Islam, among other things, is about an elected and publicly accountable government and independent judiciary.
Qur’an laid down these principles quite clearly and precisely – among many others – for everyone to read, understand and implement in their lives and societies in every age and place.
The Hadith explains in detail what these ideas mean. Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his noble Companions demonstrated in actual practice how these ideas work in real life.
Thereafter, subsequent generations of Muslims showed how it is done, even in the most difficult circumstances, and even in the face of the most crushing challenges and odds.
At the death of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, Omar actively campaigned and mobilized the Muslim voter to elect Abu Bakr.
May Allah be pleased with them!
From his deathbed, Omar put in place the political and institutional arrangements for the vetting, drafting and election of his successor.
Uthman elected to give his own life rather than cause a rift in the Muslim community and create political and social chaos and confusion.
Ali waited long years for the Muslim masses to come around to electing him.
Abu Bakr, Omar, Uthman and Ali, may Allah be pleased with them all, Radiyallahu ‘Anhum, all held themselves to the highest standards of public accountability before the electorate.
And they did so without caring for consequence, whether pertaining to their own personal safety or something else.
Nor did such profane and vile influences as greed, personal ambition or cheap expediency ever cast their nefarious shadow upon their decision making.
These most blessed and rightly-guided Companions of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did things because those were the right things to do: based on God’s Law as stipulated in the Qur’an; based on the sayings and examples of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, in the Hadith; based on genuine Public Interest as they perceived it; and based on simple logic and common sense.
Thereafter, their own followers from next generations of Muslims rose to unimaginable heights of excellence, dedication and sacrifice in serving their society.
Abu Hanifah, Malik, Shafi’i and Ibn Hanbal, may God have mercy on them, are all great examples of the best in scholarship as well as in public service.
All the time, these great men were fighting to preserve their own personal and professional integrity and independence in the face of aggressive and even violent onslaught from Rulers-Of-The-Day who, contrary to Islamic teachings, had turned kings and were becoming increasingly despotic and desperate.
It was this glorious legacy of fearless jurisprudence and dedicated political activism that England and Enlightenment Europe later tried to emulate and that eventually percolated to America.
Islam and Muslims were, thus, among the leaders and harbingers into our world of what the world today refers to as Modernity.
The Modern World – what in Arabic sometimes is referred to these days as Al Asr Al Hadith – owes a great debt of gratitude to these Muslim pioneers of Modernity and progress.