How will the concept of democracy work in harmony with the teachings of Islam?
Islam and democracy have always been a hot topic on every occasion of discussion. Islam, which is a perfect religion, according to its adherents, has regulated all aspects of Muslim life. Al Quran which is the source of all legal sources and guides of Muslims is not the result of human thought and is claimed to be the word of God. In Islam itself does not explain in detail the concept of state, but Islam regulates human life itself more explicitly and specifically.
Meanwhile, democracy is a result of human thought, a political system that regulates the life of the nation and state which describes how society transforms in social, political, economic and cultural structures to be basic characteristic towards a safe and prosperous life. The democracy brought by the western nations is believed to be a symbol that brings progress in the growth of social complexity by the rise of an educated person which demand for greater representation and involvement in politics. This progress is indicated by the economic development and the advances in technology which are very felt in western life. Przeworski in his study illustrated that by 75% of annual observation regime have correctly predicted whether a regime was democratic or not based on the economic development of GDP per capita. This rapidly evolving technology and economic advances are a very extraordinary work for the western world and a symbol of progress and excess democracy compared to Islam. Even the most rapid technological advances that occurred in the late 20th century were considered the most promising period of democracy in the history of modern civilisation.
Both Islam and Democracy regulate the mechanism of relations between humans themselves. The difference between the two is that democracy in more detail describes the life of the state rather than Islam itself. In a democracy, humans are the source of the main policy that will be implemented together, while in Islam, the things that will be carried out are mentioned in the Word of God in the Qur’an. Therefore, in my opinion, Islam and democracy are different, although basically, the teachings of Islam and democracy have similarities if applied in several aspects of the life of the nation and state. The basic differences are more to the sovereignty of the people and the sovereignty of God so that if Islam will be applied in the country democracy, it is necessary to reformulate the democracy.
To be able to better understand the application of Islam in existing democracies, in this essay will be explained as to what democracy and Islam are, then how Islamic teachings are in the life of the state and also explained about the similarities and differences shared by both. In addition, it will also be explained how the actual implementation of Islam in a democratic country so that a running democracy can be more Islamic.
Defining Islam and Democracy
Among Muslims, there is the opinion that Islam is a comprehensive, complete and perfect religion as a system of life. Islam does contain not only moral guidance but also the political system, although it does not explicitly explain the form of institutions and structures to be built. The paradigm of thought is that the religion is completely complete and contains various systems of life including the constitution, generally based on the following Quranic verses:
“On this day I have perfected for you your religion, and I have given you My favour, and I have accepted Islam as a religion for you. So whoever is forced to starve without intentionally committing sin, truly Allah is Forgiving, Most Merciful. “(Surah 5: Al-Ma’idah: 3)
“And there are no animals on the earth and birds that fly with both wings, but the people (also) like you. No, we did anything in the Book, then to God, they were gathered together. “(Surah 6: Al-An`m: 38)
“(And remember) The day (when) We raised up every people a witness against them from themselves and We brought you (Muhammad) to be a witness of all mankind. And We send to you the Book (the Qur’an) to explain all things and instructions and blessings and good news for those who surrender. “(Surah 16: An-Nahl: 89).
It is true that the three verses above actually do not mention directly about politics, especially the system of Islamic governance, but it is implied that Islam has the basics of government through the stipulation of muamalah principles in the life between people which is the basis for establishing a developing. It is obvious that in Islam there are moral and ethical principles for the life of society and state, where Muslims are free to choose which system is the best but has moral and ethical ethics that breathe Islam in their human beings.
Meanwhile, democracy comes from the Greek language, namely demos and kratos which means power by the people of the people and for the people. Democracy is synonymous with the inauguration of public participation as the holder of the highest sovereignty in power and government authority which can be transferred. As the highest sovereignty, in a democracy, there is no classification that distinguishes the rights of one person from another in public. Thus, all forms of human discrimination, whether based on race, gender, religion, social status, are contrary to democracy. Abraham Lincoln said that in the democratic process requires the participation of the people, as the greatest spiritual forces of the human behind the policies, in deciding a problem and controlling the government in power. So that came the notion that stated that the people became the government for themselves in a country, which was carried out directly or represented to the representatives of the people to be executors and controllers.
Democracy has the effect of uniting society and is not majoritarianism at all but upholds the majority principle which includes fair compromise. Based on this reason that western countries become the pioneers and front-line in carrying out, developing and spreading the teachings of democracy, because democracy gives more freedom to individuals to develop themselves without worrying about being disturbed by others. Legislative institutions of western countries really functioned as representatives of the people in overseeing and controlling the implementation of democratic government.
Muslims always come into contact with a varied political world
With the similarity in views between Islam and Democracy, the desire to use the principle of democracy that is Islamic in nature to be applied in the life of the nation and state is getting stronger. Muslim begin searching for the principle of public order into their religion, as a result, Islamic governance system is considered capable of protecting its adherents to carry out personal spiritual safely. For example regarding halal or haram food. Adherents of Islam are not permitted to eat haram foods such as food that has become carcasses before being slaughtered, eat or drink blood, eat pork, animals that are slaughtered do not mention the name of Allah, and others. In order to protect his followers, it is necessary to form regulations through a running government to ensure the comfort of the worshipers. Regarding that, some people feel the need to sit in the government to provide more policies on this matter.
The principle of democracy in the Quran is so strong, what is needed is reformulation and reinterpretation. To accommodate the struggle in the government, a party that represents the interests of Muslims in a country is needed. These parties are Islamic, so their norms and ethics follow Islamic nuances. For example as is the case in Malaysia where the PAS party or the Malaysian Islamic Party wants the implementation of Islamic law in government.
Thus in choosing Islamic leaders, the adherents of the Muslim community follow the principles written in the Qur’an, namely:
“O ye who believe! Do not take Jews and Christians to be a loyal friend to you; some of them are auliya for some others. Whosoever of you takes them to loyal friend, then surely that person belongs to their class. Verily Allah does not guide those who do wrong. “(Surat al-Maidah: 51).
It was explained in the verse that it is not permissible to make people other than Islam to be loyal friends, let alone become leaders so that Muslims are expected to reap more votes to represent their interests in that country.
In terms of practical politics, Islam does not show a preference for certain political systems, but in Islam, there are moral and ethical principles for the life of society and state, where Muslims are free to choose the best system. In the Qur’an and Sunnah, there is no basic principle of life that is directly related to state administration. Because of this, the four early caliphs were inducted by the people in the mosque, but they were not always elected. The Prophet Muhammad SAW himself allowed the Arab government system as long as they accepted the religion he carried. Under the Arab government, Muslims and none Muslims work together and do good and do not discriminate based on gender, skin or religion. This preference showed likely to be a democratic political system where it is going to be Islamic preference. Under the circumstances explain before, the Islamic community is a middle-class society that is not trapped in the extremities and ulil amri (ruler) does not accept the concept of extreme elitism.
Islam is present to provide spiritual moral values ??in democratic life. A democratic country that separates religion from politics will only create a spiritual vacuum that can cause a lack of sense of responsibility from political moral values ??and even lead to abuse of power. Khatami said that democracy in the world today has a vacuum that is empty and that this vacuum is a vacuum of spirituality, so it is very vulnerable to deviations of power, therefore Islam is present to fill the void by providing a form of the framework used to combine democracy that contains spirituality with a religious government. The experience of the secular regime in Turkey that separates religion from politics by Mustafa Kemal Attaturk has become a valuable experience for Muslims not to repeat the defeat of the separation of Islam from this politics.Suitability of Islam and Democracy
Based on observations of some Muslim’s scholar which explained that Islamic teachings and principles are very compatible with democracy. This observation is based on the Qur’an and Hadith which shows Islamic principles that are in line with democratic principles. The suitability of democracy and Islam can be seen in the Islamic rejection of the Namrudz and Pharaoh dictatorship where dictatorship is very contrary to the principle of democracy (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 258). These principles are listed in the Qur’an which is considered to be interpretations of democracy in Islam. There are three principles that are considered the same as democracy and are the basis for the formation of democracy. These three principles include the principle of Shura ‘or consultation, ijtihad (independent reasoning), and ijma` (consensus).
In the Qur’an, those who believe in Allah SWT manage and resolve their affairs through “mutual consultation” or shura (Surah 42: Ash-Shura: 38). This Shura is very closely related to how decision making will be taken through a method of consultation where there is an assumption that collective consideration is more likely to produce fair and reasonable results for the common good than through the thought of one individual. In this case between shura and democracy have in common that is the realisation of public participation in political decision making. Public participation that produces majority votes or opinions tends to be more comprehensive and accurate compared to minority assessments. Thus both in shura and democracy states that all people have the same rights and responsibilities that can influence decision making.
Ijtihad is described as rational independent thinking or independent interpretation based on rational thought. In the life of this Islamic society, Ijtihad is always associated with Islamic scholars who carry out independent interpretations of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This independent interpretation is very closely related to the open mind that arouses to accept everything that is considered good. In the Islamic system, it requires the rulers or decision makers as well as the consideration to adhere to the Islamic Shari’a or higher samawi sources than the rulers that do not allow them to mix it, even in matters that are not clearly explained, therefore the authority of the ulama through their ijtihad. For example, as happened in the Iranian country where after the 1979 Iranian revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini used the principle of ijtihad to establish a decision from an existing legal rule to be repaired and equipped and also fill all legislative gaps for the good of the country. Thus, it can be seen that the principle of Ijtihad in Velayat-e Faqih in Iran is an invaluable basic principle in shaping Iranian government rooted in the basics of rational argumentation and the postulates of religious texts.
In Ijma or also called consensus, the implementation of decision making is based on the agreement of all members, even though not all of them accept but most have agreed, and those who disagree tend not to express their disapproval. This Ijma is very similar to the consensus decision making carried out by ASEAN.
The fundamental problem in seeing the relationship between Islam and democracy is the belief that God is the absolute power (Surah 3: Ali ‘Imran: 26). Although according to Azyumardi Azra said that it is the mindset of many Muslims in the world which develop an adversarial towards the secular of colonial West for trying to subjugate Muslim world and not a rejection of democracy as a whole. Through this opinion raises the notion that Muslims actually do not reject democracy because in Islam itself explains the similarity. The problem is precisely more to the sovereignty of God that cannot be defeated by human sovereignty.
The principle of democracy contained in Islam is very compatible with democracy. The argument that shows the suitability of Islam and democracy is Islam’s rejection of the dictatorship of Namrudz and Pharaoh (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 258). The rejection of dictatorship also cannot be separated from the evidence that elections in a country are a testimony of the people (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 282-283) and also the Islamic society which upholds tolerance and plurality in a matter of faith (Surah 2 : Al-Baqarah: 256).
Another argument that democracy does not conflict with Islam is that legislation does not mean opposition to God’s law. In principle, legislation in parliament is foreign to Islam, and indeed the rules are not explained in shari’a, but this legislation is like a multiparty in a democratic system which is an institution that will avoid injustice. The injustice that is meant here is how a one-party system without control which means it can easily carry out corruptions of its power. Therefore, the multi-party system that is implemented will act as a control against the ruler in the name of the people who become Muslim traditions. What is meant by multi-party here is pluralism in the meaning of the type and specifications of the party, not in terms of disputes. This control function is as has been done by parties and the legislature in modern parliaments in a large number of Muslim countries today.
Furthermore, In the party system, one measure of democracy is at the aspirational level of its people, or it is a common sense in a congregational prayer in Islam that always accepts and implements and follows Imam’s movements as a form of recognition and obedience to the Imam and also the religion of Islam. Likewise in a democratic country where a country is said to be democratic if it reflects the level of aspiration of its people. Included in this does not conflict with the belief system (religion) that it adheres to as it applies in the United States with the concept of WASP (White, Anglo Saxon, and Protestant). The WASP concept, although initially Protestant, was still able to accept other religions to develop based on liberal democracy.
Islam does contain all things but only ethical aspects, considering that the Quran in social aspects only talks about its principles. This principles also leads to freedom in criticizing which is also guaranteed in Islam, for example, the principle of amar ma’ruf nahyi munkar (Surah 3: Ali ‘Imran: 104) which order to call for doing good things and stay away from or prevent everything that is forbidden by religion. In the hadith narrated by Ibn Majah, the most important jihad is to convey the truth to the tyrannical ruler. So that in a democratic country, the delivery of opinions and freedom of expression is guaranteed by the state, but of course, those that are in the breath of Islam can be accounted in front of Allah.
In addition, in a democratic country, Islam also gives equal rights to its citizens. There is a guarantee of freedom in expressing their opinions (Surah 42: As-Shura: 38, Surah 4: An-Nisa: 59 and 83), freedom to associate or choose party or organization (Surah 5: Al-Ma’idah: 2, Surah 58: Al-Mujadilah: 22), and freedom to embrace religion that wants adhered to (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 256 and Surah 10: Yunus: 99). This guarantee of freedoms is why Maududi with his theo-democratic concept states that there are similarities between democracy and Islam which explained the limited popular sovereignty of Muslims under the sovereignty of God. The difference lay in the political system in the West, a democratic country where the people enjoy absolute sovereignty over their country.
In Islamic democracy, the power and sovereignty of the people are limited by the limits that have been outlined in the Divine law through the AL Quran and the Sunnah. A state established on the basis of God’s sovereignty according to Islamic teachings cannot carry out legislation that is contrary to the Qur’an and hadith. For example, a case of a law allowing alcohol in a secular country will not occur in the Islamic government system. This limitation does not mean that the system of Islamic governance overrides the rational human potential in terms of administration and problems that the solution is not explained in Islamic law. Such a thing can be resolved on the basis of consensus based on ijtihad among Muslims who have qualifications. The system of Islamic governance proposed by Al-Maududi took a moderate path in which the sovereignty of the people was limited by the sovereignty of God through His Shari’a.
In general, democracy is compatible with the universal values ??of Islam, but in implementation, this is inseparable from problems. This implementation’s problem arises as a result of the opposite of democratic values ??with the results of the ulama’s ijtihad. A small example is the case of people who converted from Islam. According to Islam based on the hadith, these people were told to repent first, if they did not want to be killed or fought. In a democratic system, this should not happen, because killing means violating their freedom and violating human rights. Then in a democracy, there is the principle of equality between citizens, on the contrary, in Islam, some things are very explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an that there are differences between men and women, for example about polygamy where a man could have maximum four wives, while for a woman allows having one husband only (Surah 4: An-Nisa: 3). Another Surah concerning inheritance law which a son receive more than a daughter (Surah 4: An-Nisa: 11), and concerning testimony (Surah 2: Al-Baqarah: 282). In addition, democracy highly respects tolerance in social life, including even immorality for examples like courtship and adultery, if between men and women (not husband and wife) having sexual intercourse like liking it does not matter or in other words it is permissible, whereas in Islam this is prohibited in the Qur’an. Likewise in Islam distinguished between the rights and obligations of an infidel with a Muslim which cannot happen in a democracy, because it is no longer upholds the value of equality.
Seeing the above problems, it means that not all democracy is compatible with Islamic teachings. In principle, the ideas of democracy are in accordance with and in harmony with Islam, but at the implementation level often the democratic values ??are contrary to the teachings of Islam in the Qur’an, the Sunnah and the ijtihad of the scholars. Therefore, according to the author, Muslims today should not be in the space of conflict between Islam and democracy, but, more importantly (urgent) to be done by Muslims in the implementation of democracy by referring to the teachings of benefit, justice, ijtihad (freedom of thought ), tolerance, freedom, equality, honesty and responsibility and so on. Some principles instruments that have the most important jurisprudential capacity in Islam can be used to produce adaptability and compatibility between Islam and democracy are the council, ijma (consensus) and also ijtihad. To see the relationship between Islam and democracy, at least it must be seen from the side of the system, the basics of politics and its value. However, if democracy is defined procedurally as it is understood and practised in Western countries, then democracy will conflict (not in line) with Islamic teachings.
The rejection of Islam in harmony with democracy occurs in some events which cause some countries to reject the presence of Islam in their country and even act repressively to block the development of Islam. The incident of the destruction of the WTC building and the US military headquarters on September 11, 2001, which was believed by Western society even though the perpetrators were still doubtful by many Muslims was carried out by Osama bin Laden with his organization Al-Qaeda, as if to show that Islam and democracy as Western products cannot be juxtaposed . This rejection on juxtaposed is in line with the thinking of Islamic leader Sayyid Quthb, who also has legitimized that Islam and democracy are incompatible.
The thing that causes incompatibilities in Islam and democracy lies in the basic principles of the source of thought forming the law. According to Aswab Mahasin, if viewed from its empirical basis, Islam and democracy are indeed different, religion comes from revelation while democracy comes from the struggle of human thought. Thus, humans do not have the right to determine the law or create their own law; humans are only in charge of carrying out the laws of God that have been revealed through the Quran. Every solution to social, economic, political, legal and constitutional problems always uses the framework of Islamic Sharia foundation. Therefore a country established on the basis of Islam cannot carry out legislation that is contrary to the Qur’an and hadith even though the people in the country demand it.
The conclusion that can be drawn based on the writing above is that between Islam and democracy have similarities and differences. Although Islam and democracy are basically similar if they are applied in several aspects of the life of the nation and state, a fundamental difference is more to the sovereignty of the people and God’s sovereignty. Therefore, if Islam is to be implemented in a democratic country, it is necessary to reformulate the democracy.
Although both governing human life, especially in the three principles that are considered the same as democracy, namely the principle of Shura ‘or consultation, ijtihad (independent reasoning), and ijma’, but in Islam itself does not explain in detail about a particular form of government. Islam has indeed covered everything but only in aspects of ethics and social aspects which include its principles ‘adl (justice), syura (deliberation), and musawah (equality). Democracy is a kind form of government that is very compatible with Islam to be applied to a country.
The principle of democracy contained in Islam is compatible with democracy, it’s just highly necessary to reformulate and also reinterpret the democracy into an Islamic democracy. In Islamic democracy, the power or sovereignty of the people is limited by the limits that have been outlined in the Divine law through the AL Quran and the Sunnah.
Generally, democracy is compatible with universal Islamic values. But in the implementation, this is inseparable from the problems that cause the incompatibilities of Islam and democracy. However, by separating religion from politics, Islam argues that this will only create a spiritual vacuum in the public arena and pave the way for a political system that has no moral value. In the effort of uniting the two, some things must be eliminated or rearranged according to one of them, and as a religion, of course, Islam will not want to change its principles because it is the word of God, while Democracy is the fruit of human thought so that it can still be changed. Thus it will bring up a limited democracy in accordance with the breath of Islam.
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