Quranocracy: Democracy – Dr. Sayed Abdul Wadud
The Evolution of Governmental Organization
The history of mankind is a story of unsuccessful experiments, trials and tribulations. Man produces a concept, gives it a trial and after centuries of dreadful conflicts, bloodshed and wars, comes to the conclusion that the concept he had produced was wrong. Then he brings forth a fresh concept, which is generally opposite to the previous one and thus begins fresh experiments on it. That also proves unsuccessful, after passing through the same unfortunate events. The life of man, political, social and economic, has reached the present stage after passing through a series of such vicious cycles. However, in the following lines,we shall deal only with its political aspect.
Man is a social animal. He cannot live without a society. In a society, struggle between individuals or groups of individuals, for selfish motives, is a must. On the other hand, the resolution of conflicts needs a third party to put things in order. To begin with, the head of a family took this position which further evolved into tribal organizations, the head of a tribe assuming a supreme personality whose decisions became incumbent upon the individuals of the tribe; and thus a primitive form of government originated.
Later on, in the primitive societies, the priests became the dominant power (and this condition still continues in some societies). The priests came to be considered as representatives of deities, with superhuman powers. They became awe-inspiring and nobody could think of disobeying them. This gave origin to theocracy or sovereign power of priests.
At other places, some powerful persons began to suppress the weaker ones by their brutal force and thus gave origin to Autocracy or Dictatorship and Kingship. Later on, the autocrats realized that it was rather difficult to keep people subjugated to their brutal force which they thought must be associated with an aspect of a sense of respect by the people for them. On the other hand, the priests realized that for them in order to maintain a respectful position is getting difficult without a force. Thus the Kings and the priests, by mutual understanding, divided the supremacy of power into two parts. The priests accepted the Kings as the “Shadow of God” and the Kings declared that they have assumed the supreme power, by means of the intermediary of the priests. Thus in practical life the priests became the supreme power in matters related to religion and the Kings a supreme power in the worldly affairs.
It is apparent for what has been described above that in this change in the form of governments, the concept which remained common to all throughout, was the concept of the rule of one individual or one group of individuals over another group of individuals. The history of the rule and exploitation by kings and priests makes a tragic reading in which the humanity became crushed by their brutal force in one way or the other.
Origin of Democracy
When the beastly practice of Autocratic and Theocratic ruling reached its zenith, some western thinkers originated the idea that in order to eliminate the misery of mankind, the system of government should be based on the mutual contract of the people. Thus the theory of “Social Contract” was introduced by Hobbes and Locke. But Rousseau (1712-1778) gave it the practical shape. He said that every man wants freedom, but that is an impossibility. Thus, let every individual person allow his/her “will” to get absorbed into the will of the society. In other words, make the general will of the society the ultimate source of authority. Theoretically, it appeared to be a good idea but the difficulty arose in putting the general will of the people into practice. It was not possible to determine the will of every individual in a society. It was thus decided to base the form of government on the representatives of the people; and if opinions differ, the decision of the majority be accepted. Thus democracy came to be based on the following suppositions –
1) In a democratic government, there remains no distinction between a ruler and the ruled
and the people form their own government.
2) The will of the people can be determined through their representatives.
3) In order to find out whether a certain decision is right or wrong, the standard laid down is the opinion of the majority of representatives.
4) The minority is bound to accept the decision of the majority and the people as a whole are bound to obey them.
Thus Democracy came to be considered as the Government of the people, by the people and for the people. It developed chiefly in the West but the people of Asia and Africa who had suffered tremendously on account of their being exploited by the Autocrats and the Theocrats with the resultant misery and degradation followed them and took democracy to be a gift from Heaven and a panacea for their ailments.
The basic concept, in which democracy rests, namely that nobody has the right to rule another, is ideal but, the point is whether it has achieved or is capable of achieving the aim it has laid down before itself. The West (west of Pakistan) has been the cradle of democracy. Let us see what the thinkers of the West have got to say about it.
Professor Alfred Cubban of London University says in his book “The Crisis of Civilization”:
“Considering politics in terms of actual facts and not abstract theories, it must be acknowledged that the identification of ruler and the ruled, assumed in the theory of the sovereignty of people, is a practical impossibility. The government is one set of people and the governed another. Once society has developed beyond the smallest and the most primitive communities, they never have been and never can be the same. The pretence that they are, can only lead to the worst excesses of power in the state. (pg.68)
Another thinker Rene Guenon says in his book “The crisis of the modern world”:
‘If the world democracy is defined as the government of the people by themselves, it expresses an absolute impossibility and cannot even have a de-facto existence in our time any more than in any other. It is contradictory to say that the same persons can be, at the same time, rulers and ruled, because to use the Aristotelian phraseology the same being cannot be ‘in act’ and ‘in potency’ at the same time and in the same circle of relations. The relationship of the ruler and the ruled necessitates the joint presence of two terms; there could be no ruled if there were not also rulers, if though those may be illegitimate and have no other title to power than their own pretensions; but the great ability of those who are in control in the modern world lies in making the people believe that they are governing themselves, and the people are the more inclined to believe this as they are flattered by it and as they are in any case, incapable of sufficient reflection to see it’s impossibility. It was to create this illusion that ‘universal suffrage’ was invented. The laws is supposed to be made by the opinion of the majority but what is overlooked is that this opinion is something that can very easily be guided or modified; it is always possible by means of suitable suggestions to arouse in it currents moving in this or that directions as desired.”
Arnold J. Toynbee writes in his book, “The Present Day Experiment in Western civilization 1962” – Democratic parliamentary government is a less efficient and therefore a most wasteful regime than oligarchic parliamentary government and even a parliamentary oligarchy is inefficient and more extravagant by comparison with a well managed authoritarian regime.” Pg.35.
Defects of Democracy in practice
Ideals of democracy are difficult to be realized in practical life. Democracy demands from the people, a high degree of civic capacity which involves intelligence, self control and devotion to a common cause, and capacity to subordinate to it private interests and desires.
It relies on the spirit of give and take. It also demands time to share in common activities, to study the issues involved. The common man is indolent in politics. He is neither politically intelligent, nor sufficiently educated. He does not posses the capacity to understand political problems and is incapable of intelligent action. Democracy is suited to a state in which the people who want to exercise power, are capable of sinking differences and cooperating for the general good, and have acquired knowledge and judgment enough to elect suitable representatives and to judge as to the propriety of general lines of policy.
Leeky, accordingly characterized democracy as the government of the poorest, the most ignorant, the most incapable who are necessarily the most numerous. The average citizen has not the time, inclination and ability to inform himself on the affairs of the state.
Lord Bryce, a fervent exponent of democracy points to the following defects, based on his personal observations of the major democracies in the world-
- 1) The power of money to pervert administration or legislation.
- 2) Tendency to make politics a gainful profession.
- 3) Extravagance in administration.
- 4) The abuse of the doctrine of equality and failure to appreciate the value of administrative skill.
- 5) The undue power of party organization.
- 6) The tendency of legislature and political officials to play for votes in the passing of laws and in tolerating breeches of order.
Our own experience of Democracy in Pakistan
The conclusion one draws from the writings of the above said thinkers and others, is that democratic parliamentary government is a deception and a most wasteful regime in which the achievement of a small group people is to make fools of a larger group of people in a society; because opinion is something that can easily be guided or modified.
We, in Pakistan, can easily verify this fact from our own experience in this country.
The experiment of a democratic parliamentary form of government in Pakistan is a dreadful experience, since this country came into being. It’s failure is due to two different causes – 1) The deception and wastefulness lies in the very nature of this regime, as said by the thinkers in the West. 2) The incompatibility of the democratic parliamentary form of government with an Islamic government.
Every election in Pakistan brings forward a good number of imbeciles, most of them having poor academic backgrounds. Their opinion can easily be purchased by anybody who possesses sufficient money. They get elected because of their wealth, with which they buy votes and after being elected they get this wealth spent by them, multiplied manifold, by unfair means. They can even be bribed to change parties and neither the buyers nor the bought feel ashamed of it. The term Horse-trading is prevalent for this disgraceful act of these people. They are so much absorbed in greed and selfishness that they have neither time, nor capacity, to perform the function of law-making ( )
‘A human idea cannot arise from the brains of two hundred donkeys’.
A majority of them have no political background and some of them are mere oratorical prostitutes who stir human sentiments not by display of body contours but by display of rosy words. Oratory is a precious human virtue but it becomes a sinful act when used for selfish ends. In a country like Pakistan, politics is an easily accessible vocation. A shrewd politician maneuvers to hold a firm grip on the mental outlook of the products of his oratory. The following are the prerequisites of his success:
He is capable of constantly arousing the passions of his followers without allowing them to use their own intellect. He can create a strong impression amongst them that his thinking is mature and far superior to anybody else’s. He can act as diplomat rather than a man of principles. He is well versed in the at of agitation and law breaking. He knows how to bring abasement to his opponents, no matter how many lies he has got to invent. He can feign strong resistance without accepting the truth offered by his opponents. He is capable of capable of depicting the darkest picture of the present regime and the brightest picture of the future which he assures to bring about. He is competent to kindle the light of impossible hopes in the minds of his followers and in order to keep this trick going, he never states anything definite, but presents his programs in the guise of attractive reforms. At every step, he can firmly assure his followers that they are on the threshold of success. He can keep his followers fully confident that it is only their party, which is on the right path, all others are vague and unsound. He can keep them constantly on the move, never giving them respite to pause and think.
These leaders try to keep their followers away from the divine fundamental principles. As a matter of fact, they themselves are not aware of them. They themselves assume the role of a final authority in making decisions. Some of them succeed in creating such an awe amongst their followers that they are always spellbound and consider all that is said by their leader as immutable. But the hold of political leaders on the imagination of their followers is often not as firm and lasting as those of religious leaders. This is another category which has appeared on the scene of western democracy in Pakistan. As a matter of fact, they are either idiots, or hypocrites. If they are not able to visualize the clear Quranic guidance that the sovereignty in an Islamic State is that of the Book of Allah, they are idiots; on the other hand, if despite their belief in the guidance of the Quran, they still stick to a form of government in which sovereignty is that of the people, they are hypocrites. The billionaires use their finances and the Mullahs use their glib tongue; and the poor masses follow these exploiters like a herd of sheep, being impressed by their false proclamations and petty monetary gains during the election campaigns, only to lead a life of misery and degradation later on.
Inspite of all the drawbacks of a democratic parliamentary form of government, the Western people stick to it because they have got no other alternative. Those people are skeptical of divine truths. But in a country like Pakistan, whose origin and stay is welded with the belief in the divine truths, Western democracy is and shall always remain a source of disorder.
Western Democracy and Quranocracy are the two Incompatibilities
The basic difference lies in the issue of Sovereignty.
In a democratic parliamentary form of government, the sovereignty lies, as they say, in the people but in an Islamic State the sovereignty lies in the injunctions, laws and the permanent values which are contained in the Quran for the guidance of mankind and the safety and protection of which Allah has taken upon himself –
(15:9) “We have without doubt sent down the message and We will assuredly guard it (against corruption).”
Unless the question of sovereignty is taken up seriously, the establishment of an Islamic Social Order shall always remain a dream.
As stated earlier, the government of an Islamic State is only a machinery to put into practice the Quranic laws, injunctions and permanent values. In order to escape from this responsibility, our Pakistani lawmakers have improvised the term “Delegation of Allah’s powers” which forms a part of the Pakistani constitution. This concept of delegation of Allah’s powers is absolutely false. It too it’s origin amongst the Christians and gave birth to Theocracy. The Christian kings modified this concept to give it the form of ‘divine rights of the kings’. The same idea came into vogue amongst the Muslims after Caliphate changed into Kingship and Muslim Kings began to call themselves – ()
“Shadow of God on the earth”. From then onwards, the Muslim Kings became sovereign in the worldly affairs and the Muslim priests in the religious affairs; and the ‘Deen’ became split up into ‘church and state’.
As said earlier, the concept of delegation of sovereignty of Allah is absolutely false from the Quranic point of view. Delegation of power from one person to another means that the later gains absolute control of power for a certain period and that the exercise of this power by the former becomes suspended in the meantime. Secondly, the occasion for the delegation of power by certain authority arises when that authority itself is not present at the place where the power is to be exercised. But Allah is omnipresent. The question of His being not present, at any time or anywhere, does not arise. Allah does not delegate His Sovereignty to anyone, not even to His own messengers who themselves are subservient to His laws.
Now let us see the argument produced by mullah in support of this false concept of delegation of Allah’s sovereignty. They consider man as () and erroneously translate it as vicegerent of Allah which means that he exercises delegated powers of Allah. As a matter of fact, there is not a single instance in the Holy Quran where man is described as () successor of Allah. He is rather described as ( )
When Allah addressed the Mal’aika and said:
2:30 “I will create a ‘khalifa’ on the earth”.
It pointed towards the creation of a successor to the preceding generations that lived on the earth before mankind.
Moreover, in order to clarify the point that man is not successor of Allah, we shall have to clarify the meaning of the word Khalifa. There are three basic concepts in the meaning of the words with root ()
- (a) to succeed (b) to follow and (c) to undergo change. The Holy Quran is self-explanatory. It says:
25:62 “And it is He who made the night and the day () to follow each other”.
Again it is said :
(2:164) “Day and night coming one after the other”.
‘B’ can become Khalifa of ‘A’ only in his absence. ‘A’ may be dead or alive but ‘B’ cannot take his place as Khalifa in his presence. The following verses of the Quran support it:
Before Moses went up on the mount for communication with Allah, he said to his brother Aaron:
(7:142) “You shall succeed me amongst my people (in my absence)”.
And yet another place it is said:
(10:14) “Then We made you successors in land after them, to see how you would behave”.
Hud said to his people:
11:57 “(if you turn away from the Divine Guidance) my Lord will make another people to succeed you”.
About the people of ‘Aad it is said:
(7:69) “In that He made you successors after the people of Noah”.
The Holy Quran has, thus, amply clarified that a Khalifa is a successor in the absence of or on the death of his predecessor. Hence the question of somebody being
() does not arise.
The concept of () is the invention of individuals with vested interests who wanted to exploit people in the garb of Allah’s vicegerency. After the death of Rasool, when somebody used the word () for Hadrat Abu Bakr Siddique (first caliph), he repudiated it by saying, “I am () (successor to the Rasool), not () (successor to Allah).
Hence the words () as they occur in the Holy Quran, mean to hold reins of power with the purpose of putting into practice the Divine Laws in human affairs. Allah is the lawmaker. His laws are immutable and cannot be changed.
6:34 “Nobody can change the laws of Allah”
Not even the messenger of Allah:
3:128 “(‘O messenger of Allah!) You are not given the authority to change the laws of Allah”.
Allah is () i.e., The Only Sovereign. There is no sovereign except Allah. He is the only authority to whose laws subservience of man is due. As said earlier, in an Islamic State the central command of believers is an instrument to enforce the Divine Laws and it’s jurisdiction in Law making is confined within specific limits: it does not hold absolute rights of Law making. The law making in a Quranic society is a blend of Permanence and Change. The fundamental principles given by the Quran are Permanent and Immutable. The legislature of an Islamic State is not authorized to exceed the limits laid down by these fundamentals; yet it can make by-laws or change the existing by-laws, according to the needs of the changing times, within the boundary line laid down by the Quranic fundamentals, by means of () ‘Consultation’ . Even the machinery for implementation of () Shura is changeable with the change of time and circumstances, but shura itself is a permanent injunction. Thus the concept of delegation of Allah’s sovereignty or the delegation of power of law making by Allah to the legislature of an Islamic State is an erroneous one. The acceptance of this false concept of delegation of power means that a legislature can make any law according to it’s whims and wishes and that is exactly what has been happening in Pakistan. This concept is not only erroneous but also a source of grave mischief.
Allah is () ‘al’-‘IL’AHA’ which means the only Sovereign. He alone possesses absolute Power and it is imperative for human beings to be subservient to His Laws. The Quran says:
16:51 “Allah has said: take not for subservience two gods (ILAHAIN). For He is just one God”.
The delegation of Allah’s Powers means to make more than one Sovereign.
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