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The-Problem-of-the-Democracy Powered By Docstoc
					The Problem of the Democracy
Author: m alrifaie
Undoubtedly, democracy enjoys a prominent status in the world arena. It takes its place on the throne of the one-pole, uncontested
empire of the world and serves as the social doctrine, political guide, and cultural identity, and the approach followed by its civilization. It
is the glorious message of that empire to all creation. The said empire befriends and gets close to those who accept democracy and
adhere to it, and it quarrels with and fights those who reject it and opt for something else. This has made democracy, either willingly or
out of fear, the beloved of politicians and thinkers. People from everywhere, except a resisting few, compete for its love. Thus democracy
has become the master that orders and forbids and that controls the procession of human security and the management of its affairs.
Lovers who belong to various creeds, cultures, and civilizations vie for its love and the honour for proving its kinship to their religion and

Many Muslims have followed such a course. They have been claiming the honour of the kinship between democracy and the great
approach of Islam. They speak of the “democracy of Islam,†and claim that Islam was the first to follow the system of democracy.
They have been repeating that “There is no shortage of terminology. Islam is democracy, and democracy is Islam.†Books and
essays have been written on the subject, praising democracy, its gifts, and its blessings. It is described as the faithful and sincere
innovator and savior of mankind from the filth of deviation and error, and from the causes of backwardness and corruption.

This dramatic scene, in which democracy is featured under the spotlights of the world stage, reminds one of a previous dramatic scene
that featured a former mistress of great beauty and charm. Intellectual, political, economic, and social circles were all fascinated by her
and fell in love with her in the 1950s and 1960s. Her name was socialism. The finest poetry was composed and the most eloquent prose
written to sing her charms, alluring beauty, and the elegance of her bright red dresses. All intellectual writers contributed to this: left,
center, and some right. The crowd was not without some Islam advocates who fell head over heels in love with this Eastern beauty and
were, probably, her most devoted and passionate lovers and the most jealous about her lineage. Some of them were quick to adopt her
and claim exclusive right to her lineage. They wrote about the socialism of Islam. Even the famous Arab singer Um Kulthoom chanted,
“Y are the leader of socialists,†expressing pride that the Prophet and Messenger of Islam, our master Muhammad, peace and
blessings be upon him, is the leader of all socialists on earth. Days passed, and the beauty grew old. Her figure was bent, her charm
wilted, and her dresses were worn out. Then the idol fell down and the star faded. The poets and prose writers retracted what they had
written and were dumbfounded.

Of course I am not recalling this case to gloat over what happened. Not at all. I am not one who gloats over the misfortunes of others, and
this has never been one of my traits. In my book Islam and the World Order, I wrote that I was pained and saddened by the fall of the
Soviet Union, in spite the complete difference between its thought and ideology and mine, and by the absence of an empire that had
made significant contribution to the current structure of civilization. I wished that civilization would correct its course and reconsider the
approach of its culture and civilization, so that it might be in harmony with human nature and its spiritual and affective elements. It
collapsed, was fragmented, and lost all its energy because it ignored the individual’s inner world: his spirit and affection. This fact is
expressed by the well-known former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in his famous book Perestroika, who tried in the lost time to
save the staggering Soviet Union, but it was too late. He says, “Our main mission today is to enhance the individual’s morale,
respect his inner world, and give him moral power. We are striving to make the intellectual abilities and all the cultural potential of society
combine to create a socially-active, spiritually-rich, straightforward, conscientious individual.â€

No, I am not gloating when I recall the case of the socialist mistress after her prime had faded and her lovers felt embarrassed. I mention
here my sad feelings at the collapse of the Soviet Union, in spite of differences in ideology and culture, to emphasize that I have no
tendency to gloat over this or anything else. I believe that in his approach, conduct, and culture, a Muslim should always be on the side of
construction and of the rationalization and improvement of every act of civilization, rather than the side of destruction, ruin, and removal of
others. Ultimately, a civilization remains a part of the human heritage. It remains a human interest and gain. When it strays, it should be
rationalized, corrected, and developed.

I also m recall the story of socialism and its lovers in order to say to the lovers of democracy today, “Slow down, gentleman. Be
moderate in loving your beloved, who may one day turn into your enemy, and be moderate in hating your enemy, who may one day turn
into your beloved. I do not here equate socialism and democracy; the difference between them, without doubt, is not small. What I am
saying is that as socialism, hideous as it was, was not devoid of positive points, democracy, in spite of the good that it has, is not devoid
of negative and sour points.

One day, I had a conversation with His Excellency, Mr. Loren Craner , assistant to former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was
accompanied by a large delegation composed of:

1. His Excellency Mr. Robert Jordan, former U.S. Ambassador in Riyadh;

2. Her Excellency Mrs. Gina Abercrombie-Win Stanley, U.S. Consul General in Jeddah;

3. Her Excellency Mrs. Elizabeth Dugan, Chief Advisor for Democratic Affairs at the U.S. State Department;

4. His Excellency Mr. Michael E. Parmly, Special Advisor to the Assistant Secretary;

5. Her Excellency Mrs. Joanna Levisohn, a U.S. State Department official;

6. His Excellency Mr. Don Brown, Officer of Political Affairs, U.S. Consulate in Jeddah; and
7. Her Excellency Mrs. Sallma Wabber r, Assistant Officer of Political affairs and Protocol.

The meeting, with the whole delegation attending, was held in Jeddah 11:00 a.m. on Monday, 11 Jumada I, 1424 A.H. / 21 July, 2003
A.D. and was concluded at 1:00 p.m. After greetings and expression of courtesy, the Head of the delegation, Mr. Craner, asked me,
“What is the relationship between Islam and democracy as you see it ?

I said, “There is something wrong with such a direct comparison between Islam and democracy?â€

“What is wrong?†he asked.

I said, “(1) Islam, as everyone knows, is a comprehensive system that has an overall vision of the universe and life, while (2)
democracy is part of liberalism, and the latter is also an all-inclusive system that has its own philosophy of the universe and life. On that
basis, it is not fair to compare part of a system with another system. The concepts of a part cannot be sufficiently clear except through its
position within the web of the system to which it belongs. Therefore, a comparison of this sort, which is common among many Muslim
intellectuals, is wrong and harmful to items, Islam and democracy. That is what is wrong, and that is the reason to consider a direct
comparison between them a common mistake.â€

He said, “What do you consider to be a correct comparison?â€

“The comparison would be right,†I said, “if it is made between Islam and liberalism, since both of them are comprehensive
systems in their outlook and values. It would also be a correct comparison if it is made between corresponding parts of the two

He asked, “What part of Islam corresponds to democracy in the system of liberalism?â€

I said, “This is a sound and objective question. But before I answer you, let me give you an outline of the way I understand liberalism.
If you find it acceptable, I can then answer your important question.â€

He welcomed the idea, and I said, “In my modest understanding, liberalism consists briefly of (1) its own view of the universe and life;
(2) a legislative authority that is given entirely to the people; (3) a social contract, which is a contract of performance, called democracy;
and (4) a system and mechanism for implementation, which is done through the parliament institution. Is this understanding correct and
acceptable to you?â€

“It is very acceptable,†he said. “I can even say that many liberals would probably fail to present liberalism in such a ‘skillful
synopsis’.†That is the description he used.

I said, “Let me, likewise, sum up the system of Islam as I understand it.â€

“That will be a pleasure,†he said. “I need to understand what the system of Islam is.â€

I said, “The system of Islam, also briefly consists of (1) an integrated comprehenÂsive view of the universe and life; (2) a legislative
authority that Islam makes all its basics, with no exception, in the hands of God, the Most Sublime, and his Messenger, and next to them
in the hands of legislators, who are knowledgeable and specialized people who deduce, and legislate in the various fields of life, within
the basic principles and general objectives of Islamic Law; (3) a social contract, which is a contract of performance, dominated and
controlled by a contract of faith with God, the Most Sublime, which is called pledged allegiance; and (4) a system and mechanisms for
implemenÂtaÂtion, which is done through the Shura (advisory) institution. Is this way of explaining clear to you, or do you need further

He said, “It is clear, and thank you for this concise summary.â€

I started to say, “Now I can answer your question.…â€

But he interrupted me, saying, “It is clear that what corresponds to democracy from your point of view is pledged allegiance.â€

“Y  es,†said I. “Because both pledged allegiance and democracy are social contracts. Here I can say that your and our
performance contracts agree to the extent of as much as 80%

With astonishment, he asked “Is that true?â€

I said, “Y and this is not mere Arab generosity.â€

“But what is the cause of the 20% difference between the contracts?†he asked.

I replied, “It is there because of the contract of faith, which you ignore in your social contract, while we still hold to it. We firmly believe
that it is the basic and most important contract in our lives. We insist on retaining it and adhering to it, because it is the foundation for
rationalizing and controlling the soundness of our social and civilization-related performance. There is another reason for the difference
between your and our social performance contract, and it relates to distinctive cultural characteristics.â€

He said, “Then the common ground between us is great?â€

I said, “Yes.â€
He asked, “Why is there this flaw in our relations?â€

I said:

For several reasons, and they include:

1. Deficient knowledge of the followers of the two cultures.

2. Misunderstanding or lack of understanding among a large sector of your and our cultural circles of the meaning of pledged allegiance
and of democracy.

3. The failure to give a concrete form to the common ground and the shared goal of pledged allegiance and democracy.

4. Faulty performance in practicing both pledged allegiance and democracy in most of your and our communities.

5. The growth of the tendency in your culture to do without the other, because many of you believe that you have reached the pinnacle of
intellectual and civilization-related creativity, so you have no need for the values and virtues the other has. Meanwhile, you believe that it
is the other that needs you and your culture. Hence, the idea of the end of history developed in your culture. Of course, to many of you,
you are the end of history and the ceiling of human creativity. Y approach to and model of civilization is the best possible one, you

6. In juxtaposition to that, some people on our side have the tendency to reject the other and unwillingness to deal with him. This is a
tendency that, I assure you, is wrong and conflicts with the origin and orientation of the Islamic approach.

7. Poor performance in international politics on your part in your capacity as the most active party in the international arena. I do not
exonerate ourselves from contributing to some degree, one way or the other, to this malfunction in international politics.

A long conversation followed, and we went into very specific details, which I do not have to go into here, but I will mention the most
important points.

Mr. Parmly, the Special Advisor of Mr. Wren asked, “But how is pledged allegiance implemented?â€

I said, “The Islamic system does not define a formula of implementÂation. It is left for the nation to determine it by mutual consent
according to time and place. Islam, after all, stresses principles and goals, and leaves means and mechanisms to be chosen by
peoples, according to the dictations of their situations and needs, which change with the change of time and place.â€

“But who has the jurisdiction to determine the nation’s choice in this matter?†M. Warren asked.

I replied, “It is the official in charge (the ruler) and influential people (experienced and specialized people).â€

He asked, “But who decides who the influential people are?â€

“This is an open choice for the official in charge. It can be by recommendation, election, appointment, or some other method, as the
conditions and interests of the nation require.â€

Mr. Warren asked, “What is meant by influential people?â€

“They are,†I said, “specialized people who are qualified to investigate and decide.â€

He said, “If you are asked to set a plan and a mechanism to choose specialized people according to current social conditions, what
are the most prominent features and steps of such a project?â€

I said:

The categories of specialization in any society today are those of various scientific and academic specializations, and those with
experience and applied skills. For example, there are politicians, economists, educaÂtionists, social scientists, financial experts,
businessmen, manufacturers, etc. In my opinion the features of the mechanism can be summed up as follows.

1. The proper qualification for members of each category of specialization would be specified.

2. The number required from each segment would be decided.

3. Each segment would be asked to choose the required number of its members.

4. The whole group of the chosen specialists would form the council of qualified people, or whatever else the council is called.

5. The mechanisms of the council’s performance would be determined in a way that serves public interests.

He said, “What is the name of the institution of qualified people in Islam?â€
I said, “The Advisory (Shura) Council or any other council, house, or assembly. Names are not a problem in the Islamic approach.
The important thing is how to achieve ends and goals.â€

“Are the decisions of the Advisory Council binding for the ruler?†he asked.

I said, “The decisions in the advisory system in Islam are of two types: (1) decisions on matters related to the basic principles of
Islamic Law, and these are binding for the whole nation, i.e. to the ruler and the people, and (2) decisions on emerging matters that have
room for opinion. With theses, the official in charge, or the ruler, has the right to outweigh one opinion from these and other considered
opinions that are available to him through other institutions and higher specialized advisory councils of the state. He also has the right of
amendment and postponement in accordance with the dictates of the nation’s higher interests.â€

He asked, “What do you mean by the ruler’s right to outweigh?â€

“In principle,†I said, “it corresponds to the U.S. president’s right to veto some resolutions of the congress, but with some

“What is the difference?†he asked.

I said, “There are a cultural difference and a procedural difference. Culturally, I think the expression ‘to outweigh’ is more
polite and more respectful of the decision maker. In procedure, the expression implies adherence to and acceptance of the submitted
decision, but, in the view of the Muslim ruler, there is something more appropriate for the national interest. ‘More appropriate’
here can mean any of several things: more appropriate in timing, for the location, in performance, in phrasing, etc. While the phrase
‘to veto’ has a connotation of rejection and objection and implies a conclusive procedure. Still, we Arabs say that ‘there is no
shortage of terminology.’â€

Mrs. Elizabeth Dugan asked, “But why do you insist on continuing the relationship between religion and the state? Does this not
obstruct your progress and stimulate non-acceptance of the other?â€

I said, “I do understand the background of your question, Madam. Y had a great and intricate problem with the Church’s
teachings, because they conflicted with the nature of things and with the stimulation of creativity, innovation, development, and progress.
This resulted in a state of conflict between your ambitions in life and the inflexible teachings of the Church. We, however, have a problem
of a different kind with Islam.â€

She asked anxiously, “What is it?â€

I said, “Regrettably, we are behind the teachings and encouragements of Islam in this matter. The teachings of Islam repeatedly and
insistently encourage learning, creativity, development, and progress in all fields of life, at the level of the earth and the level of stars and
planets. The religion of Islam even makes that one of the best offerings and most venerated types of worship. In Islam, worship is of two
types: spiritual worship and constructional worship, which is the maintenance of life and harnessing what the universe contains to serve
human beings. God’s satisfaction is attained only through a delicate balance between the two types of worship. A Muslim is
accountable for any failure in his constructional worship, the same as he is for failure in spiritual worship. This is the reason of our
insistence on the continuity of the relationship and inseparability of religion and the state. Does it make any sense for an individual to
keep his life separate from what stimulates, urges, and calls upon him to pursue science and scholarship, to acquire skills, to work
diligently in the fields of technological creativity, and to climb up to higher positions in all fields of life?

She asked, “Where do women stand on all this?â€

I said, “In Islam, man and woman are partners in responsibility on the basis of their equitable complementarity in the fields of life.
Certain controls and rules govern this partnership to allow its objectives to be realized in a manner that does not disrupt the nation’s
values and the nature of its approach to civilization. The family is the first social institution, in which the formula of equitable
complementarity is realized and materialized in the responsibilities of man and woman. In Islam, the family is a basic institution of civic
society. In fact, it is the good nucleus of a good society.â€

Mr. Crener asked, “What about the reform and change movement?â€

I said, “I prefer the expression of ‘restoration and development.’â€

“Why?†he asked.

“Because it fits our reality and our approach better,†I said. “RestoraÂtion and development is not something new in our life,
nor is it an extraordinary case of an emergent situation. It is a permanent principle of religion and approach of legislation. ‘At the
beginning of every one hundred years, God sends someone who renews for Muslims the state of their religion.’ Islam is the only
system that, in order to encourage research and creativity, rewards a creative researcher, even when he errs. In order to encourage him
to go on and improve, the reward is doubled for him if he succeeds.â€

I then asked Mr. Crener, “but what about restoration and development in your case?’â€

“What do you mean?†he asked back.

I asked, “Is it not time for a reconsideration of your system and means which have been without change or development for several
decades? Is it not time for a reconsideration of the philosophy of liberalism itself? Is it not time for a reconsideration of democracy, the
parliamentary system, and their methods? Do they not need development, improvement, and adjustment to the new social, political, and
moral factors and other new factors of civilization in general on the various regional and international levels?â€

He replied, “Undoubtedly these are objective questions that we have to cope with, but do you have specific observations?â€

I said jokingly, “The bill is long and needs a long period of time.â€

“As for time,†he said, “you are absolutely right. We have several appointments, one after the other. I will not keep it a secret
from you that we have decided to cancel some of these because of the benefit we feel we are getting from the conversation with you.â€

I said, “Thank you, dear colleague. This is a testimony I am proud of, and I, in turn, am glad and pleased with your questions, which
have allowed me to explain what has pleased you to hear.â€

He told me, “We have half an hour more with you, so tell us briefly two examples of the observations you have about our system, so
we can resume our questions.â€

I said:

I have brief points to make, which are:

o Y continue to ignore the dimension of religion and values in the content of your social contract, and this, I believe reflects negatively
on the performance of your civilization.

o There is an exaggeration, and I can even say going beyond limits, in your principle of freedom of choice, which takes the form of
influencing the voter through lengthy election campaigns and the accompanying inducements to win the voter and direct his choice to the
benefit of a certain side.

o Y have made the votes of voters absolutely equal on matters that are vital to the nation.

He said, “What do you mean?â€

I said, “Does it make sense that the vote of your Excellency, not as a human being but rather as a man of distinguished competence
and experience, is equal to the vote of an ordinary person with modest competence, and sometimes with no competence at all, in
deciding the question of who is best for the nation or deciding some other vital concern of the nation.â€

“Do you want us to follow the principle of qualified people?†he asked.

I said:

That is your choice. Y may find something even better. The important thing is to reconsider the question.

o The final point is that I recommend a reconsideration of the social permissiveness law that you are known to have, which has flooded
the American society with all kinds of crime, as stated by your former Secretary of State James Baker.

He said, “Thank you for your bold remarks, and believe me they will receive attention. What else do you suggest for further

I said:

I recommend the direct and objective dialogue and exchange of points of view between us to go on, with utmost transparency,
truthfulness, and respect, without any devious mediators. Direct acquaintance remains more effective and more capable of allowing
people to arrive at sound mutual understanding. We should stay away from erroneous explanations and interpretations, which are most
often used by mediators and by biased and mercenary information media. This type of information that is at enmity with our strategic
relationship has, unfortunately, a negative role that influences the American public. In my estimation, the area of the common ground we
share in regards to objectives is vast, while means and mechanisms have to remain connected to the nature of societies and their
various distinctive cultural characteristics. We share together the responsibility of developing and increasing the area of the common
ground we share through objective and direct dialogue.â€

His Excellency welcomed this idea. We went back after that to the comparison between Islam and liberalism, and pledged allegiance
and democracy, which had been interrupted by their above quoted questions. I told the delegation:

If we contemplate the components of both systems, we will easily discover the points of agreement and difference they have. On the
other hand, we can discover the common ground they share. This will give us the chance to develop and reinforce the points of
agreement and to understand the points of difference in a way to prevent their being a hindrance to the realization of the common
interests of followers of the two systems.

After this brief introduction, anyone who wants can make a comparison between the two systems, Islam and liberalism, in general, or
between corresponding parts of the two, such as making a comparison between:

· the overall outlooks of the two system towards life and the universe;
· the legislative authorities of both;

· the two systems’ social contracts: pledged allegiance and democracy;

· Shura (the advisory system) and the parliamentary system, which are the legislative and implementation/supervisory institutions of the
two systems.

Thus, the comparison would be, in my view, specific and objective.

“Let us make a comparison between pledged allegiance and democracy,†said Mr. Mr. Crener.

I said:

As defined by its own people, democracy is

· the government of the majority,

· a government in which the people have supreme authority, or

· The government of the people by the people.

In light of the cited definitions of democracy, we can conclude that it is a social contract between the people and the ruler, between the
people as the source of legislation and the ruler as an executive agent.

Meanwhile, pledged allegiance is the government of people according to the law of God, the Most Sublime, on the basis of the contract
of faith. The ruler is empowered by the people to manage and organize the life of people and serve their interests on the basis of
God’s Law and the contract between them, which is the constitution or the system of governance.

This means that pledged allegiance is a contract of faith and a social contract, which means it is a compound agreement composed of
two contacts:

1. a contract of faith between God, the Most Sublime, and the nation, i.e. the ruler and the people, by which everybody is committed to
God’s law, and

2. A contract of performance between the ruler and the people to serve the interests of the nation as defined in both the contract of faith
and the charter of this contract between ruler and people, which is the constitution or the system of governance.

By contemplating the notions I have mentioned about democracy and pledged allegiance, it is easy to identify the points of agreement
and of difference between them.

v There is no doubt that democracy, in principle, has achieved a great amount of good in the lives of societies that are sincere and
serious in their attitude.

v Democracy and pledged allegiance agree on being contracts of performance (the social contract).

v Democracy implements about 80% of pledged allegiance, through the contract of performance.

v Democracy differs from pledged allegiance in that the contract of faith is lacking.

v The absence of the contract of faith in democracy creates the following differences between it and pledged allegiance.

· Democracy is the absolute rule of the people while pledged allegiance is the absolute rule of God through human performance and

· The people is the source of legislation in democracy.

· The source of the principles of legislation in pledged allegiance, however, is God, the Most Glorious, and his Messenger. The nation
has the right to interpret, legislate, deduce, and develop the systems and principles it needs to serve its interest as long as they do not
differ from the basics of Islamic law.

· The ruler in a democracy is responsible to the people alone.

· The ruler in pledged allegiance is responsible to God, the Most Sublime, and then to the people for applying Islamic Law and
implementing the charter of the performance contract. This is carried out through mutual advice and cooperation.

· The relationship between the ruler and the people in a democracy is merely an executive one.

· The relationship between the ruler and the people in pledged allegiance is that of complementarity of responsibilities on a basis of
mutual consultation and advice to serve the interests of the nation on the basis of the contract of faith and in accordance with their
contract of performance, i.e. the constitution.
· In a democracy, it is the majority that exclusively decides what is right and what is wrong in the nation’s life.

· In pledged allegiance, the principles of Islamic Law are the major arbiter in deciding what is right and what is wrong in the
nation’s life. The majority’s opinion is taken and adhered to only in matters that are open to considered opinion on what is
closer to the spirit and supreme objectives of the Law. If the majority supports an opinion that is in conflict with the principles of Islamic
Law, it is not valid and cannot be accepted.

· There are other differences between democracy and pledged allegiance, but it is not the time to go into them now, since the dialogue
has already been very long. I conclude, however, with the following:

v Democracy can be of greater benefit and safer if it adopts and adheres to religious and moral values.

v Therefore, I call on liberal societies to re-evaluate the question of their negligence of the contract of faith and to make an effort to
reinforce democracy with divine values and religious and ethical controls. The Glorious Qur'an made this same recommendation over
fourteen centuries ago to followers of other religions:

· God, the Most Sublime, says, “If they would observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been revealed to them by their Lord,
they would be given abundance from above and from beneath. A group of them are on the right course, and many of them follow an evil
course†(Al-Maidah V: 66).

· He also says, “Say ‘People of the Book, you achieve nothing until you observe the Torah and the Gospel and what has been
revealed to you by your Lord’†(Al-Maidah V: 68).

v On the other hand, Muslims need badly, in the majority of their countries, to deal more seriously, sincerely, and objectively with pledged
allegiance and its Islamic legal controls. They also need to develop the methods, mechaÂnisms, and skills of the contract of faith in order
to achieve greater justice, security, and prosperity for their societies.

For the record, this conversation took two hours without interruption.

By clarifying the relationship between pledged allegiance and democracy, I wanted to clear the ambiguity common to many thinkers
about this question, when attempting to establish a relationship between democracy as an imported system and the originality of the
Islamic nation’s identity. One person says, “Democracy is social justice.â€

Another says that democracy is Islam, “for Islam is democratic.â€

A third one claims that democracy is Shura, and “a Shura regime corresponds to a democratic one.â€

A fourth settles the question by saying, “The Shura system is democracy.â€

Others reply, “No, Islam is not democracy, nor democracy is Shura. Islam is something else. Y democracy has its place in Islam, so
let us speak of ‘democracy in Islam.’â€

A sub-group objects to the argument of their colleagues and says, “Democracy is an Islamic characteristic and objective, so it is
better to speak of ‘the democracy of Islam.’â€

A group of a different color joins in and says, “Why is all this fuss and all this altercation? Let us forget this controversy on
terminology and turn to essence. Since democracy is a working and tried system and has brought benefits to others, let us adopt it, and
thus God will spare us the argument.â€

Another group answers, “Y have to know if the whole package of democracy is adopted; a later step would be commitment to the
standards of its cultural roots, moral behavior, and social and civilization-related philosophy. Democracy is not a system carved out of
hard stone; it is an approach that belongs to a system and a self-contained philosophy with its own values and standards. A person who
wants to take a part of that system and ideology is objectively and practically obliged to take the whole philosophical set. Otherwise he
would be subjecting himself to a faulty cloning process that produces a fretful child who makes his parents miserable and increases their
unhappiness and sense of failure.

Faced with this seething situation and confused attitude towards democracy, and after considerable reflection, I found that the question
is easy to understand and conceive. If one goes to the roots of the liberal system and the cradle of its Greek birth, one can learn about
the birth of democracy, as a social contract that organizes the relationship between ruler and subject in order to accomplish the
objectives of liberalism and its social philosophy in general. As it is well known, and in very brief words, though I hope not to be
distorting, way, liberalism is based on the idea and tendency of glorifying and sanctifying human freedom. The Roman word liber refers
to the god of freedom, who is the Roman adaptation of the Greek god Dionysus, who is also the God of fertility (or sex). It seems this is
the origin of the philosophy of sexual permissiveness in the liberal system.

Next came the idea of a contract between the ruler and the people to control the waywardness of absolute freedom, which is the spirit
and foundation of the philosophy of liberalism. The ruler, after all, is a human being, and if his freedom and whims are not controlled, the
subjects and their interests will suffer. With the development of the mechanisms and rules of the notion of absolute freedom, a nice and
equitable expression surfaced in Western circles, which is: “Y freedom ends where someone else’s freedom begins.â€

Meanwhile, within the framework of the social contract, the principle of the freedom of quarreling, conflict of opinion, and controversy was
adopted, and an institution that organized the principle of quarreling and conflict was established and called parliament. The word is
derived from the Greek and Latin root parley, which means a dialogue between two foes or enemies. This is the origin of the concept of
opposition or the conflict in the parliamentary system. Disagreement, conflict, and quarreling is the origin and the distinctive
characteristic of the relationship between parliament members in the proper parliamentary performance, while agreement and harmony
are an indication of faulty performance or of regression of the principle of freedom, difference of opinion, and controversy.

Islam, on the other hand, has been upholding from the beginning the principle of controlled freedom and has legislated a set of ethical
rules to control and organize that principle. Thus an individual freedom remains under the control of the interests of others’ freedom
and of society in general. Islam regards absolute freedom as a rebellion and a violation of controls and of the other’s freedom and
interests. Personally, having contemplated the principle of freedom and the mechanisms of its practice at the individual and social levels,
I say that absolute freedom is an agent of absolute corruption and peril.

Because Islam is the system of the Lord – Who is all knowing about His creatures, merciful to them, and aware of their affairs – it
has set up its system on rules and moral standards that makes it above such contradiction and frivolity that afflict most other systems.
The Islamic system establishes foundations for an affective, faithful condition that makes the satisfaction of God, the Most Sublime, the
end to which a faithful individual looks forward and a compass that guides his behavior in the fields of life. It has laid foundations to the
rule of inseparability and complementarity of the interests of the individual and society. It has espoused the principle of cooperation and
mutual advice between the members of society, both rulers and subjects, for the accomplishment of the public interest and the competiÂ
tion to improve and develop it. To achieve these noble and sublime ends, the Islamic system has espoused the principle of Shura
(consultation and advice) between the nation’s various organs and groups, so that they may cooperate and compete to achieve the
best for everybody. It is on the basis of mutual consultation, advice, and cooperation that the methodology and performance mechanisms
of Shura are founded.

Shura and mutual consultation is in fact a process of joint reflection on and study of the opinions and conceptions submitted to the
members of the Shura (Advisory) Council in order to arrive at the best way to achieve the common end. That end is the satisfaction of
God, the Most Sublime, through the realization of the nation’s interests. With this spirit as the starting point, the tendency for conflict
and clash, on which the philosophy of the parliamentary form of the liberal system is based, disappears.

In other, more concise words, Shura is based on mutual advice, while the parliamentary system is based on mutual butting. Shura tends
towards mutual tolerance, while the parliamentary system prefers mutual scandalizing. Shura works for the complementarity of gains that
serve interests. One of the meaning of the Arabic word Shura is “honey,†and mutual consultation, therefore, requires mutual usage
of sweet and refined language, rather than insults and obscenities, as is, regrettably, witnessed in the parliamentary arenas of the
democratic system. Probably, dear reader, you have heard what millions of other people have: a president of the United States of
America saying that his dog so-and-so understands politics better than a certain person that he named.

In spite of these differences between the two systems, however, I believe that respect for distinctive religious and cultural characteristics,
as well as objectiÂvity and transparency, make it necessary for followers of the two systems or contracts of democracy and pledged
allegiance to explore the horizons of common understanding and constructive cooperation. Such exploration would serve their common
interests and promote the equitable and secure coexistence of societies, within a framework of mutual respect and without any violation
of the political and cultural homeland sovereignty and any intervention in the distinctive characteristics of the civilization of each nation.

One last word that has to be said is the emphasis that the system of Islam is based in all its aspects on the contract principle. Making
contracts is the essence and characteristic of that system. Belief in God is one king of contract.

… And called them to bear witness about themselves. “Am I not your Lord?†They said, “Y …†(Al-A'raaf VII: 172).

Belief in the message of Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, and what he has brought from his Lord has a contract basis.

Those who pledge allegiance to you, pledge allegiance to God. God’s hand is above theirs (Al-Fattah XLVIII: 10).

Marriage is a contract.

How can you take it away when each of you has been privy with the other, and they have received from you a firm pledge? (Al-Nisaa IV:

Selling and buying is done through contract, and all other relationships that manage the life affairs of individuals and groups are based
on contracts.
Do not be averse to writing it down, be it small or great, together with the time when it becomes due; that is more equitable in the sight of
God, lends greater credence to the testimony, and is more likely to spare you any doubt. (Al-Baqarah II: 282).

Islam emphasizes that contracts and covenants should be respected and adhered to.

Believers fulfill your contract obligations (Al-Maidah V: 1).

A contract is a charter of consent by the parties involved, whether individuals, groups, communities, or countries. Acceptance, mutual
consent, and concluding a contract expressing that is the pinnacle of justice and mutual respect. It is also a source of reassurance and
stability, and it dispels doubt and suspicion, and safeguards against forgetfulness. It guarantees rights and it is more equitable and fair
for people.

Finally, such a system – with such a method of appealing to the affection of its followers, and such approach, mechanisms, rules,
behavioral patterns, and the orientation of all its objectives; which is based on mutual consent and on contracts, not as a matter of
interest only, but also of religiousness, worship, and seeking God’s satisfaction; and which uses all this as a basis to organize the
lives of people – is certainly worthy of being followed. It is worthy of having the human race learn about its justice and charity. A nation
that believes in this system and the Lord of this system, yet gets lax when it comes to implementation of its values, principles, and
controls in its life, and fails, through the way it conducts its life, to inform other people about it and to follow a wise approach of
introducing it to others—such a nation undoubtedly wrongs itself and the people around it. It deprives its generations and those of the
whole human race of the justice and straight course of its Lord. God, we have been gravely unjust to ourselves. God, accept our
repentance, forgive us, and guide us to Y ways, the ways of uprightness.

Prof. Dr. Hamid bin Ahmad Al-Rifaie
President, International Islamic Forum For Dialogue
Assistant Secretary General, Muslim World League
From His Book (Partners ... not Guardians) Part Four / Chapter Fifteen
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About the Author
President, International Islamic Forum For Dialogue -
Assistant Secretary General, Muslim World League