Home Quranet Chapter 13 How can we foster a democratic approach to others?
How can we foster a democratic approach to others?
Chapter 13

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلاَةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَـئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللّهُ إِنَّ اللّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ (سورة التوبة, آية 71)

The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise. (Surah 9, Verse 71)

During the local election campaign, the atmosphere is tense because politics infiltrate the school. Pupils from various families and hamoulas often argue as to the most suitable candidate for council head. In the last elections there were several cases of violence among pupils within the school. One of the worst incidents occurred in the ninth grade. Salim argued with classmates who were related to one of the candidates while he was related to another one. Salim claimed that his hamoula was smaller but that his candidate was better educated and that was what was important. The argument soon deteriorated into a shouting and cursing match. His classmates attacked him and beat him. He yelled with pain but there was no teacher in the vicinity. The other boys defaced his belongings, insulted him, told him he didn't understand a thing and warned him that if he mentioned his candidate again, he would be in trouble. Similar incidents occur during each election campaign. Parents support their warring children and encourage them to be violent, and the violence spreads outside the school.

Since the election date was approaching, the school principal decided to hang a large poster at the entrance to the school, quoting the verse: "The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil".

Explanation: there can be no doubt that the ability to be a positive participant in democratic elections is not self-evident and calls for suitable psychological preparation. The ability to argue in such a manner that each insists on his own views but respects the opinions of others requires guidance and practice. In the West as well, the democratic process evolved slowly and people had to be taught to combine assertiveness with empathy. Assertiveness enables the individual to have his say without fear but also without aggression. Empathy enables him or her to understand the viewpoint of the other without necessarily agreeing. These two emotional stances are vital for democracy. It is recommended, therefore, that each parent and each teacher teach children how to be assertive yet empathetic. For example, a teacher can raise various questions and organize debates where both sides present their views but listen to the other view and respect it. The Quran suggests this path and recommends that we treat one another with respect. People are permitted to express different views and are enjoined to defend one another's right to express personal opinions. It proposes that this be achieved through social cohesion whereby each participant feels it his obligation to defend the other.