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Does Power Accept Partners?

Unfortunately, there are some clichés that are misinterpreted and justified for the sake of authoritarianism among the Muslims. One of them is this catchy jingle; “the power/domination does not accept partners!”. Fatwas were issued based on this phrase, thus emerging political murders and some sultans killed their own brothers or even sons. The murders were committed not only because they were entitled to be on the throne according to the sultanate/power, but the possibility simply existed. Power holders killed many lives and made all-out slaughters based on these clichés and troubled fatwas.

On the other hand, the concept of “Ulu l-Amr” is made the Islamic reference of authoritarianism. While the obedience to Allah (SWT) and the Prophet (PBUH) and their principles, which are mentioned at the beginning of the verse, are ignored; the concept is presented as absolute obedience and bay’ah to the rulers/sultans. The ulama of the palace of every single era called the people to submit to the actions of the rulers that were clearly against the Quran and sunnah. “What is the meaning of Ulu l-Amr? Who should be obeyed under which circumstances?”

Such questions were taken away from the public eye and the people have always been told about the villainy of objection and how it is important to submit to the ruler at all times. Nobody even mentioned that “the biggest jihad is to object and rise against the tyrant”. The following hadith has never been brought forward for the tyrant sultans, unfair rulers who spit pure evil; “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” (40 Hadith Nawawi, 34)

Preachers and scholars always interpreted the verses and hadiths, which focus on the relationship between the government and people, for the benefit of the eighties. The verdict has always happened to be “deserves punishment!” when the poor steal, but when the thief is the ruler, the interpretation of the nas (verses of Quran and hadiths) has always been changed. AKP’s (Justice and Development Party) H. Karaman, a prominent fatwa announcer who also teaches muftis and theology professors, is a great example of “ulamau’s su” (bad ulama) who sits on the table of the Palace and misinterprets the nas. While the imams read out loud the verse “be just! Because Allah (SWT) commands with justice!” in Arabic on every Friday, they become the supreme supporter of the order of oppression and pillaging. The statement of the Prophet (PBUH) “Even if my daughter Fatima stole, I would punish her” remained only in the books.

Unfortunately, religion is being flexed and interpreted subjectively in the hands of such people. Therefore, people stop respecting religion, its followers, and scholars. One of the most fundamental reasons for the reform movement in Europe was such double standards and unprincipled approaches.

Erdogan stigmatized the services of the dissenting municipalities arising from the constitution and laws as a “parallel state”. Most probably, he also has plans to seize the municipalities which expedite challenging the Palace. However, the readily accepted “the power does not accept any partners!” mentality throughout his political base triggers this behaviour. The Islamist, conservative base might be thinking; “There is only one power, and it rules the state. The dissenting municipalities must be taken care of! The administration should be incorporated!”  

So, is this true in terms of Islam and political science? Is it possible to say that power does not accept any kind of partner?

If the point in question is the dominance of Allah (SWT), who is always upstanding strongly Himself, as the holder of absolute power, knowledge, and willpower; then there cannot be any discussion about a partner. Because He (SWT) is the Almighty and does not require any kind of support or help from anybody. However, the Muslim sultans/rulers appropriated this qualification of Allah (SWT). They adjusted this principle, which is about oneness, according to their needs in order to legitimize their dictatorship and ratify their oppression. The matter of “the domination does not accept any partners”, which belongs to Allah (SWT), started to be used by the governments formed by the humans after the Umayyad Dynasty. The kings started to use this as a weapon in order to intimidate their opponents and control everything. They made the servants of Allah (SWT) their own servants by addressing their people as “my servants!” in their edicts.

However, contrary to Divine domination, it is not possible to conduct governments/power formed by humans without any partners. Sultans, kings, heads of state, governors, mukhtars… They must share authority and delegate it. Because humans have limited power, knowledge, and ability. They cannot manage huge structures without any kind of support or partnership. Just like Bediuzzaman stated; Allah (SWT) does not need civil servants or assistants, but the power formed by the humans cannot do anything without partners or sharers.

Even Allah (SWT) commanded (PBUH) “wa shaawirhum fil amri” (Surah Ali-Imran:159) for the Prophet to ask for help in his duties and consult. In the Surah Ash-Shuraa, Allah (SWT) stated “and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves” about the believers (Surah Ash-Shuraa:38). The Prophet (PBUH) found partners/sharers for himself the first thing when the City State of Medina was being established. They sat together with the partners, worked extensively, and prepared a common text. The 52-point Charter of Medina, which is adored by the Islamists, is about the city governing of Medina. This text, which is sanctified by revelation, is the sharpest evidence that the Prophet (PBUH) found partners and sharers for worldly affairs and governing.

Who were the partners of the Prophet (PBUH) in this document?

Jewish tribes and the polytheists (pagans)!

The names, rights, and responsibilities of all the partners/sharers were written and recorded one by one in the text. The Prophet (PBUH) did not state “domination/power does not accept partners!” while deciding about Medina, but on the contrary, he acted together with his partners as per the Charter of Medina and decided with their approvals. Likewise, the members of the Rashidun Caliphate never viewed themselves as “the only decision maker!”, “absolute power that controls everything”, and they always consulted their friends. The fact that Umar was held accountable for a shirt and “we will straighten you with our curved swords if you go astray!” statement reveals the fact that even the companions did not see the Caliph as the sole and absolute authority.

Moses asked for partnership and stated that he wanted his brother Harun (Surah Taha 29-32) to share this difficult task after he was given the sacred prophethood duty with the approval of Allah (SWT). And Allah (SWT) bestowed his brother as a partner/sharer.

The domination of Allah (SWT) does not accept any partners under any circumstances; because He (SWT) does not need it. However, the power held by humans cannot be controlled without partners. The more partners there are in such powers, the more peaceful, fair, efficient, and quality they will be. The power will be unsuccessful, unbalanced, and unfair as long as it remains in the monopoly of few. Ruling gets easier with partners. Because humans are weak, they cannot think about, perform, or handle huge tasks alone. Those who want to rule alone will frustrate the society and lead the government to a downfall as it is clearly seen at the end of the reign of every dictator.

Societies, which adopt “power does not accept partners” logic; gathers all authority and power in a limited number of people/institutions, are always at the bottom of the lists in prosperity, justice, peace, domestic income, and humanitarian values whether they are Muslims or not. But the most peaceful, fairest, richest, and most effective governments in the world are always the ones that are managed with many partners. The countries where people want to take refuge after crossing seas and risking their lives are the ones where the power is shared, and strength is controlled. Countries such as Belgium, Germany, Austria, Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Japan, France, England have been ruled by coalitions for many years. None of these countries suffer by any kind of management turmoil. They do not have any leaders controlling everything and everybody, however, they are strong and influential in the world.

Interestingly, the non-Muslim countries, which are governed by coalitions; meaning where the power is shared, always take the top places in the “Islamicity ranking” based on the research of Muslin academics.

“The power does not accept partners” cliché is a mumpsimus produced in order to justify authoritarianism. It is not Islamic, nor Quranic, nor humane. We will have a chance to learn from our scholars if they could share anything in the nas/Islamic norms about the power held by humans not accepting partners.

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Mahmut Akpinar
Mahmut Akpinar
Dr. Mahmut Akpinar is a political scientist focusing on international relations and Turkish politics.

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