Approach Toward the State

In one of your talks, you drew an unusual picture of the state by beginning with Socrates' philosophy of the state. When you consider all these historical views, what is your approach to the state?

If we approach any matter from the perspective of absolute beauty, we can't save ourselves from being critical and ill-suspicious. There will be left no system we don't criticize. Regarding such criticizers, Bediüzzaman says: "God forbid, if they live a thousand years, they won't find a state that will make them happy," because they're not happy with any administration. Today there are people at different extremes who are exactly as Bediüzzaman describes them. They represent this type of understanding perfectly. No one can make them happy. If our Prophet were to appear and they didn't know who he was but only knew him by what he said, they would criticize him too. In fact, if he presented the eternal Qur'anic laws and they didn't know it was the Qur'an, they would criticize it too. If they do not criticize it now, this is because they have faith in it, even though superficial.

In this framework, what kind of value do you give the state?

If we approach this matter from a viewpoint of relative beauty and everything from a relative perspective, the state has an essential value. The existence of the state, a system based on certain laws, of course has a value. Although the Constitution and laws have some importance of their own in a good or bad administration, the real factor always lies in the administrators themselves. All the problems in human life begin with human beings and end in them. From this viewpoint, if the state is run by good people, it will be good. If it is administered by even better people, it will be even better. If it is administered by the Rightly Guided Caliphs, it will be perfect. But if now there are no such caliphs and the state is being run by the current administrators, it's better to approach the matter from the viewpoint that it's better to have this state than none at all.

There have been criticisms that you have sanctified the state...

If this approach means sanctifying the state, this is my approach. I see the absence of state as anarchy. I see conflict between the army, the governmental board, and the security forces as perilous with respect to our honor, security, and dignity—in short, to our very existence. Law is implemented by authority. If there is no authority, the will be no more than a written document. We should not confuse the state, government, Parliament, and even politics as vital institutions for the community's life with those in power. So our criticism of those in power, the governmental board, should not be directed against those institutions themselves.

There is another point to mention here: If criticism is made in the name of destroying without the intention of improving and showing what is better, it is 100 percent harmful. It causes anarchy, pessimism, lack of trust in the state, and finally chaos. If some call this opinion sanctifying the state, they are unaware of the essence of the matter.

Of course, at the head of state I would prefer someone like Abu Bakr, who is moral, virtuous, evolved; whose purpose is to ensure the nation's continuation and life; who thinks not of his own interests but only of the nation's welfare. But if this is not possible, there is the religious legal opinion: "Something that cannot be achieved fully should not be abandoned completely." I can't reconcile with any logic the idea that: "If it isn't perfect, we shouldn't accept the imperfect. Let them go to Hell." August 13-23, 1995

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