[Shamim A Siddiqi, New York]


One of the declared and well publicized objectives of President Bush in “capturing” Iraq was to introduce democracy in the land of Euphrates and Tigris and then in the Muslim World in its wake, especially in the Middle East. Ideologically, it sounds well and pragmatic but in the midst of the geopolitical situation of the Muslim countries vis a vis the foreign policy of the USA, it is self contradictory. It needs elaboration and evaluation of the political process of the Muslim world in historical perspective. 


Truly speaking, no where in the Muslim world, there was any form of democracy worth its name during the last so many centuries. Democracy, as it is understood in the West, has its own set up of mind and delicacies where sovereignty belongs to the people; elections take place at regular intervals to elect the legislature, parliament or congress and the elected “majority” runs the governmental affairs “of the people, by the people and for the people”. It was the Khilafah and its legacies that were predominant in the Muslim world and continued its existence till 1923 when it was abolished by modern secular Turkey in the aftermath of the First Great War of 1914-18. The Khilafah was headed by the Caliph with a Shurah, a consultant’s body of elders/scholars.  The Caliph was supposed to run the administration in terms of the Qur’an and Sunnah, feeling always accountable for his actions and deeds to his people on earth and to Allah after death. Had the Institution of Khilafah been operative as envisaged above, it would have been a boon for humanity on earth but, unfortunately, it is nowhere visible throughout the Muslim world. In fact, Khilafah was degenerated into monarchy, dictatorship or kingship that was prevalent throughout the length and breadth of the Muslim world in early twentieth century, a tragedy and a negation of what Islam offers to mankind.


When the colonial powers of Europe occupied the Muslim world during nineteen or early twentieth centuries, they introduced some form of “elected” system of government in their colonies or supported and promoted monarchies that were loyal to their colonial interests. When in the mid or later part of twentieth century, the colonies got their hard earned freedom western type of democracy was introduced as the legacy of the colonial powers which, later on, were over thrown almost at all places in the Muslim world and replaced by military dictatorship except the few countries in the Far East and Turkey where secular democracies are established. Currently, it is either dictatorship, or secular democracy or Sheikdom that is prevalent in the Muslim world. The USA and the European powers are at their back. In return, they are exploiting Muslim world both politically and economically and are infesting the Muslim lands with liberal values, feminism and demoralization at each level of Muslim societies. In the greater interest of its own, the USA is “maintaining” them.


It is so, because these despotic, undemocratic and unelected regimes suit the needs and urgencies of the USA. It is quite convenient for the American diplomacy to bargain with them and intimidate these baseless “rulers” at ease with an undeclared “secret” agenda to maintain these puppet regimes against the will and wishes of their respective people. For the last sixty years, this game of “exploitation” is rampant throughout the Muslim world and through this process America is gradually laying dynamite under the foundation of Islamic values, replacing them with secular and liberal values everywhere. This scenario speaks by itself vociferously that the USA is not sincere to introduce democracy in the Muslim world as it would tantamount to torpedoing its own foreign interest by promoting democracy and deal with democratic regimes subsequently, a hard nut to crack.


America so far got some puppets both in Afghanistan and Iraq to stage a “show-piece” of democracy, using all the terminologies of a democratic set up and organizing the foremost “drama” of election, installing of parliament, cabinet, president or Prime minister and a secular constitution, putting the old “gin” of colonialism into the new bottle of democracy while maintaining   a huge army in each land or in the region to influence the “rulers” to tow down the lines and policies that are dictated from the White- house. This farce is mockingly termed as the democratization of Muslim countries. Who is going to believe it, perhaps none? The article: “Arabs on the Verge of Democracy” published on Op-Ed page of NY Times of August 9, 2004 confirms these apprehensions categorically.


Thus, the “wish” of the USA to introduce democracy in Muslim world is without understanding the chemistry of the Muslim masses and its socio-political culture that is deep rooted in Islam and its history, especially of recent past that is of “collaboration” with the West. On the other hand, it must be clear to the USA that all the Muslim countries and their people uphold that sovereignty belongs to Allah, the Creator and Sustainer of man and the universe. Only He has the right to tell the people how to live, act and behave on this earth. Muslims are to live within the frame work of their Deen come what may. In no way, they are likely to accept the secular concept of democracy of the West. It would end only in more confusion and frustration in the Muslim masses and accelerate the hate-campaign against Uncle Sam, if it is “imposed” from outside.


What President Bush could do for the Muslim world is to introduce the democratization process and not democracy and leave the Muslim world to resolve the system pf Government that is akin to their faith and history of their lands. The Islamic system of Shurah elected by the people will have the amalgamated beauty both of Islam and that of democratic process. If such system is introduced effectively in the Muslim world, it would go a long way in mitigating tension and turmoil from the region. America should use its power and position in the ME, if it is sincere in her efforts, and convince the rulers of the Muslim countries to democratize the political process of their respective land sooner than later. If the USA could do so much, the Muslim masses would love the Americans beyond their expectation.



Shamim A Siddiqi

August 16, 2004