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Has Democracy Made the Shi'a Weak?

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There's a lot of talk in Muslim communities in general about democracy, its merits and even its supposed Islamic character. But when I look at the situation Muslims face and which the Shi'a face especially in these times,  I wonder if perhaps the pursuit of democracy has not caused the Shi'a to break apart into competing factions who do not possess the unity and strength needed to combat terrorist organizations like the United States or to meet the power of the more absolutist regimes in the Arab/Persian Gulf whose activities threaten them. In Iran, the conservatives and liberals squabble among themselves. In Iraq, there are more political parties than one can count. And in some places like Pakistan, Shi'a feel somewhat helpless these days against the "democratic" forces of the countries they live in which tend to move towards a wedding of Islamic nationalism and Sunni domination.

All the time I hear democracy this and democracy that among Shi'a laity and otherwise sensible and honorable ulama, and even what's left of the Iranian monarchists pay the obligatory homage to "democracy", which is more and more becoming an idol or just another pipe dream for the Middle East and North Africa.

But what benefit has democracy really given any of the Muslims or the Shi'a? ISIS would have been stopped a lot sooner were it not for the divisions in the Islamic world, everybody agrees on that and divisions in the Islamic world are by no means new. But doesn't the introduction of "democracy" in both its secular and fundamentalist forms share some of the blame for intensifying these divisions? And haven't the Shi'a suffered the most due to internal party politics and Sunnis using "democracy" as a means to oppress them? And even for the Sunnis, I don't think democracy has made them stronger, it's just made them bigger tools of the Arab oil kings who hold far more money and power.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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This is an interesting perspective. But we have a democracy (Shura) style which was used by the prophet and imams. We do have the widely used (Parliamentary) democracy which allowed the monopoly,lobbying and other corruptions in democracy. Within the Parliamentary democracy there are other varieties and each has its own disadvantages.

Then we do have the tendency of people to test every new idea. Imam said that the Ahlulbayt dawla will be the last one after each nation has tried to rule and implement its own style. People do not want an old style ruling system.

 

Then we have the importance of staying as a group rather than as lone individuals. I dont think that this obligation is dissolved or associated with special ruling style. We should stay together whither we were a small village community or multi cultural nation like we are today.

 

Then we do have the understanding of weakness and power then weighing them against staying on the path of ahlulbayt plus staying together as a nation.

 

regarding your hypothesis, i can see your point and somewhat agree to it. If we are to compare the effect of tribalism, racism and other forms of discrimination with democratic parties, then yes, this form of asabyyiah is certainly destructive to any society and destructive to faith. Political decisions shouldn't turn us against each others.

But when the sunni factor comes in, it gets more complicated. There is no clear political theory in the sunni literature. We can argue with them over all aspects of religion except the political aspect. they have no clear consensus or rules that define the political islam.

 

in reality, what we have is a number of beneficiaries from the colonist. Turkey gave up most of the islamic world lands for the imperials in exchange for its safety and freedom. From that time on, whither the ruling system was democratic or other wise, most of those ruling us were having personal financial ties with multi national corporations plus military deals with imperaials.

 

So the question is : Is it the democracy that brought the divisions up and played them OR was it the corrupted base of this democracy, a system based upon monstrous capitalism or better an occult feudalism.

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3 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

But we have a democracy (Shura) style which was used by the prophet and imams.

I wouldn't really consider that "democracy," especially when we consider that it became the basis of a particularly monarchical practice throughout most of Islamic history. That is to say, that the Shura style of the consultative assemblies was also incorporated into the structure of the old monarchies and even to some extent survives in the Arab monarchies today

The use of the term "democracy" is very much a problem as I think many Muslims have a habit of just associating it with "involvement of the people" and not so much "rule of the people" as the term more literally means (though in Ancient Greece, the prefix "demo" usually had a tribal and thus a more elitist connotation to it) or just liberalism in general. To some extent, every government throughout history has involved "the people" in some way, even the most advanced tyrannies, so I think that involvement of the people needs to be differentiated from rule of the people or, in the case of democratic republics, rule on behalf of the people. Also, one can support democracy and not be a liberal and liberals can often be anti-democratic. The "conservative" Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not undemocratic and the former Pahlavi king of Iran was certainly very "liberal" but not very democratic.

 

3 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

So the question is : Is it the democracy that brought the divisions up and played them OR was it the corrupted base of this democracy, a system based upon monstrous capitalism or better an occult feudalism.

I think a better question would be: Has democracy ever produced anything besides a monstrous crony capitalism, popular dictatorship and/or tribalistic party rivalries?

When you bring up Stalin when discussing communism, people will say that what he did wasn't real communism. But whether or not democracy or communism have lofty and perhaps admirable ideals and plans for humanity and the masses is almost besides the issue. The question is whether the methods and structure of these systems and the kind of order they seek to implement when allowed to do so to their fullest extent can ever result in anything besides what we have seen them produce. We also have to consider things more individually, because maybe democracy has worked for some countries in the West or the East, but maybe it can never be expected to produce real positive results for Muslims or maybe it can for some Muslims but not others. Some Muslim countries are constitutional or absolute monarchies, but even if it works for them, that doesn't automatically mean it works for us and our ultimate goals in life, same goes for republics and other forms of government.

Whatever kind of government we support, we must take into consideration centuries of previous political experiences by the Shi'a. That much is a given. But we also can't generalize and think any system that worked for the West can work for us and that it's just a matter of slapping a label like "Islamic democracy" on it. In the modern age, the habit of ideologies is to homogenize human beings and try to find a system that will work for everyone in most if not all circumstances, but it's easier to just concern ourselves with what works for the Shi'a.

If we're discussing the Shi'a and their relationship with democracy, we have to look at what democracy or, if you prefer, the pursuit of democracy has produced for the Shi'a and ask ourselves if it's even worth pursuing any further.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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7 minutes ago, Saintly_Jinn23 said:

I wouldn't really consider that "democracy," especially when we consider that it became the basis of a particularly monarchical practice throughout most of Islamic history. That is to say, that the Shura style of the consultative assemblies was also incorporated into the structure of the old monarchies and even to some extent survives in the Arab monarchies today

The use of the term "democracy" is very much a problem as I think many Muslims have a habit of just associating it with "involvement of the people" and not so much "rule of the people" as the term more literally means (though in Ancient Greece, the prefix "demo" usually had a tribal and thus a more elitist connotation to it) or just liberalism in general. To some extent, every government throughout history has involved "the people" in some way, even the most advanced tyrannies, so I think that involvement of the people needs to be differentiated from rule of the people or, in the case of democratic republics, rule on behalf of the people. Also, one can support democracy and not be a liberal and liberals can often be anti-democratic. The "conservative" Muslim Brotherhood is certainly not undemocratic and the former Pahlavi king of Iran was certainly very "liberal" but not very democratic.

Well , I can't disagree with that. But the ruling of the people or on behalf of the people is really an illusion. The rule of the people will mean anarchy. The rule on behalf of the people is best described by our terminology as the rule of the rightful guardian.

 

10 minutes ago, Saintly_Jinn23 said:

If we're discussing the Shi'a and their relationship with democracy, we have to look at what democracy or, if you prefer, the pursuit of democracy has produced for the Shi'a and ask ourselves if it's even worth pursuing any further.

There are many topics to be discussed. First, we know that the only democratic shia state is Iran. Lebanon is group-cracy. They split the authority between Shia-Sunni- Christians. Iraq is a failed state.

Why would a Shia scholar push for such a ruling system?

There is at the Urf. Uff is respected in Islam. The way people are familiar with and are comfortable with and the way that dose not contradict islam, this way should be respected. 

So we have to ask: Dose democracy contradict islam?

If we pushed for other ruling system that people are not familiar with nor comfortable with, are we doing something socially harmful?

Then there is the safety of the believers. One of the pivotal roles of the scholars is to make sure that the shia masses will not act in a way that endanger their lives (physical, financial and social). In many of the countries, Shia are minority and they have to cope with the others who are living with them. If shia decided to go with Welayat Faqih system in iraq, then one would expect isis insurgency as early as 2003. Similarly in Iran, lebanon and Pakistan. 

 

The last thing to be considered while it is the priority is the obligation of keeping order, avoiding chaos , anarchy and Fitnah. It is pivotal issue for islamic societies. Chaos is totally undesirable. In our imams history we can read several instances of them offering good advices to tyrnnies , that one would think that they were befriending these tyrannies. The truth is that the eye of the imams was on keeping the order, stability and wholesomeness of the Islamic state.

Will advising people to go against democracy in this time and age will result in anything but in power vacuums like in isis areas?

 

 

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Salam,

What I am going to say now, might be a typical answer so forgive me.

Europe also went through a long period of ethnic/religious and political violence before they got this democracy thing working for them. Implementing a democracy takes lots of state power, you have to basicly force you're whole country to stop being what they are and become 'citizens' instead.  Europe had like 200-300 years to work on that. In the end what best worked was political stability and economic prosperity.

But most muslim countries are postcolonial superfical states without any real powerbase or the instruments to transform a piece of land into a civil democracy.  Most muslim countries just started to exist not so long ago, let alone an idea of citizenship being able to develop. Throw in some supresive dictators here and there, I dont think anybody wants to asociate himself with ''the state'' as a ctizien anymore after dictatorships . Dont forget the constant western intervention and all kind of annoying neighbours like Saudi Arabia, disturbing the political stability and economy.

 

Just look at Iraq,  most Shia identify with the Marjia (Sistani) than they do with the Iraqi state. The Iraqis that do idenity with the state, are urban middle-clase elites who benefit from an united Iraq (more oil to go around), and funnily enough often those same elites conviently do not do Taqlid of syed Sistani but of Marajia that dont have any direct infleunce inside of Iraq.

 

Im getting off track, I wanted to say something postive actually, I believe the forming of a democracy takes lots of time and violence and if Shi'tes want to function as a democracy , time and violence is the only thing that  can give it to you. 

 

The thing with alternatives to democracy is that there are no real alternatives that arent some kind of form of fascism.

 

Edited by CaptainGalaxy

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Every normal person here in Pakistan misses the last dictator Pres. Musharraf simply because it is justice and the quality of life under any government which people want, not to suffer for some fantastic utopia that none have seen except by accident. Its another carrot on a stick. Do it for democracy! Do it for your country! Democracy and borders are unnatural. In order to facilitate justice everyone can not be equal. But when a criminal and a noble person are considered equal and handed a vote equally thats when the whole problem starts.

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There is no democracy in the world. There are republics. And it may or may not work that well, depending on the influence of the powers and their motives.

That said, I think Quran supports democracy in that it taught to see only authority as God,Prophets, the Messengers, and the Imams appointed by God through out time, while everyone else has a false authority that Satan gives illusion of having authority.

Why do they have no authority? Because people acting in fear of people is unjustified in God's eyes, for he says "fear not people and fear me", and people thinking people can give authority to someone is wrong as well. Rather the middle ground is that of democratic anarchy, organized anarchy, which is government (they don't like using that term) but from grass roots. And this is what Quran supports when it's those who their affair is consultation among themselves.

That is organization, you have a people organizing to run the country, but they have no real authority must like your boss in not your authority that you have to obey but that you do obey in certain things that the job requires.This is unlike God and the Ulil-Amr from the past nations to the final covenant of Mohammad  who have true authority.

Even the representatives of the Imam Mahdi, the four doors, weren't Ulil-Amr but were rather trusted to convey words of Imam Mahdi. They could not go outside that role and say we leaders you must follow and obey. No person has that right. Only God can bestow his authority, it's like he addressed the scholars of the Jews and Christians that opposed Mohammad... "do they have a share in the authority...". They have no share in it, none, not at ounce, for they cannot give even a mustard seed to those worthy of that leadership among humanity. When humanity recognizes those worthy of that leadership, then yes, you have a superior system to organized anarchy which is theocracy that is based on truth, and not falsehood, and recognized and known as such with certainty "and who better as a ruler then God for a people who are certain."

Edited by StrugglingForTheLight

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I don't equate democracy to liberalism as well, I guess that was a good point to raise.

As for communism, the ideals are actually nice and very respectable, but it failed in the same way any other system failed, in the sense that it tries to reach an "order" when there is none, and there is need for none as well. Our insane and unnatural sick obsession with some sort of order has chained us, classified us, etiquetted us, and destroyed our incredible potential as humans to convert it in an almost decreed lifestyle. This is order for me, the worst gift from our civilization, for the sake of our fear from ourselves. We owe to our beloved "order" the unjust world we live in today. I fail to see good in any control and classification done upon humans. If there is any progress awaiting humanity, I see it in anarchy.

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It should be ensured that there should be justice, rule by moral people, and absence of all crime. It can only come through making an immaculate genius the chief executive of the system (caliphate of masoom). If that is not practical then there should at least be justice for all and equal opportunity without the involvement of money and status (corruption).

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9 hours ago, Bakir said:

I don't equate democracy to liberalism as well, I guess that was a good point to raise.

As for communism, the ideals are actually nice and very respectable, but it failed in the same way any other system failed, in the sense that it tries to reach an "order" when there is none, and there is need for none as well. Our insane and unnatural sick obsession with some sort of order has chained us, classified us, etiquetted us, and destroyed our incredible potential as humans to convert it in an almost decreed lifestyle. This is order for me, the worst gift from our civilization, for the sake of our fear from ourselves. We owe to our beloved "order" the unjust world we live in today. I fail to see good in any control and classification done upon humans. If there is any progress awaiting humanity, I see it in anarchy.

I can't help but agree. There's this idea that if Islam doesn't have a big and powerful government that manages the lives of tons of people like some nanny state, it is somehow irrelevant and not viable. But even if all the governments of the world collapsed and the world was seriously depopulated by some great apocalyptic tragedy, resulting in most Muslims living only with their immediate families on some small isolated farms or by themselves in the wilderness with little contact with many Muslims or human beings, plenty of people would still be upholding Islamic principles and customs in their daily lives whether there was a government to make them do it or not.

For Shi'a, it was often dangerous to be near the centers of state power, which is why they often retreated to the mountains or the frontiers of dar al-Islam where there was little government to boss them around. Really, if there are two forms of social organization that have traditionally been prevalent among the Shi'a, for the most part it has been anarchy in the sense of small voluntary micro-communities that operated independently from the reigning, mostly Sunni government powers or hereditary monarchy. The reality of the Shi'ite nomadic tribes who often lived unbound by any state government is also something to consider. Republics have no real precedent in the Islamic world and were mostly imported from the West in the last one hundred years, although Muslims were always aware of this form of government due to its presence in the history of the Greeks and among the Italian mercantile republics. In many ways, I personally lean towards a restoration of non-constitutional monarchy for many of the same reasons stated in this video

 

However, the chances of a return to monarchy are slim to none in the Shi'a world at this point. Monarchy, whether constitutional or not, only exists now among the Sunnis and Wahabis. But imagine if the kind of power and wealth the Saudis wield to advance the causes of Wahabism was available to be used for the defense of Shi'ism. I like to think many of our current problems might be a non-issue. This is not meant to idealize the old monarchs of centuries past, who were often guilty of serious moral wrongs, but at least they had the power to defend the faith and the wealth to finance it and at least so long as they didn't fear a challenge to their power, they usually had no problem tolerating a certain amount of diversity of religious beliefs.

But the Safavid dynasty is dead. There is no suitable candidate among the remnants of the Qajar family, who aren't even interested in politics anyway. And although the current head of the Pahlavi family, Reza Pahlavi II, has attempted to reconnect himself to Shi'a Islam, the legitimacy of the Pahlavis always rested on very shaky ground to begin with, and Reza Pahlavi is still very much committed to these ideas of "secularism" and "democracy". The current Ismaili leaders could never be expected to lead the majority of Twelver Shi'a and the age of Ismaili political domination is also long gone. The Houthi rebellion allowed for the return of the Zaydi dynasty that once ruled Yemen to their home country, but I doubt we will see them assume any real power within the new political order there.

If we believe republics just won't ever work as they are supposed to at least in the Islamic world, if we believe that a direct democracy as well as communism is impractical,  and if we accept that regardless of whether we may be able to consider monarchy a mostly positive thing in Shi'a history that it is unlikely to make any comeback in a legitimate form in the Shi'a world, a religiously motivated anarchism on the part of what might possibly be large portions of the Shi'a who see no benefit for themselves in secularism, democracy or in these constant pushes for an "Islamic state" and are tired of "ayatollah wars" (as I've read some users here refer to them) rooted in political rivalries or power struggles between political parties, could be more seriously considered . After all, what other options are there?

 

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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What you say has in ideed precedenst in History, but I thought you were searching for something that could  form mass Shia unity so that opression and terrorism against Shia can be effectively subdued. How is that possible with Anarchy? 

 

The only way to  mass mobilize the Shia effectively for some kind of goal is only possible through some form of all encompasing leadership, either through the form of a state with a military and civil aparatus or if not some kind of organizational form through the hand of a  mass followed ayotollah, that has its own military branch.

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by CaptainGalaxy

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You can't encompass the heart of an anarchist within a state, due to the mere concept of state and what it supposes for the individuals.

It's time to realize that the correct mature and respectful way to mobilize humans is to offer some worthy ideas and be worthy yourself, instead of a cruel unjust apparatus we proudly call "state". To link it with the History of religions, one could argue that God himself has spread His message through worthy ideas and worthy people, not through states. The power of the martyrdom of Hussain AS is over the power of any transitory monarchy. Ideas are the most powerful form of unity between humans, and not a useless system of cruelty (in whatever form it presents itself: democracy, monarchy, etc.)

I don't want to serve another human being because of certain laws, punishments or money. If I put myself in the condition of serving another equal human being, I would prefer it to be out of personal desire and because that person truly deserves my service and commitment.

Problem with democracy is the imposed reality that YOU have to give your power and service to the majority. The system is imposed upon you, you never agreed to accept that system yet you are obliged to give your power to someone. And when societies are so controllable and manipulable, you don't even serve the majority, but the people who control the media. As if the retardness of the majority was not already enough in the West.

I know I'm merely talking about an utopy here, but if we don't believe in utopies I don't know how we can actually progress further in our history.

Edited by Bakir

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1 hour ago, CaptainGalaxy said:

What you say has in ideed precedenst in History, but I thought you were searching for something that could  form mass Shia unity so that opression and terrorism against Shia can be effectively subdued. How is that possible with Anarchy? 

I'm not entirely sure myself. However, mass movement in anarchism is not  necessarily impossible, since there are plenty of "anarchist" rallies and organizations.

I also think that some concepts of rule of the most qualified jurist could probably be harmonized with some form of anarchism.

58 minutes ago, Bakir said:

I know I'm merely talking about an utopy here, but if we don't believe in utopies I don't know how we can actually progress further in our history.


One should be careful of utopianism, lest they assume to take the responsibility of the Imam.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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Not only it is compatible, but it actually synergizes pretty well. Keep in mind anarchy puts the responsibility on individuals and small human groups and not governments and big capitals. It requires a solid educational common ground.

As for your second question, I'm none to tell you the purpose of human life, but some humans, not all, seem to find happiness in solitude in certain temporary phases of their lives.

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11 minutes ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

Do you think that anarchy is compatible with Islam?

I am willing to say some forms of anarchist social organization are not wholly incompatible with Islamic law or social ethics. In fact, if by anarchy one meant something like a society made up self-sufficient little villages and towns that almost operated like agrarian peasant communes, this would be perfectly compatible with the way most Shi'a have probably lived for hundreds of years, It would just be a matter of making sure there were no serious tribal rivalries which would prevent voluntary collective action for joint religious aims.

Also, like I said, wilayat al-faqih might be compatible with anarchism too, if the jurist in this case occupied a position like the pope does for Catholics, articulating points of law and doctrine and issuing official statements on religious controversies. For most Shi'i's understanding of wilayat al-faqih, there is nothing objectionable here since the jurist should not be part of any state structure so that he is more able to objectively judge in religious matters between diverse communities and individuals without any favoritism.

2 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

 

Do you think that living as a monk or as nomad is part of the purpose of the human life on earth?

I do think they should be available as options. Monasticism is a touchier issue, mostly due to how one defines it in my opinion, but as far as the nomadic life is concerned, this always existed in dar al-Islam since the time of the Prophet (pbuh). The Prophet (pbuh) was raised by Bedouin and most Islamic societies were balanced out between an urban class, an agricultural labor class (the peasants) and the nomads, who often were employed to protect trade caravans, settlements or were recruited in wars. Also, before people could just take a plane to Mecca, you actually had to walk or ride there, which resulted in many people taking on for many years a nomadic lifestyle of traveling from place to place. In the last hundred years, there has been a huge decline in the nomadic populations, many of whom were mostly unsettled for thousands of years, due to the modernization of many Islamic countries. I think this is not in the spirit of Islam or Islamic civilization, which always had a balance between the settled and nomadic peoples, with the nomadic peoples often being envied and romanticized by the urbanites for their rugged, Spartan-like asceticism.

But let's put it this way, what would be the safest and most peaceful situation the earth could be in right now? I think the obvious answer would be if every person kept to themselves and lived isolated from any other human being. Of course this is not really practical, but if we accept that evil tends to become more destructive as people become more socialized, then the most peaceful society would be the one where people live together and communicate but have the greatest amount of privacy from one another as possible or at least always have the greatest amount of  freedom to "drop out" of society at anytime the level of socialization becomes too much for them..

It's impossible to expect every human being to find contentment in being completely away from others, but we must also recognize that evil mostly comes into being as human beings are forced to interact with one another and are given a greater outlet for their evil impulses or exist alongside other humans with whom their personal interests clash. The goal then is to reduce the conflict between one person's self-interests and another's to the least extent, but this can only occur in a situation where nobody is forced to interact with anyone at all except with their complete consent. Many of the different forms of government that have been tried do not decrease the conflict between people as much as intensify them either accidentally or purposely (to direct them towards another individual's own selfish ends). The Western capitalist countries created an environment of fierce competition within business that has often resulted in many people abused, cheated or exploited for the sake of the victory of one party or for the progress of the nation. In communist and other socialist countries, dictatorships and oligarchies emerged where people competed and backstabbed one another for state power and privilege. Monarchies, although the least destructive historically, were also not above their own royal and aristocratic feuds and subterfuge. From monarchy we go to anarchy, where we find many different proposed ideas.

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So, do you disagree with Aristotle here?

Quote

“Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human. Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god. ” 
― Aristotle

 

 

4 hours ago, Bakir said:

Not only it is compatible, but it actually synergizes pretty well. Keep in mind anarchy puts the responsibility on individuals and small human groups and not governments and big capitals. It requires a solid educational common ground.

As for your second question, I'm none to tell you the purpose of human life, but some humans, not all, seem to find happiness in solitude in certain temporary phases of their lives.

Anarchy is also an anti authotorian philosophy. This means that it rejects any form of authority including prophets and Imams, maybe even God.

 

2 hours ago, Saintly_Jinn23 said:

But let's put it this way, what would be the safest and most peaceful situation the earth could be in right now? I think the obvious answer would be if every person kept to themselves and lived isolated from any other human being. Of course this is not really practical, but if we accept that evil tends to become more destructive as people become more socialized, then the most peaceful society would be the one where people live together and communicate but have the greatest amount of privacy from one another as possible or at least always have the greatest amount of  freedom to "drop out" of society at anytime the level of socialization becomes too much for them..

But islam asserts that being social is superior than being a monk.

 

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Anarchy is not anti authoritarian by pleasure, but by need. Again, God has never imposed through power the authority of any prophet/imam, as there is no need for it (nor there is any point in it). Freedom is given by God so that each human is able to choose to surrender to Him and follow his Message or not.

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2 hours ago, Bakir said:

Anarchy is not anti authoritarian by pleasure, but by need. Again, God has never imposed through power the authority of any prophet/imam, as there is no need for it (nor there is any point in it). Freedom is given by God so that each human is able to choose to surrender to Him and follow his Message or not.

I don't follow. If God did not impose authority, then why sunnis are wrong?

Free will I there when we are under human authority. We choose to follow to avoid negative consequences.

similarly, we choose to follow Allah to avoid hell.

which is worse, jail or hell?

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13 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

So, do you disagree with Aristotle here?

Yes, to a certain extent. The idea that individual rights need to take a back seat to society's material wants or that whenever faced with a prospect that 70% of people will be displeased with a certain piece of legislation and therefore that means that a ruler must not implement them has often been the source of a great deal of oppression.

We see in many Islamic countries today, for instance, including in Iran, three tendencies often can be seen:

1. The willingness to implement almost any legislation as long as the majority of the public demands it

2. The willingness to implement any legislation a small group of people (usually some group of "official" religious scholars) feel is best for society in spite of the public outrage against it, followed by the brutal repression and totalitarian observation of any dissidence.

3. People looking out for their own self-interests and manufacturing consent by way control of the information people receive about a piece of legislation which is in fact harmful to the collective good but of which they have been convinced through lies, manipulation and fear-mongering to believe is in fact in the interest of the collective good, when only a small group of people will really benefit from it at all. And even when people notice they aren't benefiting from it, they have convinced themselves or been convinced by others that somehow living in squalor while other live in comfort is somehow best for everybody.

But all of these stem from or justify themselves at least by way of the appeal to society as being over the individual, that society's health is necessarily better than individual health every time and that the preservation of society is more important than the preservation of a single individual's life, property or freedom.

13 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

Anarchy is also an anti authotorian philosophy. This means that it rejects any form of authority including prophets and Imams, maybe even God.

While this may be true for many French and Russian anarchists, it was definitely not the train of thought of men like Leo Tolstoy or Henry David Thoreau who were pioneers of a particularly religious form of Anarchism where God, contrary to what men like Proudhon and others stated, was in fact the liberator of mankindx from the wicked powers of the world which typically manifested in the forms of government power.

And even Sayid Qutb, taking points from Marxism, believed that the goal of a revolution in the Islamic world should be the establishment of an Islamic state with the ultimate intention of a stateless or classless society. Dr. Shariati, although much more liberal than Qutb, was also of a similar view. There was also Bacha Khan who, like his friend Mahatma Ghandi, was influenced by Tolstoy and Thoreau's pacifistic and spiritual form of anarchism. And today there are many Christians who consider themselves both firm believers in Christ as king and anarchists devoted to creating an equitable, stateless and communal society.

Heck, Shi'ism, with its intense rejection of almost every praised authority figure in the history of Islamic civilization and its greater difficulty trying to justify government authority in the absence of the Imam is probably more what might be called "anti-authoritarian"

13 hours ago, Chaotic Muslem said:

But islam asserts that being social is superior than being a monk.

Yes and no. The idea of retreat from society to escape its evils or its overwhelming responsibilities which distract one from contemplation of God is very much a deep part of Islamic spirituality. The question has always been how one strikes the balance. But there have been plenty of Muslim sages and saints who grew tired of the decadence, the hedonism, the oppression of supposed "caliphs" and dropped out society, taking a life of wandering or isolation out of love of God, His Prophet, His Imam and a desire to maintain their own purity. The Prophet (pbuh) himself often retreated and the imitation at least of his 40 day retreat and isolation has often been a necessary part of the spiritual discipline of many Islamic mystical brotherhoods and fraternities, both Shi'ite and Sunni.

I think the various condemnations of monasticism, if sahih, are directed more towards the particular kinds of monasticism practiced by the Christians Muslims interacted with and their ideals which often favored a more complete and total isolation that was wholly impractical (like the monks who used live on top of towers for years on end) or who were committed to the ideas of celibacy, not monasticism in the sense of devoting yourself to God and avoiding becoming people pleaser by learning to take pleasure solely in God's presence, whether one was living among people or all alone. The Prophet (pbuh) never said for instance that a Muslim isn't a Muslim anymore if he lives all alone because of circumstances beyond his control. In a sense, the practice of retreat from society was effective towards the goal of helping many Muslims develop the sense of spiritual self-reliance where they can stand to live without people as long as they could find pleasure of the company of God or nature which made it easier for many Muslim figures to deal with the social alienation they experienced. Uwais al-Qarni (as) who developed a spiritual connection with The Prophet (pbuh) despite living in total isolation from The Prophet and his community in Medina. And certainly for many Shi'a, who often found themselves a tiny minority in the midst a Sunni society that could often be extremely hostile to them, a degree of self-imposed isolation from mainstream society was a way of protecting the purity of the tiny Shi'a communities as well as a method of survival.

 

The issue with "monkery" or "monasticism" I think has a lot to do with the extreme isolation of some of the Christian monks Muslims had interaction with who, particularly in the Eastern and Oriental Orthodox tradition, often favored basically becoming a hermit with not interaction with anyone whatsoever. Many Muslims, following such traditions and certain Qur'anic verses, have tried to portray the monks being as a rule of their monasticism unconcerned with the suffering of people in the name of not being concerned about "the world" and it was often a way of slandering opponents who gathered appeal by being far more ascetic than yourself to try to make it seem like they were just imitating the Christians and thus going against the shariah, but some things get forgotten in this sort of generalizing. One is that many of those ascetic Muslims followed a very esoteric form of Islam, usually rooted in Sufism or Shi'ism, often saw isolation and asceticism as necessary in the context of their society, especially Abbasid and Ottoman society, that seemed to them to have forgotten many of the Prophet's ascetic values and thought they were resurrecting a precedent set by the Prophet in rebellion to the worldly corruption of Islamic society which used "society" as  a justification for its excesses. Christian monks often garnered respect from Muslims, even they did not approve of all their actions legally, precisely because many observed such a great humility and poverty that many Muslims never experienced except by the most egregious force and corruption in the ranks of the leading authorities.

The other thing is that when we actually look at Christian monks throughout history, especially in the Catholic monastic tradition, which probably always had a bit more of a social element to it, monks often took very active roles in society, in helping the poor and providing education for the lower classes, burying and praying over the dead, and of course during the plagues that befell Europe, providing protection from the pestilence and medical care as well as last rites (which many did not live long long enough to receive and thus, in Catholic religion, were likely to go to Hell), as well as preserving much of Greek and Roman knowledge in the West. Recently, we have seen Catholic anarchist, socialist and workers' movements headed by radical priests and monks greatly concerned about the welfare of the poor, particularly in Latin America where the current Roman pope is from (which is also why he took the name of Saint Francis). And even in the Islamic world, many of the great Muslim ascetics

 

So I think that some of the prophetic and imamite narrations against monasticism are probably addressing something much more specific, assuming their chains or their wording is authentic (for all I know, some of the translations to "monk" may even be misleading). Many Sufi dervishes for example definitely feel a lot like monks in their rigorous asceticism, which sometimes surpasses the Christians', but many would probably resent being called "monks" for the reason that they feel they balance their asceticism, their retreat from society and their Islamic social obligations and for the other reason that The Prophet (pbuh) forbade "monasticism" which they don't feel describes their practice, and also because many of them are in fact married.

 

So I think these issues are much more nuanced than some pious preachers in our communities may believe or want us to believe.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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@Chaotic Muslem: Excellent post!

When the question was asked, I immediately remembered a book I read called 'Islamic Roots of Democratic Pluralism' by Abdularziz Sachedina. Almost everything you mentioned is in that book.

Democratic principles were developed under the old Greek philosophers, but that was an elitist form of direct democracy controlled by the landed gentry.

Islam took to democracy to heights never imagined. The message of respect and equality in Qur'an rings so true in the vast clerical representation that was, for all intents and purposes, the machine of democracy.

It seems the roots were somewhat forgotten and many now believe democracy is a Western ideal. Far from it.

What Islam needs to do is re-appropriate democracy for our own Islamic sensibilities and make it the central engine of Muslim communities.

Edited by Convertible

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