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Democracy and Islam

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by Carl Goldberg (United States), Apr 17, 2008 at 01:58

...The notion that the Koran is a supermarket so that anyone can pick and choose what he wants is utter blasphemy. Either the Koran is Allah's literal word, or it is not. If it is not, then all of Islamic theology comes crashing down.

As for democracy, it is all a matter of definition. In Islam, it is permissible for government representatives to be elected. However, the purpose of these legislators is only to fulfill the requirements of Shariah. According to Islamic theology, only Allah has the right to determine what is right and what is wrong (as elucidated in the Koran and Sunnah). Legislators in Islam are to be judged only on how well they implement Allah's laws. So, on that basis, elections are permissible.

However, elections are only one aspect of democracy as we know it. The other aspect, which for us is indispensable, are the guarantees contained in our Bill of Rights. No Islamic government can ever have the equivalent of our Bill of Rights. Therefore, no Islamic government can ever be democratic in our sense of the term.

Finally, reformation in Islam as there was in Christianity is impossible. The Reformation in Christianity was a revolt against the behavior of the Catholic Church, NOT a modernization or a reformation of Christianity as a belief system. On the contrary, the Reformation was a return to the Holy Scriptures from which the Catholic Church had deviated. In Islam, the problem is just the opposite.

In Islam, there is no equivalent of the Catholic Church to revolt against; and the Islamic texts themselves are the source of "The Trouble With Islam". Islam cannot abandon or even revise its texts while still remaining Islam. Again, either it is all Allah's word, or none of it is. No mortal can decide which parts of the Koran are Allah's word and which parts are not.

The Christian Reformation was a rejection of the behavior of Christians and a return to the holy Scriptures. When Islam returns to its holy texts (Koran and Hadith), we get totalitarianism ("complete code of life") and imperialism ("Make war on them until Islam reigns supreme in the world"). It is precisely the return to the Islamic scriptures which is causing the problems. Therefore, there cannot be an Islamic Reformation like there was a Christian Reformation.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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