Maudoodi about democracy in early Islam
In the review of the article Islamist ideologist Abul Ala Maudoodi ‘Political thought in early Islam’ I wrote that early, revolutionary Islam was democracy, but it was not ‘classic’ bourgeois, exploiter democracy, the democracy of Greek pattern. No, it was proletarian democracy, even if at primitive level. Following passage from another Maudoodi’s article, also from the encyclopedia ‘Muslim Philosophy’ – ‘Economic and political teachings of Qur’an’ (http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/hmp/IX-Nine.pdf) supports that my thought; in part B, ‘Political teachings’ Maudoodi wrote:
“8. The powers of a true Caliphate do not vest in any individual nor in any clan, class or community, but in those who believe and do good. The text of xxiv, 55 that “God has promised to those of you who believe and do good that He will most certainly make them His vicegerents on the earth…” is quite clear on this point. According to this verse, every good Muslim is fit to hold the position of a Caliph. It is this aspect of Islamic Caliphate that distinguishes it from a kingship, an oligarchy, and a theocracy. It is different even from modern democracy. There is a basic difference between the two. The edifice of democracy is raised on the principle of popular sovereignty; while in Islamic Caliphate the people themselves surrender their independence to the sovereignty of God and of their own accord limit their powers within the four corners of the divine Law and the promise of vicegerency has been held out to them only if they are morally good”
So, early Islam, as Maudoodi correctly noticed in the article ‘Political thought in early Islam’, was democracy. But, as he also correctly noticed in the article ‘Economic and political teachings of Qur’an’, ‘it is different even from modern democracy’, i.e. from bourgeois democracy with its formal power of the people, which masked real power of exploiter minority. Nor it was kingship (monarchy), nor oligarchy, nor theocracy. It was proletarian democracy, like early Soviet power (before Stalin’s epoch), which formally was not the power of the majority of people, but in fact was the power of exploited majority.
But the majority of ‘Marxists’ (opportunists in fact) of imperialist nations, including Russia, persist in harping regardless of any facts that Caliphate, revival of which is advocated by radical Islamists, is ‘monarchy’ and ‘theocracy’.
For the avoidance of misunderstanding I emphasize once more that the words ‘sovereignty of God’ in early Islam in fact expressed revolutionary principles of social justice, which were comprehended at that time only vaguely, intuitively – nevertheless those principles were comprehended by Mohammed and his companions! And such revolutionary principles of social justice always differ from ‘public opinion’, because the majority of population always fluctuates between new, revolutionary ideology and old prejudices which are imposed on that majority by exploiter classes.
January 21, 2014
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