Islam and Democracy | A Conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe

Islam and Democracy | A Conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe


COWEN: On Islam, if we look at Islamic countries
in the world today, we’ve all noticed in different ways — this is a generalization,
but it seems to me a true generalization — their ability to be stable democracies seems problematic,
at least right now. And I’m not just talking about the Middle East. If you look at places
like Bangladesh, Malaysia, other parts, they’re somewhat democratic, but they don’t seem
to mature into “normal democracies,” the way, say, South Korea and Taiwan have. And
of course much of the Middle East: they’re not close to being democracies. And why, at
the deepest level, you could explain — as a matter of intellect, theology, metaphysics — has
the doctrine of the religion ended up correlated with this result?
WOLPE: If I were wise, I would say that I’m neither an expert in Islam nor in politics.
And therefore, I would beg off this question, but I’m not going to. Because I think it
is incumbent, it is an intellectual necessity of the time, since I think there is no question
that jihadist Islam is right now as great a threat, I don’t want to say the greatest
— COWEN: OK, but not the extreme; I’m talking
about — WOLPE: Right, but I’m just saying. So there
is a necessity, I’m saying, to put some intellectual pressure on the question of why
it isn’t creating societies of healthier political climates.
I would say, if I had to pick one thing that is at the heart of Islam that is antidemocratic,
it is the concept that’s very deep — that is, in the very name of the religion — of
submission. Because a population that is trained essentially to submit is a population that
will create authoritarians. And so I think that the recalcitrants — when
you think about Israel, the founders of Israel, none of them came from democracies. They came
from Russia, from Eastern Europe; they came from the Levant; they didn’t know democracy,
and yet why did they create a democracy? Because they all argued with each other.
[laughter] WOLPE: Seriously, they all did! That’s like
my friend Joseph Epstein has a great line. He said, “Jews don’t listen. They wait.”
[laughter] WOLPE: And that idea, the disputatious culture
of the Talmud and so on, it’s good for democracy, and I think the culture of submission can
be corrosive to it.

7 thoughts on “Islam and Democracy | A Conversation with Rabbi David Wolpe

  1. The core of the islamic message is not blind submission as suggested, on the contrary, its to submit to no one besides the one true God.
    When you do that, you let go of all other submissions such as desires, idols or corrupt authorities.
    Hence the muslim declaration "There is no God but Allah".

    This is the same message declared by Abraham, Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Jesus and Mohammed, peace be upon them all.

    Any other submission to other than God, leads to downfall and sorrow.

    Nice interview nonetheless.

  2. We are usually experts in a little specialized field, and laymen in other areas of knowledge, so we must point out the rabbi's mistake in trying to make a point. Submission in Islam is "submission to the precepts of Islam", not submission to dictators/tyrants.

  3. Submission to the Creator, not the creation. There is no submission to tyrants or dictators. This man is an ignorant bigot, using clever sophistry to deceive people.

    P.S. He is also a hypocrite. What kind of Rabbi appeals to democracy? Were King David or Solomon "democrats"?!?

  4. The issue with Islam is simply the lack of separation of church and state. Muslims have wielded political power for much of their history, while Jews were largely governed by non jews hence their advocacy for secularism. If the state of Israel yielded and gave power to its orthodox rabbis, Israel would look more like Tehran than LA

  5. why human submit to a human, and they refuse to do it to their creator ? where is the logic with those who are refusing to submit to whom created them giving them life. Who comes first your god or your president or king ? choose well.

  6. Not mature? Is he joking? We just held the biggest single day election in the world here. Vote both president and legislators in 1 single day and not using some advance digital vote system. We use manual system. And these guys said we are immature democracy 😆😆. Come here we teach u about democracy and tolerance. We are divided in to hundred of tribes and more than 700 language but still we can stand as one nations for 73 years despite of many propaganda from outsider to tears us apart.

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