Islam and Rule of the People -IIJun 26th, 2012 | By Saad Lakhani | Category: Latest, Pakistan, Religion, World
Islam is very democratic in its application of things. After all, in its truest essence, democracy is not only elections, but a variety of things. These include pluralism, free speech, freedom of association, basic human rights and so on. Islam encourages all of these within its own framework.
As far as the objection that in a democracy, people can make laws as they wish, one has to understand that Islam itself gives a framework within which there is room for human creativity and reason to come into play. In a constitutional democracy, democracy is restricted by the constitution. Legislation can only be carried out within that framework. If a constitution is based on Islamic principles, than there is abundant room for legislation. In fact, from the standpoint of being Muslims in a democracy, one cannot, by his allegiance, legislate or make decisions against the teachings of Islam. If he does, it is no less different than breaking the constitution. For in theory, one can always do that as well. Acting against faith, or law, is a crime. So to the response of ‘what happens when a Muslim parliament legislates in favor of alcohol’; one can simply reply that when such a thing will happen, the members of parliament and their supporters, will be committing a crime against their faith, or even against the constitution, if it is based on Islamic principles. The blame will hence go on the whole Muslim community. And Allah has referred constantly in His revealed book in regard to what happens when a whole nation cooperates in wrong deeds.
Islam is not totalitarian, and does not have precise details and orders for every minute thing. In fact Islam sets broad guidelines and principles, while also setting some limitations. This aspect is sometimes missed, and mostly those who are overly defensive of their religion contest that Islam gives us a game-plan and to-do list for every single situation we face. While one may think that such were true, he must always realize that if it were than it would not be possible for Islam to have a universal character, and hence apply to changing times and circumstances. If the object in question changes, then how can the way we deal in it not? This doesn’t mean that Islam changes, but in fact the principles and guidelines it suggest remain universal and permanent.
I actually had a debate with an emotional friend of mine in which he argued that if something is not already endorsed in the Quran and Sunnah, and absent in Islam, then it cannot be permitted to be carried out. However, when I asked him whether he ever looked at religious sources before deciding to scratch his head, his response was a confused resort. Another example I had to give him was regarding clothing; while the Prophet (SAW) himself is reported to have worn the dresses of both Persians and Byzantines, Islam still has a dress-code. That dress-code is not particular in the sense that it tells you what to wear, but rather it tells you how to wear what you wear. This means that you can wear clothes ascribed to any culture – Arab, Persian, Western, African and so on – or form as long as the Islamic criterion is met.
Two reputed Islamic scholars write in a collective article
“The Islamic approach is that faith, values and principles and some key institutions such as the Quran and Sunnah provide the permanent framework. Within that framework, there is a lot of flexibility for change and experimentation. Islamic commands have been divided into five categories. On the one end are fardh, the obligatory requirements, which are specific and occupy a relatively small proportion of commands. On the other end are haram (forbidden) elements: this is the bottom-line that may not be crossed. Between these two ends are desirable elements of conduct (mustahab) and undesirable elements (makruh). The rest of human activity falls in the vast middle area of mubah (permissible) conduct, which may be regarded the domain of human freedom.” *
To be continued…
“Religion, State and Society” by Prof Khurshid Ahmad & Mahmood Ahmad Ghazi, in “Policy Perspectives, Volume.5, No. 1”