1Sahil B = ""From the time of the Prophet to the Rightly Guided Caliphs to the great empires and sultanates of the
Muslim world, there has never been a successful attempt to establish a monolithic interpretation of the
meaning and significance of Islamic beliefs and practices. Indeed, until the founding of the Islamic Republic
of Iran, no Islamic polity in the history of the world had ever been ruled by one individual’s reading of
scripture. Therefore, any notion of the Valayat-e Faqih, or “guardianship of the Jurist,” in an Islamic
democracy must remain solely that: guardianship. Not control.
This does not mean the religious authorities would have no influence on the state. Khomeini may have
had a point when he asserted that those who spend their lives pursuing religion are the most qualified to
interpret it. However, as with the Pope’s role in Rome, such influence can be only moral, not political. The
function of the clergy in an Islamic democracy is not to rule, but to preserve and, more important, to reflect
the morality of the state. Again, because it is not religion, but the interpretation of religion that arbitrates
morality, such interpretation must always be in accord with the consensus of the community.
Ultimately, an Islamic democracy must be concerned not with reconciling popular and divine
sovereignty, but with reconciling “people’s satisfaction with God’s approval,” to quote Abdolkarim Soroush.
And if ever there is a conflict between the two, it must be the interpretation of Islam that yields to the reality
of democracy, not the other way around. It has always been this way. From the very moment that God spoke
the first word of Revelation to Muhammad—“Recite!”—the story of Islam has been in a constant state of
evolution as it responds to the social, cultural, political, and temporal circumstances of those who are telling
it. Now it must evolve once more."-No god but God, Reza Aslan"