So recently I mentioned that I'd finally started reading volume one of The History of Islam by Akbar Shah Najeebabadi. Three volumes were given to us on one of our last days in Damascus. I started reading recently, but hadn't done much more reading until this morning when I read about 30 minutes in it while walking on my elliptical machine. I've only finished the forward, introduction and part of the first chapter thus far so, yeah, it's slow going.
I did find a few interesting bits in the introduction today. Speaking of France and America, he stated democracies "cannot prove a source of blessing for mankind" and went on to say that the ideal government is a "system that lies between democracy and autocracy" as modeled in the "first four centuries of the Hijrah era." (pg. 42)
While the author says democracy looks pleasant when seen from afar, his opinion is that "high morals taught by religion cannot grow and flourish in a country where the flood of democracy is surging. Democratic system of government seeks to put man on a path of such an unnatural freedom that he can no longer retain his Divine values." (pg. 42)
Additionally the author claims that "democracy is basically against sense of religiosity . . . [and] it is religion alone and not government which can hold one back from indulging in evil acts of murder, theft, adultery, etc." (pg. 43)
"It is, perhaps, the most ugly example of human depravity that we, today, find even Muslims desiring of European and American type of democracy, which is totally against the teachings of Islam and something highly injurious to mankind. Such a shift in Muslim thought is the result of the timidity and lack of courage, and it is reduced to such a state because of ignorance and ignoring the teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith." (pg. 44)
After reading this guy's views on democracy, I am understanding why bringing democracy to the Middle East is not such a great idea. And it's no wonder it's been such a struggle in Iraq! The people don't want democracy if they are good Muslims! Now why couldn't America's leaders simply read the introduction to this book to find out how Muslims view our brand of democracy as so evil?
The author then goes on to discuss the autocratic democratic rule where one king or caliph - the best among them and elected in agreement with the majority opinion - was the leader until his death. However, unlike most autocratic powers, the author declares that hereditary rule should be done away with because the ruler should be elected by the people. Good ruling traits aren't necessarily passed down in the family and the son of the ruler should not automatically be his successor. That's where the democratic part comes in. "The Muslims need no institution of law or constitution or formation of any modern system of government, for they possess the noble Qur'an and the Sunnah of the Prophet. Thus the task of electing [the] best man for the job is also not difficult for the Muslims. The man who knows the Qur'an and Hadith more and acts more upon them is the most deserving of all to become the ruler of the Muslims." The author states that the people should challenge their rulers if they deviate from the Qur'an and Hadith, but as long as the ruler is staying true to those things, the people had to follow every order of the ruler and not even think of revolting. (pg. 47)
OK...all that is well and good if you live in a place that elects a tolerant ruler, but what if you are in Taliban territory and the majority elects someone who makes women stay at home and they cannot leave the house without being covered head to toe with only one eye showing? What if the ruler interprets the Sunnah so that women have to have permission -- even from their male children -- in order to go somewhere. What if temporary marriages are encouraged for men, and women are threatened with starvation if they won't drop everything to have sex with their husbands whenever the mood hits? If you live in Syria where the Muslims are more tolerable, it is different than if you are living in Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.
And is it just me or do others have problems with the government empowering morality police in order to make sure your abayas are long enough or your beard is the proper length or you don't talk to someone of the opposite sex? It seems societies like this treat their citizens as if they are mischief-prone children who have to be kept in line. It's as if these men think they were directly appointed by God to keep all the people in line.
Great books so far, eh? And that was just the introduction!