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The Democracy Problem

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Ali Zaki View Drop Down
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    Posted: 17 June 2005 at 11:30am

 

WHAT IS “THE DEMOCRACY PROBLEM?”

 

Since I reverted to Islam, I have always been interested in the views of Muslims living in other countries regarding my native land. Among the most surprising things I have heard are those Muslims who believe (much like George Bush) that “Democracy” is the solution for the Muslim world. While a limited (and Islamically based) democratic government is certainly preferable to a dictatorship, an American style (or Western) democratic system is not supported by Islam.

 

As a Muslim who lives in a democratic country, I have some knowledge as well as personal experience with democracy. In fact, so do I’ll the members of this forum (as it is very democratic, I must say). Much has been written about the merits of a democratic system, however, there are major problems with it as well.

 

Problem # 1- Reasonable People Will Disagree, and They Often Do.

 

The purpose of a government is primarily two 1.) To protect the citizens against both foreign and domestics enemies and 2.) To establish justice. These are both lofty goals, and almost noone would disagree on their necessity. The problem (in a democratic society)  is when these concepts are applied to a specific cases.

 

EXAMPLE

 

-         Which specific foreign governments do we believe are our true allies (not just opportunist) and deserve support and which are our enemies?

-         How should drug addicts be punished? Are they a threat to the safety of others (and should be imprisoned) , or are they (primarily) on a threat to themselves (and should be treated)?

 

Problem # 2- Public Opinion is Unreliable and Fickle.

 

At one point in U.S. History, the majority owned the minority (i.e., whites owned blacks), and this was considered perfectly normal (and thus was legal). At one point in U.S. history, women and children were considered the property of their husband and had (almost) no legal rights. This shows that public opinion cannot be relied upon to correctly identify right from wrong (in an absolute sense). As a result, democracies often fail to correctly identify their enemies and allies, and do not have a good “track record” of dealing justly with (even) their own citizens.

 

Because Western-style democracies are a man-made creation, the source of their authority is the people (Nas). In Islam, the source of all authority is ONLY Allah (s.w.a.), and this authority was given by Allah (s.w.a.) to the Holy Messenger and his chosen successors.

 

 

 

WHAT’S THE SOLUTION?

 

The first question we must ask is “Does Islam support a democratic process of selecting leaders?” The answer to this question can be ascertained by studying the actions of the Prophet (a.s.) as the Caliphate of the first Islamic community in Medina.

 

The Prophet (a.s.) during his lifetime was recognized by ALL Muslims as the one and only source of political authority. He was also the Imam, which combines both political and spiritual authority. The leadership authority (i.e., Imamate) of the Prophet (a.s.) was delegated to certain individuals (such as Ali (a.s.), Osama, etc.) by specific appointment by the Prophet (a.s.) himself.

 

There is no evidence (that I have found) of any instance during the lifetime of the Holy Prophet were the Muslims were allowed to select the person that would be the Wasi (deputy) of the Holy Messenger during his absence.

 

THE QURAN IS CLEAR ON THE ISSUE OF AUTHOITY AND LEADERSHIP?

 

 

SOURCE OF ALL AUTHORITY IS ALLAH

 

"And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah.  He is the ruling judge." (42:10)

 

“"But the decision of all things is certainly with Allah." (13:31)

 

"The decision (hukm) is only for Allah.  He declares the truth, and He is the best of judges." (6:57)

 

AUTHORITY OF THE MOST NOBLE MESSENGER

 

"Say (Prophet Muhammad) to mankind, 'If you really love Allah, then follow me.  Allah will love you and forgive you your sins, and Allah is the Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (3:31)

 

"It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His messenger have decreed a matter, that they should have any opinion in their decision.  And whoever disobeys Allah and His messenger, he has indeed strayed in plain error." (33:36)

 

AUTHORITY OF THE IMAM

 

O ye who believe!  Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those vested with authority over you ('ul ul-'amr minkum).  And if you quarrel about something, refer it to Allah and the Messenger."

 

The phrase ('ul ul-'amr minkum) can only refer to one who’s authority has been granted to him by the appointment of the Most Noble Messenger. This is the Imam.

 

 

WHO IS AN IMAM?

 

An Imam exercises the duties of the Prophet (except prophethood), although he is NOT a prophet. The necessity of someone fulfilling this role is obvious, since the only legitimate source of authority is Allah (s.w.a), who selected the Prophet Muhammad (a.s.) as the Prophet (a.s.) of Islam. When the Prophet died, the message of Islam had been conveyed to the Umma, however, the others roles and duties exercised by the Prophet (to explain Islam, Leadership (general), Immate) still needed to be performed. The only person who could legitimately claim this position would have to be someone who was specifically appointed by the Prophet, otherwise the source of their authority would be from the Umma, rather than from Allah (s.w.a.) and the Holy Messenger (a.s.). The reason that they must be selected is that only the Prophet (a.s.), and not the Muslims, is able to understand the multi-dimensional role of Immate and who is qualified for this role.

"The structure of faith is supported by four pillars endurance, conviction, justice and jihad."

Imam Ali (a.s.)
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b95000 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote b95000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2005 at 4:41pm
Originally posted by Ali Zaki Ali Zaki wrote:

 At one point in U.S. History, the majority owned the minority (i.e., whites owned blacks), and this was considered perfectly normal (and thus was legal).


This was not a universal position and many adovacted for the elimination of slave references (the 3/5th references) even in the writing of the US Constitution leading up to 1783..To many, many abolitionists and Christians in the Northeast (Quakers and Pilgrims for example) slavery was morally reprehensible.  The abolitionist cause took on more and more fervor and combined with states rights caused a cataclysmic civil war in the United States.  Hardly can it be said that it was considered "perfectly normal" by everyone then.



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Bruce
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote b95000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12 July 2005 at 4:48pm
Originally posted by Ali Zaki Ali Zaki wrote:

As a result, democracies often fail to correctly identify their enemies and allies, and do not have a good “track record” of dealing justly with (even) their own citizens.


Let us compare the track record of the relatively new democracies with any other statist form of government ever.  Are you seriously suggesting that the democracies have a worse record than say the states run by monarchies or fuedally, etc.?  What about the modern predominantly Muslim state governments - what sort of track record do they have 'dealing justly with (even) their own citizens'?

It seems to me that you're dealing with pie in the sky - as Winston Churchill once said 'democracy is the worst form of government - except for all the others..'

Please cite other state governments that have better track records than democracies...
Bruce
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Whisper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 July 2005 at 4:45pm

Wasn't the US a democracy in 2003? Did it not fail to fool her citizens and drive them through a maze of fear politics? Blame a criminal war on dodgy intelligence and then pin a Medal of Freedom on the man supposed to mislead them?

Democracy has lost her image since the recent American example.

When I was growing up in the 50s, promise, I thought both democracy and the US were as if some divine gifts!!



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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote b95000 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 18 July 2005 at 6:52pm
Originally posted by Whisper Whisper wrote:

Wasn't the US a democracy in 2003? Did it not fail to fool her citizens and drive them through a maze of fear politics?

B: Do you not understand or refuse to acknowledge what transpired on Sept. 11, 2001?  Or in Dar es Salaam or Nariobi August 7th, 1998?

Blame a criminal war on dodgy intelligence and then pin a Medal of Freedom on the man supposed to mislead them?

B: 'dodgy intelligence' - you of course place no blame on the regime who killed millions in Iraq and Iran...why is that?  If you had intellectual consistency you would at least acknowledge these things Sasha..

Democracy has lost her image since the recent American example.

When I was growing up in the 50s, promise, I thought both democracy and the US were as if some divine gifts!!

B:  I've review the great truism: The West and democracy is neither wholly good or wholly bad - and the same with the East.  To write and post with a great eye only on the critical and evil is wrong, imho, especially without specificity.

Bruce
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Whisper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2005 at 9:20am

Extremely sad! I had really taken you for someone with a bit of sense and thats the only reason I had started to respond to your posts. Can you just stick to this point for a change?

What has Sept. 11, 2001?  Or in Dar es Salaam or Nariobi August 7th, 1998 got to do with the invasion of Iraq? Even your intelligence had reported that there was no link between Al-Quaeda and Iraq.

Is it really that hard for you to deal with questions at hand? Instead of answering a simple question like "how come a man who was accused of providing your country faulty intelligence has been awarded the Medal of Freedom"? you have again jumped straight into Saddam's court.

I did not know Saddam was responsible for your dodgy intelligence. 

I hold a lot of specifics, in fact more than you could ever imagine. But then there is an old English saying: "Never cast thy pearls before te swine". The day you begin to answer questions and prove yourself capable of serious parleys instead of flying off into some other corner at the sight of each serious question, we will talk

Right now you just seem to be playing some Dick Chenny lines and, almost as if you are paid for doing that.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Khadija1021 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 July 2005 at 5:28pm
Originally posted by Whisper Whisper wrote:

I hold a lot of specifics, in fact more than you could ever imagine. But then there is an old English saying: "Never cast thy pearls before te swine". The day you begin to answer questions and prove yourself capable of serious parleys instead of flying off into some other corner at the sight of each serious question, we will talk

Whisper, actually that is not an old English saying.  It is a verse from the Gopsel of Jesus (pbuh) according to Matthew. 

Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.  (Matthew 7:6)

PAZ, Khadija

Say: 'My prayer and my rites, my living and my dying, are for Allah alone, the Lord of all the worlds. (Qur'an, 6:162)
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Whisper Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 July 2005 at 12:32am
Khadija! How would I thank you for this correction? I am amazed at the whole verse. How it applies to the global situation of the day.
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