I believe that there is a difference between secularists who are anti-religion [anti-Islam], and secularists who seek to insure "freedom of religion" is the end goal of American foreign policy toward the Middle East. In that light, I am submitting two items; both historical in nature, to facilitate a discussion about Islam and democracy. Just as one need not be a Christian to understand and subscribe to Jeffersonian secularism, one needn’t be a Muslim to discuss Islam's potential compatibility with democracy.
Jeffersonian ideology, the root of separation of religion and state, is fully at odds, not with Islam but with Khomeinian ideology, an ideology that demands religion [Islam] be the state!
VIRGINIA STATUTE FOR RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Thomas Jefferson, 1786
Whereas Almighty God hath created the mind free; that all attempts to influence it by temporal punishments or burthens, or by civil incapacitations, tend only to beget habits of hypocrisy and meanness, and are a departure from the plan of the Holy author of our religion, who being Lord both of body and mind, yet chose not to propagate it by coercions on either, as it was in his Almighty power to do; that the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavouring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time; that to compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical; that even the forcing him to support this or that teacher of his own religious persuasion, is depriving him of the comfortable liberty of giving his contributions to the particular pastor, whose morals he would make his pattern, and whose powers he feels most persuasive to righteousness, and is withdrawing from the ministry those temporary rewards, which proceeding from an approbation of their personal conduct, are an additional incitement to earnest and unremitting labours for the instruction of mankind; that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry; that therefore the proscribing any citizen as unworthy the public confidence by laying upon him an incapacity of being called to offices of trust and emolument, unless he profess or renounce this or that religious opinion, is depriving him injuriously of those privileges and advantages to which in common with his fellow-citizens he has a natural right; that it tends only to corrupt the principles of that religion it is meant to encourage, by bribing with a monopoly of worldly honours and emoluments, those who will externally profess and conform to it; that though indeed these are criminal who do not withstand such temptation, yet neither are those innocent who lay the bait in their way; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion, and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency, is a dangerous fallacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own; that it is time enough for the rightful purposes of civil government, for its officers to interfere when principles break out into overt acts against peace and good order; and finally, that truth is great and will prevail if left to herself, that she is the proper and sufficient antagonist to error, and has nothing to fear from the conflict, unless by human interposition disarmed of her natural weapons, free argument and debate, errors ceasing to be dangerous when it is permitted freely to contradict them:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly, That no man shall be compelled to frequent or support any religious worship, place, or ministry whatsoever, nor shall be enforced, restrained, molested, or burthened in his body or goods, nor shall otherwise suffer on account of his religious opinions or belief; but that all men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their opinion in matters of religion, and that the same shall in no wise diminish enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.
And though we well know that this assembly elected by the people for the ordinary purposes of legislation only, have no power to restrain the acts of succeeding assemblies, constituted with powers equal to our own, and that therefore to declare this act to be irrevocable would be of no effect in law; yet we are free to declare, and do declare, that the rights hereby asserted are of the natural rights of mankind, and that if any act shall be hereafter passed to repeal the present, or to narrow its operation, such act shall be an infringement of natural right.
BOOK EXCERPT: The Iranian Revolution, Then and Now - Dariush Zahedi, 2000
The Intelligentsia, the Clerics, and the Bazaaris: Clerical Discontentment with the Islamic Republic
Most of Iran's grand ayatollahs are now dead. But in their lifetimes none of them referred to Khomeini as imam, a title that in Iran has been reserved for the twelve direct descendants of the Prophet Mohammad. Khomeini's notion of an omnipotent religio-political leader, who can, if the need arises, even order the violation of the Sharia,9 was rejected by eleven of the twelve grand ayatollahs living in 1981 (Montazeri excepted). Some of the grand ayatollahs, notably Abol Ghassem Khoi and Kazem Shariatmadari, directly opposed Khomeini, while others, such as Mohammad Reza Golpayeghani, Haj Hassan Ghomi, Mohammad Shirazi, and Najafi Mar'ashi, distanced themselves from the regime and refused to accept official posts (Roy, 1994, p. 173).
The schism between Iran's traditionalist clergy and Ayatollah Khomeini came to the fore shortly after the success of the revolution. The grand ayatollahs were unanimous in expressing disenchantment with the Assembly of Experts (packed with Khomeini's proteges), which had been convened to revise Iran's 1906 Constitution, when the assembly produced an entirely new draft modeled after Khomeini's velayat-e faqih concept. By far the most devastating denunciations against the new constitution emanated from the liberal Grand Ayatollah Shariatmadari, who favored the creation of "a pluralistic political system . . . where elected officials, not the ulama, would wield . . . power, and where the clergy would interfere in politics only when the state grossly violated the Sharia" (Abra-hamian, 1989, p. 45). Shariatmadari attacked the Constitution for being at odds with the Sharia and the notions of democracy and popular sovereignty. He also reiterated the view that members of the clergy should be above politics so that they can fulfill their essential duty of guarding Islam. Meanwhile, the conservative Grand Ayatollah Ghomi argued that Khomeini and his followers had "monopolized the mosques, [made] a mockery of Islam, and encouraged corruption".