DEMOCRACY AND THE VOTE HARAM SCHOLARS –Abdulkadir Salaudeen
Politics is what the political scientists say it is. That also goes for democracy. The political scientists who studied it and how it was/is practiced across the globe should be the ones to tell us what it is and what it is not. Democracy is a system of government where majority have their way and the minority have their say. It is, succinctly, a very flexible system that is amenable to what the majority wants it to be. From this point of view, it can be kufr (disbelief) but not inherently kufr. Similarly, it can be Islamic but not inherently Islam. It depends on the mindsets and the beliefs of those who constitute the majority in its legislative arm and steer the affairs of governmet.
So it will be foolhardiness, for Muslims in country like Nigeria, to reject a system which allows such flexibility and adaptability under which we must live in the absence of a better implementable alternative. Or, do Nigerian Muslims have other countries to live aside Nigeria where Shari’a is implemented? If one or two individual Muslims can migrate to Saudi Arabia and make it a new residential home, it is glaringly impossible for all Nigerian Muslims in their millions to migrate. And mind you, if you think democracy is un-Islamic, how did you arrive at your conclusion that monarchy is Islamic?
Saudi Arabia practices monarchical system of government which is also un-Islamic. If we were to use the logic of these Salafi Hell Admission Officers, then we should conclude that the monarchical system of government in Saudi Arabia is also kufr—especially under Muhammad bn Salman. It used to be a constitutional monarchy where the Qur’an was held to be its constitution with a semblance of Shari’a. That apparently isn’t the case any more. The Saudi Monarchy, as at the time of writing this article, is anything but constitutional. Can these Vote Haram scholars help declare Saudi’s system of government kufr? By doing this, at least, they will absolve themselves of double standard. And since Saudi recently adopted a system of voting, that should even aggravate their kufruness.
Let me quickly debunk one stupid and ahistorical notion peddled about democracy. It is said to be disingenuously contrived by the West to fight Islam and uproot any of its vestiges wherever they exist. It is pardonable if such notion was spewed and propagated by village clerics whose major sources of knowledge are oral transmission and folklores and do not have access to literature. But it will be a shameless display of crass ignorance if this is coming from clerics who should know, pretend not know, or are able to know but choose not to.
If you don’t know the origin of democracy, the general command from the Qur’an (16: 43, 21: 7) is to ask those who know. Democracy had existed as a form of government (not as a religion) more than a millennium before Prophet Muhammad SAW and the Islam he brought. The Islam which democracy is originally meant to wipe out of existence is actually that which I don’t know.
If we assume the fear is genuine in respect to Nigerian democracy due to religious intolerance and religiously induced political violence, is it political apathy and outright condemnation of it that will allay that fear? Can’t the Muslims (with their majority status) redefine democracy and remove all its alleged traces of kufr to advance their interests since they are unable to implement the Shari’a?
Though existed a millennium before the Prophet SAW, democracy can be deconstructed, reconstructed, and reformed. No conscientious sheikh (religious scholar) should ignore or fail to understand the flexibility and adaptability inherent in democracy. Unfortunately, this is exactly what these unthinking, uncritical, unconscientious, and unidirectional Vote Haram scholars ignored or failed to see. Rather than use their thinking cap, they chose to hurl all prospective Muslim voters to Hell Fire.
If they understood democracy, it is a system which flexibility, in the absence of Shari’a, could be exploited to give life to the Qur’an and a million of hadith they claimed to have memorized. I hope someone can help pull the wool off their eyes so that they can see clearly. For it is one thing to memorize a corpus of hadith and religious books full of ideal principles and teachings, and yet it is another thing to make them relevant and implementable in the real world. This is called wisdom. Some of these senseless scholarly assertions could be best described as the unmaking of the Qur’an such that it becomes unsuitable for the modern world. Contrarily, the Qur’an is a timeless book with perpetual relevance and practicalness.
They claim there is not a scintilla of benefit in democracy. This is an unreasonable ignorance and an utterance which should not be expected from anyone (not to talk of scholars) who is in touch with reality. To cite one from among many instances; the recent triumph of the Muslims at the Supreme Court over the unnecessary issue of the legality of donning the hijab by Muslim students was as a result of democracy—that is, its dividend. It wasn’t as a result of Shari’a nor was it as a result of the preaching or practice of tawheed (Islamic monotheism) which these ‘salafi’ scholars have reduced Islam to as if nothing else exists in Islam. I expected them to reject the court ruling on hijab because it is a Kufr court (which rules by other than Allah’s law) that ruled over it. Common sense.
Thank God that those Supreme Court Muslim Justices who sat on the matter and gave the ruling did not subscribe to the dangerous ideology of haramizing (illegalizing) studying any law that is not the Shari’a. Of the seven justices, five of them supported the judgment. Of these five, three are apparently Muslims. The two other supporters are non-Muslims. This also lays bare the falsity of the assertion that every non-Muslim is always against the Muslims.
Ahmad Atif Ahmad in his book The Fatigue of the Shari‘a rightly says, “To assert, however, that non-Shari‘a laws has nothing good in them would be an extreme that could probably not be promoted by any Muslim jurist who had strong contacts with non-Islamic laws. [But this is promoted by our so-called salafi sheikhs]. In the modern era, Muslim jurists saw good and bad in non-Islamic laws.” He further gives many historical instances of nice comments made by some notable scholars and jurists about non-Shari’a laws. All said, the revealed law remains the best. There is more to say on Muslims participation in elections and the Vote Haram scholars.
To be continued.
A PASSING TRIBUTE TO SHEIKH YUSUF QARADAWI
We lost an eminent nonagenarian scholar few days ago. I always hope that he lives to become a centenarian scholar. But let’s assume Allah loves him more. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi transited to the other World few days ago (Monday). He is no doubt, a global mufti. Some even said he is the most knowledgeable jurist of his time. He is indeed a jurist of this century. I understand it is heretical, to some of these fiery modern day salafists, to mourn Qaradawi. A list of Nigerian clerics who prayed for him might soon be compiled for admission into Hell. Anyone is free to publicize my heresy for mourning and paying tribute to this encyclopedic scholar.
His passion for Islam and concern for Muslims welfare globally—in his life time—is near unparalleled. He remains one of the finest scholars of both 20th and 21st centuries. I do have some disagreements with him (and so with any living or late scholar) as a student of knowledge, he remains a scholar to reckon with. May Allah forgive his sins, overlook his shortcomings, accept his monumental scholarly works on Islam, and grant him Jannatul Firdaus.