Democracy and Islam

Discussion in 'Islam' started by Light, Apr 7, 2006.

  1. Light

    Light Well-Known Member

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    It is fascinating to hear in the news of Western countries tries to propogate democracy in the Muslim world.

    I am wondering if this is in line with the teaching of Muhammad, peace be upon him, or is it a deception that will eventually lead us away from the straight path.

    In democracy, their main tenets are (correct me if I am wrong):

    1) Freedom of Belief
    2) Freedom of opinion
    3) Freedom of ownership
    4) Personal freedom

    Yet, when one country practise this principles, the propogators of democracy reject the people choice. As can be seen in the recent Pelestine election. So, is democracy just a deception from their main goal?
     
  2. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    I'm not sure if democracy is compatible with Islam, but I have some general thoughts on the concept of democracy being used as a manipulative tool. My thoughts come as a U.S. citizen, and not a Muslim, but they may be of some interest.

    I would say that your list of the main tenets of democracy is accurate. I also believe that your last comment about the propagators of democracy rejecting the people's choice is extremely relevant and important if we wish to consider the issue of exporting democracy, which has been on the table here in the U.S., and I’m certain also in countries affected by this policy.*

    What we have been seeing over the past five years with the pre-emptive wars of the United States has nothing to do with democracy. It is about empire and global capitalism. It is about greed and the hoarding of resources.** Democracy cannot be "exported," as the U.S. government likes to banter on about. Democracy must be claimed first and foremost by the people. It is about grass-roots dialogue and participation, and as such, cannot be imposed from above, whether through military force, subversive politics, or even "free markets."

    You ask if democracy is a deception from the main goal of those in power. I would say yes; it is a token, a very charged word that is often used as a political tool to mask an agenda of resource consolidation or hoarding, and in the case of the current U.S., empire building.

    Here in the U.S., the words and concepts of "freedom," "democracy," and "patriotism" have been stripped of their original meaning and co-opted by corporate interests. Parading in these labels, the various branches of the U.S. government manipulate public opinion. Corporate media also plays a key role in the manipulation of public opinion and the ongoing distortion of the nature of democracy. The roots of this distortion reach very far into institutions throughout the country; perhaps the most disturbing manifestation of the bait-and-switch of democracy with capitalism is the public education system, where children are prepared and programmed to take their place as spokes in one of many corporate and capitalist cogs of the artificial, market-driven economic system.***


    The current state of the union in the United States is not one of democracy, but one of rampant capitalism and speculative economics. As long as people chase after money 40-60 hours a week, they have very little time to be participants in a democracy. And when you factor in the countless hours of television (mostly advertising, even the TV shows themselves) watched in most American households, very little time indeed remains for an active democracy.

    What we have masquerading as democracy in the U.S. and many other countries in the world is anything but democracy; capitalism is the governing force. In a population subdued by media, careerism, measures of financial success, entertainment, and a thousand other glamours of capitalism, democracy cannot be spoken of as a serious force. Until people disengage from the machine and tune into what is happening in their immediate environment, all discussion of democracy is meaningless. When this term is used by those in power, it is often a smokescreen used to hide less noble intentions.


    *This concept of “exporting democracy” would be more accurately described as forcibly subjugating foreign populations to a capitalist economic system. I would be inclined to take it a step further and define it as subjugation followed by resource and population exploitation.

    **It is also about fear and insecurity (rather than security), but that's another topic entirely.

    ***Again, a topic that could be detailed in a different kind of discussion.
     
  3. Talib

    Talib New Member

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    Light
    Democracy doesn't consist in accepting any election results. The programs of the people elected have to be in accordance with the rules of democracy.
     
  4. Light

    Light Well-Known Member

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    Pathless, thanks for your in-depth post.Can I assume that the current democracy was none other than capitalistic economic system?

    Islam has laid down the foundation for mankind to administer this world according to Allah's command. Based on this foundation, I find that democracy is not Islamic. I will try to explain why.

    We have to first accept that Allah is the supreme creator who creates everything in the universe. He knows what is infront and what is behind us. Most importantly He knows what is kept within our heart (our intentions). Nothing is hidden from Allah. He is the All-Knowing. What knowledge we have (even if we are a professor, Dr or someone like Einstein) is equivalent to just a drop of water in a ocean. Allah's wisdom is boundless and bountiful.

    Democracy is an innovation by people to morally define what they think is right in society. It is the 'ruling of people, for the people by the legislation of the people'. Thus the people are the absolute master and they possess the sovereignty. This is not Islamic because in Islam legislation is laid down by Allah and the people obey this legislation. Allah is the Soverign Lord who is the absolute King of the entire universe.

    The danger of people devising their own legislation is that oppresive law is passed that will eventually cause hardship to some while gaining others. You can see this happening every day. Also the moral standard changes overtime and what used to be rejected by society in the past will be accepted today. Good example is the issue of Homosexuality/Lesbianism, 10-20 years ago, nobody dare to associated themselves to Homosexuality/Lesbianism. Even the legislation of some countries banned it outright. However, now it is acceptable.

    If people follow the law laid down by Allah, this will not happen as it is specifically disallowed. As I have mentioned earlier, Allah is All-Knowing, thus He knows what is good and what is bad for us. This includes regarding Homosexuality/Lesbianism. Simply put, we are not using our tools (our body) for what it is meant for.

    Thus, in democracy, where legislation changes based on the desire of the people, it is not impossible that 10 - 20 years from now incest will be acceptable, or worse, rape is regarded as a minor offence and where rapist will get a very light sentence.

    Just by the above example democracy is not compatible to Islam. Not to mention its tenets which some is a total disregard to all religion (be it Christianity, Islam, Jews or any other).

    Allah knows best. :eek:
     
  5. Devadatta

    Devadatta Well-Known Member

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    I would make a couple points here:

    First, I think we should distinguish between democracy in its most fundamental sense as rule of the people, from the pluralist democracy of countries like the United States. I think pluralist democracy is inconsistent with traditional Islam, at least as I understand it, since Islam insists on the unity of Allah in thought, word & act. But I think democracy is perfectly conceivable in a Muslim country where the vast majority share the same Islamic values. After all, it’s not a matter of what person or institution carries forward the will of Allah. Whether it’s a parliament, president or khalif doesn’t matter as long as it is indeed the will of Allah that is being advanced.

    And that leads to my second point. It’s all very well to say that it’s the will of Allah and not man’s that should rule society. The problem is how that will is expressed & carried out on the ground. Allah has no arms or legs, or any other instrumental feature, as you know, and even to suggest such a notion is blasphemy. It’s man that supplies such instruments. Allah has set man even above the angels, and designated man as the world’s khalif. So, on the most fundamental level, Allah favours no particular form of government, other than the one that most advances his law.

    Leaving aside the time of the Prophet, Islam has never known full Shariah, the perfect fusion between the will of Allah and human institutions. Very early on, when the centre of gravity shifted from Medina to Damascus and then to Baghdad, Islam had to compromise with the imperfections & corruptions of secular rule that came with the taking on the mantle of empire. As you no doubt know, there has always been tension, and often conflict, between devout Muslims and secular despots, between Shariah of the heart and Shariah of the ruler.

    IMHO, non-democratic rule in the Muslim world is more a habit than an essential feature. Maybe true Shariah, the Shariah that Islam has always envisioned, will in the end only come WITH democracy.

    Sincerely,
    Devadatta
     
  6. Pathless

    Pathless Fiercely Interdependent

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    Light, I believe you have misinterpreted my post and/or intentions. Capitalism is not democracy. Apologies if that was unclear. Capitalism is an economic system. Democracy is a system of governing--as has been stated: by the people, for the people, of the people. The problem I see in America and other capitalist democratic countries is that capitalism, which can be an alright thing in its place, has infested the system so much that it has corrupted the very democratic principles, ideals, and system by which these countries are run. This is so much the case in America that frightening symptoms of fascism are creeping into the national framework.

    Let me also be clear, I think democracy is a viable and vibrant way of governance. I enjoyed reading Devadatta's response because he made clear that it is indeed an option for any country, no matter what type of culture. That does not mean that I believe democracy can or should be "exported." Also, democratic processes tend to be stifled in the hands of religious fundementalists, who often prefer more authoritarian rules of government. It goes without saying that democracy is not authoritarian.

    My thoughts.
     
  7. Devadatta

    Devadatta Well-Known Member

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    With everyone’s indulgence, I would like to add a couple more points.

    First, there is the question of Shariah. I think some Muslims have the impression that pretty much anything goes in “Western” pluralist democracy. As Light suggested above, we might vote for hospitals one day and cannibalism the next. In fact, all Western pluralist democracies operate within well-understood ethical guidelines. These guidelines are largely derived from the Judeo-Christian tradition and are in effect “Shariah” in our western terms. Leaving aside specifics of custom & code, the principle difference between Western Shariah and that imposed by, say, the Government of Saudi Arabia, is that while Western Shariah is often implied & comparatively flexible, the Saudi version is strictly set down & comparatively inflexible.

    My point is, that the ethical divide between the West and Islam is grossly exaggerated; the ethical roots are identical, no matter the divergence in local custom. Babylon is a condition of mind, not a particular city.

    Second, I guess I should have put a name to the kind of non-pluralist democracy that would be consistent with an Islamic state. Let’s call it a “unitary” democracy. In a unitary democracy Shariah would be comparatively more well-defined & encoded than in a fully pluralistic state. But to be a democracy worthy of the name, the control & policing of Shariah would need to be far more widely distributed among the population than it has been historically under the clerical elite. In other words, the ulama would need to not only significantly open up the gates of ijtihad, but also affirm the right of every Muslim in the polity to examine his or her own tradition, root & branch, and to have significant input into what the tradition means and how it applies to their faith as Muslims. The ulama and other authorities would set limits of course, since we’re talking about a unitary Islamic state. The five pillars would remain, as would the centrality of family life, modesty of comportment, and the eschewing of all idols. But the resulting forms of Shariah would be (it is hoped) purified of clerical tyranny and the distortions of local customs and finally bring the will of the people more closely in line with the will of Allah.

    One final note: one of the criticisms of democracy from the beginning has been the problem of the “tyranny of the majority”, and in a unitary democracy this problem would be particularly acute. Minorities would need protection. Islam has the tradition of “dhimmi”, but that was circumscribed by the notorious Pact of Umar. That was enlightened for those times. I think a modern Islamic democracy would want to do better.

    Forgive my presumption. These are only my utopian thoughts.
    Sincerely,
    Devadatta

    P.S. - thanks Pathless for your response. As to the evils of capitalistic, consumeristic "democracy", I'm with you in spirit, but I have some misgivings - perhaps in another thread...
     
  8. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    Islam has never known full Shari'ah? I think it is safe to say that you do not really know what the Shari'ah Islamiyyah really is to begin with. A proof of this if I may recall you applauded a certain amica in one of the threads for condemning the act of "stoning women" among other things. As a matter of fact, Islam does provision such a punishment under the section of hudud for married MEN and WOMEN(not only women) to be stoned to death if proven to have solicited in infidelity above all reasonable doubt. The unfortunate sister(amica) has resorted to disclaiming authentic sources of Islam which she claims to be her belief either out of ignorance or desperation to placate those who fail to understand the wisdom in certain aspects of Islam for reasons best known to her. Historically, the Syari'ah were the basis of governance for at least the time of the Khualafa' Arrashideen. lol I believe you imagine the Syari'ah to be something similar to the bill of rights? or maybe the laws and ammendments of America? Well I'm here to tell you now, that the Shari'ah is far from such a narrowly confined position. The term Syari'ah when translated literally means "way to water" i.e. the source of all life. This represents the way to Almighty God. The Shari'ah is a total and complete guide meant to lead mankind to an ideal state through conducts stipulated by God in the Qur'an and Ahadith. It deals with the smallest and seemingly insignificant thing as how one ought to dress him/herself or what we should and should not include in our diet to the the big matters of governing a state. Finance, etiquette, economy, law, prayer, education etc. are all inclusive of the Syari'ah. The Syari'ah does primarily deal with laws i.e. what to do and what not to do and how to do it but it is by no means restricted to a set of laws concerning criminality and what sort of punishments to provide as is the common misconception. I hope you would recant your erronuous statement that "Islam has never known true Shariah". Forgive me if this sounds too blunt, but, that statement weighed no sense. Even if the Shari'ah is not really practiced in a society which Muslims dwell in e.g. America they can still be the embodiment of the Syari'ah by adhering and emulating the spirit of Islam which is syumul(perfect). Wassalam.
     
  9. thipps

    thipps God Alone is Great

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    Salaam Aidyl,
    Completely agree with you. I would definitely mention the time of the second khalifa Umar(r.a.)... a golden period.
    ma'ssalaamah,
    thipps.
     
  10. Devadatta

    Devadatta Well-Known Member

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    Hi Aidyl.

    I appreciate your time.

    I don’t remember the debate with Amica you’re referring to here. Either you’re confusing me with someone else or I’ve simply forgotten. In any case, I’ll leave that question for another day.

    As for the Shariah question, perhaps we do not understand one another here. My point was not that Shariah is a narrow concept – quite the opposite. I was talking about Shariah in the widest sense possible, as the way to Allah. I was suggesting that it was something much deeper than mere regulation of this or that human behaviour. In fact, I was saying that Shariah in the deepest sense is a kind of union with Allah, and that in that sense it must always escape our human definitions or constructions in time.

    Where we disagree, I think is regarding your belief that the minute & meticulous set of laws regulating human behaviour in Islam defines Shariah or that these laws are identical with the will of Allah. As a non-Muslim, I see these bodies of law as human, all-too-human constructs. I won’t dispute that Allah is working through history, but as you know Allah is the master plotter, his ways are clever beyond our understanding. To confuse Allah’s working out of our destiny, with the feeble constructions of a community of clerics is, with all respect, to totally miss the point.

    As for the range of Shariah laws, as worked out by the legal schools, my understanding is that it is not as wide as you appear to suggest. Throughout the classical phase of Islam, Shariah did little to cover criminal, administrative or commercial law as we understand it. This was mostly covered by secular authorities, i.e., by whatever dynasty or imperial authority happened to be in place. So even if you’re simply talking about specific law & regulation, Shariah has never been fully implemented, in the sense of covering every aspect of human activity.

    Finally, at its heart Shariah is a much more universal concept than you would make it out to be. It is not the exclusive property of Islam, nor, in my view, should it be confused with mere rules & exterior forms.

    Sincerely,
    Devadatta
     
  11. Out There

    Out There Servant of God

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    First, you're contradicting yourself. You said and I quote"My point was not that Shariah is a narrow concept – quite the opposite. I was talking about Shariah in the widest sense possible, as the way to Allah." Then you said and I quote,"...my understanding is that it is not as wide as you appear to suggest." Your understanding are clearly flawed, and I'm sure the other Muslims in this forum who have some basic understanding of their faith could confirm. By saying that the Syari'ah is not as wide as I suggested you've contradicted your earlier point that you speak of the Syari'ah in the widest sense possible. This is because as you fail to understand the Syari'ah deals with every single commandments God have bestwoed upon the Muslims found both in the Qur'an and the Ahadith. Anything at all that we're suppose to follow by correct definition does fall in the Syari'ah. Matters of Fardhu Ain, Fardhu Kifayah etc. are all inclusive of the Shari'ah. You said the legal schools says otherwise. I take it you mean the schools of thought that speak and expound on Fiqh namely; The school of Syafi'e, the school of Hanbali, the school of Hanafi and the school of Maliki. What you have to do now is show me just one example from any of the established schools saying or suggesting that the Syari'ah does not include all the commandments laid down by Allah in the Qur'an and the words and actions of Muhammad in the Ahadith and Sunnah which was what I was suggesting.
    You were walking on dangerous waters when you said that during the classical phase of Islam which may include the days of the khulafa' arrashideen the Syari'ah did little to cover criminal, administrative and commercial law. That's what you said. This is yet more evidence of your distorted and elementary understanding of Islam and its history. In another thread you said as the opening statement to your post that your knowledge of the Qur'an is elementary. If this is so, then it would be safe to assume along with the things you have contributed in your posts that you have little understanding of Islam. The Syari'ah was practiced to its best form possible during the classical ages Devadatta, but of course as human beings are imperfect by nature, in time they abandoned little by little or misinterpret the Syari'ah to suit their own needs. But even then, it was practiced as best as they the classical people could. Banking, zakat, tax, military, governance(the majlis shura), criminal law(hudud, qias, takzir), ijtihad and passing of fatwa were all put into practice, . These are all under the Syari'ah. If you can just quote me one recognised Muslim scholar who says otherwise, I'd be more than willing to consider the possiblity of my being wrong on this matter. And I've been wondering, who in the world are you to discredit the clerics(ulama') of Islam? I've seen that you've been attacking the ulama' quite a few times. To begin with you have ELEMENTARY knowledge of the Qur'an whilst the ulama' many of which have memorised the entire Qur'an and have gone through meticulous and convoluted training in exegesis, hermeneutics etc. which you have not. And the prophet Muhammad s.a.w. have said that the ulama' or learned men are my descendants. I do not deny that throughout the history of Islam, there have been some clerics who go under the guise of ulama' and yet preach things that in reality contradict Islam to suit their nefarious needs. But you're really threading on dangerous lines by making such claims in such a general manner. Wassalam.
     
  12. Devadatta

    Devadatta Well-Known Member

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    I appreciate your passion.

    I’ll pick up on three points:

    1. Again, I think you’re missing the fact that I’m speaking of Shariah in two senses. In the ultimate sense it’s about the path to Allah. In the conventional sense it’s about a complex legal tradition with numerous specific rules & features. My position is that these two senses are quite distinct. You appear to believe that the two senses are identical. This is the source of our misunderstanding. But no, I wasn’t contradicting myself.

    2. As far as Shariah in the conventional sense covering all aspects of social life our differing views no doubt result from our differing sources. Your sources, I guess, are the recognized authorities within your tradition. My sources are outside the tradition, drawn from the work of modern scholars. For example, my assertion that in classical Islam the criminal law was not fully covered by Shariah is drawn from the reading of Albert Hourani (History of the Arab Peoples), among others. Modern research, I’m told, clearly shows a sharing of responsibility on legal matters. The dynastic or imperial power of the day covered crimes like murder, for example, which in traditional Shariah is left to families or clans to sort out just compensation. In short, secular power had its own courts, and reserved the right to treat questions that touched on its particular interests & responsibilities. What concerned religious & family law, among other matters, was left to the qadis and muftis to decide. But this is a pattern that continues to this day. The core of Shariah remains family law, personal comportment, the place of women, and in most Muslim countries it’s these applications of Shariah that predominate, and again it’s up to secular authorities to supplement the law in other areas. Now, you may dismiss this all as the distortions of outsiders, but keep in mind that I choose my sources carefully. Albert Hourani is hardly an Arab or Islam-basher; he comes with the recommendation of people like Edward Said, who is no friend of Western Imperialism in any form.

    3. As to the ulama, certainly it’s bold and even abrasive of me to slam them the way I do. And no, I’m not being altogether fair. And I’m not about to go toe-to-toe on the intricacies of the tradition with some master of fiqh, the same way I’m not going to go three rounds with a Talmudic scholar or a Vedic pandit. These traditions are fascinating self-authenticating worlds on to themselves, and each one can be a trip down the rabbit hole.
    But that wasn’t my point. From the beginning of this exchange that I speak as an outsider, and one hoping to be of use. And outsider can be bold because he or she sees the big picture in ways that many people inside the tradition do not. And the big picture I see as an outsider, looking at the broad sweep of Islamic history, is that it has in many ways been stopped dead in its tracks. And the one obvious source of this paralysis – again from the outsider’s point of view – is the weight of the legalist tradition and the undue influence of the ulama, in conjunction with secular absolutist rulers, in strangling off the spirit in favour of the letter, of adhering to outward forms and losing the inner meanings.

    Anyway, I’ve said as much already in other posts. These are not the words of a devil, but a rather naive individual only trying to be of help in a world where the kind of orthodoxies you’ve expressed here seem to me unhelpful, if not downright dangerous. Reject what I say if you like. But if you take a deep breath, try not to react to my button-pushing and take a second look, you might find that I’m not such a devil after all.

    Sincerely,
    Devadatta
     
  13. Light

    Light Well-Known Member

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    Devadatta, your view as a non-Muslim is very appreciated in this dialog. Obviously you have come to this facts based on your reading and understanding. Maybe not as accurate as we Muslims have learnt, but nevertheless a good effort on your part to understand Islam.

    You've mentioned..
    It is a serious matter of what person or institution carries forward the will of Allah. Because, it is impertive for that person or instution to have the right knowledge to carry forward the will of Allah. A person may think he is carrying forward the will of Allah, but it is on the contrary. The main point is, Islam has laid the foundation where Islamic civilisation must be build upon. This foundation is very comprehensive, contrary to your belief as Aidyl has put it in his previous post. This is one of the reason why some countries, whom appear to be Islamic, does not fully observe the Islamic rule. That is why some claimed that there is no country in the world that is implementing the right Islamic rule. This is all because of person or institution that runs the country does not carries forward the will of Allah according to His instruction. Why? Because they either do not have the right knowledge or completely ignorant.

    If it operates within well-understood ethical guidelines, then this guidlines shouldn't and wouldn't change. However, it was change very frequently (e.g. in the acceptance of Homosexuality/Lesbianism, legalising of prostitution and so much more) that the orthodox Judeo-Christian tradition wholly oppose. How then the pluralist democracies define ethic when the ethic that it relies on changes according to the will of the people. On the contrary, Islam have clearly define the ethic Muslims has to adhere to and there is no negotiation on that part. Ruling regarding anything around it or any innovations/discoveries that came after is taken into consideration based on the well laid ethics. That is why there is fatwas regarding all matters. Eg, organ transplant, using of recycled water, use of weapon of mass destruction and so much more. the ruling don't just based on scientific evidence, but also includes references to Al-Quran and Al-Hadeeth. When a rule is taken based on a solid foundation (that does not moved/changed as the people desire) then can we say that it is fully adhering to the will of Allah.
    Yes, it is true that even after that extensive research and comparative study of the ruling, it will produce several conclusion by individual Ulama. That is the beauty of the whole process. It challenge the Muslims to think and gain knowledge. The difference in opinion is natural for the Muslim world, and we are encourages to respect each other opinion although we strongly believe the otherwise is correct. Unity in Islam is vital. As such, if the Majlis or the leader of one community has decide on a ruling, the Muslims in that community must follow that rather than observing their own.

    I completely disagree with what you claimed above. Shariah that Islam has always envisioned, will only come with the implementation of a true Islamic ruling. There is no reference in the Islamic history that it flourised WITH democracy. I personally believe that the Khalifah rule will reappear as been prophesied in Quran and Hadeeth with the coming of Al-Mahdi and Isa (Jesus) alaihi salam. In democracy, the people chose who to run the country. As we all know, every person have different level of knowledge on every subject. Thus, how can we trust that the people will choose the right person to rule the country? Let alone trusting them to carry the will of Allah. The Khalifah system is very successful in this aspect. The reason why the system crumble is none other by the work of the western government whom wants to see the disintegrated Muslims world. At that point, the Muslims faith has weakened and driven by lack of knowledge contribute to its destruction.
    Democracy is never an Islamic method of governing and as in a Hadeeth which says something like, if something has not come from Allah and His Messenger, it is innovation and every innovation is a path away from Allah.

    Allah knows best. Any mistake is from my own naivety and any truth is from Allah the supremely merciful and supremely kind.

    May Allah lead us to the right path.
     
  14. Devadatta

    Devadatta Well-Known Member

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    Hi Light.

    Thanks light for your appreciation, and for your thoughtful response.

    You’re right that the moral/ethical standards of “Western Shariah”, if we allow there is such a thing, is far more open-ended than Islamic Shariah. But again I think the moral universe of the West may be more consistent than you think. Principles like the sanctity of life, especially human life, the accountability of individuals for the moral choices they make, respect for the right of others, etc., are alive and well, and still form part of foundational documents like the U.N.’s Universal Charter of Human Rights.

    As in Islamic Shariah, there is a definite process involved. New “rulings” if you like, do arise in different forms to meet with the changing circumstances of human life. As in Islam, different human behaviours call for different moral/legal responses: prohibition, disapproval, recommendation, non-recommendation, morally neutral, etc. In the West, of course, these categories are not the same as in Islam; in some areas the penalties differ as well. Of course the process is in a way far more complex in the West, involving governments, legislation, pressure groups, religious bodies and various kinds of moral suasion, and so moral standards are far more contested than they are in Islam.

    But perhaps the essential difference is that Islam is significantly more concerned with regulating everyday outward comportment, family life & and the relations between men & women than generally prevails in the West. And in the interests of better understanding, I’d like to point out one obvious root to this difference.

    Really it goes back to fundamental theology. As you know, nearly all Christians adhere to the basic creed, that Jesus was fully God but also fully man. Islam rejects, even abhors, this creed, and affirms the One God, who shall have no participants.

    Now, you may perhaps know this already, but for Christians having this creed, and even having the firm guidance of a hierarchical church, is only the beginning of belief. Every Christian must struggle with the riddle of Jesus Christ. You might say that Christianity is built around the “Jesus Koan”. In Islam these metaphysical/psychological perplexities are taken right off the table, but any Christian who takes his religion seriously must work through this koan (conceived of in numerous ways of course), to find his way to belief.

    This internal struggle is one of the major roots for that mysterious entity “the Western mind”, and at the root of an intense individuality, Existential anguish, Faustian ambition, and finally that restless (you might say compulsive) spirit of inquiry which is most characteristic of the culture we call “Western”.

    In short, it’s this intense interiority of the Western mind that makes it seemingly indifferent to many of the kinds of human behaviour that Islamic Shariah regulates. It’s not that the West is less moral than Islam – though it may be in some areas – but that it pitches its moral tent more in the mind than in behaviours.

    All this is not to paint the West as superior or inferior, but only to help you perhaps to better understand the Western mentality. The West has no doubt paid mightily for its complex theology, and been led to many failed ideologies and injustices. And you may be correct that the West has gone too far, that human beings need the strict guidance of Islamic-style Shariah. You may say that Westerners are kind of crazy (we are). You may be right that democracies are far too messy to arrive at God’s will. (Of course my contrary view is that it’s far more dangerous to put God’s instruments in too few hands than in too many.) These are matters on which we can reasonably disagree, as we’re doing here.

    But may I tell you my central concern? My feeling as a non-Muslim is that Islam, with its fierce monotheism, its vigorous will to put God into everyday life, its core dedication to justice, has much more to offer to world culture. The trouble is I don’t see the present orthodoxy, as defended here, nor the political climate in most Muslim countries leading to that end. I see a colossal failure of the imagination. From the West Bank to Iraq to Iran to Afghanistan & Peshawar, all the enemies of Islam, whether called Imperialists, Zionists, Crusaders, would disappear like smoke in face of a genuinely mobilized umma. Democracy may or may not be compatible with Islam, but Muhammad (pbuh) certainly knew how to mobilize people power in his day, and knew how to wield the weapons of peace as well as war. I think a 21st century Muhammad could do the same, though is methods would more resemble Gandhi’s than Caesar’s.

    Sincerely,
    Devadatta
     
  15. Light

    Light Well-Known Member

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    Thus you have confirm what I said earlier, by having moral standard contested far more in a democratic society, the danger lies in that itself. Because it can be contested, everyone can have a say and can changed what is suppose to be a moral standard to something different to suit their needs. Isn't that dangerous? Trusting moral standards to the people whom do not have the right knowledge to do so? What is suppose to be simple is made so complex and difficult in democracy, where it is rule by the people, for the people and of the people. Hmm...

    I agree with you that in the current time there is not one single government that are following the correct Islamic principles. However, it is still being observed partly in certain countries, that are commendable. Especially while there are other governments that want to export their own idealogy into Islamic countries.

    As I have said earlier, if the umma is not united, there is little chance of defending Islam. Yes, you are right to say that a mobilized umma will diminish all enemies of Islam. When it will happen is the sole knowledge of Allah.

    Well, I can't say that the 21st Muhammad (if you wish to refer Iman Mahdi that, and I don't even know if he will appear in the 21st centuary) method will resemble Gandhi's. What I can say is Iman Mahdi will closely resemble Muhammad s.a.w and he is a decendant of Muhammad s.a.w. Thus if I am to make an assumption, his method will resemble that of Muhammad s.a.w. rather than Gandhi's or Caesar's.

    May Allah show us the straight path...
     
  16. Amica

    Amica Well-Known Member

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    Salaam/peace.

    I think that Islam as a religion is a democratic religion in nature, because God/Allah Almighty in the Qur'an commands: 1) peace and only war in defense of oneself/his faith and his community, 2) no compulsion in faith, 3) equality between the sexes (only one biologically having some advantages over the other--not meaning to put the other sex down), etc.

    Islam began with a fight for its right to co-exist with others in the world (starting with Prophet Abraham and the rejection he faced from unbelievers, the attempted attack on him, etc), because God Almighty in the Qur'an says that if He wished everyone in the world to be Muslim, it would be so, but He did not.

    "You have your religion, I have mine," is one of the important prinicples of the Islam and one that some people may forget at times, but is extremely important because it is of a democratic nature. The statement translates into a picture of a secular community where one wants to live with others, but rightfully practice their own believes.

    I think that Muslims are afraid of the 'democracy' as presented by the West, because the Western societies do not represent the most moral societies in the Muslims' eyes. And morality is one of the most important things about being a Muslim.

    Looking at the humanity in general, any time we grasp too much freedom to do things we go into excess of doing them. The Western socieities are the most advanced in technology, medicine, sciences, but morally have declined: drug use, abortions, teen pregnancies, out of wedlock sexual encounters, sexual diseases, homosexuality, alcoholism, murders, etc.

    I am not saying that some people in the Muslim communities are not just as bad, because I am sure there are people who have sex before/outside marriage, there are homosexual Muslims, there are rapes happening, etc. but with the eyes of Islam majority of the Muslims in the islamic communities do not condone these behaviors and these behaviors are less practiced because of rejections by the majority.

    As an example: Muslim community in Bosnia, despite declining in its religious spirit during yugoslavian regimes, looked upon distastefully at 'living together thing' before marriage. Today, because suddenly it became 'modern' to do so after certain Bosnians have met the rest of the West and many are engaging in the pre-marriage situations and even having children in such a state. This is totally unislamic.

    Muslims are not afraid to share knowledge, not afraid to learn new things in sciences, technology, offer help to advance humanity in various areas if possible, but we do not want the whole package of immorality (the way we see and understand it, no offense).
    :)
    While Westerners view Islam to be restrictive, we view Western democracy to be too loose.

    I think that certain people in the islamic countries are too rigorous in their practices of Islam that it comes to the point that some people, especially women who are not treated in accordance with Islam, are willing to shake the devil's hand than to stay in the situation they are in. Eventually, this may lead to great apostasy that was predicted long ago.
     
  17. cyberpi

    cyberpi Interfaith Forums

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    The primary tenet of both democracy and capitalism is Faith. Faith in God, faith in each other, and faith in yourself. Democracy is a form of governing by the people. Capitalism is a form of economy by the people. Both present people with many choices... many, many decisions and choices to make. That is scary to some people because it requires Faith. It does add stress. It requires both Faith in God and Faith in people, although some deny the former and some work to avoid the latter.

    It is similar to driving a car down a road where at any moment another person could swerve and kill you both, or stop and help you when you are broken on the side of the road. There is risk because the actions and motivations of the people in other cars is unknown to you, and because the destination that you personally choose for yourself may prove fruitless or leave you broken on the side of the road. You must believe that God helps you choose your destination. You must trust that others will love you as they love themselves... and some people don't. There has to be Faith that your neighbor does good deeds with his car as you do, enjoins in Truth with you by signalling to other drivers his intentions, and that everyone is patient with each other, always constant in following the agreed laws of the road. There is freedom to choose your destination and speed as long as you obey the laws that everyone collectively agrees to... or hires a representative to help decide for them. The people do collectively pay for police to ensure the laws are obeyed and a judicial system to judge those that don't as best humanly possible. That is democracy. Capitalism means that you personally pay for your car and your gas in proportion to your use. There can be busses where people pool their resources and work together for a similar destination, similar to a school or a company.

    There are other systems. A non-democratic or non-capitalist transportation system might be like a train commanded in a long line with a single well trained and certified driver. The different trains (countries) can be easier coordinated so that there are no collisions. Every occupant has the same or a similar destination. There is no need for every occupant to pay for gas because everyone pays the same anyway, and there is no need for ownership of things like a car. There is no need for Faith in your neighbor because you are both going to the same place at the same speed, and they can't hurt you with their wreckless driving. Neither can you hurt them anymore. However there is Faith and submission to the train driver's decisions and the reliability of the train and track. There is no need to communicate intentions anymore since you know each others destination. In fact you have far fewer intentions or worries except to board the train as you are supposed to, sit quietly, and exit when you are supposed to. There is no need to be patient because there is little to do short of jumping from the train. Everyone places their fate into the same train and train driver to arrive safely at the destination at the same time.

    If the train driver were God, then I am certainly for taking a relaxing lifelong train ride, but if it is another man who is not all seeing, all hearing, and all knowing, then should we submit to another man instead of God? No. I prefer to choose my own car or bus and its destination with God's help. Not everyone has the same destination. Isn't that what the religions of Ibrahim (pbuh) teach? There is verifiably more than one destination, at least two, and we are judged for our own decisions. While there is a push for unity in Islam it seems that by God's design there are always sinners on the road that we must contend with and help. In fact the only way to recognize this is if people have freedom to choose their own destinations... to make their own decisions or be a part of collective decisions.
     
  18. umm salamah

    umm salamah WhatisYour PurposeInLife?

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    I would like to comment on this topic & insha Allah i will do tomorrow....be prepared lol
     
  19. Light

    Light Well-Known Member

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    Hi all,
    It's been a while since I put my penny worth on this subject. After some investigation and personal study of my own, I have found some very interesting information.

    There are indications that Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) have practised some form of democracy during his time as in the following examples:

    1) Before the Uhud expedition, Prophets (s.a.w) decision was to stay put in Madinah and protect the city from the coming Makkan army. However, some of the younger muslims brother at that time opined that they should go out and meet the army outside Madinah. After consultation, Prophet (s.a.w) agree with them and commanded the Muslims army to march out of Madinah and meet the Makkan army in Uhud. This shows that the Prophet (s.a.w) do consult the companions and makes decision based on the general consesus. Thus, that is one form of democracy.

    2) During one of the expedition, Prophet (s.a.w) came into an openings and ordered the Muslim army to set up camp for the night. However, one of the companions came forward and suggest an alternative place which he claimed is much secured and give advantage to the Muslims during battle. Again prophet (s.a.w.) agreed with the companion and accept his suggestion. This is another example of how the prophet (s.a.w) practise democracy in decision making.

    Democracy in its pure form is a tool and if it is used correctly will be acceptable. Capitalist democracy is unacceptable as the intention is not for Allah but more for material gain. Thus, probably why some believe democracy is unacceptable in Islam.

    What's your opinion?
     
  20. DT Strain

    DT Strain Spiritual Naturalist

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    I would like to add something from American history, which may help explain something. When the U.S. Constitution was first being formed, we had just rebelled from a ruler King (in England), as I'm sure you probably know. There was a lot of talk about God's will and the people's will and how all this democracy stuff worked.

    It all had to do with the proper flow of authority. The basic concept of the Kings was that authority flowed from God to the King and then from the King to the people. So it was...

    GOD > KING (STATE) > PEOPLE

    But the founders of the U.S. democracy said that the proper flow of authority should be...

    GOD > PEOPLE > STATE

    In other words, instead of one dictator telling the people what God thought, God spoke to his people, and the people would then tell the state what should be done. That's why the leadership in the U.S. is properly viewed as servants of the people (although some forget this from time to time).

    What has been said in this thread about various secular dictators in the muslim nations getting in the way of God's will, and democracy being the way that a Muslim people can instill it, seems very practical to me.
     

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