Notion of Shura, Shura and Democracy

Dr. Tariq Ramadan

Posted Sep 2, 2002      •Permalink      • Printer-Friendly Version
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Notion of Shura, Shura and Democracy

Shura is the space which allows Islam the management of pluralism. The Arabic word signifies “consultation”, “concertation” or “deliberation”. It appears in several instances in the Qur’an. However, two verses are generally cited, since it is from these that the principle of general orientation is conveyed. In Sura 42 which has the same name (al-Shura) we read:

{? but what is with God is better and more enduring for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord. And those who avoid the heinous sins and indecencies and when they are angry forgive, and those who answer their Lord, and perform the prayer, their affair being counsel between them, and they expend of that We have provided them?} [Qur’an, 42: 36-38]

Gradation, here, owes nothing to chance and we should notice, after qualifying the believer on the moral plane, an expression of the classification of attitudes. Response to God (meaning here the following of His ordinances), the performance of prayer (the second pillar of Islam after the testimony of faith), then, on the collective plane, the practice of deliberation and supportive social engagement. Thus, the formulation is clear, the very fact of submitting to God on the personal level does not mean that there exists ready-made solutions to settle collective affairs. We have said, above, a word about the concertation (the same verbal root) which must exist between the wife and the husband on the question of weaning the child. In the same way, the faithful are characterised here by the fact that they deliberate among themselves on the subject of their affairs. We know that the Prophet (peace be upon him) continually practised concertation with his Companions, and the traditions which report this are numerous. Whenever a situation, about which no revelation had intervened, presented itself the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to listen to those around him and consequently take decisions. Upon the first confrontation with the people of Mecca at Badr, Muhammad called his Companions: “O people! Share with me your views”. Ibn al-Mundhir asked him whether the placement chosen for confrontation was the object of a revelation or whether it was a personal decision. The Prophet responded that it was his own choice. Al-Mundhir suggested a different strategy which allowed taking over the water. Muhammad (peace be upon him) yielded to this argument and moved his entire army. In running affairs, the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself took into consideration and distinguished the absolute origin of the principles and the relativity of his own personal opinion. This, as it is in this instance, even in a situation which might determine the life or death of the whole community.

This fact is even more explicit in the context of the revelation (sabab al-nuzul) of the second verse which acts as a point of reference. Before the Battle of Uhud, there were different views about whether to encounter their Meccan adversaries or whether to wait for them. The Prophet was of the opinion that they should wait. However, upon deliberation, it was the other view, following the opinions of the majority, which prevailed. The Muslims went, thus, and after the turns taken in the fight whereby a group did not follow their orders, the Muslims lost the Battle. It is in these conditions of defeat that the verse in question was revealed:

{It was by some mercy of God that thou wast gentle to them; hadst thou been harsh and hard of heart, they would have scattered from about thee. So pardon them, and pray forgiveness for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; and when thou art resolved, put thy trust in God; surely God loves those who put their trust.} [Qur’an, 3: 159]

After this defeat, the Prophet (peace be upon him) forgave the Companions who let themselves be carried away by their desires causing the first Muslim setback. Despite this, however, the Revelation confirms the principle “consult them on all things.” Whatever the result, deliberation imposes itself and the opinion of the majority is decisive. The example of the Prophet (peace be upon him) was followed well by his successors. Abu Bakr used to gather together the most competent and reliable Companions and consult them about juridical, social or political decisions. Upon his accession to the Caliphate, he addressed the community: “If you see me in the right, help me; if you see me in error correct me.” These were, more or less, the same words which were uttered by his successor [Umar when he said: “If any of you sees distortion in my actions, let him rectify them”. Such behaviour is borne out of respect for the principle prescribed in the above two verses. However, reading history, one realises that each among the successors thought out a specific mode of consultation. For the principle of deliberation enunciated by the Qur’an does not say anything about the actualisation of its form.

Supported by these considerations, while equally taking into account the diversity of practices of consultation in the history of Islamic civilisation and the reflections produced by the [ulama’,(8) we can extract seven principles which are inherent in the notion of shura:

1. The political must offer to the community the means of deliberation and, hence, of participation in running its affairs. This is either by direct elections, or under the model of representation. The form may depend on historical situations,(9) habits or existing social structures.

2. The creation of a “Council of shura (deliberation)” - majlis al- shura - imposes itself and necessitates structuring the modes of people’s consultation which allows for the election of members to this Council. Whether it is direct elections, the formation of regional councils or something else, all these forms are acceptable so long as they allow participation and consultation of the grassroots according to the Qur’anic expression.

3. Members of this Council are chosen in function of their competence(10) according to the specific role devolved upon the Council. It seems evident that there must exist two types of competence in this Council. On the one hand, those related to the knowledge of the acknowledged principles of Islamic orientation, to which must be added mastery of economic, political and social affairs according to the domains whereby reflection is engaged.(11) Suitably appointed commissions, as nowadays found in all parliaments, can legitimately do this job. It is inside this authority or another which is appointed to it, that the practice of ijtihad must be elaborated, and which links the sources with concrete realities. This is the role of those who are known in Islamic jurisprudence by the name of “the people who tie and untie” (ahl al-hal wa’l-[aqd). It is impossible nowadays to leave this function to theologians alone. Social, political, economic and even medical and experimental sciences have reached such a level of complexity that it is not possible to deal with related juridical and ethical questions without consultation with experts in these various domains.

4. Selection of the person responsible for the nation (the President or Imam - the one who is placed ahead) can be delegated to the shura Council (or to regional councils, if they exist), but it can also be the doing of the population. Once again, the principle of choosing people is inalienable in Islam. The form which its realisation takes depends on a great number of historical, geographical and even cultural factors. The idea of a mandate of a determined period does not contravene Islamic teachings.

5. The President of the nation is, thus, chosen by the community (men and women must have the right to participate in this choice). As any other President bound by the constitution of his country, he must respect the principles of the Islamic reference. He must also be its guarantor before the Shura Council (as also before the people) to whom he must give account of his general politics as that of his ministers.(12) This is exactly what Abu Bakr and [Umar did, and it is in this sense that, in modern societies, the executive and legislative powers are articulated.

6. The separation of power is one of the fundamental principles of the organisation of the city, and this was respected from the moment Abu Bakr succeeded to the Caliphate. The judges (qudat, sing. qadi) had to exercise their function in an autonomous fashion and according to the principle of equality of all before the law.(13) In this sense, [Umar addressed very firm recommendations to a judge of one of his provinces which are still well known today.

7. The people, as long as the principles of election have been respected, makes an act of allegiance (bay[a)(14) to the one whom the majority has chosen. This allegiance presupposes conditions and cannot be the fact of blind submission. It requires a critical conscience from the people towards the one who has the responsibility of running their affairs. This critical participation, for Islam, is one of the fundamental duties of the citizen. One tradition reports: “The Muslim must hear and obey that which he likes and that which he dislikes, unless it is a question of disobedience (of the principles of the Creator). If the latter is the case, then, they ought to neither listen nor obey.”(15) A president or king who spreads injustice, corruption and denies citizens their rights cannot receive allegiance. This because he betrays the message which he claims to defend. The population, then, must make use of all legal means to remove him from office.

Sh?r Democracy?

“There is no democracy in Islam”; “Islam is opposed to democratic principles.” Such statements have been made by Muslims and some researchers have registered them. Hence, a thought which comes to disturb the clarity of such a formulation may appear dubious. If, incidentally, one dares to assert that things are a little bit more complex than this, one may be accused of throwing a shadow where there is so much light. Therefore, an explanation imposes itself.

Many Western researchers and intellectuals, regardless of how good their intention is, make the mistake of apprehending the domains of the religious and the political, at the same time as their articulation and interaction, according to points of reference which are theirs and in the light of their own history. In the same way, the terms used take the meaning of their historical evolution from which they cannot be subtracted. It is impossible to stop at the “actual” meaning of terms for one risks committing serious methodological errors. This happens by starting, for example, to compare that which is incomparable within two points of reference and two different cultures. To recall this is not tantamount to sidestepping the custom. It is rather purifying turbid water by refusing to have a dispute about expressions when it is question of evaluating the respective principles of structuration in the political field.

Numerous Muslim intellectuals have not been immune from such clumsiness. They express, without any great anxiety for being well understood, Islamic specificities with a terminological arsenal which is liable to produce damaging shifts of meaning. Out of reaction against the universal, universalist pretension of the West, they combat notions for what they represent in the rapport between the West and Islam and not in what they are in themselves. This to the extent that this criticism, whose source we can well understand, ends up by clouding over the Islamic points of view themselves. As for concepts of “democracy,” “human rights” and “freedom of expression,” it is appropriate, all the same in this discussion, to distinguish between normative definitions and ideological and political tools.(16)

In Part One of this book, we revealed some bases of the Islamic concept of the universe and man: this allowed us to arrange, with more clarity, the domains of Revelation, tradition and rational research in order to show how their interactions were elaborated below. When establishing a strict comparison with points of reference proper to the Judaeo-Christian tradition, one realises that there are some significant differences between the two concepts,(17) and this despite the apparent similarities. The history of Islamic civilisation confirms that there exists a primal difference between the elements which have given meaning to its internal dynamic and that which, in the West, has produced the phenomenon of secularisation, at least since the Renaissance. This is not only a simple historical acknowledged fact, rather there exists a difference of concept in the rapport with the Creator, and in the perception of the universe and man. The latter’s social thought is inevitably oriented by the holistic vision which is implied in it. The contrary of this would be strange indeed.(18) To speak of political organisation around the idea of shura and looking for points of anchorage with democracy requires first that we speak, even if succinctly, about the philosophies and systems of values which found these projects.

In order to do so, let us go back to those categories we have already talked about and which render our reflection more explicit. It can be a question of a parable, that which engages the proprietor and the gerent.(19) What can straightaway mislead us is that both in the Judaeo-Christian tradition as in the Islamic concept this parable is eloquent.(20) God, the Proprietor, has rights over the universe and man, who is the gerent. Certainly, but the comparison, barely started, must stop and loses all pertinence if it goes beyond this threshold of this consideration of role. In fact, in analysing the roles attributed to the actions of this parable, all is disclosed differently.

Western history is marked by the way in which it represents the rapport with God through the institutionalisation of its terrestrial Church. The sphere of the religious was, thus, founded on authority and dogma. The Church, strong with the powers it had, acted as if it retained not only gerency but also property of the world and reality. For a long time it opposed science, rationality, and free thought. The process of secularisation is very clearly the process by which the gerent claimed his rights after being long suppressed by the authority of the church. He wanted, as he was later to liberate one by one, the domains of thought and management of the world from dogmatic tutelage. Here, the gerent is opposed to the Proprietor, or to the one who represents him, and will go as far as willingly getting rid of Him.(21) From now on, the gerent runs things without the Proprietor. He fixes norms, establishes values and develops all the means he is in need of. If God remains “useful” for “private” questions concerning the meaning of life, marriage or death, He, nevertheless, never enters into consideration as regard the running of the city. Here, nothing is imposed and everything is discussed and discussible. Moral law may well be in us, but the sky full of stars above our heads remains silent.(22) The gerent is from now on responsible for the whole management. The democratic principle is, in the domain of social organisation, the result of this same process. It is founded on the idea that nothing should be imposed upon men except that which men decide amongst themselves, by majority, in the mirror of only rationality which is from now on normative. This concept of liberty was formed against authority and cannot seem real unless it is total. God and the sacred are outside the world, and the disenchantment of the latter seems to be, from the beginning, programmed.(23) The gerent is absolutely free; that is to say, the gerent is the proprietor.

When Muslim theologians or intellectuals are opposed to the idea of “democracy”, it is an opposition to the philosophy which it implies that they are expressing. Everything in the basic concept of life, man and his destiny; everything in the history of this civilisation is constructed around the presence of the Proprietor who invests the three spheres of the human. He gives meaning to the fact of being, He exposes the means to be with the Being. Finally, he prescribes the orientations to which man must remain faithful in history. The Proprietor is present by means of a Book and a human example - the Prophet (peace be upon him) - and not by means of an institution or an incarnation. Man finds therein a very encompassing concept of the religious, a relationship with the sacred which is both intimate and vast, and also a permanent, rational exigency. God, the Proprietor of the heavens and earth, indicates the moral norms of action and the general orientation of their achievement. He has entrusted gerents of all men at all times with calling upon all the qualities of their humanity, intelligence and reason. This in order to give shape to this teaching. Here, authority does not suppress, it awakens and stimulates. Nonetheless, one cannot do without this authority. The specificity of the Islamic concept is here entirely accessible. God does not require anything from man which is against his humanity. The latter must think, act, undertake and manage according to his nature but always in acknowledgement of the rights of the Proprietor. This acknowledgement may take diverse forms according to time and place. However, it always remains nourished by the interpretation of the sources of which no one can claim the monopoly of comprehension. The process which liberated the gerent of all tutelage in Western history does not have its counterpart in the history of Islamic civilisation. In the latter, research and experimental and human sciences were developed in the name of religion and faith, not against them. On the contrary, the proprietor required from the gerent that he should seek understanding and always act more. His liberty was not supposed to be the expression of opposition but rather the testimony of a responsibility that he carries and acknowledges before the Creator. Such a concept of liberty differs from that which we have spoken about above. There cannot be total liberty which would deny his own reality, as well as the bases of the relationship between the Creator and men. There cannot be a dogmatic authority which would likewise deny the responsibility of man before God.

The way lies between these two extremes and the principle of the organisation of shura is born from this concept of man. It is a Revelation as it is a Messenger. It is these two sources which convey to man the exigencies of the Proprietor who, in matter of political organisation as in all other domains, does not stop only at the details. Management is incumbent upon the men who must read, interpret, discuss, consult with one another, oppose one another and, finally, elaborate a project about which we can say it is a test of their liberty. This test, when it is lived in constant remembrance of divine exigencies, gratitude, respect and justice, is the translation of the meaning of rabbaniyya which we have already discussed. It is wanting to be a human being without obliviousness of God. It is knowing oneself to be a gerent, albeit free, but still only a gerent.

The two concepts are, without a doubt, basically different, and it is necessary to know the nature of these divergences. Yet, it remains that one must avoid enunciating conclusions hastily, two of which appear to us to be erroneous. The first consists in thinking that these differences are, in short, due to different rhythms of evolution in history. Thus, it is asserted, without turning a hair, that the “progresses” which allowed real autonomy of thought in the West are the expression of a greater “development”. Hence, the Islamic concept with this authority, which is always paraded by God -Proprietor, is the expression of backwardness in a culture which has not developed sufficiently, one which could not accede to modernity. “Soon, with our help, Muslims will evolve in the right direction and their idea of religion will resemble ours. They will be free by means of the same freedom as ours”. Such is the reasoning, and how dangerous it is, which we increasingly hear in certain interreligious dialogues or in political and cultural discussions.

With a pronounced condescendence, we recognise, in the formulations of Muslims, certain accents of medieval thought which we have fortunately passed, and of which, it is hoped that, for the future of the world, the world of Islam will be able to liberate itself. As the West did in history, concepts, values and progress appear insidiously as the norm of the good. Those who think different are way behind; or else they think badly, it all depends. For asserting one’s identity one has a choice between walking quicker or “refraining” oneself. Cultural pluralism, in many respects, seems to have limits. The second shortcoming consists of maintaining that if the differences are such, it is, therefore, because we find ourselves in the face of a conflict whose aspects are irreducible. On account of the nature of the prevailing concept and respective histories, we can but notice what seems to be conveyed by no other term except conflict.(24) As for that which concerns the organisation of the political, it is asserted that nothing which is Islamic is democratic, because at the end the democratic ideal does not find an echo in the foundation of Muslim’s points of reference. One again asks does one have to choose either Islam or democracy? We shall make the reprehensible economy of analysing things in their respective context in order to disengage, behind terms and points of reference, the principles which orientate the organisation of the city. Once the differences of concept which orientate the running of the political are understood well, we shall find that the principles of shura echo many elements of economic rationality, at least in four respects:

The principles of managing pluralism

On the question of managing the political, Islam seems to be like a culture which produces a specific concept of the world. This we have said and repeated. There are orientations, limits, obligations which we cannot question, and, furthermore, we don’t see in the name of what they can be. Just as one finds, in values produced by Western rationality, a certain number of postulates which are referred to as principles of truth. Thus, there exist principles which are, for Muslims, inalienable foundations of their faith which one should respect. No human being can give himself the right to make a definitive ruling whether in one sense or in another. “Freedom of conscience” here echoes the Qur’anic “there is no compulsion in religion”.

It remains, therefore, to consider how, within its field of reference, Islam conceives of the management of pluralism. It is this question which interests us mainly, and which alone can make us avoid “disputes over words”. The important thing is to know the fate that Islam reserves to opinions and their plurality. Does the ideal organisation lie in the theocratic type or not? Does reference to God, Revelation or the Prophet (peace be upon him) prevent men from being responsible and free citizens? It seems to us that we have shown, in the discussion which led us to disengage the seven most general principles extracted from the notion of shura, that Islamic political organisation is in complete opposition to the idea of theocracy as it was lived in Europe! The rabbaniyya - the relationship with God - cannot be made, in the political domain without rational development or pluralist discussion or looking out for appropriate historical and geographical solutions. This rabbaniyya enhances, around tawhid (the principle of Divine unicity), the unicity of God’s remembrance and the multiplicity of views on the affairs of the world. There is only one God, one Prophet and one Text. But there are different interpretations, opinions and deliberations. From this running of pluralism, we can disengage elements which find their counterparts in the democratic project, and which are even among its most basic foundations. Without having fixed a finished model of political organisation (republican monarchy, parliamentary regime or others), we find very strict conditions, the respect of which alone testifies to the Islamic nature of the project.

- The choice of the people. The choice of the one placed ahead is delegated in Islam to those who place themselves behind. One can go through by means of elections, a representative system or any other original idea. The important thing is that the people choose their representative. This means, a fortiori, that one must be granted all the conditions that allow one the opportunity to choose with full knowledge of the facts. Any pressure or play of influence on public opinion must be the subject of strict regulations, for this means that there is a deficit in the real participation of the people. Just as is the case, moreover, with ignorance, illiteracy and misery which are as many social phenomena obstructing the real participation of the grassroots.

- Freedom of opinion. The first element cannot be without this second. One cannot have the right to choose one’s representative and, at the same time, be prohibited from formulating one’s own opinion. Thus, freedom of opinion and expression is granted in the political debate within a legitimate respect of the constitution. We can imagine an organisation based on parties or of any other form of pluralism in this domain. The expressions of the political in Islam cannot be confined to a debate on the politicking political whose only aim is access to power.(25) Political programmes must contribute in proposing solutions to the problems of society. In this, and taking into account the experience of multipartism in the West (or parties with programmes often similar, disputing only power), it is legitimate to turn towards new forms of pluralistic participation. The party system, with increasing absenteeism apparent in the North, seems to reveal its limits. To respect freedom of expression and opinion nowadays requires some reforms.

- Alternation. To govern is tantamount to being responsible before the people who choose us and before the institutional organs which play this role in the society in question (shura, high legislative court, parliament, etc.). It cannot, therefore, be the fact of a man, a family or a clan, who takes hold of power in a definitive fashion because his name or action made his glory in a given moment of history. Competence in matters of governing, as indeed moral responsibility, are not hereditary.(26) In the Sunni tradition, things are clear. Competence prevails over blood, and each person carries the testimony of his own honourability in matters of running political affairs. The name of the father never justifies the credibility of the son. Having said this, and in conformity with the respect to the choice of the people and freedom of opinion, it is evident that alternation is a founding element of the Islamic project. Each society is in charge of determining the period devolved upon the magistrate for the exercise of power and the modalities which regulate its respect. Allowing alternation is tantamount to offering the possibility of establishing a critique of the politics devised by the government under the form of an intermediary or definitive assessment. It is exactly what Abu Bakr and [Umar requested, for example, from those who had chosen them: “Remain vigilant, make account of our actions and rectify what ought to be rectified”.(27)

- The State of Law. Whoever reads the First Constitution of Madina will be convinced that from the very beginning Islam thought its social and political organisation around the question of law.(28) The priority of the law is indeed noticed in all the domains of Islamic sciences. The domain of social affairs is no exception. Social organisation is based on the foundation of the constitution which, in conformity with the orientations of Islamic teachings, stipulates equality of all before the law, whether they be Muslims or not. It also stipulates respect for the dignity of each person. Every man and woman should find the means to see their rights respected, as much on the political plane as on the judiciary. A society which does not respond to these requirements and which, by its own legal system, sanctions inequalities, unjust treatment, or denominational preferences, would be violating the elementary principles of legislation. In this sense, the Islamic reflection joins that of democratic societies which always attempts an evolution towards a greater respect for individuals and groups. The delicate discussion on the rights of minorities (a very sensible debate in the United Nations of Europe) is far from being exhausted. In the same sense, there exists a debate in the Muslim world on the kind of organisation which will be in a position to respect the rights of non-Muslims.(29)

It is appropriate to recall that there does not exist a unique model of Islamic organisation which is thought out for eternity. Rather, on the contrary, it is the principle of adaptability which prevails. This is the basic function of ijtihad. In reality, to consider things closely, one notices, if we discard phraseology, that Islamic rationality is echoed, on a number of capital points, in democratic rationality. The fundamental points of reference are different, histories are divergent, and terms are not the same. However, one finds oneself obligated to point out similarities in the principles of articulation and the objectives granted to the respect of pluralism and differences of expression with regard to the political. Without failing to notice that, in the two spheres, there exists a dynamic which advances research and which modulates achievements by taking account of new realities. With this difference - which is fundamental in so far as it identifies the two different concepts of the world - one may add that the pragmatism of democratic rationality draws its vigour from the consideration of situations and events which require forward readjusting. This in the thought of a history that man had to edify in an absolutely autonomous fashion. The Islamic concept finds its strength in a vision of history which, at each stage, refers man to his points of reference and to their interpretation in order to find a forward solution, but one which legitimates its link with the original orientation. This type of rationality, which is the basis of ijtihad (one which Iqbal, while giving account of the same idea, called “the principle of movement in the structure of Islam”) revolves around a dynamic of memory. Inversely, the democratic experience exposes the dynamic of projection.(30)

There does exist in Islam a framework to run pluralism. Moreover, we can say that a number of principles pertaining to democratic societies have a place therein. The expression of an absolute opposition between Islam and democracy cannot hold from the moment we bring to the fore the bases which distinguish them apart and the principles which unite them together.(31) Each religion, civilisation and culture has the right to have its values considered in the light of the general frame which gives these meaning. This remark applies as much in the sense of a critique against Western sufficiency, as it is a questioning of the rejection, sometimes simplistic, that certain Muslims manifest towards European and American points of reference. This because if there exists a pluralism to manage within societies, there is another pluralism, no less enriching, which comes as a result of the diversity of religions and cultures. It is appropriate to point out the riches of each one among them and to measure that which they bring to the conscience of their faithful or adherents in terms of obligations, rights, responsibilities and values. Undoubtedly, this is the only means to reach a coexistence which is respectful of specifities. For the case which interests us here, it must be admitted that the West has reached a level of scientific mastery and outstanding specialisation. In its points of reference, this evolution commands admiration and all civilisations have to benefit from the dynamic of this rationality, as they can derive lessons from the progress achieved. “Benefiting”, “deriving lesson” do not, nevertheless, mean submission. In the same way, it must be acknowledged that other civilisations and cultures propose a rich vision of the world, and that some of these have managed to preserve the basic values of life, and glimpses of their fundamental shape are beginning to be caught in the West.(32) It is not a question of suggesting a new wave of “love for exotisms and folklore”. On the contrary, it is a question of engaging in an exigent reflection about cultural specifities and possible enrichment starting from within cultures and not at their peripheries.

Islam, as other civilisations and in the same entitlement as any other culture, has nowadays to bring forth its contribution in the different domains of human thought and action. That this “religion” arouses the fears of the West is not something new. The conflict is several centuries old. What is new in our epoch is the differential treatment to which some Westerners subject other cultures. In evaluating the profound crisis of values in the West, the wisdom of Buddhist or Sioux thought are in this context legitimately singled out. Basically, it is “allowed” for these cultures to have differences on fundamental concepts because they are not dangerous to the West. As for Islam, the case is different. There are more than a billion faithful today, and a quarter of the planet tomorrow. For the West, the enriching specificity and constructive particularity of Islam are not sought. It is rather repulsive difference that is fixed in mind. The danger appears to be such, and the aggression against the model so evident, that only when the world of Islam speaks “our” language and borrows “our” tools are we going to acknowledge its positive presence. Thus, we could see the same intellectuals accuse, on the one hand, the Declaration of Human Rights for being too ethnocentrist in its formulation (when they defend the rights of South American cultures for example) and, on the other hand, set against Islam because it does not respect the text of 1948. This without being afraid of claiming one thing and applying its contrary.

The debate about the democratic frame, as we can see, opens very vast perspectives. Let us retain for the time being these questions which are directly linked to it (we shall come back to cultural questions in the last Part of this book) and which today make great noise; human rights, freedom of expression and opinion and the question of non-Muslims in Islamic societies.

Dr Tariq Ramadan