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Islamic Government is not secular

Reader comment on item: Muslim Europe
in response to reader comment: Islam is Secular

Submitted by Monte Gardner (United States), Jun 15, 2007 at 21:58


Thanks for your input to this discussion. It's important that we get input on these issues from the Islamic side of things. You've made a number of points in this thread and I would like to address them. Let me start with a general framework.

Islamic government and Constitutional Democracy are mutually incompatible. To prove this, I would ask that you compare the following two documents, which may be taken as summaries of democracy and Islamic government:

The Cairo Declaration of Human Rights on Islam

The Declaration of Independence

It should be noted that the UN Declaration on Human rights was rejected by several Arab governments whose leaders explained at the time that they needed a document about Human Rights that was "compatible" with Islam. Thus, my argument about the incompatibility of these ideas is widely accepted in the Islamic world.

So, we have 2 incompatible, yet widely accepted sets of ideas about how nations should regulate their citizens. This is what Pres. Bush meant when he called this conflict "the supreme ideological struggle of our generation".

The primary conflict between these two idea-sets is over the equality of human beeings. Take, for example, the following two statements
All men are created equal
(a) All human beings form one family whose members are united by submission to God and descent from Adam. All men are equal in terms of basic human dignity and basic obligations and responsibilities, without any discrimination on the grounds of race, colour, language, sex, religious belief, political affiliation, social status or other considerations. True faith is the guarantee for enhancing such dignity along the path to human perfection.
(b) All human beings are God's subjects, and the most loved by him are those who are most useful to the rest of His subjects, and no one has superiority over another except on the basis of piety and good deeds.

I think we can safely summarize the Cairo declaration as stating "All people are equal, but some Muslims are more equal then others".

The issue of secularism is also an important point of disagreement. The Cairo declaration states over and over again that all laws are subject to the Sharia, while Jeffersons Declaration states that governments "derive their just powers from the consent of the goverened." Khomeni and other Islamic leaders have stressed repeatedly that in Islam all political power comes from God.

Now, both of these ideologies see themselves as the solution for many, if not most, of the worlds problems. I remember one of the many pictures of angry Muslims in Europe was one in which a Muslim was carrying a sign stating "Europe is the cancer, Islam is the answer". Similar sentiments have been expressed by Muslims all over the world. At the same time, the US seeks to democratize the Middle East, similar to the way in which we democratized Japan and Germany post WWII. (Naziism/facism/militant Shinto was the cancer and democracy was the answer). So, both idea-sets have been imposed by violence. Both idea sets have a "missionary aspect" in which they see themselves as an improvement over the other.

Kasim, you stated:
"When the west could create a developed Germany and Japan in the non-muslim world and the west could not create
a single Germany or Japan in pre-western-renaissance muslim majority countries, secularism is surely not blind to
color and religion as it is practised in world politics."

The failure of middle eastern governments is not due to produce economies and a life for their people is not a failure of secularism. Indeed, it is the lack of democratic liberty, secularism and capitalism that has retarded these countries growth. We see this in Iraq. While the Kurds have welcomed liberty and democracy and have set about establishing a working society based on these principles, the more Islamist sects (sunnies/shias) in central Iraq and Bagdad are now involved in a civil war in which they are killing eachother based on the idea that each side is "not the real muslims". I see no future for central Iraq until they explicitly reject Islamic government as Turkey has.

You also stated:
"But what about christianity... Jesus is the only way to go to heaven. How can a non-christian(muslim) comfortably live in a christian society theologically."

I think you are projecting Islamic theocracy onto Christian society. The christian teaching on such things was made very clear by Jesus when he stated roughly "my kingdom is not of this world. Were it so, then my followers would fight for me", and "Render unto Ceaser what is Ceasers, and unto God what is Gods". I think many Christians today view the theocracy of Christianity in the middle ages as being wrong, even an aberration of the faith, while there has been simply no significant leadership in the Muslim world that has repudiated Islamic theocracy based on the Sharia. As I mentioned above, the Cairo declaration is widely accepted in the middle east. To answer your question, Muslims would not be comfortable in a Christian theocracy, just as non-muslims would not be comfortable in a Muslim theocracy. They would also not be very safe as the recent history of Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq have testified to. Thus, this is not a conflict between Christianity and Islamic faith, but of democracy and Islamic Theocracy as embodied in the Sharia.

You also stated:
"Islam is by nature secular as it allows accommodation of different kinds of people. It proved the same for 750 years."

I believe in Democracy. I belive that all people are created equal. I belive that a government that starts from the idea that only one faith is valid, that only one faith can be the source of all that is good, that some people are better if they perform "piety and good deeds" can never treat ALL its citizens fairly. This was the case during what you call the "Golden Age". An age in which those who believed in the wrong sort of God were treated as 2nd class citizens, forced to pay extra taxes, forced to submit to laws which they had no say in, forced to submit to judges they did not elect, forced to live in a system of governance which did not acknowledge their full status as human beeings. Thus, I believe that Democracy, as an idea about goverment is simply superior to Islam as an idea about government.


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