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Islam is Democratic

Reader comment on item: A Democratic Islam?

Submitted by Khawla (United Arab Emirates), May 20, 2008 at 08:37

I really do not understand the word "democratic". So. I looked up democracy and found it means:

the political orientation of those who favor government by the people or by their elected representatives.

So, it means choosing a person as a ruler or a person responsible for others. As a Muslim living in a Muslim country, I believe Islam is democratic. Islam allows the people to choose who they see fit to be a ruler. For example, Prophet Muhammad grouped the people and told them about Islam. If they accepted it, they followed it. If they did not accept it, they were allowed to stay with the Muslims peacefully but paying Al Jizaya. Before the Prophet died, he asked Abu Bakr and his companions to choose a Caliph who would guide the people. It says in the Quran:

"And those who answer the call of their Lord and establish worship, and whose affairs are a matter of counsel, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them, (38) Ash Shura 42:38"

So, democracy is listening to the people. It is insured in Islam!

Now, I hear people say Muslims are not democratic in terms of freedom. Freedom is allowed. But, over freedom which hurts the person or/and harms people is not allowed. People need to be controlled for their protection and for the protection of others. Let me give the example of drinking alcohol. It is forbidden in Islam because it is harmful to the health of the person, drunkards hurt themselves and the people around them, drunkards cause car accidents, ..etc. The freedom of expression is an important issue which is not controlled internationally, I mean people think it is absolute. If it is absolute, many use it to harm people, races and groups. There were cases in my country were people used the Internet to badmouth people and say bad things to drive others to do the same thing. This is wrong. This is not expressing. This is verbal attacking. There were other similar cases in other countries. People just do not look more into why these people are arrested, or they just accept that verbal attacking is related to the right of expression. I have the right to express myself here, right? I am expressing myself, but I did not attack anyone or anything verbally. Allah forbade it. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said:

"A true believer is not involved in taunting, or frequently cursing (others) or in indecency or abusing."

What is also democratic? Women rights or rights in general. These rights are secured in Islam. But, with control. And reasons. These are logical reasons. People mix absolute freedom with rights. There are no infinite rights. Do I have the right to cut my arm? What will it benefit me? If I have given the right to adultery, will it benefit me? I am practicing my right of worship, travel, partying, shopping, choosing my husband, deciding to work or not, when to sleep, when to play,... etc. I do not see myself different than a Western girl except in:

(1) I do not engage in relationships outside of wedlock: just wrong. Get married. Marriage to have children and to have my right of pleasure.
(2) I am decent in my clothes outside my home: decency is something good. Christian nuns are decent. Why Muslim girls are always attacked? I am not oppressed. How come my veil oppress me? I do not know.

Also, the rights of non-Muslims are secured in my country. They are allowed to live, to shop, to pray, to travel, access treatment, etc. Allah says:

"Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (8) Al Mumtahina 60:8"

And I want to clarify things: there is no classes among people on Muslims lands. I do not know what second-class citizenship is. All people have the same rights on the land, unlike what we hear of the problem of illegal immigrants in the West. Those who enter our land as described "visa and etc." have similar rights as the land owners have: access to water, electricity, treatment, education, etc. Maybe you are meaning free things? Nothing is free in this world. Illegal immigrants are not tortured. They are given food and water, and they are taken back to their countries freely.

And for the topic of jihad. Jihad is struggling, not imposing Islam on people or killing. Jihad is what happening in Palestine: Palestinians struggling to defend their lands and themselves. Jihad is in many types in Islam: struggle against temptations, struggle in doing work and in learning, and struggle in spreading Islam. Muhammad started spreading Islam among the people around him not by sword, but by wisdom. The first woman to enter Islam was Khadija who liked the behavior of Muhammad in trade and she married him. Jihad in Islam is to fight those who fight us and who start hostilities against us. It is forbidden in Islam to start the hostility:

"Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but begin not hostilities. Lo! Allah loveth not aggressors. (190) The Cow 2:190"

The problem is with the people who do not understand Islam. Did not you know that many non-Muslims did not know about Islam except its name until the 9/11 attacks?

Do you know that Osama Bin Laden was not a Muslim scholar and that he was a rich business man?

In Islam, those who spread fear among the people through weapons, killing, and kidnapping are asked to repent. If they refuse they must be killed. Al Qaida is causing people to hate Islam and fight it. Allah said about those people who frighten people:

"The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger and strive after corruption in the land will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom; (33) Save those who repent before ye overpower them. For know that Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (34) The Table 5:33-34"

Anyways, back to democracy or elections. I agree that elections are important. And that choosing a person is not by counting a number of papers put in boxes. The Muslim leader must be fair in everything. People must select a fair leader.

We cannot speak about Hamas here. Hamas is a strong group and is elected to protect the Palestinians. Palestine is not a country, sadly. It is not given the right to have relationships with other countries. How could a ruler control the country or help the people if poverty is imposed on them?!

And if you talk about elections, it means votes. If the people chose the ruler, they had their right. It is the turn of the ruler to be fair. There are many Muslim countries I can say they are democratic.

In conclusion, elections do not go against Islam. Islam is not against elections. Elections were practiced in the time of Muhammad, after and before his time. Of course, these elections were not papers thrown in a box! It was Shura (discussing who is fit, or what is fit, and then coming to an agreement about it). And there is a whole chapter in Quran named Shura.

I do not know where this idea came from that Islam is against *elections*.


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