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Shaykh Aḥmad Al-Najmī on Democracy and Being Deceived by Numbers

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Thursday, Apr 06 2023
Filed under Aqīdah

With respect to point five from "Masāʾil al-Jāhiliyyah" (The Affairs of Pre-Islamic Ignorance):

أن من أكبر قواعدهم الاغترار بالأكثر، ويحتجون به على صحة الشيء، ويستدلون على بطلان الشيء بغربته وقلة أهله، فأتاهم بضد ذلك وأوضحه في غير موضع من القرآن.

That from the greatest of their principles is being deceived by the majority. They employ it as proof for the correctness of a thing and they use it as evidence for the futility of a thing due to its strangeness and scarcity of the people [being upon it]. So [Allāh] brought the opposite of that to them and explained it in more than a place in the Qurʾān.

Shaykh Aḥmad al-Najmī (رحمه الله) said:[1]

From the [affair] of being deceived by the majority, or the large number are what are called elections (intikhābāt) or casting votes and what resembles that. Whoever gained lots of votes he would be put forward (for leadership) even if he was the most sinful (corrupt) of people.

This is the way of the disbelievers who proceed upon it in their elections for leadership of the state or for ministers or other than that.

The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) did not used to send anyone as a leader upon a mission or expedition except one in whose trustworthiness and strength he had deep and insightful knowledge through experience.

Hence, when the Christians of Najrān said to him: “Send with us a trustworthy man”, he said: “I shall send with you a man who is trustworthy, most truthfully a trustworthy one.” Then, many of the Companions sought this position of nobility whereupon he said: “Stand, O Abā ʿUbaydah”, or as he said.[2]

And he also said: “I shall give this flag to a man tomorrow, Allāh will grant victory through his hands, he loves Allāh and His Messenger and Allāh and His Messenger love him.” Then the people spent the night speaking and discussing this matter, as to which of them would be given [the flag of leadership]. When the people awoke, they went to Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) every one of them hoping that he would be given it.

So he said: “Where is ʿAlī bin Abī Ṭālib?” It was said: “O Messenger of Allāh, he has an ailment of the eyes.” He said; “Send him to me.” So he was brought and Allāh’s Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) blew saliva into his eyes and made supplication for him after which he was cured, as if he had never had any ailment. Then he gave him the flag and ʿAlī said: “O Messenger of Allāḥ, I will fight them until they become like us.”

The [Messenger] responded: “Embark [upon your task] with moderation until you reach them at their place, then call them to Islām [first] and inform them about what is obligatory upon them with respect to Allāh’s right [upon them] therein, for by Allāh that Allāh guides a single man through you is better for you than your possession of the most-prized of camels.

And he (صلوات الله وسلامه عليه) whenever he wished to send a group on a mission, he would enquire as to who is among them and would ask about what they had memorised of the Qurʾān. Whoever he found to have memorised Sūrah al-Baqarah, he would make him the leader over them.

So what is important is that Islām puts forward the one it puts forward due to virtue (excellence), knowledge and being described with piety and composure of intellect. This is what the Islamic Sharīʿah necessitates.

As for the people of disbelief, they prefer and put forward [a person] on account of numbers, yet Allāh (عز وجل) has said:

وَمَآ أَكْثَرُ ٱلنَّاسِ وَلَوْ حَرَصْتَ بِمُؤْمِنِينَ

And most of the people, although you strive [for it], are not believers. (12:103).

And Lofty He is who said:

وَإِن تُطِعْ أَكْثَرَ مَن فِى ٱلْأَرْضِ يُضِلُّوكَ عَن سَبِيلِ ٱللَّهِ إِن يَتَّبِعُونَ إِلَّا ٱلظَّنَّ وَإِنْ هُمْ إِلَّا يَخْرُصُونَ

And if you obey most of those upon the earth, they will mislead you from the way of Allah. They follow not except assumption, and they are not but falsifying. (6:116).

And with Allāh lies success.


01  The flourishing and success of a nation returns back to its traits and qualities, particularly the traits and qualities of those who govern their affairs. For this reason, the Islamic Sharīʿah gives preference and position to the traits of truthfulness, trustworthiness, ability and soundness of intellect. In contrast, the people of disbelief give preference to the majority, to large numbers, to voices, votes and today that is known as democracy and voting.

They present this as "rule by the people, for the people."

02  Shaykh Muḥammad Amān al-Jāmī (رحمه الله) wrote on this matter in his book “Ḥaqīqat al-Dimuqrāṭiyyah” explaining that some Muslims have tried to explain the Islāmic notion of shūrā (consultation) as being democracy, or a form of it, seeking thereby to bring democracy into the Muslim lands, and he explained that Muslim nations are not in need of this type of rule as they have—by virtue of Islām—unique affairs that do away with any need for this type of democracy.

03  He (رحمه الله) explained that after the corruption of the revealed books, Western Christian nations lived under periods of despotic rule at the hands of rulers and even by the Church itself, until the despotism of the Church surpassed that of rulers. So they sought to relieve themselves from this tyranny and came up with the notion that power should belong to the people. This notion itself, as the Shaykh (رحمه الله) implies that they were created and then left abandoned, without guidance and law, and thus they must devise ways to govern themselves. As such, in its very basis and foundation, this idea of democracy does not and can never be reconciled with the Sharīʿah.

04  The notion of democracy known today—as found in the Western social democracies—is not the reality of democracy that was known among the Greeks, or the Athenians. It is a perversion of that democracy. For the democracy known to them comprising “power to the people” or “rule by the people” was based on the principle of annulment by jury.

This means that when a jury is deciding on an affair in a trial—and the jury would be composed of honest, upright, sensible people—if they saw that an existing law was unjust, unethical or flawed, as revealed by the case at hand, they had the right to abolish it there and then. In this way, unjust laws would be eliminated from society by society itself, and in the real sense of the word, the society would have the power over its laws. This was the original democracy or the core element of that democracy, and it ensured harmful or unethical laws never remained in society.

05  This annulment by jury no longer exists and hence, all that the disbelievers have is a perversion of democracy. Islamically, both of these types of democracy are disbelief, since legislating and abrogating legislation are the sole right of Allāh, the Creator and Lord of the worlds.

06  This fake and perverted democracy—that of holding elections and casting votes for what are mostly rich and power-hungry men—this has been thrust upon nations in modern history over the last century or so. It is nothing more than deception, an illusion, which appears to give society the power, when the real power lies elsewhere, in the money power, the issuing of credit, in private banking interests, in political lobbying and voting is just to give the peasants an illusion of having choice and power, while their representatives, the politicians eventually end up being nothing more than playthings for corporate interests, while living off the taxpayer.

07  This social democracy is nothing more than a slow, gradual, stealth means of arriving at communism and fascism, this is its inevitable outcome, wherein the most corrupt and greedy people [and their corporations] find their way into positions of power and then dictate to people what they should believe and how they should speak, act, consume and so on.

This is the start and end of this democracy for which nations are invaded, bombed and destroyed.

1. Al-Amālī al-Najmiyyah ʿalā al-Masāʾil al-Jāhiliyyah (Dār al-Minhāj, 1434H) pp. 44-45.
2. Related by al-Bukhārī and Muslim.

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