by Bernice Lipkin

There is an unshakable belief in many a Western heart that all humanity hungers after democracy. These Westerners are democracy-olics in the sense that some drinkers are alcoholics. Given the most tenuous signs of social/political change in the Middle East, they succumb. They see rosy visions of a new Islam, tolerant of other cultures, respectful of womankind; an Islam no longer practicing mutilation, beheading and other ugly reminders of how Mohammad lived his life.

After the "Arab Spring" in Egypt and elsewhere, the view shared by many Western pundits was that we were witnessing the birth cries of a democratic spirit in Islam that would soon wipe away the accumulated barnacles of primitive barbarism adhering to the Muslim religion. Many who subscribed to this popular fantasy ignored that many barbaric Muslim practices are intrinsic to Islam; they are not superficial attachments. Judaism and Christianity are built on systems of interacting laws, based on guiding principles. If need be, these can often be adapted to different environments without destroying the core structure. In contrast, Islam is built on the sayings and doings of Mohammad, the perfect man. As Raymond Ibrahim has pointed out[1], Mohammad married a six-year child, therefore child marriages are acceptable. Mohammad sent his followers out to loot and massacre the infidel. Therefore, these continue to be good practices, making it harder to replace brutality with civility. It is not often appreciated that it is harder to make changes in behavior when one is mimicking a man rather than reworking practices so that they are acceptable in a new social context as well as conforming to a set of fundamental principles.

When the actualities of the Arab Spring became known, sober assessments began to appear. As an op-ed in Hyscience[2] noted, George H. Wittman has pointed that aside from Israel and Lebanon, there was "no cultural tradition of democracy in the Arab and Persian Middle East." Wittman said[3] in March, 2011:

"The international media too quickly characterize mob action in North Africa and elsewhere in the Middle East as an expression of democracy. Gatherings of large numbers of people demanding that autocratic leadership be changed does not constitute a willingness to pay the continuing social price of responsibility and compromise that is the basic element of democracy in any form."

The Hyscience essay also quoted David Bukay, who pointed out in his 'Can There Be an Islamic Democracy':

"... ironically, while Western scholars (continue to) perform intellectual somersaults to demonstrate the compatibility of Islam and democracy, prominent Muslim scholars argue democracy to be incompatible with their religion. According to Bukay, they base their conclusion on two foundations: first, the conviction that Islamic law regulates the believer's activities in every area of life, and second, that the Muslim society of believers will attain all its goals only if the believers walk in the path of God. In addition, some Muslim scholars further reject anything that does not have its origins in the Qur'an."[4]

Hyscience concludes:

"More simply put, from the mouths of the Muslim scholars themselves ... democracy and Islam are about as compatible as oil and water."

David P. Goldman, writing in PJ Media quotes George W. Bush, who said:

"Peoples of the Middle East share a high civilization, a religion of personal responsibility, and a need for freedom as deep as our own. It is not realism to suppose that one-fifth of humanity is unsuited to liberty; it is pessimism and condescension, and we should have none of it."[5]

To say this, Bush had to ignore that since the inception of Islam, Sharia law has favored sex slavery, pedophilia, treating women as chattel and has provided the license to make Islam top dog with all other religions being forced to recognize their inferiority.

Moreover, considering the culture enforced by the Koran, the activities of Mohammad and the conditioned tribal and clan compliance with the arguments of the Islamic clergy, it is likely the closest Muslims will come to democratic practices is tossing a ballot into a box.

Professor Paul Eidelberg[6] has compared Islam and democracy, spelling out specific differences:

(1) Whereas, freedom, including freedom of speech, is one of the two cardinal principles of democracy, Islam is strictly authoritarian, which is why Islamic media are state-controlled.

(2) Unlike democracy, whose other cardinal principle is equality, Islam is strictly hierarchical. Top-down leadership is a fundamental principle of Islamic theology. Authority runs down from Allah to Muhammad and from Muhammad to the imam, the ruler of the regime.

(3) Democracy is based on the primacy of consent or persuasion. This adorns democratic societies with a certain easy-goingness and civility. Not only are past grievances readily swept aside, but political opponents can be friends despite their differences. Differences are resolved by mutual concessions, and agreements are usually lasting. In contrast, Islamic culture is based on the primacy of coercion. Agreements between rival factions do not really terminate animosities, which is why such agreements are so short-lived.

(4) Because democracy is based on the primacy of consent, the pursuit of peace is the norm of democratic regimes. In contrast, because Islamic culture is based on the primacy of coercion, the foreign policy norm of Islamic regimes is intimidation and conquest. Jihad (holy war) is a basic Islamic principle, which is why Muslim violence will be found throughout the world.

(5) Whereas democracy is based on the primacy of the individual, Islamic culture is based on the primacy of the group—be it the village or the extended family. The individual Muslim has no identity outside the group; it is to the group that he owes all his loyalty. This is one reason why internecine conflict has been endemic among Muslims throughout history.

(6) Contemporary democracy is regarded as a process by which individuals pursue their private interests and have diverse values or "lifestyles." This is not the case of Islam, which binds everyone to the set of substantive values prescribed in the Quran and in Islamic law (the sharia).

(7) Whereas contemporary democracy is inclined toward moral relativism, Islam is based on absolutism. When moral relativism does not degenerate into moral reversal, contemporary democracy conduces to tolerance, whereas Islam conduces to intolerance. Admittedly, Islamic regimes tolerate non-Islamic minorities, but only as dhimmis—virtual pariahs.

(8) Democratic societies are preoccupied with the present (the Now). Conversely, Islamic culture exists under the aspect of eternity. Islamic mentality is dominated by the past, which is why revenge for past injuries is a dominant motif of the Islamic world. And given their group loyalty, Muslims are religiously bound to wreak vengeance against those who have slighted the honor of any Muslim.

(9) The openness or publicity found in democracy stands in striking contrast to the hiddenness, secrecy, and dissimulation (taqiyya) characteristic of Islam. As one intellectually liberated Muslim sociologist writes about Arabs: "Lying is a widespread habit among the Arabs, and they have a low idea of truth."

(10) Whereas contemporary democracy is rooted in a mild secularism, Islamic culture is rooted in a harsh religion. Even Arab leaders who are not devout Muslims identify with the basic goals of Islam. The radical separation of religion and politics found in democracy is foreign to Islam.

(11) Whereas democracy—before its corruption by skepticism—is rooted in the Judeo-Christian concept of man's creation in the image of God (Genesis 1:26), Islamic theology rejects that concept as blasphemous.

(12) Whereas democracy, consistent with Genesis 1:26, affirms the moral unity of mankind, Islam relegates non-Muslims to apes and dogs.

(13) Whereas democracy—before its corruption by moral relativism—extols the primacy of reason, Islamic theology exalts the primacy of will. Hence, it was not inconsistent with the unqualified or absolute omnipotence which Islam attributes to Allah that the Taliban should proclaim: "Throw reason to the dogs—it stinks of corruption."

The preceding considerations demonstrate that Islam and democracy are incompatible. To have expected democracy to emerge from the Arab Spring—and this applies to the so-called Palestinians—is mystical if not mischievous nonsense.


PERHAPS THE QUESTION WHETHER ISLAM AND DEMOCRACY ARE COMPATIBLE has already been answered. Consider that the State of Israel has for over sixty years been conducting an unplanned field experiment in social relations. There is a large group of Arabs now living in Israel. Unlike so many of the Arabs in the rest of the Middle East who are illiterate, diseased and live in abject poverty, they receive higher education and health care as do all other Israeli citizens. They are given welfare for their large families and their children with medical conditions that are the result of many generations of cousins marriages are treated, not left to die. In a dispute between an Arab and a Jew, the judiciary and the police favor the Arab.

They live in a country where living among others with different life styles without rioting is the norm. Yet their rate of radicalization continues to increase. They teach their children to hate Jews and Christians. They go out of their way to harass non-Arabs, vandalize them, throw rocks at their cars, and pick fights. They walk without fear in public parks and gardens in Jewish areas yet — except for shop keepers — they object when Jews tread on their turf, or what they claim as theirs, often resorting to violent attacks and murder to make their attitude clear. And this is while they are a minority!

To argue that their murderous behavior is acceptable because they have no standing army is another way of saying that they aren't about to negotiate differences in a democratic fashion. And if they do yield, it is not part of their culture to honor their commitments.

To accept that non-Muslims must not violate their space while they are free to go where ever any Israeli can is to admit they have no concept of sharing, only of attempting larger take-overs. During the formal interactions of the "Peace Process", the Arabs in Samaria and Judea have taken whatever concessions Israel was bullied into making and then used the extra space and supplies to become even more violent. They made no attempt to develop a tolerant and workable substructure for an eventual state that was tolerant of other religions or even of other Muslim groups. To this day, Mahmoud Abbas continues to declare that not one Jew will be allowed in land controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Nor will most of the Palestinian Arab refugees, who are living there now, be allowed to become citizens of a projected Palestinian state! Think about that.

To argue that their behavior is justified because the land is really theirs is to subscribe to a political fantasy that has no legal, historic or moral substance.[7] It merely underscores that the practice of democracy is alien to Islam.







[6] This article was submitted July 5, 2013 by Dr. Steven Carol (, who wrote: "In light of the past few days' events in Egypt, my colleague and friend Dr. Paul Eidelberg has compiled this succinct, but on target, analysis/comparison of 'democracy' and Islam. Please read and forward. You may contact him directly at

[7]  See also these videos on the nature of Islam: a debate where Anne-Marie Waters argued that "Islam Is Not A Peaceful Religion," here and "What Is Islam?" by David Wood here.

Bernice Lipkin is managing editor of Think-Israel.

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