"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed."

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

"The History of Islam" on Democracy

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!


Amber said...


I keep hearing Muslims tout the wonderfulness of Shariah law, and yet they have, two, maybe three examples of a good time when Shariah law was enacted as it is 'supposed to be'.

On the other hand, democracy (which, afaik doesn't actually exist in it's pure form anywhere anyway) has proven to be the best form of government for the rest of the world, for the most part. I'm not gonna lie and say it's perfect, but I'd rather this than a monarchy, or shariah, or a theocracy or a dictatorship.

If our leaders had read this book before they went to Iraq, they probably just would have wiped the place off the map. 'oops, we didn't realize that one was atomic'.

I don't think I'm going to like these books.

I googled this guy, these books were first printed in 1922?

Susanne said...

I didn't even think to google the author. Like I said these were given to us when we visited someone's Islamic bookstore. They have been revised by Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri and in places they have notes that show things written originally are not the same as now (e.g. the population on the Arabian peninsula). It says "First edition: April 2000" in the front.

Anyway, I loved what you wrote. I could have added more about the democracy from our perspective. The founders said clearly this form of gov't would work only for moral and upright people. They KNEW gov't such as this needed people who were *responsible* in order to sustain it. I wanted to argue that point.

He was right in a way when he claimed "religion" was the answer to adultery and theft and such things. This is part of that "moral and upright citizens" thing that I just mentioned. What we see now in our country are people who often refuse to take responsibility for their actions and that's why we have many of the problems we face. (e.g. I got myself so far into debt that I need help from the government. The gov't has to rescue me from my materialism gone out of control and so forth.)

LOL @ your comment about Iraq. Ha...I mean :-/ ... some truth to your words, hmmm.

Well, if Muslims WANT that kind of life, so be it. So far every example I've heard of Shariah law hasn't made me wish that it would come here. Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Iran, some African nations -- ummm, no thank you!

I appreciate your comments. They made me laugh. :)

Amber said...

I google people I've never heard of. Gives me some sort of idea of their background, if I can find anything on them.

I agree wholeheartedly with your next two paragraphs. :)

Heh. Ah, there's a *reason* I don't have access to heavy weaponry. :)

See, here's *my* issue. If Muslim's want to live under Shariah law, all well and good. But they need to live in a Muslim country then. What irritates me is when they live in a place like England or the States, and want to have a separate court system just for them. Um, no. Just no. If I go to another country, I expect to abide by, and if necessary, work through their laws. I don't go and say, well, but I'm American! You have to try me by American laws!

Almost any Muslim who you pointed that out to would say that none of those countries are Shariah countries. They'd say that there are currently no Islamic countries in existance.

Heh. I live to entertain. :)

Niki said...

I agree with you. The last thing I want is an official religion with an "official" religious man leading our country, creating laws and judging me by their interpretation of whatever book the official religion abides by.

When it comes to morality and obedience to God's Word, God is the only one I answer to. While, of course, also being submissive to my pastor and husband, as long as they're not instructing me or leading me in a way that opposes God or His Word.

Democracy isn't perfect, but I thank God for it. It's much better than any other kind of government I've heard of.

Susanne said...

Niki, thanks for chiming in on this subject. I'm glad I'm not alone in my thinking this way.

Amber, exactly! If they want shariah...go live in a Muslim country. Don't come to democratic countries and expect us to cater to you.

Enjoyed both of your comments...thanks!

Louai said...

Hey guys ,

We can’t compare Democracy with Sharia law!?

Sharia law is like any other laws in this earth,perhaps has different interpretations through different part of the history and through different regions.

But if we compare it with the States or British laws,Not democracy but rather secular,it could be a democracy under a secular system or under Islamic or Sharia system ..

So if we say Iran ,some people who said we are the Islamic revolution,even though they are actually represent themselves,or even represent their rather than their people! so that doesn’t make any sense regarding Islamic Law or as you like to call it Sharia law!

Then if you say about the scarf or Nicab,these countries from the centuries before Islam used to wear these types of clothes,When Islam ordered it and make it compulsory it was absolutely fine at that time!
And if you ask what about today ,I am not Mufti or Sheikh to answer!:)

Carmen S. said...

I don't believe we should force democracy on those that do not wish to have it. It works for -us- but I don't know that it's the only way.

I don't know what the answer is though. The U.S is usually "darned if we do and darned if we don't" when it comes to "helping" out other countries.

Despite the imperfections of democracy and the perversion of it by others, I feel so blessed to live in a country where I am so free to make choices about my life, family, job, faith, etc....

Sarah said...

Yes. There are so many interpretations of religious law, I don't think law should ever be absolute and unquestioned.

"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?"

*applause* The whole concept of morality police baffles me.

Re calling for sharia law in the west, usually all they really want is for their own family-law rulings to have legal recognition. Under Muslim rule in the past, Christians and Jews had this sort of legal autonomy, so it is not totally outrageous.