Wednesday, March 9, 2011






The article below was first published in my weekly column in the Nigerian Compass newspaper of Friday, 4th March, 2011. Please read on:


Revolutions are spreading fast in the Middle East. Two regimes (Tunisia and Egypt) have already fallen. Demonstrations are currently taking place in Yemen, Bahrain, Algeria, Libya, and Oman with hundreds of thousands trooping to the streets demanding reform or regime change. Many lives were reportedly lost as a result of brutal assaults on demonstrators in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Libya. The case of Libya is close to an insurrection and the death toll is appallingly high.


I lay the blame of the ongoing uprising in the region squarely on the doorsteps of the Muslim rulers of those countries who have failed to implement the Islamic system of government. Many of them, like in Egypt and Tunisia, turned Islam into anathema in their countries. They siphoned the wealth of their people to the West while their subjects wallowed in abject poverty.   


I am appalled by the role played by Western nations in the deprivation and rape of the Muslims in the Middle East. It is an open secret that Western countries were the allies of Arab dictators. But they exposed the hypocrisy in democracy by turning the blind eye at the excesses of Arab totalitarian rulers except the radicals among them like Ghaddafi. That is why the West stood with arms akimbo as Husni Mubarak of Egypt tyrannised Egypt for 30 years. For waiting for so long and for capitalizing on the greed and narrow- mindedness of Arab rulers, the West stands guilty of selfishness and has lost every moral right to intervene in the ongoing revolution in the region.


The champions of democracy have exposed the deficiency of the system. 'Government of the people by the people for the people', that exactly is the problem. It is all people-oriented and people-focussed at the expense of the Maker of people! It is so dry, so earthly, so ungodly, so unappreciative, so parochial, so materialistic. Yet if the engineers of democracy had practiced the system with sincerity, Islam would not have quarrelled with it. But the reverse is the case.


From the way democracy is practiced today, we can see that to the Americans, the British, the French and the Germans, democracy is good if it emerges with a government that is hostile to Islam and the Muslims. But the same democracy must be wished away if it produces a government that is Islam-compliant. This stands in contradistinction to the views of democracy as expressed by renowned Western political scientists. Dorothy Pickle's definition of democracy as dialogue between the ruler and the ruled, Jack Lively's 'situation of equality' and Margoli's 'equal opportunity to participate'.


The West committed a crime against democracy and the General Will when it pushed for a military coup which annulled the landslide electoral victory of the Islamic Liberation Front (FIS) of Algeria in the 80s. This shows that the West merely use democracy to stir up Islamophobia among Muslims. It is only on their lips, not in their hearts. Genuine democracy among the Muslims should be government of the Muslims by the Muslims for the Muslims. Among Africans, it should be government of Africans by Africans for Africans.


But the reality is that the West expects democracy in foreign lands to serve Western interests. Nobody is quarrelling with countries of the West for their interest in their national interest. But it is carrying it too far when they want all nations of the world to serve Western interest. If democracy is government of the people, the Muslims are also 'people' and therefore human beings and their own government should reflect their interests. Africans are human beings and African democracy should mirror African interests. The West has equally failed to practice democracy at the United Nations. What was that American veto of UN resolution condemning Israeli settlements meant to serve? That veto simply shows that injustice is democracy's middle name.


The West romanced with the dictatorship of the left among the Arab leaders who they knew were enemies of Islam, enemies of their own people. The Egyptian usurper Husni Mubarak strangulated the liberty of Egyptian Muslims for thirty one years. He schemed to install his son as successor. The West ignored his atrocities because he was doing their bidding. Is that how to export democracy?


The Tunisian impostor Zayn Al-Abideen Bin Ali banned the use of hijab by Muslim women. Only last year, he sought to bastardize the institution of Ramadan by telling his subjects (prisoners?) to ignore it. Such moves were cheered in the West. Does democracy entail mocking the religion of others? Should democracy be exclusive? In other words, is it the West alone that should enjoy the dividends of democracy? What is wrong if the overwhelmingly Muslim citizenry of an Arab nation decides to vote for an Islamic party?

Records have shown that the West itself has derailed in its handling of democratic institutions. The dream of the father of democracy Abraham Lincoln, was to put this political system 'under God'. He had declared on Wednesday, 19th November, 1863, "We here are highly resolved that these dead soldiers shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom and that this Government of the people by the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth".

What the Muslims have done is that they have placed their own democracy under Allah (God) and for this they are stigmatized as 'extremists', 'fanatics', 'fundamentalists', 'terrorists', etc.

Islamic scholars and leaders define Islamic democracy differently. Al-Fasi (1910-74) called it the general thought guided by divine will. Muhammad Umarah in his al-Islam wa Sultat al-Duniya (Islam and World Government) describes this divine will the rights of the society. Though Libyan strongman Muammar Ghadafi in the early days of his reign defined Islamic democracy as the weapon which breaks the power of the individual, class, tribe, sect or party, he allowed power to intoxicate him in the end. Whereas former Egyptian president Anwar Sadat submits that Islamic democracy confers upon the citizens the full dignity of being human beings, his successor tried to play Allah with the lives of his subjects.


Ibn Taimiyyah (died 1328) regards the ruler as Allah's shadow.  Al-Farabi's (died 950) "good city" in his magnum opus tiltled al-Madinah al-Fadilah (The Good City) focuses on good governance. Ibn Sina (Avicenna, died 1037) laid great emphasis on the "ideal state". Therefore Muslim rulers must promote the Islamic values of justice, fairness and equal rights. In the words of Mahmud Shaltut (rector of al-Azhar between 1950 and 1960), an Islamic state "benefits the country and preserves it from all foreign influence".


Islamic political thought justifies the current uprising in Arab countries. Though citizens owe the ruler obedience (Qur'an 4:59), the latter must not disobey Allah. Prophet Muhammad once said, "There shall be no obedience for rulers who sin against Allah." The Mu'tazilite al-Jahiz (died 868 C.E.) gained popularity by asserting the right of the Ummah to rebel against usurpers and tyrants but he added that once the tyrant has been dethroned, it was the duty of the people to provide another. Al-Marwardi (died 1058) contends in his Ahkam as-Sultaniyyah (Principles of Government) that only a duly elected Imam (leader) should rule. I am therefore sending a strong signal to the Muslim youths in the revolting nations in the Arab world: democracy must not be your target; you are Muslims, therefore, moderate and non-militant Islam must be a major correlate in the negotiations.


Democracy is not worth dying for. Democracy has zero tolerance for religion, particularly Islam and its divine institutions. Democracy is a square peg. The land of Muslims is a round hole. They cannot fit. Islam has its own perfect political thought which, for their selfish motives, the hypocritical Muslim rulers of Arab countries have hitherto ignored, dancing to Western gallery.


A trully Islamic revolution will guarantee the spirit of Madina, engender taqwah (piety), promote people's welfare, enshrine Allah-given and fundamental rights for all (including animals and inanimate objects). A genuine Islamic revolution will symbolize non-aggression, ensure peaceful coexistence with all countries of the world and project non-accumulation of wealth on the part of rulers and members of their immediate families. It will facilitate fair distribution of wealth, initiate social security and, above all, bequeath a legacy of freedom and general wellness.


Is-haq Akintola (Ph.D),
Associate Professor of Islamic Studies,
Lagos State University,
P.O. Box 10211,
LASU Post Office,
HO 102 101,
Ojo, Lagos,
Tel. 234-803-346-4974
I remain oppressed untill the hungry are fed, the naked clothed,
the sick healed and the homeless sheltered

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