Am I a democrat? Is democracy kufr?
I am not a scholar and do not posses the level of Ijtihad, this is not a fatwa, so the following is nothing but my own view. If someone have anything from the scholars of Islam that opposes my view, feel free to let me know.
Do i approve of democracy? Not an easy question. Approval of democracy is of four kinds in my opinion:
1) Believing in Western Democracy as the ultimative truth
2) Believing in some kind of democracy as the ultimative truth
3) Approval of Western democracy in some contexts, not as the ultimative truth
4) Approval of some kind of democracy in some contexts, not as the ultimative truth
I have no doubts regarding the first one. I oppose it. Western democracy cannot be the ultimative truth – saying this means accusing the pious Sahaba (ra) of filing to implement a fair system, because their method of ruling was far from Western democracy. This cannot be the case, for in a hadith citet in Musnad Ahmad and Sunan Abi Dawood, the prophet (saw) described the first 30 years after his death as “Caliphate of the Prophethood”:
الخلافة في أمتي ثلاثون سنة ثم ملكا بعد ذلك
“The Caliphate in my Ummah (will last) thirthy years, then (there will be) Kingdon after this”.
Source: Musnad of Imam Ahmad, under Musnad al-Ansar, hadith #20918
And in the Sunan of Abu Dawood:
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم خلافة النبوة ثلاثون سنة ثم يؤتي الله الملك أو ملكه من يشاء
The Prophet (s) said; The Caliphate of the (or: on the method of) Prophethood will last thirty years, then Allah will give the rule or his kingdom to whoever he wills. (source: Sunan Abi Dawood, Kitab al-Sunnah, bab “Fi al-khulafaa”)
The first thirty years was the years of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman, Ali and al-Hasan (May Allah be well pleased with them all). This epoch was the caliphate of the Prophethood, and they did not rule with western democracy.
Instead, they rules with various forms of Shura (council). Abu Bakr (ra) was elected at Saqifah and the nominated ‘Umar as his successor after coulsultation with the prominent Sahaba of his time (they agreed with his nomination). Before his death, ‘Umar (ra) sent down a comitee to nomiate his successor, and they elected ‘Uthman (ra). After ‘Uthman’s (ra) martyrdom, Ali (ra) was elected by the people and in the vakuum after his death, Al-Hassan (ra) rules temporarily until he handed over power to Mu’awiya (ra). This is where the thirty years end.
But however, if you consider Shura a kind of democracy, then they ruled with democracy, so option #2 would be acceptable.
Personally, i am both #3 and #4 – i approve of western democracy and the rights it provides for the people in Denmark, while i doubt that this has any future in Egypt. Here i support the movements that seek to implement more democracy for the people (who would probably never reach the western standards), hence #4.
The reason that i support these movements (such as the Hizb al-Tagamo3) is perhaps in lack of a moderate islamic alternative in Egypt.
I find it hard to believe in #2, because it is hard for me to see a real political system utilized in an islamic country anno 2008 on the method of the rightly guided caliphs (ra). I do not know how that would happen, as it is hard for me to see the very same electing system (as stated above) be realized without the Sahaba’s (ra) presence. And perhaps the world will never reach such a level of justice and fairness again until the return of Jesus (as).
As for what is the ultimate truth, only what comes from above is the ultimate truth to me. Man made laws can – if not derived from above – never be the ultimative truth to me. I am not saying that it cannot be good, but it cannot be the ultimative truth.
My conclusion is that i do not believe that approval of democracy is necessarily kufr, if we stick to the last three kinds of “approval of democracy”.