7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018

Democracy means better quality

Democracy is not just about going to the ballot box. It is not just having the right to vote or be elected, to determine a government by majority vote, to hear the voice of the opposition or criticise the government in the Press. Democracy is not limited merely to the protection of minority rights or to people living in freedom. Democracy is a concept based on all these foundations. Democratic countries requiring greater democracy is the result of people's need to grow.

We were not so much aware of that in Turkey. Like everyone, we had expectations, but we were unable to properly see that this was a deficiency in our lives. Until the Gezi Park protests. Democratic protests that began with environmental concerns turned into a list of demands from the government. In brief, what the young people on the streets wanted was - more democracy!

We saw young people who

- Want quality

- Want greater liberty

- Reject all forms of extremism

- Expect love and respect

- Want to make their voices heard

- Attach importance to environmentalism

- Attach importance to the status quo

- Stand up for national and spiritual values

- Oppose vandalism and anarchy

- Oppose racists, people who perpetrate coups and terrorists

- Quickly become alert to provocateurs

- Are joyful, intelligent and have a sense of humour

- Use jokes appropriately and intelligently

- And have no compunctions about expressing their demands

An important demand emerged from Turkish youth; they wanted modernity. Greater modernity!

Turkey is a country that has long been governed democratically. Essentially, it adopted Europe as a role model. Although fundamentalism is not that influential in the country, it is hard to deny that radical agents do not exist; of course there are. Therefore, although there is one quality section of society, there is also a serious lack of quality in another part of the population. This is also a serious problem in Arab countries moving towards democracy. Countries such as Iran, Malaysia and Indonesia have the same problem. All these countries have a very important point in common: that they are Muslim. The root of the problem is the extremism that people have been trying to attribute to Islam for many years! The world of the extremists has neither quality or greater meaning. It is gray. It contains no art, painting, music, joy, aesthetics, science or cleanliness. Democracy also has no place in that lack of quality.

The problem facing Muslim countries is that people live by fundamentalism in one way or another in some places. They exist there even if society does not want that lack of quality and their lack of quality damages the entire Islamic community. It is therefore important that a properly defined ministry of quality be established, especially in Muslim countries, and for people in general to be educated in line with that superior aesthetic conception. People need to be told that democracy and freedom of ideas are great beauties that lie at the heart of Islam. A person who can think freely will decide freely, easily find the truth, free his mind from external pressures and be able to easily distinguish right from wrong. God says in the Quran that, "...Those who listen well to what is said and follow the best of it,..." (Surat az-Zumar, 18), describing Muslims who listen to all opinions in an environment where there can be free discussion but who also distinguish the best and finest of these and act on them. The secret to quality therefore lies in having as much freedom as possible, ideas being able to be freely discussed and in being able to respect everyone's opinions.

Modernity is joy, respect, love and enlightened faces. Modernity is the use of aesthetics in clothing, works of art, building and every part of daily life. Modernity requires moral virtues, tolerance, forgiveness, loyalty and patience: These are all characteristics of our faith. Muslims are always worthy of and ready for this quality life. Therefore, the real education needed for modernity means showing that fundamentalism has no place in Islam.

Allah created art and aesthetics as a beauty of paradise. As Muslims, we must like what Allah likes and be people who bring quality and beauty to the world. In that event, the regeneration, well-being, peace and happiness that Islamic countries are awaiting will come about. Fundamentalism, rage and aggression will ultimately disappear, to be replaced by a fine world of people who desire love. In this way, we can reverse the scourges known as fanaticism and Islamophobia.

click on image to view the digital edition