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POLITICAL SCIENCE


The conception of Political Science has undergone a great change since the time of Ibn Khaldun, the originator of modern sociology and politics. He gave a totally new outlook to political science and developed it on a different line--a line which was scrupulously followed by such great political scientists as Vico and Machiavelli. Politics as it is today, was. foreign to the earlier mediaevel political theorists who confined their treatises to the record of the characteristics of a good ruler and his relations with his subjects. But, whatever, political thought existed during the Mediaevel era, owed its growth to the genius of such political thinkers as Al-Mawardi and Nizamul Mulk Toosi.

Even earlier, the instructions given by the Prophet of Islam and his worthy successors including Hazrat Omar Farooq and Hazrat Ali to their lieutenants and governors on the policy to be followed in the civil administration and towards their non-muslim subjects, will undoubtedly form an invaluable part of political administration for all times to come. In fact, the seeds of real democracy were sown by the second Caliph of Islam in the instructions which he had issued to his governors in which he asked them to live like common people. He himself practised what he preached and translated his ideas into practice. Mr. Gandhi once asked the Congress Ministers of India to follow the ideals and example of the second Caliph of Islam.

The Abbasid Caliphate, which is considered the Golden Period of Islamic intellectual development produced some of the greatest Muslim historians who also wrote on political science. Abu Abdullah Muhammad Ibn Muslim Ibn Qutaibah who flourished in Baghdad and died in 889 A.D was the earliest Muslim writer on political science. He is the author of Uyun Al-Akhhar, a work in 10 volumes in which he has laid down the functions of the head of state and the principles which should guide him in selecting high functionaries.

Shihabuddin Ahmad Ibn Muhammad Ibn Ali Al-Rabi, was another political writer of repute who compiled his Suluk UI Muluk Fi Tadbir il Mamulik during the reign of the Abbasid Caliph Mustasim in which he laid down his ideas about knowledge, sovereignty, the administration of justice, revolution, wealth and slavery. His writings are free from all partisanship.

Abu Nasr Farabi, was one of the greatest intellectual giants that the Muslim world has produced and, according to George Sarton was "conversant with the whole scientific Thought of his age. He was thoroughly versed not only in philosophy, logic, politics, occult sciences and sociology but also in mathematics, medical sciences and music".' He was an encyclopaedist, an outstanding mathematician and physician, an occult scientist, an eminent philosopher and a distinguished musician. According to reliable historical sources he left behind him more than a hundred works on diverse subjects, but only 15 or 20 are still extant. He has written no less than five treatises on politics namely a 'Summary of Plato's Laws', Siyasat al-Madaniyah, Ara ahl al-madinah al-fazilah, Jawami al-Siyasat, and Ijtimn'at al-Manaiziyah. In fact he has made a lasting contribution to sociology by writing his memorable work, Ara Ahl al-madinah fazilah, (Epistle on the opinions of people of the superior city) thus paving the way for the immortal Prolegomena of Ibn Khaldun. It was translated and published by Dieterici as Philosophia de Arabar and later on as Dur Mustcarstaat Von Alfarabi. Farabi has presented his conception of a model city in his well-known work Slyasnt al-Madaniyah (Political Economy) in which he seems to have been inspired by the Republica of Plate and Politica of Aristolle. His ideal city is to be governed by wise men, who are perfect both morally and intellectually. He lays great stress on the happiness and high morality of the citizens of his model city. The book in 34 Chapters, translated and edited by Dieterici is of great sociological interest.

Ikhwan-al-Safa, a group of celebrated authors headquartered at Basrah during the second half of the tenth century A.D. compiled in 52 tracts, Rasail Ikhryanal-Safa, the philosophical and scientific knowledge of their age. They divided politics into five parts namely the Prophetical, Monarchical, Public, Private and Personal.

Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Pcllawardi born in Basrah in 1072 A.D. was an eminent statesman and a prolific writer on diverse subjects like Religion, Ethics, Literature and politics. The Abbasid Caliph Al-Qadir Billah (381--422 A.H.) held him in great esteem and Qaim bi Amrillah (391--460 A.H.) the 26th Abbasid Caliph of Baghdad had made him his roving ambassador. Al-Mawardi was a Political economist, and his monumental work Al-Ahkam-us-Sulsaniyah occupies an important place amongst the political treatises written"during mediaeval times. He wrote four treatises on Political Science, namely:- (1) AI-Ahkam-us-Sultaniyah. (Laws concerning rulership), (2) Adab-al- Waziv (Ethics of the Minister), (3) Siyasat-ul-Malik (Kings Politics), and (4) Tahsil-un-Nasr-wat-Tajil-us-Zafar (Facilitating the conquest and hastening victory).

Of these the first two books have been published. His Al-Akham-us-Sultaniyah which has been translated into several languages including French and Urdu is an invaluable work on Islamic public laws. The Adab-al- Wazir deals with the functions of the Prime Minister and lays down sound advice on public administration. He had much personal experience of practical politics, as, on several occasions, he was sent by the Caliph of Baghdad on diplomatic missions to neighbouring states. His wise statesmanship was, to a great extent, responsible for maintaining the prestige of the diminishing Caliphate of Baghdad over the too powerful and almost independent Saljuq and Buwayhid Amirs.

Abu Ali Hasan Ibn Ali Ibn Ishaq better known as Nizamul Mulk Toosi, was the celebrated grand Vazier ofthe Saljuq Ruler, Malik Shah. Being one of the ablest and most talented Prime Ministers that the Muslim world has produced, Nizamul Mulk Toosi ranks high among the great administrators and statesmen of the world. He was born in 1017 A.D. near Pus, received his higher education at Baghdad and successfully served as the minister of the two successive Saljuq rulers, Alp Arsalan and Malik Shah. He was a great patron of learning and was the distinguished founder of the world famous Nizamiyah University of Baghdad. He was the principal figure behind the glorious reign of Malik Shah Saljuqi. Nizamul Mulk wrote in 1092 A.D. for the guidance of Malik Shah, his monumental political treatise Siyasat Namah which stands as a landmark in the annals of political treatises written during Mediaeval times. Being an able administrator he has incorporated his practical experiences in this book which served as the 'Magna Charta' for an ideal state. It deals with such topics as kingship, judiciary, espionage, ambassadorship, the functions and qualifications of all classes of officers, etc. It was written in the Persian language and contained 50 Chapters.

Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali (1058--1111 A.D.)known as 'Algazel' in the west was one of the most eminent thinkers of Islam. Being appointed the distinguished Principal of the celebrated Nizamiyah University of Baghdad at an early age of 34 years, Imam Ghazali wielded great political, spiritual and social influence over the world of Islam and was held in high esteem by the Caliph. But at last he was fed up with the artificiality and the pageantry which pervaded the social life of Baghdad. His soul yearned for something else which was not available in the theoretical knowledge obtained through books. So he resolved to make a spiritual pilgrimage and renouncing all his worldly comforts, left Baghdad and for a number of years roamed about like a hermit in quest of spiritual knowledge. He incorporated his experiences with truth in his brilliant work Ihya al-Ulum which inspired later writers and brought about the revival of Mysticism. In this immortal work he has exposed the so called philanthropists and social workers whose charitable and social works are generally guided by selfish motives. He had tried to find out persons who were responsible for the social degeneration. He had a wide knowledge of the inner life of the ruling class as well as that of the religious heads and he has drawn his conclusions in these memorable words, "'The morals of the subjects have deteriorated because the life of the ruling class has much degenerated which is the ultimate result of the moral weakness of the religious heads. The Ulema have sold their conscience to the lust of wealth and power" His political ideas are found in a number of his works including Ihya al- Ulum, Manqidh Min Dalal, Tibr al-Masbuq, Sirr al-Alamain, Fatihah al-Lllum, 'Kimiya-i-Saadah, Iqtisad fi al-Itiqad and Kitab al-Wajiz.

He had dealt with multifarious political and social topics which agitated the minds of mediaeval political thinkers namely democracy, constitution, judiciary, functions of the head of state and its executive, slavery and civil administration.

The Qabus Namah dealing with the functions of the ruler and high functionaries of the state was written by Amir Unsur-al-Ma'ani Kaikaus Ibn Sikandar Ibn Washmgir in 1082 A.D. It is a political treatise of considerable importance.

Abu Bakr Muhammad Ibn al-Walid Ibn Muhammad Ibn KhalafIbn Sulaiman al-Turtushi (1060--1126 'A.D.) known as Ibn Abi Randaqa is the author of the monumental political treatise, Siraj al-Muluk. It contains sixty-four Chapters, in which political thought has been subordinated to ethical considerations. This work had a great influence on contemporary and later political thinkers including the celebrated Ibn Khaldun.

As has been noted earlier, Ibn Khaldun, Muslim historian and political philosopher, was one of the greatest intellects of his age and one of the most outstanding thinkers of all times. His contributions to the study and development of historiography were of singular importance and have been described in a previous chapter. He also proved to have remarkable insight into social and political phenomena and advanced a number of political theories which were later accepted by other political thinkers.

Ibn Khaldun's summary of the qualities required of a ruler, as stated in his monumental work Kilab al-lbar is worth quoting here: "The sovereign exists for the good of the people ... The necessity of a Ruler arises from the fact that human beings have to live together and unless there is some one to maintain order, society would break to pieces". He observes that "there is a constant tendency in an oriental monarchy towards absolutism, towards unlimited power, so undoubtedly the tendency of the oriental governors was towards greater and greater independence of central authority". Earlier al-Mawardi had pointed out the unlimited powers of the governors during the declining period of the Abbasid Caliphate, when the governorship was acquired through usurpation and the central authority had little control over them. Ibn Khaldun was more realistic in his approach towards the solution of intricate political and social problems, at a time when the Muslim world was passing through the most critical phase of its existence.

The later political thinkers, both in the East and the West were deeply influenced by the writings of Ibn Khaldun.

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