UI – Part 93 – Separate Mosque and State
Is the greatest problem with Islam the insistence on Sharia Law. Islamic Law defends the unity of governance and the people, the union of Mosque and State. Is that too large an obstacle to overcome in achieving harmony with Muslims? Should Muslims take a new look, as they have done in Turkey, Morocco, and other Muslim dominated areas, at the separation of Mosque and State? Are Muslims compelled, even in the West, to be patient, seeking the opportunity to change the political landscape to that of a Theocracy – Mosque and State as a united front for Allah and Muhammad? Is that what is best for the people of Islam?
There are problems in Countries ruled by the hand holding the Quran high as a symbol of what justifies dominance for the controlling party, providing the assurance of obedience to the government while at the same time obedience to Allah. The absence of freedom is clear, the voice of the people suppressed. An example of this would be the inability for any one person to appear in the town square and shout proclamations against the governing entities, at least not for long. Such freedom of expression is not permitted in an Islamic Theocracy. The punishment – incarceration, suppression of statements, even death. Media is controlled, monitored, and fed statements. The Ideology of Islam becomes the sword used to cut-off the head of the body of dissent in the name of Allah.
Rulers in Islamic Theocracies, even in more secular areas where-in micro-Ummas are established as model Islamic Cities (governed by Sharia), are brutal, abusive, self-serving, and seldom chosen by a democratic process whereby the people actually choose. The Bible, on the other hand argues for a government chosen by the people, a government that is preferable.
All people are equal, created in His image, male and female, the image of God – (from Gen. 1:27). If all the same, then, what right does one person have to laud over another? To control another? Unless chosen collectively and fairly by the people to lead.
Abuse must be considered. Too often where there is not separation of powers, Mosque and State, there is abuse. Gaddafi, Mubarak, Ahmadinejad, Hussein, Selah, The Saudi Royal Family, and so on, are (or were) abusive at will. To ensure the equality of all is respected there is a need to gain consent, the vote, from the people. Elected by popular vote the humility of those governing is (somewhat) assured. Periodic elections help to insure a popular government, not one that makes of itself a ‘kingship.’ If having a secular government elected by the people is a positive, why would calling it a democratic process be negative. Inherent in the cause of abuse is the need for accountability of the leaders, the rulers, to prevent abuse of their power (this noted by Wayne Grudem, his book: Politics According to the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI).
God provides governments the power of life and death over its subjects. This is to maintain order, civility, not family control or the assurance of the self interests of the leaders and their pals. Leaders are to be “a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid…. It is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.” (Romans 13:4) This is distinct from imprisoning dissenters, or killing those who disagree with the government. The intent is to protect the populace from the evil of others that would steal, harm their families, kill one another for personal gain, and to impose civil laws for the benefit of all in society, not just one group, not just one religious entity. Governments are formed to oversee and provide order for the common good.
As to who should lead; that is the job of the people to decide the most suitable for their nation, their safety and their security. People do not seek a welfare state, simply one in which they can be free and make their own decisions, absent, however, from harm, either causing harm to others or being attacked themselves. Rulers must be careful not to decide the ‘good’ for their constituency based on their personal ideas. It is the will of the people not the will of the ruler that must be understood. No rigging of elections. No imprisonment for political differences. No preferences for the elected party, the party in power.
This is difficult, I know, and often neglected, even in America where the Democrats and Republicans have seldom represented their people well. Yes, they are elected, but the conditions and incentives for the elections have become tainted by the self-interests of support groups and the representatives themselves. They have catered to the welfare groups, all those entities that want for more, more than work for more. It is difficult too, in light of the conflict with public service unions in the USA whose pay and benefits are decided by either those that enjoy their vote or receive similar generous financial packages at the expense of the tax-payer. But as evidenced by the 2010 elections the voting public can effect change, and cause a new path to be taken – if the newly elected apply the promises made to garner the vote.
Governments work best with the consent of those who are governed.
The New Testament looks to the collective body of men, the ‘brethren’ to “select from among you…men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we may put in charge….” (Acts 6:3)
The Bible provides many examples of Kings that did not listen to the people, the result – a divided kingdom, oppression, confrontation, abuse and disputes. There were Judges, Kings, Pharaoh’s, and, to name a couple, Nebuchadnezzar and Herod the Great who exiled those they viewed as opposition. It was evident in Rome as well, under the ruler Nero.
From the U.S. Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.”
There is the issue of the Rule of Law. Simply – “no king, or president, or prime minister would have ‘unchecked’ power , none would be above the law. All would be subject to the law.
A quote from Wayne Gruden’s book (Politics According to the Bible), “Laws work best when they govern a people who have good moral character and moral convictions. If an entire society is corrupt, laws will only be able to restrain the most egregious examples of sin and will leave the rest untouched.”
How are the people of a nation corrupted for years by an autocracy to change. Having lived under a totalitarian government with its secret police, its hidden cameras, its camouflaged watch-dogs integrated into colleges and other public gathering locales to report on the subjects, where rampant cronyism instilled in the commercial business structure stilled free enterprise, observing hiring practices that overburden the public sector with wages earners as rewards for loyalty, with files on dissenters or suspected dissenters, where control of the media tells the people only what the government wants them to hear, and dominance of society using tactics disguised as welfare or wage increases to garner continued support, what was learned? How will they be ‘transformed.’
Can a moral and ethical society where the common good is now the center of political thought evolve in an area oppressed and suppressed for decades, having been taught, at least through observation and experience, only the form of government under which in reflection they survived?
To achieve the government that all people collectively would prefer it must be secular, where the rule of law applied, applies to everyone, religious or not, even-handedly. The government may be influenced by the ethical and moral standards that equally applied benefit all of society; that makes good sense, and it may come from a practical belief system that considers all. It is the common interest of everyone that must be heralded in the legislative bodies that enact laws. Civil Law must be the overriding legal structure, not Quranic Law, Islamic Law, Sharia Law or Biblical Law. The influences from the books of the religious entities, all, to be considered are those of the highest moral and ethical qualities of man, but with the thread of fair treatment to all pursuasions totally considered in creating the fabric of the society.
It cannot be a religious body of scholars, ulema, ministers, priests, or charismatic humanists or atheists that dictate laws based on their book of principles. Civil Law must be separate from the Book of any separate group of believers, worshippers, or dedicated servants to a supernatural master. As with Christians God may dictate one’s life and how they deal with each other, guided by what is to be understood to achieve eternal life with Him, but not how governments should form and protect everyone.
Ideologies can be screened to understand their intent of good or evil, but to the extent evil, even dominance, is prevalent, not serving the common good, it must be suppressed. One society for all does not mean one religion for all. If a religion encourages the elimination of those not of their persuasion, it is not in the interest of the common man and must be regarded for what it is, evil in its own right. A topic to be discussed in another blog is Patriotism. This becomes the focus in a non-theocratic governed nation, a secular nation, where the love of country and loyalty to country becomes the focus of society, joined, hand-in-hand for the common good and the love of history, culture and pluralism that repects everyone, where neighbors lo0k out for each other, and where the populace embraces their united front against invasion by others, including those within who wish to destroy the fabric that protects everyone in the same way.
God wants volunteers; those who hearts and minds open willingly and with a thirst for His glory, understanding the saving Grace of the Lord and being thankful. Those volunteers are encouraged to go about their daily lives, to be disciples for what they believe, doing so because they want to. They are not to go out and kill others if they do not believe in the same way. They are only to be an example of the life Christ led, and the extent to which they are filled with God’s Spirit. Christ was a humble man, and his life led was not that of a King in this world. He wanted to raise-up earthly rulers that would treat all people fairly.
As in Matthew 22:21 recognition of the separation of church and state, “Then tender to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” This is the distinction between spiritual responsibilities and political responsibilities. Pay taxes. Obey civil laws. Remain obedient to God as well. Give him worship, praise, service and thanks. Your life for God can be totally compatible with living in a secular society where all differences may exist, but it is the rights of everyone that are protected as well as respected.
Within your church or mosque you can gather to revere your God, to meet with those having a similar interest, but not to wage war against those not in accord with your religious beliefs. If you believe your spiritual responsibility is to eliminate those of other faiths, you are wrong and God is not the one commanding you. If your objective though is to eliminate the mistreatment of mankind from the actions of others, from wrongful acts, from deliberate forms of malice towards others, from sexual abuse or civil wrongs, or invasion from foreign entities, you can collectively work to change how your government operates – mindful always of the goal towards the ‘common good’. Allow a properly elected body enact, enforce and mediate the laws of the land.
May the Lord find an avenue where avenues have been covered by those opposing the freedoms and the equality of those Created by God. May churches, synagogues, mosques, other places of worship be constructed along the avenue where it is God that is honored, not hatred (enmity) or war against others promoted (in the name of Allah). May all interests exist in an atmosphere of freedom and safety in the same areas throughout the world. Just think how comfortable and nice travel would be. May Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iran, China, Oman, Egypt allow the structures for all faiths be built, repaired or improved and the doors of all faiths be opened. May all those who wish to congregate to honor God do so.
May governments, Lord be willing, represent all people, of all persuasions, evenly and with respect to those who are paying the bills, the tax-payers, and the governed. Let the religions of the world feed the poor, help the handicapped and the widows. If governments so choose, enable the religions of the world, even those of a secular nature, do more and better serve the needs of those they love.
Separate the mosque and the State. Insist on it. Campaign for it. It goes a long way towards avoiding abuse of power and abuse of those governed. Enable love and respect for all of God’s Children to be in abundance.
Grace and Peace,