The Quranic Teachings - Simple and Straightforward!

Teachings of the Quran explained in simple and concise manner.

Sovereignty and Authority

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Sovereignty has been defined as “supreme authority within a territory”[1]. This definition has two major components viz. (1) authority (2) territoriality, where authority means “the right to command and correlatively the right to be obeyed”.

In parliamentary sovereignty, the legislative body is the ultimate source of power and can make, change or repeal any law, without subject to any judicial review (which may overturn the law deeming it as unconstitutional). Parliamentary sovereignty is associated with pure Democratic form of Government, examples of which exist in countries like UK, Finland, Israel and New Zealand[2].

In popular sovereignty, people are the ultimate source of political power. The concept of popular sovereignty is associated with Republic form of government, example of which exists in the United States of America[3],[4]. The notion of popular sovereignty is noticeable in the preamble of the US constitution which is worded as “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America”[5]. Popular sovereignty means that people have the ultimate (legislative) power to make their constitution or propose amendments to the constitution either directly through referendums or indirectly through their elected representatives to whom they delegate their power[6]. In popular sovereignty, any laws made by the legislative body are subject to judicial review and possible invalidation by the judiciary if a law is against the constitution.

The Islamic Republic is based on Divine sovereignty or Will of the Almighty, wherein the Almighty God is the ultimate source of (legislative) power and authority[7]. The will of the majority is to be subservient to the will of the Almighty. Any laws made by the legislative body are subject to judicial review and possible invalidation by the judiciary if a law is against the Word of God given in the Quran. In case of popular sovereignty, the touchstone for substantiation and validation of any new laws is the man-made constitution while in case of Divine sovereignty the touchstone is the Word of God, whereas in case of parliamentary sovereignty, there is no such touchstone at all and will of the majority prevails.

After Muhammad (s.a.w.), the Last Messenger of God, no individual or group can assume the executive authority of the Islamic Republic by claiming that he or they are chosen by God. Based on the principle of consultation[8], anyone for the executive authority of the Islamic Republic has to be chosen by the Muslim community either through direct elections or indirect elections through their elected representatives. Similarly, the chief executive of the country has to follow the principle of consultation in all his decisions.



[1] http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sovereignty/

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_sovereignty

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_sovereignty

[4] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_sovereignty_in_the_United_States

[5] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preamble_to_the_United_States_Constitution

[6] http://www.basiclaw.net/Principles/Popular%20sovereignty.htm

[7] Al-Quran Surah 28: Verse 70; Surah 28: Verse 88; Surah 39: Verse 6; Surah 40: Verse 65

[8] Al-Quran Surah 42: Verse 38

Updated: November 30, 2013 — 2:35 pm
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