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What Is Islam’s Stance on Democracy?

06 April, 2016
Q As-salamu `alaykum. I have a question about democracy in Islam. I understand that democracy is haram as it results in people making laws that are not necessarily Allah’s laws through the Shari`ah system. However, all countries need a system of government, and Islamically people are given the right to vote. However, Shari`ah laws cannot always be used to create traffic laws, for example, and thus a governing system is required. Please, explain this and the true Islamic perspective on democracy and rule.


Wa `alaykum as-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother, thank you for your question and for your interest to be more knowledgeable about Islam.

As for your question, there is no contradiction between Islam and the positive and real meaning of democracy that enables people to run their affairs.

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In his response to your question, Sheikh Ahmad Kutty, a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, states,

You are right in saying that, in Islam, we are not allowed to make laws contrary to the explicit injunctions of Allah. So, we cannot turn haram into halal or vice versa. Therefore, there is no room for democracy if by democracy you mean man’s freedom to make laws as he pleases without reference to a higher source (i.e. revelation).

However, if, by democracy you mean involving people in decision making or running their affairs, it is already embedded in the scriptures. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has told us in categorical terms to consult people in running their affairs.

There is no contradiction between the core principles of democracy and the Shari`ah when the former is understood to be aimed at upholding the rule of law, equal rights for all citizens, universal suffrage, accountability of government and separation of powers.

It is only the monarchists and dictators and the scholars allied to these corrupt systems that would oppose democracy when defined in this sense.

I pray to Allah to distance ourselves from those who simply use Islam to prop up the corrupt regimes, and those who consider the wealth of the Ummah as their fiefdom to be squandered on their personal comforts without regard for the priorities or urgent needs of the people.

Allah Almighty knows best.