NYT: Islam and Democracy, Are They Compatible?
In its latest “Room for Debate,” The New York Times asked, “Is Islam an Obstacle to Democracy?” Ed Husain argued that Islam is neither compatible nor incompatible with democracy but that ”religions are replete with multiple narratives and several interpretations of almost every facet of faith.” Similarly, Robert D. Kaplan stated, ”Islam is not incompatible with democracy,” citing examples such as Indonesia, India, and Turkey. “The process is not always pretty, but to say Islam cannot coexist with democracy is certainly dubious,” Kaplan concludes.
Dismayed by the prompt, Resa Azlan took his own approach noting, “So, the question is not whether Islam promotes democracy…the question should be: ‘Do Muslims promote democracy?’” In his opinion, the answer is some do and some do not, “as is the case with followers of every religious tradition on earth.” Jerusha Tanner Lamptey inquired as to why “the more pressing question is why democracy-compatible aspects of the richly diverse Islamic tradition are emphasized — or de-emphasized — in various contexts.”
Emphasizing self-determination, Richard Bulliet said, “in and of itself, Islam does not prescribe a governing form. What is crucial is that more and more Muslims believe in both their religion and democracy.” Omid Safi echoed Bulliet’s point, reminding us “Islam doesn’t do anything, Muslims do. We human beings are the agents of our religious traditions.” Safi concluded by insisting “there can be — and today, must be — a democracy of Muslims who live side by side in a commitment to a “greater we” alongside our neighbors.”