The modern democratic state is a type of state which came into existence in the 19th century largely as an effect of the French Revolution and the Industrial Revolution of the absolute nation-state of 16th and the 17th century. But the Islamic state came into existence in the 7th century as an effect of the greatest Revolution of the world which was not only political and economic but also social and ethical.
Islam revolutionized every aspect of human life. So, Islamic democracy in its connotation is wider than western democracy. It means not only political equality but also social equality. In Islamic society all are equal. There is no class-divisions or distinctions of birth and social position. All members of the society enjoy equal status and position. The only criterion of superiority in Islamic society is personal ability and character.
“O mankind! I created you out of a single pair of a male and a female. The most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is he who is the most righteous of you.”
The Holy Prophet said:
In Islam the concept of human brotherhood and equality is vital and basic. The lowest of the low must have the same rights as the highest of the high-the President of the Republic. The first effective endeavour of Islam to establish social equilibrium is its emphasis on equality.
“No one is superior to another except in point of faith and piety. All inen are descended from Adam and Adam was made of clay.”
The Holy Prophet said:
“All men are equal in their human rights”.
In Islamic society, everyone has got a right for equal opportunities of progress: the restricted scope for personal achievement is the hallmark of Islamic society. Islam not only emphasizes social equality but also has such attitude and activities as are likely to disturb social harmony. Democracy in capitalistic countries grants simply equal political rights. So, through manipulation of the non-restricted freedom, the capitalists make masses their wage-slave. It results in mockery and force. All the wealth and resources under a capitalistic democracy are concentrated in the hands of a few capitalists. They through their money-power turn the state into the servant of their interests as against the interests of the general masses. This dangerous possibility is not expected to occur in the Islamic state.
In a capitalistic society, money determines one’s place in society. This is against the spirit of Islam. In a truly Islamic society no man can lord over others merely on the strength of a swollen purse. Islam cut the very root of the possibility of economic exploitation by prohibiting vested interest, hoarding, profiteering, by imposing zakat and by declaring that all that is in the heaven and the earth belongs to God alone.
Islam ensures social justice and economic security for all by a comprehensive system of check and balances on the sources of income, the means of living and the avenues of expenditure. It thus acts as a preventive check on the capitalistic tendencies and evils. Islam also enunciates its scheme of economic freedom and security through its scheme of equitable distribution of wealth and resources. It declares the state ownership of all natural resources.
Right to private property is no doubt recognised by Islam, but it is hedged, round by salutary checks. Islam imposes heavy social responsibilities on the rich. There is a warning for serious punishment in store for those who abuse their riches to the detriment of society. It has declared that all authority belongs to Allah alone, but every man, being His representative –Khalifa, is entitled to exercise that authority. No nobility, no priest has any discriminating privilege. Thus political equality or ‘rule of law of capitalistic democracy is also fully secured in Islam.