Analysing The Compatibility Of Islam And Democracy Politics

This chapter presents the arguments for and towards the compatibility of Islam and democracy, to not Islamic states specifically per se but extra to Muslim-majority states as an entire. By doing so, it encompasses the big selection of arguments that students have made on the issue and shows clearly what makes it attainable for Islam and democracy to be appropriate and what does not. Taking these arguments into consideration, this chapter then puts it into context for Islamic states and analyzes whether it is possible for them to be democratic with out essentially loosing what makes it an Islamic state.

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The relationship between Islam and democracy, its compatibility and the issue of the democratic deficit in the Muslim world is one that has been put within the spotlight particularly after the catastrophe and repercussions of September 11 (Hasan 2007: 10) in addition to the sustained efficiency of Islamic revivalism and the rise in involvement of Islamic movements in electoral politics (Esposito & Piscatori 1991: 428). Although not all hope is lost for the Muslim world as there are Muslim-majority states such as Indonesia and Turkey that are recognized as democracies, there’s nonetheless the issue of the non-existence of democratic Islamic states and that the majority of the Muslim world stays undemocratic.

The relationship that Islam and democracy have within the up to date world and modern-day politics is one that is quite difficult (Esposito & Voll 2001).

There are many perspectives relating to the coexistence of Islam and democracy. On the one hand, “many outstanding Islamic intellectuals and groups argue that Islam and democracy are compatible” (Esposito & Voll 2001). On the other hand, there are others who see the democratization of Islam as a threat, that it might promote an much more “virulent anti-Westernism” view or others who see the two as “inherently antithetical” because of the completely different beliefs that the 2 promote (Espositio & Piscatori 1991: 428). Esposito and Voll current the idea that “the Muslim world just isn’t ideological monolithic” and due to this fact “presents a broad spectrum of perspectives ranging from the extremes of those that deny a connection between Islam and democracy to those that argue that Islam requires a democratic system” (2001). In addition to this, they argue that there are perspectives that lie in between the two extremes that consist of Muslims in Muslim-majority states who imagine that “Islam is a help for democracy” although their political system and governance isn’t overtly acknowledged as democratic (Esposito & Voll 2001).

Having laid out the vary of different opinions and stances on the compatibility of Islam and democracy, it could be very important note that this chapter will not cope with every single argument current in the ongoing debate of the connection between Islam and democracy however quite give consideration to the main substantial factors. Khan, in his guide Islamic Democratic Discourse, identifies two primary schools of considered Islamic political concept. First there are the political Islamists who “advocate the institution of an Islamic state, an authoritarian and ideological entity whose central ideas are ‘al-Hakimiyyah’ (the sovereignty of God) and ‘Sharia’ (the legislation of God)” (Khan 2006: 160). The second school of thought is that of liberal Muslims who “advocate an Islamic democracy whose central themes are ‘Shura’ (consultation) and ‘Sahifat al Madinah’ (Constitutionalism a la the Compact of Medina)” (Khan 2006: 160). It is important to note that political Islamists do conceive the idea of Shura as an important component of their Islamic state, but for them “consultative governance just isn’t necessary for legitimacy, since legitimacy comes from the enforcement of the Sharia, whatever the will of the people” (Khan 2006: 160). For liberal Muslim scholars, however, “Shura is a paramount and Sharia too should be arrived at through consultative processes and never taken as given” (Khan 2006: 160).

Therefore, it can be seen that political Islamists, based on Khan, do not see the necessity for democracy because the legitimacy democracy is meant to give to a state’s governance and politics is completed via the implementation of the Sharia legal guidelines. El Fadl argues that for democracy to work contained in the framework of Islam and its ideals, it should understand the centrality of God’s sovereignty in Islam and can’t remove the factor of the Sharia legal guidelines as a complete however quite show the means it respects and compliments it. However, El Fadl’s argument isn’t feasible as it’s not potential to implement Sharia with out taking into consideration the need of the individuals because that already is considered undemocratic. Khan argues that the only way El Fadl’s Islamic state could be democratic is that if the authority of those who interpret the Sharia are dismantled and interpreted by the folks themselves (2006: 161). This in flip could jeopardize the quality of Islamic democracy within the state however according to Khan, it is a risk that ought to be taken for the sake of implementing democracy (2006: 161).

Moving on to the second faculty of thought, liberal Muslims, who imagine in an Islamic democracy centred on the beliefs of Shura and the Constitution of Medina. Esposito and Picastori argue that “Muslim interpretations of democracy build on the well-established concept of ‘Shura’ (consultation), but place varying emphases on the extent to which “the people” are able to exercise this duty” (1991: 434). They determine a perspective that claims that it’s not solely the notion of consultation that makes Islam intrinsically democratic, however it’s also due to the “concepts of ‘ijthihad’ (independent reasoning) and ‘ijma’ (consensus)” (Esposito & Picastori 1991: 434). The Constitution of Medina “establishes the significance of consent and cooperation for governance” and “according to this compact Muslims and non-Muslims are equal residents of the Islamic state, with similar rights and duties” (Khan 2001). Khan argues that in accordance with this constitution, which was the interpretation of the Qur’an by Prophet Muhammad, “the rules of equality, consensual governance and pluralism” are built-in into the Islamic state (2001). He then goes on to level out the difference between Muhammad’s democratic and tolerant Islamic state to up to date Muslims such as the Taliban, who interpret the Qur’an in a totally totally different and radical way (Khan 2001).

Choudry backs up the liberal Muslim perspective by asserting that “the fundamentals of democracy are current in Islam: Islam recognizes in style sovereignty, government is based on rule of regulation, political leaders are elected and accountable to the individuals and equality of citizens is guarantee within the Quran itself” (Choudry in Ehteshami 2004: 96). But if this have been the case in all Muslim-majority international locations, why are there so few democracies in the Muslim world? The answer is straightforward. Using Khan’s argument concerning the interpretation of the Quran, it can be argued that the compatibility of Islam and democracy depends on the interpretation of Islamic spiritual scriptures of the Qur’an by Muslims themselves. Khan argues along similar strains stating that “all arguments that advocate Islamic democracies or the compatibility of Islam and democracy take the Qur’an as a revealed doc, whose text is absolute however meanings are open to interpretations” (2006: 158). This is an important piece of data as it highlights the proven fact that when the Qur’an is interpreted in another way by different Muslims it will lead to totally different understandings of what the Qur’an encompasses. This would clarify why not all Muslim-majority states, Islamic states in particular, are related within the extent to which Sharia legislation is applied in elements of governance, economics and everyday life.

Additionally, Khan uses the theologian perspective to back up liberal Muslim scholars as theologians “go to Islamic roots and establish and exemplify those elements that correspond to liberal democratic principles” (2006: 158) thus particularly in search of democratic beliefs current in Islam. In his e-book, The Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism, theologian Sachedina relies solely on “Quranic sources and eschewing different socially constructed discourses, how Islam strongly advocates pluralism” (Khan 2006: 158). However, just because Islam promotes pluralism, does not immediately make it democratic. Liberal Muslims and theologians make the error of being complacent with the truth that only one or two elements of democracy are present in Islam, specifically Shura and features of pluralism, therefore mechanically making Islam and democracy suitable. If this have been the case, democracy could be extra prevalent within the Muslim world.

Maududi uses the theologian perspective when studying Islam as he also argues that “whatever side of the Islamic ideology one may like to review, he should, first of all, go to the roots and look at the elemental principles” (1977: 119-120) emphasizing the significance of having to check Islam from the inside out and never just take it at face value. However, Maududi takes a step additional than theologians and coins the thought of a “theo-democracy”, the mixture of theocracy and democracy in Islamic states (1977: 133). According to ‘theo-democracy’, “God is equally sovereign because the folks represented by an elected assembly that is managed by religious leaders” (Maududi in Lane & Redissi 2004: 171). Nevertheless, this concept of theo-democracy, as argued by Lane and Redissi, does not fulfil the essential requirement of democracy “as the legitimacy of the Mullahs isn’t derived from the individuals however from their perception into the Qur’an” (2004: 171). Maududi himself points out that a democratic Islamic state can be a fallacy as “the sovereignty of God and sovereignty of the people are mutually exclusive” and that “an Islamic democracy can be the antithesis of secular Western democracy” (Maududi in Bukay 2007). The issue of sovereignty of God and the folks is what distinguishes Islam and democracy. The two are utterly totally different sets of ideals that can not be mixed together as only one can take priority over the other, and when that is accomplished, a country both is a democracy or an Islamic state.

Going back to the concept of Shura, many scholars use this concept to indicate that Islam has comparable values to these of democracy. Shura can be outlined as the duty “for Muslims in managing their political affairs to engage in mutual consultation” (Esposito & Voll 2001). Lane and Redissi argue that “the effort to search out the missing hyperlink between Islam and fashionable democracy is targeted upon the potential of discovering a link between the idea of session – Shura – and the important thing institutions of contemporary democracy – the vote and the participation of the folks in relation to the religious elite together with the caliph” (2004: 170). Ahmad makes use of the Islamist perspective to argue that the Qur’an allows Muslims to use Shura and the opportunity of God’s vicegerency to decide out a Muslim ruler “based on the free will of the Muslim masses” (2002) mentioning the democratic features of the Qur’an in relation to choosing a ruler. However, it seems that although Shura is the so-called democratic element of Islam, majority of the Muslim world are not democratic thus proving that it’s easy to correlate the 2 (Shura and democracy) as similar entities in theory however in follow, it isn’t enough to ensure a democratic Muslim-majority state, not to mention an Islamic state. As Khan places it: “a democratic concept can not simply emerge by itself from a part of a verse” (2006: 158).

Apart from Khan’s two main schools of thought, there could be another perspective the place during which scholars imagine that Islam and democracy are intrinsically incompatible. Sivan suggests that “Islam has very little to offer in the realm of politics” as “after Muhammad’s demise, political historical past was shaped by circumstances … Islamic law had little to no say on constitutional matters” (Sivan in Ehteshami 2004: 96). According to Sivan, Sharia doesn’t stand a chance of being the superior legislation of the land when democracy is implemented thus implying that Islamic fundamentals of politics and democracy cannot coexist without one being extra superior to the opposite thus determining whether a state is either Islamic or democratic, they can’t be each. Furthermore, Maududi’s argument supports that of Sivan’s as he claims that “an Islamic democracy can be the antithesis of secular Western democracy” (Maududi in Bukay 2007).

Despite the reality that numerous Muslim activists have rejected the idea of democracy as a “western import designed to destroy Islam and the Sharia”, there are Muslim and non-Muslim scholars alike that strongly argue that “there isn’t any contradiction between Islam and democracy” (Ehteshami 2004: 94). Ehteshami claims that “Muslim teachings and practices of collective debate, consensus, accountability and transparency, if adopted properly, will produce Muslim versions of democratic rule” (2004: 94). Nevertheless, he argues that if Islam and democracy were to be seen as two different techniques, one of many major variations between an Islamic state and a democracy is the sphere of sovereignty, where in a democratic society sovereignty lies with the people, and in an Islamic state it resides in God (2004: 94). Ahmad argues along the identical lines as Ehteshami but makes use of the Islamist approach claiming that “a basic distinction between the Western and Islamist concept of democracy: the sovereignty of the folks vs. the sovereignty of God or the Shariah” (2002). That being mentioned, it’s not possible to remove the sovereignty of God and the Sharia and transfer them to the sidelines of politics within an Islamic state with democracy at the prime, because when that occurs, an Islamic state is now not an Islamic state given that the core essence of it has been removed and changed. When put on this context, it is not possible for an Islamic state to be democratic.

Bukay brings up an attention-grabbing argument in relation to the compatibility of Islam and democracy. He claims that some Western students preserve the Islamist argument that not solely are parliamentary democracy and consultant elections congruent with Sharia, but that “Islam really encourages democracy” (Bukay 2007). Bukay identifies two ways in which these students keep the above claims: “either they twist definitions to make them fit the apparatuses of Islamic government – terms similar to democracy become relative – or they bend the reality in Muslim nations to fit their theories” (2007). He factors out the phrases utilized by Esposito and his completely different co-authors similar to “democracy has many and diversified meanings”; “every tradition will mildew an unbiased mannequin of democratic government”; and “there can develop a non secular democracy” (Bukay 2007) proving his above statement true.

Having exhausted all the outstanding arguments in the common sphere of democracy and Muslim-majority countries, this chapter will now put these arguments into the context of Islamic states particularly. The arguments of political Islamists is certainly one of the few realistic argument that keeps what essentially makes Islamic states Islamic as it does not disregard Sharia as unimportant or pointless when it comes to the governance of a Muslim country. Rather it argues the point that for democracy to work inside an Islamic state, it is the responsibility of democracy to indicate that it encompasses Islamic beliefs somewhat than the opposite way round. The liberal Muslim school of thought can also be useful to find the potential for Islamic states being democratic as they argue from the viewpoint that the interpretation of the Qur’an is what is essential. However, regardless of how evident it is in theory that there are prospects of Islamic states changing into democratic, there is not a denying that in apply, not a single Islamic state exists.

The non-existence of democratic Islamic states raises a quantity of necessary questions: Why are there no democratic Islamic states? Why is it potential for Indonesia and Turkey to be democratic but not Pakistan, Iran or Bahrain? Is Islam the sole, major reason why there aren’t any democratic Islamic states? These questions shall be answered within the subsequent two chapters as the next chapter focus totally on specific case research of Islamic states, specifically Pakistan, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain, where as the fourth chapter deals with democratic and semi-democratic Muslim-majority states, such as Indonesia, Turkey, Malaysia and Bangladesh.

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