In the spirit of Pakistan’s 75th anniversary and the ongoing political turmoil, it is important that we revisit the historical events that detail why the creation of our country was necessary, the purpose it was meant to serve and what the leaders of that time had envisioned.

In the Allahabad address of 1930, Allama Iqbal famously highlighted that Islam was the major formative factor in the life history of Indian Muslims, and furnished those basic emotions and loyalties, which gradually unify scattered individuals and groups and finally transform them into a well-defined people, possessing a moral consciousness of their own. He said that Islam was a way of life in which the Muslims spend their lives in peace and harmony, and it gives the principles to regulate and organise life and form the identification of a separate nation within the Muslim psyche. He also said that Islam provides Muslims with a separate identity and distinguishes them from others because its customs and traditions are different from other religions and this faith stresses upon monotheism and acceptance of the Holy Prophet (PBUH)’s principles.

This address refers to Sharia, which is commonly known as “Islamic law” by a lay person, but what we must understand is that it is so much more than a set of laws. Sharia defines a way of life, the kind that Allama Iqbal mentions where the Muslim community can create politics and culture of their own and live in harmony with each other. This is the “Riyasat-e-Madina” that Imran Khan envisions for Pakistan, to transform it to its original foundation that was intended.

Until the early 19th century, Sharia was accepted as the supreme moral and legal force regulating both society and government, rather than being used selectively as a source to base legislation and personal status on. Its replacement by the modern nation state is important to understand for those striving to create a society that follows the principle of Sharia for the operation of all aspects of community and governance, and to be recognised at the “democracy of the first order.”

Sharia as democratic structure in itself requires that laws be derived from morality, and since Muslims derive their morality from Quran and teaching of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it is important to reconcile laws with the collective morality of the Muslim community. The very essence of Sharia is the equal treatment of all those it governs, providing equal opportunity to all and elimination of structures that allow for wealth inequality. The main focus point of the Muslim community was not how rich you were or what you owned; it was about the good deeds you were contributing to the society.

Riyasat-e-Madina was created on this principle at a time when the Byzantine and Persian empires existed with their own governance models, but Riyasat-e-Medina outclassed both and laid foundation for modern democracies to come. In Sharia, the centrepiece is the community itself and its wellbeing, and the goal is to create a welfare state which benefits all equally.

This is what make Riyasat-e-madina superior to the democracies of the second order and this what all Pakistani citizens must strive towards since in the western democracies, state creates the citizenries. Since the 17th century the world has become anthropocentric, ie, regarding human beings as the primary holders of moral standings, as opposed to theocentric which regards Allah as the main source of authority. The concept of theocentricity attributes sovereignty to Allah, while a chose representative on Earth governs people. Riyasat-e-Madina is based on such concept, deriving law and morality from the Quran for people to use in their daily lives and to hold their leaders accountable. The law is not above people, as it is them who create it in the first place based on their collective moralities.

By saying “Iyyaka Na’budu Wa Iyyaka Nastaeen” and “La Ilaha Ilallah”, Imran Khan’s vision is to uplift and reinforce the idea that Allah is the ultimate sovereign and to create a society centered around the idea of Riyasat-e-Madina, we must derive our morals and laws from the word of Allah Himself. By doing so, we can achieve a society where all citizens live equally in peace and harmony.

–The writer is a PHD in Government and Public Policy and can be reached at @DuraniIftikhar