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Islam and the Challenge of Democracy

            The book Islam and the Challenges of Democracy, by Khaled Abou El Fadl argues whether or not Islam is compatible with democracy. First, he argues that the Qur'an asserts a certain set of values that can help govern a legislative government but not an entire legislative program. He further adds that these values that the Qur'an recommends support democracy. Secondly, he states that Islamic democracy and Shariah are interchangeably consistent. Which leads him to the conclusion that Islam and democracy are indeed compatible. Abou El Fadl states in his introduction that his argument is inspired by the set of values that the Qur'an offers to those in pursuit of a democratic government. He does so because the Qur'an itself does not specify a particular form of government, but, it does identify a set of social and political values that are central to a Muslims polity.(Islam and the Challenge of Democracy, 5) Fadl continues by claiming that God's will regarding political matters is not found in the Qur'an. Rather, humans base their laws directly on God's will, and if uncertain of some political or social matter they base their laws on the values which God supports, mainly justice and mercy. While most of the respondents to Abou El Fadl's essay praise his theoretical framework, some express doubt upon putting his theory into practice. I chose to compare and contrast the following four of the responses to Abou El Fadl's work. Nader A. Hashemi's, Noah Feldman's, John L. Esposito's, and William B. Quandt.
             Nader A. Hashemi's response, entitled Change From Within, praised most of Abou El Fadl's work. Hashemi appears to be very enthusiastic to the contributions that Abou El Fadl makes in his essay in regards to mediation on Islam and the challenge of democracy. Nader appreciates the significant and unique contribution which Abou El Fadl makes in advocating a democratic theory for Muslim societies, because such contribution requires a thorough understanding of both modern liberal democracy and a solid grasp on Islamic political and theological thought.

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