Obligations of the Rulers in Islam
All over history, rulers, according to their qualifications, have played influential roles in the development and retardation of nations. The ideal, sincere ruler is he who governs his subjects on bases of leniency, justice, and equality.
The absolute ruler, on the other hand, is he who enslaves, humiliates, and exploits the subjects for his own interests:
The Prophet (s) said: "On the Day of Resurrection, a caller will cry out: where are the unjust rulers and their supporters, including those who provided them an inkpot, those who untied one of their bags, and those who sharpened a pencil for them. Join all these individuals to those rulers."
The unjust rulers will sooner or later suffer punishments that befit their acts of oppression. History is full of stories showing the bad results of the absolute rulers.
Al-Hajjaj ibn Yousuf ath-Thaqafi is the most hideous example of the unjust rulers. He ruled for twenty years during which he killed 120,000 individuals besides those whom were killed during his campaigns. In his cells, there were fifty thousand men and thirty thousand women…etc. Finally, this dictator was affected by canker and severe frost until he perished.
Rights of Subjects against Rulers
The absolute authority of the unjust rulers, in most cases, is the result of people's rebellion against and disobedience to the Lord:
The Prophet (s) said: "Allah says: I am Allah. There is no god but I. I have created the kings whose hearts are in My hand. I will make the hearts of the kings full of mercy towards the people who obey Me, but I will make them full of rancor towards the people who disobey Me. Do not engage yourselves in reviling at the kings. You must repent to Me so that I will make their hearts full of compassion towards you."
Because most people try to imitate them, it is obligatory upon rulers to be characterized by righteousness and well behavior so as to act as good examples for their subjects. Likewise, the rulers' deviation and misconduct push most people towards deviation.
Rulers are required to govern people with means of lenience and avoid persecution because despotism is the most disreputable manner of the rulers and the most injurious act towards the subjects.
The Prophet (s) said: "Lenience will beautify anything it accompanies and will disfigure anything it leaves." (al-wafi; part 3 page 86 (as quoted from al-kafi).
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "Habituate your heart to mercy for the subjects and to affection and kindness for them. Do not stand over them like greedy beasts who feel it is enough to devour them, since they are of two kinds, either your brother in religion or one like you in creation. They will commit slips and encounter mistakes. They may act wrongly, willfully, or by neglect. So, extend to them your forgiveness and pardon, in the same way as you would like Allah to extend His forgiveness and pardon to you, because you are over them and your responsible Commander (Imam) is over you while Allah is over him who has appointed you through what He has given to you of the knowledge of His Book and the practices of His Prophet (s)."
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "The lenient can win anything he wants from people." (al-wafi; part 3 page 87 (as quoted from al-kafi).
Lenience is of no value unless it is done to the virtuous people. The evildoers who disturb the social peace do not deserve any sort of lenient treatment.
Aspects of Lenience
Aspects of lenience can be shown through the words and deeds of the rulers. Hence, the ruler must use good wording and avoid obscenity. He must treat the subjects with kindness through sympathizing with their pains and tragedies and hurrying for helping them in misfortunes and crises. Finally, the ruler must try his best to save the subjects from heavy taxes.
Results of Lenience
Lenience creates the subjects' love for their rulers and save them from the need for flattering and hypocrisy.
God praised His Messenger Mohammed (s) for his lenience:
"Only through the Divine Mercy have you (Muhammad) been able to deal with your followers so gently. If you had been stern and hardhearted, they would all have deserted you a long time ago. (3:159)"
(D) Selection of the Retinue
A ruler, no matter how well-qualified he is, cannot dispense with supporters who help him do his duties properly. Such supporters, in fact, have a great effect in guiding and conditioning the ruler's morals and opinions. From this cause, it is important for the ruler to select well-qualified and decent retinue so that they will positively help him and contribute in achieving the subjects' pleasure.
(E) Settlement with the Officials
Because most of them take pride in their authorities, officials usually challenge and treat people arrogantly and neglect their duties. Such behaviors will surely dissatisfy people with the ruling authorities. From this cause, it is necessary for rulers to supervise and call the officials to accounts so as to reward the dutiful and punish the negligent. By doing so, each individual will perform his duty towards the society properly, tragedies and varieties of flattering to the official will be eradicated, and all the social affairs will he prevailed by justice.
(F) Achievement of Social Happiness
The ruler is responsible for the moral and material development of the subjects. This happiness can be achieved when the ruler supervises the subjects, pays attention to their interests, secures their rights of security, justice, and luxury, raises their scientific, physical, social, moral, and structural levels, cares for the industrial, agricultural, and commercial development, and encourages the talents and abilities.
Rulers' Rights against Subjects
The ruler, in his capacity as the pioneer or the national development and civilization, enjoys definite rights imposed upon the subjects.
In the following words, Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) refers to the rights of the rulers:
"The ruled cannot prosper unless the rulers are sound, while the rulers cannot be sound unless the ruled are steadfast. If the ruled fulfill the rights of the ruler and the ruler fulfils their rights, then right attains the position of honor among them, the ways of religion become established, signs of justice become fixed and the Sunna gains currency. In this way time will improve, the continuance of government will be expected, and the aims of the enemies will be frustrated. But if the ruled gain sway over the ruler, or the ruler oppresses the ruled, then difference crops up in every word, signs of oppression appear, mischief enters religion and the ways of the Sunna are forsaken. Then desires are acted upon, the commands (of religion) are discarded, diseases of the spirit become numerous and there is no hesitation in disregarding even great rights, nor in committing big wrongs. In such circumstances, the virtuous are humiliated while the vicious are honored, and there are serious chastisements from Allah onto the people."
Rulers enjoy the right of obedience against their subjects in the fields that achieve satisfaction of God. Obedience encourages rulers to treat their subjects sincerely while rebellion and disappointment are detestable manners that excite the rulers' rage and punishment.
Imam al-Kadhim said: "O Shia, do not humiliate yourselves by acting disobediently to the rulers. You should pray to Allah to perpetuate the just rulers and rectify the unjust. Your rectification will be achieved when your rulers are rectified. The just ruler is as same as the compassionate father. Hence, you should love for him that which you love for yourselves and reject for him that which you reject for yourselves." (Bihar ul-Anwar; Kitab ul-Ashara page 218 (as quoted from al-Amali).
A ruler cannot dispense with the support of his subjects who help him do his duties properly by means of intellectual and mental efforts.
People of reason are encompassed by the duty of providing advices to the rulers when they tend to despotism enthralling the subjects. If such advices prove futility, then the intellectuals are not blamed. The Prophet (s) said: "The ruler is Allah's shadow on this earth and the shelter of the wronged. If the ruler governs with justice, he will be rewarded and the subjects must thank. If the ruler governs unjustly, he will be punished and the subjects must show tolerance until they are relieved." (Bihar ul-Anwar; Kitab ul-Ashara page 214 (as quoted from al-Amali).
Nowadays, the rulers have no longer accepted advices; therefore, the civilized governments have permitted criticizing the rulers by way of parliaments, press media, and memoranda.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL NECESSITIES
Human being is the composition of two elements: body and spirit. These two elements are correlated and interacting. Man's happiness depends totally on the soundness of these two elements each of which has its own desires and necessities.
The physical necessities are the material factors that achieve growth, health, and vitality, such as food, drink, clothing, and other life necessities.
The mental necessities are the intellectual and spiritual desires, such as knowledge, freedom, justice, peace of mind, and the like.
For gaining sound body and soul, it is essential to respond to these necessities. For instance, weakness and ailment are the results of depriving the body of its necessities, while puzzlement, worry, and misery are the results of depriving the soul of its necessities.
Briefly, the physical right is to attend to the health regulations, such as moderation in food and drink, evasion of alcoholic drinks and drugs, abstinence from sinful carnal desires, habituating to cleanness, practicing physical activities, treating of the ailments, following the physicians' advices, and the like matters.
Many people ignore the mental health because they are far away from the spiritual values. Few groups of people, however, can realize the mental complications that appear in the form of recalcitrance, rebellion, inclinations to the commitment of sins, excessive fondness of materiality, and desertion of the mental values. In view of that, the treatment for the spiritual defects has been more difficult and more laborious. In the same way, scholars and intellectuals have paid a greater attention to self-discipline and mental education; therefore, it is necessary for people of reason to care for such affairs.
Self-education can be achieved by enlightening with the divine recognition and the true belief and supplying with the beneficial knowledges that lead to the right guidance. Naturally, human souls incline to the belief in God, tend to knowledge, and yearn for discovering mysteries of the cosmos and secrets of life.
(2) Well Intention
Man enjoys two forms: one is external and represented by his body, and the other is internal and represented by his mental and moral traits. Man's external form is the target of praise and dispraise, according to its beauty or ugliness. In the same way, the internal form is the target of praise or criticism, according to its goodness or evil.
Like beautifying the external forms, rational people are accustomed to beautify their internal forms by means of clinging to well intention and well behavior, and avoiding showing off, hypocrisy, envy, and the like vicious manners.
Amir ul-Mu'minin (a) said: "Scholars and wise people used to correspond to each other three statements only: As for those whose main concern is the (preparations for the) life to come, Allah will satisfy their worldly concerns. As for those who maintain their hidden intentions, Allah will maintain their public affairs. As for those who establish good relations between Allah and them, Allah will establish good relations between people and them." (Bihar ul-Anwar; 1/62 (as quoted from al-khissal, al-Amali, and Thawab ul-A'mal).
Imam as-Sadiq (a) said: "As for anyone who keeps secret a good deed, Allah will, sooner or later, reveal a good reputation for him. As for him who keeps secret an evil, Allah will, sooner or later, reveal an ill reputation for him." (al-wafi; 3/147 (as quoted from al-kafi).
Due to the charming instincts and desires, mentalities tend to deviation to take to the depths of corruption. Hence, it is essential to control and immunize oneself against sins:
"… And (I swear) by the soul and that (Power) which designed it and inspired it with knowledge of evil and piety, those who purify their souls will certainly have everlasting happiness and those who corrupt their souls will certainly be deprived of happiness. (91:7-10)"
"However, those who had feared their Lord and restrained their souls from acting according to their desires, Paradise will be their dwelling. (79:41)"
The Prophet (s): "The faith of those who enjoy three traits is perfect: those whose rage does not take them out of the right, whose satisfaction does not take to the wrong, and who pardon when they are powerful." (safinat ul-Bihar; vol. 2 page 550 (as quoted from al-khissal).
Self-judgment is to call oneself to account every day regarding the good-deeds as well as the wrongdoings. If the scale of acts of obedience overweighs the scale of acts of disobedience, we must thank God for such success. But if the scale of acts of disobedience overweighs the scale of acts of obedience, we must discipline ourselves by reproach and criticism for the irregularity and going astray from the courses of the obedience to God.