing. The religion and the state remained one in many Muslim countries, regardless of East and West, old or modern. The Commander of the Faithful and Viceroy of the Lord of the Universe continues to be part of the title of Muslim kings till recent times. There are still kings who retain these titles and add them to their names.

As we said, the statement has not only apparent but real contradiction. Freedom movements swept Europe in successive series or waves since the 11th Century up to the age of the French Revolution. The first step in this direction was the revolt of the kings against the authority of the church. Some of them, like the British sovereign, wanted to combine in themselves the temporal and religious authority. The freedom of the Muslim kings from the authority of the religious people both in the East and the West, proved to be the most powerful incentive for the European kings, after their contact with Muslim State in Andalusia, to follow suit. They came to know of this during the Crusades also and became attached to the idea of throwing away the yoke of the Church which affected them and their subjects in equal measure. They wanted to adopt the same role in this respect as that enjoyed by their counterparts, the Muslim kings.

The Roman Catholic Church wielded authority for excommunicating or granting pardon in case of the kings, as well as ordinary individuals. Often, they excommunicated the king and freed the people from the obligation of being faithful to him. This provided an apology for the hostile element in amongst his subjects to set aside obedience and to tear off chunks from his kingdom. On the other hand, the kings often found themselves obliged to placate the priests in Rome in order to get their blessings and to seek their help against the common people. These kings looked at their counterparts, in Europe itself and in the East which they knew well, and found them sitting at ease on their thrones enjoying freedom from the fear of the danger which threatened them at various times. It is obvious that this incited the European kings to copy their counterparts and to seize upon the first opportunity available to bain their objectives.

Whatever the reasons which prompted the revolt of the kings against the church, it cannot be ignored that there was an example set by the kings in Andalusia, Egypt and the Near Eastern countries to follow. It was not mere accident that first to begin the revolt were the German and the English monarchs who had lived in the East during the Crusades. They experimented with setting up kingdoms in the East in their own names because it was already foremost in mind that the states are to be founded by the Papal authority, since the wars were the Crusades and the men of the Church wielded authority over their campaigns. When the experiment proved successful and they found a model to be followed they, or their successors, revolted against the authority of the Church. This was the first step towards separation of the Church from the State, or preventing the Church from administering political affairs of a foreign country.

This revolt of the royalty was necessary before the peoples' revolution which followed. The people formerly enjoyed as much freedom from the kings as the kings themselves had as regards the authority of the Church over them. The revolt of the royalty was necessary before the popular revolution.

Europe up to the 17th Century continued to believe in the state as a means of sovereignty of the ruler over the ruled. European scholars continued denying the right of the people in supervising State affairs. They considered this right as a road to chaos and anarchy, stated by Grosius while discussing the rights in war and peace.

Before Grosius, believed to the master of international law in Europe of this age, A1-Maari said at the beginning of the 11th Century, i.e. before Grosius by six centuries : «They (the kings) treated the subjects mercilessly and thought fit to cheat them. They ignored the people's interests although they were the peoples' servants»

Even before Al-Maari by four centuries, the Holy Quran told the people that their affairs were to be run through consultation among them. The Holy Prophet, peace be upon him, told the people that no one was obliged to obey the ruler if the latter's orders amounted to disobedience to the Creator `the Second Caliph Omar told the people that they were born free and no ruler o caliph, was to enslave them.

Although the Europeans missed the opportunity of learning this sublime lesson concerning the state and tile relations of the ruler and the ruled yet they learnt from the Muslim Kingdoms something : new about international relations, peace agreements, truce between enemies and people professing different faiths and belonging to different races and languages. Islam has sanctioned Muslims entering into agreements with infidels and Zimmis (non Muslim national of a Muslim state people of the Books (the Christian and Jews) exactly like the agreement with their own comrades in faith. In fact Europe provided the most suitable ground for application of these laws with the enemies, with peaceful people, government and individuals. A Muslim ruler never went back on his word of honor given for the safety even the most hated of the enemies.

The Christian knights always came to Andualsian capitals to match horsemanship physical strength with the famous Muslim champion. They enjoyed security whether they won or lost. The Christian governments which entered into agreements of peace or truce with the Muslims were always confident that the Muslims would honor the agreements even in the most critical times fraught with dangers. The Crusaders saw for themselves in the East another example of the sanctity enjoyed by international agreement. Here they became aware of the new tradition set for dealings between governments and nations. The European writers and poets sang in praise of Saladin, his magnanimity and generosity in his dealings with his enemies. They spoke very highly of the steadfastness with which all his promises and undertakings were marked. He never broke one single word of a promise he gave. He never swore unjustly.

What is more surprising in matters of demarcating the lines between the enmity and common dealings is the fact that the wars between the Arabs and the Crusaders never stopped altogether the common dealings between the two warring sides in non-combat affairs. The famous Arab traveler Ibn Jubair says : «What is most surprising is that fighting takes place between the two armies of the Muslims and the Christians but it is followed by truces and the Muslim and the Christian exchanges visits without anyone objecting to it. I myself saw in this month of Jumada al-Ula the march of Saladin at the head of his Muslim armies to storm the Al-Kirk castle which is the biggest of all Christian churches and bars the road to Hedjaz. The castle obstructs the Muslim land route. The distance between it and Damascus is one day's walk or slightly more. It is in the center of Palestine. It has a magnificent look and there is a series of buildings adjacent to it. People say it covers an area of four hundred villages. The Sultan stormed the Castle and tightened his seize. It took very long. Yet the caravans from Egypt to Damascus and to the countries of the Farnce moved unhindered continuously. Similar was the case of the Muslims moving from Damascus to Acre. There was no objective to these movements from the Christian traders; the Christian traders enjoyed the same immunity and nobody objected to their movement. The Muslims had a tax to pay in Christian lands as a guarantee for their security. Similarly, Christian traders pay taxes in Muslim lands on their merchandise.
They are agreed on treating each other with moderation in all cases. This goes on while the fighters are carrying on with the war. Despite that the people repose in peace and the land belongs to anyone who wins. These are the conditions in these lands at a time when there is a war going on. The same is true about the areas affected by feuds between Muslims kings and princes. None among the individuals and traders is harassed. There is peace for them in all cases, war or no war. The conditions in these lands are so surprising that it could not be described in words».

When the real meaning of the state was understood perfectly well, it had its good and useful effect on relations between governments during war and peace. No fighting took place in any part of the Arab world to demand the share of a princess in a throne, or to demand inheritance of in-laws or of royal dynasties. It was because Arab civilization placed the state far above the trivial affairs of inheritance which would be claimed on a basis of ties of family or in-laws. The State was raised by the Arabs and placed on the high pedestal of humanism. Modern civilization could realize, centuries later, the high ideal of the state being based on free and unfettered relations between the responsible ruler and his subjects who were free from all bondage. It would be perfectly right to claim that Arab civilization introduced a code of international dealings long before Europe. The Arabs placed international dealings on a footing which the reformers aim at in the days of the present United Nations Organization and similar international bodies.