Letters: Islam and democracy

Elie Dvorin’s comment that Islam and democracy are incompatible is not only false, but it is an ignorance of history. True, in the modern world, cases of Islamic democracy are few and far between. This is not, however, because of a failure in Islam but a failure of Muslims.

The fundamental ideals of democracy are present in the faith. All people are created equal and are equal before God. It is also represented in the law, where all are accountable and all have a duty to contribute to society. The concepts of interpretation (ijtihad), concensus (ijima) and popular consultation (shura) are fundamental to every level of Muslim society, from the family on up to the government. Democratic and pluralistic Islamic societies were once established throughout the Muslim world, reaching from Spain to Indonesia. During this time, women were educated, allowed to vote and hold office, as well as become scholars of all sorts. This period of time also coincided with Islam’s most rapid expansion as well as great advances in art, science and literature.

Since then, there has been a great regression in the Muslim world. The status of women reverted to what was in pre-Islamic times, and a new dark age descended where absolute monarchs with no regard to their subjects usurped wealth and control – exiling, imprisoning or killing those who stood against them. All in the name of a faith that clearly states otherwise.

It is in this phase we find most of the Muslim world in today. The solution is not to impose American democracy but to aid the fledgling democratic movements already in place instead of leaving them in the lurch like the revolt after the first Gulf War. This way, the responsibility for the process will be taken up by those who most appreciate it.

Umair Irfan

sophomore in LAS Islam and democracy

Elie Dvorin’s comment that Islam and democracy are incompatible is not only false, but it is an ignorance of history. True, in the modern world, cases of Islamic democracy are few and far between. This is not, however, because of a failure in Islam but a failure of Muslims.

The fundamental ideals of democracy are present in the faith. All people are created equal and are equal before God. It is also represented in the law, where all are accountable and all have a duty to contribute to society. The concepts of interpretation (ijtihad), concensus (ijima) and popular consultation (shura) are fundamental to every level of Muslim society, from the family on up to the government. Democratic and pluralistic Islamic societies were once established throughout the Muslim world, reaching from Spain to Indonesia. During this time, women were educated, allowed to vote and hold office, as well as become scholars of all sorts. This period of time also coincided with Islam’s most rapid expansion as well as great advances in art, science and literature.

Since then, there has been a great regression in the Muslim world. The status of women reverted to what was in pre-Islamic times, and a new dark age descended where absolute monarchs with no regard to their subjects usurped wealth and control – exiling, imprisoning or killing those who stood against them. All in the name of a faith that clearly states otherwise.

It is in this phase we find most of the Muslim world in today. The solution is not to impose American democracy but to aid the fledgling democratic movements already in place instead of leaving them in the lurch like the revolt after the first Gulf War. This way, the responsibility for the process will be taken up by those who most appreciate it.

Umair Irfan

sophomore in LAS