In the Never-Never Land of “moderate Islam”, the West is reassured that Islam and democracy are fully compatible. After all, many Muslim countries have elections and parliaments, we are told – ipso facto, Islam and democracy must be able to coexist. Some Muslim scholars even go so far as to say that democracy is an inherent Islamic concept, utilizing terms such as shura (a council formed to provide consultation for the head of government) and ijma’ (defined generally as “consensus”, but more precisely meaning the consensus of Muslim legal scholars on a question of Shari’a law). But as usual, reality paints quite a different picture.
The Democracy Index is a scale developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit beginning in 2006 and updated regularly. The latest 2018 index rates the 167 major countries of the world based on sixty different indicators, ranking them on a scale from 1-10 (10 being a perfect democracy). Based on their scores, countries are grouped in one of four descending categories: full democracies; flawed democracies; hybrid regimes; authoritarian regimes.
Not surprisingly, of the 57 Muslim majority countries worldwide, 16 of them rank in the bottom 25 countries of the world, and 49 of them do not break into the top 100 rankings. Another way of saying this is that only 8 Muslim countries make it into the top 100, with Malaysia securing the highest spot for a Muslim nation – number 52. By the way, Israel is ranked in 30th place, and the USA in 25th (indicating, perhaps, a higher degree of objectivity than non-Westerners might otherwise accord this index).
The Index also divides the world into seven regions, and ranks the regions according to the averaged scores of all the nations within them. Not surprisingly, North America ranks first and Western Europe second as “full democracies;” at the bottom of the list, again not surprisingly, is the region of the Middle East and North Africa, categorized as “authoritarian regimes.”
But even aside from such a complex measuring scale, a common-sense definition of democracy and a basic understanding of Islam compel the conclusion that Islam and democracy will always be at loggerheads with each other.
Fundamentally, democracy is a system of government whereby the governed freely elect their leaders and determine the laws of their nation through majority vote. Islam, on the other hand, decrees that the law of the land for any Muslim-ruled country must be Shari’a, the divine, perfect Law of Allah, which of course is immutable. Were human beings to legislate some change to Shari’a, their actions would, in the eyes of orthodox Islam, enshrine some fallible, human morality in place of Allah’s will, thereby committing blasphemy by overruling Allah’s authority in favor of their own. The closest Islam could come to democracy would be to allow free election of leaders who commit to enforce Shari’a over the land.
But even this is not quite possible in Islam, for Shari’a law mandates that non-Muslims may never hold positions of authority (political or otherwise) over Muslims (see, for example, Reliance of the Traveler [the classic manual of Shari’a according to the Shafi’i school of jurisprudence], section o25.3(a). This law stems from two Qur’anic verses: 4:141 concludes with the declaration that “Allah will not grant the unbelievers any way over the believers;” likewise in 63:8 we find the statement that “…to Allah belongs the might and to His Messenger and to the believers,” the clear implication being that Islam’s god forbids non-Muslims from exercising authority or power over Muslims.
Hence, according to Shari’a, even if a Muslim government calls for political elections, only Muslims may be elected. Should a Christian, Druze, Yazidi, Jew, Hindu, atheist run for office, that may be permissible by the government, but no Shari’a-compliant Muslim would be able to vote for him or her. Elections may indeed be held, but they are not free when carried out under the umbrella of Shari’a.
The inanity of this policy is fully illustrated by a debate held last week (June 12th) between Ahmad Zayed, a professor of Shari’a at Qatar University, and Raed al-Samhouri, a Saudi Islamic scholar also based in Qatar. [To see the pertinent clip of this debate, click here.] Al-Samhouri posed this question of Zayed, “Does Islamic law allow for a Christian to rule over Muslims?”
Zayed responded, “I said that according to the general law of equality, anyone can run for office. This is not a problem.” Under more intense questioning, he added, “”Hold on, my dear brother. Anyone can run for office, but when a Muslim votes, in accordance with the principle of Shari’a, he knows who he should vote for.” He went on to say that a ruler cannot be a non-Muslim.
The moderator, seeking clarity, offers this summary of Zayed’s position: “So non-Muslims can run for office, but Muslims are not allowed to vote for them.” Zayed agrees, “Yes, that’s it.”
But al-Samhouri is not yet satisfied. Here’s how the debate ends:
Al-Samhouri: “But is it allowed, according to the Shari’a, for a Muslim to vote for a Christian?”
Al-Samhouri: “I rest my case.”
So, when you hear the legions at CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations), or activists such as Linda Sarsour, or Muslim politicians such as Ilhan Omar and Rashia Tlaib, or useful idiots such as Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton and innumerable other ignorance-peddlers declare that Islam and Western democracy can coexist beautifully together, please laugh and change the channel instead of nodding in dimwitted agreement.
Shari’a makes clear that Islam is an unrelenting enemy of democracy.