Islam and Democracy Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1185 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 4  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Mythology - Religion


The question of whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy depends more on a definition of Islam than on a clarification of democracy. Democracy is more than just the external political and social institutions such as having a representative Parliament. In fact, democratic forms of government are diverse. The American governmental system differs significantly from that of Great Britain's or France's and yet all these nations are considered to be democratic. The definition of democracy, therefore, stems mainly from European Enlightenment philosophy which trumps individual freedoms and personal liberties over any state intervention. The core philosophy of democracy is what is important, and not what form that philosophy ultimately takes. Islam would seem to be as compatible with democracy as any other world religion. After all, Christianity and Judaism -- the other religions of "the Book" -- share with Islam the presence of religious texts that cannot be taken at face value and be compatible with democracy. The Jewish Bible advocates slavery in all forms, including domestic slavery and the subjugation of women. Yet Israel manages to be a religious and democratic state at the same time. Islam can also achieve this goal, as is evidenced with the secular state of Turkey.Get full Download Microsoft Word File access
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Term Paper on Islam and Democracy Assignment

As Klausen points out, Islam and democracy are already cohabiting in Europe. The difficulty is coming up with a comprehensive means by which to integrate the diverse religious and cultural values of European Muslims with the various expressions and types of democracy in Western nations. There are different methods by which European Muslims advocate the integration of their religion with their state. Some are secular, some are religious, and yet others are orthodox but still consider Islam as being potentially compatible with at least most forms of Western democracy. Still, Klausen finds that integrating Islam with democracy is proving difficult. On the one hand, secular Muslims often believe ironically that governments should actually fund religious institutions because to disallow this welcomes too much input from foreign and private investment sources. It is "dangerous" to permit religious institutions -- especially those that run religious schools in Europe -- to be outside of the jurisdiction of the government. Such as stance opens the doors of madrasas to fundamentalism influence vis-a-vis the private and foreign sectors.

Other European Muslims assume that "voluntarist approach" which posits that religious law must be subservient to secular law but only in certain areas. For instance, Klausen illustrates how many Muslims want to pick and choose their civil rights battles by denying civil rights for gays which would be too government "imposing" itself on religion (Klausen 92). Using gay rights as an example, though, it is clear that Christianity in America is as potentially incompatible with democracy as Islam anywhere in the world.

The potential enemy of democracy is not Islam, but religious fundamentalism. Many Muslims worldwide could easily find that maintaining their faith in a wholly secular society is possible if not desirable. However, many Muslims, especially those in the Middle East and in developing nations, do not have access to the educational systems that would help them understand exactly what democracy is. Fatema Mernissi points out that in the Third World, access to education has been paltry. This has created a situation in which democracy is presented as a shell, devoid of the core philosophical underpinnings.

The majority of colonized countries, Muslim or not, have "never experienced the phase of history so indispensable to the development of the scientific spirit," notes Mernissi (p. 46). Likewise, many Muslims in Second and Third World nations do… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Islam and Democracy" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Islam and Democracy.  (2010, November 27).  Retrieved February 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Islam and Democracy."  27 November 2010.  Web.  26 February 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Islam and Democracy."  November 27, 2010.  Accessed February 26, 2021.