Published:  12:55 AM, 13 April 2018

Our democracy

We have modeled our democracy on British Parliamentary system but we still have a long way go to reach perfection. A political system is not to be imposed on a people but the people must be readied first for that gradually. Thrusting anything on a people unprepared is bound to malfunction. Islam teaches gradual implementation.

The Quran has been revealed gradually over a period of twenty three years. Prophet (sm) gradually introduced rituals familiarizing his followers with new additions over a period of time. Only when his followers attained certain level of maturity and became steadfast in faith he introduced new stricter measures like prohibition of alcohol, praying five times a day etc.

British democracy started from Magna Carta in 1215, as we all know, and matured over time. Peoples' mental makeup also evolved gradually, which we lack. By democracy we only understand regular election of parliament, periodically, nothing more. We have to go a long way to reach the British standard and a forced practice before the people are ready would not bode well. However, we would reach there at a faster pace than that at which the British reached as we would certainly arm ourselves borrowing from their experiences.

The campaigning for voting is a divisive process. Two candidates or several are bound to highlight the worst in others and that certainly is not a unifier. It creates bitterness to such a level between people that reconciliation is difficult. General election does create that kind of bitterness among political parties even their members become enemies. We can endure that in a nation as we cannot divide a nation easily and political divisiveness may divide the population but cannot break a nation.

However, in a political party under today's reality, a nascent democracy hardly can absorb the shock of a fierce fight to reach the goal to lead. That would sure leave wounds behind beyond repair. In a big organization small cohesive groups compete constantly for ascendancy in hierarchy. In that case the tension remains simmering beneath. In an open election specially, of the party chief if all factions are almost equally strong the winner would find it difficult to run the party and the party may even break in factional lines.  Therefore, we think it still is not time to have pure electoral democracy in a political party in a not so mature a democracy.

We need political parties to run a modern democracy. However, we may exercise controlled democracy like at every stage the party executives are elected without any open canvassing and electioneering where multiple candidates are select by a committee or committees after evaluating their reports filed by leadership at different stages. This system sounds like a system currently in place in ultra-rightist parties. We may do the required fine tuning as required.

Democracy is something that comes through practice not through martial law regulations. In a democracy a constitution is of Supreme importance. All activities of the state needs be referred to the constitution to verify their rightness or wrongness. As there is nothing above the constitution other than God's law in a conflict God's law prevails when we accept religion at state levels, our state religion is Islam.

As such all our laws are made subordinate to Islamic law as Islamic law emanates from the Quran and Hadith. As soon as, Islam is introduced in the constitution Islam theoretically takes precedence over everything else leaving only the followers of other religion free to exercise their religion without any hindrance whatsoever.  It is the solemn duty of the Majority Muslims to provide all help to them in their exercise of religious rituals and protection to their lives and property.

This is the secularist provision in Islam. Definitely, in the matters of Muslims Quran and Hadiths become the controlling canons and ideally all laws repugnant to Sharia become ineffective. As Islam is secular there is no contradiction of secularism with Islam in fact it becomes redundant in the constitution.

Democracy itself is said to be in contradiction with Islam. In fact, if we closely examine the election of the first Caliph of Islam, Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) we see people taking oath of allegiance kissing his hand. That process can be easily expanded to modern day election. Obviously with increase in the size of the population and to ensure participation of as many adult citizens as possible we need modern day innovations.

All our economic activities basically stem out of the necessity to feed our hunger and desires. As such all our endeavor are directed to development of ourselves. When we talk of development it includes physical, mental and spiritual developments. Democracy and all other means are only vehicles for development of humans. Therefore, without manifest development democracy becomes meaningless.

Democracy is only a vehicle to ensure peace and justice in a polity so that stability persists and unhindered progress is made. However, humans have been making progress constantly and endeavored to establish rule of law throughout its history for chaos is an impediment to human progress. In all the mode of governing democracy is the most recent and yet untested in most of the world. Even in advanced democracies it is becoming a two party rule like the UK and the USA.

We talk of multiparty democracy but a closely represented parliament is also a hindrance to stability as in Italy and Nepal. Democratically elected governments can also turn into an autocracy the best example is Hitler's Germany. We have seen in the Bongo-Indian subcontinent dictators ruled through military might usurping power. We therefore, have to look at the present form of democracy more closely to close its loopholes and tune it to our particular needs.

We have already experimented with Caretaker government and that proved to be inadequate and almost disastrous to democracy in the hands of unelected military and civil bureaucrats. We cannot risk another disastrous consequence in the hands of the unelected. Therefore, we must remain within the constitution and devise ways to take our nascent democracy forward without hindering the present pace of development. To take democratic advancement forward and to keep the pace of development we need uninterrupted peaceful stability and cannot afford to have blockades and violence.

However, a robust and viable democracy needs constant monitoring of government's activities causing it to remain within bounds and not turn into a despotic entity. Present day technical advancement gives us excellent tools to keep a watch on the government. The social media are powerful medium to influence people. It is very efficient in forming ideas and changing our perception about issues; the mighty drawback is its unbound misuse.

Lies are used to wrongly influence people's minds and unsuspecting uninformed commoners that constitute the majority are susceptible to fall prey to such unethical propaganda. We have recently seen the power of the social media that aroused scores of countries causing bloody uprisings nick named Arab Spring; played havoc in the Arab World. Nothing changed but the rulers and the situation is much worse than earlier in a stable autocratic condition.

It is amply clear that we need democracy and democracy needs development. Democracy to flourish we need peace and stability and revolution or violence is not the way to democratize a populace. We are lucky; we have democracy though faulty and exploitable. What we need now is not drastic changes or violent upheavals but peaceful slow and steady measures to fine tune the existing system, to our needs, remaining within the constitution.  Any extra constitutional measure may bring immediate relief but not permanent solution. We are to be strictly within the constitution and bring in reforms gradually.

The writer is a freelance consultant

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