That season of jostling for space to express a view on voting has once again descended upon the population here in Britain and I (I should add quickly) am no exception to that. I too have a view and in the democratic spirit feel it my right to speak it. You on the other hand, dear reader, have the right to ‘turn the page’. I hope, however, that you will not; for I promise (on my part) to not bore you with a simple treatise on the virtues or pitfalls of voting. That, unfortunately, has become the ho-hum tune of much of the discourse on the issue. Instead, I shall like to forward a metaphor to short circuit the dichotomies so easily set up when it comes to the subject of voting.
Leaving aside the issues of whether or not such actions are permissible according to the shari’ah (something the writer is in no way qualified to comment upon), one cannot help but observe a certain level of naivety among some of those who believe that voting in parliamentary elections can make a difference to the situation of Muslims today.
In conclusion, when it comes to parliamentary elections, and in certain constituencies, voting has its benefits whereby MPs known for their anti-Muslim views can be punished by a block Muslim vote. However, in all but a minority of cases, Muslims should not believe that the MP they actually vote for will represent them in lieu of their party when it comes to issues which really matter.
When we begin to use this metaphor as a way of thinking about our social reality and social activism, what is immediately clear is that every jigsaws needs to have a denotive referent against which its different pieces are laid out. What is missing from the Muslim social activist scene is this important denotive referent. Whereas for all movements throughout history there has been a central gravitational point – take civil rights in the Civil Rights movement, female suffrage for the Suffragettes, or the abolishment of slavery for the Abolitionists – Muslim social activists lack this cohesive centre. The jigsaw in this regard helps us resolve some of our challenges in the present, but also annunciates one of the major challenges facing Muslim social activists in order to move into any kind of future. Nevertheless, in our search for social change the jigsaw is an indispensable fulcrum to thinking.
A PhD candidate at SOAS and English teacher.