“Avarice is disgrace; cowardice is a defect; poverty often disables an intelligent man from arguing his case; a poor man is a stranger in his own town; misfortune and helplessness are calamities; patience is a kind of bravery; to sever attachments with the wicked world is the greatest wealth; piety is the best weapon of defence.”…..Imam Ali (AS)
In my opinion, in a democracy where diversity is the name of the game and after every fifty miles a different dialect is spoken, where every second neighbor belongs to a different religion or cast or creed and our children have to study in a common school the same subject, where the competition and survival of the fittest is hallmark of life and without tolerance, respect and understanding about different point of views and ideologies we can’t move forward, where the dictates of one particular religion would never be acceptable to the rest of followers of other faiths, any religion should have no place in the political life.
Every religion, irrespective or its claims of ‘Universal Brotherhood’ and ‘Way of Life’ has a few written or unwritten tenets, customs and traditions that clash and contradict the ways of other religion. The reality of life is that fundamental idea of religion concerns the private sphere of its follower which is different. If we study deep we find that pyrrhonian scepticism negates the thoughts of others in matters of deities, gods messengers and message as well.
A secular democracy in not a group of individuals or as a congregation of members of a voluntary community of like-minded individuals. The political life of a democratic society has to restrictively negotiate in the public sphere which is more than a bouquet of variety of developing human civilizations.
No matter what we claim, every religion has many skeletons in its cupboards and a lot of unexplained chapters. There is a lot of hatred, violence and fight for supremacy in its name. The religious scholars habitually palliate it as religious disagreements.
The idea of a particular religion’s supremacy goes hand in hand with the ideas about right and wrong according to their yardsticks. It reflects their own selfish interests or the interests of the group they belong to. These differences have always escalated into power struggles. It begins with the defence and protection of laws or morals that spill over and dominate their own interests at the expense of everyone else.
The term ‘politics’ nowadays, is associated with deception, cunningness, double-crossing and lying on oath, in order to reach one’s purpose. In Islam, if the objective is reached through deceptive approach, it is not considered a success; rather, it is considered a bad failure.
The effect of such politics would soon manifest itself through negative repercussions. However, as ‘politics’ is akin to obtaining power and administering various aspects of material life, it has been abused throughout history. If viewed in the context of solving civil problems, no state or government could function without politics. At this stage, we have to consider another element which dictates the approach adopted in ‘politics’ and the ensuing success or failure.
Even in a monolithic society, where a country’s population belongs to only one religion, there have been intense bloody struggles and the same story of dominance and subjugation.
In today’s political environment, a theocratic state is impossible to establish, sustain and maintain. It is better to let the people use their mind and their discretion about how to deal with the new developments – social and political in fast changing environment.
The religious scholars can contribute in the new milieu with their wisdom but as an individual without wielding the clout of religious authority. Most of them are not well posted in the complicated game of politics.