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
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
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