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25th July '2007
Shah-i-Hamadan on Citizens’ Rights
 

 

Roza Shah-i-Hamadan, Tajikistan

Sayyid Mir Ali Hamadani, popularly known as Amir-i-Kabir and Shah-i-Hamadan in his treatise Zakhirat-ul-Maluk describes in detail the duties of rulers as well as the rights of citizens in an Islamic State. Chapter 5 of the work has been totally dedicated to this subject. After elucidating the conditions of governance with the actual examples taken from the lives of Khulfa-i-Rashidin and the Prophet (PBUH), he details the rights of the citizens. According to him the citizens have 20 Rights the discharge of which is incumbent on every ruler or king. Every ruler has to keep these mandatory obligations towards his subjects always in view and is bound to ensure observance of these at all costs.

The First Right of a citizen is his equality before the law. A ruler must treat all his subjects equally. Because of his power of governance, he must not be arrogant and overbearing towards any of his citizens. He must keep in mind that God Almighty considers arrogant and overbearing persons evil. Prophet (PBUH) has said, “God Almighty has sent a revelation to me, “O, Mohammad tell your followers that they should adopt humility. No man should be overbearing over his fellowman.” Prophet (PBUH) has further said that any person who has an iota of arrogance in his heart will not enter the Paradise.

The Second Right of a citizen is that a ruler should not listen about his subjects from each other. The result of back biting is nothing but fuss and shame. Especially a ruler should not listen to fuss creators, selfish, miser, and greedy people. A greedy person just for a morsel makes entire populace unhappy. A jealous person considers skills of all persons as their failings. God Almighty says that if a fuss creator brings some news to you, it must be considered seriously in its all aspects before acting on it. Someone has said that a person, who reveals others failings to you, will no doubt reveal your failings to others! It is related that a person came to Hazrat Ali and started talking evil about a Muslim. Hazrat Ali told him that he will ask the people about these allegations. If these are true, he will consider him bad for criticising others and for backbiting. If the same are false, then he will definitely punish him. Hazrat Ali further told him that if he repents his action, he will be forgiven. The person said that he repents and he was forgiven. Mohammad Bin Kaab Qurzi was asked by the people about the worst traits of a ruler. He said it is talking too much, revealing official secrets in public, and listening to everyone!

In the Third Right it is stated that if a ruler becomes angry on someone’s fault and there is a possibility of forgiveness, he should delay action for three days. The anger of a ruler should be only for a matter concerning loss to the faith. In case of some loss to the faith if he has to send a person away for life, it is perfectly justified. However, in the worldly affairs forgiveness is better. It is related in Hadith that any believer who forgives the sins of a fellow believer, will have his sins forgiven by Allah on the day of reckoning (Qayamat). It is also related in Hadith that Allah revealed to Hazrat Yusuf, “O Yusuf you forgave your brothers and I made a name for you and raised your status”.

The Fourth Right states that in the dispensation of justice and favours all citizens have equal rights before a ruler. There should be no distinction of deserving or undeserving in the grant of any favours by the ruler as he is a shadow of God. Allah’s blessings are equally for the believers as well as non-believers. Similarly justice and favours of the ruler should be given on the basis of equality both for the good as well as the bad. Prophet (PBUH) is reported to have observed that after faith, the most intelligent thing for a ruler is to develop friendship with his subjects and be kind to both the good as well as the bad.

Shah-i-Hamadan Library, Tajikistan

The Fifth Right of a citizen states that a ruler because of his might and power of governance should not cast an evil eye on the homes of the Muslims. He should not enter the homes of people without first seeking the permission of the house holders. Prophet (PBUH) in spite of the power and status of prophet hood would knock three times whenever he would visit any Muslim. If the householders did not give the permission to enter, he would retrace his steps without any feeling of resentment. Prophet (PBUH) has stated that one must seek permission to enter three times. On the first knock the householders get alerted. On the second knock they ready themselves and furbish the place and on the third knock they permit a person to enter or decline.

The Sixth Right enjoins that a ruler should interact with different sections of his subjects according to their status and standing. He should not be soft spoken to rogues and ruffians. He should not seek eloquence and maturity in the quarrels of common people. He should not expect the etiquette of the nobles from the savage and hilly people. Every person should be kept according to his conditions and habits. Every nation should be considered dependent on its status. The ruler should not resent interacting with any person. It is related in Hadith that Hazrat Dawood pleaded before Allah Tallah that the people make friends with him as a result of which he is deprived of His worship. Allah Tallah ordained that he should interact with his subjects according to their intelligence and should give concession for the relationship which existed between him and Allah.

The Seventh Right stipulates that the elders should be respected in a gathering. Especially those elders who are faithful and they should be looked upon with kindness. Prophet (PBUH) has stated, “Any person who does not respect elders amongst my followers and is not kind and merciful on the children of my followers, he is not among my followers”. It is related in Hadith that any youngman who respects an elder because of his age, for him Allah Tallah will create such a youngman in his old age who will respect him. In the same Hadith there is another point which states that any person who respects elders in their old age, himself reaches the old age!

The Eight Right is about keeping of promises. If a promise is made to someone, it should be fulfilled and nothing should be done against the promise. Prophet (PBUH) has stated that fulfilling of a promise is also a duty (Farz). He has further said that there are three signs of a hypocrite (Munafiq). Whenever he speaks, he speaks a lie. Whatever he promises, he does the reverse of that, and he always betrays a trust. It is given in history that Sikandar Zulqarnain attained rulership by his three traits. Whenever he would speak, he would speak the truth. Whenever he would promise, he would fulfil it. Whatever wealth he would gain, he would immediately spend it and keep neither anything for the morrow nor deposit anything in the treasury!

The Ninth Right states that a ruler should not be harsh in giving orders. He should treat both the rich and the poor with kindness. He should speak to the weak very softly. Prophet (PBUH) has said that in Paradise there are balconies made from pearls which are shinning and so transparent that everything is visible from outside. The companions asked who will get these balconies? Prophet (PBUH) replied those who speak to worshippers kindly; those who feed the hungry, and those who pray when all are sleeping, will get these balconies.

The Tenth Right upholds justice and fairplay. A ruler during his tenure should keep justice always in his view. He should demand justice from his subjects and should ask his own self to be just to his people. He should treat all Muslims in such a way that if he is given the same treatment, he does not resent it. Prophet (PBUH) has said that any person who wants to save himself from hell and wants to enter Paradise with dignity and respect, should mete out to other people the same treatment which if given to him, makes him happy.

The Eleventh Right makes it mandatory on a Muslim ruler to bring about mutual peace and understanding among Muslims at the earliest. He should not delay settling open disputes among Muslims as otherwise the matters turn into riots and enmity. Prophet (PBUH) has said that bringing peace between two Muslims is superior to prayer (Namaz), fasting (Roza), and charity (Sadqa).

Mosque near Roza of Shah-i-Hamadan,
Tajikistan

The Twelfth Right advises the ruler not to make any efforts to expose the sins of Muslims. He should not tease his subjects on trivial matters. The ruler should try his best to cover the failings of his subjects. Prophet (PBUH) has said that any person who covers the sins or failings of a Muslim, Allah Tallah will cover his sins on the day of reckoning. It is said that Hazrat Umar was one day patrolling when he heard singing and music from a house. He jumped over the wall of the house and observed that a man was sitting with a strange woman and had a cup of wine in front of him. He was drinking and singing. Umar told him, “O enemy of Allah do you presume that Allah will not disgrace you?” The man replied, “O, ruler of the believers don’t pass a judgement in haste. If I have committed one sin, then you have committed three!” Umar asked how was that? The man replied, “Allah Tallah says one should not spy and you have spied on me. Then Allah Tallah says enter houses through proper doors and you jumped over the wall. Finally, Allah Tallah says enter houses of others only with the permission of the householders and you came in without asking for permission”. Hazrat Umar said, “You have spoken the truth. If I forgive you, will you repent?” He said yes and Umar forgave him.

The Thirteenth Right postulates that a ruler or a king should not spoil his subjects by his lust and suspicion. To remove his doubts he should not indulge in levelling false allegations. If unintentionally he commits a wrong, he should not expose it to the public because reforming or spoiling of common people is dependent on their king or ruler. If the common people see their ruler treading a straight path, they are motivated towards righteousness. The reward of that is entered in the account of the ruler. If they see him committing wrong doings, they get inclined towards evil. The punishment for committing evil goes to the sinner as well as the sum total of it is written in the account of the ruler also. Prophet (PBUH) has said that whosoever shows a straight path gets rewarded for that and whosoever does any good gets rewarded. Any person who shows an evil way gets punished for this wrong doing and whosoever follows that gets punished and the punishments of all those committing wrongs by following this path are entered in the account of the person showing the evil way.

The Fourteenth Right describes the power of the intervention of a ruler. Most of the difficulties of Muslims are dependent on the intervention of the ruler. If the ruler desires, these difficulties can be removed. A ruler should not be negligent of the power of his intervention. It is a quality of good governance that most of the difficult tasks can be accomplished by the intervention of the ruler. The reward for this good intention should be considered a well deserved good fortune by the ruler. Prophet (PBUH) has said that the greatest charity of all is the charity of the speech. When asked how, he stated that the spoken intervention of a ruler grants clemency even to the murderers and many others too get benefited by it and the evil gets abolished.

The Fifteenth Right comments on the companionship. Instead of the powerful and wealthy, the ruler should show kindness to the poor and weak. He should seek companionship of the holy men and the God fearing and should get their advice for strengthening the transparency of his heart. The power of governance and the continuous companionship of the people darken the heart. Companionship of the worldly and the strangers makes one’s heart foggy. Once this darkness captures the heart, a heavy curtain is drawn over it which becomes the cause of continuous imprisonment and eternal misfortune. God Almighty says that these ill fated people have become prisoners of eternal torture. Their negligence in getting overwhelmed by the dust of worldly love and the companionship of the ignorant has clouded the transparency of their hearts. This darkness has falsified the light of their faith and the pursuit of wasteful customs has blackened their hearts. Thus on the day of reckoning (Qayamat) they will be in the company of the condemned and will not have the good fortune of meeting their Lord. Nor will they have any chance to taste the eternal life. It is related in Hadith that one should not sit with the dead. When asked who were the dead, the Prophet (PBUH) replied, the “wealthy”. It is related in Hadith that after completing his sittings in his court Hazrat Suleiman would come to Masjid Aqsa and would sit in a corner where some poor man was sitting. He would say that the poor always sit in the companionship of the poor!

The Sixteenth Right states that a ruler should not remain negligent of any of his subjects starving under his rule. He should not neglect the prevention of starvation by the poor and the weak. He should consider the care of orphans and widows his most important duty. The ruler should fear the grip of the day of reckoning (Qayamat) when all his wealth and power will be of no use. He must remember that on the day of reckoning (Qayamat) the deserving will ask the ruler for their rights. As today he has the power and the position to do everything, so he should get his emancipation here and now by doing all the good deeds. Abu Hurraira relates that Prophet (PBUH) said that on the day of reckoning (Qayamat), God Almighty will present a man to you. He will say that in the world I had asked you for food and clothing and you did not give these to me. You will say Allah Tallah I did not understand that. Allah will then say that in your neighbourhood lived a hungry and a naked man and you did not pay any heed to his condition. Then Allah Tallah will express His wrath, “I swear by my grandeur and my honour that I will deprive you today of everything as you had deprived this man in the world!”

Resting Place near Roza Shah-i-Hamadan

The Seventeenth Right enjoins upon the ruler to rid all the routes taken by Muslims of political intriguers, dacoits, and thieves. Any person who harms a Muslim en route should be hunted down and severely punished so that others take a lesson. On the route where ever there is some fear and scare, the ruler should get shelters constructed and if there is no possibility of constructing a safe shelter, then he should provide guards to protect the citizens. It is related that a Muslim ruler who has the courage to clear the routes taken by his subjects of thieves and dacoits, is protected by his sword even when he sleeps as his sword asks God for his forgiveness. On the contrary, the one who does not attend to this task and remains negligent and unconcerned, his sword curses him! It is said that Hazrat Umar called Abu Zarr and said to him, “O Abu Zarr, people call me Khalifa, what is your opinion?” He replied, “If on the banks of River Euphrates, an off spring of a goat gets wasted and you do not know about it, then people will not call you Khalifa!”

The Eighteenth Right mentions about building of bridges. A ruler is to be very attentive about the need to build bridges as well as Inns for the use of his subjects. He should not neglect this duty at any cost. It is related in Hadith that any person who builds a bridge with the intention so that Muslims travel across it with ease, the God Almighty will make his crossing of the Pul-i-Sirath easy on the day of reckoning (Qayamat).

The Nineteenth Right directs a ruler to construct a mosque in every town and arrange an Imam and Muezin for it. He should also provide scholarships for their day to day needs so that they are able to pray with ease and do not have to spend most of their time in trying to earn a living to support themselves. Prophet (PBUH) has said that whosoever constructs a mosque in the way of Allah in this world, Allah Tallah makes a home for him in Paradise.

The Twentieth Right which is the last Right of the Citizens described by Shah-i-Hamadan concerns the spreading of religious knowledge among Muslims and upholding righteousness. A ruler should not let out of his hand the power of ordering do’s and don’ts. He should not keep common people away from religious advice. He should order his subjects to obey God Almighty. In a decent way he should forbid his subjects from committing sin and indulging in evil things. Prophet (PBUH) has said that any one who sees evil being committed against Shariat should first try to stop it with his hand. This way is obligatory on kings and rulers. If one cannot stop evil by his hand, then he should try to stop it by his speech. If he cannot even stop it by his speech, then he should stop it by resenting it in his heart. This is the way of weak scholars. Thus Prophet (PBUH) has stated that a person who cannot stop evil by his hand as well as by his speech and does not even resent it in his heart, is not a Muslim at all! Abu Hurraira has related that Prophet (PBUH) has stated thrice that religion is an advice and to advise is obligatory. On being asked by people for what it was obligatory, Prophet (PBUH) replied, first for submission to God Almighty and secondly for following faithfully the book of Allah. This is a bounden duty for the kings and rulers and an obligation for the common people. Prophet (PBUH) has said that a person whom Allah makes a ruler over people, if he fails to incline them towards the worship of God and does not work for their betterment, will not even smell Paradise.

The description of the rights of citizens by Shah-i-Hamadan is a lesson both for the present rulers as well as the common people. It obliges us to introspect and analyse where all of us have gone wrong. There is no doubt that the present malaise in our society has been brought about by our neglect of these basic cardinal principles of our faith. Giving up of the spiritual for the material. Worship of the falsehood in contrast to stark truth. There is only one way for emancipation, upholding of the truth regardless of consequences and pursuit of the spiritual faith instead of the ephemeral material greed. If we don’t reform ourselves now, we are doomed and would be cast into oblivion like the umpteen nations of the past referred frequently in holy Qur’an!

 
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