The basic differences between Islamic and non-Islamic state

Javed Ahmad


It is becoming apparent day by day that our religious caretakers (i.e, imams and ulemas) and Muslim scholars got it all wrong about Islam. Partly due to their ignorance and partly due to their environmental situation they grew up in, they failed to understand and relay the true messages of Islam to the commoners. As a result, Islam today has become a ‘personalized religion’ rather than a global one, thus gradually losing the grip of the Islamic empire that once stood strongly upholding justice for all mankind.


This personalization of Islam has reduced the Muslims into a down trodden nation globally causing divisions among themselves breaking into many different nations with independent secular governments. The ummah or brotherhood of Muslims that stood firmly as a single nation and border is no more.


In this article my attempt is to discover and see what it was like to live in an Islamic state and how it was organized and setup in comparison to a modern day secular state. So, I figured that it would be best if we do the comparison between the systems using a table format for easy understanding. Hence the table on concept and background follows -



Topic / area

Islamic state

Secular state



First Islamic State was established in Medina and it expanded over the continents under the single central rule of Caliphate. [Now-a-days, a new term has been invented “Muslims Country” which basically means a Muslim majority secular nation. We should not confuse a Muslim country with an Islamic state.]

States are divided into geographical boundaries on the basis of language, race, culture and religion.



The Caliph is considered a representative of Allah – the supreme authority where Qur’an is the constitution and Sunnah is the by-laws. Power is normally handed over to the next best leadership either by selection, nomination of even election. Freedom and justice is upheld for all citizens at any cost ensuring economic support from the government for the poor and destitute.

Have what is called a democracy or socialism or communism, etc with either a President or a Prime Minister as a top leader backed by a political party or the armed forces. Transfer of power after a term (normally five years) takes place through an election process that may or may not be rigged. Although a democratic system claims to be a process of people’s power by representation, but in reality people hardly have any control in it. This matter becomes apparent when a time for impeachment comes. Usually have a written constitution that gets thrown out of the window at a time of crisis. Besides, majority of the citizens of a state with a constitution is unaware of it and what contains in it; thus remains totally unaware of their so called civil rights.



Predominantly Muslims regardless of ethnicity, race and culture who mostly engage in worship of Allah and center their lifestyle on Islamic principles and teachings.

Predominantly people from a same ethnicity, race, culture and religious background. The citizens may have a religious connection but normally upholds secularism above their religions.


Family life

Men are the primary bread earners of a family where women stay at home taking care of other family members and protecting the wealth and properties including rearing children. Free mixing of male and female is not allowed in Islamic society, as a result women folks are ordered by Allah to wear hijab with an option to wear nikab when they are to present themselves in front of males other than the ones allowed. Marriage is seen as a way of building social relationships with a legal binding and act of responsibility. Children are known primarily on the basis of the progeny of the father. This arrangement prevents and / or discourages illegal birth of a child in the society out of wedlock.

Both men and women are encouraged to work and therefore free mixing of sexes are allowed and encouraged. As a result the society is promiscuous and people tend not to marry and prefer common law under which a couple could live together as a husband and wife without any legal binding and responsibilities to each other having and rearing children without any legal bindings. Children are known by the progeny of the mother but not necessarily of the father as it is not always possible to assert who the real father is in a promiscuous relationship nor does it really matter in a society like this. For instance, Barak Obama is said to be the love child meaning an illegal child born out of wedlock is a President of the USA and people have accepted him that way.



Toil and trading is encouraged in the Qur’an as a way of life when it comes to making a living. Prophet (S) himself was a trader in his young life looking after the business of Khadija (R) who became his wife later. Many of the companions of the Prophet (S) were traders. Others toiled in regular jobs helping each other for a pre-negotiated pay. A national treasury used to collect compulsory zakat (poor due @ 2 ½ %) from the rich Muslims and disburse to the needy in an organized manner following the Islamic principles. Non-Muslims paid zizya (tax) for an equivalent amount or higher as determined by the state to the treasury that went to other developmental activities. Muslims also encouraged paying sadaqah (charities) on a regular basis through out the year voluntarily.

Encourages employment for higher tax earnings; also encourages growth and development of businesses for job creation through bank loans with interests. Tax areas include income, sales or VAT, property, which could run up to an exuberant 50% or higher! In addition, corporations also pay taxes on the same amount that goes to the employees who are taxed again on the same taxed amount! A secular system is extremely expensive to run and maintain where the government employees enjoy job securities and tax free income on people’s money! Some rich philanthropists engage in some charity work often on some return motives or under some strict conditions.


Way of life

Muslims live a simple life sharing their personal resources with their neighbors harmonizing the society as a whole to achieve equilibrium. They go to bed early in order to wake up the next day in the early morning to offer fajr (morning) prayer in jammat (congregation) to begin the day. This results in proper use of daylight. They work 7 days a week taking a breaks for prayers in jamaat especially on Friday for Jumma congregation prayer closing all their businesses and engagements during the prayer times. Therefore, the concept of ‘weekend’ is absent. Muslims see this Earth as a transit to a permanent life after death where all good actions done in life will be rewarded by Allah. Therefore, they do not care much for this world and prefers a simple lifestyle to stay focused on prayers and worships.

People living under a secular system aspire for good and luxurious lifestyle on Earth as they hardly believe in a life after death. They see this world as the only life to live, so they try to live it to the fullest even if it means by hook or by crook. Care for morality and ethics is a rare in a secular society while lust and greed is random. They stay up late after sunset watching TV or other engagements and wakes up much later after sun rise to rush to work for a normal eight hour a day shift. Some work other shifts depending on the nature of their job. This rat race makes them tired; as a result they take two days (Saturday and Sunday) off from work calling it a weekend to rest and to enjoy recouping for another week race. Religious minded people often pay a weekly visit to their respective houses of worship (Jews on Saturdays, and Christians on Sunday) but the number is considerably low.



An Islamic state did not maintain standing armed forces as the nation made peace treaties with its neighboring nations to reduce the chances of wars and invasions. However, if a treaty was broken, the entire nation prepared for an all out war to tackle the threats, often conquering the enemies to bring peace and justice.

Maintains standing armed forces with a huge price tag on national budget. Threats, invasions and counter invasions are common between the secular states mainly on political and economical grounds. Secret espionages are also common between the secular nations to seek out and steal each others resources and information that often results in armed confrontations.



Justice is done on the basis of Islamic laws called the Sahriah, which is basically a guideline from the Qur’an and Sunnah. Normally the head of state or the heads of the regional government takes part in the judiciary process to ensure justice. Cases are handled on case by case basis judging the evidences and proofs. Most of the punishments are pre-declared in Islam as a result citizens do not engage in any criminal activities knowing well what would be the punishment if caught. Some of those punishments are declared by Allah Himself in the Qur’an and some have been implemented by the Prophet (S) following the commandments of the Qur’an. There is no cost in judgment of cases and the cases were resolved almost as soon as they occurred.

There are professional lawyers, barristers and judges at different levels of courts where the cases are handled by them. The head of state or the top executive authorities do not get involved in the judicial process; but appoints a Chief Justice of his or her liking not necessarily on the basis of merit. Justice is done on the basis of evidences and proofs as well as in reference to prior judgments of similar cases. As a result, they have volumes of growing law books with records of all landmark cases. They use their own judgment to judge a case depending on evidences and support on hand to close a case as they do not have any divine criterion to help them to judge a matter. Often judgments are done in secrets if and when there is an ill political motive. The judicial process is expensive and difficult often leading to harassment for a long time to close a case. Victimizing and suffering of innocent is not uncommon in such a system.


Medical & Health services

No direct documented record is found on how the medical issues of the citizens were handled. What we find however that Prophet (S) himself used to care for the ill and the sick and used to pay visits to them and offer prayers and suggestions on how to recover. It is assumed that the costs of medical services were taken up by the state through the baitul maal or treasury. In modern day we find that most Arab countries do have a concept of free medical services in place where the state absorbs all costs in serving the ill and the sick. Relatively, living simple lives ensures a good health and happy life. We do not find any record of serious illness affecting the Muslim population anywhere and anytime in the history as we find for West when Plague was an epidemic. There are many references to some food and minerals that are beneficial to health, while at the same time there are some prohibitions as well. For instance, Muslims are not allowed to eat pork or anything of it and not allowed to drink any form of intoxicants or alcohol drinks. Abstaining from both definitely carries health benefits that are scientifically verified.

Some secular governments have adopted either free or partially free medical service for their citizens. However, they do have an insurance policy in place in order to recover the costs of providing the services. For instance, Canada offers basic medical services for free where the citizens either pay a basic insurance premium (depending on their level of income). If the citizen is unable to pay then the province makes the payment on his or her behalf. Ontario government pays full premium for all its residents. Despite this arrangement, not all medical treatments are free; there are some treatments (say dental and vision) where the citizens are not fully covered. Normally, medical treatment at Western countries is very expensive for complex treatments. Many citizens of those countries comes to Asian countries to receive treatment to save costs, which is considerably lower compared to the cost at their own homes.



Education in an Islamic state was not only free, but it was heavily stressed for all men and women in the society. Teachers were regarded as honorable citizens and treated with honor and respect. Internationally acclaimed schools and universities flourished in Alexandria, Cordova, Spain, and other locations during the Islamic empire where students from all over the globe used to come to study.

Primary or secondary education is free in some countries, if not all. But private schools and colleges are also flourish alongside. Higher education is normally very expensive with some exceptions like Germany and some Scandinavian countries where higher education costs are fully subsidized by the state even for non-citizens.



Bureaucracy is something that has gradually developed as the state grew in population and size. In the beginning during the time of the Prophet (S), the prophet himself was in charge of all affairs. People used to come to him for advice and suggestions. Later, the caliphs did the same and appointed deputies in far off localities to look after the civil affairs. Administrative mechanism developed for better control and service dispatches. Unlike today, citizens used to enjoy much freedom in their day to day activities as long as it complied with Islamic principles. Citizens themselves used to police on one another rectifying each other. If they failed to settle a matter themselves then they used to seek help from the person in authority. It is therefore, assumed that the chain of command was not there as the top person was accessible if and when there was a need.

Secular governments are usually large in setup and contain a long chain of command. Top officials are not readily accessible by the common citizens; and therefore chances of harassment increases. Citizens are strictly regulated by different laws and regulations as governments attempt to interfere in most activities of a citizen. Government bureaucracy tends to interfere in sources of all incomes to impose taxes in it and even on expenditures to tax on it again! Wealth and possessions of a citizen needs to be reported to the state revenue offices for tax assessment and relief’s as determined by the law. Corruption is more or less a major factor in the bureaucracy in pretty much all kind of secular system. Therefore, harassment of common citizens is common when they seek government services.



Politics is something that is totally absent in Islamic governance. As a result all citizens take interest and part in national issues directly with the top state officials of a region. There are plenty of evidences in the history of Islam and hadiths where we find that common citizens questioning the officials for explanations for many different issues even personal to check and balance corruptions ensuring transparencies in dealings.

Politics is a part and parcel of secular system. At least one party political party has to be there in order to make a secular system work that automatically leads to a dictatorial governance (take communism for instance). It is almost impossible to have a corruption free governance in a political party based system. Oppression is tied to political based governance where often we find the governments goes against the will of the majority people persecuting them using the armed forces that is sustained by the contributions (taxes) by the people! And the armed forces often sides with the corrupt government as their well being is attached to their existence. Therefore, they hardly feel any remorse in betraying the people and the entire nation. Presently we are witnessing this scenario in some Middle Eastern countries.


Supreme Authority

In an Islamic state “Allah” is the supreme authority whose commands (The Qur’an) is considered as the “constitution” of the state and the practices of the Prophet (S) through references in the sunnah / hadiths are considered the by-laws or methodologies of running all affairs. Therefore, “justices” always prevails in an Islamic society under the rule of a god fearing caliph who never dares to go against the Islamic principles believing that one day he would have to face the Lord God Almighty for accountability of all his actions and decisions. It is important to note that females are not allowed to play the role of a caliph or take up any top positions in the government of an Islamic state because their duties and responsibilities lies at home.

It is always a human being (male or female) who assumes the supreme authority of a secular system not only denouncing any share of power of god, but denying gods existence altogether! Thus resulting in a godless society where man-made laws prevail. All these “laws” are flexible on “trial and error” methods that could be replaced at anytime when no longer functional or applicable. Making of these laws could come from majority demand or on governmental pressures that may or may not favor the citizens. Greed, lust and abuse of power are a common matter in pretty much all types of secular system around the world.


Conclusion: Muslims living in an Islamic State fully relies on Allah’s help and support. On the other hand, Allah being in charge of all affairs of His followers takes the responsibility of sustaining then so that they could carry out their duties and responsibilities without any pressure and hardships.


During the time of our Prophet (S) the beginning of Islam was extremely difficult and full of risks. But they had full support form Allah who intended to establish Islam as the only religion for mankind. Despite all the disadvantages and strong oppositions the small group of his followers succeeded in establishing the first Islamic state in Medina that later flourished under the rule of rightly guided caliphs.


Due to their constant and relentless efforts we are Muslims today. Islam today is one of the fastest growing religions in the world.


There was a time when the entire known civilized world came under the rule of Islam. But gradually that rule disintegrated as the civilization expanded beyond the boundaries of the Islamic state. Today the situation is a vast number of people and countries are unaware of Islam. This situation has caused a need for the Muslims to work for dawah (i.e., calling to Islam) again as “…most of mankind still does not know…” (Yusuf Ali’s translation of the Qur’an, Chapter #12, Verse #21).


This reality calls for a rejuvenation of Islam as a worldwide phenomenon that we are already witnessing taking shape. Soon all of mankind will be given a chance by Allah to revert to Islam before total annihilation if they choose otherwise.


Rule of the true “Lord” will return under the rule of a new Caliph representing Him globally. Allah made this promise through His Prophet (S) repeatedly in different hadiths. It is just a matter of time.


Dajjal (the one-eyed false messiah, the anti-Christ) will play an important role in sorting out the disbelievers from among the believers ultimately resulting in two major opponents facing each other for a final showdown (Armageddon). Believers will represent Allah the Lord of the Universe and the disbelievers will represent Satan the cursed one. How can Satan triumph in a battle against his creator Allah? Only the fools and unfortunates will stand behind him.


Allah has allocated most of the important natural resources for the Muslims so that they could fully engage in His Worship alone – see the following references, Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #64; Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #165; Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #96; Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #55; Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #72; Al-Maeda, Chapter #5, Verse #76; Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #59; Al-Araf, Chapter #7, Verse #85; Yunus, Chapter #10, Verse #104; Ar-Rad, Chapter #13, Verse #16; Al-Anbiya, Chapter #21, Verse #24; Al-Anbiya, Chapter #21, Verse #25; Al-Anbiya, Chapter #21, Verse #106; An-Noor, Chapter #24, Verse #55; Saba, Chapter #34, Verse #40; Ash-Shura, Chapter #42, Verse #13; Az-Zukhruf, Chapter #43, Verse #27; Al-Mumtahana, Chapter #60, Verse #12; Nooh, Chapter #71, Verse #3; Adh-Dhariyat, Chapter #51, Verse #56.


Muslims were poor in the beginning stage of their growth, but Allah have made them rich today to allow them to worship Him alone with a peace of mind. Oil and gas is abundant in the Muslims lands with no sign of exhaustion. The natural resources alone are sufficient for the Muslims to live independently economically solvent and powerful to take care of all the inhabitants effortlessly. But alas, our Muslim rulers have divided the ummah (Brotherhood) into different independent states and governments creating borders disallowing other Muslims to have access and rights on the common resources that Allah intended it to be.


Muslims are One Brotherhood (Ummah) believing in One God, sharing common resources under a single Central Government deputed with regional authorities dispatching all resources through proper channels to the Muslims living within their boundaries. The second round of Caliphate will ensure all of this again.


All Muslims should strive to re-establish the Islamic State following the model of first state that was established in Medina by our Prophet (S). All Muslims should learn the language of Islam, which is Arabic so that all communication barriers are eliminated.


The secularists do not want the common people to understand the true meaning of life and wants hide God from them so that they worship them and serve them instead of the real creator – the Lord God Almighty Allah. They want to enslave their citizens so that they will work hard and pay taxes for the comfort of the people working for the ruling people in the government and standing military.


They aspire to separate the religion from the state and make the religion of Islam into a personalized religion not having anything to do with state and governance. But an Islamic state is fundamental to survival of this great religion Islam. Allah wants the Muslims (His caliphs or representatives) to take up the management and control of world affairs to rule justly and maintain peace and harmony among the nations as it has done earlier for over a thousand years.


The time for a change is coming. Muslims need to prepare themselves to adopt and adapt to that change in a positive manner so His plans falls into place. The best way to prepare now is to re-learn Islam from the original sources – the Qur’an and Sunah in the original language – Arabic. After that when the call of the Mehdi comes, join him and give your allegiance.


Narrated Abu Said Al-Khudri: I heard Allah's Apostle saying, "There will appear some people among you whose prayer will make you look down upon yours, and whose fasting will make you look down upon yours, but they will recite the Qur'an which will not exceed their throats (they will not act on it) and they will go out of Islam as an arrow goes out through the game whereupon the archer would examine the arrowhead but see nothing, and look at the un-feathered arrow but see nothing, and look at the arrow feathers but see nothing, and finally he suspects to find something in the lower part of the arrow."  (Bukhari, Book #61, Hadith #578).


Beware; do not preach anything that you do not personally follow. Islam is a package deal, take it or leave it, no modifications or innovations allowed.


…One day Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) stood up to deliver sermon at a watering place known as Khumm situated between Mecca and Medina. He praised Allah, extolled Him and delivered the sermon and. exhorted (us) and said: Now to our purpose. O people, I am a human being. I am about to receive a messenger (the angel of death) from my Lord and I, in response to Allah's call, (would bid good-bye to you), but I am leaving among you two weighty things: the one being the Book of Allah in which there is right guidance and light, so hold fast to the Book of Allah and adhere to it. He exhorted (us) (to hold fast) to the Book of Allah and then said: The second are the members of my household I remind you (of your duties) to the members of my family. He (Husain) said to Zaid: Who are the members of his household? Aren't his wives the members of his family? Thereupon he said: His wives are the members of his family (but here) the members of his family are those for whom acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. And he said: Who are they? Thereupon he said: 'Ali and the offspring of 'Ali, 'Aqil and the offspring of 'Aqil and the offspring of Ja'far and the offspring of 'Abbas. Husain said: These are those for whom the acceptance of Zakat is forbidden. Zaid said: Yes.  (Muslim, Book #031, Hadith #5920).


Imam Mehdi is a descendant of the Prophet (S)’s progeny –


Narrated Umm Salamah, Ummul Mu'minin: The Prophet (S) said: The mahdi will be of my family, of the descendants of Fatimah. Abdullah ibn Ja'far said: I heard AbulMalih praising Ali ibn Nufayl and describing his good qualities.  (Abu Daud, Book #36, Hadith #4271).


And this “Mahdi” will re-establish the Caliphate,


Abu Nadra reported:" We were in the company of Jabir b. 'Abdulldh that he said it may happen that the people of Iraq may not send their qafiz and dirhams (their measures of food stuff and their money). We said: Who would be responsible for it? He said: The non-Arabs would prevent them. He again said: There is the possibility that the people of Syria may not send their dinar and mudd. We said: Who would be responsible for it? He said this prevention would be made by the Romans. He (Jabir b. Abdullab) kept quiet for a while and then reported Allah', s Messenger (may peas be upon him) having said There would be a caliph in the last (period) of my Ummah who would freely give handfuls of wealth to the people without counting it. I said to Abu Nadra and Abu al-'Ala: DO you mean 'Umarb. 'Abd al-Aziz? They said: No (he would be Imam mahdi.).  (Muslim, Book #041, Hadith #6961).


What will he be like and what will he do?


Narrated AbuSa'id al-Khudri: The Prophet (peace_be_upon_him) said: The mahdi will be of my stock, and will have a broad forehead a prominent nose. He will fill the earth will equity and justice as it was filled with oppression and tyranny, and he will rule for seven years.  (Abu Daud, Book #36, Hadith #4272).


Imam Mehdi is just a part of the process that would be initiated under a divine plan to re-establish caliphate. If we fail to help and support him, he will be helped and supported by a new band f people if necessary –


Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity.  (Aal-e-Imran, Chapter #3, Verse #104)


Now the matter is up to you to decide whether you would like to be a part of this revolution or not. Allah does not need us to execute His plans; it is we who need Him to stay safe. Be reminded though, your choice of inaction would result in serious questioning in the life here after. So be ready to give a logical answer if you choose to opt out.


Further readings:


Islamic Caliphate: Are We Ready Yet?:


Spoiled by Oil:


Ar-Raya: The Black Flag of the Army of Islam:


Woman in Religion: Misconceptions About Their Rights:


The Five Questions of Angel Gabriel:


Female Leadership in Islam:


Inheritance law in Islam and women:


Hijab, Nikab and Modesty of Women in Islam:


Greed and its consequences:


The horrors of hypocrisy:


Satan and his attempts to extinguish Islam:


Islam – The final religion for mankind:


Politics, Secularism and Islam:


Zakat- Purification of wealth in Islam:


Salat: The obligatory prayers in Islam:


Arabic - the language of Islam:


20 questions asked by non-Muslims about Islam:


Allowing 100% tax deductions for zakat:


Getting closer to Allah following the prayers of the Prophet (S):


Difference between a believer and a disbeliever:


Imagining our life in an Islamic State:


Prayer according to our Prophet (S):


Warnings and punishments for crimes and sins in Islam:


Rise of social ills in absence of Islam: