In Islam, Allah is the ultimate authority. In democracy, authority ultimately lies with the people. But does this mean that Islam is incompatible with democracy?
After all, it was Islamic scholarship that introduced ancient Greek conceptions of democracy to the feudal states of Europe.
Despite this, it has been suggested that the differences between Islam (especially when given political form) and the liberal democracies of the West are so great as to represent a 'clash of civilisations'.
But is this so? Is an approach in which society is ordered according the will of God compatible with one in which the will of the people reigns supreme?- Intelligence Squared Australia
Tanveer Ahmed is a psychiatry registrar and writer. He is a former television journalist who is a regular contributor to the major circulars, primarily The Sydney Morning Herald.
While Ahmed has varied interests (he is an appointee to the Advertising Standards Board, has been a national representative for the Australian Medical Association, has been chosen as one of 100 future leaders of Australia, and has even appeared as a co-host on a prime time game show), he is most well-known for his writings on Islamic affairs and multiculturalism.
Waleed Aly is both a lawyer and a journalist. He is a lecturer in the Global Terrorism Research Centre at Monash University.
Aly's book, People Like Us (Picador), was published last year. He speaks on issues concerning Australia's Muslim community and the relationship between Islam and western values.
Aly was one of forty Australians selected as a youth leadership delegate to the Future Summit in Melbourne in 2005.
Dr. Simon Longstaff is Executive Director of St. James Ethics Centre. Simon spent five years studying and working as a member of Magdalene College, Cambridge. Having won scholarships to study at Cambridge, he read for the degrees of Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy. He was inaugural President of The Australian Association for Professional and Applied Ethics and is a Director of a number of companies. He is a Fellow of the World Economic Forum and a member of the International Advisory Committee of the Foreign Policy Association, based in New York.
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum and a prize-winning columnist who writes for the New York Times Syndicate. His website, DanielPipes.org, is one of the most accessed internet sources of specialized information on the Middle East and Islam.
The Wall Street Journal calls Mr Pipes "an authoritative commentator on the Middle East." CBS Sunday Morning says he was "years ahead of the curve in identifying the threat of radical Islam."
For example, Pipes wrote in 1995, "Unnoticed by most Westerners, war has been unilaterally declared on Europe and the United States." The Boston Globe states that "If Pipes's admonitions had been heeded, there might never have been a 9/11."
Pipes received his AB (1971) and PhD (1978) in History from Harvard University and spent six years studying abroad, including three years in Egypt. Mr Pipes speaks French and reads Arabic and German. He has taught at the University of Chicago, Harvard University, the US Naval War College, and Pepperdine University.
Pipes also served in various capacities in the US Government, including two presidentially-appointed positions: vice chairman of the Fulbright Board of Foreign Scholarships and member of the board of the US Institute of Peace. He was director of the Foreign Policy Research Institute in 1986-93.
Amina Rasul is Director of the Philippine Council on Islam & Democracy.
Paul Sheehan is one of the most thought-provoking commentators in Australia today. A columnist for The Sydney Morning Herald, Sheehan is a prominent writer and has written on the larger debate about the gendered politics of cultural diversity in contemporary Australia.
Sheehan is one of the best-selling authors in Australia, with three best-selling books including, most recently, the number-one best-seller, Girls Like You.
Dr Samina Yasmeen is the Director of the Centre for Muslim States and Societies at the University of Western Australia, Perth. She teaches courses on Islam and international politics.
Yasmeen is a specialist in political and strategic developments in South Asia and the role of Islam in world politics. She has published articles on the position of Pakistani and Middle Eastern women, the role of Muslims in Australia, and Indo-Pakistan relations.
Dr. Yasmeen's current research focuses on the role of Islamic groups in Pakistan's foreign policy.
Amina Rasul, Director of the Philippine Council on Islam and Democracy, argues for the compatibility of Islam and democracy by citing the 800 million Muslims in the world who live successfully in democratic countries.