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Why They Can’t Be Democratic
Abstract

Abstract:

This article makes a case of the basic distinction between Islam and Islamism and presents three central arguments: 1. through religious reforms and a rethinking of the Islamic doctrine, the cultural system of Islam can be put in harmony with democracy, 2. this (first) argument does not apply to Islamism (political Islam) for the simple reason that its end is an Islamic system of government. These two arguments lead to the third, namely that democracy is not simply a voting procedure, but also and above all a political culture of pluralism, individual human rights and civil society, all based on secular values. Unlike jihadist Islamists, institutional Islamists approve democracy, however, only in terms of balloting, not as a political culture of pluralism. Those Islamists who truly consent to democracy abandon the idea of a shari’a-based rule of God (the Hakimiyyat) and then are no longer Islamists, but democrats.