Book Review – The Ordinances of Government

Categories Book Review, Founder Column
The Ordinance of Government (Al-Ahkam al –Sultaniyah w’al Wilayat al-Diniyya)
Al-Mawardi
Religion
Garnet Publishing, United Kingdom
2010
301

 

Talking about the performance of government and the apparatus involved in the public services, it cannot be separated from the concepts and principles of governance, rules and regulations that exist in the implementation of governance (good governance). If the term good governance which was promoted by IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank, or UN (United Nations) agencies such as UNDP (United Nations for Development Project) in the late 1990s was a term now widely known in various countries, notably to countries that are not yet developing or have been developing in the ‘third world’ such as Asia, Africa and South America (Hout, 2007) and are solely related to aid politics 1)Hout, Wil. (2007). The Politics of Aid Selectivity: Good governance criteria, in World Bank, US and Dutch development assistance, USA-Canada: Routledge. to these countries then the governance and principles of government rule had been firstly applied by Islamic civilization.

The era of Muhammad SAW’s leadership and the four caliphs bear witness to the history of how the Medina Declaration Charter really became the first governance model in governing management to achieve a society that had been transformed independently in terms of city administration and all its forces. A few centuries later, Abu al-Hasan Ali Ibn Muhammad Ibn Habib al-Mawardi (later called Al-Mawardi) or in the Western world known as Alboacen (972-1058 AD) tried to summarize and combine with his new experience, and apply the concept of good governance, religious, juridical, philosophical and administrative of Medina Declaration charter in the middle of political turmoil of his time, in accordance with his background as scholar, philosopher, judge and also decision maker during the time of the Abbasid dynasty. Al-Mawardi’s governance can be read in a book called Al-Ahkam al-Sutaniyya w’al-Wilayat al-Diniyya that has been translated into various languages. In English the book is translated into The Ordinance of Government or ‘Aturan-Aturan Penyelenggaraan Pemerintahan’ by prof. Wafaa H.Wahba and produced many times for the sake of political studies and government administration in the West by The Center for Muslim Contribution to Civilization2)The institute is headquartered in Qatar and led directly by the Emir of Qatar, Al-Thani and aims to translate classic books by classical Muslim intellectuals that have contributed to world civilization..

This classic book is still quite popular and relevant to the actual condition of current dynamics and become one of the most widely referenced literature in the initial concept by many scientists in the study of good governance in the world. In this context, this book is also fundamentally compatible with the current condition of Aceh as one of the provinces that adopted the rules of Islamic law in its governance. This book will be very interesting for those who are interested in government administration studies, for both students and public officers, government leaders or politicians, good governance discourse enthusiasts such as NGO activists who are concerned with these topics.

In his book of 20 chapters, Al-Mawardi begin with the need of a leadership (imamah) and also the criteria of how to get good leaders forn the society. In terms of leadership criteria, he mentions that there are at least seven indicators: fair and honest, knowledgeable and independent, open to criticism, physically fit, wise and careful, courageous, and finally indigenous to Quraysh. While in the case of appointing a government leader, he suggests two methods: election and direct appointment. The second chapter to the sixth chapter, Al-Mawardi still discusses criteria and models of appointment of other public officials under the supreme leader of a country or region, and also appointment of ministers, judges, military commanders, commanders or expeditionary leaders of troops who run special operations for the public good.

Then the seventh chapter he discusses how to solve the problems between the two parties in conflict by the authorized public authorities. The eighth chapter he proposes that the government has an institution that arranges for a respectable group in society not to be governed by an unrespectable public official. This is important according to him because it could be those from the ‘top’ do not want to be subject to psychological decisions in certain issues. This ‘upper’ group should instead accept any decision from any of the following three officials: the caliph himself, a person delegated by the caliph to solve the conflict, or a representative of the caliph who is assigned a task with limited authority. Interestingly in the ninth chapter Al-Mawardi returned to the criteria and method of appointing a prayer imam, after interspersed with two chapters on the resolution of public dispute.

The management of public activities such as the administration of pilgrims, zakat and spoils of war is on his attention in subsequent chapters. In addition, he also discussed how to manage the tax on crops and buildings addressed to non-Muslim parties. He gradually divides the categories and procedures of tax collection, and the interesting thing is the provision that says ‘taxes cannot be fully levied before their due date.

In the next chapter, the fourteenth chapter, Al-Mawardi divides a category called the territory (sovereignty) of Islamic government authorities. In the fifteenth chapter he again discussed how to manage the administration of public services, which is with regard to land reclamation / land clearing and the distribution of clean water supplies. In the sixteenth chapter he focuses on the discussion of the opening of public facilities, the protection of unexplored lands from the interests of non-public individuals. Land grants and land rights granting and yields are the focus of Al-Mawardi in the seventeenth chapter. He defines the land in three senses: dead and untapped land, processed soil, and the soil of mining resources.

The attention of this Basra scholar then turns to the issue of status and the provisions of the management of the institution or the state administrative center (a kind of State Administration Institution). He said that this institution is needed to maintain the security of documents and property of the government and the military and the personnel involved therein. The institute was named Diwan. These state administrations should be divided into four departments: the archive department and the military salary, the tax records department and the regional financial obligations, the department of appointment records and dismissal of public officials, and finally, the state revenue and tax collection department of Baitul maal. He also explained in detail about the classification of state data and archives that are stored neatly. At the end of the explanation, he emphasizes two mandatory categories for the heads of the central administrative and archive institutions of the country: honest and competent.

Before closing his lengthy explanation in the twentieth chapter on the process of appointing market and trade supervisory officers and institutions (a type of Ombudsman3)State institutions in Indonesia that have the authority to oversee the implementation of public services both organized by state and government organizers, including those held by State-Owned Enterprises, Regionally-Owned Enterprises, and State-Owned Legal Entities and private entities or individuals assigned the task of organizing public services certain part or all of the funds are sourced from the State Revenue and Expenditure Budget or Regional Revenue and Expenditure Budget. This institution was formed based on Law Number 37 of 2008 concerning the Republic of Indonesia Ombudsman which was ratified in the DPR RI Plenary Meeting on September 9, 2008. and Hisba4) Hisba is a supervisory institution. and ensuring that all public service activities of the country proceed according to the standards, he talks about administration and sentencing processes in the nineteenth chapter . Some of the cases mentioned in the explanation are the cases of adultery, theft, drunks, slander and defamation (related cases of immorality and adultery), compensation and right of reprisal in cases of death and death penalty, and lastly related to non-legal penalties related to disciplinary offenses and non-public penalties. In the last section, Al-Mawardi explained at length about the importance of supervisory institutions and moral guardians of state officials in performing their duties as public service providers in order not to engage in actions outside the authority, such as corruption, collusion and nepotism that harm the society.

What Al-Mawardi has to offer must be so important in the middle of public distrust of the administration of our current government. Although his concept is somewhat classical, it cannot be denied that he has provided direct and indirect inspiration for the administration of the government apparatus. The concept of market control that can be traced back to the time of Caliph Umar bin Khattab is now used everywhere. In broader meanings, the concept of market supervision develops aplicatively in terms of moral control of public officials. The concept is followed by very clear rules, straightforward and firm. Public dispute resolution, procurement of public facilities by the state, or selection methods and selection of appointments of public officials will continue to be a hot topic in administrative transformation. His juridical background also leads him to understand very well how to maintain a sense of public justice and to make empirical rules based on everyday events of society into the rules and laws of government administration. Likewise with the idea of establishing a central institution of state administration is but a formal breakthrough that has been in existence since Al-Mawardi’s ages. His empirical, categorical, numerical, philosophical, clear, firm, and straightforward style of expression in fundamental (public) matters makes this book even more necessary amidst the ‘public turmoil’ of the capacity of today’s regional and state apparatus.

Although Al-Mawardi has worked hard to record his experience during his service as a judge, politician and scientist of the time, his book, no matter how phenomenal and fundamental it is, is not entirely comprehensive. Perhaps the conditions of society at that time made the selection criteria of leadership, especially the points about the candidate leaders should be from among Quraish cannot be fully applied today. Nevertheless, the philosophy of importance is to choose a leader who is a native of that state if you want him to be easily accepted by people who initially are apathetic and not participative. Another thing to note is the absence of an offer of public apparatus promotion mechanisms in this book. It is true that he mentioned the procedure for punishment for religious and public offenders, but chapters on promotional mechanisms and official degradation are also are needed to be added here. The idea of territorial division is clearly not in accordance with our conditions here, where it divides the three regional classifications: the Haram area5)The area around the Grand Mosque in Mecca with certain limits., Hijaz and regions outside the Haram and Hijaz. Likewise, it is the case with state agencies who specifically solve inter-class problems in chapter eight. Another criticism of his book is that despite the focus on certain topics, it seems that the book is not arranged in a thematic chronological order that makes readers easy to follow. For example, after talking about the mechanisms and criteria for appointment of public officials in the early chapters, it suddenly shifts to the topic of public dispute resolution in the seventh chapter. Or when describing the administration of public services and the provision of public facilities, it suddenly turns to crime and punishment issues in the nineteenth chapter and then returns to the theme of the need for the office of the trade supervisory and public service standards in the last chapter (twentieth chapter).

However, this book has had tremendous effects and contributions to the treasures and practices of state governance to date. Moreover, most of Al-Mawardi’s offer matches the Muslim-majority countries and regions and or adopts the system of Islamic government or Islamic law. The scholarly vibrations of this book are still hotly debated, applied and enriched until today. The author feels obliged to share this information given the limited access to classic books themed government administration, and performance of public apparatus (nuances of Islam) in Nusantara. Although the concept of Al-Mawardi is clearly oriented to Islamic law and completed with the strong references from the Qur’an and Hadith, but the theory and fundamental ideas are very universal and compatible to be applied in non-Muslim countries though. In some countries, the concept of Al-Mawardi directly or indirectly has been implemented very well. Therefore the author strongly recommends to the reader to absorb inspiration and learn a lot from this book.

This paper was published in Jurnal Transformasi Administrasi LAN, Vol.III, Issue I, Pages 517-521, Year 2013 Publisher: PKP2 A Lembaga Administrasi Negara, Jakarta.

Translated by : Tiara Ulfah (Ar-Raniry English Club)
Date : August, 26th 2018
Original article link : http://padebooks.com/resensi-buku-the-ordinance-of-government/

Tiara Ulfah

References   [ + ]

1. Hout, Wil. (2007). The Politics of Aid Selectivity: Good governance criteria, in World Bank, US and Dutch development assistance, USA-Canada: Routledge.
2. The institute is headquartered in Qatar and led directly by the Emir of Qatar, Al-Thani and aims to translate classic books by classical Muslim intellectuals that have contributed to world civilization.
3. State institutions in Indonesia that have the authority to oversee the implementation of public services both organized by state and government organizers, including those held by State-Owned Enterprises, Regionally-Owned Enterprises, and State-Owned Legal Entities and private entities or individuals assigned the task of organizing public services certain part or all of the funds are sourced from the State Revenue and Expenditure Budget or Regional Revenue and Expenditure Budget. This institution was formed based on Law Number 37 of 2008 concerning the Republic of Indonesia Ombudsman which was ratified in the DPR RI Plenary Meeting on September 9, 2008.
4. Hisba is a supervisory institution.
5. The area around the Grand Mosque in Mecca with certain limits.

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