These are extracts from the book “Accountability in the Caliphate” by AK Newell.
It should be noted that the Caliphate is an ideological Islamic State. This means all elements of the state work towards achieving Islamic objectives not material objectives.
Before any of the state accountability mechanisms take effect the Caliph is restrained by his Islamic belief and taqwa.
Secular democracy emanates from the belief that religion should be kept separate from politics. The ruler in a democratic system is therefore not restrained from tyranny by fearing God or divine accountability. With this fundamental aspect of accountability missing i.e. consciousness of God (taqwa) the ruler in a democratic system is prone to tyranny if he isn’t restrained by the mechanisms of government.
The Caliph is not a saint but a human being who is prone to mistakes. This is why such detailed accountability mechanisms exist within the Caliphate. Although the Caliph is not a saint he must be Muslim and ‘adl (just) and cannot be a fasiq (transgressor).
In the Caliphate all executive powers are held with the Caliph. Although he will appoint Assistant Caliphs (Mu’awin ut-Tafweed) to manage various areas of the state, these Assistants are not independent but rather under the supervision and responsibility of the Caliph.
The Caliph is not above the law
Islam firmly believes in the rule of law. No one in the Caliphate including the Caliph himself is above the law or has immunity from prosecution. Benefit and harm are not excuses the Caliphate can use to violate this principle as we find western democratic states doing.
While the executive power is not shared among a cabinet of ministers the Caliph cannot run the state on his own. He therefore needs to appoint assistants to aid him in ruling. The Assistant Caliphs or Delegated Assistants (Muawin ut-Tafweed) perform this task. Historically this post was called Wazir. They are not assigned permanently to one department but oversee multiple departments or provinces depending on how the Caliph wishes to structure his government. The Assistant Caliphs have the same powers as the Caliph in the context of assistants and their post has the same conditions as the Caliph.
The Caliphate is divided up administratively to aid the Caliph in the task of ruling. Administrative divisions exist in all states today differing only in size and name.
The territories which the Islamic State rules over are divided into provinces where each province is known as a wiliyah. The provinces are in turn divided into districts where each district is known as an i’maala. The person appointed over the province is called a governor (waali) and the person appointed over the district is called a mayor (‘aamil) or ruler (hakim).
For the citizens of the Caliphate, their first point of contact with the leadership of the state is the governor and the mayor. The governor and mayor are managing people’s day to day affairs on a local and regional level. If the governor is oppressive then this affects people’s daily lives more than any other government official including the Caliph.
The Caliphate has an institutionally independent high court called the Court of Unjust Acts (Mahkamat ul-Mazalim). It is presided over by the most eminent and qualified judges in the state and granted extensive powers by the shari’a. It has the power to remove any official of state regardless of his role or rank, including the governor, mayors and even the Caliph.
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.
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.
Impeachment by the Majlis
The Assistants (Mu’awinun) are accountable not only to the Caliph but also the Majlis. They can be removed if the Majlis passes a vote of no-confidence in them. This also applies to the provincial governors and mayors.
Impeaching the Caliph
The Caliph is the state and is the pillar keeping stability. His removal has huge political and economic implications to the society. Therefore, his impeachment cannot be performed by the Majlis but by the Supreme Court which is the Court of Unjust Acts (mazalim). That is the only institution within the state that has the power to remove the Caliph. The Caliph has no power to remove any judge which is investigating him. His removal must be because he contradicted one or more of the seven contractual conditions mentioned earlier leading to the Bay’ah contract either becoming void (batil) or defective (fasid). If the Bay’ah contract is still valid then no impeachment will take place and the Caliph will remain in office.
The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ gave Uthman bin Affan a prophecy that he would be given a cloak and when the people come to take it off he shouldn’t. Uthman was the third Caliph and in the last few months of his successful 12 years rule faced a rebellion who wanted him removed from office for malicious reasons. The Bay’ah contract remained valid and the reasons given for removing him were invalid. Unfortunately, the rebels assassinated Uthman when he refused to break the Bay’ah leading to years of civil war and unrest.