Sunday, October 26, 2014

Democratic rule or theocratic rule for the Muslim people

Nasir Khan, October 26, 2014

Islam is a religion, a great religion, but it is not a political ideology for multicultural, multi-religious and multi-ethnic societies of the present times. It contains some golden principles such as equality, fairness and justice that are applicable in politics because such universal principles are recognised as the pillars of democracy and open society. But that does not mean religion, any religion for that matter, can be an alternative to democratic form of government because this inevitably leads to the concentration of power and influence in the hands of some potentates and despots. This has been the case in the the Middle Ages where the Church dominated states and it became a symbol of tyrannical rule and oppressive practices. It is quite so in some Islamic countries where dynastic despots and oligarchs rule by using Islam for their own ends and state oppression. 

It’s not difficult to see that different people have different interpretations of Islam. Historically, there has never been any unanimity of views in Islam on a range of issues. During the formative period of the Islamic Caliphate after 632 C.E. differing and mutually exclusive interpretation of Islamic state and Islamic rule had soon started to take shape when the community split along the Sunni-Shia lines. Such differences have multiplied over the course of fourteen centuries. Even within the Sunnis different schools of thought emerged and there is no way they can ever be reconciled. Nor, can the Sunni and Shia concepts of what constitutes Islamic ruler be reconciled because of the differing concepts that underlie Caliphate (Sunni) and Imamate (Shia).

When some people dare to give their opinions, which do not repeat the centuries-old stereotypes they are attacked for their heretical views by the orthodox and rigid literalists of traditions. They assume only they have the ‘true’ version of Islam; therefore, only they are the ones who can rightfully speak on behalf of God and Islam while all the others are groping in the darkness of ignorance and suffering from the malaise of modern Western ideas of democracy and human rights. However, it is essential to explain that democracy is a form of government in which the will of the population of a country is decisive in forming policies that advance the cause of the citizens in social, religious, economic and political matters. In a genuine democracy this will reflects the actual needs of the people but in a bogus democracy the form of democracy is used to further individual or particular interests while paying lip-service to the values of democracy.

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