Is Islam compatible with democracy?

Respecting difference in opinions

Respecting difference in opinion is a core value of a fair and free society. It is important to realize that, an efficient work model requires mutual consultation and feedback between the people involved. At the present time, in many Muslim countries, autocracy has been the norm to govern people. In those societies, public opinion usually takes a back seat. The rulers look down in contempt to people with differing opinions. This hostile attitude towards people’s voice is in contrast with Quran’s teaching that gives people the right to be consulted in the matters of their all civic concerns. Consequently, the people who are unaware of the Islamic view points on the issue of public opinion, raised the question: is Islam compatible with democracy?

Mutual consultation is a command

The Quran emphasized a culture of forgiving attitude towards people. As people are from different background, difference in opinion is likely and contentions are likely to happen during expressing differences in opinion. Allah commended the prophet (Peace be upon him) for his kind and soft approach to his people in this regard. Chapter in Quran named “Shura” meaning “consultation” gives people right of being consulted and emphasize the importance of public discourse in a civil society.

Is Islam compatible with democracy?

(Quran 3:159) “It is due to Allah’s Mercy that you (O prophet) dealt gently with them. Had you been harsh and hardhearted, they would have broken away from you. So pardon them and seek forgiveness for them. Consult them in affairs. Then, when you have taken a decision place your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).”

Humans are God’s representatives

By God’s representation, it means submitting to God’s authority and following His path of benevolence and reason. It is important to realize, that Inviting towards goodness and cautioning against what is bad are communal responsibilities in Islam. Indeed, these can be achieved best by consultation and dialogue between members of the community. God commends mutual consultation, in the same verse where He urged us to trust on Him. As reward, God promises mankind a life hereafter which is far better and more enduring than the enjoyments of life in the earth (Quran 42:36- 42:38).

Prophet’s (Peace be upon him) examples

In order to make a working plan, Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) used to discuss issues with his followers. Obviously, if the Quran already ordained an issue, there was not much room to maneuver on that subject. Muhammad’s (Peace be upon him) companions were familiar with his work ethics. They used to ask him if an instruction was a revelation from God or was from him as a person. If it was from the prophet, they shared their viewpoints on the issue.

Prophet's (SW) examples:

Quran 42:38 “….Those who answer the call to their Lord and establish regular prayers, who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation, who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance…”

Quran-39:18 “who listen to all that is said, and follow the best of it, [for] it is they whom God has graced with His guidance, and it is they who are [truly] endowed with insight”

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