Sunday, June 28, 2009

Democratic Faiths

To be a Muslim is to be a peacemaker, one who seeks to mitigate conflicts and nurtures goodwill for peaceful co-existence. God wants us to live in peace and harmony with his creation; that is indeed the purpose of religion, any religion. Mission statement

The following article “Democratic faiths” is an excellent piece on roots and sustenance of democracy, however, the author exhibits his inadequacy and bias in his research.

One of the most powerful sentences that has life altering effect on one is “finding the truth is one’s own responsibility”. It was a turning point in my life doing research on Qur’aan (, and that beautiful verse comes from Bhagvad Gita. If our feelings, opinions and actions towards others are based on the sayings of our Parents, Pastor, Pundit, Imam, Rabbi or clergy, then we have to realize that they are not going to be responsible for the pangs of our conscience in our solitude. Hence the responsibility to find the truth falls squarely on each one of us, to find salvation from malice and ill-will.

It is ironic that the author flips the very words that Prophet Muhammad had said in his last sermon “No wonder that democracy does not find any foothold in nations that discriminates between believers and non-believers, men and women, masters and slaves and even slaves white, brown and black. “ The Prophet had said nearly the same words and added "No man is superior to the other; all are equal beings in the eyes of God." The author has failed to understand and distinguish between religion and the people. All religions including Islam came into being to make us better beings and create better societies. Most of the people get it, and some don’t.

The Muslims around the world are waking up and figuring out the effects of cold wars, the power struggles of nations to control the resources and extricating themselves from these tentacles. It is time for Muslims to wake up and figure out how to bring sustainable democracies in their nations. While the majority of Muslims want the democratic form of governance which is indeed rooted in Islam, they have been unable to speak up against their rules, we Americans also have experienced that since 2001. The Saudi King made a statement that his subjects are not ready for democracy. Is that the faith he has in his people? No one is eternal and immortal, except the continuance of human race and it is our obligation to bring sustainable governance, where people are continually involved in its checks and balances for harmonius co-existence.

Nearly 2/3rds of Muslims live in democracies and about a 1/3rd under monarchies and dictatorships. The largest Muslim majority nation Indonesia is a successful democracy and the 2nd Largest Muslim population lives in Democratic India and the third and fourth largest Muslim majority nations (Bangladesh and Turkey) are also democracies. There are several more democracies out there. It is a shame that democracy has not reached every nation in Asia, Africa and South America, let alone Muslim Majority nations, the author has failed to identify this.

The freedom movement began with India’s freedom in 1947 and since then more nations have become free from colonialism and gone democratic than the recorded history of humanity. Among the Muslim majority nations, dictatorships began with Shah of Iran in 1952 and in 1956 with Ayyub Khan in Pakistan, and for the first time the Muslims clergy had their say in the governance of a nation was in Iran in 1979 since the fall of Ottomon Empire.

The author flaws the religion of Islam instead of finding the causes and cures. Democracy has its roots in Islam. The Prophet could have easily declared his successor and appointed Ali – who was the most qualified in every possible way to run the leadership, the only disqualification was Ali was his son in law and a cousin – and the prophet did not want it to become a dynastic rule, instead he desired the people elect the one with consensus. There is good research done by Dr. Abdul Aziz Sachedina on in the form of a book, the roots of democracy in Islam.

Author’s bias comes through when he subtly claims superiority for Hinduism and Christianity and shows his ignorance about Islam or rather Prejudice against Islam.

This is not how you build peaceful societies by creating bias against another faith. One has to find the truth, point the specific errors and not generalize it to suit one’s bias.

Mike Ghouse is a Speaker, Thinker and a Writer. He is a frequent guest on talk radio and local television network discussing Pluralism, Terrorism, India, Islam, Peace and civic issues. His comments, news analysis and columns can be found on the Websites and several Blogs listed on his personal website

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Democratic Faiths
by J. Ajithkumar

General elections, whether rigged, manipulated or impartial, are the most vital and visible signs of life in any functioning democracy. Be it presidential or parliamentary, democracy has been widely accepted as the nearest form to minimum acceptable governance embodying the vital elements of liberty, human rights and equality that are beyond-bargain parameters for dignified human existence. The harsh reality that many world nations are still suffering from greedy monarchies, military dictatorships and religious theocracies makes a mockery of all our claims of progress in this 21st century. There are several reasons for the flourishing or floundering of democratic institutions in different parts of the world. The latest elections in India and Iran provide a very good opportunity to look at some of the reasons for the sustainability of democracy in the current world.

Though various forms of democracy are under trial in different nations, we can easily notice that it is showing signs of survival only in certain environments. The very spirit of democracy, especially in countries offering universal adult franchise, seems to be compatible only with certain types of people and faiths. The strengthening or weakening of democracy as a form of government among 200 odd nations with 6 billion people gives some clear indications about the real faith of democracy. One can also draw very good conclusions about the thought process, mentality and behavior of the people, nation and faith of those who prefer essentially democratic arrangements for governance. In contrast we can also get glimpses about why certain faiths are incompatible with democracy. There must be underlying reasons for both.

Conceding Spirit

Enough and more clues about the reasons for success or failure of democracy in different nations can be obtained by analyzing the happenings in their recent elections. In the last one decade we have seen presidential elections in USA (2000, 2004, 2008), general elections in India (2004, 2009) and different types of elections in Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nepal. It will not take much effort to prove that the 2000 election in USA, 2009 elections in India and Iran were neither impartial nor fair. All these elections have been rigged in one form or another. Rigging of elections need not always be in the form of duplicate voting or over printing of ballots or even false counting of votes. It can be in the form of manipulating the tools for elections, including the election commissions that conduct the elections, or even by hijacking of mandate obtained in any election. In India the popular mandate in 2009 elections in favor of a particular political formation has been hijacked by installing an ˜unelected leader.

No election is perfect and the success of any democratic arrangement emanates from the spirit and willingness of contesting parties to accept defeat. Only if equanimity exists to accept defeat or victory on the part of each and every contesting party, prior to any election, can the democratic process end conclusively. Extreme contrasts in this regard are provided by the reactions of an erstwhile Indian Prime Minister as against the current stance of the ‘defeated’ Iranian leaders in the recent elections. “Our party may have been defeated but India has won” were the famous words of a statesman like Vajpayee when he got defeated in 2004. And Al-Gore and Advani went many steps further when they conceded defeat in elections which they have morally won for furthering democracy in their own nations. The fact that these leaders had the support of their followers (in India it is in hundreds of millions) shows the general characteristics of their faith. However, the unhealthy trend of certain families hijacking the rule under the guise of electoral victory in successful democracies is another factor that merits the attention of all those who value genuine democracy.

Basic Incompatibilities

There are certain basic incompatibilities between some dominant faiths and the essential spirit of democracy. The bare minimum belief that is needed for any favorable thought on democracy is the concept of equality of human beings. To accept anyone becoming the nation’s ruler, its majority must strongly believe that all of them have equal rights (even if they are not equals in every sense) and hence eligible to rule. In the case of genuine communism and theocracy, this concept of equality is non-existent. If workers are more equal than others in a communist setup, it is the rights of clergy to be more than others in a theocratic arrangement. No wonder that democracy does not find any foothold in nations that discriminates between believers and non-believers, men and women, masters and slaves and even slaves white, brown and black. The exhibition of universal brotherhood by hugging, singing, praying and preying together are only skin deep rituals in such societies.

Conceding equality to others is easy to preach but difficult to practice. It needs a strong underlying principle to accept equality as a natural concept. In Hinduism it is easily available in their belief of having the very same God present in everything animate and inanimate. And in Christianity it is provided by the belief that all are born as sinners. But having the very same starting point does not provide a good reason for considering other competitors as equal in the subsequent race for living. The belief that all are made by the same God does not automatically confer equality on everyone. Products can be of different value even if they are manufactured in the one and only producing company. It is difficult to consider them equal but there is no harm in having brotherly feelings that can subsidize, promote or confront the enemies together.

In very general terms it is easy to conclude that democratic process succeeds only amidst some of the world’s dominant faiths, and fails miserably in the case of others. The current turbulence in Iran and successful transformation from monarchy to a democratic republic in Nepal provide living examples for this argument. And in Pakistan, democracy has failed to make any foothold even after 60 odd years of free rule. In Iraq and Afghanistan it has miles to go before we can conclude that it is acceptable. There is a great message to humanity coming out of all these. It is about the misery and turbulence that awaits us if one of those undemocratic faiths comes to dominate the world. Silence of graveyards will be the only sign of equality that will be present among all nations then. Only by considering and respecting all others as our equals can we nurture democratic principles and that requires nothing less than the acceptance of same God’s presence in everything.

June 28, 2009


  1. AOA

    Clearly Ajithkumar has an axe to grind against Islam/Muslims. He points out the "easy" transition between monarchy and democracy in Nepal (I believe it has "miles to go" before the argument is settled there), yet as the only officially Hindu nation in the world, it practiced a most stifling autocracy on its predominantly Hindu populace. Why would Mr. Ajithkumar not fault Hinduism for that centuries old situation? I believe Hinduism in its original form is a Divine religion, but its practice over the centuries (and still to my knowledge in large swathes of Indian masses) has been distorted by the man made caste system which is based upon the belief that ALL human beings are born UNEQUAL. India was able to forge a democratic system more easily than Pakistan, in my view, because unlike the Punjab in Pakistan, it did not have a single province which would comprise 65-70 % of the total population of the country. It had a far more disparate ethno-linguist population mix compared to Pakistan and dictatorship was simply not an option there without its rapid disintegration. There were many bloody language riots in India initially which were wisely handled by giving the various provinces more state rights (and carving out many more provinces to calm the secessionist tendencies.


  2. Richard Rotary, Professor of comparative literature and philosophy at Stanford
    University opined;""We can, of course, continue to take justified pride in being
    citizens of a 200-year-old constitutional democracy. Yet our country can also be described, plausibly, as a corrupt plutocracy -- a country in which money buys
    nomination for high office, in which the rich routinely bribe the legislatures, and
    in which voter apathy is on the increase." I think India is the worst plutocracy
    and Hindu tyranny. Besides persecution of Muslims and discrimination against
    them the corruption is much more rampant in India than any other democratic country.

    Both India and US give lot of lip service to democracy and human rights.
    But when it comes to plebiscite in Kashmir as ordered by UN, they forget
    that. Israel's violation of human rights of Palestinians are vetoed by US
    when condemned by UN.

    Veto power in UN is undemocratic. What ever reasons are advanced for
    justifying veto in UN, the Iran has much more democratic system of
    governance and it cannot be labeled as undemocratic on the false
    accusation and propaganda of rigged elections.

    As one Western author wrote: "A truly functioning democracy requires an informed, educated and proactive citizenry. A vigilant,free and honest press and leaders with a modicum of integrity are necessary condiments to concoct this utopian brew. In America all are missing." I may add that so is the case with India.

    German scholar Thomas Mann had written:" It is a strange fact that freedom and equality, the two basic ideas of democracy, are to some extent contradictory. Logically considered,
    freedom and equality are mutually exclusive, just as society and the individual are mutually exclusive."

    The cure for evils of democracy does not lie in more democracy but making qualifications of voters and the candidates stricter so that only competent people get elected and the corrupt elements and demagogues are debarred from politicking.


  3. Hello Friends

    Carrying the theme of my last post, many Christian majority states in South America and Africa are still under quite brutal dictatorships. Many more (Chile, Argentina, Peru, South Africa, Phillipines which was till recently the only predominantly Chrstian country in Asia, and whole of Eastern Europe) were under most bloody forms of dictatorships not too long ago. Many Buddhist majority countries (Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Burma) have only a brief or no experience of democracy even now.
    Democracy's failure or success is dependent upon a complex interaction between geographic, demographic and mostly socio-economic realities. Another important factor is the foreign meddling by the "democratic" West. Nearly ALL the dictatorships in Muslim world are actively supported by the western economic powers. The resource rich Islamic world is literally controlled by the corporate west thru its dictators.
    Interestingly, the most democratic Muslim majority country Malaysia is always a thorn in the side of the pontificating West. When a democratic government with Islamic leanings in 99 % Muslim Algeria seemed imminent, elections were cancelled and "democratic" France rewarded the military regime there with 10 billion dollar "aid". The most democratically elected government in the Arab world (Gaza) was immediately placed under physical and economic blockade by the western "democracies".

    I will conclude by saying that when Iran was under the brutal Shah, he and his country were the darlings of the "democratic" west. Current Iranian regime is far better than the Shah's monarchy and Saudi Arabia (the most repressive Muslim country in the world) and the GCC, yet it, and not the surrounding Arab DICTATORSHIPS are the objects of wrath of the west.

    Mr. Kumar is simply a Muslim hater in the guise of a political "thinker".




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quraan burning

Planned Muslim Response to Qur'an Burning by Pastor Jones on September 11 in Mulberry, Florida

August 19, 2013| Dallas, Texas

Mike Ghouse
Text/Talk: (214) 325-1916

Mirza A Beg
(205) 454-8797


We as Muslims plan to respond to pastor Terry Jones' planned burning of 3000 copies of Quran on September 11, 2013 in positive terms.

Our response - we will reclaim the standard of behavior practiced by the Prophet concerning “scurrilous and hostile criticism of the Qur’an” (Muhammad Asad Translation Note 31, verse 41:34). It was "To overcome evil with good is good, and to resist evil by evil is evil." It is also strongly enjoined in the Qur’an in the same verse 41:34, “Good and evil deeds are not equal. Repel evil with what is better; then you will see that one who was once your enemy has become your dearest friend.”

God willing Muslims will follow the divine guidance and pray for the restoration of Goodwill, and on that day many Muslim organizations will go on a “blood drive” to save lives and serve humanity with kindness.

We invite fellow Americans of all faiths, races, and ethnicities to join us to rededicate the pledge, “One nation under God”, and to build a cohesive America where no American has to live in apprehension, discomfort or fear of fellow Americans. This event is a substitute for our 10th Annual Unity Day Celebration ( held in Dallas, but now it will be at Mulberry, Florida.

Unwittingly Pastor Jones has done us a favor by invigorating us by his decision to burn nearly 3000 copies Quran on September 11, 2013. Obviously he is not satisfied by the notoriety he garnered by burning one Qur'an last year.

As Muslims and citizens we honor the free speech guaranteed in our constitution. We have no intentions to criticize, condemn or oppose Pastor Terry Jones' freedom of expression. Instead, we will be donating blood and praying for goodness to permeate in our society.

We plan to follow Jesus Christ (pbuh), a revered prophet in Islam as well as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) – that of mitigating the conflicts and nurturing good will for the common good of the society.

We hope, this event and the message will remind Muslims elsewhere in the world as well, that violence is not the way. Muslims, who react violently to senseless provocation, should realize that, violence causes more violence, and besmirches the name of the religion that we hold so dear. We believe that Prophet Muhammad was a mercy to the mankind, and we ought to practice what we believe and preach. We must not insult Islam by the negative reactions of a few.

We can only hope it will bring about a change in the attitude of the followers of Pastor Jones, and in the behavior of those Muslims who reacted violently the last time Pastor sought notoriety – We hope this small step towards a bridge to peaceful coexistence would propel us towards building a cohesive society.

Like most Americans a majority of Muslims quietly go about their own business, but it is time to speak up and take positive action instead of negative reaction. May this message of peace and goodwill reverberate and reach many shores.

Lastly, we appreciate the Citizens of Mulberry, Florida, Honorable Mayor George Hatch, City Commissioners, police and Fire Chiefs for handing this situation very well. This will add a ‘feather of peace’ in the City’s reputation. We hope Mulberry will be a catalyst in showing the way in handling conflict with dignity and peace.

We thank the Media for giving value to the work towards peace rather than conflict.


Thank you.


The people in Dallas are making an effort to understand and clean their own hearts first, when we are free from bias, it would be easy to share that with others. Islam teaches us in so many ways to "respect the otherness of others" and it is time we find simple practical ways of doing it.