AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE ON PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION AND OFFICIAL ETHICS

Abdul Rahim Chandio

Department of public Administration, University of Sindh

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 Abstract: The existing paper aims to delineate the nature of an Islamic perspective on public administration and official ethics. Islam is a comprehensive way of life it treats and nourishes an administrator personality via trustworthiness, honesty, virtue, politeness, responsibility, and accountability and it also discusses the intrinsic characteristics of man to represent an elaborated debate in the form of moral values of man particularly concerning the public administrators. By nature, Islam is the faith of an administrative oriented and it incorporate the professional code of morality in civil services which constitute the moral fiber of civil servants. Public administration is the executive side of government that relies on the public officials to put into practice the public policies. In an Islamic point of view, public administration is the body of people (appointed worker of Islamic state) which executes the orders of Islamic state upon the citizens and manages the public affairs Islamically, and makes the state governable on the basis of Islamic Sharia. Moreover, administrative ethics denotes the professional code of morality in civil services as envisaged with deep guidance to decorate the personality of an administrator under the jurisdiction of Islam.  Islam inculcates the sense of official ethical values and responsibility which is the integrating part of public administration to carry out administrative process and execution of public policies successfully. It develops with the notion of an effective and efficient use of authority with the deep satisfaction of one’s soul which makes man more sensitive to be responsible to Almighty God, chief executive of Islamic state (Caliph) and general public regarding his/her responsibility in the Islamic state.

 Keyword: Islam, Ethics, Nature, Public Administration

  

  1. Introduction

Public administration is the government in action which is carried out by the group of people or an appointed staff (public officials). In an Islamic perspective, public administration is the body of people which executes the orders of Islamic state upon the citizens and manages the public affairs and makes state governable on the basis of Islamic Sharia. Likely, the researcher Drechsler, (2018) argues that Islam assists how to organize and manage the public sphere. Moreover, the evidences highlight that Islamic state enjoined the extremely functional, developed, and highly mature public administration long before Europe and it also gives a practical administration and in which an administrator carrying out any duties in the best interest of people (Samier,  2017; Salleh, and Mohamad, 2012). The principles of Islamic administration can be applied in any organization and its impact centre around the managerial practices, employment practices, and training and development of an administrator (Chandio et al., 2019; Salleh, and Mohamad, 2012). In sum, Public Administration in Islam is the hierarchically organized body of public officials of Islamic state who work through fixed rules and procedures to realize governmental objectives as expressed in the state policy (Sharia policy) and programs envisaged and instructed by the chief executive of Islamic state and all other consultative members of Shura (assembly).

The Quranic word Yaabbiru stands for administration as it means “to direct, conduct, manage, run, engineer, steer, devise, marshal, regulate, be in charge, manage well, economize, devise a plan, and conduct the course of business”(cowan,1976). Furthermore, the word “Yedabbiru” is used in Quran in the verses as (Surrah Nissa:59; As-Sajdhah:5;  Jonah (Younas: 3; Ar-R’ad: 2).It is Allah who erected the heavens without pillars that you [can] see; then He established Himself above the Throne and made subject the sun and the moon, each running [its course] for a specified term. He arranges [each] matter; He details the signs that you may, of the meeting with your Lord, be certain. (Ar-R’ad:2)”. In Islamic administration, Sharia affects every aspect of administration such as recruitment, budgeting, supervision, efficiency, evaluation, and policy analysis etc.. In the Holy Qur’an, Allah (swt) says:O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Apostle, And those charged with authority among you, if ye differ in anything Among yourself, refer it To God and His Apostle If ye do believe in God And the Last Day. That is best, and most suitable for final determination”(Al Quran 4:59). Public administration in Islam possesses the unique principles in its nature as it not only guides but shapes the behaviors of individuals spiritually and morally (Qadri et al., 2016). it establishes an active government in the foundation of human society based on the trained and guided administration as it was an integrating part of administration under Holy Prophet and orthodox caliphs (Qadri et al., 2016).

             Ethics denote the rules and code of conduct under the jurisdiction of moral values whereas Administrative ethics can also be called as Civil service ethics or public official ethics (Chandio et al., 2019). Moreover, administrative ethics can be defined as to put into practice the public policies and sustaining public regulation with people and other public officials under moral behavior and designed code of conduct.  As it is argued that on the basis of Islamic sharia a comprehensive ethics can be devised that specifies how to conduct, organized and govern (Lewis, 200; Mervyn, K Lewis 2006). Official ethics in Islam encompasses the set of principles, values, trustworthiness, norms and moral values of an administrator or civil servant. Administrative ethics in an Islamic perspective also encompasses the moral conduct and implement the principled life on the basis of Islamic injunctions to lead the people with responsibility, accountability, investment of one’s utmost efforts and administrative worthiness which improves the quality of work towards excellence except any form of discrimination workers on the basis of race, color, religion and skin in the Muslim society (Husin, et al., 2012).

Administrators are the public officials they execute the public policies in which administrative ethical values make them a role model and an effective responsible concerning the execution of the public policies in the best interest of collective life. Ethics is integrating to Islamic administration that converts to conduct under the jurisdiction of manners, attributes and actions performed by certain individuals in attaining a high quality in life (Husin, et al., 2012). If Public Administration encompasses both dimensions, such as ethics (goals) and performance (mechanics) which always linked with good administration , well working and  its standards (Drechsler, 2014). Likely, Paul H Appleby argues that morality and administration are two inseparable to each other. The administrative flaws in the muslim society is due to ignorance the practical implications of Islamic administrative ethics and it was discovered by number of researchers that employers and employees in Muslim countries were ignorant towards the vitality of the principles of official ethics which results  declination of quality of work and lack of workers’ well being toward their assignment (Husin, et al., 2012 ;Al-Attas, 1978). Ethical conduct of civil servants put into the practice of ethical traits of Islam in a Muslim society that design the living structure on basis of honesty, virtuous, morality corruption-free administration, worthiness and steadfastness in one’s authority. “And God loves those who are firm and steadfast. (Al Quran 3:146)”  Official worthiness is an integrating part of the rise of Islamic civilization as Islam calls official unworthiness as the downfall of civilization as tradition of Holy Prophet says:  “If the offices were assigned to unworthy people, which would mean the end of this world(Bukhari Narrator, Abu Hurraira)”.

 

  1. Nature of Islamic administration

By nature, Islam is the faith of an administrative oriented as Holy Prophet (PBUH) said When there are three on a journey they should appoint one of them their commander or (a guide leader, administrator, and supervisor)”. This tradition confines three people that establish an organizational life at such least number of people for designing and running an administration in which two must be for an association and third one for running affairs that will solve the rising conflicts and disputes among them. Islam tries to make man workable and state to be governable which gives birth to a successful associational living pattern and Life without work has no meaning likewise except government in action state cannot exist. God in Islam is the administrator of the whole universe and his law and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is for whole humanity and finality of prophet hood.

The universality of faith in Islam makes Islamic administration as a universal one that inculcates the universal ethical values and appropriate principles. It is a permanent and change (dynamic and innovative) and it adopts the notion of foreign administrative methods and uses them in their own way of government. Islamic administration is an ethical administration and based on revealed and a comprehensive system of life. Service performance centers the Islamic administration as it says that the master [leader] of a people [nation] is the one who serves them. Likely, Holy Prophet (PBUH) calls the best ruler is the one who is mercy, on his people and exterminates the difficulty of his people “Make things easy and convenient and don’t make them harsh and difficult. Give cheer and glad tidings and do not create hatred (Riyadh us-Saleheen, Volume 1:637). Public administration an integrating part of Islam to be implemented in a welfare state only and it encompasses the essential ingredients of the ethical and good administration. It is a rational, impersonal and neutral in the way of dispensing of state affairs which is a progressive and ongoing process as well.

The administrative nature of Islam attaches to an organized performance and create an effective administrator to implement the public polices of the Islamic state which is being designed in the light of Islamic Sharia. Administrative decision made by the Holy prophet (PBUH) was the planning, organizing and executing of the immigration plan of Muslims to Abyssinia and his enlightened strategies were also applied by him in the battle of Uhd and Badar in which great administrative wisdom was revealed by him for assigning the troops and selection of the perfect or a strategic location for the soldiers was appreciated by world scholars.

  • It is a permanent and flexible (dynamic and innovative)
  • Islamic administration is a universal
  • It adopts alien administrative methods and uses them in its own way
  • It allows Ijtihad which does not deny human experience and intellectual approach
  • Islamic administration is an ethical administration
  • It is a revealed administration
  • Islamic administration is social and human nature
  • It is a goal oriented and a welfare administration
  • Islamic administration is a welfare administration as Islamic principles can be carried out in a welfare state.
  • Islamic administration is a rational, neutral, and an ongoing process
  • It plays the Executive role whose responsibility is to administrate
  • General administration in which every individual at least occupies a right to execute the Islamic law in the society except any state permission
  • The administration in an Islamic state is not only for maintenance of law and order but it is service oriented, and create ethical and spiritual atmosphere

 

  1. Significance of administrative ethics

Administrative ethics implies to well base standards of right and wrong practiced by public officials that prescribe what humans ought to do, usually in terms of duties, principles, specific virtues, or benefits to society. Additionally, Islamic ethics has been defined as a good character (Bearman et al. 2009). The motive force in Islamic ethics is the notion that every human being is called to “command the good and forbid the evil” in all spheres of life either it is in social, political, economic and administrative institutions.  Additionally, Quranic ethics urges to pursue the good and to best toward the creatures as it is mentioned in the verse ‘Those who believe and do good, they are the best of creatures’ (surah  al Bayyinah,verse 7). The vitality of ethics is an integrating part of Islamic teaching thus Muslim scholars expanded the religious ethic of the Qur’an and Hadith in immense detail in all times. It is undeniable fact that ethics and values are observed differently, but if those ethics and principles are breed from one strong and a unity of resource as Holy Quran in Islam, the conflicts would disappear and job satisfaction and quality of life can mobilize in its true sense (Husin, et al., 2012; Rokhman, 2010).   Moreover, the importance of administrative ethics from an Islamic perspective can be enumerated as below.

  • Administrative ethics of Islam makes a Muslim administrative, rulers and public officials answerable to God and man regarding their actions.
  • It defines one’s personality and created certain limitations to carry out the official services according to Islamic law.
  • It can assist an administrative to earn his dignity in the society through applying ethical values and moral practices.
  • Ethics in public administration stimulate the conduct of state affairs with goodness and design principles of the society.
  • It urges an administrator to work within the parameters of standard principles and ethical values.
  • Administrative ethics can make public official accountable for an effective delivery of services and timely access to the
  • The chief assignment of administrative ethics is to delineate what the public interest is in any particular situation.

The administrative ethic of Islam makes an administrator honest, virtue, pious, steadfast, self-esteem oriented, morally strong and a man of integrity. An institution of ethics creates a standard and moral conduct and a suitable scheme of life.  Ethical values envisage confined principles that convert the material goodness in an eternal spiritual success. Regarding this, man binds himself with the ingredients of morality for instance equality, goodness, brotherhood, patience, forgiveness, honesty, simple living, politeness, virtuous, no backbiting, neighborhoods, modesty, justice, social solidarity, integrity, steadfastness, sympathy, welfare, love, accountability, and responsibility. Resultantly, an evil-free society emerges and collective welfare materializes. Moreover, the revelation of the tranquility, peace of mind, tolerant living, and an equilibrium nature of society prevails.

 

  1. Administrative ethics and its implications on public officials
  1. 1 encouraging the sense of accountability and responsibility

Administrative ethics makes an administrator responsible to one’s official assignment and stimulates him to carry out the task in the best interest of collective life.  It assists to perform various duties with an appropriate way which can ensure an effective delivery of services and it can motivate to work with constantly hard working to meet responsibilities Rokhman, 2010; Maududi. (1967). It can turn down the self-aggrandizement, corruption, nepotism, favoritism, ethnocentric, xenocentric, irrationality and administrative procrastination that can result to a healthy work culture and adoption of administrative ethics as researcher argues that as these traits are not practiced among Muslim workers (Husin, et al., 2012; Al-Attas, 1978). It encourages to follow the duties and assigned activities of the organization and correct the mistakes concerning the of one’s intrinsic behavior and prophet’s statement regarding to work ethics is delegating administration duties to reliability and trusted aides and it inculcates the positive virtues while performing the tasks (Husin, et al., 2012).

Accountability is the centre to Islam that makes an individual answerable of one’s deeds to God. The Essential ingredients of accountability in Islam have been derived from (shari’a) the divine law of Islam.  Accountability is the chief principle of Islam that stands for accountability to Allah for all activities is vital to a Muslim’s faith (Chandio et al., 2019; Emdadul Haq 2010).  likely, (Shaltout, 2004 and Esposito, 2002) argue that it is the centrality of the Muslims living manifesto to believe on the angels, books, prophets, hereafter and man’s accountability of his deeds before God. Islam makes man accountable in his collective affairs (social, political, economic, judicial, administrative and spiritual aspects) of his life from birth to death. Likely, it makes accountable each individual in his respective profession either he is an ordinary citizen, administrator, ruler, politician, economist, businessman, or a scientist as the tradition of Holy prophet (PBUH) says “Each one of you is a guardian and each guardian is accountable to everything under his care” (Hadith). Accountability makes man potent to deal one’s affair accordingly as it is a reflection of ethics to mold the personality of an individual.  Islam urges to obey a Negro mutilated nose ruler if he is accountable to God concerning his authority as Holy Prophet PBUH says during his last sermon “people! Hear and obey even if a Negro with mutilated nose is appointed your commander”.  

 

  1. 2 stimulating knowledge and disciplined

Discipline is the practice to train people to pursue the rules and formal code of behavior in order to correct disobedience, mismanagement and misconduct course of action. Islam is the religion of discipline which urges people to introduce the measures of discipline in order to achieve the triumph of an associational life with the revolution in ones’ intrinsic behavior or ethical values. In a welfare state, discipline is considered as a mechanism to deliver goods and services to the citizens. Public administration encompasses the intellectuality and discipline to implement the policies in order to assure the administrating the public affairs in its true essence. If the measures of discipline are to be planted that mobilize human’s value system to carry out the material affairs to succeed the spiritualism which would improve the decision-making process. Discipline in Islam is to follow the sharia (Quran and Sunnah) as ethics is an integrating part to it. In this regard, except the adaptation of Islamic values discipline in Islamic state is impossible to be materialized. O’ you who have true faith! Do not give preference (to your own words and deeds) above those of Allah and His Messenger (the Prophet Muhammad, blessings of Allah be upon him and his progeny). And have consciousness of Allah. Unquestionably, Allah is the All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al Quran)

The official ethics in Islam produce discipline in a public servant and discipline always extinguishes the fluctuations and it restores the mechanism of the regulatory on the land and develop best conduct in man: The noblest of you in the sight of Allāh is the best of you in conduct” (Al-Quran 49:13). In Islam discipline is the strict adherence of the designed rules and regulation which Allah revealed to the last prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) as Quran says  “We have already sent our messengers with clear evidence and sent down with them the Scripture and the balance that the people may maintain [their affairs] injustice.” (Al Quran Hadid: 25). Administrative ethics urges an administrator to acquire training and become capable as Islam assists to recruit an official on the basis of one’s trust and capability. A knowledgeable administrator becomes most careful in choosing capable persons for coming recruitment process in order to fulfill the administrative vacuum with discipline. Moreover, a cable person is an empowered person to deal with difficult tasks in an easy way Truly the best of men for thee to employ is the (man) who is ‘strong’ and ‘trustworthy” (Al-Quran 28:26). The Holy Prophet (PBUH) declared a discipline and balanced proportion for all to respect the life, property, and human honor. Likely, The Quranic order was carried out as the Quran says no nation shall make fun of another which indicates the true mechanism of discipline.

 

  1. 3 trust and moral development of public official

The ethical ingredients of public servants in Islam encourage the trust, moral development and an easy implementation of Islamic Sharia. The major object of Islamic administration is to maximize and implement the Islamic law (BIIT, 2005).  Islam urges to maintain complete trust on God and people whom authority has been assigned in order to ensure sustainability of  an efficient and effective administrative process as Holy Quran mentions  Allah doth command you to render back your trust to those to whom they are due, and when judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice” (4:58); and “Truly the best of men for thee to employ is the (man) who is ‘strong’ and ‘trustworthy” (Al-Quran 28:26). Moreover, it urges to hold the trust of people with sincerity to deliver public mandate as it is an integrating part of the institution of morality. In this way, Hazrat Abu Bakr, while accepting his duty as the leader of Ummah said in his first address: “O people, I have been elected a leader, but I am no better than you. If I do good then help me with that, but if I do bad then straighten me. Sincerity is a trust, while deception is a betrayal. Obey me as long as I obey God and His Messenger; but if I should disobey God and His Messenger, then you are not bound to obey me.”

Searching the blessing of Almighty Allah is behind his obedience which can be materialized with adaptation of ethical values of Islam in on each institution of life (social, political, economic, judicial, and executive). In this perspective, Amanah (Trust) is considered as the Ibaddah (worship) in Islam that brings man close to Almighty Allah. Trust makes public officials to reveal the highest standards in all activities to public service and encourage public officials to ensure the strengthen public office and its urges to apply morals values, effectiveness,  efficiency, and ones utmost effort in serving the public. Administrative ethics create the moral development of public officials which turns down the notorious characteristics in an individual. Meanwhile, a notorious bureaucracy hinders people to grow up and achieve the parallel status in the society that results in the decline in civilization.

 

  1. 4 making social justice as the paragon of administration

Ethical values can mild one’s personality to be jut and apply his/her initiatives to mobilize justice on the land. The chief goal of Islamic administration is to implement the Islamic Sharia which is based on the complete welfare and justice (Jamal, 2010). The only purpose and mission of Islam are to maintain Idl (justice) that means to place things in their due and rightful place as Holy Quran urges to sustain the affairs through the justice “that the people may maintain [their affairs] in justice” (Al- Qur’an, 57: 25). Just is the prime need for the existence of a civilization which is an impossible and imperfect reality except for the implementation of the law into action and it makes balance social, political, economic and cultural aspects of society.

Justice in Islam means not only provides an equal treatment to each individual but it sustains a just condition with all other living creatures. Islamic administration is responsible to implement all essential ingredients of the justice on the land. In this connection, no one can harm plants and animal through his/her mercilessness. Justice emerges in one’s personality in the form of honesty, politeness, virtue, goodness, and perfect peace for himself and others as well. Islamic administration executes the Sharia that is inevitable to Social justice and universal peace as justice in Islam is free from restriction, and universal by its nature (Jamal, 2010).  Moreover, the goal of public administration in Islam is the just administration as the tradition of the Holy Prophet also urges to maintain justice at any cost even it goes against one’s own self. “Speak the truth even if it goes against your own kinsmen (Hadith)”. Islamic justice is free from the clutch of any discriminatory approach on the basis of color, creed, race, geography, language, and literature. Hence it cannot run under any imbalance nature to develop separate limitations of the justice for a believer and disbeliever as it makes an administrator responsible to dispense justice equally either he/she is Arab, Balochi, Iranian, Sindhi, European, Chinese and Punjabi. The degeneration of Islamic administration in the contemporary period emerged due to excessive world desire and lust of power which checked later rulers after the orthodox caliph as Umar bin Abdul Aziz and Al Mamun as well and it requires a constant check and balance to apply Islamic principles of administration its true sense.

 

  1. 5 stimulating transparency and fairness

Islam urges to maintain transparency and course of administrative activities based on rationality, neutrality, impartiality, fairness and transparency. The main purpose of the Qur’an is a social order that can run on the earth based on fairness and ethics (Rahman, 1980). Transparency means to build course of action based on the freedom of information flow and it is the principle which guarantees freedom of access or for any person to obtain information about governance, the process of making, implementation, and the achieved results of policy. Transparency was the occupied character in the preaching  of  Holy Prophet (pbuh) and caring to stakeholders, as prevails in the tradition of Prophet “khairu al-nas anfa’uhum li al-nas (The best humans are who gave advantages to humans)”. Moreover, Islam exterminates the fraud in order to sustain transparency as Holy Qur’an: 27 says Woe to those that deal in fraud!”.

Transparency has been urged via exposing the true image of reality before the scene and administrative transparency is the full and open administrative practices involving all aspects of the contractual relationship between authority and an individual. “For people possess faults, which the ruler more than anyone else should conceal. So do not uncover those of them which are hidden from you – it is only incumbent upon you to remedy what appears before you. God will judge what is hidden from you. So veil imperfection to the extent you are able….And loose from men the knot of every resentment….” (Imam Ali – letter to Malik al-Ashtar). The principles of transparency and accountability in the Quran guarantee the social control and report, wide public participation, kind public service, self-honest, self-control and self-responsibility so that various forms of distortion such as corruption or discrimination can be avoided and controlled.

 

  1. Conclusion

Public administration in Islam is the course of action in which Sharia policy is to be put into practice. Allah makes man vice-regent on the earth in order to put into practice the divine laws and bind one’s life to it and urge to be completing obedient and apply to His injunctions or command. It is the chief principle of Islamic administration to execute the Sharia and carries out the public policies which are made on the basis of the various sources of Islam in which Shura plays the significant role to design Sharia policy via interpreting Islamic scripts. It is the goal of administrator in an Islamic state to observe the rules or fundamental values of Islam as  oneness of God, to establish prayers, to promote good and forbid evil, to exterminate unfairness, to serve public, to dispense the social justice, impartially and to observe the religious duties and invest one’s utmost efforts to benefit others as Hadith (tradition) of  Holy Prophet (PBUH) says “An emir (ruler) who accepts an office but does not make his utmost effort with sincerity (Ikhlas), he will never ever enter Jannah (paradise) with other Muslims”. Finally, an Islamic administrator must pursue the administrative ethics of Islam like honesty, virtue, politeness, and sense of moral conduct and welfare with others.

 

 

Corresponding Author:

Abdul Rahim Chandio

Department of Public Administration University Of Sindh Jamshoro

Telephone: 03083980203

E-mail: [email protected]

 

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