Islam's response to contemporary world problems (50)

comunidad ahmadia


We present this instalment (number 50) continuing where we left off in the previous instalment. We had described the first part of the definition of democracy according to the Holy Quran. We continue with the second part of the definition. 

(You can consult the references of the Holy Quran at

The second part of the definition of democracy refers to "by the people". This is clearly referred to in the next part of the verse:


"Verily, Al'lah commands you to give what is entrusted to you to those who are entitled to it". (4:59)

This means that whenever one expresses one's will to choose one's rulers, one must place the responsibility where it rightfully belongs.

The right of the people to choose their rulers is, of course, mentioned, albeit incidentally. The real emphasis is on how this right is to be exercised. Muslims are reminded that it is not simply a matter of personal will which they can exercise as they see fit, but much more than that; it is a matter of national responsibility. In matters of responsibility, there are not many options left. One must discharge the responsibility with all honesty, integrity and selfless spirit. Responsibility must rest where it truly belongs.

Many Muslim scholars quote this verse only to indicate that Islam propounds the system and theory of democracy as understood in Western political philosophy, but this is only partly true.

The system of consultation mentioned in the Holy Quran leaves no room for the party politics of today's Western democracies, nor does it give license to the style and spirit of political debates in democratically elected parliaments and houses of representatives. As we have already discussed this aspect in detail, there is no need to add anything further.

It should also be pointed out in connection with the second part of the definition of democracy, that according to this concept of mutual consultation, the right to vote belongs practically absolutely to the voters without any other requirements or conditions infringing on this right.

According to the usual rules of democracy, the voter can waste his vote in favour of a puppet, or spoil or throw his ballot in the wastepaper basket instead of in the ballot box. He will still be blameless and cannot be accused of having violated any principle of democracy.

According to the definition of the Holy Quran, however, the voter is not the absolute owner of his vote but a depositary. As a trustee, he must place his trust fairly and honestly, where he feels it truly belongs. He must be vigilant and aware that he will be accountable for his action in the eyes of God.

In view of this Islamic concept, if a political party nominates a candidate whom another individual member of the party considers unfit to carry out his national responsibility, that member should leave the party rather than vote for someone who does not deserve his trust. Party loyalty is not allowed to interfere with their choice.

Again, responsibility must be discharged in good faith. Therefore, every voter must participate fully in the exercise of his or her vote during the election unless he or she is unable to do so. Otherwise, he or she has failed in the performance of his or her own responsibility. The concept of abstention or withholding one's vote, as is the case in Western countries where almost half of the electorate does not bother to vote, has no place in the Islamic concept of democracy.

Confusion over the true nature of Islamic rule

It is becoming popular among contemporary Muslim political thinkers to postulate that Islam is inclined towards democracy. According to their political philosophy, since God is the ultimate authority, sovereignty belongs to Him.

Divine authority.

Absolute sovereignty belongs to God. The Holy Quran stresses His dominion in the following verse:


"Exalted is Al'lah, the Rightful Sovereign. There is no God but He, the Lord of the Glorious Throne". (23:117)

The fundamental principle that ultimately all rights to rule belong to God and that He is the Lord of Sovereignty is mentioned in various ways in the Holy Quran, of which the above verse is only one example.

In the conduct of political affairs, God's sovereignty is expressed in two ways:

(a) The Law (Shariah) as derived from the Holy Quran, the conduct of the Holy Prophet of Islam (lpbD) and also from the established traditions attributed to him by the early Muslims, are supreme. It carries essential guidelines for legislation and no democratically elected government can interfere with the expressed Will of God.

b) No legislative process would be valid if it contradicted the above principle.

Unfortunately, however, there is no unanimity among the scholars of the various sects of Islam as to what the well-defined Laws (Shariah) are. All scholars agree that legislation is the prerogative of God and that He has expressed His Will through the Qur'anic revelation to the Holy Founder of Islam (lpbD).

As for how Islamic governments should be run, the popular view is that in day-to-day issues, affairs and administrative measures, the government, as the representative of the people, serves as an instrument to express God's Will. As sovereignty belongs to the people through delegated power, therefore such a system is democratic.

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

(To be continued in the next installment, number 51, where we will discuss "Mul'lahism").