Compatibility: Neither required nor an issue


Can Islam produce a comparable religious argument in support of modernity and democracy?

The answer is that we do not know. We must hope and pray that it can and will. But this we do know: If it is true, as some still say, that liberal democracy is inseparable from secularism, liberal democracy has a very dim future in a world of resurgent religion.[1] Richard John Neuhaus Much of the recent literature on Islam focuses on the question of whether Islam is or can be made compatible with democracy, an inquiry closely related but not as vigorously researched to finding out if incompatibility is really that much a threat as it is being presented. Interestingly, no one asks what will happen if Muslims are allowed to form their own institutions and models on the basic principles of Islam which can, at the very least, serve as an antidote to anti-Westernism and global insecurity. Instead the focus has been on the misconception that only a “soft,” “civil” and “moderate” Islam can live with free elections, tolerate a free press, grant equal rights to women, tolerate secular authorities, and the rest. Although there is little agreement on this subject, one of the earmarks of “soft” Islam is the assumption that only it can coexist with democratic political institutions.

Events and discussions surrounding developing constitutions for Iraq and Afghanistan suggest that Western leaders and political thinkers raise the prospect of submissive dictatorships into unpredictable nations. Thus democracy and reform are now strongly linked to some newly invented versions of Islam for preserving the status quo. Lack of interest for granting full independence and bringing an end to needless interventions in Muslim countries has been rationalized by the assertion that Islam is not compatible with democracy unless it is “rebuilt” and reformed. Those who argue that a governance mechanism based on the basic principles of Islam vis-à-vis sovereignty, legislation and due place for Shari’ah will turn Muslim countries to police states do not feel equally disturbed that few rulers in the Muslim world have been democratically elected and that many who speak of democracy and “moderation,” actually believe only in self-perpetuation at all costs.

The threat of an Islamic State has contributed to support for these repressive regimes and the reality that there can never be truly representative governments in the Muslim world as long as the influential players from outside continue to look at Islam in compatible and incompatible terms with democracy. The subsequent repression, desperation and violence in these societies are blamed on “Islamists,” thus confirming all scare mongering theories. Setting the contextTo avoid a long term conflict, instead of working hard to make relevant to Islam a concept that is so problematic even within western political culture,[2] we need to do a realistic threat assessment of the Islamic State based on the fundamental principles of Islam to take the steam out of the argument that an Islamic State might suppress opposition, lack tolerance, deny pluralism, and violate human rights.

For example one needs to find out the elements of threat in the following broad outline which Dr. Israr Ahmad is presenting after years of research and crystallizing his thought on the subject of Islamic State. He has recently concluded that in today’s world a Modern Islamic Republic means:a. Modern -” that it must include all the organs of a ‘state craft’ vis-à-vis legislative, executive, judiciary and press;b. Islamic -” that there should be now law, regulation or decision (nothing) against the Qur’an and the Sunnah, andc. A Republic and a Welfare state -” the state must be responsible for the welfare of every citizen. If these aspects are practically implemented in Muslim states, the so-labelled “rejectionists” would be left with no ground to seek to topple governments through violent revolutions. There would be no threat to the stability of their societies and to global politics.

The need is to prove that the issue of compatibility is irrelevant. What is important to prove is that if democracy ensures legitimacy of the government, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law, so is not Islam against these factors. There is a need to compare the fear of perceived repression in a so far non-existent Islamic State with the established democracies vis-à-vis their ways to legitimising war on Iraq, their passing Islamophobic anti-terrorist legislations, and their abusive incarceration of political prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Britain and elsewhere. Muslims need not be forced to one way or the other Islamize western democracy. They need freedom to develop models of social and political organization, based on Islamic values and principles that are suitable for the complexities of modern societies. Muslims would long have found their ways to reasserting the values of Islam in public life against the stagnant tyrannies, provided the natural evolution of Muslim societies had not been derailed by the destructive impact of continued colonialism.

Compatibility of democracy with Islam must not mean endorsement of all that comes from the West and rejecting the core of Islam. The Islamic model might well have certain elements in common with western democratic institutions, such as elections to determine public opinion; but, if it genuinely reflects Islamic goals and priorities, it will be quite different in key respects. That difference, however, does not mean a threat to global security. The need is to find out why a true Islamic model would neither be a threat to the West nor will it be exactly according to the formulaic definitions of Khilafah of some contemporary Islamic groups. Before agreeing on deep and extensive changes within the Muslim world for compatibility with democracy, we need to go a bit deeper to see what principles of democracy are we comparing with Islam and also if we are not comparing two incomparable in the first place.

The debate over compatibility of democracy with Islam intensified just after the end of the Cold War. In 1992, when the campaign was reshaping, Amos Perlmutter, a leading light in US foreign policy, had no hesitation in writing in the Washington Post: “Is Islam, fundamentalist or otherwise, compatible with liberal, human rights-oriented, Western-style, representative democracy? The answer is clearly no.”[3] It was the time when the democratic world chose to shut its eyes on abrupt suspension of elections in Algeria and used a massive military operation to restore the Emir of Kuwait to his throne. The cultural assessment of Islam -” asking if culture, values and attitudes of ordinary Muslims obstruct the democratization process in Muslim countries -” smacks of barely-disguised racism. The encompassing message of Islam and its application over all aspects of human life -” as a Deen (a politico-socio-economic whole), not merely a religion -” makes the core principles of democracy (except the strings of human sovereignty and secularism) just one of its many components.

It is unjustified in the first place to attempt to find out if Islam fits into the democratic design. It is something akin to fitting the whole into its component parts. This line of argument serves three objectives: 1). To justify indefinite occupations on the grounds that developing democratic institutions in an inhospitable environment of Islam is a lifelong task; 2). To support authoritarian regimes on the ground that they are not pressured towards democracy because they are supposed to respect their “cultural specificity”; and 3). To justifying the campaigns for diluting Islam with the objective to eliminate its challenge to maintaining the status quo.

“Rebuilding” Islam for democracy

Muslims have many reasons to believe that democracy’s compatibility with Islam is yet another stunt to highlight that Islam does not care about human freedoms, whereas Western democracy has made the people sovereign and supreme. That is why despite admitting, “there is nothing about it [Islam] that immutably contradicts democracy,” Daniel Pipes criticizes Muqtedar Khan for ducking the question, “whether Islam and democracy are essentially incompatible,” because he believes the Shari’ah makes it incompatible.[4] Actually, such an argument is based on the anticipation of Muslims to claim that Islam and democracy are incompatible. It seems that democracy is more compatible with Islam than the policies of the Western world. Those who criticize Islam do not explain why the West should assist the Muslim world in bringing real democratic revolution when it can retain control through unrepresentative rulers, whom it can force to chase ‘terrorists’ on its behalf, and whom it can use as secular bulwarks against the Islamic challenge to the status quo.The implementation of Islam and its Shari’ah has been turned into a cause to designate these as constituting multi-headed monsters.

However, the Islamic State, particularly a single Islamic State that implements the fundamentals of Islam, is the West’s only safe guarantee against terrorism and anti-Westernism. If it met the Shari’ah requirements, it would be able to control Jihad, which has always been seen as a state activity, and those who perforce have to carry on an unprecedented ‘private’ Jihad because of oppression, will be bound to follow the decisions of the Islamic State on whether their struggle constitutes a Jihad or not.It is not a special brand of Islam that is believed to be compatible with Islam. Moderation and a conciliatory approach are indeed part of an Islamic path. But Islam is also a ‘religion of militancy,’ at least in the sense that it does not turn the other cheek, but teaches resistance to oppression and injustice. It also has nothing against modernisation, and it can accept certain elements of democracy.

To be precise: a) Islam does not accept the concept of sovereignty belonging to the people as legislation can be derived only from the Qur’an and Sunnah and b) Islam cannot be reconciled with secularism.Secularism assumes that all religions have value, or that none do. Islam includes as integral to its belief its own correctness and the falseness of other belief systems, though their practitioners are under protection. Islam literally means ‘acceptance,’ Kufr ‘rejection.’ Muslims believe that the Qur’an and the Traditions of the Prophet (PBUH) represent the Almighty’s instructions to them on how to conduct their lives in all aspects. Accepting this as reality is what it means to be a Muslim, or an ‘accepter.’ To reject this, as secularism does, is to be a Kafir, or a ‘rejecter.'”Soft” or “civil” Islam is a compromise somehow between Islam in its undiluted form, and non-Islam. This is unfair both to Muslims, who are denigrated, and to the West, which is being misled about what Islam actually teaches. An honourable co-existence is possible between the West and the Muslim world, but only on parity and co-acceptance. Muslims may aspire for it, but the West would prefer to maintain the present master-client relationship.

Islamic values vs secularism

Some Muslims, undoubtedly, marvel when they find a tenet of Islam matching the concept of democracy and proudly declare that Islam is compatible with democracy. Similarly, others quickly reject Islam when it challenges the godless and spiritually bankrupt aspects of democracy. In fact, if we take out the goodness of democracy, we will see that the Qur’an identified all these social and political values 1400 years ago. Khaled Abou El Fadl has rightly identified these values as, “pursuing justice through social cooperation and mutual assistance (the Qur’an 49:13; 11:119); establishing a non-autocratic, consultative method of governance; and institutionalizing mercy and compassion in social interactions (6:12, 54; 21:107; 27:77; 29:51; 45:20).”[5] Yet these fine values can never be fostered in an environment that throws religion out of the public square and which has now been turned into a cornerstone for democracy.

Actually, when religion is thrown out, permanent norms are replaced with a broad, generic perspective called secularism, an over-arching principle under which falls a variety of systems: Positivism, Hedonism, Pragmatism, Pluralism (and its corollary, Relativism), Existentialism and Humanism. One has to study the far-reaching impact of this denial of the eternal and the transcendent on every aspect of society. The fundamental conviction of secularism that this time and this place are all there is and there is no eternal dimension leads to a kind of personality and ultimately a society in which fostering the values of justice and mercy become almost impossible. When there is no eternity, no eternal perspective, there are left no absolutes or abiding principles by which to evaluate human actions and values.

In the end we may have secular democracy but with a despair hardly any different under the secular Baathist regime in Iraq. Islam bears no grudge with democracy but when the ontological position of secularism is taken to its logical conclusion, we come to the remainder of its cardinal points that have no place in Islam: There is no ultimate significance to human life, there are no ultimate consequences and there are no ultimate answers to the human predicament. Humankind lives out its existence in a sphere that is bound inexorably by this space and time.

Any thinking person who adopts a worldview dependent upon secularism must ultimately embrace a philosophy of despair, for according to such a belief system there is no tomorrow -” ultimately. Some of the practical results are before us. More than 531,000 Americans attempt suicide each year. Suicide accounts for more deaths than homicide, and is the eighth leading cause of death in the US. Doctors say depression is as disabling as end stage heart disease.[6] They believe it is particularly important to treat children and adolescents for depression – because their brains “learn to be depressed like they learn to ride a bicycle.” At the top level, the unjust and hypocritical foreign policy of the US government is just another reflection of the rot at the core.

The increasing stress on making secularism part and parcel of democracy makes it incompatible with Islam. Of course, theoretically democracy is supposed to offer the greatest potential for promoting justice and protecting dignity. However, a closer examination of prevailing democracies clearly suggests that in the absence of an environment developed in accordance with the basic principles of Islam, it is impossible for human beings to discharge many of their responsibilities that lead to a just social order. John L. Esposito is right in criticizing King Fahd of Saudi Arabia for his statement that the prevailing democratic system “has no place in Islam,” because it “holds the ruler fully responsible before his people.”[7] However, keeping this in mind, can anyone tell if the US President is “fully responsible” before the elected bodies, let alone the people?

The answer may be yes in theory but hardly enough to make our eyes close to the reality. The only difference is that Fahad says what he believes and “democratic” presidents, such as Bush, fake that they are accountable. As long as it is authoritative, there is no difference in “Islamic” or “democratic” or any other kind of rule. Human history testifies that any ruler who does not fully submit himself to the fundamental principles of Islam, who considers himself as sovereign, can be anything but fully responsible before his people.[8]

Theoretically, both Islam and democracy establish a basis for pursuing justice and making the authorities accountable to all. The objective is to resist the tendency of the powerful to render themselves immune from judgment. Unfortunately, this is exactly what the convoluted forms of democracy have failed to deliver. According to Khaled Abou El Fadl, “if a political system has no institutional mechanisms to call the unjust to account, then the system is itself unjust, regardless of whether injustice is actually committed or not.”[9] We witness the same happening in the US despite the much vaunted accountability mechanism in the Constitution. Many inquiries from Waco to Ruby Ridge to Flight 108, Oklahoma City bombing, September 11 and Anthrax mailing have been completely misdirected to avoid accountability and justice at the highest echelons.

Debating compatibility is misleading

In this sense the basic principles of democracy are more compatible with Islam than with the present pseudo-democracies. The Islamic concept of submission and subsequent accountability both to Allah and the people is more powerful in that it unconditionally subordinates human will to the will and law of God. It is an ontological requirement and not a condition of any secular contract. Discussing compatibility of Islam with democracy is misleading because it takes the focus away from the fact that we did not witness the miracle of secular democracy as a political system with its godless institutional mechanisms to call the unjust to account. If the criminal law does not assign punishment for a man in position of power, who commits rape, or who invades other countries on the basis of lies, it is then unjust -” quite apart from whether that crime is ever committed or not. The world has lived long under the illusion that it is a moral good in and of itself that a democracy at least offers the possibility of redress. “At least offering” is not the answer to what human societies need for good governance. As far as the idea of the popular vote, equal rights, special status of human beings etc. is concerned, no one has any quarrel with the idea of democracy in the Muslim world. It is the idea of sovereign people flouting Qur’anic injunctions and the Sunnah that is a matter of concern for Muslims.[10]

The debate and claims about Islam against democracy, or the indispensability of secularism is quite misleading for it implies two things: First, that Islam is threatening democracy, while in reality real democracy is not promoted to flourish in Muslim countries under deliberate US policy. And second, that Islam is inherently anti-Western and the US cannot live with it, which is clearly not the case. England could be a theocratic democracy. Presidents in France, Canada and US could believe in “faith-based initiatives” but the president of Pakistan needs to be a secular bulwark. Bush may have Bible sessions in the White House, Christian mullas could run for president (Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson) and the religious right may shape the political landscape, but the MMA in Pakistan is a curse.

The federal government in the US may employ thousands of chaplains and actually provides religious services, but the government must regulate religious institutions in Pakistan even if it does not fund them. It shows how, like any other issue from democracy to human rights, double standards are applied to secularism as well. According to the common Western view Islam and democracy are antithetical because there is no place for secularism in Islam. To the question, “can democracy only succeed in a nation where there is a separation of religion and state,” scholars, like Muqtedar Khan on the one end of a conceptual spectrum and Daniel Pipes on the other, state that secularism may be a desirable, but not a necessary precondition in order to foster state neutrality in a multi-religious society.[11]

However, experience shows that this is not the case. Reality is very different from opinions. A look at the developments over the last 13 years suggest that two consistent themes in much of the contemporary analysis of world affairs have been the impending clash of civilizations and the need for the secularization of the Muslim world. Indeed, the call to secularize Islam as a means of averting a clash of civilizations is really the first salvo in such a clash. It is a fashionable mantra to suggest that invading Muslim states could transform the Muslim world by bringing the long denied liberal democracy to them. US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz is one of the many proponents of secularism. He publicly declared in March 2002 that democracy is incomplete without being secular. In this regard, he believes, “Turkey can be an example for the Muslim World.”[12]

Analysts and reporters are helpless before influence of the sources that shape their mindset. For example, reporters from the Chicago Tribune wrote, “Washington, we are told, wants to foster secular democracy in Iraq, but alas, the Islamists are resisting.”[13] Headlines in the Hindu read, “Democracy impossible without secularism.”[14] Ramesh Sharma writes, “Democracy should uphold secular ethos.”[15] Furthermore, secularism is considered the soul of democracy. Writing in Dawn, Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, says, “Secularism played a pivotal role in shaping the modern democratic states-¦It has been accepted as a universal principle for engineering democratic nations”[16] Karen Litfin of the University of Washington goes a step further and argues that even “Sovereignty is inseparable from the secular worldview that has been emblematic of modernity.[17] Above all, the President of Turkey believes, “democracy is the only way to maturity, and that secularism is an inseparable part of democracy.”[18] Tansu Çiller before him during her turn in office as Prime Minister did not keep any secret of her belief and said, “secularism is an indispensable principle for Turkey”[19] Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s declared: “independence, national integration, democracy and secularism are complementary to each other-¦secularism and democracy are inseparable parts of national unity.”[20]

With this mindset, any reference to the Shari’ah becomes far more painful for many than Mr. Bush’s declaration of war on Afghanistan and Iraq, which eventually took the lives of thousands of people, and continues to subjugate millions against their will. The reason is the anticipated threat associated with the establishment of an Islamic state. This fear of Islam is so overwhelming that it blinds us to the injustices, discrimination and exploitation underway all over the world under secular systems.

Unfortunately, Western commitment to democracy in the Muslim world is limited to a simple formula: if the secularists take control of the State through elections, it is democracy. However, if people associated with religion succeed to do the same, it is democracy no more. The secularists then have to become legitimate dictators and usurpers of power to avoid aspiring Muslims from coming to power “democratically.”

Samuel P. Huntington’s argument for the destabilizing effects of modernization and for the stabilizing effects of institutionalization undermines his own pessimistic view of the incompatibility of Islam with democratic norms. Carried away by mass propaganda, he ignores Western double standards of democracy for the Muslim world and instead points, like many others, to the revival of “Islamic fundamentalism” and the poverty of many Islamic States as the fundamental reasons for his pessimism.[21] Yet throughout the movements for Islamic revival, we have yet to see the promotion of any values which are against the positive aspects of democracy.

No one is aiming at the destruction of every democratic value. Given the wide range of Islamic responses to the West and to each other, the appeal in Muslim countries to unconventional forms of political conduct, including mass uprisings and rioting, is not due to any inherent intolerance of Islam toward democracy and the peaceful settlements of disputes. Islam has always been a source of protest against oppressive regimes.

Some Islamic groups do not aim their rejectionist approach towards the West for its democratic values but for its domination and interference in the domestic affairs of Muslim countries. From Indonesia to Algeria, there are numerous examples of religious parties trying to contest elections and come to power through the routine political process. However, the Western supported repressive measures of Mubarak, the butchery of the Algerian junta and military control in Turkey are some examples that annoy the religious opposition for not finding a level playing field for a real contest.

For Muslims, democracy is not an alternative to Islam because its few golden principles, which are already part of Islam, cannot replace Islam’s comprehensive package for all spheres of human life. Islam, nevertheless, remains a challenge to the present most exploited form of democracy because it has the potential to let human beings develop the most perfect governance mechanism. It is not that Muslims should embrace secular values for democracy and break up their life into temporal public and religious private spheres. “The Ultimate Reality, according to the Qur’an, is spiritual, and its life consists in its temporal activity. The spirit finds its opportunities in the natural, the material, and the secular. All that is secular is therefore sacred in the roots of its being.”[22] It can be understood in the light of the fact that man-made laws could be implemented in an Islamic State with the intention to benefit the community when they emerge from the Shari’ah or, to put it in another way, the Shari’ah would not or could not be opposed to these laws if there is no violation of its limits.

Ibn Khaldun in his Muqaddamah, while acknowledging the theoretical supremacy of the Shari’ah, preaches that a Muslim power-state, administered under “mixed” laws (or even exclusively under man-made laws), which are enforced for the well being of the citizens, have to be derived from the fountain-head of the Shari’ah.[23] This implies that there is no distinction between the spiritual and the secular in Islam. Muslims need a breakThere is no need to prove that Islam is compatible with democracy or democracy with Islam. All positive aspects of modern democracy are already part of the teachings of Islam just as Prophet Jesus is a fundamental part of Islamic belief and so Muslims do NOT have to be Christians to believe in Prophet Jesus -” son of Mary. It is only the institutional structure and other aspects evolved with social evolution that Muslims have to accommodate fully for consolidating an Islamic State.

Realizing this fact, Graham Fuller, rightly argues: “Non-Muslims should understand that democratic values are latent in Islamic thought if one wants to look for them, and that it would be more natural and organic for the Muslim world to derive contemporary liberal practices from its own sources than to import them wholesale from foreign cultures.”[24] The West should not be a hurdle to the establishment of Islamic State/s. While some so-labelled Islamists are rejectionists, most will be critical and selective in their relations with the West, generally operating on the basis of national interests and showing a flexibility that reflects understanding of the globally interdependent world. The West should demonstrate by word and action its belief that the right to self-determination and representative government extends to Islamic state/s and society, if these reflect the popular will and do not directly threaten Western interests.

Co-acceptance is the key. Policies of the Western governments should do away with the unnecessary fear of Islamic States and must accept the ideological differences between the West and Islam to the greatest extent possible. Just as the transformation of Western feudal monarchies to democratic nations was a long, drawn-out process among contending factions with competing interests and visions, so would Islamic democratization proceed by experimentation, and necessarily involves both success and failure. Keeping the bloody and so far failed US adventure in Afghanistan in mind, one can safely say that a little recognition of the Taliban, intellectual input and support for developing administrative set up on the principles of Islam would have been a good experiment for Islamic democracy as well as successful anti-terrorism efforts. Even in the absence of any carrot and face saving formula, in the last days, the Arab guests were completely sidelined by the Taliban under international pressure. The continued undue interference and supporting one or another side in Muslim countries will never bring about the change that is required more than ever.

Those who fear the unknown, exaggerating how inhumanly an Islamic State will act once in power, have enough misconception to do so. However, if one worries that a democratic Islamic State might suppress opposition, lack tolerance, deny pluralism, and violate human rights, the same concern must apply equally to the plight of those who are living under the most repressive Western sponsored regimes in the Muslim world. It must be clear that it is definitely not Islam that hinders transformation to democracy nor Islamic principles that justify their never ending oppression.

If supporting Muslims is not possible, they need to be left alone to shatter the myths of Islam’s incompatibility with democratic values through developing Islamic models. These will be general and tentative of necessity, and will need to be tested and refined through historical experience when implemented, which is how social institutions develop; but they will at least be built on sounder foundations than any form of democracy transplanted from western discourse. If the curse of imposed dictatorships is lifted and the demonization of Islam is withheld for a while, Muslims have the ability to engage with each other and make a far more constructive contribution to Muslim political discourse than they can by seeking to ‘Islamise’ western-style democracy.

The present environment is absolutely not conducive for normalization of tensions between the West and the Muslims world. For example we receive news reports from Pakistan, saying the US “will accept limited Islamization” in the country.[25] People read in the same report that the US “supports Musharraf’s decision to keep controversial Presidential powers, acquired through LFO [an autocratic addition to the constitution in the name of the Legal Framework Order], under his belt.”

The strategic mistakes are: a) to consider the US as the epitome of goodness, the owner of democracy and freedom -” as if such values are products of the American experience alone; b) to sit in the judgment seat for filtering values and norms that belong to other religions and c) to legitimize dictatorships, as secular bulwarks, under the pretext of “assurance against any possible Talibanization of the governance system”.?[26] Secularism and democracy do not necessarily coincide, nor should it be considered a prerequisite for considering compatibility of Islam and democracy.

Washington officials, and most of the pro-democracy pundits, however, suffer a mental block when it comes to Muslim countries and fail to understand that secularism and democracy are not identical. For one thing, Marxism is the epitome of secularism. Beyond this, and in the case of the world of Islam, Washington considers secularism as the only way to salvation and consolidation of democracy. Secularism, however, or strong doses of it, happen to be the ideology of several Arab regimes. Both Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Hafez al Assad in Syria are followers of the Ba’athist ideology, a mixture of secularism, Arab nationalism and socialism. Iraq and Syria, however, could hardly qualify as democracies just because they followed a secular ideology. Most importantly, people are now realizing in both the East and West that secular democracy is neither the answer nor the solution to human needs.

Amitai Etzioni writing in the Los Angeles Times: “However, as we are learning all over the world, people have spiritual needs that cannot be addressed, let alone satisfied, by Enlightenment ideas. We see the explosive growth of Christianity in East Asia and Africa, a resurgence of religion in Russia and other former communist nations in Eastern Europe and the rise of Islam even in countries that had extensive secular, modern periods -” most tellingly, in Turkey. People ask, why are we cast into this world? Why are we born to die? What do we owe our children, our elderly parents and our friends and community? Neither democracy nor capitalism speaks to these issues.”[27] Muslims claim that Islam has answers to these questions.

The discussion over compatibility yields nothing. Proving or disproving the threat aspect of Islamic State would, however, be very helpful. If implementing Islam is not a threat to global peace and security, Muslims must be left alone to exercise their right to living by Islam without undue interference from outside. The irrelevant debate about its compatibility with democracy only complicates the fact that liberal democracy is not the end of history and irrespective of any incompatibility, Muslims have the right to live by revealed Islam -” not the one refurbished by some institute in Washington.


[1]. Richard John Neuhaus, “Democracy vs. Religion,” published at ZENIT is an International News Agency based in Rome whose mission is to provide objective and professional coverage of events, documents and issues emanating from or concerning the Catholic Church for a worldwide audience, especially the media.”

[2]. Joseph Farah, “Taking America Back,” Thomas Nelson Inc. 2003 Also see: Joseph Farah, “No to democracy” WorldNetDaily, April 24, 2003 URL: Martin, L. Gross, “A Call for Revolution: How Washington Is Strangling America-And How to Stop It,” Ballantine Books; 1st edition (January 1, 1995). David P. Shreiner, “‘Democracy:’ It’s a threat to our republic,” Pittsburg Tribune Review, Sunday, June 29, 2003 Randall G. Holcombe, “From Liberty to Democracy: The Transformation of American Government,” University of Michigan Press, 2002. Richard M. Ebeling, “Liberty Is More Important than Democracy,” Mises Institute, April 30, 2002. This paper was originally presented at a conference, "The Future of Democracy in the 21st Century," sponsored by Instituto de Estudos Empresariais (Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies) in Porto Alegre, Brazil, April 8-9, 2002. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, “Democracy’s Road to Tyranny,” The Freeman, a publication of the Foundation for Economic Education, Inc., May 1988, Vol. 38, No. 5. See also The Editors, “The End of Democracy? The Judicial Usurpation of Politics,” First Things 67 (November 1996), page 18-20; Robert P. George, “The Tyrant State,” page 39-42. Charles W. Colson, “Kingdoms in Conflict,” page 34-38; Hadley Arkes, “A Culture Corrupted,” page 30-33; Russell Hittinger, “A Crisis of Legitimacy,” 25-29; Robert H. Bork, “Our Judicial Oligarchy,” page 21-24, and Robert P. George, “The Tyrant State,” 39-42. Richard Sanders, “GATS: The End of Democracy?” the Australian Financial Review, 15th June 2001. “Is this the end of democracy?” Richard Rorty, The Age, April 27, 2004. url: Edward S. Herman, “Triumph of the Market,” published by South End Press, 1995.

[3]. Perlmutter, Amos: “Islam and Democracy Simply Aren’t Compatible,” International Herald Tribune, Paris, January 21, 1992.

[4]. Pipes, Daniel, “The Rock Star and the Mullah, Debate: Democracy and Islam,” a PBS debate between Daniel Pipes and Muqtedar Khan.

[5]. Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Islam and the challenge of democracy,” Boston Review 2003. See

[6]. In 2000, suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among young people 15 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide. National Institute of Mental Health Care, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, US. Figures updated April 11, 2003.

[7]. Esposito, John L. “Practice and Theory: A response to “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy” Boston Review, April/May 2003.

[8]. It does not mean that a poise leader is enough and there is no need for civil institutions. In fact, inculcation of permanent norms from individual to the society is needed to provide a conducive environment both to the rulers and the ruled for effectively carrying out their individual and collective responsibilities.

[9]. Ibid., Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Islam and the challenge of democracy.”

[10]. It might be argued that it depends on who is interpreting the Qur’an. The thumb rule in this regard in the present times is: do not focus too much on who is interpreting the Qur’an, try to find out why. No sincere attempt at interpretation misleads. Confusion arises when interpretation is done to justify a pre-conceived idea, such as justifying homo-sexuality. Imagine if Muslim homosexual, such as the Al-Fatiha group in the US, can go to this extreme, justifying other issues through the Qur’an becomes much easier for those with some agenda.

[11]. Pipes, Daniel, “The Rock Star and the Mullah, Debate: Democracy and Islam,” a PBS debate between Daniel Pipes and Muqtedir Khan.

[12]. Garamone, Jim: “Wolfowitz Says Turkey’s Example Important to Muslim World,” American Forces Press Service, July 2002.

[13]. Copyright 2003 Chicago Tribune Company Chicago Tribune April 23, 2003 Wednesday, Chicago Final Edition Section: News; Pg. 1; Zone: C Length: 1504 Words Headline: Imams Exercise Newfound Clout; Mosques Gaining Postwar Power Byline: By Paul Salopek, Tribune Foreign Correspondent. Tribune Foreign Correspondent Tom Hundley In Qatar Contributed To This Report

[14]. Staff reporter. “Democracy impossible without secularism.” The Hindu, Wednesday, March 27, 2002.

[15]. Sharma, Ramesh. “Democracy should uphold secular ethos.” The People’s Review, July 11-17, 2002.

[16]. Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, “Secularism in the dock,” Dawn, July 13, 2003.

[17]. Litfin, Karen. “Secularism, Sovereignty and the Challenge of Global Ecology:Towards a New Story,” page-2. Paper prepared for presentation at the workshop on “The Global Ecological Crisis and the Nationstate: Sovereignty, Economy and Ecology,” Joint Sessions of Workshops of the European Consortium on Political Research, Grenoble, France, 6-11 April 2001.

[18]. Süleyman Demirel, President of the Republic of Turkey, “The Compatibility Of Islam, Democracy And Secularism” Journal Of International Affairs, Volume II – Number 2. June-August 1997.

[19]. Daniel Pipes and Patrick Clawson interviewed Tansu Çiller for Middle East Quarterly, published in its June 1995, VOLUME II: NUMBER 2.

[20]. Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Address to the Nation from the ramparts of the Red Fort on the 51st Independence Day, August 15, 1998. Embassy of India Washington web Site.

[21]. Huntington, Samuel P.: “Will More Countries Become Democratic?,” Political Science Quarterly 99 (Summer 1994): 193-218.

[22]. Allama Muhammad Iqbal, The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, IAP, 1989, p. 123.

[23]. Ibn Khaldun’s Muqqaddamah is available in Urdu translation as well as English translation by Erwin I. J. Rosenthal.[24] Fuller, Graham E. “The Future of Political Islam,” Foreign Affairs, March/April 2002, p.52.

[25]. Alam, Absar. “US okays MMA, Musharraf alliance,” The Nation, June 02, 2003.

[26]. Ibid. Alam, Absar.

[27]. Etzioni, Amitai. “Don’t Separate Mosque and State,” Los Angeles Times, June 16, 2003.