Legitimacy And Governance According To Islam

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Relations between religion and politics

By Kawa Gharji

Translated from Dari (Persian) by M. Amin Wahidi

The discussion of legitimacy and acceptance is one of the most interesting discussions in Islam history and Islamic point of view. In fact one of the main reasons behind formation of different sects in Islam is the different points of view regarding legitimacy and acceptance of a political system and people’s role and position in it according to Islam.

Many Islamic scholars such as Ibn e Sina have written many articles and their theories in this regard in their books. With all these there seem to be only a little difference between their points of view regarding the legitimacy of the Islamic Political System as all of them refer to Quran as the holy book of their religion, so these differences in their point of view, do not effect or change their overall view regarding the issue of elections and legitimacy in Islamic countries.

In secular or non religious systems, the legitimacy and acceptance are the two parts of a balance, so a government is legitimate when it is accepted by the people. But it is different in religious countries such as Islamic Countries where the legitimacy of a government or a leader is already guaranteed by a divine power that is God but only the option of acceptance is left for people, so there is less possibility for democratic values such as freedom, civil rights and human rights in such countries.

The issue of political legitimacy can be rooted back to Platone who discussed the issue of justice in his book “republic” which is nowadays discussed by the philosophers of our time in its modern contest. In the political philosophy the legitimacy can be interpret the justifiable and mindful application of power based on a norm, that is the well of the mass with it.

It takes a lot of time to analyze the thoughts of Islamic scholars one by one, so it is better to refer to the Holy Book of Islam that is Quran and see what this holy book of the Muslims says about it.

In Quran, in Sura (chapter) Yousuf, Aaya (verses) 67, it says “The Sovereignty belongs only to God”. In Sura (chapter) Ahzaab, Aaya (verses) 36; it says “No faithful men and women can oppose to a matter that is applied by Allah and his prophet.”

In Sura (chapter) Enaam, Aaya (verses) 14; it says “Do you accept anyone else as your sovereign except God, who has created the earth and sky?” in Sura (chapter) Shoura, Aaya (verses) 10; it says “Do they have anyone else except God as their superior, while God is the only powerful who brings the death to life for the resurrection day.”

There are many other of such verses in Quran that confirm that the Islamic governments and rulers do not need people’s opinion or votes for their legitimacy as they are already guaranteed the legitimacy by God. In this case the Islamic Rulers are the present shadows of the God on earth and according to Islam the role of mass (ordinary people) is to obey the orders of their rulers and the holy book that is Quran.

According to Islam, the law is derived from Quran and no one else has the right to make newer laws than the ones in the holy book. In this regard, there is a very clear verse that says “it is only God who is aware of goods and bads for the human beings, thus he is the only lawmaker for human beings and the human beings are obliged to a humble obedience for God’s laws”.  

In his latest statements regarding democracy and legitimacy, Ayatullah Yazdi, a senior member of The Iranian Guardian Council said that; “Democracy is the state of needlessness to the religious orders and sufficing only to people’s opinion, that is totally against rules of God. Giving importance to people’s opinion in comparison to what God orders is against our faithful theism and we have to fight against it.”    

What this senior Iranian Mullah says is what I am trying to find it within the pages of Quran to prove that Quran and Islam are totally against democracy, freedom, human rights and human values of our time.

The word “Acceptance” is a newly invented word by late Islamic Scholars to replace the word “Legitimacy” this way, they interpret the meaning of power in the lands they sovereign.

As a religion Islam does not believe in elections but it is tied with Allegiance and Caliphate. The allegiance does not necessitate the participation of everyone in the society but the presence of some Mullahs suffices for it, the same thing as it happened during the Taliban sovereignty in Afghanistan; a group of Mullahs came together and chose Mullah Omar as the leader of the country.

When a religion can not play a good role in social and political life of its followers, it doesn’t have an exemplary role anymore. In this case, the Muslims have two ways to choose; whether Islam or democracy. The Sharia Law is the law that contains a number of dissonances; it allows the marriage of sex years old girls, the hand-cut of thieves and stoning of women accused of adultery.

In the recent years, a number of Muslim Intellectuals try to prove that Islam is not in contradiction with democracy, human rights and freedom but they fail in their efforts.

When we read the books by Islamic scholars and intellectuals written a few decades back, they made efforts to show that Islam was in accordance with socialism and National Socialism. But the fact is that Islam does not have the potential capacity to accept democracy and human rights.

A number of Muslim Scholars believe that the Shoura (council) after the death of Prophet Mohammad is the sign of respect for democracy but in reality, you can not find it in Quran that people have the right to choose a sovereign for them.   

There is no sign of democracy in none of Islamic books, nor Quran neither other subordinate Hadith books while in most of religious books, there are a lot of pages written with details on how many times a week to do sex with one’s wife or how to go to toilet etc, but there is not even a single page that say that the successor of the Prophet Mohammad or the rulers of Islam after him would be elected by the people.

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