While watching World News and Mayhem on my TV screen I have long been intending to write about Democracy because the common assumption is that Islam and Democracy do not go well together. We should not confuse tradition with religion.
In older democracies the path to this day was long and slow. Some reached it earlier, like in Britain the first step was as early as in 1215 known as the Magna Carta Other countries have followed. Although one must sometimes wonder if democracy is the best way to govern. It is always a compromise which naturally is not the best solution to problems. And voters do not always choose the best candidate simply because of lack of knowledge and experience and they can be easily manipulated. But there is no better way available and the rights and safety of individuals must be guaranteed.
In my opinion in the Quran we have clear instructions for the early Muslim community to practice democracy:
“O you who believe! obey Allah and obey the Apostle and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything, refer it to God and the Apostle, if you believe in God and the last day; this is better and very good in the end.” (Q. 4:59)
“And their business is (conducted) through consultation among themselves.” (Q.42:38)
“God does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done; and God is Hearing, Knowing.” (Q.4:148)
Traditionally, before Islam matters in the pagan Arabian Bedouin communities where already handled democratically. Clan elders discussed problems, set rules and practiced justice as they are still doing it among themselves in a smaller scale, because today we have governments and state laws. Like in almost all early human communities regardless of location worldwide.
It was much later than dictators have taken over motivated mostly by power and material gain.
It is still a long way for many, but I am hopeful that matters will improve. In my opinion the key to success is education, education, education and especially that of the women. They are the ones who educate the children and their influence on the society is tremendous.
Unfortunately in many places religion have been used to segregate women from men denying them the basic human rights the Quran guarantees them! (Please read also the Topic No.6 on the right “Women and Islam”)
As I already wrote, we should not confuse religion with tradition. I am quite critical about the Hadiths. They are orally narrated reports from the time of early Muslim community and were collected as late as 250-300 years after the death of the Prophet (p.b.u.h.). Bukhari, for example, examined 600,000 traditions of which he accepted only 7,397!
I have never forgotten an experiment we did in school, I was 11 years old (the last year before changing schools). At the beginning of class the teacher gave us a sentence or perhaps it was two sentences – a short story. We whispered it to each other and by the time bell was ringing for break the teacher asked the last pupil to tell what he had heard. We could not believe what from the story had become, it was unrecognizable!
I am not asserting, that this is the case with Hadith’s, but taken in account the time which passed (200-300 years) even the best-meaning and devoted believer can err. It is human, we are not computers that can record every word forever.
In my opinion we should put less importance on the Hadith’s (put them in perstpective) and more on the Quran, which gives us clear instructions and in this particular case we understand that Islam favors Democracy!
Quoting the late Dr. Lila Fahlman
Founding President of the World Council of Muslim Women Foundation:
“Man-written Hadith’s have ruined Islam and do not speak to human rights or to equality for men and women, but rather favour the enslavement of women.”… “Any Muslim who finds the Qur’an difficult to understand would do best to spend his time on the Qur’an rather then on the Hadith’s, which can never surpass the Qur’an as the Hadith is man written.”