Given a chance, Muslims, like any other people, opt for democracy. That's not what we are often told - by America, which prefers autocratic puppets in Muslim lands and by racists who equate terrorism with Islam and all Muslims.
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, has just held a fair and peaceful election in which the incumbent president was toppled.
In the same week that the leadership of the world's most populous nation, China, was transferred, by decree, from military leader Jiang Zemin to his hand-picked successor Hu Jinta, the leader of the world's fourth most populous nation was chosen by an electorate of 153 million.
In nearby Malaysia, which held its own elections some months ago, in which Islamists also lost badly, an emerging independent judiciary has just freed a former deputy prime minister after six years in jail.
Moderation has triumphed in both places, as it has wherever Muslims have been given a choice: Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, etc.
In Indonesia, Islamic militancy has been trounced at the ballot box, even as a suicide bomber was hitting the Australian embassy in Jakarta - the third terrorist attack in that country in two years, after Bali in 2002 and a hotel in the capital last year.
Those calling for the establishment of an Islamic state couldn't gather enough popular support to qualify for the nation's first direct presidential election. Of the five who did, none called for diluting the secular nature of the state.
The two Islamist candidates got trounced in the first round in July. And the third, Gen. Wiranto - like many Indonesians, he goes by one name - had a vice-presidential running mate from the country's largest Muslim organization, Nahdlat-ul Ulama, with 40 million members.
Nahdlat suffered another setback. Its second vice-presidential candidate, the running mate of President Megawati Sukarnoputri, lost with her. But voters did not reject Islam. Indonesians, like most Muslims, are more Islamic than ever.
What the voters spurned was the mixing of politics and religion. They did so in the wake of terrorist incidents carried out on their soil in the name of religion. They, like people anywhere, opted for security.
The lesson is clear: It is foolish to think that terrorism runs in Muslim blood.
Indonesian voters rejected more than militancy. In tossing out Wiranto, they passed judgment on a former chief of the army and defence minister who was accused of crimes against humanity in East Timor and under whose watch 10,000 Muslims and Christians were killed in sectarian clashes on the Molluccan Islands.
Wiranto had run on the Golkar ticket, the traditional ruling party that, not unlike the vehicles of ruling autocracies elsewhere, was for decades a highly organized political, financial and social force. But it could do little for him.
The voters also showed remarkable independence in ignoring the dictates of village elders and other traditional authority figures.
Not bad for a people who have been free only six years since toppling autocrat President Suharto through a popular uprising.
The country itself has done well in that period, despite two turbulent presidencies before Megawati took over. She had won the office by default, as the daughter of independence leader and first president, Sukarno. But as dull and inarticulate as she was, she did steady the ship.
She stabilized the $208 billion economy by slashing the deficit and ushering in political calm, even while authorizing a military drive against separatists in the Aceh province. But she failed to curb corruption, create jobs or root out the Jemaah Islamiya, said to be linked to Al Qaeda and blamed for all three terrorist bombings.
President-elect Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono is a former security minister who cracked down on terrorism suspects. He is seen as a better bet for security and an economic turnaround. He is also a former general. But he has not been associated with any of the army's excesses.
In another show of electoral maturity, voters did not seem overly bothered either by his past association with America (he studied at American military academies), or by Washington's current preference for him, even though Indonesians remain angry at America over Iraq.
In Malaysia, the release of Anwar Ibrahim also augurs well for both Muslims and the West.
An U.S.-educated intellectual, he was among the first to challenge Muslims to confront modernity in an Islamic context. Equally, he warned the West of its narrow-minded view of Islam.
He was axed by strongman Mohammed Mahathir in 1998 and later convicted of sodomy. His trial was seen as a trap to end his career.
Mahathir's successor as prime minister, Abdullah Badawi, has since won his own sweeping mandate and has been introducing democratic reforms. The judiciary now felt independent enough to overturn Ibrahim's earlier conviction.
As he prepares to either re-enter Malaysian politics or play some international role, Ibrahim has reasserted the twin challenges of the age: engaging Muslims, especially the marginalized ones, in a dialogue, to pull them out of the breeding grounds of extremism while at the same time exposing the major "flaw of the American foreign policy, namely, engaging only with the so-called 'moderate leaders,' who are dictators or have authoritarian policies."
Haroon Siddiqui is the Star's editorial page editor emeritus. [email protected].
Source: Toronto Star
We find leaders who does not even know how to talk. We have Governors who can only talk in pharases. I"LL BE BACK etc etc.
Democracy is a joke and has always been a joke.
We have country like big Catholic nation Argentina who has been put to poverty and are set to bankruptcy.
By big powerful Protestant Nations .We have Mexicains who are unfortunate and are kept that way with the help of sweet democracy.
And now muslims are told to buy into this slogan of freedom.
People who dont know what freedom is are telling others how they should live as a free man. Sweet.
Election campaign is a an insulating campaign in most of the mayor elections etc etc but if u own the media u are most likly to win.
If you have money and are willing to spend it in the interest of your nation and betterment of the people you will not even win the party's ticket to run.
one who suppoprts the lobbist who give funding to the parties are the only one who gets the party's ticket and can run for election. this fake drama is loosing its acts.
rich for rich and poor for poor old for old and younge for younge/ who can vote who cannot/ in this game ordinary man looses the most. And the nation as a whole.
Where till the last moment the voter is still undecided. what to do.
Because in this limited insulting campaign period he is being palyed like a puppet. and the election campaign makes sure he remains confused and disillusioned. right till the end when he cast his vote.
I read your mail with interest, but I have to say that I disagree with the tenor and slant of it in general.
You mentioned the problems in the Rashidun period, and referred to the incident where an old woman accounted Hadhrat Umar (RA) over the issue of the maximum limit of Mahr (dowry), in a very (hopefully not sectarian) disparraging manner. Anyway, this rather strengthens my argument that accountable and open government existed during the Rashidun period since all of the Khulafah (RA)were willing to address the problems of the Ummah directly in line with the Shariah, rather than hide behind thrones or secular constitutions as we see today.The incident where a Judge ruled in favour of a Jew with regards to the possession of a suit of armour vis-a-vis Hadhrat Ali (RA) is another great example of the justice of the State at the time.
There were indeed many problems in that period, but as humans we learn from our history, and strive to implement the correct model to the best of that ability, after all the non-muslims do not look at the English Civil War or American Civil war in the emotional and distorted way as some Muslims do of our own history.
I also disagree with you in that Shariah was never implemented after the time of the Prophet (SAW), it certainly was by all accounts well into the 19th century.As I stated before there were problems, misapplications and strife, but that is related to the fallibilty of humans not the system of the Creator.
Finally, I do agree with you in that Muslims cannot separate ourselves from the rest of mankind, no of course we musnt indeed Allah (swt) has told us in the Quran that the Ummah is the 'the best of nations brought forth for mankind', so to live up to that standard we must adhere, implement and call to that which what Allah(SWT) and his Prophet (SAW) brought us: Islam.
Therefore, I'm saying, any gov't is only as good as its leadership. The ability to remove a bad leader is an asset, but most of the time he replaced with another bad leader. Plus in democracy politicians want leadership, but as we all know the greatest leaders in Islam history were thrust into their positions. The Prophet (saws) even informed us of the dangers of craving for leadership.
Learn and practise YOUR religion and amend the affairs which you control (jihad an-nafs), then in sha allah Allah will bless us with the khilaafah and saalih leaders.
With regards to the discussion around the choice of the Khalif and his accountability.If we study the period of the Rashideen Khalifs and the structures that evolved during that period, we can see that (despite the problems we know of in that period), Islam catered for an accountable government, not simply ruled by the elite, but accountable to the Ummah via their representatives in the Majlis-e-Ummah(or Shura), which in that period corresponded to the senior Sahabah (RA).
The Khalifah was elected, (without a time restriction period as in secular states since there is no evidence for this from the Sunnah), on condition that he implement and uphold the Shariah.With regards to holding the Khalif to account or even removing him the Madhalim Courts (Court of 'Unjust acts'')would exist in the Judiciary to account and even remove the Khalif if he violated the Shariah (in its broadest sense) or became incapable of ruling.The courts would naturally accept complaints from the general Ummah.
Therefore, if we study the Seerah and the early period carefully we can see that these elements all existed, sure, later on they were abused and manipulated by many Khalifahs in the Ummayad/Abbasid/Ottoman Khilafah but that does not detract from the pristine system defined by Islam, it simply represents a misapplication of it.
I certainly would not compare 'that Pakistani general' to a Khalif at all, rather as a dictator bent on secularising Pakistan at the behest of Washington, but that is another discussion altogether.
Your point about the Taliban (despite their flaws), is interesting, I agree that maybe (if allowed to) they could have formed the nucleus of the State but it appears many factors (internal and external) prevented that from occuring.
That leads me to the point that we cannot simply 'Islamisize' a secular system, but that the Ummah must work to remove such a system and replace it with the correct one as I mentioned in my original mail.
The only recent model for the Caliphate I know of is the Taliban's Afghanistan. This leaves me with some concerns regarding that form of government. Setting aside all the usual chitchat about women's rights and people's freedom of choice, I am highly distrustful of rule exclusively by the elite.
For instance, where would America be - or for that matter where would the world be - if the authority vested in the U.S. President (currently George W. Bush) was equivalent to that of the Amir al-Mumineen? At what point might the Caliphate system produce a ruler who would risk destruction of all that he governs - in contrast to typical secular republics? It currently looks as if the Taliban has possibly managed it on their first attempt. Say whatever you might want to say about a certain Pakistani general but it took him only about one day to decide on a very different course for his country. Allah knows best. The General would receive my vote for Caliph - insha'Allah.
Perhaps more importantly, what can an Islamic state's subjects do if they suspect a potentially disastrous ruler is governing them? At least Americans are promised a say in whether or not they must endure the same ruler for more than four years at a time. As for Islamic subjects, if they have to rely on a council of the elite to make changes in leadership, it might perhaps be worth noting that Mullah Omar reportedly had very little trouble finding things for such elite to do elsewhere throughout Afghanistan. Hopefully the Ummah has the "right" to expect more from their leaders. Might not a disaster averted serve to indicate Allah's approval? (Allahu alim.)
You make some very interesting points on how potentially a 'democratic' system could be moulded towards a more 'Islamic' system (or that is how I have understood it so forgive me if I have misinterpreted you.)
However, my main bone of contention is with the definition and structure of the Islamic state, which I feel has already been clearly outlined for us in the Quran/Sunnah without the need to adopt 'Democracy' as it is generally understood. For example if we were to encourage 'democracy' , rather than say calling explicitly for the return of the Islamic state (the caliphate, Khilafah) ,in Islamic countries this would open the gates to variant un-Islamic parties/groups (Nationalists, Socialists, Baathists etc) to vie with Islamic groups to achieve power.
Hence we would ultimately produce a state (as is the case in most if not all current Muslim states) where the government implements some Islamic legislation partially ('Saudi' Arabia, Pakistan etc)or adopts completely secular laws (e.g Turkey), this leads to the chaotic situation we see in the Ummah today and strengthens the control of aggressive Western powers (i.e. the US/UK) over the Muslim lands.
Hence Islamic political activism by Islamic political parties (non-violent of course) must be encouraged acccording to the methodology adopted by the Prophet (saw), i.e. not to compromise with the non- Islamic ideologies and to generate public opinion to remove the current illegitimate governments (since most if not all are unrepresentatve and backed by the West), with the help of those who have the capability, and re-instate the Islamic State.
So to address your point about a 'Sharia High Court', such an instrument would not be required , in my opinion, since the entire state structure would from its basis be built on the Sharia, the state would then develop existing and new structures to support and disseminate Islamic knowledge among the people, so as to develop a 'scholarly cul
Such government would conceivably be promoting scholarship more so than simply depending on scholarship in order to function properly. The scholarly among legislators might potentially gravitate to the court system. Political activists might potentially strive to attain an Islamic education, to more proficiently serve as legislators. Political activism itself might perhaps serve to help prevent scholastic institutions from becoming potentially moribund. (Insha'Allah, insha'Allah.)
I would like to make a few points around this discussion with reference to Democracy and some of the issues that have arisen in the opinions thread:
1. Firstly, Islam provides for a comprehensive system that addresses all areas of lifes affairs including political, social and economic systems.It supports an accountable and elected leader, who must rule according to the Islamic Shariah.This system is that of the Islamic Khilafah (or caliphate) and was the only system to be implemented for 1300 years from the time of the Prophet's (saw) passing to its abolishment by Ataturk in 1924.
2. Elections are not the same as Democracy.The latter system allows human beings to define legislation without reference to the Quran or Sunnah, hence such a system accepts the development and implementation of rules contrary to Islam and based on ideologies/systems contradicting the Islamic viewpoint(e.g. Socialism, Capitalism etc).In Islam the leader is indeed elected by the people (as we can see from the example of the Khulafah Rashidun) but this is subject to him upholding and implementing Islam.
3. The Islam Shariah encompasses all areas of human activity and development,and certainly does not stunt technological advancement (as we can see from our rich scientific and cultural heritage .However Islam defines fixed parameters based on decisive (qati) evidences for many laws including the Hudud (Islamic Penal system), which are determined from the clear cut texts of the Quran and Sahih (authentic)hadith.These cannot simply be wished away to appease Western 'critics' who fail to see how their own man-made legislative systems have failed terribly to solve the soaring crime rates and social injustices that effect many Western countries, the U.S abyssmal track record in this area being a case in point.
As Muslims we need to study how Islam provides solutions for our reality, not simply to jump, emotionally, onto the 'Democracy' bandwagon without tho
Br. Hudd, what I related is true, and in fact this individual last jum'ah was using a conference against the hijab ban in France, as a sucking in tactic in order to tell people to follow his views which are from hizb ut-tahrir.
Unfortunately, as you can see, this guy Wali looks like he doesn't know what he's talking about. I also see by his response, that he agrees with the chopping off of hands and banning women from driving. It's very sad seeing that he really believes that this is what the Muhammad Mustafa (saws) would have done. I just wanted to let you know that I think that what he posted is scary, because in reality it seems as if he is the one who is talking about "Western Masters"...maybe he's visiting this website from his dungeon cavern in tora bora, and that's why he thinks that we have "western masters"! :-D
Would it be wrong to permit a people to remove hazardous leaders from office? By the time such leaders' hazardous natures become evident to the people they presume to lead, the leaders would seem likely to have done whatever good they were going to do for their people, while still in office, anyway. It seems to me that wise leadership would permit the people to register their disapproval while still in this life rather than compelling them to wait until the next.
On a more fundamental level, if someone has claimed that Quran 3:85 abrogates Quran 5:69 or even Quran 2:62 why should I assume they would know what is best for my Jewish or Christian neighbor? For that matter, why should I assume they would even know what is better for my Muslim neighbor? I do not wish to suggest that they would not know what is better for themselves but why should I assume that they would know what is better for me?
Br. Hudd, representative government is not contrary to our deen, nor is trasparency and accountability. Choosing what you want to accept in the Koran, however, is a sign of an arrogant person or at minimum a truly ignorant person.
The deen practiced by 6th century sahaba and the Prophet (saw) is not barbaric or only for their time, but set as an example for what we should be practicing.
Following such a path is not contrary to the principles of modernity, thouch it is contrary to the principles of kufr -- those who reject the words of Allah.
My best advice for you brother, is not to accept what is considered a modern moderate muslim, by non-muslim standards, but what is a moderate modern muslim by Allah's standard.
As to this author, I give the same advice!
Allah Knows best!
Peace to you all!
What is so bad about democracy? Why is it incompatible with Islam? I rather elect the mayor of my city than have somebody appoint him/her. I also like to elect my representatives in parliament/government. This way corruption and 'family business' in politics and administration are minimized. I also like to be asked and vote for certain subjects that concern my city/neighborhood. This might not be the best method but it is still better than a system where the people in power appoint their successors and I have no voice. Look at the states with mostly muslim population. High corruption, dictators or dictator like presidents, ... And the Osman Empire was not always the most beautifull model check out history! Many people were suppressed and killed. As a muslim it is important to search for the truth. Not everything/everybody in history that called himself/was called muslim/islamic was free of bad things happening.
One thing I aggree: Quran and Sunnah cannot be changed. But why not have a system based on Quran and Sunnah and still be able to give the people a voice and vote. Maybe we give it a different name since democracy is missleading. And very important: Educate the people!
Sayf Hussain, since you posted the link to khilafah.com, I am guessing that you are a member or, or supporter of Hizb-ut-Tahrir. Now don't get me wrong, I know that the Hizb doesn't believe in voting...and that you guys want to establish the khilafah, and not to mention that many of the members of Hizb-ut-tahrir are being closely watched and on various terror lists...can I suggest one thing to you and all those who follow this CRAZY movement...? TRY TALKING WITH MODESTY AND GOOD CHARACTER, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY KINDNESS WHEN SPEAKING TO OTHERS. I don't know how much more I can stress this point, but I disagree that the approach of the Hizb is the best way to build bridges of communication and mutual respect between Muslims and non Muslims.
Every week when I go to my masjid on Friday to pray, there is a guy from Hizb-ut-Tahrir raving outside after salaatul-Jum'ah about how it is a Fard upon all Muslims to help to establish the Khilafah (Islamic State), and uses ayats from the Qur'an as references to support himself. One time I asked him, do you think that this Ayat talking about sects, is referring to the Hizb? His answer was, "well there are many sects that will come about to establish the Khilafah (Islamic State)"... I further went on and asked him, and who will or according to you, is Amir al-Mum'ineen (Leader of the Believers), or in other words, who is the Khalifah?
they dont want to be like usa , uk, france or germany or netherland or like EU
if they will be forced to do that it will be ineffective.
islam is a big religion and the fastest growing rekigion of this planet earth.
and is going no where its here to stay and one cannot say the same for democracy.
one has to admit that
democracy along with capitalism is a receipe for Disaster.
American defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld has already stated that voting may not be held in all parts of Iraq due to much violence. Its going to be interesting to see how the voting will effect the demographics of Iraq-
Here I am vastly concerned with the Kurds. I do not believe the Kurds are interested in a statewide election, which does not give them a piece of real estate. It is also my belief that the Bush administration is completely aware of this divisive dilemma and will take great pleasure in the division of Iraq in order to have some type of control of the northern oil fields.
It have become much clearer that their bold and absurd plan of shock and awe, divide, and control Iraq has failed. The only hope of any real success for Bush concerning their evil offensive is to walk away with a divided Iraq and limited US control of the Northern oil fields with the Kurds being the second Israel in the middle east. So lets vote. And as we say here in the west, "the proof in the pudding."