THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AN ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT DURING ITS FORMATIVE PHASE: A COMPARATIVE STUDY OF SUNNI AND SHI'I DOCTRINES

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Wahabuddin Ra'ees

Abstract

This study examines the basic characteristics of an Islamic government. It focuses mainly on the views of Sunni and Shi'i jurists and scolars. It uses the normative phase in the history of Islam as its main source of evidence. According to most writers, the normative phase in building political institutions in Islam begins with the Prophet Muhammad's famous migration from Mecca to Medina and ends with the end of Orthodox Khila£ah. It is important to inform the reader that Shi'i political doctrines are influenced by one overriding principle that is the divine nature of government. Therefore, as the aim of this study is to provide a rather original understanding of the notion of an Islamic government, some of the characteristics of government existing in this normative phase identified in this study, naturally may not have been emphasized in Shi'i literature while popularly expressed in Sunni literature.

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