It is not strange that whenever politicians, in any country, talk of a system of government called democracy, nowadays, they tend to believe that they are talking of perfection in governance. And, they often want the citizens of such a country to uphold that belief as an impeccable political norm. On the one hand, democracy is like a rainbow which temporarily displays a variety of colours on the sky and provides its onlookers with an opportunity of making different choices within the limited time of its appearance. In that case, the choices made by certain individuals may look like those of some others, in theory, but realistically, the outward colour of democracy, from that perception, is like the hood which merely indicates the presence of a monk but does not, in itself, make the monk.
On the other hand, democracy can be described as a hypothetical eclipse threatening to swallow the light of the moon or even that of the sun to the detriment of the contemporary humanity. And, that is why the so-called democracy, as a form of government, has not really justified the colour of perfection with which politicians often try to paint it politically.
Continuity in Governance
Just as a rainbow disappears from the sky after some time, so does democracy pike out of reality in the face of power shift or tenure. Thus, the notion of continuity in governance, in a so-called democratic dispensation, especially in Africa, is a hidden political balderdash that realistically holds no tranquil water. In most contemporary countries, democracy is rather a euphemism for minority rule over the majority of people in the name of popular election than the popular posture given to it. In other words, democracy is a game of number that is bereaved of fairness and equity.
Style of Governance
Meanwhile, democracy or no democracy, the style of governance differs from country to country and from people to people. Yet, in contemporary time, the domineering style of governance has no name other than democracy.
Some people hypothetically define democracy as “a government of the people by the people and for the people”.
But in reality, that definition is the master piece of deception, in politics, which invariably forms the basis of some nations’ exploitative constitution often backed up by media propaganda. From whichever angle it is viewed today, democracy is grossly at variance with Islam’s methodology of governance. As far as Islam is concerned, nothing ventilates peaceful atmosphere in governance as much as the rule of law. And, there can be no rule of law in the absence of faith in the immortality of Allah.
The Parable of Islam
Unlike other religions, Islam is and odyssey which commences here on earth and continues ad infinitum in the Hereafter.
If Islam had just been a mere religion like others, and not a total way of life for its adherents, inconsistency would have beclouded it like most creeds calling themselves religions in the world today. Panel beaters would have worked on it. Painters would have re-sprayed it to their tastes. Fine Artists would have added drawings of ostentatious beauty to it for marketability. And, then, it would have become an all-comers’ trade fetching money day and night for merchants of fortune.
But this divine religion called Islam is like a mighty ocean flowing ceaselessly towards all directions and watering all plants around it into active life through the deltas of adjoining rivers. It will be a suicide bid for any government or group of people, therefore, no matter how technologically advanced, to want to change the course of that river. Those who attempted it in the past ended up drowning in it only to become meals for ‘whales’ and ‘sharks’.
Genesis of Islam
Looking at the emergence, the spread and the triumph of Islam in the midst of crushing empires at a time when might and nothing but might alone mattered most, any right-thinking person must surely be amazed that such a religion could outlive the crushing claw of the then prevailing might.
Only such right-thinking people could have been inquisitive enough to ask probing questions as follows: how did a desert illiterate man of little means, like Prophet Muhammad, as an orphan at early age, come up with a spiritual ideology that captured the world slaves and kings? How did he become a law giver without any training in a law school? How did he become a military General without enrolling in any military institution? How did he become a Scientist without attending any school? How did he become a Doctor without undergoing any medical training? How did he become a ruler without receiving any tutelage in politics? What can be more amazing, primordially or contemporarily, than to have all these roles and even more, combined in a single human being who rose from such an obscure background? Only an answer to all or most of these questions could explain, without any ambiguity, why he is universally acknowledged as the greatest man that ever lived.
Judging by the questions above and their attendant answers, the great revolution which this great Prophet of Islam brought into the world as the instrument of civilization cannot but beat the imagination of any sensible mortal being. There were hundreds of Prophets before him. Adam, Nuh, Ibrahim, Musa, Isa and a host of others had all come as prophets preaching peace and harmony to mankind. But none of them had a combination of expertise as much as Prophet Muhammad (SAW).
It is true that Prophets Daud (David) and his son, Sulayman (Soloman) were kings by expediency and they were military Generals in their own right, nevertheless, they were neither scientists nor doctors. Yet, Prophet Muhammad (SAW), in his missionary odyssey, never claimed any miracle by a magic wand. Thus, what makes Islam a unique way of life is the uniqueness of Prophet Muhammad’s personality which was derived from the uniqueness of the Qur’an as the divinely revealed anchor ‘BOOK’ of Allah.
Allegation of War Mongering
If the Oriental intellectuals of the past, who were accusing Prophet Muhammad (SAW) of being a war monger, were not ignorant or hypocritical, they would have known that no empire or civilization has ever emerged or survived without fighting wars. For instance, how did such old empires as the Mesopotamian, the Greek, the Assyrian, the Persian and the Roman emerge? And, in recent time, how did the French and the Russian revolutions succeed in the 19th and 20th centuries respectively? And, peeping a little backwards, through the window of the contemporary time, how did America emerge as the world’s strongest power today? Was it just by preaching human rights and democracy?
The reality of today, as presented by the experience of the past has exposed the hypocrisy of yesteryears and that of today, on the part of Western unbelievers.
Identity of Islam
Today, Islam has transcended a stage, in life, when it could be intimidated or blackmailed into surrendering its divine identity to any spiritual charlatan.
When the Western elite talk of democracy today, the impression they give is that democracy is a Western invention. This is quite far from the truth. Despite the lengthy and speculative Platonic theories of yore on democracy, the West did not come in contact with it, practically, until it had a political encounter with the Muslim Arabs who ruled over Spain from the 8th to the 13th centuries CE. And, even with that encounter, Europe remained a mere spectator in the field of the so-called democracy until expediency brought about what was called ‘Magna Carter’ in England in 1215 CE.
What the West calls democracy today was what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had called ‘interactive government’ which he practiced as far back as the 7th century CE. At the time when the Prophet established the Islamic State in Madinah, there was no single empire or nation in the entire world without despotic system of governance. The idea of democracy, which the West came to adopt as its heritage, is purely Islamic in genesis.
As Head of State, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) never imposed any policy on the people without input from those people directly or indirectly except such policies came in form of divine revelations from Allah. In other words, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was neither a monarch nor a despotic ruler. And, as a Head of State, he never saw himself as more important than any other citizen or resident in the State. That was why he was so indigent, even as Head of State that his household could carry on for months without cooking any food under the Prophet’s roof.
In Islam, democracy is not about voting and power alone. It is fundamentally about justice in all its ramifications according to the rule of law. It is about tending the lives of others for the overall good of the nation. It is about facilitating necessary provisions for the people according to the available resources in the nation. It is about protecting the lives and interest of the weak against the oppression of the strong. It is about managing the wealth of the nation with diligent sense of accountability. It is about securing the lives of the citizenry in terms of jobs, feeding, shelter, health and education. It is about boosting the horizon of the youths and sharpening their hope against the future. It is about guaranteeing adequate income per capital and ensuring a standard life expectancy. Any government that claims to be in practice of democracy without all the aforementioned factors can only be and hypocritically oppressive.
The Norm of Governance
Governance, like culture, has a variety of colours, flavours and tastes. What is called democracy in a State may amount to despotism in another State. In Europe today, for instance, some of the countries pretending to be championing democracy around the world are basically monarchical. For instance, countries like Greece, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Sweden and even Britain are all constitutionally monarchical, yet they are the same countries that assembled armed forces in Iraq in the early 21st century, pretending to want to ensure the entrenchment of democracy in those countries.
The Counties in Africa
There are 53 countries in Africa today. Only seven of them are Arab countries. The rest are what the European colonialists call Nigger countries. Of these 53 countries, only about 10 have not experienced civil war. The colonial devils have succeeded in creating what the linguists call isogloss in various geo-political zones in Africa. (An isogloss is an area in which people of diverse, and not mutually understandable languages, settle down and coexist). Semantically, such areas only connote confusion. And that is what Europeans thrive on to enslave the black race perpetually and exploit African economy.
There is no single Arab country in Africa that was not colonized by the Europeans. Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania were French colonies. Libya was an Italian colony. Sudan was a British colony. And, Egypt, which was once an empire and a cradle of human civilization, was colonized, first by France and later by Britain.
Now, despite their colonial experiences, how do these Arab countries maintain political sanity with relative economic progress?
Sometime, in the recent past, the Federal Government of Nigeria was proposing a review of our constitution. The committee in charge was mandated to spend about one week in each of the six geo-political zones in the country, to listen to the contributions of those zones. The question is: how many tribes in each zone will make contributions to such review in just one week? Could that new constitution be translated and made available to the populace?
Today, Arab countries in Africa are nations, (not mere countries) and they enjoy the benefits of being nations. What is more interesting is that not all these Arab countries are Republics. Morocco, for instance, is a monarchy but she thrives effectively in her own version of democracy. Citizens of Arab countries are highly patriotic and can die fighting for the image of their nations. They are not as agitated as citizens of the black countries because most of their social needs are met by their governments. And when there is any major disagreement among them on policy or ideology they resort to their culture for solution.
If such a disagreement should occur in Nigeria, to which culture will our government resort? Can you see why the black Africans always resolve their crises by gun to the delight of their colonial masters? With a situation like this, how can Nigeria ever become a nation when, ordinary National Identity Cards, cannot be produced for citizens even 62 years after independence? Yet our rulers are calling for patriotism.
To continue to pretend that nothing is fundamentally wrong with Nigeria, democratically, is to play an ostrich by hiding behind one finger. And, for how long can a country do that? More will be discussed about democracy in this column, in a foreseeable future. In sha’Allah.
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