The Tyranny of the Majority and its Remedies: An Islamic Overview

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Wan Naim Wan Mansor Ahmad Badri Abdullah

Abstract

In modern Western political discourse, the ‘tyranny of the majority’ has been widely discussed as an obstacle to viable democracy. Across the years, various measures and institutional mechanisms have been developed and introduced to prevent such tyranny. Meanwhile, Islamic legal thought—from legal maxims sanctioning majority interests to the concept of dhimmah— appears to prioritise the interests of the majority at the expense of the minority. This article provides an overview of key aspects from the ‘tyranny of the majority’ discourse before enriching the discussion with a comparative study of Islamic political thought, emphasises the dynamics of majorityminority relations. While the discourse on the tyranny of the majority may inform the Islamic legal tradition about the challenges of running a plural society, Islamic principles also offer a lot of potential resources, particularly in providing moral substance and a more complex discussion of the ethics of regulation. Finally, this article proposes a win-win solution that safeguards both the welfare of the majority and the minority, thus enhancing a sense of co-existence and cooperation in society.

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