Understanding Islam and Democracy

Understanding Islam and Democracy

Here are about Islam and Democracy . Islam, a true religion of peace and humanity, is now sadly regarded as a root cause behind the undemocratic practices prevalent in Islamic states. The main reason behind such a misconception is misunderstanding and absolutely wrong analysis of Islamic political values.

Islam and Democracy

When discussing the topic of Islam and democracy, people often take extreme positions; some present the Islamic political system as an antithesis of democracy, while others emphasize that both Islam and democracy are two different terms implying the same thing as John Esposito and John Voll argued in their recent book “Islam and Democracy” that both are compatible with each other. But the real picture is different from both points of view. Therefore, before taking sides with either group, one should have a full understanding of some important concepts related to the place of democracy in Islam.

The concept of sovereignty in Islam

The basis of the Islamic political system is an absolute belief in the sovereignty of Allah, the real lawgiver. No one, even a prophet, can command others on his own strength. The Prophet himself is subject to the commands of Allah. For humans, Islam uses the term “Vicegerency” (Khilafat) instead of “sovereignty”. Anyone elected as a deputy uses the power as the trust of Allah and is accountable to Him for any action he takes under these powers.

Decision-making process in the Islamic polity

In Islam, ‘Shura’ is the sole decision-making and executive body. The role of Shura is often compared to the role of parliament in a modern democracy, but the main respect between the two is the concept of the real legislature. In Islam, only Allah Almighty is the real lawgiver to Whom the authority of law belongs. Man has no authority to change the prescribed limits and cannot resort to independent legislation. He must make all decisions within the prescribed framework according to the rules of Allah, not by the choice of people.

Principle of Equality in Islam

Islam presents an egalitarian social structure according to which all people are equal before Allah; no one is superior to another because of his social status, family background, caste, or profession. The only criterion of superiority is personal aptitude and noble character. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) confirmed this reality on many occasions.

On another occasion to address people after the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) said:

“O people of the Quraysh! Allah has cut off your pride from the days of ignorance and the pride of your ancestors. Omen, you are all descended from Adam, and Adam was made of clay. No merit in an Arab to a non-Arab nor in a non-Arab against an Arab. Verily the most deserving of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most pious.

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