Friday, September 16, 2011

Islam can exist with democracy, says Erdogan

TUNIS: Tunisia’s new political order will show that Islam and democracy can co-exist just as they have in Turkey, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday.

Erdogan, in Tunis on the second stop of a North African tour aimed at asserting Ankara’s growing regional influence, said secularism should guarantee that people of all beliefs, as well as atheists, were treated fairly.

He said there was nothing to stop a Muslim from governing a secular state.

Tunisia plans to hold elections on Oct 23 to select an assembly to rewrite the constitution, nine months after the revolt that swept away President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali and sparked uprisings around the Arab world.

Islamist party Ennahda, banned for two decades under Ben Ali, is expected to poll strongly, unnerving Tunisian secularists. Erdogan said the country should have nothing to fear from the influence of Islam in politics.

“The most important thing of all, and Tunisia will prove this, (is that) Islam and democracy can exist side by side,” he told a joint news conference with counterpart Beji Caid Sebsi.

“Turkey, as a country which is 99 per cent Muslim, does this comfortably, we do not have any difficulty. There is no need to hinder this by putting forward different approaches. In the broadest sense, consultation will put forward the will of the people,” he said.

More than 90 political parties have sprung up in Tunisia since Ben Ali’s fall. Ennahda is seen with around 20 percent in the polls.

“Tunisia and Turkey confirm that there is no contradiction between Islam and democracy,” Sebsi, a secularist, said.

AL QAEDA THREAT: Erdogan has been holding up Turkey’s blend of Islam and democracy as a model for the movements which have toppled entrenched Arab autocrats in Tunis, Cairo and Tripoli.

“On the subject of secularism, this is not a secularism in the Anglo-Saxon or western sense. A person is not secular, the state is secular,” Erdogan said.

“A Muslim can govern a secular state in a successful way.”

Sebsi said they had discussed the relation between religion and the state as well as ways to fight security threats in a turbulent region — with a reference to Al Qaeda.

Tunisian officials have warned that Al Qaeda could be exploiting the Libyan conflict to acquire weapons and smuggle them into other countries. Tunisia arrested several men with suspected links to the group’s North African branch near the border earlier this year. After Erdogan received a rapturous welcome in Cairo this week, hundreds of Tunisians turned out to greet the Turkish premier at Tunis airport late on Wednesday, clutching portraits of him and hoisting banners reading “Welcome Erdogan!”

Ennahda leader Rachid Ghannouchi joined the crowds, praising Erdogan as someone who had “worked hard for Islam”.

Ennahda, a moderate Islamist movement which has close ties with Erdogan’s AK Party, has said Turkey’s political model is something it aspires to—Reuters

Source: Daily Dawn
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Several questions arose in my exhausted brain after reading this. I've got the worst toddler-hangover (if there is such a thing) in the history of hangovers! And it didn't help when I read this piece too, take a look:  

Arabs to avoid targeting Israel at UN atom meeting  
VIENNA: Arab states will refrain from targeting Israel over its assumed nuclear arsenal at a global meeting of UN atomic agency member countries next week, diplomats said on Thursday, an unexpected gesture of restraint sure to be welcomed by the West. [Source: Daily Dawn]

Unexpected gesture of restraint?? More like predictably disgusting gesture of spinelessness! I feel like punching something. Bad.

Anyway, this Islam with democracy question. It's been on my mind a lot, and reading this only cropped further questions in my mind. There are quite a few people now who say that Erdogan's version of political Islam doesn't really simulate the political Islam which had been introduced in Medina, and brought forward till the Ottomans. The political system that PM Erdogan has implemented in Turkey is a western system, only that he's trying to make it wear Islam's clothing.

Having said that, there is a vast majority of people who think that Erdogan has brought a revolutionary change in Turkey, because this was the center of the destruction of the Ottoman Empire, and converted into a completely secular state. Once the Ottoman Empire was lost, nothing could be done to bring back Turkey to practice Islam for its citizens. Except what Erdogan has done now. Based on the foundation laid by Arbakan.

[Did anybody know Arbakan was an engineer ? *grin*]

Khair. The question is: Which of the two points of view are true? If Turkey was afraid of even calling people to salah (giving adhan), at one time, is it not a big change what Turkey is, right now? If Ataturk had followed a completely secular model, then is it not a change that the Turkish rulers are the only ones now, openly challenging Israel?

On the other hand, what in the world does Erdogan mean when he says, 'A person is not secular, the state is secular'.

?

My quest for answers continues :(.

So long folks.

11 comments:

Mohammad Zafar said...

Assalamu a'laikum,

There has been lot of Ground work and waiting game that has been done by Turkish people to come till this day. Evil will definitely vanish, we have to work harder and do Sabr insha allah. The events that are happening are all look positive, but we have to pray to Allah to make'em real positive for the Ummah. We have suffered and still suffering in every part of the world whether its muslim country or not. As I say this...the picture of Prophet(s.a.w.s) digging the trench in the Battle of Trench showing another sahaabi of two stones tied to his stomach...greatest example for us to sacrifice for sake of Deen.

Uni said...

@Mohammad Zafar
Wa'alaikumassalaam

Very true (@ your first sentence). Jazakallah for the apt reminder and analogy.

Moon said...

What's interesting to note is that Mr. Erdogan seems to imply that secularism gives a model of governance which is superior to the Islamic model. And he not only wants to retain this model in Turkey, he wants to export this model to the rest of the Muslim world. The question to ask is, if it is not possible for him to call for implementation of Sharee'ah in its entirety in Turkey because of the huge influence of the secular elite there, what's stopping him from calling for full implementation of Sharee'ah in the rest of the Muslim world where the secular elite is not as strong as it is in Turkey?

Mr. Erdogan says,
secularism should guarantee that people of all beliefs, as well as atheists, were treated fairly.

Is he implying that Islam doesn't treat the people of all beliefs fairly? He doesn't seem to know that of all religious governments of the past, Islam has been the only religion that guarantees the rights of other beliefs under its rule. Not only are there strong Ahadith which protect the rights of minorities, but the history of the Islam is an evidence to this fact. For thousands of years Hindus, Christians etc lived under the shade of the Khilafah and were also offered the highest offices according to their merit. Jews in Islamic Spain enjoyed the best treatment in all history. On one of many occasions where Prophet SAW regulated about the status of Dhimmis, he said, "He who hurts a dhimmi hurts me, and he who hurts me annoys Allah". (Al-Tabarani in good authority)

I wish Mr. Erdogan had called for pure Islam in the Muslim world with the understanding that only Islam has the solutions to all problems of mankind and nothing other than Islam should be acceptable to Muslims.

Anonymous said...

I think Moons argument is simplistic and hence can be disputed. although there are various models of a secular state, in a Islamic state non muslims are not treated equaly both in theory and practice.
Will a atheist or a non muslim be allowed to be the leader of a islamic state ? Will non muslims laws be given equal weightage ?
do you really think that non muslims are treated fairly in muslim majority state ? You may say they will be treated fairly in a proper islamic state but refuse to acknowledge that that there can be no ideal state or society in reality. Also have you asked non muslims whether they think they will be treated equally in such a state ? should'nt it upto them ?
Non minorities have not been treated equally . Please read up actual history before making assertions

Moon said...

Will a atheist or a non muslim be allowed to be the leader of a islamic state ?
You tell me, will a person who doesn't accept the constitution of a secular state, be allowed to become a ruler in that state? You have to take the oath of the constitution before becoming a ruler. In an Islamic state, the Quran and Sunnah is the constitution. How can you make a non-Muslim a ruler in this state. Non-Muslims can have members in the parliament. And they can account the ruler or any other authority for that matter in an Islamic state. They can raise their voices as representatives of their community.

Will non muslims laws be given equal weightage ?
It is only in Islam that the non-Muslims are allowed to have separate courts in which their affairs are resolved according to their own beliefs. Something which has not happened in the US and the UK uptil now. Muslims are not allowed to invoke Quranic laws to resolve their disputes in the US. To the extent that anti-Shariah bills are being passed against such demands by the Muslims and has been introduced in numerous states in the US already.

do you really think that non muslims are treated fairly in muslim majority state ?
Of course. History is a testament to the Muslims implementing these commands under the Khilafah for over hundreds of years.

Sir Thomas Arnold in his book ‘The Preaching of Islam' states: "But of any organised attempt to force the acceptance of Islam on the non-Muslim population, or of any systematic persecution intended to stamp out the Christian religion, we hear nothing. ' Had the Caliphs chosen to adopt either course of action, they might have swept away Christianity as easily as Ferdinand and Isabella drove Islam out of Spain, or Louis XIV made Protestantism penal in France, or the Jews were kept out of England for 350 years."

The Caliphate during its reign allowed non-Muslims to have their own courts and judges to settle family law disputes and other matters related to their personal lives and religion.

Imam Qarafi (Classical Islamic Scholar) summed up the responsibility of the Caliphate to the dhimmi when he said: "It is the responsibility of the Muslims to the People of the Dhimma to care for their weak, fulfil the needs of the poor, feed the hungry, provide clothes, address them politely, and even tolerate their harm even if it was from a neighbour, even though the Muslim would have an upper hand. The Muslims must also advise them sincerely on their affairs and protect them against anyone who tries to hurt them or their family, steal their wealth, or violates their rights."

Salman Latif said...

What Erdogan means is that religion is the personal priority of an individual and that a state can exist, in a democratic system, where the religious rights of ALL are safeguarded.
It does unnerve those of us who have been brought up with the perception that we should strive towards achieving political Islam by making the state Islamic and the half-hearted attempts have landed us at: persecution of minorities, frequent killings on the name of religion and an utter intolerance for a difference in points of views. Whereas a person who denounces a religion does not die in Erdogan's Turkey, a person here in my land of pure most probably can't escape such a fate if he publicly gives up on faith.

The fact is: Islam has to evolve and so has been proposed, not by secularists, but by Muslims scholars themselves, the likes of Iqbal and Muhammad Asad. Islam's political system needs an overhaul through Ijtehad so that it can cope up with the modern-day needs. However, sadly, at one hand the spirit of Ijtehad is dead and at the other, we keep insisting on bringing back the 14-centuries old system.
One can only hope that if ever an Islamic system becomes established anywhere else in the world, it is along the lines of Erdogan's Turkey and not (God forbid) along Taliban's Afghanistan.

Moon said...

In the last few hundred years the Muslim Ummah has undergone much intellectual decline. And that mainly happened because the doors of Ijtehaad were closed. This resulted in the stagnation of intellectual progress in the Muslim lands, making the state weak and finally culminated in the destruction by the occupying colonial forces at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The Ummah however is resurrecting. Twentieth century has seen many Islamic revivalists in the Muslim world. And the Ummah is marching back to its sources with the determination to find the solutions of the modern-day problems in the divine law, which promises to be a complete code of life. The works of Allama Iqbal, Maulana Maududi, Hasan Al Banna, Taqiuddin Nabhani, Dr. Israr Ahmed (May the mercy of Allah be with them all) and the likes have served to revive Islam and make it applicable to the problems of this century.

One principle that remains common in all these revived models is the principle of legislation. Legislation in an Islamic state, as opposed to a democratic secular state, is done by Ijtehaad of the Islamic texts. And qualified mujtahideen who have the correct understanding of Usul-ul FIqh as well as of the reality of the problem at hand, are the ones responsible for legislation. It is regarded as a technical issue in which the majority holds no weight. The mojority has been given the right to account such interpretations and challenge them in the Constitutional courts.

But allowing the whims and desires of humans elected in the parliament to become the source of legislation is something totally against Islamic principle of legislation.

Mohammad Zafar said...

I may not be true, but yes He knows what to say and what to do, by considering his home politics which is already spoiled by Mustafa kamaal paasha's dirty policies to wipe of islam from muslims inspired by crusader tactics which can be discussed at length.

Uni said...

@Moon
Mr Erdogan - if he had implied that secularism is superior to Islam - wouldn't really have said that Islam and democracy can exist side by side. He would have said, democracy WITHOUT Islam SHOULD exist! But he didn't.

That's the first doubt.

Secondly, the place where he is calling for islamic democracy is Tunisia - and there, Ben Ali was far from Islamic. Somehow, I think that if he thought anything is superior to Islam, he could have talked negatively about that Ennhad party .. wouldn't he?

He didn't.

I just read through the 'reforms' of Ataturk in Turkey, and that made me realize that for a leader in Turkey, to talk about Islam at all - with democracy - is something that should be appreciated.

@Salman
Islam's political system needs an overhaul through Ijtehad so that it can cope up with the modern-day needs. However, sadly, at one hand the spirit of Ijtehad is dead and at the other, we keep insisting on bringing back the 14-centuries old system.

I agree with the bit about Ijtehad, but the fact is that the '14-centuries old system' was the only change in the world which came into existance in such short a time, and with so effective the impact. There has been no system since.

The models which have followed that system (in its ENTIRETY) have succeeded pretty well [as history testifies]... and where the people deviated from the role-models (in that 14-centuries old model), the state/its people's conditions deteriorated.

So it's the people to blame, rather than the system.

The question here is, that if Erdogan means democracy can exist with Islam and the state can ALSO be secular, then he (obviously) is employing some other definition of secularism .. or democracy.

Because western democracy vests power with the people - direct negation of Islamic political system..

And secularism rejects the idea of religion in politics - direct negation of the islam coexisting with democracy statement.

More research needed in this : Conclusion. (mine) :P

Thanks all for dropping by!

MAK said...

Thing is democracy and Islam is different debate and Islam or any other thing as a state religion is a different thing.

For me democracy and Islam can coexist. One way of doing it is the way its supposed to be done in Pakistan. Its like for every rule, law of Allah and his Rasol (SAW) are superior to everything else. I would be really grateful any one could explain me or point me to what exactly was the system 1400 years ago (Period of khulfa-e-rashideen).

As for Islam and secularism(or any other religion/theory) i think if we implement Islam in its true spirit it will cover everything in any of those system. From fundamental human rights to minorities right to economic system.

Uni said...

@MAK
The people who propagate that Islam and democracy are direct opposites of each other believe that it's the same debate..

Agreed with the last point.

Thanks for dropping by.