Friday, October 08, 2004


I'm currently reading an article by an Omani guy called Sulaiman about "Democracy and Shura". For those of you who are a quick study, Shura is an Islamic concept that essentially means consultation. We've been talking about democracy and its compatability with Islam all semester in class - and I feel like we are going around in circles. Generally we agree that democracy is good, but it seems that the form of democracy is open to interpretation.

A few weeks ago, we watched a DVD in class which featured a speech given by a guy called Noah Feldman. Prof Feldman is a non-Muslim with a PhD in Islamic Studies and he is incredibly articulate (even though he looks about 12). One of the arguments that he addressed is that

Islam = Sovereignty of God
Democracy = Sovereignty of the People
Therefore Islam cannot equal Democracy

Democracy does not equal Sovereignty of the People. Many people interpret democracy to be about the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few - but we need to remember that democracy is also about justness - mob rule is not democracy. Human rights are completely independant of democracy and it is the people that make laws that are compatible with these basic human rights. Every individual possesses the power to initiate change - that is what democracy is about. Within a democracy, a leader must adhere to the law which has been decided by the people but a Tyrant or a Dictator is under no such compunction.

I'm not really sure if I have a point with all of this, but I'm sure Venerable can think of something say.


Blogger Venerable (for consistency) said...

i would be of the opinion that there are two major ways of understanding democracy:

1. substantive: those things that provide for equality (political, social, economic); the notion that all people participate equally in politics

2. procedural: those things encourage democratic outcomes (civil freedoms, regular elections); the institutional wherewithal of democracy

equality and democracy are not the same thing.

whether islam is compatible with democracy (or vice versa) would require an analytical canvassing of the structuralism, modernism, and culturalism in the context of islamic societies that are governed by some semblance of democracy.

2:08 pm  
Blogger Venerable (for consistency) said...

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2:08 pm  

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