Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Draft Constitution of Hizb ut-Tahrir

This subject of this post is the "Draft Constitution of the Islamic State" promoted by the Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir.  It was composed by Hizb's founder, Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, and published in his 1953 book The Islamic State.  It is intended to serve as the constitution of the united Islamic Caliphate (Khilafah) which Hizb seeks to (re-)establish.

The constitution can be seen, like the Hamas Charter, as a document of the Islamist Counter-Enlightenment.  It seeks to create a theocratic Islamic state governed by traditional religious law under the authoritarian rule of a Caliph (Khalifah).


Devotion to Islam is the bedrock of the constitution (Art. 1).  It provides that Shariah law will be binding on all citizens (Art. 5, 7), and that the Shariah, rather than the people, will be the ultimate source of sovereignty (Art. 22a).

The Caliph and the central government

The Caliph would be the head of state.  In fact, the constitution expicitly states that "[t]he Khalifah is the State" and provides that he is to be legally omnipotent (Art. 35).  He must be a Muslim man (Art. 31).

There are few democratic controls on the Caliph's authority.  It is stated that the Ummah is the source of political authority and that the Caliph acts on its behalf (Art. 22b, 24).  He is elected by universal Muslim suffrage (Art. 26).  However, the Caliph's term of office is indefinite, and he cannot be dismissed from his position (Art. 34, 38).

The one exception to this last rule is that a kind of Supreme Court will exist (the Court of Madhalim) which will have the power, in extreme circumstances, to depose the Caliph (Art. 81).  However, the Caliph himself is given the power to appoint the judge of this court (Art. 79), just as he also has the power to appoint the Chief Justice of the Caliphate (Art. 67).

The constitution provides for a Parliament (Majlis al-Ummah) (Art. 23), which is to be elected by the people (Art. 102).  However, decisions of the Parliament appear not to be binding in all matters (Art. 104, 107).  In at least some cases, the decision as to whether to consult the Parliament appears to lie with the Caliph (Art. 101, 107.3).

Non-Muslims will be admitted to the Parliament (Art. 101), but their role will be "confined to their voicing of complaints with respect to unjust acts performed by the rulers and/or the misapplication of Islam on them" (Art. 103).

Alongside the Caliph and his deputy there will be a minister called the Amir of Jihad.  His authority will extend not merely to military and foreign affairs, as his name suggests, but to home affairs and the economy as well (Art. 51).

The provinces

The Caliphate will be divided into provinces (Art. 86).  These will be administered by Governors (Wulah) who are appointed and dismissed by the Caliph (Art. 35d, 87).  There is additional provision for a Governor to be dismissed by the Parliament, or in cases where "the majority of the people of the province appear to be displeased with him" (Art. 93, 107.2).

The Governors are assisted by provincial assemblies, whose role is advisory in nature (Art. 90)

Economic and social policy

Nabhani had a socialist background, and there are traces of this in the constitution.  The state is to guarantee full employment (Art. 149), and there will be a welfare state with state-provided healthcare and education (Art. 152, 160, 173, 174).  The concentration of wealth in a few hands will be prohibited (Art. 153).

There will be a dirigiste approach to the economy, which will be geared towards military needs (Art. 55, 156).  There will be no general policy of nationalisation, but there will be some level of public ownership of industry (Art. 134, 135, 156).

It is stated that the role of a woman is to be "primarily a mother and a home maker" (Art. 108), albeit women will have the ability to participate in public life (Art. 111).  It is repeatedly stated that the sexes will be segregated (Art. 109, 113, 114).  "Seductive manners and clothing are not allowed." (Art. 113)

Military and foreign policy

As noted, the economy will be managed with a view to the state's military needs.  There will be compulsory military service (Art. 56).

The Caliphate will explicitly be an Islamic missionary state (Art. 183).  Western nations like Britain and America will be regarded as "potentially warlike states" (Art. 184.3), and there will be a state of war with Israel (Art. 184.4).

Concessions to the Enlightenment

It is only fair to mention that there are some apparent concessions to Enlightenment values.  The constitution provides that citizens will be accorded equality "regardless of their religion, race, colour or any other factor" (Art. 6), though other provisions do give Muslims a higher status than non-Muslims.  There is a qualified recognition of gender equality (Art. 110) and provision for the toleration of non-Islamic worship (Art. 7).  There is also included a right to scrutinise the government (Art. 20) and to form (Islamic) political parties (Art. 21).