religious group follows the code of conduct and beliefs prescribed in their respective
religion. They can’t transgress these beliefs as it is considered a sin. Muslim
people have to conform to codes of conducts and beliefs prescribed in Quran. They
can’t lead their life according to their intuition and mind. Many political
thinkers and scholars claim that, the philosophy of Islam is not liberal
philosophy or liberal democratic governance of state as it does not allow
individual’s liberty. But,Islamic democracy applies Islamic Principles to
public policy through democratic framework. There are many set of rules and
principles for men and women in Islam, and they are bound by these rules and
principles. The main focus of my paper would be to highlight the evolution of
democratic society that confirms the individual’s liberty and how Islam is allowed
to propose a liberal democratic society.
Democracy, Liberalism, Liberal Democracy, Islam, Islamic Democracy, Equality.
the term ‘democracy’ has been used common tradition almost everywhere in the
whole world in contemporary social life. But what it exactly means is a subject
matter of continuous controversy, confusion and misconceptions. As a student of
philosophy, I have been interested in understanding critically the various
aspects of democracy ever since the days of my undergraduate studies, because
the socialist party claims that they are highly critics of capitalist model of
democracy and congress and other nationalist parties rejected the socialist
model of democracy.Both blamed each other of being anti-democratic or less
democratic.Similarly, when we see the international politics, the socialist
countries attacked western liberal democracies and the western European and
North American politicians accused Soviet Union and its allies of being
dictatorial regimes. When we look into India then we found such a cultural
diversity and pluralism among into the society. In India, we see it is the
largest democracy not only in the region but also in the world and it is the
best example of liberal democracy.
the Islamic democracy, there has been much discussion of both inside and
outside the Islamic world about the Islamic past and those factors in the
Muslim present that are favourable and unfavourable to the development of
liberal democracy. From a political perspective, Islam seems to offer that
liberal democracy work in a society inspired by Islamic beliefs and principles
and shaped by Islamic experience and tradition. Most of the Muslim thinkers
give the same view about Islamic democracy. For Islamic fundamentalists,
democracy is unimportance; they even not often use this word or even misuse
this word. They are, however, willing to demand and exploit the opportunities
that a self-proclaimed democratic system by its own logic is bound to offer
them. They make no secret of their disrespect for democratic political
procedures and their intention to govern by Islamic rules if they gain power. The
main purpose of my paper is democracy in Islamic world: Is Democracy and
Liberalism can basically compatible with Islam, or is some measure of respect
for law, the most that can be expected from autocratic government?
and thinkers have tried hard to formulate some normative system in order to
promote at least human wellbeing. It was in this function of philosophers and
thinker that evolved the notion of ‘Democracy’ as system of governance in ancient
Greece, witnessing the birth of Athens as a City State sometime in the year
508-507 BCE. Athens, the City State, witnessed a change from autocratic to
democratic rule. The decision making involved the citizens directly, who were
allowed to speak and vote in the assembling framing laws of the City-State. In
order to maintain impartiality the governmental and judicial officials were
selected randomly. Athens even till today is considered to be the ideal of
democracy, a form of direct where every citizen had equal right to participate
in decision making of the City State. Etymologically the term ‘democracy’
refers to the system of governance where people ‘demos’ are the sovereign
‘creatos’ in selecting their rulers and participate directly or indirectly, when
it adopts a process of ruling through its representatives. The reverse of
Athens gave rise to a
silence in the history of democratic thought that ends with the early
renaissance. This period overlaps significantly with the medieval period which marks
the period between the collapse of the Roman Empire in the fifth century and
the beginning of the renaissance in the fourteenth century (Rein and Brodie
it may be remarked here in passing that Athenian democracy appears to be all inclusive
at the level of ‘citizenship’ but the definition of ‘citizen’ excluded women,
slaves, foreigner’s, non-land owners. The first democracy appeared in Sparta in
the years 700 BCE in representative forms, which Aristotle found ‘childish’.
This form of democracy appeared again in the form of Roman republic, term used
to refer to the Roman system of governance, under the influence of Christian
theological principle that all men are born equal. In medieval England, in 1215
AD, the barons of England compelled King John to sign the ‘magna carta’.
modern democracy matured in the twentieth century providing representatives who
are then expected to frame and scrutinise law, and keep vigil on acts of
government policy. The representative democracy is inspired by the roman
democracy. In course of time, democracy in practice started to show its
faultiness as a system. Tocqueville decried it as tyranny of the majority. John
Stuart Mill followed Tocqueville’s line of argument in his essay ‘On Liberty’.
Mill’s argument, however, were to take priority and projected. This is
importance since democracy is a promise for equal liberty to all. As an
advocate of liberal democratic theory and Lockean political philosophy, John
Stuart Mill, a 19th century English utilitarian philosopher, advocated for a
government in which government allows maximum liberty for the individual, that every citizen’s will have a right to
freedom of speech, right to freedom of equality, right to freedom of liberty
and expression. However, for Mill,
liberty of the individual must be thus far limited; one must not make
himself/herself a nuisance to other people; but must refrain from molesting
others in what concerns them (Mill 1978:53).
is what known as the key term of Mill’s principle. For Mill this is the key
role of governments which is to protect the individual’s freedom from direct
harm to others, discrimination, torture, slavery, arbitrary arrest, etc. While
simultaneously protecting one’s individual freedom to fair employment, the basic
physical needs, education, the right to vote, and the right to protection
against unemployment. Besides, more importantly, Mill argues that in a liberal
democratic society in which
a person’s action or conductdoes not directly harm others, society has no right
to prohibit such action and behaviour and, the person should be free from
government interference (Rein and Brodie 2009:38).
Liberal democracy traces to the Europe in eighteenth century, also known as the
‘Age of Enlightenment’. Liberal Democracy is a form of government in which
people choose their representatives through election under the principle of
liberalism. Liberalism define by fair, free, and election between political
parties. The rule of law in everyday life as part of an open society, and the
equal protection of human rights, civil rights, civil liberties and political
freedom for all persons. After, a long period, liberal democracy became the biggest
political system in the world. The liberal democratic system defines the democratic
character of the state in which main purpose is the separation of powers, an
independent judiciary, and a system of checks and balances between branches of
liberal democracy is a representative and participatory form of government and
in which a government ruled a country. It is one of the forms of democracy in
which the citizens of the country have total freedom and equality. In a liberal
democracy, the legislature, executive and the judiciary are kept separate to
avoid power resting in one place. There are many features which make up a
liberal democracy such as elections they must be free and fair in which people choose
their representatives through voting, there must be a choice of political
parties, with different views or opinions and policies. A secret ballot must be
held in voting because the voter does not feel pressured or hesitate into
giving a vote for a political party that they do not want. The government and
Parliament representatives must be elected by and accountable to the voters.
liberal democracy is closely linked to the civil liberties and in liberal
democracy there must be no discrimination. There must be no racism, sexism,
ageism or discrimination of the disabled or unfair treatment of an old people.
One more feature in liberal democracy, which is a fair justice system, anyone
accused of a crime must be offered legal representation because accuse does not
claim that they were wrongly charged of a crime because they couldn’t have
enough money to have a lawyer to represent their case properly. There must be a
trial by panel of judges so that the person accused is tried by his own people.
Everyone should be treated as innocent until being proven guilty; this is how
the chance of an innocent person being imprisoned is minimal. A liberal
democracy must have a limited government that is open and accountable to the
public; the government can keep secrets but only the ones that are a matter of
national defence. The public must have the right to scrutinise and check the
government if they want. There must also be a free press and media, which must
not be under government or any political party’s control, citizens and media
must be able to criticise the government and all the major political parties
must receive neutral TV coverage. The constitution this is a set of rules and
guidelines, which would outline and limit the powers of the government.
when we look into the Islamic democracy therefore we find that, the key
features of Islamic government is that which have found in Islamic sources such
as Quran and the Prophetic preference (Sunnah), these are Constitution,
Consent, and Consultation and therefore, Islamic democracy has certainly become
a main issue of world politics in today.While these principles need to be
explained and expressed in the specific socio-cultural context of different
Muslim societies, it is important to understand that they are indispensable.
The constitution of Madina which Prophet Muhammad adopted, provides a very
important occasion for the development of Islamic political theory. After
Prophet Muhammad shifted from Mecca to Madina in 622 CE, he established the
first Islamic state. For ten years, Prophet Muhammad was not only the leader of
the emerging Muslim community in Arab, but also the political head of the state
of Madina. As the leader of Madina, Prophet Muhammad influenced the Muslims as
well as non-Muslims. The legitimacy of his sovereignty over Madina was based on
his status as the Prophet of Islam, as well as on the basis of the constitution
the constitution of Madina can be read as both social contract and constitution.
A social contract, a model developed by English philosophers Thomas Hobbes and
John Locke, is an imaginary agreement between people in the state of nature
that leads to the establishment of a community or a State. In the state of
nature people are free and are not obliged to follow any rules or laws. They
are essentially sovereign individuals. However, through the social contract
they surrender their individual sovereignty to a collective one and create a
community or a State. The second idea that the constitution of Madina is the
document that preserves the conditions of the social contract upon which any
society is founded. The compact of Madina clearly served a constitutional
function, since it was the constitutive document for the first Islamic state.
an important principle of the Constitution of Madina was that Prophet Muhammad
governed the city-state of Madina by virtue of the consent of its citizens. He
was invited to govern, and his authority to govern was enshrined in the social contract.
The constitution of Madina established the importance of consent and
cooperation for governance. The process of ‘bayah’, or the
promising of allegiance, was an important institution that sought to formalise
the consent of the governed. In those days, when a ruler failed to gain the
consent of the ruled through a formal and direct process of promising of
allegiance, the ruler’s authority was not fully legitimised. Just as Prophet
Muhammad had done, the early Caliphs of Islam, too, practiced the process
of ‘bayah’ after basic forms of electoral colleges had
nominated the Caliph, in order to legitimise the authority of the Caliph. One
does not need to give one’s imagination too far to recognise that in polities
that have millions rather than hundreds of citizens, the process of nomination
followed by elections can serve as a necessary modernisation of the process
the third key principle of Islamic governance is consultation, or Shura in
Arabic. This is a very widely known concept, and many Islamic scholars have
advanced the Islamic concept of Shura as evidence for Islam’s
democratic identifications. Indeed, many scholars actually equate democracy
with Shura.The Prophet himself left behind a very important
tradition that emphasised the importance of collective and democratic decision
making. Consultative governance, therefore, it is the preferred form of
governance in Islam, and any Muslim who chooses to stay true to his faith
sources cannot prefer a democratic structure over all others to realise the
justice and wellbeing promised in Islamic sources.
democracy refers to the political philosophy that tries to apply Islamic
standards to open arrangements inside a system. The foundation of this culture
has to do with how widely Islam is consolidated into the constitutional rule of
the state. Around Muslims, we had our own particular idea of rule of the
people. We were not without the idea of a rule of the people for the people,
and in sharp history of Islam, and this guideline or thought was fundamental to
Muslim political thought and law. The Rule of the Caliphs was a representation
of what is the job of the rulers towards the ruled.The Caliph is therefore
God’s representative on earth. For certain Muslims the Caliph became a kind of
divine avatar or even a divinity on earth. The second theory about the source
of power follows the theory of a delegation of responsibilities coming from the
people, from the Umma to the Caliph.
almost all aspects of Muslim government have an intensely personal character.
In principle, there is no state, but only a ruler; no court, but only a judge.
There is not even a city with defined powers, limits, and functions, but only
an assembly of neighbourhoods, mostly defined by family, tribal, ethnic, or
religious criteria, and governed by officials, usually military, appointed by
the sovereign.Therefore, in the Islamic Democracy, the expression of Sharia
implied the rule of law. In Islam, there are two rights, the first is the right
of Allah, and the other is of the people,the later are sacred to the point that
it is said that God might overlook transgressions against His rights yet even He
won’t excuse violations of privileges of humans.In Islam, no rule is despotic,
nor the universal one. This is the separating line in Islamic notion of
political rule. No law can deny the rights of any persons.
Islamic democracy that apply the Islamic Principles to public policy through
the democratic framework, in which leaders must be elected by the people,
subject to Sharia and committed to practicing ‘Shura’, a special form of discussion
practiced by Prophet Muhammad, which can find various Islamic hadith. The early
Islamic philosopher, Al-Farabi, he compared the ideal Islamic state to Plato’s
‘The Republic’. Modern Islamic philosopher, Muhammad Iqbal, also says that ‘Islam
is the gems of an economic and democratic organisation of society’. Muslim
scholar and thinker Muhammad Asad says that “Democracyis perfectly compatible
with Islam”. In his book “The Principles of State and Government in Islam”, he
from this historical perspective, “democracy” as conceived in the modern West
is infinitely nearer to the Islamic than to ancient Greek concept of liberty;
for Islam maintains that all human beings are socially equal and must,
therefore, be given the same opportunities for development and self-expression.
On the other hand, Islam makes in incumbent upon Muslims to subordinate their
decisions to the guidance of the divine law revealed in the Qur’an and
exemplified by the Prophet: an obligation which imposes definite limits on the
community’s right to legislate and denies to the ‘will of the people’ that
attribute of sovereignty which forms so integral a part of the Western concept
of Democracy (Asad 1961:20).
democratic world contains many different forms of government republics and
monarchies, presidential and parliamentary regimes, secular states and
established churches, and a wide range of electoral systems but all of them
share certain basic assumptions and practices that mark the distinction between
democratic and undemocratic governments.
my perception is that Islam is a practical religion which does not allow the
tyranny or any type of discrimination between the minority and the majority in
the society. In a country where many citizens most tangible experience of
democracy is the exchange of small amounts of cash and treats during election
season and where there is a general perception of increasing corruption since
the arrival of multiparty democracy, this is a position that holds power.
Presently, in a democratic system, the representatives are elected through
votes and the candidates offer themselves for their election usingall kinds of
sources for winning election while none of the rightful Caliphs offered himself
for election. Each was selected by a majority of the people, after the proposal
of their names by other people. Neither did they display any desire nor made an
attempt to win their elections.But almost all aspects of Muslim governments
have an intensely personal character. In principle, there is no state, but only
a ruler; no court but only a judge.
conclude, Islam is a practical religion which does not allow tyranny in the
society. Islam is a religion which was not satisfied with teaching the ideal of
fraternity and equality to its complete. Islam did not hang to a theoretical
and isolated education of its doctrine. On the contrary, Islam trained its
believers to make use of them Islamic principals in their everyday life; it
educated and exercised them to strictly observe them in their activities. It
proposed to them rights based on fraternity and equality, it proved them these
rights within real circumstances and established the consequences of their
validity. They have acquired an active perception of fraternity and an
intensely lived feeling of equality. Therefore, we can affirm that Islam is not
in greater proportion contradictory to democratic principles than Christianity.
Islam can be perfectly combined with a secular state and this is probably the
best institutional guarantee, developed to the present day, of tolerance and of
individual and collective rights.There is much in Islamic sources and Islamic
tradition that is favourable to making democracy for delivering the products of
Islamic governance, such as social justice, economic welfare, and religious
freedoms. I am committed that Islam is not a barrier to, but instead a
facilitator of democracy, justice, and tolerance in the Muslim world. Democracy
is inherent to Islamic values and Islamic historical experience.
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