The Participation of Islamists in a Non-Islamic Government

Ghannouchi Rachid

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Participation of Islamists in a Non-Islamic Government

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A Tunisian-born Islamic thinker and politic activist who was educated at Cairo University and the University of Damascus, Ghannouchi founded Tunisia's Islamic Tendency Movement in 1981 (Tunisia's largest Islamist party), later renamed Hizb al-Nahda (Renaissance Party) in 1988. Imprisoned twice during the 1980s, he has lived in exile in London since the early 1990s. Ghannouchi has been a major voice in the Islamic movement on political and social issues from Islam and democracy to women's rights in Islam.

The author here concedes that circumstances are not propitious for the establishment of an Islamic government, suggesting that the governments of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Pakistan, for example, fall short of the goal. This state of affairs, however, is no reason to abandon the quest, as Islam is sufficiently realistic and flexible to overcome the situation, which is only temporary. It is not presently possible to establish an Islamic government as God has commanded, and Muslims are not expected to do the impossible. Yet, this is not to suggest that they should do nothing, for God does not accept apathy any more than he expects people to achieve the impossible: it is still ones duty to work toward the goal. Ghannouchi counsels participation by Muslims in a non-Muslim government (one not applying the shariah [Islamic law] in an authentic manner), provided the principle of consultation (shura) is followed. Though he does not define what he means by shura, he is convinced it facilitates many important values of democracy. Democracy is commendable, even in a secular system, so Muslims must act to achieve it. Ghannouchi then lists several instances in which this duty is enjoined upon Muslims, even though conditions to establish Islamic government itself may not be at hand. He also recommends that Muslims in both Muslim and non-Muslim majority societies join secular democratic movements in opposition to dictatorship.

Chapter.  3669 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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