HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF MUSLIMS the world over live in democracies of some shape or form, from Indonesia to Malaysia to Pakistan to Lebanon to Tunisia to Turkey. Tens of millions of Muslims live in — and participate in — Western democratic societies. The country that is on course to have the biggest Muslim population in the world in the next couple of decades is India, which also happens to be the world’s biggest democracy. Yet a narrative persists, particularly in the West, that Islam and democracy are incompatible. Islam is often associated with dictatorship, totalitarianism, and a lack of freedom, and many analysts and pundits claim that Muslims are philosophically opposed to the idea of democracy. On this week’s show, Mehdi Hasan is joined by the man expected to become Malaysia’s next prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim, and by Dalia Mogahed, director of research at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, to discuss Islam, Muslims, and democracy.
Anwar Ibrahim: We represent Islam the sense that is has to tolerant, liberal, plural, and even accept some of the values of the west.
Mehdi Hasan: I’m Mehdi Hasan. Welcome to Deconstructed.
It’s a never-ending debate. Why do so many Muslims live in undemocratic countries? How do you get more freedom in the Middle East? Does Islam have a problem with democracy? They’re age-old and often quite cliched questions. So, on today’s show, I want to do a bit of debunking and deconstructing, with the help of a very special and a very relevant guest.
AI: You have corrupt, oppressive, tyrannical states and they use the label Islam.
MH: That’s my guest today, the renowned Malaysian leader and former political prisoner Anwar Ibrahim, who is on course to become the country’s next democratically-elected prime minister. I’m also joined by Dalia Mogahed, the American Muslim writer, scholar and former White House adviser.