By Ghayur Ayub
October 24, 2018
In the US, Al Gore lost the presidential election despite getting more votes on the principle of one-man-one-vote. The question is whether nations with traditions, cultures, and religions need a system which is not only flawed but also tends to destroy the basic heritage they stand on. And would it not be preferable if they adopt a modified form of democracy, which suits their traditions and satisfies their public psyche? Pakistan is not tuned to western democracy. The public believes it deviates from Islamic values. So the system that can work in Pakistan would be one that confines itself to the Islamic tenets. The question arises can we have a democracy which is acceptable to the West and yet shrouded with religious creed. Yes, we can. Let us call it Islamic Democracy.
Broadly speaking, Qur’an teaches Tauheed (Unitarianism) and stresses on the rights and privileges of people linking them with God and achievable through noble deeds. Following these principles, the power is entrusted in God rather than just in people. Moreover, Islamic Democracy does not propagate nationalism as nationalism is contrary to Islamic teachings. Thus, without propagating for one global Islamic state, it propagates fraternity between the Muslims living in different Muslim countries. It also opposes separation of state from religion, a concept creeping up in America after 9/11. On materialism, Islamic Democracy discourages materialism by bringing it under shadow of religion so that material needs do not become desperate desires. On electoral process in Islamic Democracy, there are separate qualifying criteria for the voters, the candidates and the chief executive; 1. The voter should be a sane adult, having basic education with no criminal record. In this way, the irresponsible, malefactors and mentally unstable are removed from the voting list giving chance to the educated, alert and accountable to choose their candidates 2. The candidate, in addition to having the above-mentioned qualifications, should be a graduate, has optimum level of intelligence (IQ), and be known for piety. (Taqua). 3. The Chief Executive, in addition to having the above-mentioned qualifications, should be known for his/her wisdom. (Hikmah). Wisdom is defined as a person who has foresight, possesses revere insight and has determination of steel. He/she knows his/her goal, the hurdles in the path that leads to that goal and has the willpower and determination to overcome those hurdles.
As one can see, in Islamic Democracy not every person can become a voter or a candidate. This is in complete contrast to Western Democracy, in which, age is the only criterion for the voters and the candidates. It is important to note that the key ingredient in selection criteria for a parliamentarian is Piety (Taqua); and Piety is an essential part of spirituality. Now the question is how does one scale intelligence, knowledge, wisdom and piety? Briefly, we are born with intelligence and knowledge is achievable according to the intelligence one has. Wisdom is fulfilment of knowledge. Thus, a person may be intelligent and knowledgeable but may not be wise. While a wise person is always knowledgeable and intelligent. Piety is achieved through noble deeds by helping humanity. In addition, a pious person prays regularly, gives alms, believes in the Divine scriptures and the Day of Judgment. He/she is not restricted by the five senses and strives to prevent people from evil acts and propagates noble deeds. In today’s world of computer, it is possible to scale intelligence, knowledge, wisdom and piety of individuals quantitatively and make an Organogram of electoral system in Islamic Democracy.
On the question of human right issue; the Western Democracy primarily focuses on free speech and that too is used selectively against certain states as pressure tactics, while Islamic Democracy expands this issue to five fields: A. The right to protect the quality of one’s life and the life itself (Jaan). B. The right to protect one’s assets and the assets of others (Maal). C. The right to protect one’s honour and the honour of others (Abroo). D. The right to protect one’s intellectuality and innovations (Aqal). E. The right to protect one’s religion and faith. (Deen).
Coming to the gender equity; certain pressure groups in the west highlight this issue primarily for their interests. The Islamic Democracy looks at this issue in the context of family and its values which hinge on the strength of parenthood. Among the parents, the wife plays a pivotal role in shaping the psyche of children who are the future builders of the state. Because of social structure, it has become imperative for both the parents in the west to work fulltime. It started as fulfilment of basic minimum needs but with passing time it has become an integral part of social order irrespective of individual or family needs. In the process, it broke the delicate familial bonds between parents and their children eroding the society at the core of social values. As a result, today, we find the mutual respect linked with united families is declining. Islamic Democracy keeps that link intact and, in that context, the female gender is given more responsibilities within family affairs. This does not mean that they are deprived of taking active part in other compartments of the society. They are free to take part building up the state in politics, in social work, or in any field, as long as it does not adversely affect bringing up their offspring or breaking up family units.
Child labour is comparatively a new clause endorsed in the charters of Western Democracy, otherwise, when the west was building its economy during the Industrial Revolution, it exploited laborers of both gender; young, old, and children, from the poor countries. The clause was added by the strong private sector of industrial states to choke the competition arising from the developing countries. The question arises should a family starve to death or send some of their youngsters reluctantly out to work? The Islamic democracy promotes alleviation of poverty from the society making child labour practically non-existent. Hadhrat Omar, the second caliph announced in one of his sermons that he would take full responsibility if a dog died of hunger in his caliphate. Lastly, it was reported in the press that the World Bank criticized the capitalistic fiscal system for its failure to alleviating poverty. It complained that the individuals and the corporations become disproportionately wealthy at the expense of the destitute. In contrast, in Islamic Democracy, the financial corporations carry out their business by Mudharaba where the borrowing institutions become partners with the borrowers, removing the notorious clause of ‘default’ observed especially in Pakistan.
I believe, Islamic Democracy can work in Pakistan without antagonizing western systems. If introduced in its true essence, it would reverse the existing corrupted electoral system and change it into a working structure wherein people with political decency, moral integrity, ethical reliability and spiritual propensity represent us in the parliament. It doesn’t need Plato’s logic to foresee a bright future for Pakistan in the presence of such parliament in coming years. Pure Western Democracy has disappointed the average Pakistanis because of the moral decay and financial ills that it carries in its baggage.
Ghayur Ayub is a freelance columnist, based in the United Kindgom.