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A complex issue

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by Amitabh Tripathi (India), Apr 17, 2008 at 09:42

Like his other columns, Dr Pipes has again addressed a very complex and vital issue. Is Islam compatible with democracy is a subject which has been debated several times on several forums but every time there was a gloom on this subject. Reason for this gloom is very obivous democracy in political sense is derived from western tradition and Islamists or Islamic ideologues always talk for an alternative world system totally in contrast to western tradition and based on Islamic tradition. This is one of the reason why compatibility of Islam with democracy is almost impossible. Second reason why Islam could not be democratic lies in the nature of this religion.

In various previous articles Dr Pipes has categorically stated that democracy could not be imposed and any people or nation has to learn it and make it habit, but I want to add one more thing that democracy is not merely a political theory it is a life style and any society, nation or people who follow some norms would be called democratic and those who don't follow these norms could never be democratic. The first basic condition for any democratic society is its capacity of tolerance.

One can ask what is definition of tolerance so it could be defined in this way that tolerance means how much any society or people can live with differences. It means I will not kill you or intimidate you only because you are not agree with me wheteher it is religious issue, political issue, economic isssue or social issue. In our history we have seen communism, fascism and Islamism as well killing and intimidating people who are not in consonance with them.

The basic qualification of democracy is tolerance and other qualities are supplementary to this basic quality as to keep respect for opposite views with promoting diversity. This quality is very much depend on the process of evolution of a society and how much space it has for diversity. If we put Islam on this test there will be huge dissappointment becuase Islam in its theological and political both natures does not allow diversity and this is the reason why it does not tolerate any ideology ,faith or political system other than Islam.

Keeping full respect for Dr Pipes, I disagree with his disagreement on conclusion that Islam religion in itself is incompatible with democracy. I am regular reader of Dr Pipes for last five years and have followed him very closely with his theory that Radical Islam is problem and modearate Islam is solutution. In last three years he has become so fascinated with his theory and sometimes has romanticised this theory but in last three years we have not seen evolution of moderate Islam as a movement in any part of the world. We not even have any substantial examples before us when moderate Islam has overshadowed the march of radical Islam.

I see a big reson behind this and that reason make a huge difference between western enlightment movement or reaction against political role of catholic church and presumtive movement of Islamic enlightment. First reson is that when western soicety reacted against political role of church some sections within western society were of the firm opinion that whatever role charch has taken is not supposed to be there and they should confine themselves only to theology and religion and these sections of western society sustained for a long time irrespective of their quantity. Some times this section was represented with some blinking light but it was always there.

In Islamic case we have very different case any Islamic scholar or politician does not believe that anything is wrong in interconnectivity of politics and religion. Even Dr Pipes has described only two cases of Kamal Ataturk and Mahmud Mohammad Taha but this legacy could not sustained in these countries or other parts of Islamic world. Even Turkey is under threat of lawful Islamism as several commentators has warned many times and situation of Sudan is not secret to anybody. This movement could not sustained or carry forwarded by other Islamic thinkers or politicians becuase of their belief. They strongly believe in theory of Islamic suremism and in their view Islamic law and way of life is the only solution to the problems of this world.

Even people like Dr Zakir Naik who is suppoesd to be reasonable person and an iconic figure among muslims for interfaith dailouge talks in such intolerant languase which is not much different from Taliban http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZMAZR8YIhxI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6jYUL7eBdHg&feature=related. These are learned Muslims who are so much obssessed with their faith and Islamic law so where does you have any scope to evolve moderate Islam or any movement for democracy in Islam.

This is a basic differnce between western movement and Islamic movement and as for as hard work is concerned as Dr Pipes has mentioned is not going to work if it is imposed on Islamic society . The only way is to build pressure on Islam and they will succumb to it. In India we have our experiences of medieval period when Moughal emperors succumb to united resistence of Hindu kings and relaxed their shariyat and other features of Islam for their survival. It has been propagated by Indian pseudo secularists as generousity of Muslim emperors but actually it was victory of Hindu resistence.

In modern histroy we have another example in India when muslim leadership in India decided to give up their claim of Babri mosque in Ayodhya and almost finalised a deal with BJPled government in 2003-4 to pave the way for construction of Ram Temple in Ayodhya. If BJP would have come to power in 2004 Ram temple has been bulit in Ayodhya. This is another example how Hindu solidarity forced muslim leadership to dilute their agenda.

The only way to evolve democratic process in Islam is putting pressure on them. Pressure will come from everyside if non-muslims become more aware and to make this happen information is the keyword. I will again repeat that uniform information mechanism is needed.

Submitting....

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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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