Political freedom is the right granted to every sane adult to participate in the administration of the affairs of his country and to observe the executive power by which representatives are elected in a free election or by a general referendum.
The Faith of Islam adheres to this principle and the choice of the Caliph himself is left to the Muslim citizens of the State. The sound choice of the Caliph is thus based upon a free pledge of allegiance, and it was upon this democratic principle that the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs were chosen. Islam also prohibited the executive power from legalizing any important matter in the affairs of the state without the approval of the subjects of the state. The executive power was also obliged to answer to the people for all its procedures concerning the state
The speech made by Abu Bakr Al Siddiq after the Muslims had pledged allegiance to him as Caliph of the Muslims after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him, demonstrates this principle. He said : "O people I have been summoned to rule you and I am no better than you. If you see me acting justly, aid and assist me, and if you see me doing wrong, rectify me and guide me to do what is right. Obey me provided I obey God's commands in ruling you, but if I disobey the commands of God, I will not be entitled to your obedience".
In another speech Abu Bakr said : "If I am in the right, follow me, but if I swerve from righteousness rectify me".
`Omar ben Al Khattab, the Second Rightly Guided Caliph, said to his people "If you ever see any deviation from righteousness in my conduct, rectify me".
A man stood up and said "If we see any deviation from righteousness in your conduct, we will rectify it by the sword". `Omar ben Al Khattab was very pleased to see that the Muslims were aware of their rights and their duty to safeguard justice and righteousness in their state.
When some citizens of the state criticized Othman ben Affan - in certain matters, he said "I repent and will refrain from doing anything that the Muslims criticize and when I come down from the pulpit, let those who wish to express their opinion on any matter come to me, and by God if a slave refers to any mistake I may have made, I will accept his criticism and feel as humiliated a slave".
In order to confirm this sacred principle of freedom, God Almighty commanded the Prophet Muhammad, blessings and peace be upon him, not to be autocratic in matters that concerned the Muslims, and commanded him to consult the Muslims in certain matters that concerned them. This is mentioned in the following Quranic verse "It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them. Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee so pass over (their faults), and ask for (God's) forgiveness for them ; and consult them ; in affairs (of moment). "
The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, accepted the unanimous opinion of his Companions even if he was not personally convinced by it. If his Companions' opinion was not unanimous, he agreed to the opinion of the majority as was the case in the Battle of Uhud when he was against going to battle, but he agreed to his Companions' demand to fight and his opinion proved to be correct, for the Muslims were defeated in this battle.
When a serious or urgent matter that affected the security of the state occurred and no such matter had been mentioned in the Quran or in the Traditions of the Prophet, the Muslim Caliph would hold a general referendum by assembling the people whom the matter concerned and would seek their opinion. The opinion of the majority would be adopted after the result of the referendum would be made clear. This procedure adhered to the Spirit of Islam and the principle of consultation that was ordained by the Faith of Islam.
Thus Islam adopted the principle of political freedom in a manner that does not exist in many of the modern democracies of the world.