Muslim democracy and post-Islamism

The chance to combine one’s traditions and universal principles in Muslim societies should be valued quite highly. Muslims must be given the opportunity to create an Islamic democracy based on reason but not contradicting revelation.

We are living in a new era, which began after Muhammad Bouazizi, who had an education in computer engineering but worked as a vegetable seller, committed self-immolation after being slapped by a policeman on December 17, 2010 in Tunisia. We see regimes falling one after another that have ignored the society they ruled for a whole century.

This irreversible process has given birth to a new controversy: if a democratic political system is created in these countries, and so-called “Islamist” movements come to power, how will this affect other layers of society and the functioning of the system of international relations ? In its essence, this is a dispute that is by no means alien to us. In Turkey, in connection with the coming to power of the Justice and Development Party, many fears were expressed about “interference in the way of life.”

Did the West create universal values?

I strongly believe that the main reason for such fears and disputes is related to the approach of the West and actors representing pro-Western political movements in Muslim societies. Universal human values are considered norms created by the West. Assuming that the values and dynamics of local societies do not exist, these values as absolute and undeniable are dictated to Muslim communities. But when you try to instill these values unchanged in Muslim communities, you will see that the societies close themselves off from you. Therefore, none of the projects of “enlightenment” and modernization of the countries of the region, based on a superficial approach, had significant results.

Conditions of democracy and Islam

It is a great miscalculation that debates about democracy in Muslim societies are based on false ground. If you approach the question by comparing Islam and democracy, then this dispute can take a meaningless and fruitless course, since the comparison of two concepts that are completely different in their essence is taking place. Islam is a whole based on revelation, it, as a religion, covers all aspects of a person’s life – his present day, past and eternal. Democracy is only a form of government used in politics, it is a product of the human mind and is subject to change. If it is possible to conduct a dispute, then it should be conducted in the field of the concept of “Muslim democracy”.

Democratic principles

Democratic principles are as follows: the possibility of holding free elections, the rule of law, equality of all before the law, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of belief, speech and press, freedom of entrepreneurship, property rights, etc. None of these principles contradicts the basic principles of Islam.

Islamic model of the state

Everyone knows that Islam does not command any form of government, the borders of which are outlined in the Sharia, and the name is named. But there are general principles that determine what the government should be like. This is a guarantee of the inviolability of the five values known as the basic values (faith, life, property, family, reason), the establishment of justice, deliberation, freedom, the rule of law and its functioning, equality, suppression of turmoil, ensuring peace, etc.

Allah established only general principles, and left it to the Muslims themselves to develop the system. Having created on the basis of these principles the systems of government appropriate to their conditions, Muslims put them into practice, making efforts for progressive development. That is why management is left to people, it is “human affairs”. Governing is a business based on reason.

The ratio of local and universal

If democracy is a system that is created by reason, and in Islam the form of government is given to be established by the people themselves on the basis of reason, in this case, you can say that, taking as a basis a fairly acceptable model of Western democracy, let us bring it into line with the principles of Islam . But it should be taken into account that one cannot talk about one single model of democracy. Democracy in France, Germany, England, Sweden, and the USA has its distinctive features. When creating a model of government, you cannot ignore the historical conditions of the region, its social and cultural values, religion, self-awareness and traditions of society, traditions related to self-realization and renewal. All this has its own characteristics in each country.

As a conclusion, I would like to say: the chance to combine one’s traditions and universal principles in Muslim societies should be evaluated quite highly. Muslims must be given the opportunity to create an Islamic democracy based on reason but not contradicting revelation.

Ayhan Ogan (Turkey)