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Democracy

A form of government in which people choose their legislators and executive leaders. Many modern thinkers believe democracy is compatible with Islamic principles. For example, the Quran urges Muslims to consult with each other when conducting affairs, providing an Islamic precedent for election. The Quran forbids compulsion in religion, laying the groundwork for tolerance for religious and political pluralism and equality of Muslims and non-Muslims in civic rights and duties. Some thinkers point to the legal principle of ijma (consensus) as a foundation for democracy. The modern history of democracy in Islam begins with the Egyptian reformer Muhammad Abduh , who sought to strengthen the moral roots of Islamic society by returning to the past while recognizing and accepting the need for change and linking change to the teachings of Islam. He asserted Islam as the moral basis of modern, progressive society. In the early twentieth century, constitutional democracy was advocated by supporters of secularism. The political and socioeconomic failures of Arab governments and rising civil strife in the 1970s and 1980s led to a broader agenda of grievances against regimes and a larger public search for Islamic revival as the only valid basis for social and political life.

See also Bayah; Maslahah; Shura

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