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Story behind Imran Khan’s “Omar’s Law” – by Maisam Ali

Make-believe is emerging reality of town that is home to urban middle class of Pakistan in general and that of Punjab in particular. The town is more of a la-la land thriving on aspiring dream of a utopia that would not be polluted with any form of immorality found on the face of earth. Hyper nationalism, self-righteous morality, monolithic religious identity, antipathy to diversity and chauvinism are constituents, making up whole edifice of the far-fetched dream, that are more prone to lead it to dystopia instead of a utopia. The first casualty, being the historical tradition, in pursuit of propagating the tall tales has been the truth itself concealed under fabrications and factual inaccuracies. Bells and whistles certainly sound more attractive than weary details. Who got the time for details, anyways!

Latest revelation is the astonishing claim of Messiah Imran Khan that the concept of Welfare State in Europe traces its roots to second caliph Omar.

“The PTI chairman said that there was no concept of welfare states in Europe and that they had taken this concept from the Muslim world. “They formed all the Scandinavian states based on this concept. They call it Omar’s law in Sweden. We need to bring our culture back to our own land.”

The claim left many of students of history revisit their knowledge about not only political movements in Europe but also caliphate. Nonetheless, only a little effort is needed to debunk the foolish claim that not only is factually inaccurate but laughable to say the least.

Canvassing the Swedish social welfare system doesn’t bring forward the name of Omar, as khan claimed, let alone any resemblance with the caliphate. Then where did Khan take the idea from? The answer is yet another cogent evidence of his shallow perspective of history and cherry-picking habit.

What Khan is doing here is confusing the greater idea of welfare state with the concept of ‘ombudsman’ (a person who acts as a trusted intermediary between either the state (or elements of it) or an organization, and some internal or external constituency, while representing not only but mostly the broad scope of constituent interests). The word comes from Old Norse and essentially means ‘representative’. Ombudsman is not only an essential state organ in Sweden, where it is called Chancellor of Justice, but also in many other countries in the world.

In 1713 the absolute monarch of Sweden Charles XII had created the office of His Majesty’s Supreme Ombudsman. At that time King Charles XII was in Turkey and had been abroad for almost 13 years. In his absence his administration in Sweden had fallen into disarray. He therefore established the Supreme Ombudsman to be his pre-eminent representative in Sweden.

During his stay in Turkey the king observed ‘Diwan al Mazalim’ (a Board of Grievances). Its function was to examine complaints brought by the public against government officials. The institution was headed by a senior judge responsible for examining the grievances. ‘Diwan al Mazalim’ traces its roots to second caliph Omar’s ‘Mohtasib’.  Its function was to be a guardian of public morals in many fields of life, especially in the towns and above all in the market place. He was the market supervisor, as well as the settler of disputes. He enjoyed complete independence and functioned within the framework of an institution called ‘Hisbah’.

As far as the Institution of Diwan al Mazalim of Turkey having influenced the establishment of the Provincial Ombudsman’s Institution in Sweden, Ibrahim-al-Wahab in his book “The Swedish Institution Of Ombudsman: An Instrument Of Human Rights” assumes:

“Of course one could not draw definite conclusion regarding the origin of any institution anywhere… but being aware of the handling of complaints from the public was an essential part of the Islamic system of justice. There are therefore good reasons for the assumption that the Islamic system has influenced the creating of the First Provincial Ombudsman in Sweden.”

Nonetheless, the current predecessor of ombudsman institutions, the Swedish Parliamentary Ombudsman, is based on the concept of separation of powers as developed by Montesquieu, which has a western origin and roots in the Enlightenment. According to the 1809 Instrument of Government, power was to be divided between the King and the Riksdag (Parliament of Sweden). The King was to appoint the Chancellor of Justice (in other words he was the royal Ombudsman) and the Riksdag was to appoint its own Parliamentary Ombudsman.

Hence, it is not so difficult to conclude that the notion of “Omar’s Law” came from a hypothesis and that too about an institution that is just a part of broader Welfare State concept. Here, like his previous claptrap, Khan seems to have no idea what he is talking about. Once again, he seems to be totally clueless, to say the least, how would he transform a country into a welfare state, that has one of the lowest effective tax rates in the world, equal to about 9 percent of the value of country’s economy. Once again, rhetoric and naïve understanding of things seems to be the predominant part of his politics which has nothing to do with ground realities.


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  • Please pardon Imran Khan. He was misled into the Omar Law theory by Haroon-ur-Rasheed, the unofficial biographer of army generals and ISI commanders.

  • Imran Khan welcomes a moderate Mullah (moderate by Pakistani standards.

    He starts at minute 7. He states that the founders of Pakistan did not want a secular republic. They carefully thought out and introduced the “objectives resolution” because they wanted an Islamic state (this is hard to establish. The so called father of the nation was dead by then and said a number of things that indicate that he was not going down that route, though I personally think he was enough of an opportunist that one can imagine him supporting such a resolution if the choice was between getting into power or rejecting said resolution).


    He brings up the Scandinavian Caliphate thing again. Claiming that in Sweden the welfare system is known as “Omar law” because they obviously learned about it from the second caliph of Islam, who invented the concept of the welfare state. (btw, if you know any Swedes, can you ask them how well known this fact really is in Sweden? )


  • Imran may have over-generalised and half-understood the issue etc. – but what intellectual depth do you expect from a sportsman? At least he was picking on a topic / concept that could be used to build a vision or aspiration. Much better I would say than a recent Minister from the ruling party who was claiming PPP’s basic “right to corruption”. What we need is not an intellectual who would never move a finger to point to change (let alone becoming the change). We also need not those who are intent on exercising their right to corruption. We certainly don’t need those who view the country as their jaageer and assume that they will become the PM or President of the country by virtue of their family name (whether paternal or maternal). What we really need is a man with some common sense and a LOT of courage and leadership. My dear intellectuals – please shut the —- up!

  • SAK: This is not Facebook or Twitter page where such stupid remarks are order of the day. Either come up with logics or if you do not have grey matter to argue just shut your mouth or do whatever you have been doing on the above two sites. This is a serious site where knowledgable persons argue with logics and references. Nobody would be convinced with the likes of language you used and which million of ordinary geeks do day in and day out. But not in here my friend. And keep your personal opinion with you, nobody is bound to to give a heed to this.

    Regarding Imran Khan, we have assessed his knowledge, his capability and his flight. This is all because he participated in talk shows, speeches that he made and his tall claims with no modus operandi behind. The irony is, all the crucial Central Executive Committee meetings have been so far held in the manor of Lady Goldsmith, London, the most influential jewish lady having closer relations with Rothschild empire, the authors of Israel. So, the scripts of “Islamic Welfare State” is being chalked out in the very premises of a Jewish lady. LoL.

  • @ Rehmat: Who lost it ?? See this “The concept of Ombudsmen was derived from the example of the second Muslim Caliph, Umar Bin Khattab (634-644CE) and the concept of Qadi al-Qadat (developed in the Muslim world), which influenced the Swedish King, Charles XII.[1] In 1713 King Charles XII, preoccupied with fighting the Great Northern War, was residing in Bendery and had not set foot in Sweden in over a decade.
    Mr Rehmat you lost it i think

  • @Imtiaz: Bilalwal Bhutto Zardari is a typical example of a young boy trying to become the king of a mentally slave nation. What is the qualification if Bilalwal Bhtto Zardari for being included in D8 Summit? Only reason is that people like you are mental slaves, slaves forever. As a matter of fact , most of the people I know simply the dacoit and looter zardari family. May they burn in hell

  • I have no doubt that Gilani was the most corrupt PM ever. He was PM only to fill his pockets. In fact PPP is a lost party of looters now, all corrupt idiots, must be tried in court of law

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  • The truth is the concept of Welfare State in Europe traces its roots to second caliph Omar. It is true that there was no concept of welfare states in Europe and they had taken this concept from the Muslim world. Yes, they formed all the Scandinavian states based on this concept. But the problem with Europeans and Americans today is they don’t want to hear the truth. It is because anti-Islamic sentiment runs so deep in West that the Islam is treated with scorn and derision and given no moral weight. Unfortunately, much of it’s so deeply embedded in the Media’s culture that it’s very hard to change it.

    I’m reminded of what Dr. Johnson said “The world of Islam was all light and learning, while Europe was all darkness when Christianity was the queen of night, Islam was shedding the moonday light.” All evils such as frauds, lies, injustice, pornography, prostitution, promiscuity, fornication, homosexuality, gambling, usury, immoral acts of fornication (fellatio – cunnilingus), bestiality and lack of equality are the sources and the weapons of USA.

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