Adonis Diaries

Democracy in Islam: What kinds?

Posted on: March 23, 2010

Democracy in Islam: What kinds? (Mar. 23, 2010)

A little history to preparing the ground for understanding whether the appreciation of modern kinds of democracy is within Moslem traditions and customs.  The third caliph of the Moslems, Othman Bin Affan, started his reign well.  The pressures from Mecca oligarchic clans in his Quraich tribe encouraged Othman to appointing most governors and high posts officials from his own clan of Umayyad.  Thus,  discontent grew drastically; to make things worse, Othman built a lavish Palace in Medina (less than 25 years after the Prophet death in this city where he was buried).  Aicha (the youngest and most beloved of spouses) got wind that the political climate is deteriorating and opted not to intervene politically at this junction and gave the excuse of going on pilgrimage to Mecca:  People knew that she didn’t appreciate the fraudulent lies that this caliph introduced to the official Koran.

While in Mecca, angry mob coming from Basra (Iraq) entered the palace and assassinated Othman.  Aicha demanded from the newly designated Caliph Ali Bin Abi Taleb to put the assassins to trial but Ali didn’t react immediately.  While in Mecca, Aicha was approached by many Quraichi leaders such as Talhat and Zubeir (from the tribes of Othman); they managed to incite Aicha to take the lead and to march against Ali.

Aicha emulated the same tactics as the Prophet did before any military excursion: She drummed up support in the city of Bassora, negotiated with notables, explained the reasons of her dangerous move (it was to be the first civil war in Islam) and she opened free discussions for people to express their opinions in the mosque.  Mosques were the proper locations for open discussions under the protection of Allah.  A young man took the podium and talked. He said:

“You the immigrants (converts to Islam who moved from Mecca to Medina); it is true that you were the first to embrace Islam.  But everyone later received the same privilege.  After the prophet death (632 AC) you have designated a man among you (first caliph Abu Bakr) to become the first successor; we the common Moslems were not consulted. Again, you the elite have met in council (Shawra) and designated the second Caliph (Omar bin al Khattab) and we were not asked our opinion.  You voted for the third Caliph (Othman Bin Affan) without our input; you didn’t like Othman after 13 years of ruling us and you assassinated him.  You again designated Ali for fourth caliph and the common Moslems were not invited to extend their opinions and preferences.  Now you don’t like Ali.  What are you reproaching him for? Why have you decided to fight him by the sword?  Has he done any reprehensible acts?  Is his election illegal, illicit or fraudulent? Tell us why you want us to start a civil war (fitna)? You have got to surely convince us to join the battle.  Tell us what it is all about? Why are fighting?” Unfortunately, this young man ended paying his life for expressing his bold opinion and position

What would generally be called Sunni Moslems were those who preferred peace and stability instead of deciding for civil wars to changing wrong doings.  The Shiaa Moslems were categorized as those who abided by the Hadith injunction “The one who witness a reprehensible situation and injustice (al munkar) and does not try to prevent it and change the situation will encounter Divine punishment”

Paradoxically, in the battle of “The Camel”, the first Islam civil war, the Sunnis backed Ali (it was a reasonable position since Ali was just in his pronouncements ) and the Shiaa backed Aicha.  Caliphate Ali destroyed the unprofessional troops lead by Aicha:  13, 000 Moslems perished in that battle.  Ali spent many days in the battle field burying the dead from both sides.  Aicha was sent back to Medina where she kept her residence and focused her energy on gathering all of the Prophet’s sourats and verses and was the main pole for clarifications on legal issues and attacking the countless fraudulent Hadith (what the Prophet had said).

It was after the defeat of Aicha that Abu Bakra, a Moslem who was whipped by the second Caliph Omar for calumny, resumed his misogynist behavior and claimed hearing this Hadith from the Prophet Muhammad: “No prosperity for any society can come when a woman is in command.”  The next phase in Islam political structure was based on hereditary successions of the Caliphate with all the power that any monarch could dream of.

Note: Fatema Mernissi in her book “The political Harem” re-examined the mostly fraudulent Hadith related to women and male misogyny. Bukhara catalogued the Hadith and kept only 7275 as potentially valid (sahih) out of 600, 000 Hadith recognized as plainly fraudulent.

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March 2010

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