Islam - Democracy's Dilemma?

While the recent Arab Spring uprisings toppled both the Tunisian President Ben Ali and the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, other authoritarian leaders are clinging to power in Libya, Syria and Yemen. Although these developments created a considerable democratic momentum in the region not much has yet been achieved, as full, stable, and secure democracies are still nowhere in sight. Of all the challenges facing democracy in the world. perhaps, the greatest yet lies in the Islamic world, where only a handful of states “have made significant strides towards establishing democratic systems.”[1] Therefore, now, more than ever, is the time to focus on the ultimate compatibility between the Islamic political theory and the liberal democratic discourse.
Recent agreement between Hamas and Fatah in the occupied Palestinian territories, the official registration of the first Muslim Brotherhood political party in Egypt, the success of the Kuwaiti Islamist parties in establishing a nation-wide boycott of French products following the country’s introduction of the ban on wearing niqab in public, the continuous successes of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in Turkey, and finally the ever-more prominent presence of Hizbullah in Lebanon, all indicate sustained gains of political power by the Islamist movements in the region. Since both most of the Islamist movements and a significant percentage of Muslims in the region express widespread support for shāri’ah as the ultimate source of legislation in their countries (as much as around 79 per cent of respondents of the recent Gallup poll argue for its incorporation in state’s legislation – see Figure 1), it is imperative that one questions the roles Islam may play in establishing democracy in the region.
Many among the Westerners appalled by the lack of freedoms in the Islamic word, as well as Muslims that fail to see democracy as anything more than another project of imperialism,[2] would agree with Amir Taheri that Islam as a religion and a source of civilisational tradition is inherently incompatible with democracy.[3] This paper, however, argues that such recognition strays from a long-standing theoretical tradition of moral and political values of plurality, communal consensus seeking, and non-autocratic, consultative mode of governance that find themselves well within the scope of a democratic paradigm.
The scope of this paper requires initially a quick introduction to three different models of democracy: electoral, participatory and liberal, that will be then assessed in terms of their presence in and compatibility with the Islamic political theory of governance. Moreover, the question posed here introduces the initially self-evident logical distinction between Islam as a moral and axiological faith system, and democracy as a political and morally neutral system of governance. The intricacy of this distinction lies at the core of the fundamental dispute over the question of sovereignty in Islamic societies, which will be then discussed as one of the challenges democracy faces in a predominantly Muslim environment. Despite considerable popular variance in understanding the origins of power in a Muslim society, there appears to be a set of social and political values, and legalistic institutions, such as shura, bay’a, ijtihad, tasamuh, qist, maslaha and ikhtilaf that may constitute a strong future basis for establishing democracy in an Islamic setting. Finally, the focus of this paper will turn to the recent Arab Spring, its potential for the future of democracy in the region, as well as some other potential repercussions it may cause.

Democracy… but which?

Democracy, one of the most misused and misinterpreted modern political concepts, connotes a number of various, often-conflicting understandings. Adequate appreciation for the complexities of various theoretical paradigms associated with democratic theory, although of secondary importance to this paper, allows a more adequate reading of contemporary experiments with democracy in the Middle East and other parts of the Islamic world.
Figure 1: D. Mogahed, Islam and Democracy: Special Report- Muslim World
The Gallup Center for Muslim Studies (Washington: Gallup Inc., 2006): 2.
For the purpose of this research it is relevant to briefly introduce three, arguably, most important theoretical frameworks of electoral, liberal and participatory democracy. Joseph Schumpeter’s model essentially focuses on the notion of democracy as “an institutional arrangement for reaching political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of competitive struggle for people’s votes.”[4] Although this model indubitably separates itself from authoritarianism and instead confers the legislative powers on the wider public, it does not require the elimination of separate domains of power reserved for the military, the clergy and others, as in the valyi al-faqih system in Iran, notes Esposito.[5]
Liberal democracy, on the other hand, is “a political system marked not only by free and fair elections, but also by the rule of law, a separation of powers, and the protection of basic liberties of speech, assembly, religion, and property.”[6] Not only does it emphasise the essentially fair and open electoral process but also stresses on the most basic liberal requirement of protecting the individual and all the minority groups within a given society. However, despite being the most popular and widespread model of democracy, the liberal constitutional theory found itself a number of significant critics both in the Western world and elsewhere.
Barber’s participatory democracy represents one such criticism of liberal democracy. As a truly Rousseauian counterargument to Schumpeterian elective oligarchy[7] it aims to develop a model comfortably comparable to both Habermas’ ‘discoursive democracy’, and Cohen and Sabel’s ‘directly-deliberative polyarchy’,[8] in which they attempt to offset the dangers of the tyrant of the majority while retaining the basic individual rights. Moreover, democracy in its participatory mode offers a response to, what some believed was, a transparent democratic deficit of liberal democracy, as “incompatible with freedom,” and “produc[ing] distrustful, passive citizens.”[9]

Islam – religion or politics?

In spite of a huge diversity of opinion on the nature of democracy among the scholars, there appears to be a clear consensus on the common denominators of any democratic system of governance. Democracy is believed to be a system of popular sovereignty that respects the freedom of speech and assembly, as well as grants the universal right to protest against, object to and oppose the government that both stems from a periodic, open and fair electoral process, and recognises the separation of its executive, legislative and the essentially independent judicial branches. It is therefore, imperative that we question the compatibility of those concepts with Islam.
However, is it not slightly erroneous to examine the affinity of a modern political system of democracy and a religious faith system of Islam? Similar question was also often posed at the onset of democracy in the West, then arguing for the incompatibility of Christianity and democracy. It appears that the indispensable here is to establish whether Islam represents an independent political system. Here again, the opinion is widely split between two major groups, the Islamic political rejectionists and their opposition – the accomodationists.
The rejectionists, such as ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq & Muhammad Sa’id al-‘Ashmawy, commonly ‘depoliticise’ Islam and argue for a fundamental distinction between Islam as a religion, and democracy as a political construct that is alien to any given religion for it originates in a secular theory of governance, widely independent of any religious ethical bases.[10] In his book, Islamisme contre l’Islame, al-‘Ashmawy not only argues that Islamists misuse such ideas as the “application of the shāri’ah” (taqnin al shāri’ah), arguably in order to get popular support for their political programme, but they also totally disregard the fact that “political rule had not been part of the prophetic mission of Muhammad and that religion and government should be separate in Islam,” as noted by Shepard.[11] Furthermore, ‘liberal’ modernists, like al-Ashmawy, insist that the shāri’ah is predominantly “the way or method of Islam,” and that “in the Qur'an it does not mean either law (qānūn) or legislation (tashri’).”[12]
The accomodationists, on the other hand, are adamant in their claim that one can clearly discern a specific Islamic political system based on the message of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, thus rendering democracy in the Islamic context as only additional to or enhancing the overall political Islamic legacy. Sayyid and Muhammad Qutb go even further to denounce any other political systems, including democracy as “un-Islamic.”[13] In spite of this clearly negative message, many of their contemporary followers accept some aspects of democracy. The Islamist liberals, a clear minority in the wider Islamist movement, call for incorporation of the basic liberal concepts into the Islamic political system. However, the majority of Islamist subscribe themselves to, what could be called, an electoral accomodationist wing and while emphasising majoritarianism they accept the Schumpeterian definition of democracy.[14] Islamist organisations and parties, like Hamas, Hizbullah, AKP and the Muslim Brotherhood, would certainly fit this description, as they strive to enhance their popular following in an open electoral process.[15] There has been, however, a considerable fear among the policy makers that those movements are inclined to misuse the system and allow for the so-called “one man, one vote – once.” predicament[16]
However, are the Islamist right to claim there is a clear-cut political system of Islam? I believe they are not. As governance and the use of political power in any given country stems from a particular understanding of the underlying legal system, the Islamic system should be then based on the Shāri’ah. This is precisely, where the whole problem starts, for; although theoretically disputed by radicals, such as Khomeini and others; shāri’ah and the Qur’an provide us with a set of fundamental values rather than any fixed juristic rulings or a particular system of governance applicable to all times.[17] Some have even argued that democracy is unlikely to spread in the Middle East, due to the persistent presence of Islam-based authoritarianism. As popular and as convincing this line of argumentation may sound, the actual truth is slightly different. Wright correctly points out the most antidemocratic and authoritarian regimes in the region – such as Brunei, Indonesia, Iraq, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, Syria, and Turkmenistan – “are secular autocrats who refuse to share power with their brethren.”[18] Wickham advances that “as we [Muslims] have a human understanding of is a mistake for us to say that there is a certain system that represents the Islamic system”[19]
It would be, however, equally incorrect to overlook some of the clear political dimensions one can distinguish within Islamic philosophy. Although Krämer is right to note that shāri’ah should be primarily defined by its ‘empty spaces’,[20] the overall message of Islam undoubtedly provides a set of fundamental values of a distinctly political nature. A selection of these principles and tools advanced in the Qur’an and the Sunnah will now facilitate the examination of both the potential bases for and the most serious challenges to democracy in the Islamic context.

Democracy – non-Islamic in origin but yet compatible with Islamic society?

Historical development of the Islamic political thought spans across all the centuries of Islam and numerous schools of jurisprudence, philosophy and kalam.[21] Scholarly, juristic and religious thought produced a wide-ranging set of often conflicting political concepts. Therefore, Ashour argues that “theoretical interpretations of Islam can … be used to support various types of political regimes, ranging from repressive authoritarianism and ‘religio-fascism’ to tolerant pluralism and liberal democracy.”[22]
Even at the very beginning of the Muslim ummah Prophet Mohammed was not blind to various political and societal problems challenging the Arabs at that time, i.e. legal standing of women within the society, principles of just rule, tribal unrest and rivalries, criminal justice or the tradition of slavery in Arabia. Some of the rules introduced by Mohammed were truly revolutionary and could clearly now serve as a ‘blueprint’ for the construction of democracy.[23] “Islam is not lacking in tenets and practices that are compatible with pluralism. Among these are the traditions of ijtihad (interpretation), ijma (consensus), and shura (consultation),” as noted by Wright.[24] Nevertheless, the more orientalist scholars, such as Huntington, state “that the Koran may serve as a hindrance to the development of democratic ideals and [believe] that Islamic scripture is at least partially responsible for the lack of democratic political systems in the Muslim world.”[25]
Although Islam may, indeed, lack in certain well-established and fundamental democratic concepts and tools, and remains largely ambiguous to the extent to which democracy can be implemented in an Islamic setting, two fundamental juristic tools of the Shāri’ah: the independent interpretation of law (ijtihād) and the scholarly disagreement (ikhtilāf) provide most hope for the future of democracy in Islam. The vast historical diversity of the juristic scholarship is often used to indicate the dynamism of the Shāri’ah. This dynamism not only lies at the bottom of our deliberations and allows for a democratic re-interpretation of the Islamic political thought, but also exemplifies the essential embedment of ijtihād in the very structure of Islamic law. As Johnston argues, “shāri’ah is divine, but in everyday life we experience it as ijtihâd.”[26] Similarly, ‘Adb Al-Rahman ‘Azzam, a prominent Egyptian Arab nationalist, argues that:
“Islam is definite and conclusive on all general principles … [but] when it comes to implementing these principles, one can see clearly the flexibility of the Islamic shari’ah and the authority it gives to our reason and our effort  (ijtihâd).”[27]
In contrast, Sheikh Al-Qaradawi, the scriptualists of Qutb, some radical Salafis or the historical Zahiris,[28] either consider ijtihâd a matter of the enlightened Islamic past or even outright haram (sinful and unacceptable), and would rather prefer to follow the well-established, yet infamous longstanding tradition of imitation of the previously established rulings (taqlīd) that arguably led to a major suspense of the Islamic sciences. One must remember that ijtihâd was once considered to be “the ultimate act of worship (‘ibādāh)”.[29] The institution of ijtihâd is, indeed, fundamentally and essentially inherent to the essence of both the Shāri’ah, and the Qur’an itself. ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib, Mohammed’s cousin and the fourth rightly guided caliph, is understood to claim that the Qur'an is but ink and paper, it does not speak for itself.[30] Since humans understand Qur’an and the sunna only as they subjectively perceive it, it is the human agency, the ijtihâd, and our personal judgement that is central to our deliberation and can provide for the basis of democracy in the Middle East.
Human factor in political and security matters appears to be deeply grounded in the early hadith describing the moral conditions of peace negotiations and defence engagement. Mohammed is believed to say:
“[...] if you [army commanders] met the enemy and then they asked for [peace] talks [based] on God’s judgment [terms or conditions], then do not agree. Ask them for [peace] talks on your and your companion’s judgment [terms or conditions], because you never know if you will be able to meet God’s judgment regarding them or not.”[31]
In this particular hadith the meaning of “talks [based] on God’s judgment” refers to an understanding that peace talks must not be based on the subjective understanding of “God’s judgment” by certain commanders, for what they believe to be the true meaning of the Qur’an and sunna may, despite all the knowledge and expertise they possess, be in fact be dissimilar to the actual meaning, which the humans are not capable of ascertaining indubitably during their worldly life. The emphasis on human agency and the role of ijtihâd in this hadith is certainly extraordinary. Indeed, in line with this hadith one could argue that contemporary policy makers should feel greatly encouraged to re-examine the role of Islamic political principles in the current geographic, historical and societal setting.

Shura – the Islamic Parliament?

Authoritarianism is certainly ripe in the Islamic world. The history of Islam abounds with totalitarian, despotic, non-democratic and essentially unfair rule. But the early ages of Islamic society provide some hope to those, who wish to establish democracy in the Middle East and the wider Islamic world. Although the Prophet did not specify any particular form of governance, he continuously advanced certain guidelines for the Islamic mode of conduct based on justice, freedom, shura in public affairs, and enjoining the good and forbidding the evil.[32]
Kuwait's Parliament; Credits:
The principle of shura is comfortably grounded in the Qur’an and sunna of the Prophet. In chapter Ash-shura one reads:
„...who obey their Lord, attend to their prayers, and conduct their affairs by mutual consent: who bestow in alms part of what We have given them and, when oppressed, seek to redress their wrongs.“[33]
Whereas, sura Aal-e-Imran demands the Prophet to “take counsel with them in the conduct of affairs.”[34] Both these âyât clearly advocate for the popular governance to be based in communal consultation
Although historically the Muslim scholars were divided as to the status of these âyât, even those of the classical scholars, who did not perceive shura to be fard (Islamic obligation), they all commonly agreed to consider it mandub (recommended) for all Muslim communities.[35]  Moussalli reiterates that while the Islamic scholars of the past did not use the term ‘democracy’ to explain the consultative form of governance of the early ummah, the extent of power that was vested in the people comes close to our current understanding of democracy.[36] Al-Ghazali interestingly emphasises the role of shura and claims that “[d]espotic, non- consultative, decision-making, even if from a wise and learned person is objectionable and unacceptable.”[37]
Unfortunately, establishing democracy within an Islamic setting requires more than only utilising the juristic ijtihâd and the institution of shura, Some of the fundamental democratic precepts of governance, such as periodic alternation of political power through popular election, are clearly inexistent in the Islamic political thought. Nonetheless, the principle of bay’a (an oath of allegiance to the leader) is the closest Islamic equivalent.
The Prophet did not leave any straightforward guidelines as to the electoral process within the ummah. However, over the years it became clear among the Muslim community that establishing a legitimate leader of an Islamic state requires a universal oath of allegiance – bay’a to that individual. As in any other community or religion, so in Islam there were three different forms of gaining power within a society. An Islamic ruler was mostly chosen either through shura, or through istikhlaf (nomination by ailing ruler), or though ghalaba (victory, triumph, nomination by force).[38] All these, however, still require the communal acceptance through bay’a, which is also rendered potentially revocable. Additionally, the legal contractual status of bay’a, coupled with the notion of juristic ijtihâd allows for a modern re-interpretation of bay’a and possibly implementation of periodic elections.[39]
The Islamic concept of shura clearly represents a great democratic potential. However, as El Fadl indicates it is susceptible to majoritarianism. He notes, “[...] even if the ethic of shura is expanded into a broader concept of a participatory government, concerns about majority tyranny underscore that the moral commitments informing the lawmaking process are as important as the process itself.”[40] Barber used similar argument in his critique of liberal democracy and his advancement of the participatory mode of governance. Barber’s strong democracy “as politics in the participatory mode”[41] will is meant to be initially introduced as a panacea for persistent democratic deficits of liberal democracy, and a truly Rousseauian counterargument to Schumpeterian elective oligarchy.[42]

Democracy and repression?

One of Barber’s major arguments against liberal democracy regarded the inability of that system to protect the individual rights of citizens and minorities. It is often argued in the West, and quite rightly so, that the Islamic world has a very poor record of tolerance, protection of minority and individual rights, as well as human rights. The region is also notorious for political oppression and total suppression of any expression of dissent. Clearly this was one of the focal points of the Arab Spring. Political repression and discrimination, as well as lack of human rights provisions lie at the bottom of the unrest in Bahrain, Syria and Egypt. It is certainly inaccurate to attribute the regional unrest to political reasons only, for the economy played a significant role too, but one must not forget the significant role, with which these issues continue to shape the situation in the region.
Credits: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America
However, it remains totally imperative to remember that this situation does not really stem from any underlying religious factors. In fact, one can argue that the principle of tasamuh (tolerance) is central to the message of Islam. Majority of scholars interpret Islam as fundamentally opposed to discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, class and, to a lesser extent, tribe. The Qur’an abounds with textual examples of this principle. Surah Hud, explicitly introduces diversity among people as God’s conscious choice and will.[43]
Moreover, according to Al-Buti, Mohammed is believed to argue that “the Arabs are not better than non-Arabs and non-Arabs are not better than Arabs, whites are not better than blacks and blacks are not better than whites, unless one is more righteous than the other.”[44] Even the contemporary empirical evidence indicates that majority of the Middle Easterners will to incorporate freedom of expression and opinion on political, social, and economic issues into their constitutions.[45] However, there is still a difficult issue of religious, sexual and gender discrimination. Islamic societies are unfortunately quite restrictive when it comes to gay, bisexual and transgender people. Moreover, the problem of apostasy remains to be one of the most disputed issues among the scholars. Apostates continue to be rendered state enemies in many of the Islamic countries and often face death penalty. Religious discrimination lies at the bottom of the current unrest in Bahrain, where the Sunni led regime openly discriminates against their Shia majority. Similar situation exists in Saudi Arabia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and others, where religious minority groups are constantly discriminated against both on personal and structural level. This is clear obstacle in the process of establishing any liberal democracy in the region.

Democratic Islam vs. God’s sovereignty

The most fundamental challenge yet, however, comes from the understanding of sovereignty within Islam. Democracy is often argued to be a product of Western civilisation, as it emphasises the rights over duties, the individual over the divine. Hence, for people like Abdul R. Moten, democracy becomes antithetical to the Islamic way of life.[46] It is precisely the understanding of the superiority of the human over the divine that makes many Muslims most uncomfortable about democracy. Historically, laws made by a sovereign monarch were deemed illegitimate, as they appeared to substitute God’s sovereignty with human authority.[47]
As indicated by El Fadl, “it is in the Khawarij’s rallying cry of “dominion belongs to God” or “the Qur’an is the judge” (la hukma illa li’llah or al-hukmu li’l-Qur’an)” that this situation is most explicitly apparent.[48] These statements are, on the other hand, nearly identical to those of the contemporary Islamist, who ironically universally detest the Khawarij. For many of those “Qur’an is the [only] constitution,” as noted by Ayubi.[49] For organisations such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic Jihad “the Shari’ah is the blueprint to which the structure of society and state must … conform,” notes Coulson.[50] “In Islam it is not the government ‘of the people’; it is the ‘government of Allah’”, reminds Sayyid S. A. Rizvi.[51]

The Arab Spring – the onset of democracy in the Middle East?

Recent development in the Middle East have brought much happiness to supporters of democracy in the region and worldwide. Both Tunisia and Egypt faces now a dramatic shift in their governance. Popular unrest there caused Presidents Ben Ali of Tunisia and Mubarak of Egypt to step down unexpectedly. These events are totally unprecedented in their extent and effectiveness. The authoritarian domino started falling causing unrest in Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Bahrain, Syria, Yemen and Oman. Not many of the Middle Eastern political experts saw it coming that quickly. We are now faced with an entirely different Middle East, where regular people, till then subdued and largely apolitical, started expressing their views openly and expect to see outcomes of their protests.
This will certainly have major implications for the spread of democracy in the region. Now that the majority of people in the region believe that Islam is not a fundamental obstacle to democracy, Arab authoritarianism may start to crumble. People demand more transparency, accountability and less corruption and repression. However, the road to democracy here is still uncertain. Local demand for democratic change must be coupled with serious international and local support for economic change. As Baroness Ashton mentioned recently during a meeting in the Brookings Doha Centre, this change will not materialise unless supported by further funding and international support. Unfortunately, here we face yet another obstacle to this process of change. Western governments, although rhetorically supportive, often do not deliver enough financial support to the newly-born or about-to-be-born democracies.
Moreover, one cannot fail to notice that the democratic change, or its attempt, is sometimes not met with content and support in the West. The call for democracy and legitimacy in Bahrain, the aftermath of the successful popular elections in Palestine, the historical experiences of democracy in Algeria, were all largely uncomfortable to Western powers. In fact, sometimes the support for authoritarianism in countries like Yemen, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and others lies in the strategic interest of the United States and other Western powers. Therefore, establishing stable and secure democracies in the Middle Eastern region will not only require a modern re-interpretation of the Islamic principles but also a shift in the policy directions of the American and European partners.
Finally, one has to recognise and remember that “There is nothing in the history of Islam that precludes the development of a liberal democratic form of government.” [52] Although the plight for democracy in the region is still far from actual long-lasting realisation, the recent Arab Spring coupled with numerous re-examination and re-interpretation of Islamic principles provides much hope for the future.
[1] Robin Wright, “Two Visions of Reformation,” Journal of Democracy 7, no. 2 (1996): 64.
[2] A. H. C. H. Hoffmann, “Islam and Democracy,” in Lecture at International Symposium on Islam & Sweden (Malmö: Civilization and Human Relations The Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) in conjunction with European Islamic Conference (EIC), December 2003). Sayyid Qutb perceives democracy to be a Western “intellectual assault” and “cultural assault” on the Islamic world. See: S. Qutb, Ma'lim fi al-tariq (Beirut: Dar al-Shorouk, 1973): 248.
[3] A. Taheri in Islam is Incompatible with Democracy: An Intelligence Squared Debate, Audible Audio Edition (London: Intelligence Squared Ltd, 2005). For further information on various aspects of the incompatibility of Islam and democracy see: B. Tibi, “The Clash of Shariah and Democracy,” The New York Times, 16 September 2005, (accessed December 1, 2009)., and N. J Coulson, “The State and The Individual in the Islamic Law,” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly (Cambridge University Press) 6, no. 1 (January 1957): 49-60.
[4] J. Schumpeter, Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy (New York: Harper, 1950): 269.
[5] J. L. Esposito, Islam and Politics (Syracuse, New York: Syracuse University Press,, 1998): 216.
[6] F. Zakaria, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” Foreign Affairs, Novemeber 1997.
[7] B. R. Barber, „Neither Leader nor Followers: Citizenship under Strong Democracy,“ in A Passion for Democracy: American Essays, 95-110 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998), 98-9.
[8] D. Fuchs, „Models of Democracy: Participatory, Liberal and Electronic Democracy,“ Workshop 22: “Bringing Citizens Back in – Participatory Democracy and Political Participation” (Edinburgh: ECPR Joint Sessions of Workshops, 28. March 2003), 16.
[9] B. R. Barber, Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age, 20th Anniversary Edition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003): 146, 145, 219.
[10] For further information see: A. A. al-Raziq, Al-Islam Wa Usul Al-Hukm: Bahth Fi-l Khilafa Wa-l Hukuma Fi-l Islam [Islam and the Foundations of Governance: Research on the Caliphate and Governance in Islam] (Beirut, 1978); A. H. Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1962): 183-92; and L. Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique of Development Ideologies (London and Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1988): chap. 4; W. E. Shepard, “Muhammad Sa'id al-'Ashmawi and the Application of the Shari'a in Egypt,” International Journal of Middle East Studies (Cambridge University Press) 28, no. 1 (February 1996): 39-58.
[11]  ibid.
[12] ibid.: 43. For a similar argument see W. B. Hallaq, Shari'a: Theory, Practice, Transformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009): 4. Hallaq normally speaks of indications (dalalaq) that lead to the causes (‘illa) of the legal rulings, as incorporated in the fiqh.
[13] For more information see: Muhammad Qutb, Mazahib Fikriyya Mu‘asira [Contemporary Intellectual Ideologies] (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1983); and Sayyid Qutb, Al-‘adala al-Ijtima‘iya fi al-Islam [Social Justice in Islam] (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1980).
[14] O. Ashour, “Democratic Islam? Assessing the Bases of Democracy in Islamic Political Thought,” McGill Journal of Middle East Studies IX (2007-2008): 9.
[15] Shepard, op. cit.: 41.
[16] A. Romirowsky, “One Man, One Vote - Once,” Middle East Forum, 12 December 2005, (accessed April 30, 2011).
[17] Khomeini once argued, “Any law, which is incompatible with Shāri’ah is not a law.” This injunction, however, proved to be highly impractical for the Islamic Republic. Iranian realities forced the regime to implement subsequent emendations of the Islamic law. See: A. Niknam, “The Islamization of Law in Iran: The Time of Disenchantment,” Middle East Report (Middle East Research and Information Project), no. 212 (Autumn 1999), p. 20.
[18] Wright, op. cit.): 64.
[19] C. Wickham, “The Path to Moderation: Strategy and Learning in the Formulation of Egypt’s Wasat (the Centre) Party,” Comparative Politics 36, no. 2 (2004): 205-228.
[20] G. Krämer, “Drawing Boundaries: Yusuf Al-Qaradawi on Apostasy,” in Speaking For Islam: Religious Authorities in Muslim Societies, ed. G. Krämer and S. Schmidtke (Leiden: Brill, 2006), p. 205.
[21] Kalam is a name commonly used to denote Islamic theology and to differentiate it from the Greco-Christian origins of the term ‘theology’.
[22] Ashour, op. cit.: 9.
[23] S. R. Hofmann, “Islam and Democracy: Micro-Level Indications of Compatibility,” Comparative Political Studies (Sage Publications) 37, no. 6 (August 2004): 655.
[24] Wright, op. cit.: 65.
[25] Hofmann, op. cit.: 655.
[26] D. L. Johnston, “'Allal Al-Fasi: Shari'a as Blueprint for Righteous Global Citizenship?,” in Shari'a: Islamic Law in the Contemporary Context (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007), p. 96.
[27] ‘Adb Al-Rahman 'Azzam, Al-Risala al-khalida (Cairo: Al-Majlis al-a'la li-l-shu'un al-islamiyya, 1964): 212
[28] In terms of their epistemology and ontology, Zahiris argued for the restriction of reason and adherence to the letter of the revealed sources. El Fadl cites their famous mottos: “Dominion belongs to God” and that “Qur’an is the judge.” Sayyid Qutb certainly follows their path and states: “No ijtihâd where there is a text.” See: Khaled Abou El Fadl, “Islam and the Challenge of Democracy,” Boston Review, April/May 2003, (accessed March 12, 2011); and Qutb 1973, op. cit.: 95.
[29] El Fadl 2001, op. cit., p. 11.
[30] Shihab al-Din Ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani, Fath al-Bari bi Sharh Sahih al-Bukhar vol. 3 (The Opening of Bari [God] in Explaining Sahih al-Bukhar) (Beirut: Dar al- Fikr, 1993): 303; Muhammad b. ‘Ali b. Muhammad al-Shawkani, Nayl al-Awtar Sharh Muntaqa al-Akhbar (Cairo: Dar al- Hadith, n.d.): 7:166.
[31] Muslim al-Naysaburi, “Sahih Muslim [The Correct Hadith Gathered by Muslims],” Al Muhaddith Project, 2011 15-March, bin/a_Optns.exe?
[32] Ahmad S. Moussalli, The Islamic Quest for Democracy, Pluralism, and Human Rights (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2001): 32.
[33] M. A. S. Abdel Haleem, trans., The Qur'an, trans. M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005): 42:38.
[34] ibid.: 3:159.
[35] El Fadl, op. cit.
[36] Moussalli, op. cit.: 33.
[37] Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, Fada’ih al-Batiniyya, ed. ‘Abd al-Rahman (Cairo: Dar al-Qawmiyya, 1964): 186, 191; Muhammad Jalal Sharaf and ‘Ali Abd al-Mu’ti Muhammad, al-Fikr al-Siyasi fi al-Islam: Shakhsiyyat wa Madhahib (Alexandria: Dar al-jami’at al-Msriyya, 1978): 399-403.
[38] Ashour, op. cit.: 15.
[39] Islamic contract are normally expected to have a prescribed time limit. Since bay‘a is commonly considered to be a legal contract it could then be re-interpreted as to requiring a periodic re-establishment through popular elections. This would then provide for a democratic alternation of political power.
[40] El Fadl, op. cit.
[41] Benjamin R. Barber, Strong Democracy: Participatory Politics for a New Age, 20th Anniversary Edition (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2003), 132.
[42] Benjamin R. Barber, „Neither Leader nor Followers: Citizenship under Strong Democracy,“ in A Passion for Democracy: American Essays, 95-110 (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1998), 98-9.
[43] “If thy Lord had so willed, He could have made mankind one people, but they will not cease to dispute . . .” (11:118).
[44] M. S. R. al-Buti, Fiqh al-Sirah (Malaysia: Dewan Pustaka Fajar, 2000): 361.
[45] Mogahed, op. cit.
[46] Abdul Rashid Moten, Political Science – An Islamic Perspective (London: Macmillan Press Ltd., 1996): 106.
[47] El Fadl, op. cit.. Also in: Muhammad Qutb, op. cit.: 221.
[48] ibid.
[49] N. N. Ayubi, Political Islam: Religion and Politics in the Arab World (London and New York: Routledge, 1991), pp. 230-238.
[50] N. J Coulson, “The State and The Individual in the Islamic Law,” The International and Comparative Law Quarterly (Cambridge University Press) 6, no. 1 (January 1957): 50.
[51] S. S. A. Rizvi, Imamate: The Vicegerency of the Prophet (Tehran: Wafis, 1985): 33.
[52] Moussalli, op. cit.: 46.

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