This week’s topic is to have an insight into the worldview of the Islamic framework of international relations. Like we said before that the spirit of togetherness and the dynamics of group fairly sketch an Islamic worldview which is flourished through certain universal features, principles and values. The essence of an Islamic worldview is to share the happiness and bliss of social goods between and among all individuals in the broader global society.
The Islamic worldview envisions a world order in which all individuals and people are free to live according to their belief and choice and maintain their freedom to cooperate on the basis of mutual understanding and respect. The international system envisaged by an Islamic framework affirms that unless born in captivity to captive parents, human beings are all born free and remain so as long as they live. By dint of in-born freedom and liberty, none can be seized, detained, or imprisoned without appropriate legal grounds. Islam does not recognise any law as legal and legitimate if it empowers any government to seize, detain or incarcerate any person without formal accusation against him in the court of law.
Freedom includes freedom of religion, freedom of thought, freedom of speech, freedom of voting, freedom of economic and social justice etc. It is to be noted here that the issue of apostasy (renunciation of Islam by adult male Muslims) in the early years of Islam aimed, not against the freedom of conscience and belief, but rather at enforcing the policy of Islamisation on the warring Bedouin tribes and at preventing conspiracy. Allah says: “Let there be no compulsion on religion. However, freedom needs to be enjoyed within certain legal restrictions in order to ascertain and ensure others’ freedom. For example, no liberty is allowed if it violates the dignity and rights of others. This restricted freedom stretches from the individual personal life to social, economic, political and international arena.
The second important pillar on which Islamic worldview stands is to ensure rights for all including humans, animals and ecology. Islam upholds three basic rights including the right to life, the right to property and the right to dignity. All other necessary rights are covered under the shade of these three that are fundamental and inalienable. Human rights cannot be maintained at the cost of the rights of animals and ecology. For instance, if manufacturing and industrialisation for human requirements cause environmental degradation affecting animals’ rights, Islam cannot allow these projects. Laws of rights under Islam include a wide range of areas that include civil and criminal laws, war laws, economic and business laws, environmental laws, and international laws. All nations and all countries of the world enjoy equal rights on all international entities and resources.
As a basic principle, justice is enjoined on the Muslims in all their dealings with others, whether Muslims or non-Muslims. Allah says, “O you who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you into dealing unjustly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is informed of all that you do.” The realm of justice transcends from individual to national to international boundaries. Justice must be ensured in resolving international conflicts, maintaining inter-state relations, sharing international resources, discharging global responsibilities and complying with international treaties and commitments.
Under Islamic theory, all humans are equal by dint of birth, and are, therefore, entitled to equal rights by virtue of Islam. Prophet (SM) said’ “Each human being is born on fitrah, but his parents mould him as Jew or Christian. Distinction should be made on the basis of intelligence, and knowledge, work and productivity, by excellence, virtue or righteousness. Islam regards any kind of apartheid built on race or biology, language or culture, geography or age, as an offence against humanity as well as its creator.
In line with egalitarianism, another significant feature of an Islamic world order is universalism. Allah Ta’la declared that He sent the prophet (SM) as the bliss (rahmah) for the entire world. Under an Islamic international system, what is considered good for one nation should also be considered good for others. All nation-states must enjoy equal shares in happiness and woes, opportunity and resources, advantages and disadvantages. The strategy of hypocrisy and double standard is not permissible in Islam. Interactions of great powers with the small powers need to be based on this principle. International organisations should be meant for the benefits of each and every country; no way should these platforms be used as the instruments of preserving the interests of some countries.
Islamic worldview demands a sound international system in order to maintain peace, prosperity and security in the international society which is of utmost importance for a peaceful world. The literal meaning of Islam is peace and thus a Muslim means the one who ensures peace and security in personal life as well as in social life. A bunch of preventive, corrective and punitive measures are laid by Islam for peace, prosperity and security. The diplomatic letters of Prophet (SM) record: “Be ready for peace and be safe.” This clearly indicates that peace is a precondition for security and vice versa. In the early years, Prophet (SM) called his people and urged: “Don’t create instability and terror in the earth.
The author is a Professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka and currently Dean of the School of Business and Social Sciences, Sylhet International University. He can be accessed at [email protected]