Democracy in Islamic Political Philosophy

Najjar, Fauzi M. “Democracy in Islamic Political Philosophy.” Studia Islamica, No. 51 (1980), pp. 107-122.

Overview: The earliest article devoted exclusively to democracy in medieval Islamic political philosophy takes a rather pessimistic view of the subject. This article should be compared with the work by Khalidi that was cited above.


“It is fashionable nowadays to be democratic; modern Muslim political scientists and writers are no exception. Prompted by the desire to portray Islam as a modern ideology and a progressive system of government, they have reinterpreted Islamic political and juridical theory in democratic terms. Ample use has been made of such notions as “equality of men before God irrespective of race, color or ethnic differences”; “freedom of belief and thought for Muslims and non-Muslims alike”; “bay’a, shura, and ijma,” all of which attest to the essentially humanistic character of Islam and the “democratic’ temperment of its political constitution and social life.”