Instigator / Pro

Islam Does (Not) Encourage Authoritarianism


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Thank you for accepting my challenge @RationalMadman.

Mainstream Islam Does Not Encourage Political Authoritarianism (Pro)
Mainstream Islam Does Encourage Political Authoritarianism (Con)

Mainstream Islam: traditional mainstream Sunni Islam according to the traditional legal, theological & mystic Islamic schools of thought. Namely, the Four Madhhabs of law & the Ash'ari/Maturidi creed.
Encourage: to help or stimulate something to develop.
Authoritarianism: a system of government centered on the strict subjection of citizens to the authority of the state, at the expense of personal freedom.

Round 1: opening arguments.
Round 2-3: arguments & rebuttals.
Round 4: closing round, no new arguments.

Shared BOP.
Debate structure is to be observed.
Citations are to be quoted in the text of the debate.
Sources are to be reliable.
Translations (of original text) are to be adequate.
No forfeit.
No disrespect.
No kritiks.
No shotgun argumentation.

Best of luck.

Round 1

I Preface

Islam' & ‘Authoritarian’ originate from two distinct paradigms of thought; one traditional Islamic & the other modern Western. It is absurd to inject one in the other without proper framework. In contrast to the case with the latter, most here are unfamiliar with the former. Before I proceed with my opening argument, some background work is necessary.

II Introduction

II.1 Authoritarianism

It is evident that any real political system is predicated on a state, those under which are, by definition, subject to its authority by force. This is not our contention here. Rather, it is the special type of political system predicated on overexertion of authority to the determinant of personal freedom. Encouraging Authoritarianism is, hence, exerting greater authority at the expense of individual agency than expected –by western modern standards. I shall, henceforth, show that Islam, in fact, seeks to preserve & maximize human agency –at least in comparison to western modern standards. – It should also be noted that this debate is not about wether authoritarianism is bad. It might well be the best thing, that is irrelevant.

II.2 Islam

Islam is essentially the teachings of the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). ‘Sunni’ -mainstream- Islam deems prophetic only those teachings acquired through Isnad (chains of authority). That is: permission to teach, advise or judge inherited from one generation to the next all the way back to the source: the beloved Prophet (pbuh) himself.

The prophetic teachings are expressed in the Quran -the revelation, & Sunnah -the normative practices & directives of the beloved Prophet (pbuh) collected in Hadiths. The sum of Quran & Sunnah constitute the Islamic scriptures. These are addressed to the human being in all his 3 dimensions, namely:
Morality, teachings on right actions for the body. Later crystallizing in the ethical/legal/political Fiqh tradition (aka Islamic Law, Sharia Law…).
Rationality, teachings on right convictions/beliefs for the mind. Later crystallizing  in the theological/philosophical Kalam tradition (aka Islamic Theology, Islamic Philosophy…).
Spirituality, teachings on right intentions/emotions for the soul. Later crystallizing in the spiritual/mystical Tasawwuf tradition (aka Sufism, Islamic Mysticism).

II.3 God’s Will

To ascertain the importance of human agency in Islam, we must first understand its basis. The Islamic conception of human agency stems from the conception of God. According to the Quran, God is the transcendent, absolute, singular, necessary being. All things are entirely contingent on God’s Will, for God’s Will is absolute. The world, therefore, not contingent on human will.

The Quran affirms human will yet asserts its dependence on God’s Will: “you do not will except by the Will of Allah”. This relates to the very concept of ‘Islam’ (from the root 'aslama': to surrender, to prompt peace…). Islam is to surrender to & be at peace with God's Will. Human agency is not in the action independently from God, for all things (the world, human will, & human action) are, in truth, in submission to God’s Will. Human agency is in the volition to recognize or deny this truth, to be at peace with God’s Will or be in delusion otherwise.

To make sense of the above some background is necessary. According to the Quran, God created human souls with whom He established a covenant of Islam (Ahd) in the Thar realm. Then He brought them into life as cognitive beings to settle in the Earthly realm as delegates (Khalifa - agents acting on God’s behalf). The memory of that covenant is our innate state Fitrah manifested in the faculty of Reason (Aql) entrusted to us. This life, hence, a test to fulfill the covenant in preserving said trust (Amana) until the souls return to their Lord. In fact, ‘Religion’ in the Quran is ‘Deen’ from the root ‘dana’, meaning: to be indebted, to resign. Religion is in essence recognizing indebtedness to God. Hence, human will -or Reason- as the faculty which facilitates such recognition or otherwise denial.

II.4 Human Agency

The notion of human agency evokes other notions such as: action, reason, thought, choice, right, & liability. According to the Islamic Tradition (particularly Sunni):

Reason (Aql) is three kinds: necessary reason, demonstrative reason & preferential reason. Necessary reason is axiomatic knowledge; such that knowing a thing is itself, or knowing universals from particulars... Demonstrative reason is knowledge of what is, constructed from axiomatic knowledge; such as knowing the truth of a statement… Preferential reason is knowledge of what ought to be, derived from familiarity; such as knowing grammar rules, beauty standards, musical harmony, moral values...

Thought (Fikr) is the cognition of one thing in relation to another. It's two kinds: Reflection is when said relation is ascertained, Imagination is when it isn’t. That is, Reflection entails judgement or justification whereas Imagination does not. Delusion is when imagination is expressed in terms of reflection.

Choice (Ikhtiyar) is positive judgement followed by intent. When a subconscious thought (hajis) is recurrent (waswas), it imprints on our consciousness (khatir). That awareness evokes our rational reflection (fikra), which may turn into intent. The beloved Prophet (pbuh) mentioned that Man is not accountable for the first three (hajis, waswas, khatir), & may only be accountable for reflections when it comes to beliefs & choices when it comes to actions.

Intent (Qasd) is the cumulation of rational resolve & instinctive desire. The lack in resolve or in desire may weaken intent. In the Islamic Sunni Tradition human intentions do not cause actions, for actions are predetermined: “He created you and what you do”. Rather, intention meets action when there is ability. Ability being latent competence & circumstantial feasibility, both of which are beyond human agency.

Action (Fi'l), in general, is predicted on the presence of its causes & the absence of its impediments. A human action is further predicted on purposefinal cause. However, causes & impediments are outside factors beyond human power. There lies agency: purpose. The beloved Prophet (pbuh) said: “actions are but with intentions”, meaning: what counts in actions are the intentions, the purpose.

Right (Haq) is intrinsic to choice, for to chose is to discriminate, to recognize boundaries. Transgression is to violate boundaries. This Earthy realm -& all things- is God’s dominion, any exercise of human will therein is, therefore, transgressive except by God’s permission. As delegates on Earth by proxy, humans may act within God’s boundaries lest they transgress.

Liability (Taklif) is the state of being responsible & accountable for one’s choices within one’s rights. The justifiability of Liability rests on the autonomy of choice & the cognizance of rights. One must have the knowledge of what is right & the ability to opt for what is right to be liable for choosing right or otherwise. Accordingly, several prerequisites to Liability are mentioned in the Quran or by the beloved Prophet (pbuh) in regards to both intention -to be independent, & ability -to be attainable. Namely: Personhood (that), excluding other than the one making the choice: "no soul shall bear the burden of another". Sanity (aql), excluding the insane until they regain their mind or the confused until they discern. Consciousness (wa’i), excluding the unconscious until their regain their consciousness & the sleeping until they wake Maturity (bulugh), excluding the child until they grow. Awareness (‘ilm), excluding the ignorant until they know & the forgetting until they remember. Soundness (sihha), excluding the handicapped & those with chronic or special conditions beyond their competence. Autonomy (ikhtiyar), excluding the coerced & those under duress.

III.5 Sacred Rights

As mentioned priorly, in the Islamic paradigm, this life is a test realm for souls to maintain their covenant with their Lord until they return to Him. For that purpose, God set up boundaries in this Earthy realm such that souls have a chance to seek & find Him. Hence, the sacred rights of Sharia, the transgression against which is penalized:
Deen = religion or faith. ‘Deen’ literally means ‘way to resign to’ or ‘indebtedness to be paid’. This to preserve the covenant itself, thus enabling the soul the choice to maintain it. This sacred right is set to protect Truth, which is why coercion in faith & also apostasy are penalized. – Faith is predicated on Reason, without which agency is nonexistent.
Aql = reason, for only in preserving reason that a soul may find its memory of God. E.g. intoxication is penalized to preserve reason as it undermines our ability to make choices. – Reason is also predicted on Life. One must be living first to be able to reason.
Nafs = life & bodily integrity. ‘Nafs’ means ‘self’. That is, the self: body, mind & soul is sacred. Thus, taking life or causing injury is penalized in Sharia. – Life, likewise, is predicated on progeny, for the continuation of the individual requires the continuation of the species.
Nasl = progeny & family integrity. ‘Nasl’ means: progeny, lineage, procreation, family legacy… This is a sacred right, for only with continual & stable progeny that souls may get a chance to settle on Earth & find God. Hence, practices which sabotage family integrity such as adultery & sodomy are penalized. – The survival of the species as settlers on Earth is, therefore, predicated on property.
Mal = property or material wealth, for only in securing settlement on Earth does a soul have a chance in finding its purpose. Private ownership is a sacred right, thus practices such as theft & property damage are penalized in Sharia. – Material wealth, similarly, predicated on moral wealth.
Ird = honor or moral wealth. This, because social cohesion, communal trust & mutual respect are necessary to establish relationships & conduct transactions.

II.6 Islamic State

Accordingly, the Islamic state’s purpose is to preserve these sacred rights, as divine boundaries. To be able to characterize the Islamic state, we must first know what it is. State implies jurisdiction, allegiance, leadership, government…

Jurisdiction (Wilaya) is the area of permissibility, acting beyond which is prohibited. In Sharia, jurisdiction is seen in terms of justifiability (see chart); specifically in terms of dues one has towards others & dues others have towards oneself. These dues pertain to three types of relationships: Natural (intrinsic), Contractual (of mutual consent) & Conventional (of circumstance). Particularly, the relation state-subject is a contractual relation -of allegiance.

Allegiance (Bay’a) is a an oath from subject to ruler beholden to the boundaries of Sharia, in what is beneficial to the ruler & not harmful to the subject. According to the Sunni tradition, allegiance to the state is valid only from those who fulfill the following: Tathir – Influence, those with consequential influence in the nation such that their opinions have impact (officials, jurists, saints, chiefs, representatives, patriarchs, poets, scientists…); Man’a – Immunity, especially from the state, to ensure neutrality; & Hinka – Foresight, to have some degree of understanding of statecraft. – State legitimacy is contingent on the community's selection.

Leadership (Imamah) is the ultimate authority, who in Islam is none other than God & on His behalf the beloved Prophet (pbuh). In the Sunni tradition, the prophetic leadership is passed on to his Successors in the secular realm, who must be elected by the Muslim community. The ensuing system therefrom is known as the Caliphate (successorship), or the Islamic state; & his Inheritors in the religious realm, who must have Isnad (a prophetic chain of authority). The ensuing system therefrom is known as Mathahib (Sunni schools of thought). – The Islamic state can not legislate, for the sole true legislator is God, through His prophet (pbuh). Thus has no authority to take or limit rights & autonomy.

Government (Hukuma) is, according to Islamic political theory, a dominant institution which prevents injustice other than such as it commits itself; & ideally a delegated institution which maintains common good & upholds justice. To that effect, there are three kinds of government: Celestial, which preserves all the sacred rights affording souls security in both this life & the next, ergo the Islamic governmentEarthly, which preserves earthy rights (life & property…), thus affording souls security only in this life; & Infernal, which preserves no rights.

III Case

The duty of the Islamic state in preserving the sacred rights is referred to as Ismah - Inviolability (i.e. sanctity of religion, life, reason, progeny, property & honor). In practice, this means guaranteed state protection & due legal recourse. The beloved Prophet (pbuh) said: “whoever kills who has a covenant from Allah and His Messenger, then he has violated the covenant with Allah and His Messenger, so he shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise”. In Sharia, inviolability is contingent on hostility. All humans in peace with the Muslims are inviolable by divine decree, no matter their affiliation or location; hence categorized accordingly:

Abode of Peace is inclusive of the covenant of :
Faith (millah), for Muslims.
Protection (dhimmah), for non-Muslims citizens of an Islamic state.
Asylum (istiman), for non-Muslims temporary residents of an Islamic state.
Treaty (ahd), for non-Muslims in foreign territories in peace with Muslims.

Abode of War consists of:
Combatants (muharib), non-Muslims militarily fit free adult males in foreign territories at war with Muslims. These are non-inviolable.
Non-combatants (musalim), non-Muslims non-combatant women, children, elderly, slaves, disabled, insane, peasants, laborers, monks… semi-inviolable, for the Prophet (pbuh) said: "do not kill the women, the children, the elderly. Also the chronically ill, the blind, the monk, and the slave must not be killed, you must not kill a woman or a laborer”…
Prisoners of War (asir), non-Muslims captured by Muslims in battle before they convert. Also semi-inviolable. In this case, they have a right to be accommodated, exchanged, pardoned, released, ransomed, naturalized &/or emancipated.

Succinctly, Islam is in essence about the individual with God, where state plays a minor role in public security, of common good & justice. Individual agency is thus paramount & at the core of the Islamic paradigm. It is itself the divine gift that God decreed to be protected & set sacred boundaries to preserve it. I shall illustrate this fact with concrete examples relevant to the aforementioned sacred rights respectively:

Religion. In Islam, agency to believe & practice your beliefs is sacred: “there is no compulsion in religion”. It is prohibited in Sharia to compel others to act or prevent them from acting according to their religious directives, for that is coercion. This, in fact, also extends to attacking Islam if done as a religious duty. John of Damascus, one of the Fathers of the Eastern Orthodox Church, wrote theses denouncing the beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a false prophet & an antichrist, while working as an officer of the Caliphate court. In contrast to the western secular state, the Islamic state recognizes other sources of morality beside its own, ergo legal pluralism. Freedom of Religion in Islam goes beyond just freedom of conviction, it is truly maximal. In effect, the 1300 years of Islamic rule it took Christianity to fall 30 points in the Middle East, took only 30 years in France under secular rule. – Further, such legal pluralism makes the Islamic state a community-based rulership, such that all minorities are protected & represented in the government. The Ottoman Millet system is a good example, though this was standard in all classical Muslim states. Non-Muslim minorities then accorded maximal autonomy, in beliefs, practices, laws, independent courts & fiscal autonomy... As a matter of fact, After 8 centuries of Islamic rule in India & West Africa not even 1/7th of the population there are Muslim. This is also true for preservation of languages & cultures, Berber, Coptic, Aramaic, Persian...etc. This level of preservation is unheard of in the western melting pot, where languages & cultures die within a generation or two.

Reason. The sanctity of reason in Islam is evident. In fact, it is a requirement in the Sunni tradition to have discernment before faith lest it is invalid. Another manifestation of the autonomy of Reason in Islam is Freedom of Speech, of the truest kind. History is witness on how participation in ideas & debates from all sides was unconditional in the academic realm, & very often sponsored by these Islamic states themselves (like the Abbasids, Umayyads & the Ottomans). Contrast this to the strict & incessant exclusion of all non-secular/liberal/western worldviews in all Western academia, in favor of propaganda.

Life. Although this is a universally sacred right, it is only truly universal in Islam, for all human life regardless of origin is inviolable in Sharia, unless otherwise negated (by transgression). This is in contrast to secular western states in which non-national life is non-inviolable, as no western laws guarantee any protection to non-nationals. Under Islamic rule, non-Muslims are exempt from military participation, for they are not expected to sacrifice their life for causes not congruent with their faith, else murder. A state deciding what life is worth protecting & for what cause is truly the ultimate authoritarianism.

Progeny. In Sharia, all people can establish reproductive relations according to their beliefs. Indeed, Jews were not forbidden to marry their aunts & Zoroastrians their sisters even if that is considered incest in Sharia. Marriage is a consensual relation between a man & a woman. The state has no business whatsoever regulating or even legalizing the practice. In Sharia, parents also have a right to their children sans intrusion of the state or any subsequent abductions. Children have a divine right to their parents. Renouncing children in Islam is minor apostasy (i.e. barred from entering Heaven, albeit not punishable in this life). Thus, practices which damage family integrity are prohibited in Sharia & penalized when publicized.

Property. Private ownership is a scared right. The only things the beloved Prophet (pbuh) declared not eligible for ownership are: natural water (like rivers), fire (energy sources, like forests & oil), & sacred endowments (like the holy mosques). In effect, during the Crusades, the Muslim sultan Beybars wished to confiscate unverified property from owners without deeds to fund the war, but he could not get the Mufti Iman Nawawi to give him permission to do so, for he had no right to. Only God can revoke ownership in Islam, not even the beloved Prophet (pbuh) has the authority to do so. In fact, a tax payer in Islam has the right chose who & what gets his money among the eligible choices. Moreover, the Islamic state has no jurisdiction in private property. If two sodomites commit their act behind closed doors without public impact, it is not a crime in Sharia, albeit a sin in the eyes of God. 

IV Conclusion

I have shown consistently the paramountcy of human agency in Islam & its sacred nature & its prevalence in Sharia, such that the Islamic state is but an agent bound to preserve & maximize individual autonomy in choice, action, self, private ownership... Now to you Con.
I have had 2 weeks to think about this debate. The difficult part is actually not what to say but what not to say. You, as readers, do not want 20k characters per Round from each debater across 4 Rounds. I am going to lay out a case that explores the following:

  1. What (whether harsh or lenient) Authoritarianism is vs blind sadistic tyranny
  2. The fundamental hierarchical structure of Islam and why it's undeniably Authoritarian
  3. Why Islam is authoritarian and examples of it saving its sadism and aggression in particular for those who fail to obey it, instead of blindly applying it
  4. The idea of Haram vs Halal and why these inherently necessitate Authoritarian aspects to Islamic regimes

Authoritarianism vs Blind Sadistic Tyranny

Generally, the error that one accusing Islam of being Authoritarian makes is they juxtapose it to anarchy or pure freedom. This allowed the one saying Islam is not very authoritarian to point out particular chapters and verses where it says to be merciful and reasonable to those that obey it.

What I would like to explore is the other end of the spectrum. We must understand the difference between authoritarianism and blind ruthlessness and why Islam is authoritarian will become very clear very fast.

My opponent is likely to pick apart definitions relying on politics, even though my opponent didn't himself supply us with a definition. I think since this is religious and theological we need to go a bit deeper than any Islamic regime itself and look at Islam as a whole, therefore 'authoritarian' needs to have the more big-picture definition than the one applying specifically to governments.

First, we must define authoritarian as opposed to the standard political 'authoritarianism'.

  • favoring complete obedience or subjection to authority as opposed to individual freedom:authoritarian principles; authoritarian attitudes.
  • exercising complete or almost complete control over the will of another or of others:an authoritarian parent.

of, relating to, or favoring blind submission to authority

I did 'cherry pick' to avoid ones specifically about government. That is reasonable I find as we are discussing philosophy, not politics alone.

Now, let's understand that an authoritarian religion would operate with the ethos that those that submit to the authority of its leader would be shown mercy. It would also necessitate said submmission to be blind in nature.

In contrast, blind tyranny would be merciless to all, even if they submitted. I agree with Pro in a preemptive manner that Islam shows in many different places teachings that say to be merciful to those that have submitted to Allah. That is agreed by both sides.

Where the sides disagree is solely how Islam says to approach, treat and function with those that do not blindly submit to the authority of Allah is Islamic earthly/human authority figures.


The Fundamental Hierarchical Structure of Islam

First of all, what is 'Islam' as a word and concept?

The Arabic word ‘Islam’ means ‘submission to God’, and the Muslim is one who surrenders himself, or herself, unconditionally to God’s will, ‘as if he or she were a feather on the breath of God’. Muhammad (p.b.u.h.)*, who lived from 570–632, was the channel through which God’s revelation came to man.

  • The word “Islam” means “submission to the will of God.”

Already, this alone could really win me the debate. After all, this is inherently authoritarian to begin with. Nonetheless, I wish to explore this idea from Pro:

 Islam, in fact, seeks to preserve & maximize human agency
- Pro, Round 1

Is this really the case?

Allah has infinite agency within Islam and the Muslims are those submitting to his will. How does submitting work and within all Islamic regimes, Sunni or not, it would appear that there is consistently a restricting of agency for those submitting to Allah within it (which is everybody, as all Islamic regimes blackmail you either to become Muslim or to keep your mouth shut if not).

In any Islamic regime, whether the first ones ever with Muhammad and Khalid ibn al-Walid or later ones with Sheikhs and such, it appears to be like this:


Some may joke that in Islam animals actually have more agency than women and honestly, the Qur'an is indeed a bit vague on that. I am confused where Pro derives the idea of agency being important to Islam.

For example, look how Muhammad encourages his men to handle non-Muslim women when they invade:

The Apostle of Allah (may peace be upon him) sent a military expedition to Awtas on the occasion of the battle of Hunain. They met their enemy and fought with them. They defeated them and took them captives. Some of the Companions of the Apostle of Allah were reluctant to have intercourse with the female captives in the presence of their husbands who were unbelievers. So Allah, the Exalted, sent down the Qur’anic verse: (Sura 4:24) "And all married women (are forbidden) unto you save those (captives) whom your right hands possess." (Abu Dawud 2150, also Muslim 3433)
Regarding the issue of Aisha, Muhahhad took Aisha from her father by age 6 declaring the marriage “the will of Allah” and then raped her at the age of 9 and continued to rape her on an almost daily basis from that point forward. Muhammad was 56yo when he first raped Aisha.

“The Prophet wrote the marriage contract with `Aisha while she was six years old and consummated his marriage with her while she was nine years old and she remained with him for nine years , till his death. Bukhari 7; 62–88”

This is solely regarding rape. What I want understood here is that if you are an authority figure in Islam, the idea seems to be that if you want sex and marriage, it is okay regardless of what the victims may want. The only time to care about the victims is if they are adults and are Muslim.

On the other hand, it is almost definite that had anyone other than Muhammad or another authority figure in Islam been there with Aisha or raping those very same women he encourages and allows to be raped in Sura and Abu Dawud Hadiths as aforementioned, they'd be condemned by Muhammad as vile and committing Haram.

Yet, when Muhammad and his men do it, it is considered Halal irrefutably since Muhammad 'peace be upon him' is the chosen one it would seem and can teach no wrong.

The idea of agency in Islam and consent seem to only apply to those higher up any Islamic regime's food chain, regardless of regime or sect of Islam.

I would be happy to explore any regime in particular be it Sunni or not, when/if Pro challenges me on this.


How does Islam handle disbelievers and rebels?

Surely, it is very important to the debate to see if Islam teaches patience and gentle persuasion with disbelievers or to vigilantly condemn and brutally handle them.

This one, I am not every sure where to begin.

To begin with, did you know that any friend of a Christian or Jew is also an enemy of Islam?

Sahih International: O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you – then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people.

Feel free to explore the context, I am twisting absolutely nothing there.

Why that verse is so important is to realise just how leniently an 'enemy of Islam' is defined. Since a lot of verses restrict the brutality and mercilessness specifically for enemies and opponents of Islam, we need to realise it doesn't actually mean defense, it means actively condemning and identifying even friends of Jews and Christians as enemies.

8:9 [Remember] when you asked help of your Lord, and He answered you, “Indeed, I will reinforce you with a thousand from the angels, following one another.”
8:10 And Allah made it not but good tidings and so that your hearts would be assured thereby. And victory is not but from Allah . Indeed, Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
8:11 [Remember] when He overwhelmed you with drowsiness [giving] security from Him and sent down upon you from the sky, rain by which to purify you and remove from you the evil [suggestions] of Satan and to make steadfast your hearts and plant firmly thereby your feet.
8:12 [Remember] when your Lord inspired to the angels, “I am with you, so strengthen those who have believed. I will cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieved, so strike [them] upon the necks and strike from them every fingertip.”
8:13 That is because they opposed Allah and His Messenger. And whoever opposes Allah and His Messenger – indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.
8:14 “That [is yours], so taste it.” And indeed for the disbelievers is the punishment of the Fire.
8:15 O you who have believed, when you meet those who disbelieve advancing [for battle], do not turn to them your backs [in flight].
8:16 And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company, has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah , and his refuge is Hell – and wretched is the destination.
8:17 And you did not kill them, but it was Allah who killed them. And you threw not, [O Muhammad], when you threw, but it was Allah who threw that He might test the believers with a good test. Indeed, Allah is Hearing and Knowing.
8:18 That [is so], and [also] that Allah will weaken the plot of the disbelievers.
8:19 If you [disbelievers] seek the victory – the defeat has come to you. And if you desist [from hostilities], it is best for you; but if you return [to war], We will return, and never will you be availed by your [large] company at all, even if it should increase; and [that is] because Allah is with the believers.

The problem is that Pro will tell you this is only for enemies of Islam. The issue is that an 'enemy of Islam' is basically anybody who even remotely stands in the way of it, as evidenced by the fact Muhammad 'okays' the rape of non-Muslim women held captive even as well as that friends of Jews and Christians are automatically not allies (even if they are themselves cosnidered Muslim).

Sahih International: And do not say about those who are killed in the way of Allah , "They are dead." Rather, they are alive, but you perceive [it] not.

Killing/murder of humans is supposed to be haram yet it's okay if you 'slay' anybody in the way of Allah, in fact they're not really dead apparently.

The key aspect here is that consent and sanctity of life, let alone agency, are lowest for those who in any way at all can be deemed non-allies of Islam in fact, sanctity of life and value of their consent are nonexistent it would seem.


Haram vs Halal and why these inherently necessitate Authoritarian aspects to Islamic regimes.
HALAL: This is an Arabic term which means permissible or lawful in Islam. In reference to food, it is the Islamic dietary standard, as prescribed in the Shari’ah (Islamic Law).
HARAM: This is another Arabic term which means impermissible or unlawful in Islam.
You can literally not explain Haram without an authoritarian aspect of it. You cannot enforce Haram in your Islamic regime, without authoritarianism.
Round 2
Thanks Con for his opening round.

I Preface

Relevant definitions are already stated in the description of this debate. There is no merit to redefining the terminology again. The term ‘Authoritarianism’, indeed, refers to a type of government system. 

I do, however, agree with Con in that a 20k per round debate is a tedious affair. In effect, a good chunk of the 20k opening round was just introductory, as to help the readers attain better grasp of this unfamiliar paradigm. The next rounds, then, shouldn’t be as long.

II Rebuttals

Authoritarianism vs Blind Sadistic Tyranny

Con’s argument, if understood correctly, may be formulate as follows: 
Selective (as opposed to blind) sadistic tyranny is Authoritarianism
Islam teaches the exclusion of non-Muslims 
Thus, Islam enables selective sadistic tyranny
Therefore, Islam enables Authoritarianism

In regards to the first premise, the terminology is too ambiguous. I suppose Con is alluding to tyranny where pleasure is derived from inflicting pain on the people. Con must tell us exactly what he means, else anything he dislikes may be labeled as sadistic tyranny.

That said, ‘selective’ is not a qualifier for Authoritarianism, for any government system is selective by design. A modern nation state model government necessarily excludes non-nationals [i.e. rights & protection by the state are contingent on being a citizen or a resident, & do not extend to illegal immigrants or foreign nationals abroad for instance]. An ethno-state excludes non-natives…etc. Before we can proceed further, Con need show us first what type of selection/exclusion exactly pertains to authoritarianism & why. 

As to the second premise. Con falsely claims that rights & protection in Islam are contingent on submitting to Allah, i.e. being Muslim. As established in my opening round, this could not be further from the Truth. Inviolability in Sharia is contingent on transgression. Inviolability here meaning guaranteed state protection & due legal recourse in the sacred rights to: religion, life, reason, progeny, property & honor. – That is, all humans are inviolable unless they undermine themselves otherwise, by transgressing against said sacred rights (e.g. murder or attack…). Non-Muslims, be it citizens, residents or even foreigners abroad in peace (treaty) with the Islamic state are just as inviolable as Muslims in Sharia.

As to the third premise. Con makes hasty inferences without showing us how he made them. Even assuming Con false claims that the Islamic state is exclusive to Muslims, how do he go from that to his conclusion. Today, the average Western nation-state excludes +99% of humanity (i.e. not protected by the law of the state). In contrast, a parallel hypothetical Islamic state assuming this premise may only exclude 70% (about 30% of all people are Muslim). Con need to show us how this relates to authoritarianism or sadistic tyranny, in his words.

Hierarchical Structure of Islam

Con’s nonexistent argument here, like elsewhere, is merely a venture to vilify Islam using bad scary labels & a series of stupid anecdotes, rather than actual arguments & supporting evidence.

Con pretends agency in Islam equals submission to God, when this is fundamentally antithetical to Islamic teachings. God bestowed agency on humans so that they might *CHOSE* to submit to His Will, in realizing that all things are from God. This is the central doctrine of Islam. Con purports, further, that the Islamic state enables blackmailing people to become Muslims or shut-up otherwise, with no proof whatsoever. Evidently, one is ever incapable of yielding proofs for things which aren’t true. In fact, as shown before, the Islamic state guarantees maximum autonomy to non-Muslims, in their religious beliefs, practices, self-governing laws, self-managed communities & education, political representatives…etc. This is in stark contrast to the situation in a Western ‘non-authoritarian’ country where non of these rights except the first is guaranteed. 

Among the more caricatural falsehoods Con professes is this: ‘Allah>Leaders>Men>Women>Children>Animals’. Why should we believe this? We don’t know. Con has not let us into the inner workings of his beliefs, beyond the fact that this is overtly his wishful thinking. – In truth, anyone who has the faintest familiarity with Islam knows that the religion is wholly about God. Thus, the true hierarchy is more: God>everything else. To reiterate again, in regards to humans, the “hierarchy” relates to dues (obligations) one has towards others & dues others have towards oneself. Particularly, these dues pertain to three types of relationships: Natural (intrinsic, such as parent-child), Contractual (of mutual consent, such as husband-wife) & Conventional (of circumstance, such as neighbor-neighbor).

Battle of Hunayn

Con, here again, does not fail in projecting his own fantasies into everything Islam. Shouting “raaaape” does not magically make it so. Con need actually establish his claims lest they be dismissed. 

First, some background. For those unfamiliar, the beloved Prophet (pbuh) began his mission in Meccan (home to his tribe Quraysh), then after much persecution he & his followers migrate to Medina. The Meccans, nonetheless, continue to persecute Muslims & invade them; especially during the invasions of Badr & Uhud, & lastly the siege of The Trench. Eventually, the Muslims+allies & Meccans+allies sign a treaty, which the latter violate 2 years into the peace. This resulted in the retaliation of the beloved Prophet (pbuh) & henceforth the conquest of Mecca. – The Battle of Hunayn occurs shortly after the Muslims gain control of Mecca against the Hawazin coalition. Taking advantage of the recent fall of Meccan, Hawazin & allies gathered their armies & marched towards the conquered city. The Muslims lead by the beloved Prophet (pbuh) intercept them, so they meet in battle in Hunayn valley. Hence, the name.

Contrary to what Con wishes to convey, the Hadith he mentions emphatically illustrates the paramountcy of agency in Islam. The first giveaway in the story is that intercourse with pagans is categorically prohibited in Sharia "do not perform nikah (marriage/intercourse) with pagan men until they believe." (2:221) & punishable by death in this case (for married men). If the female captives were pagan, the men having intercourse with them would’ve been put to death. Rather, these female POWs opted to embrace Islam which allowed them to be intimate with the Muslim men they joined, when others instead chose ransom or freedom according to Sharia ["bind captives [of war] firmly, then release them later either by grace or by ransom –until the toils of war have ended." (47:4)"If any of your slaves wish to pay for their freedom, make a contract with them accordingly" (24:33)]. The allegations of rape thus voided. – The second giveaway is that the male captives who were husbands of these women remained pagan. Their marriage under Sharia thus null. Even the marriage of the beloved Prophet (pbuh)’s own daughter Zaynab to Abi al-As was nullified when her husband remained pagan. – The third giveaway is that POWs, evidently, forfeit all civil engagements, including marriage or employment contracts. Still, the beloved Prophet (pbuh) made guarantees against this. For instance, the marriage is maintained if husband & wife are captured together, the children & parents must not be separated...etc. 

That said, one can only appreciate the status of POWs in Islam when contrasted with Western standards. In fact, all the rights granted to POWs by the beloved Prophet (pbuh) have never existed in any Western law. – He commanded that POWs be -in this order:
Accommodated, to be lodged, fed, clothed & cared for, without harm. 
Exchanged, with Muslim POWs held by enemies.
Pardoned, for purpose of alliance with former enemies, which happens to be the fate of the overwhelming majority of POWs in Islam. Case in point, the captives of the aforementioned Battle of Hunayn who were all freed at the end when their leaders came to plead with the beloved Prophet (pbuh).
Released, under security conditions, such as pledge of non-hostility or in exchange for service to Muslims. POWs of Badr were released upon teaching 10 Muslims writing & reading. 
Ransomed, by settlement with the family or home nation of the prisoner. 
Naturalized, into Muslim society in a guardianship bondage under the care of a Muslim family.
Emancipated, from bondage through various ways: mandatory charity, atonement for sins, 1/8th Islamic Tax goes to freeing slaves, contract to buy back freedom, pregnancy... 

In Islam, if POWs are not exchanged or ransomed by their people, they are naturalized into Muslim society & *not* left astray or kept in captivity. This is in complete contrast to the practice in the ‘non-authoritarian’ West, of perpetual internment, enslavement, rape, torture or death, at the discretion of the captor. No Western law grants any rights whatsoever to POWs. Con must thus show his the former is authoritarian when the latter isn’t.


Con had to bring this up to stay consistent with his mission of verifying Islam while off-topic. No arguments were advanced & no relevant conclusions were made. Con must show us how any of this relates to the resolution. Regardless, I shall respond.

First, it is important to point out that the Prophet’s marriage with Aisha is perfectly legal in the US. The first "marriage" was a betrothal, i.e. a promise. The actual marriage happened when she was 10 (or 9). In effect, many US states have no minimum age of marriage (like California), or as low as 12 (Massachusetts). A century ago 10 years was the common age of consent (7 in Delaware), marital age was at best lower. Contrary to Con's imagination, the Prophet's own daughters also married between 8 & 11, Fatima at 15.

The Prophet (pbuh) marriage with Aisha was a blessed union based on love. Aisha was his best-friend's daughter, the marriage just brought the families closer. They both were devoutly committed to each-other, we can see that clearly in their love story. When asked "Who is the most beloved person to you?" He said, " Aisha", & she used to call him: “My beloved”. The Prophet (pbuh) also used to say, "the superiority of Aisha to other ladies is like the superiority of Tharid to other kinds of food.". Aisha reported “I would eat flesh from a bone, then hand it over to the Prophet and he would put his mouth where I had put my mouth: I would drink, then hand it over to him, and he would put his mouth where I drank.”, which shows the attachment they shared. This tradition is still reenacted in the Muslim world during marriage ceremonies. In his final sickness, he said to Aisha "My death is alleviated for I have seen you with me in Paradise”. He died on her lap & was buried in her room. This is an exemplary story of true love, not of sexual infatuation as Con falsely alleges.

As a matter of fact, this marriage had the most substantial legacy in Islam.  Under the tutelage of the Prophet (pbuh), Aisha will grow to be the most influential woman in Islamic history: a primary advisor for the Caliphs, a general, a grand Mufti of the Muslim empire & its most distinguished scholar. Urwah Ibn Zubar (founder of the Athari school of thought), one of her ~700 students said: “I have never witnessed someone as knowledgeable about the Quran, Inheritance arithmetics, what is lawful and what is unlawful, Jurisprudence, Medicine, Poetry, History of Arabs, or Genealogy as Aisha”. Az-Zuhri (the imperial savant of the Umayyad empire) said“If the knowledge of all women of this Ummah was accumulated, Aisha’s knowledge will outclass it”.

I would be happy to explore any regime in particular be it Sunni or not, when/if Pro challenges me on this.
Con has made a series of bare assertions. He is welcome to establish them first before I am inclined to challenge his vacuous claims.

Christian & Jewish allies

Con continues to make absurd claims. The beloved Prophet (pbuh) had Christian & Jewish allies, & Christian & Jewish wives. The obvious meaning of the verse if Con bothered to read & show context refers to allegiance with Christians against Muslims in battle, as the next few verses explicitly state. Also, in the Quran Allāh does not forbid you from those who do not fight you because of religion and do not expel you from your homes - from being righteous toward them and acting justly toward them. Indeed, Allāh loves those who act justly.” “Invite ˹all˺ to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord alone knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is ˹rightly˺ guided."

Chapter 8

This chapter is about the battle of Badr where Quraysh invaded Medina, yet Con still pretends “it doesn't actually mean defense”. Well, Badr is in the outskirts of Medina. I guess to Con defending your home city is actually invasion… Even more absurd is the fact that the verses Con quotes deny his claims: “and if you desist [from hostilities], it is best for you; but if you return [to war], We will return”. Implying that Muslims must fight when attacked, but the enemy ceases they must cease as well. In fact, this is explicitly stated in the same chapter: “If the enemy is inclined towards peace, make peace with them.”

Haram vs Halal

This one deserves no response. Con clearly fails to understand the very definition of Morality & Law, which wholly pertains to knowing what is lawful & what is unlawful…

Round 3
Con has forfeited. This warrants a loss as per the debate's rules.

Vote Pro.

This was boring anyway, all I had to do was repeat my Round 1 and this time expand on how they enforce Haram and are hierarchically structured in Sunni Islam since you wanted it limited to that.

In Sunni Islam, even the very beliefs of Islam are authoritarian and those in authority can dictate how to interpret it with underlings disallowed to question it.
Round 4
I Case Summary

Foundation of human agency in Islam

We have already explained Islam means surrender to God, in recognition that human will is subject to divine Will, & that human souls are accountable thus for their intentions in regards to divine Will. Particularly:
Reason (‘Aql) – God created human souls & bestowed them with this special gift. 
Covenant (‘Ahd) – Souls pledged to worship (recognize) only God.
Trust (Amana) – God begot souls into Earth whom He entrusted with preserving that pledge.
Earthly Realm (Dunya) – a trial ground for souls to find God & keep their pledge until they return back to God, to be judged accordingly.
Succession (Khilafa) – Humans, therefore, vicegerents on Earth acting in God’s dominion with His permission within the boundaries He set. 
Sacred Right (Haq) – boundaries, thus, set with the purpose of granting souls the chance to find God & keep His covenant.
Agency (Ikhtiyar) – Reason, hence, is the means by which humans chose to recognize God & maintain His boundaries or otherwise.
Liability (Taklif) – having agency ergo autonomy of choice, hence, entails being responsible & accountable for one’s choices. Reciprocally, being liable to one’s choices necessitates autonomy (i.e. free agency). Indeed, divine Judgment in Islam is contingent on Liability (Taklif).

Nature of agency in Islam

In the Islamic paradigm, rational faculty is what fundamentally distinguishes human beings. According to the Sunni Tradition, the individual’s choice is in essence rational reflection & rational resolve, to give purpose & meaning to the individual's action, in accordance with the individual’s competence & their circumstances. It follows, to be liable for one’s choices, is to have sufficient autonomy & ability to make choices.

Conditions of agency in Islam

Accordingly, God, through His beloved Prophet (pbuh), made several exemptions from liability to ensure sufficient freedom of choice, namely (as stated in the opening round) in cases of lack of: personhood, sanity, consciousness, maturity, awareness, soundness, & autonomy

Preservation of agency in Islam

To ensure souls have sufficient agency to find & recognize God –according to the Islamic maxim “Aman qabl Iman” ‘security before faith’– Sharia upholds 6 sacred rights the transgression of which is penalized. Namely: Religion (God’s covenant), which is predicated on Reason (for it is the medium by which the individual may know God), which is predicated on Life (or bodily integrity, for the individual need exist first), which is predicated on Progeny (or family integrity, for the species need to survive for the individual to exist), which is predicated on Property (material wealth, for the security & stability of society is necessary for the survival of the species), which is predicated on Honor (moral wealth, for social cohesion & mutual trust & respect is prerequisite to social stability). 

In effect, human spiritual integrity, rational integrity, bodily integrity, family integrity, personal integrity, & social integrity are all sacred in Islam, regardless of background, nationality, or location. This encompasses individual autonomy in its fullest: in body, mind, soul & beyond.

Enforcement of agency in Islam

From there, we have described what an Islamic government is & its purposes. In effect, according to the Sunni Tradition: the Islamic government is a dominant institution elected by a contract of allegiance between subject-ruler, delegated to maintain & preserve the sacred rights, acting as a successor (caliphate) to the beloved Prophet (pbuh) in the secular realm, & therefore, affording souls security in both this life & the next. The Islamic government, thus, has no authority in Sharia to restrict or limit individual rights or agency, only to protect it & maintain it.

Realization of agency in Islam

The real world significance of the above in the Islamic state is manifested in Ismah – Inviolability (i.e. sanctity of religion, life, reason, progeny, property & honor). In practice, this means active state protection & due legal recourse. All humans in Sharia are inviolable unless they themselves transgress against the sacred rights otherwise. Particularly, non-Muslims at peace with Muslims are inviolable -whether they be permanent or temporary residents within the Islamic state or without anywhere in the world; whereas non-Muslim at war with Muslims or their allies (enemy combatants) are not inviolable. Enemy non-combatants & enemy POWs thus neither at peace with Muslims nor a danger otherwise are semi-inviolable in Sharia. Not only is human agency paramount in Islam in scope, it also is in scale, for it extends to all humans of all backgrounds, national or not, Muslim or not –save transgressors. All can chose what to believe, practice their beliefs accordingly, own their own property by divine right & act therein with complete autonomy sans authority of the state.

I have brought ample evidence & numerous notable examples to illustrate the extent of which agency in Islam is maximal as it relates to human inviolably in the sacred rights. [refer to the last section of my opening round for details].

II Rebuttal

This was boring anyway, all I had to do was repeat my Round 1 and this time expand on how they enforce Haram and are hierarchically structured in Sunni Islam since you wanted it limited to that.

- Con has already forfeited, thus prompting a loss as per the rules. But he is welcome to produce the above to address my case or defend his. “I could’ve done it” is, evidently, not an argument.

In Sunni Islam, even the very beliefs of Islam are authoritarian and those in authority can dictate how to interpret it with underlings disallowed to question it.

- Bare assertion. Con need tell us how & why the above is true, & bring evidence to support it. At this point, Con brought zero evidence to support any of his claims whatsoever, only referential sources (for definitions & scriptural quotes). The only non-referential source he quotes is, in fact, non-supportive, as it denies his claim & supports my case instead: “The historical context for the above passages (Quran 8:12 and 8:15) is that it was revealed at the battle of Badr. A battle in which the disbelievers (Pagans) of Makkah travelled 100s of miles to kill Muslims in Madinah. The pagans had 1000 soldiers, while the Muslims all they could gather to fight back in defence, had only 300 soldiers.”

III Conclusion

Authoritarianism is a political system predicated on the overexertion of state authority at the expense of individual agency. I have shown that Islam maximizes human agency & autonomy, as a necessary prerequisite to liability & divine judgement, for how can one be accountable to God without being accorded full autonomy of choice. Indeed, human agency is a necessary foundation for souls to find God in this earthly realm, then chose Him or otherwise. Effectively, spiritual integrity, bodily integrity, rational integrity, personal integrity, family integrity & social integrity are all sacred rights in Sharia, i.e. total human autonomy. I have brought many examples from the Islamic tradition & History to illustrate this fact. Therefore, Islam & Authoritarianism do not concur. Con, on the other hand, has not even attempted to address anything I said in my opening round, while I have addressed & refuted every single one of his straw-man unsupported objections.

Vote Pro.