Democracy: One of the Objectives of Shari`ah?

Democracy: One of the Objectives of Shari`ah?

 Away from the approach of prohibiting and revoking, or the approach that exploits the legitimization of tyranny, Dr. Ahmed Al-Raysouni considers the issue of democracy, or democratic organization, in relation to well-established Islamic principles.

Dr. Al-Raysouni is a jurist who specially focuses on the objectives of Shari`ah and an expert at the Islamic Fiqh Academy. He discusses the dire need for democracy from a realistic and shar`i perspective that turns it into an aspect of Shura in its moral and spiritual sense, and into a tool for liberation from political autocracy in most Muslim countries.

Presenting the viewpoint of Dr. Al-Raysouni on democracy is especially significant for two reasons. First, he combines shar`i knowledge with political activism. Al-Raysouni is a former head of an Islamic movement in Morocco and member of the national council of the Moroccan Justice and Development party. Second, he is keen on deepening the Shari`ah-based consideration of this issue, relying on the shar`i justifications that make democracy a main Shari`ah objective and one of the tools for achieving justice, freedom, and progress. This tool can also be used as a means for stamping out tyranny, oppression, and underdevelopment that grip the Muslim world today.

In his book "Shura in the Battle of Development", Al-Raysouni elaborates on the meeting and separation areas between democracy and Shura. He further discusses this issue in an article published at his official website, titled "Islamists and Democracy".

Merits of Democratic Systems

Before explaining the need of the Muslim world for democracy and its usefulness in establishing the Shura system and providing the procedural tools needed for its application, Al-Raysouni first expands on the shar`i ground for sanctioning the principle of benefiting from others what proves to be good and beneficial. He bases his opinion on shar`i texts as well as practical applications by the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), his Companions, and the righteous among the succeeding generation.

The Islamic approach is marked by openness and comprehensiveness which is rooted in the noble Qur’an. One of the important lessons mentioned in this sacred book can be derived from the story of the hoopoe. Though not a reasoning human being, the hoopoe brought "sure news" to Prophet Solomon (peace be upon him), which gave rise to historic change by the conversion of the Queen of Sheba to Islam.

The Qur’an also guides us to take lessons from the story of the two sons of Adam. The crow, another unreasoning creature, taught the killer how to bury his brother’s dead body.

It is clearly indicated in these two Qur’anic stories that we have to learn from others, whoever they may be, in case they act rightly and wisely or prove to be more experienced, knowledgeable, or skillful in some area.

This approach was adopted by the early Muslims, during the Prophet’s lifetime. Digging the trench and using the pulpit for sermon delivery and Adhan are examples of the openness of Muslims to the ideas inspired by others. This approach, according to Al-Raysouni, proves that "it is permissible to follow the example of others whenever they act rightly and perfectly. The criterion here is whether what they do is in accordance with Islam, benefits Muslims, and serves their interests." (Shura in the Battle of Development, page 154)