Free Essays

Theistic moral democracy

It is my belief that democracy as an institution chosen to govern in an Islamic states rests on such ideas that, according to scholars and critics, are propounded by the relationship between the Islamic law (known as the Shari’ah) and the state’s executive powers. While some have considered the idea of a democracy completely in opposition to the methods of the Muslims, other have considered such a government intimately connected with the religious and moral beliefs and creeds of Islam.

Many have even considered it highly likely that the Islamic nations of the Middle East will become democratic (Hoeft, 2003). The reasons cited for this depend largely on the moral considerations of the religion of Islam itself, and the idea that much of what is considered integral to democracy is actually advocated by the Islamic Deity. This idea is one that might have been advocated with great passion by Adam Smith, who considered the moral ideas, found in the Muslim religion and which usually characterize the laws of democratic nations, to issue directly from the mind of a Deity.

David Hume, in his work On Human Nature, considered a democratic form of government tolerable within societies. He also indicates that is is impossible for societies to exist without some form of ethical or moral considerations on which to base the interaction of human beings. It would therefore appear that both David Hume and Adam Smith might have some strong arguments to make on this topic democracy within a moral Islamic state.

While many dissenters, who do not believe it possible to combine the Islamic and the democratic state, have argued that the idea is “a foreign concept that has been imposed by Westernizers and secular reformers upon Muslim societies” (Esposito & Voll, 2001), this idea of cultural relativism can be said merely to reflect the rift that exists between Islam and the West (Farroq, 2002; Singh, 2006). In actuality, Smith’s idea of a Deity-driven morality fits very well into the caliphate system of rule.

This system has been considered to be representative of the will of God on earth (Abou El Fadl, 2004). Its driving force has been the idea that rulers as well as citizens are bound by the laws as handed down through the Prophet Mohammed in the Qur’an. This idea directly concurs with those of Adam Smith, who would have agreed with the values that are considered necessary to be upheld in such a system.

These values are cited as the inclusion of such moral virtues as compassion and mercy within the rule of law, the achievement of justice with the aid of the citizens of the state, and the founding of a government which does not depend for its legitimacy solely upon its own merit, but which follows the moral guidelines given in the holy book (Esposito & Voll, 2001). Some critics do not advocate a religious state as the only one that could unite democracy and morality, as they consider morality to have another origin (Neuberger, 2006).

Along these lines, it is possible that Hume’s advocacy of such a state might be less vehement than Smith’s, as Hume accords the existence of morals to a “moral sense” rather than to a Deity. However, one aspect of this state that would drive Hume’s advocacy is his belief that humans are driven toward creating a society through necessity, and that this society must be built upon moral virtues discoverable within nature and based on a principle that should be accorded credence at least as high as that given to reason (Hume, 1985).

He, however, would take to task the idea cited above that both rulers and citizens are bound by these moral laws. Though he does believe that the laws exist in kind for rulers as well as citizens, evidence from his text On Human Nature gives the idea that these laws do not need to bind rulers and citizens to the same degree. That Adam Smith advocates an actual state based on the moral ideas transmitted to humans from a Deity cannot be denied.

He has written: “And thus we are led to the belief of a future state, not only by the weaknesses, by the hopes and fears of human nature, but by the noblest and best principles which belong to it, by the love of virtue, and by the abhorrence of vice and injustice” (Smith, 1997). Though this future state might have been a reference to a spiritual one, the Muslim belief is that humans can try to approximate on earth a state (kingdom) essentially ruled by Allah (Abou El Fadl, 2004).

It is noteworthy here that an idea expressed in the Qur’an is that God (Allah) has placed within his people on earth (viceregents) a degree of divinity that allows them to detect the ideas concerning morality of which He is the author. One author refers to this concept as humans’ being intrinsically moral (Sardar, 2006). This idea grants them legitimacy in their quest to become participants within a government that seeks to guide a fruitful and orderly society. The morals exist in order to grant dignity to the citizens, as well as the right to justice and fairnes.