Saturday, December 4, 2010

Is Democracy Essentially a Western Concept that is ill-suited to Countries with Other Cultures and Historical Traditions?

Conquests of Prophet Muhammad and the Rashidun...Image via Wikipedia

To many people, the statement “Democracy is essentially a Western concept, one that is ill-suited to countries with other cultures and historical traditions”, raises eyebrows. If democracy is compatible with Islam, then there shouldn’t be any problem having its values and ideals encompassing the entire globe.

However, some leaders will continue to resist democracy not because it is impossible for some cultures to grasp, but because of selfishness on the part of the leaders themselves. According to world famous Muslim scholar Yousuf Al Qadarawi, there is no problem if Muslim countries embrace democracy. He was quoted saying: "Democracy has done some good things. It has saved humanity from despots and dictators who act like gods. The details should be left to the people. Let them decide for themselves". However, he cautioned that the kind of democracy in the Muslim world would be different. “This is because in Islam there are some fixed principles that cannot be changed. But there are some things where the people can call for change, depending on the time and place,” he said. [1]

Followers of Islam have been admonished by Allah to look to the Qur’an for governance as per the statements: "And he who does not rule by what Allah sent down, it is they who are the rebellious." (5:47) Muslim countries could have prospered only if they were ruled by just rulers.
Majority of Muslim rulers today have been designated tyrants and usurpers by learned Muslim scholars. Prophet Muhammad prophesied that a time would come in human history when Muslims would be ruled by successions of tyrants.

At the epoch of Prophet Muhammad’s prophethood (PBUH), there were no beggars; equality and justice thrived; highway robbers and criminals diminished due to the enforcement of rule of law; and peace and prosperity thrived everywhere under the sway of Islam. The separation of state from Islamic practices is an impossible undertaking for any strict Muslim nation.

Despite allegiance to tribal philosophy reigning supreme in some Muslim cultures, the most important aspect to undertake before implementation of democracy would be massive education of the citizenry. Muslims believe that Qur’anic injunctions are superior to any other forms of governance. What is dissuading Muslim rulers from embracing democracy is the fear of eternal punishment.

Certain factors that remain hard to address in Muslim countries include issues pertaining to gender equality and abortion. To Muslims, sodomy and lesbianism are an abomination while abortion, according to certain schools of jurisprudence, is only permissible when the health of the mother is in danger.


[2] Muslim World Needs Democracy, says Qaradawi:
Enhanced by Zemanta

No comments: