Democracy and Islam in History By S M Zafar JWT. ‘Islam and democracy have been a debate, which entered the Muslim discourse ever since Western powers became involved in the affairs of the Ummah. In this debate, three distinct points of view emerged in the course of time. These three points of view may be termed as conservative, liberal, and moderate.
- The first group outrightly refused to consider anything peeling incoming from outside as worthwhile.
- The second wholeheartedly espoused everything that came from the West.
- The third maintained a balanced and moderate attitude.
Only the last group deserves consideration. Our present author also belongs to the last group. He is amply qualified to express his views on the subject. He is not only an outstanding jurist of our country but also has sufficient experience in politics and governance. He had been Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs in the central government of President Muhammad Ayub Khan. He remained active in politics for decades and worked as Senator for several terms. He has been one of those few statesmen in our country who enjoyed respect across the wide spectrum of political affiliations. Syed Muhammad Zafar has also written extensively on a number of challenging issues of contemporary relevance. His scholarly views have elicited wide interest among the intellectual circles of our time. Democracy and Islam By SM Zafar JWT
Syed Muhammad Zafar maintains that democratic dispensation as evolved in Europe from the 17th century onwards and that was gradually adopted in a large part of the world is not essentially incompatible with the principles of Islam. This way of thinking brings the author to the third category identified above. By and large, Muslim scholars of recent times have been of a similar view. A few platitudes should, however, not escape consideration by anyone reflecting on the nature of the Islamic concept of state and politics.
First, democracy as evolved in Europe and spread worldwide has had its roots in the peculiar historical context of medieval European society, which witnessed a conflict between the Church and advocates of freedom from the religious establishment. In the history of Islam, no such conflict took place only because no church or monasticism was known in Islam. Democracy and Islam in History By S M Zafar JWT