Trending Now

Sahifah al-Sadiqah: The First Book of Hadith

Ashab al-Kahf: The Seven Sleeping Saints

Authenticity of Sahih al-Bukhari

Human Family Tree From Adam (peace be upon him)

Daleel at-Talib: An Introduction

Al-Mawardi’s Theory of Imamate

In the Name of Allah---the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.
Al-Mawardi’s Theory of Imamate

Al-Mawardi’s Theory of Imamate

Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Muhammad ibn Habib, commonly known as al-Mawardi, was a prominent figure in Islamic scholarship during the 10th and 11th centuries. He was born around 364 AH / 974 CE and passed away in 450 AH / 1058 CE. Al-Mawardi was a Sunni Muslim and followed the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence. He is widely recognized as a polymath, meaning he had expertise in various fields of knowledge.

Al-Mawardi's contributions covered a wide range of disciplines, showcasing his deep understanding and expertise. As a jurist, he specialized in Islamic law and legal theory, focusing on the Shafi'i school's principles and methodologies. His writings on jurisprudence encompassed issues of personal conduct, family law, commercial transactions, and criminal law, among others. He was highly regarded for his ability to interpret and apply Islamic legal principles in practical contexts.

In addition to his legal expertise, al-Mawardi was a muhaddith, which means he was skilled in the study and analysis of Hadith, the sayings, and actions of the Prophet Muhammad. This expertise allowed him to provide valuable insights into the interpretation and understanding of Islamic traditions.

Moreover, al-Mawardi was a theologian, delving into matters of theology, Islamic creed, and philosophical discussions related to faith. He explored theological concepts and contributed to debates and discussions within the Muslim intellectual tradition.

Al-Mawardi's intellectual pursuits were not confined to religious studies alone. He also made significant contributions to political science and sociology. His writings covered topics such as governance, political theory, public administration, and the structure of the state. He examined issues related to leadership, the responsibilities of rulers, and the ideal characteristics of a just and effective government.

Furthermore, al-Mawardi engaged with subjects such as language, ethics, and belles-lettres, demonstrating a broad intellectual curiosity. His expertise extended beyond the confines of religious and legal studies, making him a versatile and well-rounded scholar.

Al-Mawardi's works have left a lasting impact on Islamic intellectual history. His treatises on law, governance, and theology continue to be studied and referenced by scholars and students alike. His writings reflect the intellectual vibrancy of the time, providing valuable insights into various disciplines and contributing to the development of Islamic thought and scholarship.

Al-Mawardi was not the first scholar to discuss the political stance of Islamic jurists, but he is notable for his work in organizing and synthesizing the rulings and opinions of early jurists in his treatise "Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah." While Islamic jurists had previously addressed political matters and provided guidance on governance, Al-Mawardi's contribution lies in his comprehensive compilation and systematic organization of their rulings into a single work. He drew from the works of earlier scholars, including Abu Hanifa, Malik ibn Anas, Shafi’I, and others, to present a cohesive framework for understanding political authority and governance within an Islamic context. Al-Mawardi's work became influential in subsequent discussions on Islamic political theory and played a significant role in shaping the development of Islamic jurisprudence in relation to political matters.

Al-Mawardi's work "Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah" (The Ordinances of Government) is considered one of his most influential treatises on political theory and governance. In this work, he provides a comprehensive framework for Islamic governance and outlines the principles and features of an ideal Islamic state. Here are some important details regarding Al-Mawardi's ideas as presented in "Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah":

Importance of Imamate

Al-Mawardi's perspective on Imamate or Caliphate centers on the belief that it serves as a representation of the mission of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). According to Al-Mawardi, the institution of the caliphate plays a crucial role in safeguarding and preserving the principles of Islam against destructive influences and propaganda.

In Al-Mawardi's view, the concept of the caliphate is rooted in the verses of the Holy Quran, which emphasize the establishment of an ideal society. This society is characterized by the triumph of good over evil, the obedience to the laws of Allah, and the implementation of justice and righteousness. The caliphate, therefore, serves as a means to achieve and maintain this ideal societal structure.

The caliphate, as understood by Al-Mawardi, is an institution that succeeds the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and carries forward his mission. It is responsible for upholding and promoting the principles and teachings of Islam, defending the faith against external threats, and ensuring the practice of Islamic values within society.

One of the primary functions of the caliphate, as envisioned by Al-Mawardi, is to protect Islam from destructive propaganda and ideologies that may threaten its integrity. The caliphate acts as a barrier against those forces that seek to undermine the Islamic faith or spread misleading doctrines. It serves as a bastion of Islamic belief, preserving the teachings of the Quran and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

In Al-Mawardi's perspective, the caliphate is not merely a political institution but a divinely ordained system that aligns with the principles laid out in the Quran. It is tasked with establishing a just and righteous society, where the laws of Allah are followed and the welfare of the people is prioritized.

Overall, Al-Mawardi's views on the caliphate emphasize its significance as a means to protect and promote Islam. The institution serves as a guardian of the faith, defending it from internal and external threats while striving to establish an ideal society based on the principles of the Quran.


Al-Mawardi's Theory of Imamat, also known as his political theory, encompasses the principles and features of Islamic governance and leadership. His ideas on Imamate revolve around the role and responsibilities of the ruler and the qualifications necessary for effective governance. Here are some core features of Al-Mawardi's Theory of Imamate:

Divine Authority:

According to al-Mawardi, the legitimacy of the ruler derives from the divine authority vested in him. The ruler is seen as a representative of God on earth, responsible for upholding justice and implementing divine laws.

The Purpose of Government:

According to Al-Mawardi, the primary purpose of government is to establish justice and uphold the principles of Islamic law. The ruler is responsible for maintaining order, protecting the rights of the people, and promoting the welfare of society as a whole.

Qualities and Responsibilities of the Ruler:

Al-Mawardi stresses the importance of the ruler possessing specific qualities and fulfilling certain responsibilities. The ruler should be knowledgeable in Islamic law, just, wise, and possess administrative competence. It is the ruler's duty to enforce Islamic laws, protect the rights of individuals, resolve disputes, and provide effective governance. The ruler should be well-versed in the principles of governance and possess the necessary skills to lead effectively.


Appointment and Selection:

Al-Mawardi argues that the method of appointing a ruler can vary, depending on the circumstances and the prevalent political system. He suggests that the ruler can be appointed through various means, including election, nomination, or hereditary succession. However, he emphasizes that the ruler should possess the necessary qualifications and moral character.

Relationship between the Ruler and the Ummah:

Al-Mawardi discusses the mutual responsibilities between the ruler and the people. The ruler is accountable to the Ummah (Muslim community) and should govern with their consent and in their best interest. The people, in turn, have an obligation to obey the ruler as long as he upholds justice and fulfills his responsibilities.


Guardianship of Public Welfare:

Al-Mawardi emphasizes that the primary purpose of the ruler is to protect and promote the welfare of the people. The ruler should govern with justice, ensuring the well-being and security of the citizens. The ruler should work towards the establishment of a just society, where the rights and needs of all individuals are safeguarded.

Consultation and Advisory Councils:

Al-Mawardi stresses the importance of consultation (shura) in the decision-making process. He suggests that the ruler should seek advice from competent and knowledgeable individuals. The ruler should establish advisory councils composed of scholars, experts, and representatives from various sectors of society to assist in governance and policy-making.

Rule of Law:

Al-Mawardi advocates for the rule of law, emphasizing that the ruler should be bound by and uphold Islamic legal principles. The ruler should not be above the law and should ensure that justice is administered impartially. The legal system should be based on Islamic jurisprudence and provide equal protection to all individuals.

Good Governance:

Al-Mawardi stressed the importance of appointing competent individuals to positions of authority. The ruler should select qualified individuals based on their knowledge, skills, and integrity rather than favoritism or nepotism. Meritocracy ensures that those in positions of power are capable of fulfilling their responsibilities effectively.


Al-Mawardi emphasizes the importance of accountability in governance. The ruler should be accountable to God, the people, and the law. Good governance involves transparency, accountability, and efficient administration. The ruler should strive to eliminate corruption and ensure the equitable distribution of resources.


State Departments

Al-Mawardi's theory of state departments, as outlined in his work "Al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah," provides a framework for the organization and functioning of various government departments within an Islamic state. According to Al-Mawardi, these departments play crucial roles in ensuring effective governance, implementing policies, and serving the needs of society. Here are some key aspects of Al-Mawardi's theory of state departments:

Department of Justice (Diwan al-Qada):

The Department of Justice is responsible for the administration of justice and the resolution of disputes. It includes judges and jurists who apply Islamic law to settle legal matters. Al-Mawardi emphasizes the importance of appointing competent judges who possess deep knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and exhibit integrity and impartiality.

Department of Revenue and Finance (Diwan al-Mal):

This department is entrusted with managing the state's finances and revenue collection. It oversees taxation, financial transactions, and budgeting. Al-Mawardi emphasizes the need for transparency, accountability, and efficient management of public funds within this department.

Department of the Army (Diwan al-Jaysh):

The Department of the Army is responsible for the defense and security of the state. It organizes and manages the military forces, ensuring the protection of the state's borders and the defense of its citizens. Al-Mawardi emphasizes the importance of maintaining a strong and disciplined military force, equipped to defend the state and uphold its sovereignty.

Department of Education (Diwan al-Ta’alim)

According to Al-Mawardi, the state should take measures to ensure that education is accessible to its citizens. This includes establishing educational institutions, appointing qualified teachers and scholars, and providing the necessary resources for teaching and learning. He advocated for the state's active involvement in creating an environment conducive to intellectual growth and knowledge acquisition.

Department of Public Works (Diwan al-Imarah):

This department is tasked with the construction and maintenance of public infrastructure. It oversees the planning and execution of projects related to roads, bridges, irrigation systems, and public buildings. Al-Mawardi emphasizes the importance of ensuring the provision of basic infrastructure and services to support the well-being of the population.

Department of Intelligence and Information (Diwan al-Mukhabarat):

The Department of Intelligence and Information focuses on gathering intelligence, conducting surveillance, and maintaining the security of the state. It plays a vital role in identifying potential threats, both internal and external, and provides the necessary information to the ruler for effective decision-making.

Department of Public Welfare (Diwan al-Khair):

This department is responsible for social welfare and the provision of public services. It focuses on addressing the needs of the less fortunate, providing assistance to the poor, supporting education, and promoting societal well-being. Al-Mawardi highlights the importance of ensuring social justice and caring for vulnerable segments of society.

These are some of the major departments that Al-Mawardi identifies as essential for the functioning of an Islamic state. His theory emphasizes the need for specialization, competence, and efficiency within each department. Al-Mawardi underscores the importance of establishing clear structures, appointing qualified individuals, and ensuring that each department operates in accordance with the principles of justice and Islamic law.

By delineating the roles and responsibilities of various state departments, Al-Mawardi provides a blueprint for an organized and effective government, where each department contributes to the overall functioning and well-being of society. His theory reflects the importance he places on efficient governance and the pursuit of justice within an Islamic framework.


My photo
Sajid Mahmood Ansari
Research Scholar, Writer, Blogger

Have a query?


Email *

Message *

Inpage 2009 Professional Virus Protected