With the upcoming elections in Pakistan expected on 25 July 2018, debate from the political parties and their supporters is in full swing regarding the justification of their involvement and convictions in Pakistan’s ‘democratic’ process.
The majority of the political parties must convince the electorate that the democratic system they are being asked to vote in is not in contradiction to their Islamic beliefs. Some do this by arguing Islam and democracy are compatible, whilst others use the argument of shura – process of consultation in Islam, being the same as democracy.
Islam is deeply rooted in the Pakistani society, therefore the Muslims of Pakistan must be convinced of the compatibility of democracy and shura with Islam otherwise many would lose hope in the system.
The correct view of shura from the Islamic evidences
In Islam, shura is referred to the process whereby the Khalifah carries out a consultation process on matters which require expert research, advice and recommendations. This is in the mubah (permitted) areas of Islamic law and also in areas of detailed policy.
For example, if the Khalifah required expert advice on building road networks or gas pipelines through mountainous or desert regions, he would need to consult experts in these fields before endorsing strategies or proposals to begin the work.
The process of shura does not apply to deciding what is right or what is wrong, because the clear cut right and wrong matters are decreed by Allah (swt) in the Quran and demonstrated through the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). Allah (ﷻ) says in the Quran:
“The rule (legislation) is to none but Allah” [TMQ Yusuf : 40]
Hence it is well known following the obligations and abstaining from the haram is not up for negotiation or consultation. Muslims are not allowed to consult whether to pray salah 3 or 4 times a day, whether to fast 15 or 20 days during Ramadhan or whether to undertake nikah or not. These matters have been made clear through the Quran and Sunnah.
However, regarding shura, Allah (ﷻ) says, “..and consult with them on the matter. And when you have made a decision place your trust in Allah, for surely, Allah loves those who place their trust in Him.” [TMQ Aal-Imran : 159].
Other verses also instruct Muslims to think and make decisions and to place our trust in Allah (ﷻ) in matters that need consultation and expert advice. These verses of the Quran do not ask the believers to think and consult over the matters which Allah (ﷻ) has obliged us with or forbidden for us, such as the eating of swine meat.
The correct understanding of shura is also derived from the events during the Prophet’s (ﷺ) life. For example, in preparation for the battle of Uhud, the Prophet (ﷺ) consulted the Sahabah (ra) – asking for their advice on whether to remain within the city of Madinah to fight the advancing army of Quraish, or to move out to the mountain of Uhud and meet the enemy there. The Sahabah (ra) advised the Prophet (ﷺ) to go out to the mountain of Uhud to meet the enemy there and the Prophet (ﷺ) accepted their proposals.
An important point to note here is that Rasulullah (ﷺ) did not consult the Sahabah (ra) on whether they wanted to fight or not, as it was an obligation to defend the city from the advancing army.
Another matter relating to shura is that the Khalifah does not have to act on the shura of the shura council as the Prophet (ﷺ) also demonstrated this.
During the event of Hudaybiyah the Prophet (ﷺ) negotiated the terms of the treaty with the representation of the Quraish. Some of the Sahabah (ra) were not happy with the terms and wording of the treaty and made the Prophet (ﷺ) aware of this. However, on this occasion the Prophet did not agree with their stance and made the decision independently himself.
Having explained the correct understanding of shura from the Islamic evidences it is important to explore the ideological difference between democracy and the Islamic concepts.
Here are five ideological contradictions between Islam and democracy:
Democracy is the product of the human mind and not from Allah (ﷻ). It does not rely on divine revelation, nor has it any connection to any religion revealed by Allah to His Messengers.
Democracy emanated from the creed of separating religion from life and consequently separating religion from the state. In other words: secularism – a belief which is total contradiction with the Islamic Aqeedah.
Democracy was established on two fundamental ideas:
1. sovereignty is for the people. Whereas in Islam the sovereignty to decide legislation – right and wrong – is with Allah (ﷻ).
2. people are the source of the authority. In Islam, the source of the authority is defined by the Quran and Sunnah.
Democracy is the rule of the majority, and the selection of rulers and the members of parliament are decided by the majority of the voters. All decisions in democracy are taken by the majority vote, according to the theoretical beliefs in democracy.
However, as explained earlier in the case of Pakistan as well as other so called democratic states around the world, in reality, democracy is plagued with corruption, bribery and non-ending scandals.
Democracy advocates the general freedoms contradictory to the Quran and Sunnah:
freedom of belief;
freedom of opinion;
freedom of ownership, and
A brief probe into the correct understanding of shura clearly demonstrates that it is different to the notion of democracy. Furthermore, democracy is also in clear contradiction with Islam.
Islam has its own unique system of ruling called the Khilafah system, which is based on the Quran and Sunnah. This system was started by the Prophet (ﷺ) in Madinah and continued by the Sahabah (ra). Through the implementation of Islam by the Khilafah system, the Islamic State was able to expand from the Far East to the doorsteps of France and Italy bringing justice for its citizens regardless of their creed or ethnicity.
Today, Pakistan needs the system of Khilafah to restore stability, good governance and the real implementation of Islam. The removal of the colonial-endorsed system of democracy needs to be enacted permanently so that Pakistan and the Muslim world can remove the Western colonial policies crippling the Muslim countries. After this, the Muslim world will begin a natural process of unifying under the Islamic system and becoming once again a world leader as it was for centuries.