CLARIFICATION – How to read this advice
Some well-wishers have alerted us to some slander and innuendo that may have been circulating concerning the intent of the author and this article. As such we would like to make some caveats crystal clear to avoid doubt or ambiguity for our sincere and respected readers:
- There is no “taqiyya”, hidden agenda or hidden messages in this article – the advice is to be taken simply at face value, as general advice to the Muslim community concerning Muslim politicians and, at the end, some specific advice concerning Humza Yousaf’s election.
- This is not some celebration or support of Humza Yousaf’s policies or some kind of excuse for anything he or any other politician does, let alone some “permission” to commit xyz sin for an alleged “maslaha” (benefit), or any such absurd accusation – it is a general advice on how to be mature when judging people and candidates for public positions, according to the Shari’a.
May Allah reward those who brought this to our attention and have the best interests of the community at heart. Your continued support is much appreciated and needed.
Scottish politician Humza Yousaf has been elected as the new leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), becoming the first Muslim to be formally elected as First Minister later today.  
Yousaf has thus become the first leader of a western country in modern times, prompting a range of reactions from jubilation to condemnation. How should Muslims respond?
Shaykh Dr. Haitham al-Haddad shares some guidance for Muslims on this occasion.
All praise is for Allah, and salutations and prayers are upon the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ)
Do not judge politicians like Imams
We need to develop a more mature public discourse around Muslim participation in public life, especially the murky but vital world of politics. Do not treat politicians as you would Imams, expecting moral leadership; but at the same time do not fall into the opposite extreme of writing someone off completely.
We should encourage our community to evaluate politicians from a macro-perspective, not a micro one. It is a natural tendency that when someone does something good, we celebrate it, and when someone does something bad, we condemn it.
However, judgements about people are not to be made like this. If someone does something good, they are not automatically a saint; and if they do something bad, they are not automatically a shaytān (devil).
Acknowledge the symbolic significance
We shouldn’t underestimate the symbolic significance of, especially young people, seeing Muslims in positions of power and influence. It is very good for their confidence and ambition not to feel that they are inferior or are unable to achieve something, let alone feeling that they are foreigners in someone else’s land.
Whilst we always tell our young people to feel happy and ambitious, at the same time we have to teach our community not to take politicians as role models in a comprehensive sense, especially if they may have some actions or statements that are contrary to Islam.
Prioritise policies over personalities
Political candidates should be judged primarily on their policies and suitability for a particular role, before their ethnic or religious background. A Muslim candidate pushing misguided or harmful policies does have rights of brotherhood in Islam, however is not deserving of a position if there is a non-Muslim whose policies and competence are better guided and more suitable.
There are many cases of Muslim individuals pushing anti-Islamic agendas, and non-Muslim individuals pushing agendas that benefit Islam and Muslims. This is why we urge our community to judge candidates holistically, based on their policies—both good and bad—before their identity labels.
It is important to stress here that this process of weighing candidates is necessarily an ijtihādi one, and as such, it is prohibited to make this the subject of condemnation and division among Muslims. We must display intellectual humility and not feel that our personal judgements weighing the pros and cons of any particular candidate are revelation from Allah!
Be more involved in wider society
In a time where fascism and xenophobia are on the rise in some countries around the world, it is important that we champion a competing idea for what it means to be British or European. Those that have been pushing anti-multiculturalism agendas must accept now that Muslims are part and parcel of the landscape of Europe, and are no longer foreigners.
Muslims must continue to stand up for their rights and values as minorities, and not be disheartened by the relative difficulty or opposition of competing ideologies or value systems. Islam came for real life situations, not theory. There is an important feature of the Shar’iah that states that if you cannot completely remove a harm, you have to work to minimise it. And if you cannot completely achieve a benefit, you have to work to maximise it as much as possible, whilst taking into account contextual factors and potential positive or negative outcomes.
For example, the Prophet (ﷺ) said to ʿĀʾishah (radiy Allāhu ʿanhā) about rebuilding the Kaʿbah,
“If your people were not new converts to faith, and I did not apprehend that their hearts would feel agitated at this, I would have definitely included (the area of) this wall (into the Kaʿbah) and would have brought the door to the level of the ground.” 
The road ahead for genuine Muslim participation in politics may have obstacles, but we must encourage those with the right skills and mindset towards influential positions so that we can carry out our obligations towards Allah as the best nation sent for mankind.
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm for Allah, witnesses in justice, and do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just; that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is Acquainted with what you do.” 
Finally, as for Humza Yousaf, we make dua for our brother that Allah guides and helps him to work for the betterment of society at large. If and when he errs—as is inevitable for any human being—we should advise him and hold him to account as we would do with others.
We advise him that although he is taking a leadership position according to a secular mandate to govern for all communities, he should not forget his own Islamic values and principles, for those are the treasures containing many answers to the key challenges of our time which all mankind is in desperate need of.
 Sahīh Muslim, Book 15, Hadith 453
 al-Qur’ān, 5:8
[Update 30 March – The first and second pieces of advice were swapped around for ease of understanding]
[Update 2 April – Clarification added at the top of the page, before the advice]
What if the only the reason they elected Hamza Yousaf was because of his deviation from Islam in his pronouncements as in saying the act of qawmu Lut (a.s.) is not a sin? If that is so then it would mean that this project is broadly motivated by sentiments of dislike and hatred for Islam and therefore deserves the criticisms it has received!
On the bright side, only in Islam, even a young child has the right to correct a most senior Imam when he makes a mistake while leading [the prayer] and thus Allah protects His Deen. We do not have a clergy who are above mistakes and criticisms. The Prophet sallallaahu alai wasallam said: «كُلُّ بَنِي آدَمَ خَطَّاءٌ وَخَيْرُ الْخَطَّائِينَ التَّوَّابُونَ» “All the children of Adam make mistakes, but the best of those who err are those who are given to repentance.” (Timidhi and Ibn Majah)
“Substance over symbolism” is what we need… not “symbolism over substance”
I love Shaykh Haitham for the sake of Allah SWT but I disagree with him on the “focus” of the article. As Shaikh Haitham said in this article, hafidhullah: “we have to teach our community not to take politicians as role models in a comprehensive sense, especially if they may have some actions or statements that are contrary to Islam.” I think Sh Haitham (and all of us) should draw this clarity for the youth in Scotland by investing our energy into a joint campaign across UK/Canada/USA to raise awareness about the importance of Islamic education. Who better to do this than our Imams? And we should help them. But these kind of clarifications I don’t think are valuable or practical. Please see the article called “Does representation equal empowerment?” on Abu Aaliyah or the Muslimah Diaries website.
1. I am disappointed to see that amid all the generic advice, the article has no relevance to Humza Yousaf’s specific scenario.
One simple question makes it clear: what specific benefits are Muslims getting from him being elected?
What are the policies of Humza Yousaf that benefit the Muslims? The answer is there are none that we know of. The harm is disproportionate. He was the strongest supporter of the LGBT+ agenda among the 3 candidates; the only supporter of the gender reform bill among the 3 candidates; announced commitment to the LGBT+ agenda right after being elected the leader of SNP; destruction of society; transgenders in women’s prisons (a double rapist in a women’s prison is one of the biggest scandals that led to Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation); possible castration of young children; promotion of animal-like sexual promiscuity in society; gays, lesbians, and transgenders been given the right to adopt children as families and raise them
2. Muslims can absolutely make this a subject of condemnation. In fact, they have a duty to! It is called
امر بالمعروف و نھی عن المنکر
LGBT+ being prohibited and the cause for the destruction of a past nation is not an “ijtihaadi” matter.
I respectfully disagree with the Sheikh, lets not forget why Nicola Sturgeon resigned, a male rapist went to a female prison….. And as a woman I find that horrendous and highly disturbing. It’s outrageous!!!
So another person, with a Muslim name, or not, is going to be part of that problem, if they share her views. We are witnessing very disturbing times. And I know the Sheikh is very keen for us, as Muslims, to be part of the process, governmental or otherwise. But at what price?
The fact he has a Muslim name, is problematic, the weak minded and disturbed individuals in our community, could see that as a turning point. But there is NO turning point, self gender identification will never be acceptable Islamically. It is problematic, without a doubt.
And Kufr isn’t restricted to idol worship…..
One issue is that unlike Kate Forbes who was open about not supporting homosexual privileges and disagreeing with Sturgeons laws eroding women’s rights and allowing self Id, this candidate seemed to have been supporting both of these things sadly.
Asalam Alaikum. Personally speaking, and purely as a lay person, I feel very proud to know he has been voted in, by people of all denominations. This is a great achievement. We have a Hindu PM, a Muslim Mayor in Mr S Khan and now a new Leader of the SNP Party. We need to be looking at the wider picture here, namely the fact that people of ethnic minorities, are making headway. As for his morals concerning his faith, this is for Allah alone to judge, as with all Muslims who find themselves in prominent positions. Lets take this as a big positive, and wish him, and others all the very best.
“Only Allah can judge” – As the Sheikh said, “If and when he errs—as is inevitable for any human being—we should advise him and hold him to account as we would do with others.”
The famous hadith from Umar R.A
“Abdullah ibn ‘Utbah reported: Umar ibn al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “Verily, people were judged by revelation in the time of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and the revelation has ceased. We only judge now what is manifested outwardly of your deeds. Whoever shows us good, we will trust him and bring him close. It is not for us to judge anything of his inner secrets. Allah will hold him accountable for his inner secrets. Whoever shows us evil, we will never trust him or believe him even if it is said his intentions are good.”
Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2641”