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Advice To British Muslims Regarding The Coming Elections

In the current climate, many brothers and sisters in Britain have become preoccupied with the issue of the coming elections and debating the question of whether Muslims are allowed to vote and which party is most deserving of our vote. In reply, I would like to present the following clarification and advice.

It is clearly evident to any Muslim who possesses a basic understanding of Islām that the greatest and most important aim of Islamic law is the deterrence of evil or the reduction of harm; the attainment of good or its increase. The establishment of a harmonious and successful way of life depends upon this principle. This is why Islamic law, that is, the law of Allāh, is neither contrary to the basic needs of humanity nor does it establish anything in contradiction to sound logic. Subsequently, it is an obligation upon every Muslim to achieve this aim, whether in part or in its totality. However, it is apparent that it is virtually impossible to attain this objective in its absolute sense in the majority of cases; yet, in spite of this, Muslims must endeavour to carry out the necessary means that enable them to achieve this objective.

Based on this, it is obligatory for those Muslims living under the shadow of secular law to take all the necessary steps and means to make the law of Allāh, the Creator and the One who sustains, supreme and manifest in all aspects of life. If they are unable to do so, then it becomes obligatory for them to strive to minimise the evil and maximise good. In democratic countries which are ruled by man-made law, candidates from the various parties compete to attain power. Some of these parties or candidates are working against the benefit of humanity (i.e. against the law of the Creator), while the policies of others are less detrimental. Therefore, it is obligatory on the Muslims to utilise all means to promote the candidate to be elected to the decision-making posts who will best ensure the welfare of the people according to Islām, the law of their Creator.

With regard to the upcoming elections in the UK, Muslims are recommended or even obliged to vote for the party who will be of most benefit on a national and international level, who will increase upon that which is good, or at the least, lessen the extent of the current evil prevalent in the world today. At the same time, the Muslims should exert the utmost effort to oppose those whose policies are against the welfare of humanity. Allāh, the Exalted, says:

“Help you one another in virtue, righteousness and piety; but do not help one another in sin and transgression.”[1]

The final Prophet, Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

“Whoever sees an evil, he should change it by his hands; if he could not do so, then he should change it by his tongue; if he could not do so, then he should do that by his heart, which is the least of faith.” [2]

In this ḥadīth (prophetic saying), the Prophet did not allow the Muslim to remain idle and incapacitated when witnessing injustices while s/he is able to change them.

Is it true that voting is an act of Kufr (disbelief)?

Those who consider such participation to be an act of kufr reach their conclusion based on two factors:

Firstly, the inability to distinguish between establishing a democratic system in which people vote for one of a number of systems, and voting to select the best individual amongst a number of candidates within an already-established system imposed upon them and which they are unable to change within the immediate future. There is no doubt that the first type is an act of kufr, as Allāh says:

“Legislation is for none but Allāh. He has commanded that you worship none but Him.”[3]

And He says:

“And whosoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed, such are the kāfirūn (disbelievers).”[4]

Secondly, not realising that voting for a candidate or party who rules according to secular law does not necessitate approval or acceptance for his method; this is a crucial point. It is clearly apparent that individuals are sometimes placed in a situation in which they are compelled to make decisions which may normally be deemed unacceptable or which may be far from their liking, due to the fact that it is the best available option open to them. For example, a sick person might be forced to do many things that he dislikes, such as taking particular kinds of medication or treatment, or even giving his consent for one of his limbs to be amputated – not because this is to his liking or acceptable to him, but because he simply does not have any other choice, or since it is by far the best alternative available for him at that time.

The sharīʿah allows, or even obliges, the starving person fearing death to eat un-slaughtered meat in order to preserve his life. No one can argue that he would customarily deem it acceptable or that he inclines towards that. For this reason, we caution our brothers and sisters from hastily passing judgements on such complicated issues based on the apparent situation, without possessing the deep understanding and powers of analysis that they require.

It is also pertinent at this point to remind my brothers and sisters here that we should participate in voting, believing that we are doing so in an attempt to minimise the evil, while at the same time maintaining that the best system is the sharīʿah, which is the law of Allāh.

Which party deserve our votes?

The most pressing question which remains outstanding is: which party deserves our support in order to attain the aforementioned objectives?

The answer to such a question requires a deep and meticulous understanding of the political arena. Consequently, I believe that individuals should avoid involving themselves in this process and instead should entrust this responsibility to the prominent Muslim organisations that have sufficient experience and ability to determine the issue according to the interests of the Muslims.

Meanwhile, such organisations should agree upon a certain policy with regards to voting. For example, they can agree to vote for one or more parties or individuals. It is upon the remainder of the Muslims therefore to accept and follow the decisions of these organisations. The basis for my statement is that:

  1. Unity among Muslims is obligatory. Among the many evidences for this is what Allāh says in the Qur’ān:

“And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allāh (i.e. this Qur’ān or the guidance of Allāh), and be not divided among yourselves …”[5]

And the statement of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)

“Adhere to the jamāʿah (community), and avoid division, for the Satan is closer to the lone individual and is far from a group. Whoever seeks the expanse of Paradise should stick to the jamāʿah.”[6]

This unity in light of the current situation is a cohesion based upon ‘strategic decision making’ in order to have the greatest impact for the community of the Muslims. Such a uniform opinion regarding the elections cannot be attained unless the Muslims follow the conclusions arrived at by the leading, experienced Muslim organisations, as described previously. This is the sole means to avoid disagreement, since the opinion of Muslims in this ijtihād matter differs widely and thus they will be in great opposition to one another. The impact and influence of our vote will be greatly diminished if we fail to vote as one voice, and instead each opts to follow our personal judgement.

  1. Voting itself is not obligatory or recommended according to Islamic law, rather the aim behind it is to achieve the greatest benefit for Muslims or avoiding evil. This cannot be achieved unless the Muslims agree on one voice or one strategy by which they can influence other parties. If this is missing, then they will have no weight and no such influence. So if this is the case, the whole objective in voting is lost and there is then no benefit in participating in voting.

Based on this, I advise all to forsake their individual opinions in favour of the opinion of the collective.

Final comments

Some Muslims might come to the conclusion that abstention from the electoral process is better for Islām and the Muslims. If this is what an individual believes, then he should not impose his opinion upon other Muslims by preventing them from voting or insisting that they abandon voting by arguing that it is an act of kufr. This would be tantamount to injustice and oppression.

Furthermore, Muslims should not turn their mosques into forums for political campaigns. This act may reach the level of prohibition if it leads to disagreement, dispute, and aggression. Allāh, the Exalted forbade the latter when it came to religious matters, so consider then the prohibition of this in anything other than religion. Allāh, the Exalted, said:

“And be not of al-Mushrikūn (disbelievers in the Oneness of Allāh, polytheists, idolaters, etc.); of those who split up their religion (i.e. who left the true Islamic Monotheism), and became sects.”[7]

Once the Muslims have agreed on a particular candidate or party, then they should vote for him without becoming preoccupied with this issue to the extent that they leave their primary obligation in the West as a result, and abandon calling people to Islām and clarifying the widespread misconceptions about the religion, for Allāh says,

“And who is better in speech than he who says: ‘My Lord is Allāh (believes in His Oneness),’ and then stands straight (acts upon His Order), and invites (men) to Allāh’s (Monotheism), and does righteous deeds, and says: ‘I am one of the Muslims.’”[8]

Muslims should not rely heavily upon elections and voting to expedite major changes, particularly with respect to foreign policy. The wider political game is beyond the direct influence of political parties or politicians. Muslims participate endeavouring to minimise the evil, at least in terms of national policy.

Note:
Source: www.islam21c.com

[1] Al-Qur’ān 5:3

[2] Saḥiḥ Muslim

[3] Al-Qur’ān 12:41

[4] Al-Qur’ān 5:44

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 3:103

[6] at-Tirmidhî

[7] Al-Qur’ān, 30: 31-32

[8] Al-Qur’ān, 41:33

About Shaikh (Dr) Haitham Al-Haddad

Dr. Haitham al-Haddad is a jurist and serves as a judge for the Islamic Council of Europe. He has studied the Islamic sciences for over 20 years under the tutelage of renowned scholars such as the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia as well as the retired Head of the Kingdom's Higher Judiciary Council. He specialises in many of the Islamic sciences and submitted his doctoral thesis on Islamic jurisprudence concerning Muslim minorities. Shaikh Haitham is highly respected having specialised knowledge in the field of fiqh, usul al-fiqh, maqasid al-shari'ah, ulum al-Qur’an, tafsir, aqidah, and fiqh al-hadith. He provides complex theories which address the role of Islamic jurisprudence within a western environment whilst also critically re-analysing the approach of Islamic jurists in forming legal rulings (ifta’) within a western socio-political context. He has many well known students most of whom are active in dawah and teaching in the West. The shaikh is an Islamic jurist (faqih) and as such is qualified to deliver verdicts as a judge under Islamic law, a role he undertakes at the Islamic Council of Europe as Islamic judge and treasurer. Dr Haitham al-Haddad also sits on various the boards of advisors for Islamic organisations, mainly in the United Kingdom but also around the world.

30 comments

  1. Sorry brothers, but this is the type of rubbish that people interpret from our religion that makes us fools and losers.

    Let us follow our religion but respect the society that we live in and the country that is protecting us. Allah is giving us sustenance in the form of a great country like Great Britain and we should respect the structures and brothers of other religion in GB as well.

    Those of us who feel so much that the way GB works is not in line with Islam, should just go to Syria and not bother the rest of the sane people here. For me the logic is clear – religion is a personal matter, only idiots mix it up with everything else. Fanaticism in islam or any other religion is a curse, and anyone getting in that direction should first be either taken to a mental hospital or sent out of the country to one of those useless places like ISIS.

  2. My ancestors fought and died for this country to remain under British control. Muslims should get the hell off this land !! Or we will drive you out!

    • WHAT THE F**K

      My Great Grandad was sunk in logistics bringing food across from france in WW2. I was at his funeral 12 years ago,

      GET THE F*** OUT OF UK!!!! YOU MADE THE LIST AUTHOR!!!!! IF THIS IS HOW YOU VOTE YOUR ENEMY NUMBER ONE, THIS IS AGAINST EVERYTHING BRITAIN NEARLY DIED FOR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      F****** MUSLIMS!

      • WHAT THE F**K

        he survived and subsequently passed on, but his life was nearly given to defend what matters in this country. Democracy.

        Collective voting is not democracy. Your suggesting taking the right away from individuals.

        Your a dictator just like your religion. I am sick of you. Be prepared for blood shed because this is asking for it.

      • MUSLIMS WERE STOLEN AND BROUGHT ALONG TO FIGHT ‘FOR’ BRITIAN .
        THIS IS NOW THEIR GREAT BRITIAN JUST AS MUCH AS ANYBODY ELSE WANTS TO LIVE HERE. IF YOU DONT, GO SOMEWHERE ELSE.

        YOU ARE DEMANDED TO APOLOGISE TO EACH AND EVERYONE ON THIS ARTICLE.

        HOW DARE YOU CLAIM SO IGNORANT OF YOURSELF. ASK YOUR GRANDAD WHO WERE ON THOSE ‘SLAVE’ SHIPS FROM BRITISH EAST INDIA COMPANY AND FROM VARIOUS PARTS OF AFRICA ASWELL.
        YOU RETARD LEARN SOME HISTORY!!

  3. Supporter of Jo Blogs

    Assalaamu Alaykum

    I agree with Jo Blogs comments. Shaykh Haithem is a reknown scholar with formal qualifications from authentic scholars. Most, if not all other comments are probably posted by non-scholars.
    I have a choice. Either I follow an authentic scholars interpretation of Qur’aan & Sunnah or interpret myself which is pure Dhalaalah.
    I choose the former. Unless I am qualified to give Fatwa I must follow the advice of authentic scholars.
    May Allaah protect all of us and guide us all to the true Deen (Aameen).

  4. What the real scholars have said
    The scholars of the Standing Committee for Issuing Fatwas were asked:

    Is it permissible to vote in elections and nominate people for them? Please note that our country is ruled according to something other than that which Allaah revealed?

    They replied:

    It is not permissible for a Muslim to nominate himself in the hope that he can become part of a system which rules according to something other than that which Allaah has revealed and operates according to something other than the sharee’ah of Islam. It is not permissible for a Muslim to vote for him or for anyone else who will work in that government, unless the one who nominates himself or those who vote for him hope that by getting involved in that they will be able to change the system to one that operates according to the sharee’ah of Islam, and they are using this as a means to overcome the system of government, provided that the one who nominates himself will not accept any position after being elected except one that does not go against Islamic sharee’ah. End quote.

    Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn Baaz, Shaykh ‘Abd al-Razzaaq ‘Afeefi, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Ghadyaan, Shaykh ‘Abd-Allaah ibn Qa’ood.

    Fataawa al-Lajnah al-Daa’imah (23/406, 407

  5. Everyone’s got something to say
    There is far too much trash comments to read and muslims without etiquettes. The internet has given people the chance to increase their knowledge and disseminate knowledge and information quickly but that doesnt mean that you can start questioning a sheikh’s integrity and whether ‘you have lost respect’ for him or not… This is what happens when you give people the opportunity to talk or give ‘their’ opinions, they just come out with trash. That is exactly what youtube is full of…trashy stuff and comments that make your stomach turn.

    Where does this take us? Disobedience of the ulemaa and shuyookh about whom the Prophet pbuh said ‘the ulema are the inheritors of the Prophets’ and it also leads us to disunity. As the sheikh said: Unity among Muslims is obligatory. Among the many evidences for this is what Allâh says in the Qur’ân:

    “And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allâh (i.e. this Qur’ân or the guidance of Allâh), and be not divided among yourselves …”[5]

  6. Jaafar El-Murad (Dr)

    A very well-reasoned and sensible article
    This thoughtful and well-reasoned article by Sheikh Haitham is like a breath of fresh air. Some of the comments that followed it were rather less so.

  7. May Allah bless sh. Haitham
    Jazakallah sheikh for your wise words. We are blessed to have you and really appreciate your fatwa. Us citizens should understand that if we are living and working in this country we have a voice to be heard and this is one way we can call out. Also the greatest baraka of our deen is difference in opinion. And fear Allah and do not disrespect a scholar of Islam as its the worst thing to do. May Allah guide us all.

  8. The Article Seems Clear…
    May Allah preserve the like of Sheikh Haitham Al-Haddad and increase him. Alot of people are arguing that we will be voting a law other than the law of Allah. Did you forget that you’re are also living a law other than the law of Allah. Think of it like this, the Kufaar are basically saying, “this is all the kufr we’re planning to do if you vote us, so go ahead and vote which ever one you like and even if you doin’t, then we’ll still rule by a law other than Allah.” We are given the chance to choose our oponent, someone who in the eyes of the Muslims, will be an easier defeat or at least someone who plans to do less harm to us.

    Personally, I think Shaykh Haitham was right in his judgement, but there is no point of voting if the jumhoor of muslims don’t agree on one party to vote.

    We beleive in Allah, and we want Islam to prevail, so if there is an easier path to do so, then let us take it. But it seems as though, those paths in the west are being baracaded by individuals.

    And Allah Knows Best.

  9. Vote George Galloway, R E S P E C T Party ;D

  10. stupid comments
    Its funny to read the ‘google sheikhs’ commenting on this article. When you guys have studied islamic law, finanace and sciences under great scholars and sheiookh of Madina then you comments will have value. But I guess for high school drop outs your only shiekh is your desires and google. Till you get you PHD in islamic sciences I will listen to you and give your words value, till then I will stick to Listening to Shiekh Haitham Al Hadad.

  11. many have missed the point the sheikh was making
    Mayor of London & London assembly elections are on 3rd of May, i have never voted before but seeing right wing politics, fascism, racism and islamophobia on the rise year after year i have no choice but to vote, even if any of the parties do not stand for what we want.

    Abstaining from voting will only mean that those who plan to eradicate Islam and Muslims from our society will have a better chance of winning.

    May Allah preserve the sheikh for clarifying the issue of voting.

  12. Many have totally missed the point the sheikh was making!
    Mayor of London & London assembly elections are on 3rd of May, i have never voted before but seeing right wing politics, fascism, racism and islamophobia on the rise year after year i have no choice but to vote, even if any of the parties do not stand for what we want.

    Abstaining from voting will only mean that those who plan to eradicate Islam and Muslims from our society will have a better chance of winning.

    May Allah preserve the sheikh for clarifying the issue of voting.

  13. Taghoot is something we are meant to reject. Those who rule and judge with other than what Allah revealed is a Taghoot.

    So if we are meant to reject the Taghoot then why are we voting for them or voting for a Taghoot wanabee? Isn’t this a contradiction?

    And what harm will befall us if we dont vote?

    About the bnp members being in power this only applies to local elections (not general) in some or few places in the UK.

    And this voting issue has caused division among Muslims. Some Muslims who say voting is shirk wouldn’t study under those who say you can vote. Look at the harm of saying you can vote.

    And when enjoining the right and forbidding the munkar we are meant to do it according to the shariah. Taking part in shirk system, supporting a person in becoming a Taghoot is this in line with the Shariah?

  14. Haitham al-Haddad – suitable to give a fatwa?
    Due to this fatwa, and propogating this idea through many talks around different masajid’s, I’ve since completely lost respect of Haitham al-Haddad.

    Just as Joseph Cohen (the famous one?) rightly said, I also take the view that no party is suitable to establish the law of Allah aza wajal, thus to spoil/ruin your vote and showing your disgust by ticking all the boxes.
    As I understand it, in the UK, this is also counted as showing that you don’t agree with the available parties/candidates.

    [url]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spoilt_vote[/url]

    As Fatima123 stated, how can anyone argue ‘lesser of two evils’ when no one has any idea of what will really happen once that candidate/party is elected, i.e. their hidden agenda’s and who’s really pulling the strings?
    You only have to look at the “Noble Peace prize winner” Obama to see what I mean – what ever happened to closing guantanamo?!

  15. How are you justifying the use of lesser of two evils? Surely that principle only applies when there is no other choice – but in elections you have a third choice, don’t vote!

  16. Jazakallah khair Shaikh for another informative discussion.
    An apathetic and complacent attitude on this matter is not doing anything for this ummah, rather it is helping those that don’t want the Muslims to vote. Even if we can lessen the evil by one degree, this should not be frowned upon or ignored. Voting is very key in many Muslim areas, this can be summed up by a recent text message…”If you are content with pro-Zionist Friends of Israel as yr MPs in Ilford, then don’t vote, if you don’t mind the BNP, who want to kick you & yr children out of this country, being elected in Barking then don’t vote, otherwise VOTE.”

  17. Ends doesnt justify the means
    Salaam, correct me if I am wrong, Islam you cannot attain good via bad i.e., ends doesnt justify the means. So I cannot kill all the people doing bad altho this may benefit us, but killing is haram. And the lesser of the two evils like the sheikh said doesnt that have to be a case of life and death? I dont think they’ll kill me if I dont vote for a secular democratic party. Recently a sheikh advised us to vote for Martin Linton I think thats he’s name, the sheikh said that he fought for Palestine, I urge people to look at his track record Please!!

  18. Voting is a waste of time, to change a society it requires us to adopt the mahaj of the sahabah through dawah, character, jihad and other methods were the way in which muslims became powerful not through participation with Kuffar. Where has our Walaa and Baraa gone. Muslims use such fatawa to join the democratic system themselves Alluhumuhtaan

  19. I’m going to make this brief. We are in a test. If Allah(SWT) wants Islam to be supreme then HE can say “be” and it is. When shaikh Haitham says be in THE jammah. Which jammah? The hadith means the jammah of the muslimeen. Ask yourself who are the jammah of the muslimeen, who is striving for it and made the most sacrifises for it? The sunnah is not to indulge in these weak positions of thought, but to support THE jammah around the world. We are told to start with our own muslim countries and then move onto the next and vise versa. Once we have established our base in the Muslim country, others could be invited to contribute with their skills. This is how it always was done, just look into the seerah. People should focus and try to make changes abroad in whatever way they can contribute and strive for the khilafah, support brothers who are striving for it. Can’t you see who and what is being attacked abroad or are you still sleeping? Support THE jammah, establish the khilafa and then make hijrah. When you vote for democracy, you are infact accepting their policies e.g. homosexuality etc. Not for me!!! WS.

  20. My opinion.
    I’m going to make this brief. We are in a test. If Allah(SWT) wants Islam to be supreme then HE can say “be” and it is. When shaikh Haitham says be in THE jammah. Which jammah? The hadith means the jammah of the muslimeen. Ask yourself who are the jammah of the muslimeen, who is striving for it and made the most sacrifises for it? The sunnah is not to indulge in these weak positions of thought, but to support THE jammah around the world. We are told to start with our own muslim countries and then move onto the next and vise versa. Once we have established our base in the Muslim country, others could be invited to contribute with their skills. This is how it always was done, just look into the seerah. People should focus and try to make changes abroad in whatever way they can contribute and strive for the khilafah, support brothers who are striving for it. Can’t you see who and what is being attacked abroad or are you still sleeping? Support THE jammah, establish the khilafa and then make hijrah. When you vote for democracy, you are infact accepting their policies e.g. homosexuality etc. Not for me!!! WS.

  21. Much needed article, but feels incomplete as unanswered questions remain
    Salam,

    The article does a great service in providing guidance in this very confusing and complex area.

    With the next general elections coming, it would be good to either write another article, or update this one with responses to some of the counter-arguments/questions raised in the comments above, in particular with regards to:

    1. The act of voting in this country means you have still aided and contributed to someone coming into the position of a ‘taghoot’ and legislating other than what Allah revealed, with or without your actual endorsement, regardless of the fact that another taghoot ruler would have been there anyway. Is this allowed?

    2. A list of some of the benefits acquired through engaging in the voting process and some of the harms which are lifted and kept away.

    3. How to consider Muslim MPs and councillors. Councillors of course deal with administrative laws so it is not so bad, but what about the MP who sits in parliament and makes laws alongside other lawmakers? Or have I got my understanding of parliament wrong (how does lawmaking and being an MP work exactly?)? Isn’t his mere presence in the lawmaking process an endorsement of the wider kufri system, or at the very least it is the absence of baraa’ah/disassociation from kufr?

    4. Finally, on that last point, how does one maintain disassociation from kufr and taghoot while at the same time indirectly doing the almost the opposite by engaging in it?

    I hope these clarifications can be provided soon, or a more detailed rehash of the article published, as this issue currently perplexes much of the youth especially, with differences causing rifts and confusions.

    Wassalaam

  22. Influncial Muslims can be the answer!
    Bism Allah A-rahman A-Rahim…

    In the absence of influncial islamic political parties in the UK, and with the way the electroal process is built to give dominancy to the main two parties “Labour Vs. Cons”, I think the best way going forward is to have influncial Muslim MPs within both parties.

    By doing this, which is not an easy job I guess, we can influnce the decision making inside the house of commons. I know that this will be a long way to go, but lobbying has proved to be the best way to infunce governments in the west with biggest examples here in the UK and in the US.

    I mean by influncial Muslim MPs, businessmen, proffesional, clerks who are commited practicing muslims.

    The change comes from within, as long as ikhlas and the following of kitab and sunna is our guidline. Wa Allah A’lam…

  23. mmm…
    I am a recent convert to Islam but am still very confused with the voting affair. It is widely accepted that man has no right to legislate, especially when there is the presence of a predicate, and thus are we not entrusting MP’s to fulfil the role of God? What is a bigger crime, not assisting the Jamaa’ah in achieving their aims or shirk?

    Possibly the author needs to clarify his argument as their seem to be contradictory statements as indicated by Abul-Layth. I feel that the argument presented is very weak and hardly conclusive. I look forward to Haitham’s reply.

  24. Voting for candidates from different parties for the benefit of local governance does not have nil impact on foreign policy. At the end of the day an extra MP – no matter which party – who votes to overturn for example the Extradition Treaty – is better than no MP. Even if the opposition to this treaty were to come from a coalition of Tories, Labour and Lib Dems. In theory, an opposition in the HoC to the War on Iraq could have come from any MP in the commons.

    Friends of Israel societies exist within all major parties; they come not only from Jews but from non-Jews who have some interest to gain from voting in Israel’s favour (maybe because of their constituency, or financial backing, etc.). Pro-Palestinian MPs are very few but are not limited to one party or other.

  25. Contradiction and confusion
    Bismi Allah, wa al-hamdu lillah, wa al-salatu wa al-salam ala Rasul Allah.

    The call in this article contains a couple of contradictions in setting out a viable agenda for meaningful Muslim participation in elections. The first is the purpose of voting at all. Having explained well the essential requirement of Muslims to undertake to enjoin goodness and forbid or lessen evil, the argument then becomes confused. With specific regard to utilising elections and voting in order to fulfil the aforementioned obligations, the purpose is, we are told, ‘to vote for the party who will be of most benefit on a national and international level.’ Later we are told, ‘Muslims should not rely heavily upon elections and voting to expedite major changes, particularly with respect to foreign policy. The wider political game is beyond the direct influence of political parties or politicians.’ So why are we voting? If change is not to be expected then voting is irrelevant, for if those who we vote for have no ability or will to change things positively, then whether we vote or not becomes pointless, nothing is gained or lost. Another reason need therefore be sought to encourage Muslims to vote if indeed voting is to be encouraged at all.

    Secondly, the article advocates presenting a block vote in order to make a significant impact on electoral outcomes, ‘Muslims agree on one voice or one strategy by which they can influence other parties. If this is missing, then they will have no weight and no such influence. So if this is the case, the whole objective in voting is lost and there is then no benefit in participating in voting.’ To achieve this, it then plumps for advising individuals to follow voting directives from organisations, Muslims ‘should entrust this responsibility to the prominent Muslim organisations that have sufficient experience and ability to determine the issue according to the interests of the Muslims.’ But in the same breath, those organisations are advised that whilst they should ‘agree upon a certain policy with regards to voting’, they can also ‘agree to vote for one or more parties or individuals.’ The problem then arises that (a) by voting en masse for a particular party in one area and a different one in another, there is no real chance of effect on the national outlook; the vote is split and thus defeats the purpose of block voting. If the information is correct that MAB advocate different parties in different areas, then this is ineffective on the national level and we have not achieved what the article calls for. On this model we can only hope to achieve some form of local change in representation in Parliament. This representative, if not a member of a larger collective with some sway, cannot effect significant change locally either, as policy decisions are from Parliament wherein s/he has little power.

    This model is flawed both internally as an argument, containing as it does contradiction, and by setting out a method that will not really achieve the aims the article sets out to address. Rethinking is required and a stiffer model thereafter presented. The course chosen should be a unified one across the regional and national landscape. It will thus require a combined strategy on the micro and macro level. It is relatively straightforward on the macro level: select a party most representative of Muslim needs (by which I mean the need to enjoin good and forbid and lessen evil) and encourage the Muslims to vote for this party in their area, detailing second choices only where there is no candidate for the first choice party. Locally, we could conceivably rely on council elections and those elections directly associated with local government, and this is perhaps where the real difficulties lay. Nevertheless, no one said enjoining good and forbidding and lessening evil is an easy path, so difficulties should not deter Muslims in working out the details and uncovering the relevant information to make knowledgeable, and thus valuable choices in the electoral process. Allah knows best.

    And from Allah is all help sought and He alone guides, wa al-hamdu lillahi rabbi al-alamin.

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