• Fat-h al-Majeed (Kitaab at-Tawheed) ex plained by Shaikh ‘Aburrahmaan Aal-Sheikh.
  • Tafseer Ibn Katheer
  • Mawsoo’at al-Adyaan wa’l-Madhaahib al-Mu’aasirah
  • Islam Q&A by Shaikh al-Munajjid

 What is democracy and what is its origin?

Democracy is not Arabic, but Greek in origin. It is a mixture and abbreviation of two words:

Demos means people, and Kratia means judgment, authority, or legislation.

This means that the literal translation of the word democracy is the people’s judgment, or the people’s authority or the people’s legislation.

Democracy is the principle of the mastership of the people; and that mastership is an absolute and supreme authority. This authority consists of the people’s right to choose their leaders and legislate whatever laws they want.

The democratic system was founded in England and France, and then was transmitted to other countries.

The pillars of democracy were established by the French Revolution in 1789; however, the parliamentary system was founded in England one century before that.

Ideologically, the principle of the mastership of the nation – which is the basis of the democratic school of thought – had developed decades before the French Revolution. This appeared in the writings of John Locke, Montesquieu and Jean Jacque Rousseau, who founded the theory of the social contract, which is the basis of the theory of the mastership of the nation. This was a reaction to and a war against the theory of divine delegation which had been widespread in Europe for about ten centuries. Such theory decided that the kings ruled by a choice and delegation from God. As a consequence, the kings used to possess an absolute authority, supported in this by the priests (the Roman Catholic Church).

Indeed, the European people suffered severely from this absolute rule. Accordingly, the mastership of the nations was the best substitute for them, so as to find their way out of the supreme reign of the kings and the priests who ruled by the delegation of God – as they claimed. Therefore, democracy was originally founded to rebel against the authority of God, and grant the entire authority to man to make his own way of life and laws without any restrictions.

The transition from the theory of delegation of God to that of the mastership of the nation was not a peaceful one. Rather, it happened by means of one of the bloodiest revolutions in the world, the French Revolution in 1789, which had as its motto: `Hang the last King by the intestines of the last priest’.

The outcome of French Revolution is highly and historically important. Indeed there was born, for the first time in the history of Christian Europe, a non-religious republican state. Its philosophy was based on ruling in the name of the people instead of God, on the freedom of belief instead of Catholicism, on individualism instead of restriction by the religious conduct, and on man-made rule instead of the decisions of the church.

Finally, democracy has come to make man – after granting him freedom and making him a prisoner of his own desires, and obsessed by the pleasure of egoism – sit on the throne of godhead. Thus, it has bestowed on him the full authority of legislating and making laws, and has made the ruling system, with all its capacities, at his service in order to fulfill everything that he requests.

Islam and Democracy

Democracy is a man-made system, meaning rule by the people for the people. Thus it is contrary to Islam, because the rule is for Allaah, the Most High, the Almighty, and it is not permissible to give legislative rights to any human being, no matter who he is. 

It says in Mawsoo’at al-Adyaan wa’l-Madhaahib al-Mu’aasirah (2/1066, 1067): 

Undoubtedly the democratic system is one of the modern forms of Shirk in terms of obedience and following, or legislation. It denies the sovereignty of the Creator and His absolute right to issue laws, and it ascribes that right to human beings. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning): 

“So the judgment is with Allaah, the Most High, the Most Great.” [Ghaafir 40:12]

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat Yusuf (12:40):

“You do not worship besides Him but only names which you have named (forged) — you and your fathers — for which Allaah has sent down no authority. The command (or the judgment) is for none but Allaah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him (i.e. His Monotheism); that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not”

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat al-An’aam (6:57):

“The decision is only for Allaah.”

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat at-Teen (95:8):

“Is not Allaah the Most Just of judges.”

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat al-Ma’idah (5:50):

“Is it the judgment of (the time of) ignorance they desire? But who is better than Allaah in judgment for a people who are certain (in faith).”

Ibn Katheer (Rahimahullaah) said in his Tafseer: “Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) rebukes those who abandon the Judgment of Allaah, the Almighty, which includes every type of righteous good thing and prohibits every type of evil, in favor of opinions, desires and customs that people themselves invented, all of which have no basis in Allaah’s religion. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the people used to abide by misguidance and ignorance that they invented by sheer opinion and lusts.” [Tafseer Ibn Katheer]

Allaah is the Creator of the creation. He knows what is good for them and what reforms them of rulings. And mankind differs in their intellects, morals and customs, and they ignore what does not suit them of laws but suits others. Therefore, nothing but corruption, moral dissolution, etc. prevails in the communities in which the people are the ones legislating the laws.

With democracy, the supreme authority does not recognize any higher authority, because its authority emanates from itself. Therefore, it does that which it wills and legislates that which it wills, without being accountable to anyone.

This Supreme authority belongs only to Allaah (the Most High), Who is al-Hakam, al-Haakim and al-Hakeem:

“And Allaah judges there is none to put back His Judgment and He is Swift at reckoning.” [Surat ar-Ra’d 13:41]

“Allaah commands that which He wills.” [Surat al-Ma’idah 5:1]

“Verily Allaah does what He wills.” [Surat al-Hajj 22:14]

We conclude from this, that democracy ascribes the Attributes of Allaah to man, by granting him the absolute right to legislate. Owing to this, it has made him a god beside Allaah and a partner with Him concerning the right of legislating for the creation. To put it more precisely, the new god in democracy is the desire of man, who legislates what he fancies and desires, without being restricted by anything. In the Qur’an, Allaah states:

“Have you (O Muhammad) seen him who has taken as his god his own desire? Would you then be a wakeel (protecting guide) over him? Or do you think that most of them hear and understand? They are only like cattle – nay; they are even farther astray from the Path (i.e. even worse than cattle).” [Surat al-Furqan 25:43-44]

This is the truth about democracy; its judgment is for the people or for the majority of people.

It is the people’s legislation, but it is not Allaah’s Judgment. Allaah ordered His Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to judge by what Allaah revealed unto him, and asked him not to be swayed by people’s desires, and not to be lured into leaving what Allaah revealed to him.

Allaah said: “Judge between them in the light of what has been revealed by Allaah, and don’t follow their whims, and beware of them lest they lead you away from the guidance sent down to you by Allaah.” [Surat al-Ma’idah 5:49]

This is in the monotheistic religion of Islam.

In democracy, its slaves say: “Judge between them in the light of what has been accepted by people that follow their whims and desires and beware of them lest they lead you away from what they want and legislate.”

Democracy is the judgment of the masses, according to the constitution, but not according to Allaah’s Decree, even though these laws are contradicting the Fitrah, the religion, and the intellect. In these systems abortion is legislated, as well as marriage of homosexuals, interest on loans is lawful, canceling of legal rulings, Zina and drinking wine are permissible. In fact by this democracy Islam has been fought as well as those who hold fast to the religion.

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat al-Baqarah (2:11): “And when it is said to them: ‘Make not mischief on the earth,’ they say: ‘We are only peace-makers.’”

Abu al-A’aaliyah said: “This means ‘do not disobey Allaah and His Messenger on the earth.’ For whoever disobeys Allaah on the earth or calls for disobeying Him, he makes mischief thereon. This is because the good that can be done either on the earth or in the heavens is only done through obeying Allaah and His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam). The verse forbids spreading corruption on the earth, which includes seeking the judgment of other than Allaah and His Messenger (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam).”

Abu Bakr Ibn ‘Ayyaash said regarding this verse: “Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) has sent Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) to the people of the earth while they live in corruption, and thus He reformed them through him (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam). Whoever calls for what contradicts that with which Muhammad (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) has been sent, he is one of those who spreads mischief on the earth.”

Shaikh Abdur-Rahman Aal-Shaikh said in the book of Fat-h al-Majeed: “This shows that seeking other than Allaah’s or His Messenger’s judgment is one of the most abhorred sins that corrupts the earth; thus, the earth cannot be reformed but with Allaah’s Book and the Sunnah of His Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), which is the way of the true believers. Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) said in Surat an-Nisa’ (4:115): “And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger (Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) after the Right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believers’ way, We shall keep him on the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell- what an evil destination.”

 In the religion of Islam the Mastership belongs to Allaah, as the Messenger of Allaah (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam) said: ‘The Master is Allaah.’ [Narrated by Abu Dawoud – Saheeh]

Man was created to be a slave of Allaah and Allaah ordered him to accept His legislation, but man rejected and exceeded the limits. He wanted to equate himself with Allaah, and to participate in the legislation of Allaah, which is not allowed for anyone except Allaah. If anyone transgresses the limits and does that, he makes himself a legislator, and he will be enacting the role of a deity.

Ibn Al-Qayyim said: “Everyone who exceeded his limits either worshipped, followed or obeyed – so, the deity of any people is the one they make a judge besides Allaah and His Prophet (Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam), or they worship other than Allaah, or follow without taking any consideration of Allaah, or they obey in a matter that is a disobedience to Allaah.”

He also said: “Whosoever does not judge or turn to what the Messengers of Allaah brought for judgment is eventually following a deity.”

Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) says in Surat an-Nisa’ (4:61): “And when it is said to them: ‘Come to what Allaah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad Salla-Allaahu ‘alayhi wasallam),’ you see the hypocrites turn away from you with aversion.” Allaah (Subhaanahu wa Ta’aala) shows that this is one of the characteristics of the hypocrites and whoever does this or seeks it, is considered to be out of the fold of Islam, even though he might claim the contrary.

Ibn al-Qayyim (Rahimahullaah) said: “Whoever is called to seek the judgment of Allaah’s Book and the Prophetic Sunnah, and he refuses, he is one of the hypocrites.”


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