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Certain Islamic positions may indeed be anti-democratic and anti-patriotic

Reader comment on item: Department of Corrections (of Others' Factual Mistakes about Me)

Submitted by Ted (United States), Aug 7, 2010 at 15:06

Dear Dr Pipes:

Your statement about Islam and Democracy ( "...Islam can be interpreted many ways, and there is nothing about it that immutably contradicts democracy...") is not entirely correct. If I were a Muslim, I would have lived under the guidance of the five pillars of Islam (Shahada, Prayer, Hajj, Charity, and Fasting). When you reduce Islam to these five principles, there is not only nothing bad in Islam but also there is a lot good in it (Shahada is the only thing that is moderately objectionable to me but that is beside the point here).

However, the way Islam is practiced, it does not limit itself to its five fundamental principles. Under its broadest interpretation, Islam is not only against democracy but also against patriotism. I will explain.

First, Islam does not differentiate between church and the state. In fact, it (at least in practice) tells the rulers that they should rule muslims and non-muslims differently. This principle blatantly contradicts democracy. Take the example of Pakistan. During various stages of its existence it has experimented with democracy for brief periods. In Pakistani senate there are reserved seats for minorities like Hindus, Christians and others. Thus, the constitution of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, not only mandates the state to differentiate between religions, it mandates the state to define religions (thus, should some Jews or Wiccans take Pakistani citizenship --God forbid--, the Pakistani state will have to define them and allocate seats for them in the senate. That does not make much sense.

Secondly, success of democracy requires certain amount of patriotism from the citizens. Islam under its broadest interpretation may require a citizen to be unpatriotic. At the core of this problem is the Islamic concept of ummah (community). Muslims are required to make trans-national bonds with people living thousands of miles away across national boundaries. The driving force behind these bonds is merely the membership in the same religion. This tendency is not entirely limited to Muslims only. Catholics get at least some non-spiritual guidance from the Pope. Jews living in one country bond with the Jews in others. Hindus of India feel symathetic to Hindus of Nepal, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Some of these tendencies are human and natural but when it comes to Islam these tendencies take dangerous proportions (that is why, for example, the 9/11 bombers could assemble a truly international group of criminals, and why Al Qaeda is a multinational mafia).

So you are right that under certain interpretations Islam does not contradict democracy but under the prevailing interpretations it contradics both democracy and nationhood as we know it.


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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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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