Torch Voices: Zak Carter

Dear Editor,

In response to your recent article, “Islam and Democracy,” I wish to make a few comments. As a worshiper of Jesus Christ, I am hesitant to comment on a religion not my own. However, as a believer in democracy (in its ideal sense), I feel obligated to weigh-in on the subject.

It seems as though the question, “Can the two disciplines coexist?” is posed due to the premise that an unbridled Islam would destroy a democracy. True or not, I am unconcerned with this presently. A much more interesting question is the reverse: Would an unbridled democracy destroy Islam?

Religions are based upon creeds and creeds are things that express truths not contingent on human understanding of belief. Islam, based upon Mohammad’s life and teachings and the Koran, is no exception. Democracy (read: “representative republic”), on the other hand, cares nothing for unchanging truths and instead seeks only to exercise the will of the people. If the people freely vote for an autocrat, then it would be very undemocratic to deny them their dictator. Likewise, if they decide Ramadan to be merely an antiquated exercise and not a means of absolution, then Democracy declares it moot.

Democracy and secularism are inextricably intertwined. So, can Islam embrace secularism while still remaining Islamic? More specifically, can Sharia Law and secular government simultaneously rule the people? And what are the implications of abandoning one or the other?

To these questions I have a few conclusions. But there is one more question we must have the boldness to ask: Is it even possible for Western Muslims in the very stable and wealthy Big Rapids to have anything relevant to say about Middle Eastern governance?

Zak Carter