Workshops on ISLAM & DEMOCRACY


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Workshops on ISLAM & DEMOCRACY

Introduction by Dr. Masmoudi

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Publication in Arabic








Saudi Arabia




The Center for the Study of Islam & Democracy (CSID) is proud to present to you this report on recent workshops and seminars organized, since 2004, in Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, Bahrain, Tunisia, Algeria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia.


These workshops highlight the effort that has been undertaken to promote debate and discussions between leading political and religious scholars and activists in those countries with the objective of building common goals, understandings, and objectives for democracy, good governance, rule of law, and accountability in their countries. CSID has been privileged to know these thought leaders, across the Arab and Muslim world, and to work with them for so many years, in order to fight corruption, illiteracy, poverty, and despair, and institute principles of justice, human rights, human dignity, tolerance and respect for every citizen and every human being. This is the core message of Islam, and indeed of all the prophets of God, and when Muslim societies deviate from these principles, as indeed they have in recent history, they stand to lose much in this life and they no longer represent the true message of Islam.


Building democratic institutions and traditions is not easy and will take time, patience, hard work, and perseverance. However, we were extremely happy and delighted to find hundreds, if not thousands, of scholars and leaders – across the Arab and Muslim world – who share this desire for freedom, democracy, and human dignity. Some of them believe in the necessity of full separation between religion and politics, while others believe in the necessity of building a modern state, which is democratic but inspired by Muslim values and traditions. The overwhelming majority rejects a theocratic state, ruled by religious leaders in the name of God, because they understand that in Islam, the ruler and the government is appointed by, and accountable to, the people and not God. They want a state that is guided by Islam’s higher moral values and principles, and not necessarily by shari’ah laws, as understood and implemented 1,400 years ago.


Reconciling Islam, and Muslim societies, with modernity and democracy is not easy, but is absolutely necessary for Muslim societies to develop, and solve the twin handicaps of corruption and oppression, which have especially crippled the Ummah in the last 50 years or more. It is in the interest of peace, harmony, and stability of the world, that the international community, and specifically the United States and the European Union, to stand behind these Arab and Muslim voices for reforms, freedom, and democracy. We have supported dictators for the past 50 years, and the results of that negative and failed policy are the devastation, despair, anger, and extremism that we see across the Arab and Muslim world. Let us try a different approach, based on the simple idea that human beings should be free to determine their own destiny and to express their own opinions, and that governments are established to serve the people, must be elected and held accountable to the people, while at the same time respecting the rights of the minorities.


We, at CSID, believe in these principles and are convinced that Muslims – everywhere


– want to live in freedom and democracy, and want to respect the rights of others as long as their own rights are respected. Men and women everywhere want the same thing: to be free of fear and persecution, to be respected, and to be given the same opportunities for success as everyone else.


We pledge ourselves to support these voices for reforms and democracy throughout the Arab and Muslim world, and we ask you to support us in this journey!


We have limited means, but a strong determination to build a better future for all of us. We hope we can count on your continued support.


Radwan A. Masmoudi



May 2006