Islam's response to contemporary world problems (49)

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We continue in this installment (number 49) with more explanations on "POLITICAL PEACE" in the light of the true teachings of the Holy Quran.

(You can consult the references of the Holy Quran at https://www.ahmadiyya-islam.org/es/coran/

Defining democracy

The concept of democracy, despite its Greek origins, is based on Abraham Lincoln's brief definition at Gettysburg of "government of the people, by the people, for the people". It is certainly a very interesting cliché, but rarely applied in its entirety anywhere in the world.

The third part of this definition for the people is very vague and fraught with danger. What can be declared to be for the people with full confidence? In a majority system of government, it can very often be the case that what is considered to be for the people is simply for the majority and not for the remaining minority.

In a democratic system, it is also possible that vital decisions are made solely on the basis of an absolute majority. Even so, a closer look at the facts and figures reveals that it was indeed a minority decision, democratically approved, and imposed on the majority. One of the many possibilities is that the ruling party is voted into power in a first round having won seats on the basis of a minority majority in almost all constituencies. Moreover, if the number of voters on polling day is quite low, it becomes doubtful that the ruling party will indeed enjoy majority support. Even if the party emerges with an overall majority of the electorate, a lot could happen during the period of its tenure. Public opinion could change dramatically in such a way that the established government is no longer a true representation of the majority. After all, with each change of government there is a gradual process of change of intention on the part of the electorate.

Even if the government remains popular with its voters, it is not unlikely that when certain key decisions are made, a considerable number of members of the ruling party will fundamentally disagree with the majority, but vote out of party loyalty. If the difference is in the strength of the ruling party over the opposition party or parties, then, more than often, the so-called majority decision would in reality be the decision of a minority imposed on the people.

It is also worth noting that the concept of what is considered good for the people changes from one era to another. If decisions are not made on absolute principles but on what is considered good for the people, or at least what the party considers good, this could lead to constant shifts in policy from time to time. What appears today could be bad tomorrow and good the next day.

For the man in the street, this can be a misleading situation. The experimentation of communism on such a large scale for more than half a century was after all based on the same slogan of "for the people". Not all socialist states were dictatorial.

It should also be noted that the line separating socialist states from democratic ones as far as "government by the people" is concerned is very thin and sometimes non-existent. How can one censure all the governments of the world elected in socialist countries for having been brought to power not by the people? Of course, in a totalitarian state it is possible to dictate the choice of candidates to the electorate in such a way as to leave them little room to choose alternatives.

However, similar and other despotic tactics can also be used, with a few exceptions in the Western world, in countries with a democratic system of government.

In fact, democracy in most parts of the world is not given a free hand, and elections are rarely by the people. Through electoral fraud, hidden bargaining, rule by terror through police tactics and other such corrupt measures, the spirit and substance of democracy in the world is watered down and adulterated, so that in the end there is little democracy left.

Islamic definition of democracy.

According to The Holy Quran, the people have a free opportunity to adopt whatever system of government suits them. Democracy, sovereignty, tribal or feudal systems are all valid as long as the people accept them as the traditional heritage of their society.

However, it seems clear that democracy is especially preferred and recommended in the Holy Quran. Muslims are advised to adopt a democratic system, though not exactly the Western-style model of democracy.

Islam does not present an empty definition of democracy anywhere in the Holy Quran. It only deals with principles of vital importance and leaves the rest to the people. Follow it and benefit, or go astray and be destroyed.

Two pillars of the Islamic concept of democracy.

There are only two pillars in the Islamic concept of democracy. These are:

The Islamic process of elections must be based on trust and integrity.

Islam teaches that wherever you exercise your vote, you should do so with the awareness that God is watching over you and will hold you accountable for your decision. Vote for those who are most capable of carrying out their national responsibility and who are themselves trustworthy. Implicit in this teaching is the requirement that those who have the right to vote must exercise it properly unless there are circumstances beyond their control or there are impediments to the exercise of that right.

Governments must function according to the principle of absolute justice.

The second pillar of Islamic democracy is that whenever you make decisions, you do so according to the principle of absolute justice. Whether it is political, religious, social or economic matters, justice must never be compromised. After the formation of the government, voting within the party should also always remain justice-oriented. Therefore, no partisan interests or political considerations should be allowed to influence the decision-making process. In the long run, any decision taken in this spirit will truly be of the people, by the people and for the people.
Preference for mutual consultation.

The substance of democracy is very clearly discussed in the Holy Quran and, as far as the advice given to Muslims is concerned, although monarchy has never been excluded as an irreligious and ungodly institution, democracy is certainly preferred to all other forms of government.

Describing the ideal Muslim society, The Holy Quran states:

"And all that has been granted to you is but a temporary provision of this life; yet that which is with Al'lah is better and more lasting for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord.  Those who abstain from the most grievous sins and obscenities; and when they are angered, they forgive. Those who listen to their Lord, fulfil prayer and decide their affairs by mutual consultation, and spend from what We have provided for them. And those who defend themselves when wronged (42:37-40).

The Arabic words AMRO HUM SHURA BAINAHUM (whose affairs are administered by mutual consultation) refer to the political life of Muslim society, clearly indicating that in matters of government, decisions are made through mutual consultation, which, of course, reminds one of the first part of the definition of democracy, that is: "government of the people". The common will of the people becomes the will of the people's government through mutual consultation

(lpbD) - God's peace and blessings be upon him.

(To be continued in the next instalment, number 50, linking to the new chapter we have started in this instalment on "Political Peace").