Turkish President Abdullah Gul’s suggestion to the Muslim countries not to play religion-based politics might contain some grain of truth in the given circumstances of his country. But this is not equally true with Muslim countries, including those that have undergone change of guards as a result of mass uprising.
“If religion directly becomes a tool for politics, that would hurt religion a lot,” Gul told a Tunisian television channel on Mar 8. Earlier, in September last, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, advised Egyptians to have a secular constitution, only to be rejected by Ikhwan al-Muslimoon leaders. The Turkish leaders’ advice is based on their experience of typical political situation prevailing in Turkey, where religion – not to say of Islam – to army generals is like red rag to a bull, and where these men-in-khaki are every ready to topple the government if the executive or lawmakers refer to Islam. This is the natural corollary of banishing Islam from the land.
However, they would be very much right if they suggest that a system based on religion, and for that matter on Islam, should be all-inclusive, that there should be freedom of faith, and that there should be great prudence and political acumen in the implementation of policies. It is with this political acumen that the new Islamic parties in the Arab world are highlighting socio-economic programmes, human rights, good relation with Non-Muslim groups; but they have stated that Islam is their source of inspiration for all aspects, including law making.
And it remains a fact that Islam is not a religion in the strictest term of the word; it is the way of life taught to man by his Creator. It provides complete guidance for man in every walk of life, private and public, social and political, economic and religious. The glorious history of Islam is characterised with grand success in the field of politics as much as it is in other fields of life.
As for keeping politics from Islam, it is bound to bring chaos and anarchy in society, as is evident from the situation the world over. This is the danger that the great Muslim thinker and poet Allama Iqbal warned against, “Juda ho deen siyasat se to reh jaati hai changezi” (take religion away from politics and you have despotism), for religion is the source of all morality – individual and collective – justice and equality in society. So to keep Islam and all aspects of life together is the need of the hour.