“Democracy, people say, is “Government of the People, by the People.” At least that is how Abraham Lincoln defined it in his Gettysburg Address in 1963.

And that is a pretty good definition too. But is that all there is to democracy?

For too many people, democracy is a political theory or model.

But could it be more? The Qur’an tells us it is.

The Qur’an tells us that democracy is more – much, much more.

In fact, the Qur’an is nothing if not an elaborate manual of democracy.

That is why in Islam democracy is an entire way of life, and not just a political plank.

And that is what the Qur’an came into this world to teach us: How people should live their lives on earth in peace, amity and harmony.

Can you think of a better alternative? Brute force? Rabid tyranny? Endless mendacity? Eternal lying and deceiving?

Think for a moment of Thomas Jefferson’s oath: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility to all forms of tyranny over the mind of man.

The Qur’an came to set our minds free. And to show us how people should conduct their business of living on earth through mutual talk, discussion, debate, respect, consultation, negotiation and give-and-take.

And how they – people that is – should do all that based on truth, justice, compassion, freedom and equality.

And based on something else, believe it or not, that the Qur’an refers to as “Non-Aggression.”

“And do not commit aggression,” says the Qur’an openly and bluntly.

And, also, based on something else, most people would not suspect even in their wildest dreams: total and unconditional renunciation of force and coercion in the persuasion process.

“There can be no coercion or force when it comes to dealing with people’s beliefs,” is how best I can paraphrase a passage in the Qur’an on that subject.

You want to hear the original words of the Qur’an? Here they are, and they are pretty clear and categorical. And so far as my limited knowledge goes, they are not duplicated anywhere else.

So here goes – the Qur’an: “Laa Ikraaha Fid-Deeni.”

So, democracy in Islam pertains not only to government and politics but to every single aspect of human life on earth – individual or collective; private, personal or public.

In sum, there is no better way to live life on earth than the divinely ordained way of democracy.

And its divinely mandated pillars of truth, honesty, integrity, transparency and accountability.

And that, in a word, is Islam.

That is because Islam is an interlocking system of rights – political rights; human rights; civil rights; economic rights; all kinds of rights including personal rights and animal rights.

That means in Islam, everything in existence has rights. And that is the core foundation of democracy: acknowledgment of pre-existing rights for all; enshrining them in governing documents such as constitutions and statutes; and commitment to honoring and delivering them in practice.

Does anybody know that you too have rights and claims on you? Hear the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, say it, which I paraphrase here: “And your body too has rights on you, as do your visitors, your family members…and others.”

“So,” says the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, “Aati kulla dhee haqqin haqqahu – give every right-holder their right.”

What a statement!

What a concept!

Do I need say more?

Except, maybe, to admonish my fellow-human beings:

“People! Let us hurry and catch up – with Islam; with the fuller and truer dimensions of democracy; and with all the rights some of even the best of us never thought we had.”

“Have we not already lost enough time?”

“Have we not frittered away enough energy?”

“Have we not squandered enough resources?”

“And have we not, by turning our back on the Qur’an, and on the true teachings of Islam, done enough damage to ourselves and to the world?”

“So, let us not let our Pandora’s Box of fears and prejudices hold us back any longer from discovering what is best in humanity’s common heritage and opening our hearts and minds to it!”” (Dr. Pasha)

When God wants something to happen, he just says “Be!” and it happens.

That is the ultimate Rule by Decree.

It is Rule by Royal Fiat.

That is because God is King.

And that is because God is the Owner and the Master and the Maker of all things and beings.

But People must rule not through fiat or dictate or edict, but through consent.

They must rule by the Consent of the People.

People must run their affairs, from family and friendship networks, to government and society and business, using nothing but mutual consultation, debate, deliberation and discussion.

That is Islam.

In Islam, the only acceptable form of government is Government of the People by the People.

The current turmoil in the Middle East is not about jobs and bread. It is about the fight of the people of the Middle East for their basic humanity, liberty and dignity.

And Middle East will be free from its Colonial masters and their native stooges and proxies, when the people of the “Middle East” will rise up, as they are doing now, and will get rid of all their tyrants, military or hereditary or civil.

The Middle East will be free when its people are able to start their life over in a transparent, tranquil, peaceful and fair and democratic political structure with freedom, justice, equal rights and dignity for all.

And when, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, every Middle Eastern man, woman and child will reclaim their basic and “inalienable rights,” with which each and every single one of them is “endowed by their creator.”

But when we make ourselves blind to injustice and deaf to truth, and play dumb when we must speak out, then the world catches up with us and God’s justice takes its own course.

As someone said:

First they came for the Communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Communist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
but then there was no one left to speak out for me.

We saw 80 million men, women and children of Egypt hurting under the heel of Tyranny for 30 long years. We did not speak out, even though our speech was given by God the power to change the world.

We heard their screams of pain under 30 years of military, emergency and police dictatorship of the most brutal kind, and we did not speak out, even though our speaking out would have put an end to the suffering of these forgotten millions.

Or at least made a dent in it.

We knew of the torture chambers of Egypt, and Tunisia, and Morocco, and Algeria – and a whole range of other places – and we decided no one will notice.

And we went to our churches and mosques and synagogues and temples and tried to pull wool over God’s eyes through mumbo jumbo we thought were our prayers.

Congratulations, Egypt!

Men and women of Egypt!

Innocent tiny little tots of Egypt!

Young and old youth of Egypt!

Muslims and Christians of Egypt!

Congratulations to you all!

And may God shower you all with his love and grace!

And he has done so already, indeed. For, you are the blessed of our time!

And what you have done will bless our world.

For, you laid your lives on the line, so the world can breathe a whiff of liberty and sip a taste of justice in these perverse times dominated by Injustice and marked by Tyranny.

Islamic Government is not a theocracy. For, there are no priests or clergymen in Islam.

It is not even a government by the pious and the virtuous. For, that is what led to the Salem Witch Burnings.

Simply put, Islamic Government is government of the people, by the people.

All governments are. They are all governments of the people, run by people of one kind or another, regardless of whether it is a democracy or dictatorship.

That means every government everywhere is, and always has been, run by people, whether those people are kings, commoners, priests, lords, barons or someone else.

The core element of Islamic Government is this: People Must Govern Themselves.

That means the following things:

  1. People — All People — must freely and fearlessly elect their own rulers.
  2. They must obey their rulers when they are right and help them run things smoothly and well.
  3. They must correct them when they are wrong.
  4. They must hold them accountable at all times.
  5. And they must remove and replace them as and when they see fit, using the same open and fair electoral process that put them in office the first time.

That is Islamic Government, no matter what anyone says.

Islamic Government, then, is basically government of the people; by the people.

Undertaken for the pleasure of God Almighty and not just in the raw pursuit of worldly gain by ambitious politicians.

It is a Government of Laws and Due Process.

Presided over by God’s Word, the Qur’an. And the sayings and doings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

It is Utopia on earth in the best and most positive sense of that term.

And the will of a free people: The People.

By what name people call such government is up to them. There is no one right or wrong name for it.

Democracy is Greek for “People’s Rule.”

Theocracy is Greek for “God’s Rule.”

Plutocracy is Greek for “Government by the Rich.”

Kleptocracy is Greek for “Government by Thieves.”

In the real world, all rule is people’s rule. It is people – human beings – who exercise authority and manage power on earth.

Some people rule in their own name. Some rule in God’s name. But it is always people who rule.

END

“When a society loses truly free, fearless and independent media, it is not long before basic human rights and political freedoms in that society take their leave. When media become a mouthpiece – no, make it bullhorns – for government propaganda, then goodbye democracy, so long Islam.” (Dr. Pasha)