Popular Sovereignty, Islam, and Democracy (2003)*

Main Article Content

Glenn E. Perry



This article examines the idea that Islam’s rejection of popular
sovereignty makes it incompatible with democracy. I show
instead that sovereignty (“absolute despotic power,” popular or
otherwise) is a sterile, pedantic, abstruse, formalistic, and legalistic
concept, and that democracy should be seen as involving
“popular control” rather than “popular sovereignty.” Divine
sovereignty would be inconsistent with democracy only if that
meant unlike in Islam rule by persons claiming to be God or
His infallible representatives. A body of divine law that humans
cannot change would be incompatible with democracy only if it
were so comprehensive as to leave no room for political decisions.

*This article was first published in the American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 20, no. 3&4
(2003): 125-139

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25 Ibid., 139-40.
26 Ibid., 149.
27 Ibid., 219.
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29 Ibid., 269.
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