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Saintly_Jinn23

Are Republics Islamic?

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In my opinion, there is no country in the world that practices Islam 100%.

 

Of course, but that isn't the question.

 

 

There is much debate what is the next best legal system after the Imam's rule (as).

 

In reality they all have their issues.

 

Realistically speaking, no system is perfect or ever will be until his majesty's return. But we still need to govern ourselves somehow until that time comes and in the most efficient ways we can considering the imperfect circumstances.

 

I personally tend to lean towards a constitutional monarchy because the more I think about it, monarchies appear much more in line with the Abrahamic worldview.

 

Not that I absolutely hate figures like Khomeini or anything. The Islamic Revolution of 79 did way more for Iran than the Shah ever did, but one could probably argue that the Supreme Leader is just another form of the Shahnshah that tries to pretend it's not.

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I personally tend to lean towards a constitutional monarchy because the more I think about it, monarchies appear much more in line with the Abrahamic worldview.

 

Not that I absolutely hate figures like Khomeini or anything. The Islamic Revolution of 79 did way more for Iran than the Shah ever did, but one could probably argue that the Supreme Leader is just another form of the Shahnshah that tries to pretend it's not.

 

Bismillah,

 

That's one of Wilfred Madelungs observations of Arab culture and history, and something he goes on later to use as further proof that Ali (as) was always going to be the natural successor of the Prophet (saw). 

 

Apart from the fact that its an [aiming to be] Islamic Government, and has taken steps to that affect, and is based in some sort of apparent election, the other difference with the Shahanshai is that rulership is not passed down to a family member. Yes, if you mean in terms of power, then most governments looks the same on the outside (ruler has ultimate power), which some people would argue is the whole point of ruling. 

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Apart from the fact that its an [aiming to be] Islamic Government, and has taken steps to that affect, and is based in some sort of apparent election, the other difference with the Shahanshai is that rulership is not passed down to a family member. Yes, if you mean in terms of power, then most governments looks the same on the outside (ruler has ultimate power), which some people would argue is the whole point of ruling. 

 

I don't see how a Shah or Sultan is less Islamic though. The way you make it sound, monarchs never tried to make Islamic governments, which objectively is not true. True, the Pahlavis set themselves too much against the traditional Islamic values of Iran and became very despotic, but this seems a result of their own character as well as their penchant for fascism rather than the nature of the institution of the Shah itself. Afterall, it was the various Shi'ite monarchs, both Twelver and non-Twelver who spread and protected Shi'ism through their patronage and expansion. The presence of a king does not mean the government is not aiming to be as Islamic as possible, this assumption is due in part to the modern perception and interpretation that history was leading up to the formation of an Islamic Republic, but I think such a view is a bit of a stretch and relies principally on the cult of personality surrounding Ayatollah Khomeini.

 

Traditionally, monarchs were generally the status quo, even for the Sunnis who accepted the three caliphs. Although the Umayyads were looked down upon in later generation as having betrayed the Four Rashidun by setting up their own dynasty in opposition to Ali (pbuh), this didn't stop Sunni dynasties from forming. The idea though of course was that whatever dynasties emerged needed to have the general support of the Ummah or the trained scholars, depending on your point of view. So there are certainly democratic elements to the historical Islamic approaches to monarchism, both Shi'ite and Sunni, that set it apart from the European values concerning the divine right of kings and political absolutism. 

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Kings are generally not great scholars of religion and philosophy. But even Plato himself said that the best form of government was that of a "benevolent dictator" from which the european concept of pilosopher king comes.

The movement of power concentrating among the ulema has arguably been going on since the safavid period in Iran so it's basically a logical historical development to have the highest authority be that of the most learned ulema.. However, when you have this kind of government you risk to lose the unique relationship that in the past has existed between the ulema and the people where the ulema many times stood up on the side of the people against the injustice of the present King..

I think that it's important that religious institutions be independent from the political state because corruption is so rampant in all political hierarchies though. Maybe the development of Iraq will be that of a system where all laws must be approved by the most learned scholars but where there exists no real dependency of either upon the other.

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I don't see how a Shah or Sultan is less Islamic though. The way you make it sound, monarchs never tried to make Islamic governments, which objectively is not true. True, the Pahlavis set themselves too much against the traditional Islamic values of Iran and became very despotic, but this seems a result of their own character as well as their penchant for fascism rather than the nature of the institution of the Shah itself. Afterall, it was the various Shi'ite monarchs, both Twelver and non-Twelver who spread and protected Shi'ism through their patronage and expansion. The presence of a king does not mean the government is not aiming to be as Islamic as possible, this assumption is due in part to the modern perception and interpretation that history was leading up to the formation of an Islamic Republic, but I think such a view is a bit of a stretch and relies principally on the cult of personality surrounding Ayatollah Khomeini.

 

Traditionally, monarchs were generally the status quo, even for the Sunnis who accepted the three caliphs. Although the Umayyads were looked down upon in later generation as having betrayed the Four Rashidun by setting up their own dynasty in opposition to Ali (pbuh), this didn't stop Sunni dynasties from forming. The idea though of course was that whatever dynasties emerged needed to have the general support of the Ummah or the trained scholars, depending on your point of view. So there are certainly democratic elements to the historical Islamic approaches to monarchism, both Shi'ite and Sunni, that set it apart from the European values concerning the divine right of kings and political absolutism. 

 

My bad, i thought you meant the Pahlavi regime in specific. I agree, the country can still be Islamic even if their is a monarchy at top. 

With the Islamic revolution and even before that, the original goal was never to topple the government or bring change to the rulership in and of its self. The problem the `ulema had, as you mentioned, was the un-Islamic behavior of that specific monarchy, if it changed it's ways and respected the views of the Scholars and Shiite population, then there may never have been a need for revolution.  

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monarchy is hereditary - based solely on biology, and not on scholarship... while the Islamic government is not necessarily a "democracy" - it can be a republic i.e. a nation subject to laws in this case Islamic laws. Your question should be more along the lines of are democracies Islamic, and the answer would be more or less no... since that would mean subjecting the entire population to whims of a majority, who may or may not be educated.  The kinds of checks and balances that exist in the IRI with respect to WF seems to be best model at this time... although that does not mean it is not also subject to intrigues and counter-revolutionary nationalist and non-Islamic tendencies - but so far so good. 

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Of course, but that isn't the question.

 

 

 

Realistically speaking, no system is perfect or ever will be until his majesty's return. But we still need to govern ourselves somehow until that time comes and in the most efficient ways we can considering the imperfect circumstances.

 

I personally tend to lean towards a constitutional monarchy because the more I think about it, monarchies appear much more in line with the Abrahamic worldview.

 

Not that I absolutely hate figures like Khomeini or anything. The Islamic Revolution of 79 did way more for Iran than the Shah ever did, but one could probably argue that the Supreme Leader is just another form of the Shahnshah that tries to pretend it's not.

 

no shah is chosen by people, Imam Khomeini was massively popular and no leader in modern world was loved by his people like the way Imam was loved even till today. yes western medias and the remainings of pahlavi system hate him so much.

honestly speaking, Imam Khomeini meets all the criterion you need, he is a shah who helped the spreading of religion. (like your ideal shah, shah abbas) why this much hate? he is not a member of Royal family? or because he gave iranian the chance for choosing their leaders via many elections since the revolution? you'd prefer a system like saudis? or that of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant?

 

What do you mean by "truly Islamic"??????

 

good question.

because I don't think this "truly Islamic state" has ever happened. not even in the reign of the Holy Prophet  (pbuh)  nor Imam Ali (as)  there was never a state in which all people were good and everything was ok. during those two infallible reigns, some governors would do injustice and make mistakes.

unless you make everybody (at least anybody working in the system) infallible.

so what do you mean by truly Islamic?

Edited by mesbah

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This is like asking if a V8 engine propels a rocket into space better than a 2JZ engine can or not. It makes me wonder whats your definition of space and rockets or if you're even qualified or serious, to be perfectly honest. It could be that some people call a corner of a room a "space". They could be right and making sense but in their own understanding of things. Next, whats the purpose of asking if your opinion has never mattered.

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Republic, Democracy, Capitalism, Liberalism, Communism are just philosophical and theoretical tools. Islam doesn't say follow republic or democracy, that is for humans to find out for their particular situations.

Sunni Califate is a theocratic rulership of Sunnis, it is nowhere in Coran or anywhere else. But Sunnis claim that is the only justified government without giving an explanation, why. Not to mention the corruption within this system.

Every system has advantages or disadvantages.

Take Anarchy, it is a form of (non-)governmen, a very good one too, just read the Theory of Anarchy, not what media usually tells about it.

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It's a difficult question. Firstly, I should clarify: when we say that a political state is Islamic, we mean that it is consistent with Islam, not that there is only one possible political structure in Islam. What we know and understand as democracy would not have been possible (or even "legitimate") in the 7th century Islamic empire. The empire consisted mostly of recent converts (some of whom had converted for political or economic reasons), illiterates, women who were mostly disengaged from the political process, slaves, and children. There was no electoral system which allowed candidates to "campaign" around the empire, and run for free and fair elections. The communications and technology of that era were limited, and the different classes of the empire had very different interests. There were different ethnic groups, warring sectarian groups, a large population of slaves and servants who owned almost no property, religious minorities, and people with unIslamic motives. Political thought and power was delegated mostly to free men with money, property, and status. Through wealth, one amasses enough time and energy to pursue education - they learned to read, they read books of religion and history, and they wrote their own books. Besides this class of people, very few were really capable of participating in the political process. Beyond that, issues of legality and morality were delegated to the judges and the scholars - what "most people" deem to be just is irrelevant in Islam, our justice system was revealed and to be interpreted, and not up to ordinary people.

 

Democracy comes in several forms. The two major branches of democracy are participative and representative. Participative Democracy is "direct democracy" and it encourages people to locally debate and vote on issues that concern them. Representative democracy is when the people elect representatives who are to be "experts" in politics, and can dedicate all of their time to it. With both of these branches there are many different systems and sets of procedures, each with their own unique benefits and drawbacks. I don't see "democracy" as being particularly Islamic or unIslamic. There could be unIslamic aspects of democracy; desiring leadership and vying for it is somewhat unIslamic. Voting on bills that contradict the shari`a is unIslamic. But otherwise, from a fiqh perspective, much of the democratic process is mubah - the shari`a is quite neutral on these issues, and so if a democratic system is beneficial, then there is no reason not to use it.

 

Of course, there are situations where it should not be turned to. The West established their democratic culture over centuries, so civil stability is pretty much guaranteed no matter who wins an election. In African societies where democracy is being pushed, it becomes a vehicle of schism in society. It allows opposition groups to form, organize, speak and associate publicly, stir up zeal and [sometimes] hatred, and oppose other groups. In newly developed democracies, parties are formed mostly based around ethnic and religious enclaves as opposed to secular political ideology. Democratic freedoms could potentially lead to the escalation of social enmity and the formation of armed paramilitary parties. In Egypt's short adventure with democracy, society was pitted against itself, and the social fabric of the society was torn apart. Democracy should also not be turned to if a country is recovering from a civil war, or if there is a fear of the loss of fundamental Islamic ideals.

 

Shiism in general is skeptical of government. We've strongly believed that real leadership comes from Allah, and that Allah appoints that leader, protects him from evil, and makes him a representative of Himself. That person, be it a prophet or an imam, is the sole legitimate authority in the state. However, for most of our history, the ma`sum has not been the one in charge. He still remains the representative, whether he has political power or not, and he still holds the same value, but for most of our history, we have been run by tyrants and usurpers. What Salafi and Shii political fiqh have in common is that the two are skeptical of movements against the state, for different reasons. Salafis believe in the Confucianist notion that one should follow authority, even if he were unjust, because dissent can create schism in society. For Shi`is, the Imams and classical scholars have also challenged and condemned rebellions against the state, with some exceptions (the Tawwabun, possibly Zayd's revolution, etc.) - this is for reasons of taqiyya, reasons of societal stability, and that all flags/banners raised by other than a ma`sum is in some way illegitimate.

 

We find ourselves in a unique situation today. Slavery has been abolished, everyone is literate and receives a basic education, our women are in the working world and the political world, and all people have access to the worldviews and ideologies of other societies. So, what worked in the 7th century simply would not work today, because society is fundamentally different. Amassing the powers of the state into the hands of one person is no longer the most efficient way to run a country in much of the world. Now, I agree that monarchies and dictatorships can be good in some situations. If a country is small, or if a country is fighting a war or recovering from war, having an autocracy may be the best course of action. But in a country of millions of people, thousands of intellectuals, a large middle class, and ethnic and religious diversity, giving power to a hereditary ruler is inefficient and even irrational.

 

But most importantly, our Imam is in occultation, and some form of temporal rule is necessary in his absence. The most basic and most primary role of a person of authority is to guarantee the self-preservation of the people of the state, as long as they follow the social contract that the people have agreed upon. We must also recognize that during the occultation, any leader we establish is empowered by us - meaning, the leader is not a special or godly individual, but rather, the leader rules with the tacit or explicit consent of the people. Our rulers in this period are not divinely-appointed, nor do they represent the divinely-appointed in a direct way. They are fallible people, selected and empowered by fallible people, and so their rule must be subject to a standard that is in the interests of the people. With that said, because all of our current leaders are fallible, there must be systems of checks and balances, transparency, and constructive scrutiny to guarantee that the leader acts according to our best interests. The leader should not have unwavering and absolute power in normal and peaceful situations, neither in the political world or religious world. Not because it's necessarily haraam, but because absolute power has corrupted the Islamic world, and the people are now more capable of taking on more political roles and responsibilities. This is why I am in favour of some form of democracy - not for all of Islamic history, not for the future of Islamic countries, and not for all Muslim countries - but right now, and in general. Western democracies were not successful because their leaders were good people - they're awful people - but because the powers of those leaders are limited and focused. Autocracies in the Islamic world have led to hundreds of billions of dollars lost, millions of deaths and prisoners, and civil unrest. For this period of ghayba, states should open up a little more to their people, because they are only made legitimate through/by the people. This has led to a mass migration of Muslims from "the Abode of Peace" (ironic, isn't it?) to non-Muslim countries, in pursuit of better and fairer systems.

 

Every age, culture, and part of the world has a political structure that reflects the needs of its people. Sometimes, we'll need polity, other times we'll need aristocracies, and other times we'll need autocracies. But as long as we understand the ghayba and leadership in this period, we can select which system works best for us, as long as the pristine ideals of Islam are not compromised. And yes, that's a difficult balancing act. More on this topic another time inshaAllah.

Edited by Qa'im

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no shah is chosen by people, Imam Khomeini was massively popular and no leader in modern world was loved by his people like the way Imam was loved even till today. yes western medias and the remainings of pahlavi system hate him so much.

honestly speaking, Imam Khomeini meets all the criterion you need, he is a shah who helped the spreading of religion. (like your ideal shah, shah abbas) why this much hate? he is not a member of Royal family? or because he gave iranian the chance for choosing their leaders via many elections since the revolution? you'd prefer a system like saudis? or that of Islamic State of Iraq and Levant?

 

There's no "hate" here and I'm not supporting the Saudis, but the fact remains that monarchy was the tradition of the large majority of Islamic societies, both Shi'ite and Sunni. My point was simply that monarchy has more precedence in our tradition than any modern republican form of government developed by the West. And if we want to get right down to the matter, our tradition, that is the Shi'ite tradition, is probably more monarchical than the Sunni tradition since our entire faith centers around the idea that the Imam can only be a chosen one from among the Prophet's blood relatives, not someone decided by the masses or a body of elected representatives, but one chosen by God and protected by Him. This is fundamentally monarchical. Which brings me to another point that must be made. Unlike the republican system, the monarchy in terms of its concept is representative of a heavenly archetype. The monarchy in this case, in regards to the basic idea behind its system is a reflection of the heavenly order with God as King or emperor of His many heavens each reigned over themselves by heavenly beings from whom the other rulers of the heavenly realms are issued. We see this worldview in monotheistic religions as well as many heathen faiths. The Jade Emperor in Chinese cosmology. Zeus as king of the Olympians. Anu, the Lord of the Heavens, in Mesopotamian mythology. It is interesting that Greek civilization developed republican ideas first, as many of the Greeks saw their gods as capricious and unconcerned with humanity while their successors, the Romans, would eventually give up their republican government in favor of an Emperor who was the high priest of the Roman religion and whose duty was to maintain order and promote religious values (we know this didn't always work out). For the Romans, religious values and piety to the gods was probably more important than it ever was for the Athenians. Islamic civilization had no history of republics until the introduction of more modern ideas (nationalism, Marxism, secularism, modernism, religious fundamentalism) and these ideas were often imports from the West

 

I bring all this up not to say that republican governments or modern ideas are inherently bad or irreligious, but to point out that traditional Islamic societies, like many other religious societies from Western Europe to East Asia to even the Americas, had a greater tendency towards monarchical systems out of conscious or unconscious desire to imitate the heavenly order. This is not to say that all monarchies were 100% successful at imitating this order in the organization and administration of their state or that were 100% successful at reflectng the justice and mercy of God, but any new form of government order and administration must not only be efficient in creating stability and helping the nation to progress technologically or at addressing the present conditions and concerns, it must also follow this trend of seeking out the heavenly archetype and seeking to emulate it as best as human nature and the flawed nature of this lower world allows. Constitutional monarchies, in which there is a written social contract between the ruler and ruled, I think fits the Islamic worldview because all it really is is a continuation of the traditional ideas Islamic civilization has always attempted to build itself on. There has always been a kind of social contract in Islamic monarchies where the rulers were expected to behave justly according to commandments of God. All constitutional governments is put that idea into a finer writing and create an electoral committee for the purpose of better managing the state and protecting the values of the people. It's just a continuation of the earlier trends and ethics of Islamic civilization into a more refined form better at administrating the lands and tribes according to the same basic principles. As I said, there has always been a kind of democratic element to Islamic leadership and government, whether Sunni or Shi'ite. Constitutional governments helped to better refine the government's ability to preserve this element and ensure the monarchy's ability to act in accordance with the Supreme Constitution, which is the Qu'ran. At least this is the theory.

 

Republics on the other hand are trickier because they have generally been formed more for the sake of personal liberty, not just administration of justice. Constitutional monarchies are perhaps more concerned with the administration of justice and improving the ability of the state to do so and make up for the monarch's shortcomings. Personal liberty factors in only in as much as it seems to fit within the society's notion of what is just and what is unjust. For example, the society may be religious, but certain forms of behavior considered immoral by the majority of the religious population might still be legal and thus protected from unwarranted or excessive punishment by capricious dukes or kings, not because of a strong belief in a certain kind of personal liberty where, just to give an example, prostitutes are free to ply their trade because it's their body and they have the right to do what they want with it, but because the sense of justice and values in that society did not see it as just to attack them as much as to regulate their business and tax them while encouraging them to give up their occupation. Republics, at least after the American Revolution, have been much more built on greater values of personal liberty and/or on secularist ideas which either see religion as irrelevant or a ball and chain, hold extreme collectivist views which see man as merely a machine as in the case of communist systems or see the goal of society to attain the highest possible amount of personal liberty without the society collapsing. Justice is reduced to merely transgression against the entity of the state or simply transgression against an individual's right to express their personal liberty, the transgression against God is not factored in very much, except maybe in a more humanist sense where God creates man endowed with great power and nature according to fixed, rational laws, but is not really a central figure after that. With constitutional governments where there's a monarch, there appears, historically, a greater attempt to balance divine mandate and the personal desires and liberty of the individual and this I think is embodied most fully in the fact that the monarch is not ousted or necessarily regulated to simply a figure head (as is the case in Britain and Japan today). Monarchies also followed a certain logic that one who was just would likely produce just children. While there is never such guarantee, this was based on both the tradition of each individual family being essentially a mini-state as well as the notion that character traits can pass down to one's children via a combination of both nature and nurture.

 

I am by no means a supporter of the Saudis, who are without a doubt unjust kings, nor am I supporter of political absolutism either in the persons of individual kings or presidents but I can't help but at least support the basic principle behind the idea of monarchies and at the very least, monarchism in principle appears to better compliment traditional Islamic worldviews, Saud or no Saud, perfect or no. Republics on the other hand, not just in Iran but in other parts of the world, feel a little more like a modern western importation covered with an Islamic veneer, but which the legitimacy of which according to Islamic tradition I think is still very much a matter of debate. Almost every republic that currently exists in the Islamic world, whether it's an "Islamic republic" or is built on some kind of nationalist platform is loaded with many serious issues in its government and often they're just an outright disaster and the question I think should be whether the reason for the problems of Muslims' application of republican system is due to mere corruption of individuals or socio-economic and geo-political factors or if there's also a spiritual factor at play where the reason it is difficult to apply republican government structures in many Islamic countries is because they don't match up with the traditional Islamic worldview well enough and as a result you get a system that is not quite Islamic and not quite republican.

 

Keep in mind this isn't a question I think of "democracy" as much as a question of a particular application of democracy.

Edited by Saintly_Jinn23

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