Is Democracy a Universal Phenomenon? Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s Contribution to a Contemporary Debate on Democracy
The article deals with the selected global phenomena of democracy as redefined at the end of the 20th century and the first decades of the 21st century, and focuses on Allama Muhammad Iqbal’s vision of a democratic state rooted in Islamic tradition. The author refers to Samuel Huntington’s concept of Democracy’s Third Wave and to the survey conducted by the Pew Research Center in the Middle East following the Arab Spring, which generally confirms the demands for democracy in the whole region. He also re-reads the work of Francis Fukuyama "The End of History" in the light of political and social transformations that have occurred in various places around the globe during the last 30 years and puts forward a thesis based on the concept of the "long duration" as proposed by the French Annales school of historical writing that there is no one universally approved model of democracy that could be implemented in every country. Nevertheless, the author makes a reference to Karl Popper’s minimum requirement of democracy, viz. the legal possibility to control and to remove the leaders from office without the need for a revolution. The idea of various models of democracy has its justification in the works of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, especially in Islam as an Ethical and Political Ideal and The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. His philosophical and ideological proposals are analysed not only in the historical context but also in the light of contemporary debates on the phenomenon of democracy. The author of the article concludes that Iqbal’s vision of a democratic state based on his interpretation of Islam is not bound by a given period of history but needs to be re-interpreted in accordance with the changing reality.