Concerns with Islam: Democracy is not Compatible with Islam

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Concerns with Islam:
Thoughts from an American Convert
By: Americana X
Ch.1: Apostasy
Ch 2: Immoral, Unjustified, and Preemptive Warfare and Violence
Ch.3: Child Marriage
Ch.4: Women’s Lack of Legal Rights and Equality
Ch.5: How Women Are Perceived Disrespectfully
Ch.6: Wife Beating
Ch.7: Men and Women are Not Equal at All In Islam
Ch.8: Sexual Slavery in Islam
Ch.9: Adoption
Ch.10: Democracy is not Compatible with Islam

Islamic law is incompatible with democracy. It is a theocratic system with Allah alone at its head. Allah's law is interpreted by a ruling body of clerics. There is no room for a secular political system in which all people are treated as equals.

To quote the 20th century cleric, Sayyid Qutb, "It is Allah and not man who rules. Allah is the source of all authority, including legitimate political authority. Virtue, not freedom, is the highest value. Therefore, Allah's law, not man's, should govern the society."

Islamic law is based on the Qur'an and the Sunnah, which are set and fixed. According to Muslims, there is no need for addition or correction. Neither is there any room for the law of fallible man, particularly non-Muslims. Muslims think that nothing should take the place of Allah's perfect law, which supposedly tells a man everything he needs to know about daily life. The law of one man, one vote is heretical to Islam. The testimony of a Muslim woman is worth only half that of a man. Jews and Christians are never to have equal standing with Muslims (let alone Hindus and Buddhists) under the law and certainly never in a position of authority over Muslims, and atheists are to be killed outright.

To understand these differences, one must fully comprehend the concept of dhimmi status in Islam. Dhimmi is the status given to Jews and Christians under Islam. Although in Egypt, all Muslims say that they respect Christians and Christians are so respected in Islam, they seem to never ask themselves a very simple question: If Christians were so respected through out Islamic history, where are all the Christians that used to live in Saudi Arabia now? Why are there no indigenous Saudi Christians despite the fact that historically, there were many, and prior to Islam, they cohabitated with the others that lived in the area? History and Islamic texts seem to paint a much less tolerant picture than many Egyptian Muslims would like to portrait.

The Qur’an says clearly:

Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.

In other words, Muslims have a right to collect a special tax from those of other faiths and “subdue” them.

Throughout Islamic history, Dhimmis, could not bear arms or give testimony in courts in cases involving Muslims. These limitations on the rights of dhimmis made them vulnerable to the whims of Muslim rulers and citizens in general. The general rule in Islamic law is that a dhimmi can not inherit from Muslims, nor Muslims can inherit from dhimmis. This is STILL the case in Egypt today as illustrated below.

The Former Mufti of Egypt Muhammad Hasanayn Makhluf was asked:

"A man who was Christian and married to a Christian woman, had five children with her….then he became Muslim, married a Muslim woman, divorced his Christian wife and later died… however, the children all remained Christian. Which of his children inherit from him?"

And the answer:

"The inheritance of this deceased Muslim all goes to his Muslim wife. There is no inheritance for the children he left behind as mentioned above, due to their embrace of the Christian religion at the time of his death and the fact that none of them followed him in accepting Islam. Difference in religion precludes inheritance, as stipulated by the jurisprudents, and Allah knows best." (Fatawa shar`iyya 2:233-234)
Non Muslim Childrens Inheritance
Law and Sharia Consultants, 2007

Was it the fault of the Christian children that their father left their mother after bearing him 5 children? Islam always supersedes all other religions and faults people for not being Muslim, which to me, is disrespectful at best.

Although dhimmis are allowed to perform their religious rituals, they are obliged to do so in a manner not conspicuous to Muslims. That’s why you never hear any church bells in Muslim countries and Christians are afraid to talk about their religion to anyone who is a not Christian. It is illegal to share any information about Christianity with a non-Christian as it could be interpreted as “proselytizing,” even if it is just history.

Historically, throughout the Muslim empire, the display of non-Muslim religious symbols, such as crosses or icons, was prohibited on buildings and on clothing (unless mandated as part of distinctive clothing). Dhimmis had the right to choose their own religious leaders; however, the choice of the community was subject to the approval of the Muslim authorities, who sometimes blocked candidates that were more likely to instigate political instability. Other restrictions included a prohibition on publishing or the sale of non-Muslim religious literature and a ban on teaching the Qur’an i.e. they could not understand the religion that dominated them unless they converted to it first.

Jizya and kharaj were a crushing burden for the non-Muslim peasantry who eked out a bare living in a subsistence economy. The additional taxation was a critical factor that drove many dhimmis to accept Islam.

When a legal case between a Muslim and a dhimmi took place, the word of Muslim witnesses always carried more weight than that of dhimmis. According to Hanafi jurists dhimmi testimony and oaths were not valid against Muslims. On the other hand, Muslims could testify against dhimmi. This legal disability put dhimmis in a difficult position where they could not defend themselves against false accusations leveled by Muslims. This, of course, would deepen the rift between communities, as dhimmis sought to reduce the possibility of conflict by limiting contact with Muslims. To do otherwise would be dangerous.

Dhimmis were even forbidden to ride horses or camels; they were only allowed to ride donkeys and only on packsaddles, a prohibition that has its roots in the Pact of Umar. In the 18th century, Damanhuri, rector of Al-Azhar University, summed up the consensus of Islamic jurists: "Neither Jew nor Christian should ride a horse, with or without saddle. They may ride asses with a packsaddle."

An additional requirement for dhimmis was not ride astride, but only sidesaddle, like a woman. In the Mamluk Egypt, where non-Mamluk Muslims were not allowed to ride horses and camels, dhimmis were prohibited even from riding donkeys inside cities![1]

Dr. Zakir Naik, a prominent Islamic preacher from India has stated:

"as far as the matters of religion are concerned we know for sure that only Islam is the true religion in the eyes of God. In 3:85 it is mentioned that God will never accept any religion other than Islam. As far as …. The building of churches or temples is concerned, how can we allow this when their religion is wrong? And when worship is also wrong? Thus we will surely not allow such wrong things in our (i.e. an Islamic) country.”

Where is the tolerance? Where is the “respect?” It is important that Muslims define these terms clearly, as it appears they mean vastly different things to different people, namely, non-Muslims.

A modern day case points out that dhimmitude, although possibly not as harshly as it has been practiced in the past, is still alive and well.

Two Egyptian twin boys have said, "We refuse to be Muslims by force," after losing a court case.

Middle East journalist, Mary Abdelmassih, writing for the Assyrian International News Agency explained the background to this controversial case.

"On March 30 [2010] an administrative judicial court in Egypt dismissed a lawsuit filed by Mrs. Camilia Lutfi, mother of the Coptic Christian twins boys Mario and Andrew, against the Interior Minister, and the director of the Civil Status Department for refusing to re-instate the Christian religion on their birth certificates, and invalidate those which were forcefully changed to 'Islam' in 2005 by their father Medhat Ramsis Labib, who had converted to Islam."

Abdelmassih said that after his conversion, Andrew and Mario became Muslims in what is called "Islamisation by dependence", by which children follow the religion of a converted parent (to Islam only) until they reach the age of puberty (fifteen), because Islam is "the best among all religions", according to Egyptian Court rulings.

"The purpose of Lutfi's litigation was to restore back to her twins their identity as Christians, before reaching the age of 16 in June, when they will have their national ID cards issued," she wrote. "Camilia said that because of the developments in their case, her worst nightmares would materialise, in which they would have Islam as religious affiliation on their ID cards." Mrs Lutfi told the Free Copts advocacy, "If they change to Christianity after that, they will be considered apostates."

Abdelmassih reported that she expressed her surprise at the intransigence of the judiciary in dealing with the issue of her sons, especially after they have already reached the legal age of 15-years, when they can choose their own religion.

"The boys have lived this tragedy for the last ten years, through no fault of their own," she said.

ElYoum 7 Newspaper reported that 15-years-old Mario and Andrew were extremely disappointed with the court verdict, saying "faith is not by force, we want to remain Christians and we do not wish to become Muslims".

Both boys are practicing Christians and were consecrated last year as deacons in their regular church in Alexandria.

Abdelmassih said that court explained in its verdict, which was issued on April 14, that Camilia Lutfi has not presented a verdict from a relevant court (it did not say which court) proving the change of her sons' religion from Islam to Christianity.

"How come that when their father changed their religion from Christianity to Islam, he required no court verdict, and now that they want to revert back to Christianity, the court requires a verdict?" she told Free Copts.

The journalist went on to say that although the mother's lawyers presented to the court a portfolio containing 15 different certificates proving they are Christians, contradicting what was written on their birth certificates, the court said in its reasoning that it does not recognize the validity of a certificate issued by the Church as a document of change of religion from Islam to Christianity, as "churches by law are not competent to issue such certificates".

The courts only accept certificates of religion change from Al-Azhar (the Muslim theology school in Cairo). Moreover the Court said that there is no law to force the Interior minister and the Civil Status Department chief to change the religion of the boys on their documents without a court ruling to this effect.

Camilia criticised the judiciary in Egypt for being biased, based on her personal experience. "I do not believe the recent verdict has been taken solely by the judges. I feel there is a higher authority which orders the judges to decide in a certain way, even if it goes against the documents in front of them," she told Free Copts.

Abdelmassih said that Mario and Andrew were born on June 24, 1994 to Christian parents, sea captain Medhat Ramsis and tax inspector Camilia Lutfi, but in February 2000 their father converted to Islam to marry a Muslim woman. In 2005 Medhat changed their twin boys' birth certificates to show that they are Muslims, born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother.

She added that the case of Mario and Andrew caught the attention of the media in May 2007, after they challenged the Ministry of Education which forced them to sit in for the Islamic Religion exams at school, where students are obliged to pass in order to be promoted to a higher class. They refused to answer the questions.

On his answer sheet Andrew wrote "I am Christian" and Mario wrote "My religion is Christianity". They failed the exam and had to re-take it, but again insisted on writing these single phrases. Due to public pressure, the Minister of Education exempted them from passing those exams until their case was finalized by the court. On national television they declared: "We do not want to be Muslims. We are born Christians, will remain and die as Christians."

After a five-year legal battle, Lutfi won a landmark victory in June 2009 when Egypt's Court of Cassation gave her the right to retain custody of Andrew and Mario. The Court also affirmed, for the first time, the right of a non-Muslim mother to retain custody of her child until the age of fifteen, as stipulated by Egypt's Personal Status Law, even when the child's father converts to Islam and the state automatically changes the child's religion as a result. Previously it was only until the age of seven, which is considered the age of "religious maturity" by the Hanafi School of Islamic jurisprudence.

Abdelmassih stated that at a press conference held on Thursday, April 22, 2010, Lutfi said that the refusal of the judiciary to establish the religion of her children as Christians is a blow to the principles of citizenship, and a "disregard" for Christianity and Christians.

She called on President Mubarak to protect the freedom of religion by issuing laws "to tie down the hands of the judiciary in deciding on these issues without a legal basis." She also addressed a message to the President of the State Council saying that all judgments regarding conversion to Christianity take as a starting point that Islam is the State religion, and the State guarantees freedom of religion but ends up by "insulting Christianity and those wishing to convert to Christianity".

During the press conference, Camelia also called on the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to issue a Fatwa (Islamic religious edict) to remind the authorities of the Quranic verse "Let there be no compulsion in religion".

Dr Awad Shafik Awad, international attorney based in Switzerland and President of the Confederation of Coptic Human Rights Organizations in Europe, stated his intention to refer the case of Mario and Andrew to the international courts, after all stages of litigation in Egypt have been exhausted. He said that the recent court's refusal to prove the Christian faith of the twin boys was "unjust and has nothing to do with the law".

Coptic attorney Ramsis elNaggar stated that his law firm represents thousands of Christian children who were forced to become Muslims following the conversion to Islam of one of their parents, and tried in vain to revert back to Christianity.

Last month before the court dismissed their case, CBN News carried out an interview with Mario and Andrew, bringing their fight to retain their Christian identity and the fear of being considered as apostates and getting killed to the international public.

Abdelmassih concluded by saying that renowned Coptic activist and writer Magdi Khalil had called for the non-application of Islamic Sharia law on Christian families in Egypt, saying that the case of Mario and Andrew represents the situation of the Copts under Sharia. The Egyptian Personal Status Law for Muslims and non-Muslims of mixed religions or denominations is based on the Sharia law according to the Hanafi school of Islamic jurisprudence, "which discriminates against fundamental human rights, and against women in general as lawyer Ms Safaa Zaki describes it," he said.

Khalil also warned about a wider application of the Second article of the Egyptian Constitution which stipulates that the principles of Islamic Sharia law are the main source of legislation.

He said: "If Sharia is applied to all the laws, this would be a real catastrophe to the secular state, for Muslims and Christians."
'We refuse to be Muslims by force,' say Egyptian Christians
ASSIST News Service, Christian Today, April 27, 2010

Further Illustrative History of the Relationship Between Muslims and Other Religions

In 630, Mohamed first marched an army into Christian lands during the "Battle of Tabuk." In fact, there was no battle because there was no army against him as the residents were taken by surprise. Some were killed, and the survivors were forced to pay the jizyah. This is a clearly abrogation of the previous rule of "no compulsion in religion" that today's Muslims love to quote. In 643, Tripoli was conquered and the native Christian Berbers were forced to give their wives and children to the Muslims as slaves to satisfy the Jizya. The Serbs of Europe had to hand over their children to satisfy the collector and the children were then converted to Islam and trained as Jihad warriors for use in foreign lands.

In India, in the 17th century, Muslim tax collectors would also take the wives and children of impoverished Hindus and sell them into slavery for the Jizya requirement. The only way for many to avoid losing their families was to convert to Islam.

According to a publication by Islamic Jihad, Shaykh Ahmad Sirhindi:

"The honor of Islam lies in insulting the unbelief and the unbelievers (kafirs). One who respects kafirs dishonors Muslims.... The real purpose of levying the Jizya on them is to humiliate them... [and] they remain terrified and trembling."

Islamic purists, such as Hamas and the Taliban, wish to reinstate the jizya.

According to the following Hadith, it doesn’t seem that this is negotiable at any time in the future.

Our Prophet, the Messenger of our Lord, has ordered us to fight you till you worship Allah Alone or give Jizya (i.e. tribute); and our Prophet has informed us that our Lord says:-- "Whoever amongst us is killed (i.e. martyred), shall go to Paradise to lead such a luxurious life as he has never seen, and whoever amongst us remain alive, shall become your master."

The command for Muslims to spread Islamic rule by force, subjugating others until they either convert to Islam or pay money appears eternal.

"He who withholds the Jizya is an enemy of Allah and His apostle."
Ishaq 956 & 962

These are the words of Muhammad.

"If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them."

Here he lays down the rule that it is to be extorted by force.

I am not saying that there are not legitimate and sincere friendships between Muslims and Christians in the Muslim world. There are and I hope there continue to be. However, this is based on the kindness of individuals, and what I believe is a natural human desire to go beyond boundaries of religion or ethnic groups despite what Islamic law states.

In terms of democracy, it requires that all groups are not distinguished in anyway, whether they be ethnic, religious or otherwise. This seems to be antithetical to the law, spirit, and tradition of Islam.

Apologists’ Responses

Reform-minded Muslims (who prefer to ignore all of this) instead point to Qur'an 42:38, where the phrase "[Muslims] who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation" is used as evidence that Islam is compatible with democracy. Also recruited to this end is an oft-repeated hadith that has Muhammad saying, "My community will never agree on an error." On this is based concept of "ijma" or consensus among Muslims for determining matters of Islamic law.

But ijma, has always been controversial and rarely practiced within Islam. Some interpret it to mean "consensus of the scholars" - having nothing to do with the opinion of the community at large. Even when its legitimacy is recognized, ijma is accepted only as a secondary (or tertiary) form of authority, behind the fiqh councils. Also, it bears pointing out that ijma and consultation are applicable only within the Muslim community, so how can there be democracy if Muslims live with non-Muslims?

Muhammad ruled on Allah's authority and did not submit his decisions to the will of the people. Even if the entire world became Muslim overnight, it is highly doubtful that democracy would last, since it would be applicable only to the most mundane of matters not already decided by Islamic law.

As another cleric, Sufi Muhammad, recently put it, "True Islam permits neither elections, nor democracy."

If this is at all representative of Shariah, how could democracy ever prevail in a Muslim country? According to Islam, a Muslim man’s religion always dominates over anyone else’s. In a democracy, even minorities have protected rights. This example clearly demonstrates that that is not truly possible in Islam.

What does the Qu’ran and Hadith say on the matter?

The Qur'an

"What! Do those who seek after evil ways think that We shall hold them equal with those who believe and do righteous deeds,- that equal will be their life and their death? Ill is the judgment that they make."

Unbelievers are not equal to Muslims. This is dutifully reflected in Islamic law.

"...And never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way (to triumphs) over the believers."

This is at odds with democracy, which allows anyone to serve in a position of power over others regardless of religious belief.

"...might belongeth to Allah and to His messenger and to the believers;"

ie. not to anyone else.

"It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger to have any option about their decision."

Of course, this is for all time.

"So judge between them by that which Allah hath revealed, and follow not their desires, but beware of them lest they seduce thee from some part of that which Allah hath revealed unto thee"

Allah's Qur'an takes priority over the desires of the people. A democratic nation is by nature one that is not governed by Islamic law, meaning that a Muslim citizen would have divided loyalty. It's clear from this verse which side he must choose.

"Not your desires, nor those of the People of the Book (can prevail): whoever works evil, will be requited accordingly. Nor will he find, besides Allah, any protector or helper."
"O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you..."

Obedience is strictly limited to the government drawn only from the pool of believers, not from the broader community.

"...Allah and his messenger are free from obligation to the unbelievers..."

Muhammad used this "revelation" to dissolve a standing treaty and chase non-Muslims from their homes if they wouldn't accept Islam. This practice would be incompatible with democratic rule, in which everyone is considered equal.

From the Hadith

"When you meet your enemies who are polytheists [Christians...], invite them to three courses of action. If they respond to any one of these, you also accept it and withhold yourself from doing them any harm. Invite them to (accept) Islam; if they respond to you, accept it from them and desist from fighting against them ... If they refuse to accept Islam, demand from them the Jizya. If they agree to pay, accept it from them and hold off your hands. If they refuse to pay the tax, seek Allah's help and fight them."

Clearly, non-Muslims are intended to be subordinate to Muslims.

Allah's Apostle said, "Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah, and whoever obeys the ruler I appoint, obeys me, and whoever disobeys him, disobeys me."

The ruler referred to here is the Caliph, who is appointed by Allah, not by popular election. Democratic rule has no legitimacy against the will of the Caliph who, as we see by chain of reference, has the authority of Allah.

Last year I went to Azhar University to ask the Sheikh in residence about democracy and Islam. I never got a clear answer and was told by the American translator, a prominent up and coming future Imam who will be going back to his community in California soon “You are gonna get yourself in trouble if you push this too far.” My husband was fearful that they had his contact information and was worried that I had crossed a line by asking, “How can individuals advocate for their needs and desires within the Islamic system?” In the end, I was told by the sheikh that the answer was very long and complicated and that he would contact me later. I am still waiting.

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