The House of Representatives (Majlis al-Ummah) is an elected council whose members can be Muslim, non-Muslim, men or women. These members represent the interests of their constituencies within the state. The Majlis has no powers of legislation like in a democratic parliament but it does have many powers that act as a counterbalance to the executive powers of the Caliph.
Members of the Majlis can voice their political opinions freely without fear of imprisonment or rebuke. Along with its mandatory powers listed below this makes the Majlis ul-Ummah a very powerful institution for accounting the Caliph and his government.
The Majlis has its evidence in the rule of shura (consultation) that is a right given to Muslims (men and women) by the shari’a. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an:
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ
“And do consult them in the matter”1
The areas where shura applies and whether its binding or not on the Caliph are explained in more detail in How laws are made in the Caliphate.
As for non-Muslims, Allah ordered the questioning of the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) regarding whatever we do not know, and this is proof for the permissibility of taking their opinion.
فَاسأَلوا أَهلَ الذِّكرِ إِن كُنتُم لا تَعلَمونَ
“So ask the people of knowledge if you don’t know” 2
If it is permissible to take their opinion it is permissible for them to be members of the Majlis.3
Why is it called Majlis ul-Ummah and not Majlis ash-Shura?
As the mandatory powers of the Majlis make clear this council is more than just a consultative body. It also has powers to remove the governors and assistants in addition to being the body that elects the Caliph. It acts as a very important accountability mechanism within the state. Therefore, restricting the name of this council to shura alone would be incorrect.
Some may ask doesn’t the Arabic word ummah apply to Muslims alone? In answer to this the word ummah is a homonym (mushtarak) which is a word with more than one meaning. It is used to refer to one person, a community, the Muslims, the citizens, the deen and so on. As with all Arabic words in the sharia texts the intended meaning is determined by an indication (qarīnah). The intended meaning of ummah in Majlis ul-Ummah ‘is citizens (ra’iyyah).4
Powers of the House
The Majlis ul-Ummah has the following mandatory powers: 5
- The Caliph has to consult the Majlis and the Majlis has the right to advise him in the practical matters and actions related to discharging the affairs of the domestic policy that do not require deep conceptual research and serious consideration. These are the provision of the necessary services so as to enjoy the tranquillity in life in terms of ruling, education, health, economy, trade, industry, agriculture and the like. These are the non-Technical Administrative Laws discussed in How laws are made in the Caliphate.
- In the intellectual matters that require deep research and serious consideration, the issues which require experience and knowledge, the specialist and scientific issues, and similarly finance, the army and foreign policy, the Caliph has the right to consult the Majlis about them and to acquaint himself with its opinion. However, the opinion of the Majlis is not binding in these matters. These are the Technical Administrative Laws discussed in How laws are made in the Caliphate.
- The Caliph has the right to refer to the Majlis the laws and rules which he wants to adopt. The Muslim members of the Majlis have the right to debate them and voice their opinions regarding those rules. However, if they disagreed with the Caliph regarding the validity of their deduction or their evidence, in terms of their disagreement with the method of adoption from the basis of legislation (usul) adopted in the State, then the decision will refer to court of Mazalim, and its verdict in this matter is binding. These are the Legislative Laws discussed in How laws are made in the Caliphate.
- The Ummah’s has the right to hold the Caliph accountable on all matters that take place within the State, whether these were related to domestic or foreign affairs, financial affairs or military matters. The opinion of the Majlis is binding if the majority’s opinion in such matters is binding (power 1), and it is not binding if the majority’s opinion in such matters is not binding (power 2). If the Majlis and the Caliph differed about the legitimacy of an action that had already been executed the matter should be referred to the court of Mazalim to settle the question. Its verdict on the matter is binding.
- The Majlis ul-Ummah has the right to express discontentment towards the assistants, governors or mayors. Its opinion in such a case would be binding and the Caliph should dismiss them at once. If the opinion of the Majlis ul-Ummah differed from the opinion of the regional assembly of the concerned province regarding contentment and discontent of the governors and mayors, the opinion of the Majlis of the province takes precedence.
- Muslim members of the Majlis have the right to restrict the nomination of candidates for the Caliph from among those who fulfilled the contractual conditions as decided by the Mazalim Their opinion in this is binding, and candidates other than those shortlisted by the Majlis should not be considered. A summary of the election process is discussed in the Caliph’s Authority to Rule.
Is the Majlis a legislature?
As discussed in How laws are made in the Caliphate the Caliphate is not a democracy and the Majlis ul-Ummah is not a legislature. Although the Sharia committee of the Majlis has the right to scrutinise the Legislative Laws this is not through majority voting but rather through the Islamic method of ijtihad. The opinion of the sharia committee is not binding on the Caliph, though any disputes would be referred to the Mazalim court for resolution.
The only area where there is similarity between the Majlis and a democratic legislature is in the non-Technical Administrative Laws which are subject to majority voting. Democracy does not distinguish between legislative, technical administrative and non-technical administrative laws like the Caliphate does, so the Majlis cannot be considered a democratic legislature.
Are Representatives Appointed or Elected to their Positions?
The basis of the Majlis ul-Ummah is to represent the citizens of the Islamic State. The first Islamic State in Medina governed by the Prophet Muhammed ﷺ was initially a small city state where the natural representatives of the people were known. This is why the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ appointed representatives to the Majlis in Medina. He ﷺ appointed the prominent personalities and natural representatives from the Muhajireen and Ansar in Medina. Among them were, Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, Hamza, Ali, Salman Al-Farsi and Hudhayfah.6
City states do not exist nowadays and therefore the Caliph cannot know all the representatives of the people. At the second pledge of Aqaba, which was the bay’ah given by the Ansar to establish the first Islamic State in Medina, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ didn’t know every member of the Aws and Khazraj tribes (Ansar), so he ﷺ said, “Choose from among you twelve leaders who will be responsible for themselves and their people.” 7 Therefore the majority of the positions to the Majlis ul-Ummah will be elected by the people as this is the best method to ensure true representation.
In addition to elected representatives there may be a requirement to appoint certain people to the Majlis to ensure true representation. These appointments will be heads of the other religions existent within the state. They will represent their respective religious communities and raise any complaints or issues which affect them. In the Ottoman Caliphate a similar system existed where Millets were established which had their own councils headed by a religious leader. Instead of operating separate entities as the Ottomans did a future Caliphate will have one central Majlis ul-Ummah containing all representatives of the different communities within the state.
Having said this when the Caliphate is initially established elections may not be possible immediately. In such a situation the Caliph and governors will need to appoint representatives to the Majlis ul-Ummah and Regional Assemblies (Majlis ul-Wiliyah). These will be heads of Islamic groups, tribal leaders and other notable influentials within the state. Part of the work undertaken by Political parties working to establish the Caliphate is to identify the influential people in society not only for establishing the state but also so they can play a prominent role in building the new society after the Caliphate’s establishment.
It is permitted to adopt any administrative law, policy or technological advancement from any country or system including the west as long as it does not contradict shari’a. These styles and means which change throughout time are what allows Islam’s legislation and values to be applicable to all times and places. Therefore elections within the Caliphate and the structure of the Majlis will be similar administratively to those found in the west.
A Regional Assembly (Majlis ul-Wiliyah) which is similar to the central Majlis ul-Ummah exists in each province. Every five years each province (wiliyah) of the Caliphate will hold elections for the Regional Assembly. The Assembly will then go on to elect a number of individuals to the central Majlis ul-Ummah.8 The number of positions each Assembly has in the Majlis ul-Ummah is dependent on population size as is the case in America for example.
Term of Office
Each Majlis and Regional Assembly member will have a limited term of office which will be five years. Once their term is up they will have to step down or seek re-election. There is no limit on the number of times they can be re-elected.
Will Majlis Members receive a wage from the state?
It should be noted that the Caliphate is an ideological Islamic State and as such Muslims enter ruling positions for a spiritual value not a material value. However, as with all government posts and civil service positions within the Caliphate they will be given a wage and expenses so they don’t have to engage in outside work.
Can a Majlis Member also hold a government post?
If we look back to the Prophet’s ﷺ state in Medina we find he ﷺ appointed fourteen men for shura (consultation) because they were the representatives of their people. There were seven from the Muhajiroon and seven from the Ansar. These fourteen men effectively formed a Shura Council (Majlis ush-Shura). Among the members of this council were Abu Bakr and Umar. Abu Bakr and Umar were also Delegated Assistants in the Prophet’s ﷺ state so they held both positions, i.e. they were Majlis members and rulers at the same time.
Therefore in a future Caliphate the state may adopt that Majlis Members can also be members of the government as we find in the UK where the elected representatives (MP’s) hold a dual role as Ministers and even the Prime Minister. However, due to the expansion in the role of the Majlis and its importance as a counterbalance to the executive power of the Caliph and his cabinet, the best solution would be for the Majlis Member to resign his position when taking up a government post. This is what happens in America when a Senator or Congressman is selected for government.
The Majlis will consist of various committees. These are:
Sharia Committee: This consists of Muslim men and women scholars (ulema) only. Since belief in Islam is a condition of deriving legislation, non-Muslims cannot be on this committee. A certain level of legal knowledge is required to scrutinise ijtihad therefore only those Muslim Majlis members who are legally qualified can sit on this committee.
House Committee: This consists of all members of the Majlis including Muslims and non-Muslims. Any issue which is based on majority voting such as the non-technical administrative laws and impeaching government officials is performed by the entire council or House Committee.
Electoral Committee: This consists of Muslim men and women only because the election is for contracting the bay’ah (pledge of allegiance) to the Caliph. Non-Muslims are not part of the bay’ah and they have a separate contract with the state called dhimmah which is discussed elsewhere. The process for electing the Caliph is discussed in the Caliph’s Authority to Rule.
Technical Committees: This consists of Muslim or non-Muslim men and women who have expertise in the particular field where the technical administrative law is being discussed. Expertise from outside the Majlis can also be brought in to these committees as we find in the west.
1 Holy Qur’an, Chapter 3, Surah al-Imran, Verse 159
2 Holy Qur’an, Chapter 16, Surah An-Nahl, Verse 43
3 Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ translation of Muqadimatud-Dustur Aw al-Asbabul Mujibatulah, Article 109
4 Khilafah.com, ‘Q&A benefiting from public property in the Khilafah,’
5 Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ Op.cit., Article 111
6 Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘Khilafah State Organisations,’ translation of Ajhizat dowlah ul-Khilafah, p. 142
7 Seerah of Ibnu Hisham from Ka’ab bin Malik.
8 Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ Op.cit., Article 106