Insight News
The Concept Of Democracy in Islam

19 December 2002

By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan- President, Islamic Centre

Islam is a religion of peace and co-existence, wherein there is ample scope for freedom of expression. You can express your views even if you differ. The decision is arrived at through consensus in all important matters. Islam's superiority over other religions lies in the fact that it gives utmost importance to the opinion of the people. This fact is clearly illustrated in the Quran and the Hadiths. The Quranic verse 'Am Ruhum Shura-bai nuhum' (Chapter 42-Asura; verse 38)- whose affairs are a matter of consultation is an ample proof.

In order to understand the concept of democracy in Islam, one should have the knowledge of the Quran, the Hadiths and the Sunnah. Prophet Mohammed himself set a tradition by not appointing his successor during his lifetime and left it to the people to decide their leader. The first four Caliphs - Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali, known as Khilafat-e-Rashida (the Enlightened Caliphs), were the choice of the people. The Umayyat King Umar-bin Abdul Aziz also qualifies to be enlisted among the enlightened Caliphs because he refused publicly to accept the Kingship on the basis of his nomination by his father. He accepted the kingship only when the people elected him.

TThe misconception, that Islam cherishes dictatorship has its roots in the history of Muslim rulers. The Indian Mughal rulers, the Abbasid rulers of Baghdad, the Turkish and the Spanish rulers were not the real rulers as per the injunctions of the Holy Quran. They were mere Dynastic rulers.

Islam is not against 'change' but it is certainly against 'coercion'. The established Governments should not be replaced by resorting to erroneous methods but by going to the people and making them realize the shortcomings of the prevalent system. The so-called Jehadis, working at the behest of Pakistan, instead of launching deadly attacks on institutions of democracy like the Indian Parliament or the J&K. Assembly, should go to the people and ask them to vote against the present systems if they were not satisfied with it. But the irony is that they neither themselves cast their votes nor allow others to participate in the electoral process. Instead they issue threats against people participating in elections. They even resort to killing and humiliating innocent people. They should realize that by resorting to such mean tactics they are toeing the agenda of Pakistan who is out to demolish every possible institution in our country to hamper our progress. Such heinous crimes are acts of cowardice in the eyes Islam.

The concept of democracy in Islam is best understood that Islam is practised at two levels - the Infaradi-individual level and the lslamayee- collective level. At the individual level, a person is free to adopt the manner of worship he likes etc. But at the collective level, it is the voice of the people, which is to be given preference. In the social context, it is the Islamayee Islam, which is to be practised, and democracy is a social concept.

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