I Got a question from a reader last week: “What about us poor people? Is there a standard by which a people-centred politician can be measured?” – Rahmat O’iza
I assured her that I would try to answer this question. Along the way, I’ll draw inspiration from three sources: from good books, from caliphs, and from scholars. Additionally, the three sources are neatly grouped into the following themes:
Simple ways to deal with rewards and punishments
Two Expectations for Leaders – This Removes Confusion About Leadership Functions
A secure way to safeguard people’s well-being
Let’s start with the last one. In March 2022, I have the privilege of giving a lecture at IET Minna on juridical perspectives on democracy and Islam. In my talk, I mentioned the very simple way Ibn Taymiyyah linked welfare to justice.
I haven’t seen anyone handle this in such a brilliant way, except to some extent, Sheikh Uthman Dan Fodio.
The key to a good welfare system, says Ibn Taymiyyah, is justice. Once you have justice in a society, God will uphold the system. On the other hand, injustice can lead to the disintegration of the welfare system. This rule applies to whether the handler of the system is a believer or a disbeliever.
In fact, Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Justice with sin is better for human welfare than injustice in the rights of the people (even without sin).”
This means that even if our leaders spend their days in mosques and churches, as long as they refuse to do justice, our affairs will be in jeopardy.
What is justice? Equal opportunity.Islam agrees with social scientists like Jordan Peterson on what they think we should push It should be equality of opportunity, not equality of outcome.
This means that if the president’s children have the opportunity to work in PenCom or the NDIC, the poor villager’s children should have the same opportunity. how? By having the right to participate in the application process. But more importantly, the poor should have the same opportunity to prepare themselves, namely a decent education.
After these opportunities are equalized, the outcome (who gets the job after the interview) should be left to individual effort.
So when I was the governor’s chief press secretary, I was told that hiring was going through behind-the-scenes channels. So people whispered to me, “This is your chance to hire your wife. They’ll do it for you!”
At that time, my wife had just left the high paying business and returned to Nigeria without a job.
“No,” I said firmly, “it will be a conflict of interest. It will not be justice. Why should we continue to deceive the people in the way of the PDP when we promise people will change?”
Then I went to the head of service and advised him to stop recruiting through the back door. But he told me that covert recruitment was not real.
This is justice.
This is how God operates his equal opportunity. He teaches us right and wrong through his messengers and gives us the power and tools to do what is right. But in the end, whether we go to hell or heaven, is a personal choice.
This is why Allah has made for himself the holy place of injustice. This is why Ottoman Denver Dior said “a nation can endure unbelief, but not injustice”.
Ibn Taimiya continued:
“That’s why it is said: God has established a just nation (dawla), whether it is unbelieving, but not an unjust nation, whether it is Muslim. Others say: (things) of this world can be Justice and unbelief persist, but not injustice and Islam.”
why is that? The Prophet (P) said: “There is no sin quicker in God’s punishment than usurping the rights of others and severing family ties”.
Ibn Taymiyyah added: “The usurper is punished in this world, even though he may be forgiven in the afterlife.”
Ibn Taymiyyah then sums up this important insight on leadership that we should all benefit from – whether we are leaders of the United Nations or of families.
“The matter of the homeland is based on justice, and the state will exist even if the ruler has no hereafter (due to lack of faith); if there is no justice, the ruler will not exist even if the ruler is rewarded. For their faith, in the hereafter.”
So, as we head into the next election season, Hajiya Rahma Oyiza asks himself, who is likely to execute justice as described above? Because “justice is the principle of everything”. Issues of race, religion and ethnicity are secondary — and probably irrelevant.
To be continued.