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Democracy in Islamic World

The second part of the twentieth century, just as the beginning of the twenty first century may be called the epoch of democracy. The problem of democratization of human society should be treated as universal problem because the right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness are not only main postulates of democracy but self-evident and natural needs of a contemporary person. The statement that says that democratic society is a peaceful society is, evidently, just and reliable. However, the urgent problem of modern society nowadays is the state of democracy in Islamic countries that claims attention of politicians, sociologists and common people all around the world. This burning issue has received great resonance in mass media and provoked polemics in scientific world.

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Great amount of literature is dedicated to the problem of the relationship between democracy and Islamic countries and the book under the eloquent title “Islam Vs Democracy” by Mahmoud Ismaelian presents the original results of the author’s study of Islam and Islamic party as political force. Once again the author formulates the main concern connected with Islam: if Islam and political forces of Iran intend and are able to provide and ensure main values of a free citizen in a free country: freedom, equality and democracy for all citizens. The merit of the author’s analysis is the study of the peculiarities of mentality of contemporary Islamic governments. The basic postulate of the author’s study is formulated by him in Chapter 1: “human thought seems to lag behind the realities of the world around it” (Ismaelian 2006, p. 6). In connection with this statement the author gives his vision of Islam from the point of view of socialist perspective, he states that Islam is “based on a very outdated socio-economical relationship of middle ages” (Ismaelian 2006, p. 8). Besides, the author makes use of political perspective in the analysis of the Islamic states. He emphasizes and criticizes the conservative aspects of fundamentalism, formulating his discontent and disapproval of the discrepancy between the religion that is claimed to be based on human interests and the number of human loses connected with it.

While M. Ismaeilien gives the thorough study of the roots of Islamic religion and its connection with the political power in the states, Charles E. Butterworth (1999) considers the question of democratization of Muslim countries, analyzing the study of L. Esposito and John E. Butterworth. These scientists assert that Islam is not antithetical to democracy. This statement is formed due to their analysis of political phenomenon of Islamic reform in a global context, paying special attention to the options of the Islamic people (Butterworth 1999, p. 100). The article throws light on Abu al-A’la Maududi and his account of the way how “sovereignty within Islam is rotted in the principle of divine unity of tawhid” (Butterworth 1999, p. 100).

As the Internet is one of the major sources of information of today, the web-sources concerning Islam and democracy should be analyzed. Of great interest is the information about the study of Islam and democracy that is available on the official site of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. It offers information about publications and events concerning the work of the organization. However, the information about annual conferences that are held by the center is the picturesque example of intense work and cooperation aimed at democratization of Islamic world. The analysis of the agenda of the conferences shows the large range of problems that are analyzed: the intersection of religion and democracy, the ways of encouraging Muslim democrats, prospects of implementing democracy, etc. (Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy 2008).

Drawing a conclusion, it should be mentioned that the analysis of the sources has shown that fundamental work aimed at the democratization of the Islamic world is being done nowadays. However, the democratization of Islamic society has faced numerous challenges and is rather painful in connection with the peculiarities of religious and political spheres of the states. The example of the work of the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy may be used in order to shape new perspectives and prospects of democratization of Islamic world.


Butterworth, CE 1999 ‘Islam and Democracy’, Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ), vol. 21, no. 2, pp. 100-101.

Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy 2008, Washington, D.C., 2009, Web.

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Ismaeilian, M 2006 Islam Vs Democracy. Trafford Publishing, Victoria.

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