The political system of Islam is based on the three principles of towhid (Oneness with Allah), risala ( Prophethood), and khilifa ( Caliphate). Towhid means that one Allah alone is the Creator, Sustainer, and Master of the universe and of all that exists in it- organic or inorganic. He alone has the right to command or forbid, and worship and obedience are due to him alone. The Islamics believe that it is not for them to decide the aim or purpose of our existence or to set the limits of our worldly authority; nor does anyone else have the rights to make these decisions for them. These rights rest only with Allah. This principle of the Oneness with Allah makes meaningless the concept of the legal and political sovereignty of human beings. No individual, family, class or race can set themselves above Allah. Allah alone is the ruler and his commandments constitute the law of Islam. Risala is the medium in which Islamics receive the law of Allah. They have received two things from this source: the Qur’an ( the book in which Allah has expounded his law), and the authoritative interpretation and exemplification of that book by the prophet Muhammad ( blessings of Allah and peace be upon him), through word and dead, in his capacity as the representative of Allah. The Qur’an laid down the broad principles on which human life should be based and the Prophet of Allah, in accordance with these principles, established a model system of Islamic life. The combination of these two elements is called the shari’a (law). Khilifa means “representation” Man, according to Islam, is the representative of Allah on earth. Khilifa also means that no individual or dynasty or class can be the law: the authority of Khilfa is bestowed on the whole of any community which is ready to fulfil the conditions of representation after subscribing to the principles of Towhid and risala. Such a society carries the responsibility of the Khilafa as a whole and each one of its individuals shares in it.
This is the point where democracy begins in Islam. Every individual in an Islamic society enjoys the rights and powers of the caliphate of Allah and in this respect all individuals are equal. No-one may deprive anyone else of his rights and powers. The agency for running the affairs of the state will be formed by agreement with these individuals, and the authority of the state will only be an extension of the powers of the individuals delegated to do it. Their opinion will be decisive in the formation of the government, which will be run with their advice and in accordance with their wishes. Whoever gains their confidence will undertake the duties and obligations of the caliphate on their behalf; and when he loses this confidence he will have to step down. In this respect, the political system of Islam is as perfect a dorm of democracy as there can be. What distinguishes Islamic democracy from Western democracy, therefor, is that the latter is based on the concept of popular sovereignty, while the former rests on the principle of popular khilafa. In Western democracy, the people are sovereign; in Islam sovereignty is vested in Allah and the people are his caliphs or representatives. In the former the people make their own; in the latter they have to follow and the laws given by Allah through his Prophet. In one the government undertakes to fulfil the will of the people; in the other the government and the people have to fulfil the will of Allah.
The Holy Qur’an clearly states that the aim and purpose of this state is the establishment, maintenance, and development of those virtues which the Creator wishes human life to be enriched by and the prevention and eradication of those evils in human life which he finds abhorrent. The Islamic state is intended neither solely as an instrument of political administration nor for the fulfillment of the collective will of any particular set of people; rather, Islam places a high ideal before the state for the achievement of which it must use all the means at its disposal. This ideal is that the qualities of purity, beauty, goodness, virtue, success and prosperity, which Allah wants to flourish in the life of his people, should be engendered and developed and that all kinds of exploitations, injustice and disorder which, in the sight of Allah, are ruinous for the world and detrimental to the life of his creatures, should be suppressed and prevented. Islam gives us a clear outline of its moral system by stating positively the desired virtues and the undesired evils. Keeping this outline in view, the Islamic state can plan its welfare program in every age and in any environment. The constant demand made by Islam is that the principles of morality must be observed at all costs and in all walks of life. Hence, it lays down as an unalterable policy that the state should base its policies on justice, truth and honesty. It is not prepared, under any circumstances, to tolerate fraud, falsehood and injustice for the sake of political, administrative or national expediency. Whether it be relations between the rulers and the ruled within the state, or the relations of the state with other states, precedence must always be given to truth, honesty, and justice. Islam imposes similar obligations on the state and the individual: to fulfill all contracts and obligations; to have uniform standards in dealings; to remember obligation along with rights and not to forget the rights of others when expecting them to fulfil their obligations; to use power and authority for the establishment of justice and not for the perpetration of injustice; to look upon duty as sacred obligation and to fulfil it scrupulously; and to regard power as a trust from Allah to be used in the belief that one has to render an account of one’s actions to him in the life hereafter.
The responsibility for the administration of the government in an Islamic state is entrusted to an amir ( leader) who may be compared to the president or the prime minister in a Western democratic state. All adult men and women who subscribe to the fundamentals of the constitution are entitled to vote for the election of the amir. The basic qualifications for an amir are that he should command the confidence if the majority in respect of his knowledge and grasp of the spirit of Islam, that he should posses the Islamic quality of fear of Allah and that he should be endowed with qualities of statesmanship. In short, he should have both virtue and ability. A shoora (Advisory council) is also elected by the people to assist and guide the amir. It is incumbent of the amir to administer his country with the advice of this shoora. The amir may retain office only so long as he enjoys the confidence of the people and must relinquish it when he loses that confidence. Every citizen has the right to criticize the amir and his government and all reasonable means for the ventilation of public opinion must be available. Legislation in an Islamic state is to be carried out within the limits prescribed by the law of the shari’a. The injunctions of Allah and his Prophet are to be accepted and obeyed and no legislative body may alter or modify them or make any law contrary to them. Those commandments which are liable to two or more interpretations are referred to a sub-committee of the advisory council comprised of men taught in Islamic law. Great scope remains for legislation on questions not covered by specific injunctions of the shari’a and the advisory council or legislature is free to legislate in regard to these matters. In Islam the judiciary is not placed under the control of the executive. It derives its authority directly from the shari’a and is answerable to Allah.