Islam and Democracy


Democracy is like a train.  "You ride it until you arrive at your destination, then you step off."
Tayyip Erdogan, prime minister of Turkey

a day will come when the world will see Islam as a master who will destroy the idol of democracy.
Islamic State head al-Baghdadi

"Sharia has to be applied whether the people like it or not, we will enforce it. We are not asking anybody's opinion. We are not democrats. We are servants of Allah who demands Sharia,"
Sanda Ould Boumama, Ansar Dine's spokesman in Timbuktu

”democracy equals apostasy”
Ansar Beit al Magdis a militant Muslim group in the Sinai

democracy must be eliminated because ”it ... theorizes the equality of Jews, Copts and Muslims and must therefore be condemned”.
Ansar Beit al Magdis a militant Muslim group in the Sinai

“Electing a president or another form of leadership or council members is prohibited in Islam as it has been introduced by the enemies of Moslems.
  Selecting an Imam (leader) must be up to the decision-making people not the public...
election is a corrupt system which is not based on any legal or logical concept for those who enforce this system by some Moslems…
this system has been brought by the anti-Islam parties who have occupied Moslem land.”

Fatwa by well known Saudi scholar Sheikh Abdul Rahman bin Nassir Al Barrak

There are those voices amongst us that argue that Sharia is compatible with American life and can coexist harmoniously alongside the U.S. Constitution. Sorry, but I know Sharia. I know Islam. The coexistence of Sharia with the U.S. Constitution is impossible.
Aynaz Anni Cyrus female victim of Shariah

“We Jama’atu Ahlissunnah Lidda’awati Wal Jihad (Boko Haram) are fighting Christians wherever we meet them and those who believe in democracy, those who pursue Western education wherever we meet them. By Allah, we will kill whoever practices Democracy...  “The reason why I will kill you is you are infidels, you follow Democracy…Whoever follows Democracy is an infidel...We enjoy shedding their blood.  “The Koran must be supreme, we must establish Islam in this country; Not only in Borno, we will henceforth destroy any schools wherever we see them”.
Abubakar Shekau leader of Boko Haram

    Not all Muslims believe in destroying schools the way Abubakar Shekau does but plenty do.  Malala was a Muslim girl who stood up for education, her father did to.  She was shot by the Taliban but through great medical efforts she survived.  The Taliban say that if she returns to Pakistan they'll shoot her again.

Al-Nidaa, a website affiliated with Al-Qa'ida, recently published a series of articles about the war in Iraq. The eleventh(1) part of the series  stated:(MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 498 5/2/03)

one of the greatest threats to the hegemony of Islam and the dominance of Shari'a [Islamic law] is the American secularism that will be imposed forcefully on the region... The Islamic world will change from dictatorship to democracy, which means sub-human degradation in all walks of life." The meaning, stated the article, of the term 'democracy,' is that people rule, instead of Allah.

   Not all Muslims in Iraq are for violence against America.  On December 10, 2003, 20,000 men and women marched across central Baghdad, while others repeated the move in different cities of Mesopotamia. The demonstrators, from all walks of life and from all religions and ethnicities of Iraq, shouted one slogan in Arabic: "La' la' lil irhab. Na'am, na'am lil dimucratiya." That is: "No, no to terrorism. Yes, yes to Democracy!" (Iraqis For the Occupation, Walid Phares, 12/11/03). 

It is interesting that there is opposition to an Islamic state in Iran, perhaps because they have experience living under the heal of one.  An Iranian architect said, "We don't want any more Islamic Republic. It has taken us 25 years to realize that the revolution came to nothing." Like many, he wants "American help for a change of regime." "The Afghans and the Iraqis had their dictatorships taken away," says a filmmaker, "so why not us?" (Le Monde/Watch-Sweden)

Michael Rubin wrote:

"Assigning sovereignty to God and placing it in the hands of the people are mutually exclusive. "

This is the gist of the al Nidaa article mentioned previously which stated:

The meaning, stated the article, of the term 'democracy,' is that people rule, instead of Allah.



    To hear Muslims discussing the compatibility or lack thereof of Islam and democracy click here.  Wafa Sultan explained:

No one can be a true Muslim and a true American simultaneously. Islam is both a religion and a state, and to be a true Muslim you must believe in Islam as both religion and state. A true Muslim does not acknowledge the U.S. Constitution, and his willingness to live under that constitution is, as far as he is concerned, nothing more than an unavoidable step on the way to the constitution’s replacement by Islamic Sharia law.

    Ibrahim Saddiq Conlan an Islamic Australian cleric called for Shariah law in Australia and said:

[the Australian legal system is] the primary cause of the spiritual, economic and environmental crisis in Australia...  Democracy is evil, the parliament is evil and legislation is evil...

    In the video below Anjem Choudary explains that Democracy is an idol that people worship instead of Allah and that it must be destroyed.


     Choudary said, "the Muslims don't want democracy and freedom. Democracy and freedom are anathema to Islam and the Shariah."

The Jordanian leader of the Salafi Jihadi movement said that democracy in its concept as "ruling of the people by the people" is in contradiction with Islam's concept of the sovereignty of God's law.

Abd Shahadeh, known as Abu Muhammad al-Tahawi said in statements to Ammon News that democracy in its common conception is forbidden in Islam, where sovereignty and ruling belongs to God's law and not people's authority.

Jamie Glazov in an article titled Why Islam Hates Democracy wrote:

In the eyes of Islam, the very notion of democracy is demonized. In Islam, after all, Allah is sovereign, which means that humans constructing their own laws is sinful. The Koran and Sharia Law give Muslims all the laws they need...

In Islam, democracy, as well as the very notion of the freedom of human conscience, represents a dangerous deviation from the Koran and the Sharia. Elections are seen as a form of blasphemy. They are Satan’s vehicle to destroy the Koran

An outstanding article titled Can There Be an Islamic Democracy that debunks the arguments of U.S. academics who say that Islam and Democracy are compatible was written by David Bukay and appeared in the Middle East Quarterly.  Paul Marshall, author of Radical Islam's Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari'a Law  said in an interview with Jamie Glazov said there was a difference between the retrogade Sharia law of the Islamists and the Sharia of other moderate Muslims.  He said (Glazov, J., Sharia Goes Global, 10/3/05):

The state enforced imposition of retrograde Sharia law is central to the project of Islamist terrorists worldwide, whether in Iraq, Nigeria, Tajikistan or Indonesia. Their explicit, continually reiterated, program is, in brief, to restore a politically unified worldwide Muslim community, the ummah, ruled by a single ruler, a Caliph, governed by the most reactionary version of Islamic law, Sharia, and organized to wage jihad on the rest of the world. We are in a battle with what is most accurately called the Caliphate movement.

A key element of their program and appeal is the replacement of democracy, legislatures and “man-made law” with what they regard as the immutable divine law declared by God to Mohammed. As MEMRI has recorded, bin Laden’s December 16, 2004 “Statement to the Saudi Rulers” said the regime must be overthrown for “ruling by laws other than those which Allah has revealed” and implementing “man-made laws.” His December 27 “Letter to the Iraqi People” told them not to participate in the January 30 election since Muslims are allowed only to elect a leader for whom “Islam is the only source of the rulings and laws.” Palestinian Authority elections are likewise forbidden since “the constitution of the land is a Jahili made by man” (he added another little noticed reason for boycotting the Palestinian elections, by the way. This was that “the candidate Mahmoud Abbas is a Bahai.”) He also condemned voting in Afghanistan since the Karzai government is ‘apostate.” Iraq’s terrorist Ansar al-Sunnah Army has warned Iraqis not to vote because "Democracy is a Greek word meaning the rule of the people…. This concept is apostasy."

    Andrew Bostom in an article titled Radical Islam’s Goal is Global Conquest ( 7/2/2007) quoted Islamic scholars about the totalitarian leanings of Islam.  He wrote:   

Ibn Warraq has observed aptly that the most fundamental conception of a Caliphate, “...the constant injunction to obey the Caliph-who is God's Shadow on Earth”, is completely incompatible with the creation of a “rights-based individualist philosophy.”..

Almost six decades ago (in 1950), G.H. Bousquet (pp. 104-5), a pre-eminent modern scholar of Islamic Law, put forth this unapologetic, pellucid formulation of the twofold totalitarian impulse in Islam:

Islam first came before the world as a doubly totalitarian system. It claimed to impose itself on the whole world and it claimed also, by the divinely appointed Muhammadan law, by the principles of the fiqh, to regulate down to the smallest details the whole life of the Islamic community and of every individual believer....the study of Muhammadan law (dry and forbidding though it may appear to those who confine themselves to the indispensable study of the fiqh) is of great importance to the world today.

     Although Islam and democracy are incompatible that doesn’t mean that oppressed Muslims don’t want democracy for themselves.  Zawahiri wrote a now famous letter to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of al Qaeda in Iraq, in July 2005 in which he says how democracy can be used to impose Sharia. Ephraim Karsh wrote that:

If, Zawahiri instructed his lieutenant, al Qaeda’s strategy for Iraq and elsewhere were to succeed, it would have to take into account the growing thirst among many Arabs for democracy and a normal life, and strive not to alienate popular opinion through such polarizing deeds as suicide attacks on fellow Muslims. Only by harnessing popular support, Zawahiri concluded, would it be possible to come to power by means of democracy itself, thereby to establish jihadist rule in Iraq, and then to move onward to conquer still larger and more distant realms and impose the writ of Islam far and wide.

   Democracy is used to impose Sharia in the West.  Danish Muslim Ahmad Abu Laban, was recorded stating that the West gives his radical co-religionists “a margin of freedom” in which to lobby politically to impose Islamic law on Western and Danish society, and “we use it.”  (PBS Muzzles Moderates)  Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey said:

Democracy is like a streetcar,You ride it until you arrive at your destination and then you step off."

   Memri has a video of Egypt's opposition leader, Rif'at Al-Said  speaking about Muhammad Mursi the Muslim Brotherhood victor in the Egyptian elections.  Here is an excerpt:

If he takes the seat of power, he will never get up again. What advocate of political Islam has ever relinquished power? The ayatollahs in Iran came to power, and will remain in power until Judgment Day. When Omar Al-Bashir came to power, he talked about free elections, and so on. Meanwhile, Sudan has disintegrated in his hands, and the economy is dead, but he remains in power, and will continue to do so, even if all that remains is the single square meter on which his throne is located. With Hamas, the loyal disciples of the Muslim Brotherhood, it is the same story.

 Abul A'la Mawdudi, founder of the Jamaat-i Islami in India, has argued that if democracy is conceived as a limited form of popular sovereignty, restricted and directed by God's law, there is no incompatibility with Islam, but Mawdudi concluded that Islam is the very antithesis of secular Western democracy based solely on the sovereignty of the people. (Quoted in Esposito and Piscatori, Democratization and Islam, p. 436. See also Abul A'la Mawdudi, A Political Theory of Islam, in, Donohue and John Esposito, eds. Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), pp. 253-54.) On the other hand, Sayyid Qutb, a leading traditionalist theoretician of the Muslim Brotherhood, executed by the Egyptian government in 1966, objected to the idea of popular sovereignty altogether: Qutb believed that "the Islamic state must be based on the Quranic principle of consultation or shurah [on the interpretation of Shari'a], and that the Islamic law or Shari'a is so complete a legal and moral system that no further legislation is possible or necessary." (Quoted in Hudson, "After the Gulf War," p. 436. For more on Qutb's views on Islam, see John L. Esposito, ed., Voices of Resurgent Islam (New York: Oxford University Press, 1983)) Khomeini's successor and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called liberal democracy "the source of all human torment." (Michael Rubin, The Radioactive Republic of Iran, The Wall Street Journal, 1/16/2006)

   Amir Taheri (New York Post 9/4/03) quoted an excerpt from "The Future of Iraq and The Arabian Peninsula After the Fall of Baghdad" by Yussuf al-Ayyeri, one of Osama bin Laden's closest associates since the early 90s as follows:

"It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims.  What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy."

   Taheri explains that:

What Al-Ayyeri sees now is a "clean battlefield" in which Islam faces a new form of unbelief.  This, he labels "secularist democracy."  This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined.  The reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's "seductive capacities."

This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape policies and pass laws as they see fit.  That leads them into ignoring the "unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of manind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time...If established in any   Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

   Al Ayyeri is making a very interesting point which is that it is not in the interest of radical Muslims for Muslims to prosper economically.   This is why the Arab countries and the Palestinian Authority allow Arabs to suffer in refugee camps.  Those camps become a source of violent Jihadis which is exactly what they want.  This also explains the efforts of Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic groups to sabotage U.S. efforts to rebuild Iraq.  Oil pipelines could bring prosperity to Iraq so radical Muslims blow them up.  Improved medical care might actually lead to some Iraqis liking the infidel which is why on October 27, 2003, a suicide bomber drove a bomb packed ambulance into the Red Cross headquarters in Baghdad and detonated it.  Health care for Iraqis is bad when you Iraqis to be suffer and to blame that suffering on the Americans.

    Amir Taheri wrote another article (New York Post 8/18/04) in which he points out that democracy is actually prohibited in the Koran.  He wrote:

The Koran includes a chapter entitled "Parties" (Ahzab) to warn against splitting the Umma (the community of the faithful) into rival political groups vying for power.

Taheri writes about widespread sermons in the Arab world the United State and Europe in August 2004.  Taheri writes that the sermons say:

"Our Prophet did not run for office in any election.  He did not win any political debate. [Instead] he won the war against the infidel."

  The implication here is that to be like the prophet we shouldn't have democracy and debate issues like those infidel Americans but should instead fight those infidel Americans. 

   In another article titled The Islamic Urge to Vote (New York Post 10/11/04) Amir Taheri wrote that the traditional position of Islam is that it is opposed to any election, however some Muslim theologians have declared voting an obligation for Muslims in non-Islamic lands.  He wrote:

Their argument is that, though Muslims owe no loyalty to non-Islamic states, they must be free to decide when their participation in elections serves the interests of Islam. 

Theologians insisting that voting is an "obligation" include Yussuf al-Qaradawi (an Egyptian based in Qatar), the Lebanese Faisal al-Mawlawi and the Iranian Makarem Shirazi.  Their argument is that Muslims living in non-Muslim lands should regard themselves as missionaries whose task is to convert the citizenry to Islam adn in time, establish an Islamic state.  Thus if taking part in elections is a means of achieving those goals, it is incumbent on Muslims to do so...

Muslim support for Kerry is not inspired by any love for the senator but by the perception that he would withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, thus allowing the establishment of Islamic regimes in Baghdad and Kabul.

   You can vote Islamic radicals in but once you do you can’t vote them out.  They’ll use democracy to seize power and that’s the extent of the value of democracy for them.  The following is a picture of a child pissing on the statue of liberty who is holding a book with democracy written on it.  It appeared in the Hamas weekly Al Risala 5/5/2006 (Palestinian Media Watch Bulletin, 5/31/2006).  Clearly elections brought Hamas to power but that did not instill respect for democracy in Hamas and elections will not remove Hamas from power.

   Benjamin Netanyahu, in a speech to the House Government Reform Committee on September 20, 2001, also argued that hatred of democracy fuels hatred of the West.  He explained:

The soldiers of militant Islam do not hate the West because of Israel, they hate Israel because of the West.  They see it as an island of Western democratic values in a Muslim Arab sea.  This is why they call Israel the Little Satan, to distinguish it clearly from the country that has always been and will always be the Great Satan -- the United States of America.

Nothing better illustrates this better than Osama bin Laden's call for Jihad against the United States in 1998.  He gave as his primary reason not Israel, not the Palestinians, not the "peace process" but rather the very presence of the United States "occupying the Land of Islam in the holiest of places."  And where is that?  "The Arabian peninsula "says bin Laden, where America is "plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers and humiliating its people."  Israel by the way, comes a distant third after "the continuing aggression against the Iraqi people."

For the bin Ladens of the world, Israel is merely a sideshow.   America is the target.

   Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad expressed the view that Jews invented democracy to gain control of the world.  He told a summit of Islamic leaders on Oct 16, 2003 that "Jews rule the world by proxy" and that "they get others to fight and die for them."  (New York Post Oct, 17,2003)   He said Jews "invented socialism, communism, human rights and democracy" to avoid persecution and gain control of the most powerful countries.  The leaders gave Mahathir a standing ovation afterwards.  Jeff Jacoby (Boston Globe 1/23/03) wrote that: 

Applauders included not only the Muslim world's dictatorial fanatics, but also its reputed moderates, including President Megawati Sukarnoputri of Indonesia, General Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan, and Jordan's King Abdullah. Even America's Muslim allies and clients admired Mahathir's views. The foreign minister of Egypt -- a country that receives $2 billion a year in US aid -- pronounced the speech "a very, very wise assessment." Hamid Karzai, the US-installed president of Afghanistan, praised it as "an eye-opener to a lot of us and . . . what the Islamic world should do."

William Hawkins wrote in 12/23/05 that:

 Al-Qaeda warlord Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has declared, "a bitter war against democracy and all those who seek to enact it." "Democracy is also based on the right to choose your religion," he said, making it "against the rule of God." He said if freedom of expression is allowed "even cursing God. This means that there is nothing sacred in democracy." He said Islam requires the rule of God and not the rule of "the majority or the people."Islamic clerics must protect the people from politicians who might enact laws that contradict the Koran.

Such a system exists in Iran. In June's election, the Guardian Council, a body of 12 Muslim clerics and religious jurists, excluded from the ballot all women and all candidates critical of the current regime. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, appoints six members of the Guardian Council and the other six are nominated by the Judiciary. The Guardians can also veto legislation. Their job is to make sure that democracy does not allow the people to stray from the fundamental principles of Islamic society and faith. The result of such orchestrated elections was the coming to power of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who denies the Nazi Holocaust took place, believes Israel should be "wiped off the map" and wants nuclear weapons.

   The foolish Muslims who attack democracy fail to realize that democracy is the key to their gaining power in countries where they do not have it.   Robert Baer in his book, Sleeping With the Devil wrote about the folly of the American idea that democracy would cure Arab countries such as Saudi Arabia of their radicalism.  He wrote:

Let's start by taking a look at the last time there were true democratic elections held in an Arab country: Algeria in late 1991 and early 1992.   When it became clear the fundamentalists were about to win an overwhelming majority and impose an Islamic constitution, the army stepped in.  The country was immediately plunged into a civil war that killed hundreds of thousands of people.  It's still going on today. 

Why would we expect Saudi Arabia to be different?  According to one poll conducted in October 2001, 95 percent of educated Saudis between the ages of twenty five and forty one support bin Laden.  ...In October 2002 I asked a leader of the Saudi opposition, Muhammad al-Masari what he thought.  There was no doubt in his mind that an Islamic government would succeed the Al Sa'ud if the Saudis were allowed to decide their own political destiny.

   Jeffrey Nyquist wrote an excellent column 1/12/2007 titled Some Things Are Impossible which explained how lack of free speech in Muslim lands makes democracy impossible and how free speech is impossible in Muslim lands because of their violent reaction to speech they don’t like.

   In Iraq the U.S. in an effort to get the constitution passed by the deadline of August 22nd agreed to make "Islamic principles" the standard for legislation (U.S. Backs Down on Islamic Law worldNetDaily, 8/21/05).  According to Saleh al-Mutlak, a Sunni negotiator, the agreement means parliament could pass no legislation that "contradicted Islamic principles."  A Kurdish politician said"

"We understand the Americans have sided with the Shi'ites.  It's shocking.  It doesn't fit American values.  They have spent so much blood and  money here, only to tack the creation of an Islamist state."

    The problem with creating a democracy in Iraq is Islam.  Abu Maysara Al-Iraqi, usually described as head of al-Qaida's "media department" in Iraq said:

We will harshly retaliate against anyone who participates and encourages the writing of the constitution and therefore to rule against God's way,"  

   Another group, the "Islamic Tribunal of the Organisation of al-Qaida in the Land of Two Rivers" warned on its website that it had 

"decided to apply the order of Allah: Kill whoever assumes the right to be a partner of God and draws up a null and void constitution."


Other reading:

Islam is incompatible with Liberty