Islamists and democracy – Algeria

Allama Amin Shahidi’s comment regarding the benefits of democracy (that a leader is elected by popular will) that I cited in the last blog post reminded me of an excellent article regarding Algerian Islamists and their concept of democracy by Yahya H. Zoubir that I’ve been meaning to share. Zoubir pays special attention to Malik Bennabi’s work “Democracy in Islam”:

Bennabi is critical of Western democracies because, in his opinion, they do not contain social rights, since one can become a slave to powerful interests; he is also critical of the former Eastern bloc because it granted social rights to the citizens but at the expense of political freedom. Thus, Islam, in his eyes, provides true democracy, for it constitutes a synthesis between political democracy and social democracy. Malek Bennabi believes that the Zakat (the giving of mandatory alms) is a good example of Islam’s social legislation posited by the Qur’an. The communication that he believes prevailed between rulers and ruled in the time of the first Caliphs is proof that there existed a “democratic consciousness shaped by Islam.”(38) But, the real basis of democracy remains human beings and the value that is conferred upon them by God.


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