The former head of the banned terrorist outfit of Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba and the present Emir of Punjabi Taliban, Maulana Asmatullah Muawiyah has written an article titled ‘Hamein nizam-e-kufr qubul nahin’(We Do Not Accept This Anti-Islamic System Called Democracy) in the mouthpiece of Taliban, Nawa-e-Afghan Jihad, December 2012. In this article he has likened democracy to non-belief and advocated the establishment of Islamic caliphate. He has also declared the government of Pakistan a government of kafirs and his organization, the Taliban is engaged in an un-Islamic war with the Pakistan government, killing innocent people, ministers and soldiers of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. We strongly condemn his misleading notions about democracy and jihad and present a point by point refutation of his article. The following is part 2 of our refutation. Part 1 can be found at:
By New Age Islam Edit Desk
January 30, 2013
In this part of his article Maulana Asmataullah Muawiyah has declared democracy synonymous with Kufr (atheism) and rebellion against God. According to him, it has nothing to do with Islam. He and other Islamists’ argument behind declaring democracy an atheistic system of governance is that the proposed system of governance for Islam is caliphate which was established by the rightly guided caliphs and acquired permanence. According to his Islamist understanding and belief, the Quran and the hadith enjoin the Muslims to establish the system of caliphate. However, he fails to present any reference from the Quran and hadith in favour of his argument. On the lines of his ideological comrade Al Abeeri, he has tried to justify his stance by quoting the verses of the Quran in wrong context. According to him, the following verse opposes the idea of democracy:
“And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah.” (Al An’am: 116)
The maulana has meant democracy by the word ‘most’ in the verse. Secondly, he has deliberately quoted half of the verse. The whole verse goes thus:
“And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. “
The exegetes of the Quran explain the meaning of the verse differently. The verse was revealed in Makkah where Muslims were in minority while the pagans formed the majority. So, by ‘most of those upon the earth’, the Quran means the non-believers who falsify the message of the Quran with fabrications and lies in highly adorned and beautified language. Some of the polytheists of Makkah possessed great oratorical skills and would try to convince the Makkans with their false assumptions and ideas in highly adorned and flowery language not to be carried away by the messages of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Preceding verses 112 and 113 of the same surah Al An’am elaborate the idea giving a clear hint of the topic being discussed.
112. And so We have appointed for every Prophet enemies -- Shayatin among mankind and Jinn, inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion. If your Lord had so willed, they would not have done it; so leave them alone with their fabrications.
113. To such (deceit) let the hearts of those incline, who have no faith in the Hereafter: let them delight in it, and let them earn from it what they may.
‘Inspiring one another with adorned speech as a delusion’ means, they inspire each other with beautified, adorned speech that deceives the ignorant who hear it.
So, it is obvious that in these verses the Quran is speaking of God’s oneness and the Hereafter and say that majority of the people are disbelievers who do not believe in Hereafter. They lead ignorant people astray with their adorned and flowery discourses and false assumptions.
After that Maulana Muawiyah goes on to quote the views of 14 ulema and tries to conclude that all the ulema have declared democracy an anti-Islamic system of government in the light of the Quran. Here we present their views and try to analyse them:
1. In Tafseer Roohul Ma’ani vol 4, p 141, Allama Allosi says:
“It is like getting misled and misleading others too and the evil thoughts are corruptive forces that originate due to ignorance and conjuring up lies about God. They follow shirk and deviance.”
Democracy is shirk and gumrahi (deviation). But from what point of view is democracy shirk or deviation from the path of God has not been elaborated.
2. Shah Waliullah has rejected the theory of democracy while explaining the meaning of “If you follow the majority of the people on the earth”
Shah Waliullah has taken democracy by aksar (majority) and therefore declared democracy synonymous with deviance (shirk, atheism).
3. Qari Tayyib Qasmi Deobandi writes in his ‘Natural government’:
“It (democracy) is shirk against God (polytheism) both in terms of God’s Omnipotence and Omniscience”.
It should be noted that democracy is not a religion by itself that preaches worship of a non-God. It is very much like a glass in which one can pour zam zam or wine as per one’s wish. Therefore likening democracy to shirk is based on a wrong understanding of the concept of democracy. It is simply a form of government formed on religious or non-religious grounds in which people have the authority to elect their rulers. During the caliphate of rightly guided caliphs, the caliphs had to seek allegiance of the majority of the people whose majority comprised labourers.
4. In ‘Beliefs in Islam’, p 230 Maulana Idris Kandhlawi writes:
“Those who say that it is the government of workers and common people, such government is undoubtedly atheistic.”
Any democratic government is not entirely of the labourers but is formed by rulers elected by the people. If the majority of the people believes in Islamic values, they will elect pious and righteous rulers according to the Islamic values and such government will be based on Islamic principles. Therefore, such a government established by the Muslims on the basis of Islamic principles will definitely be an Islamic government and not an atheistic one.
5. Hadharat Maulana Mufti Mahmood (r.a) while replying to the query of a lawyer in Mingora, Swat had said:
“We curse democracy. It permits the marriage of two men as Britain has passed a bill allowing this by majority vote. “(Islamic caliphate p 177)
He curses democracy merely because the majority of the people (the majority of Christians) of a non-Muslim (Christian) country have passed a bill by majority votes making gay marriage lawful. It means the opposition of democracy is only on the basis of an un-Islamic law passed in a Christian majority country. An Islamic country has the freedom not to pass such an un-Islamic law and to implement laws on the basis of the Quran and hadith.
6. Who can forget this sentence bearing cosmopolitan significance that “I consider all the isms except Islam atheism?” Isn’t then democracy a new religion and a separate ism vis a vis Islam?
Islam is a divine religion whereas democracy, dictatorship and autocracy are political systems of government. Therefore, it is wrong to call democracy antithetical to Islam.
7. In Fatawa Mahmoodiah, vol 20 p 415, Maulana Mahmoodul Hasan Gangohi writes:
“There is no scope for this democracy in Islam (therefore, it is an atheistic system) and no sensible person can find any virtue in it.”
This view is also based on the fact that the first rulers of the Islamic state were called caliphs (khalifa). During the caliphate, the authority of electing the caliph was with the people. The government guaranteed the human rights of the people, the protection of the rights of the minorities and they had the right to lead their lives according to their own religious beliefs and principles. The citizens had equal rights. There was transparency in the government. The rulers were accountable to the people. Justice was delivered to all without any discrimination on the basis of religion. And all these are also the basic principles of the democratic system of government. So, saying that Islam has nothing to do with democracy is like putting Islam in the same category as dictatorship, autocracy and monarchy which is tantamount to denigrating Islam and a wrong interpretation of the concept of democracy.
8. In Malfuzat Thanwi p 252, the following sentences can be found:
“A democratic system which consists of Muslims and non-Muslims alike will only be a system based on non-belief or atheism.”
From this point of view, a democracy which is formed only by Muslims will be an Islamic government. In words, Hadharat Thanwi may be in support of an Islamic democracy.
9. Mufti Rasheed Ahmad, in his Ahsanul Fatawa, writes:
All these are sprouts of the satanic tree of the western democracy. There is no room for this atheistic system in Islam. “
What is meant by ‘All these sprouts’ has not been elaborated. Probably social evils are meant by it which exists in all the human societies and are not specific to a particular system or religion. By ‘western democracy’ the impression is created that democracy is a product of the West whereas it took birth in Athens of Greece in the 6th century. It has been associated with Islam only with the purpose of making Muslims hate it.
10. In ‘Apke masail aur unka hal’ (your problems and their solutions), vol 8 p 176 Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi writes:
“Not only that democracy has nothing to do with Islam but it is also the antithesis of Islam. And obviously, the antithesis of Islam is only kufr (non-belief).”
It has already been clarified above that Islam is not a political theory whereas democracy is a political theory of government under which all the citizens have equal rights which dictatorship and autocracy do not guarantee. Therefore, democracy can be a tool for implementing the Islamic principles and values. It cannot be an antithesis to Islam as democracy is not a religion.
11. Maulana Aashique Ilahi Bulandshahri in his Anwarul Bayan vol 1 p 518 writes:
“The democracy propounded by them is an ignorant system which has nothing to do with Islam.” (What has nothing to do with Islam is obviously kufr)
If by ‘propounded by them’ he means propounded by the West, it has been clarified that democracy did not originate in the West. And if the democracy in vogue in the West is based on ignorance, Islamic countries have every right to establish a democracy based on knowledge and enlightenment. Nobody is holding them back. (Secondly, it is not necessary that that which has nothing to do with Islam can only be kufr as the airplane was neither invented by the Muslims nor was it invented in any Muslim country but travelling in an airplane is not considered kufr.)
12. In Fathul Mulhim, vol 3 P 284, Maulana Taqi Usmani writes:
“Islamic system is different from political democracy and dictatorship. (In other words Islam and democracy are poles apart with no commonality between them.)
Democracy and dictatorship were put under the same category whereas the former is antithetical to the latter.
13. Maulana Fazl Muhammad writes in Islamic Caliphate p 117:
“The Islamic shariah based shura and the present day democracy are diametrically opposite. The latter is synonymous with the waywardness and anarchy of the western free society which has no proximity with Islamic shura.”
The political and social anarchy was attributed to democracy and the impression was created that democratic countries are inherently anarchic and lawless whereas the truth is that the Muslim countries whether democratic or undemocratic are more anarchic and lawless than the western countries. The maintenance of peace and law and order depends on the administrative abilities of the rulers and the efficacy of the law enforcing agencies rather than on the form of government.
14. In his book ‘Aalami yahudi tanzeemein’ (World Jewish organisations) p 197 Mufti Abu Lubabah Shah Mansoor writes under the subtitle ‘Democracy: the creation of the Jews’:
“In fact, this system neither proves worthwhile according to any intellectual standard nor has it proved beneficial practically. Nor is it naturally perfect. It is a brainchild of the Jews.”
The theory of democracy being a Jewish brainchild is the result of the ignorance of the history and principles of democracy.
After quoting the above mentioned views, Maulana Asmatullah Muawiyah claims that he has exposed the kufr of democracy suggesting that when so many ulema have declared democracy an atheistic system, it must be true. But the views of the ulema on democracy deal with only one aspect of democracy and their understanding of it is based on the western context. Their views are not based on a wholesome understanding of the democratic philosophy.
The word khilafat (caliphate) has derived from the word khalifa in the Quran meaning vice-regent or the deputy of God on earth.
“And [mention, O Muhammad], when your Lord said to the angels, "Indeed, I will make upon the earth a successive authority."“ (Al Baqarah: 30)
It means that man will not only lead his life according to the ordainments of God but also make it sure that others obey those ordainments too. Therefore, the government of the rightly guided caliphs was called caliphate. During that time, the Islamic government was completely based on the Quran and sunnah. However, after the four caliphs, the nature of the Islamic government changed restricting the use of the word khalifa to them alone.
When the colonial and imperial system gradually came to an end in the Muslim countries in the 19 century giving birth to the necessity of formulating and exploring a system of government compatible with the requirements of the modern times, Muslim scholars and political experts came up with diverse views on a modern system of government that, on the one hand, will be based on Islamic principles and on the other, will meet the requirements of the modern world. So, while Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Allama Iqbal, Maulana Mawdudi and Khurshid Ahmad gave their opinion about the modern form of the Islamic government in the Indian subcontinent, the Arab and Egyptian scholars like Abderraziq, Md Asad, Sadiq Sulaiman, Louay M Safi, Radwan A Masoodi provided an outline of a modern Islamic form of government.
It is important here to note that the great Islamic scholar, politician and exegete Maulana Abul Kalam Azad used the term Islamic democracy putting emphasis on the concept of Islamic shura. In other words, according to him Islamic democracy will be a union of democracy and Islamic Shura system. Maulana Mawdudi used the term ‘theo-democracy’ with the Islamic caliphate as its base (a system in vogue in Iran). Similarly, Iqbal conceived the term ‘spiritual democracy’ with special emphasis on ‘ijma’ (consultation) and ‘ijtihad’(rethinking).
On the other hand, modern Islamic scholar Abderraziq though admits that the Quran does not mention democracy or any other form of government, he believes that democracy is compatible with Islamic dogma. He is also of the view that khilafat does not mean a specific form of government but a government based on Islamic laws and principles which can change its form according to the needs of the changing times. After the end of the caliphate of the four rightly guided caliphs, diverse forms of governments have existed in the Muslim world such as theo-democracy in Iran, monarchy in Arabia, autocratic or sham democracy in Bahrain, Egypt and Libya, Islamic democracy in Pakistan and secular democracy in Bangladesh. Thus it is evident from this fact that various forms of government have existed in Muslim countries that only reflects the diversity of the world Muslim society and polity. Therefore, the use of the word khalifa in a very narrow context has created the confusion among the religious circles of Muslim world. Discussing the confusion about the word caliphate, Eliane Ursula Ettmueller sums up Abderraziq’s views:
“Abderraziq concludes that the title “Caliph” (“successor and vicar of the Prophet”) and the historical circumstances which had brand-marked its use, caused the confusion of Muslims who ended up by identifying the Caliphate as a religious institution.” 2
The scholars and intellectuals of Islam presented their ideas of a democratic system of government that would be based on Islamic ideals of brotherhood, equality, human rights and rights of minorities, transparency, accountability of the rulers, the rule of law etc. A government ensuring and guaranteeing all these rights and conditions will be truly an Islamic government. Therefore, Khurshid Ahmad says:
“The Islamic political order is based on the concept of Tawhid and seeks its flowering in the form of popular vice-regency (Khilafah) operating through a mechanism of Shura, supported by the principles of equality of humankind, rule of law, protection of human rights including those of minorities, accountability of the rulers, transparency of political processes and an overriding concern for justice in all its dimensions: legal, political, social, economic and international.”3
Mohammad Asad also expresses identical views on democracy and Islam:
“The Shari`ah does not prescribe any definite pattern [governing model] to which an Islamic state must conform, nor does it elaborate in detail a constitutional theory. The political law emerging from the context of the Qur’an and Sunnah is, nevertheless, not an illusion. It is very vivid and concrete inasmuch as it gives us the clear outline of a political scheme capable of realization at all times and under all conditions of human life. But precisely because it was meant to be realized at all times and under all conditions, that scheme has been offered in outline only and not in detail. Man’s political, social, and economic needs are time-bound and, therefore, extremely variable. Being a Divine Ordinance,...it leaves a vast field of constitution-making activity, of government methods, and of day-to-day legislation to the Ijtihad of the time concerned.”4
On the study of the diverse views of all the Muslim scholars of the orient we come to the conclusion that there is a unanimity on the compatibility of democracy with Islam and almost all the modern Islamic scholars and thinkers have accepted the fact that the place and importance of democracy in an Islamic state cannot be denied. They have recommended a democratic system that originated in Greece in the sixth century for Islamic state with some amendments and modifications to suit the Islamic requirements with the incorporation of Islamic concepts, traditions and institutions like khilafah, Shura, Ijma and Ijtihad to establish a practical and workable Islamic democracy. All of them right from Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to Abul Ala Mawdoodi, from Allama Iqbal to Khurshid Ahmad and Abderraziq agree that Islamic democracy is the most compatible form of government for the Islamic world. Only those who are ignorant of the democratic ideals of Islam call democracy an atheistic system of government while the majority of the Islamic ideologues admit that democracy is a requirement of a modern Islamic state in the contemporary world.
1-.Al Baqarah: 30
2-.Islam and Democracy, Eliane Ursula Ettmueller
3.-Global Muslim voices on Islam-Democracy Compatibility and Co-existence by Tauseef Ahmad PARRAY