Friday, 23 April 2010

Response (Debate) - UK Election 2010 - To Vote or Not to Vote

This is my response to Yusuf Patel’s response to my earlier article on voting in the UK. Yusuf Patel is a member of HT. His response is in red and mine is in blue.


As the general election approaches in the UK, so does the debate on the issue of voting amongst the Muslim community, which primarily revolves around the question of - is it haram (unlawful under Islamic law) or halal (permitted) to vote? The opinion is largely divided into two opposing camps of, for and against voting. In Islamic law, different opinions (Ikhtilaf) can exist on a particular issue; this is inevitable when the textual evidences are not precise on the matter. Each faction will argue in favour of their adopted opinion as the strongest, and view other opinions as weak, rather than invalid.

Therefore, on this issue voting, do the opposing factions accept there is legitimate difference of opinion? The pro-voting camp in general tends to accept there is a legitimate difference of opinion, whereas the anti-voting factions do not, they consider the prohibition as categorical. Groups like Hizb-ut-Tahrir (HT) are particularly vocal on promoting this viewpoint in the UK and in other Western countries where there is a significant Muslim population.

This seem strange given that HT has already stated their sole objective is to establish the Caliphate in the Muslim world; therefore, it is difficult to see the connection between voting in the UK election, and their sacred ‘method’ of bringing about change in the distant Muslim countries. Why meddle in the internal politics of UK, if the country is outside your radar?

(Yusuf) - This is because the aims of HTB are wider than directly calling for khilafah. The future support for Khilafah is premised on a community that lives by Islam in word and deed and sees her natural affinity to the Islamic ummah and her global struggle. Voting is seen as an impediment both in terms of compliance to the hulm shar’I as well as a means of effectively integrating the Muslim community and cutting her link to the global ummah and her struggle. If this is understood, any doubts about the contradiction between the two should be assuaged.

Let us leave aside the issue of Hukm Shar’I (Islamic Ruling) which is addressed later. You seem to imply that by voting in the UK election, the Muslims will not be able to support the Khilafah (when it comes into existence) – as it will turn them effectively into lesser Muslims (maybe even non-Muslims), as they will integrate (maybe you mean assimilate) and be removed from the rest of the Muslim world in this age of instant information. Do you seriously ‘think’ that? If I recall, similar forecast was made about marching with the non-Muslims against the Iraq war. I did not see the Muslims becoming members of communist/socialist party in droves. Your party members were desperately trying to give credence to their isolationist stance as the rest of the Muslim community held together and marched. So, eventually, all the HT activists also turned up to the march in large numbers, adding to the multi-cultural atmosphere! If I recall, some people thought HTB had organized the march.

Furthermore, you are making assumptions upon assumptions. Will the Khilafah come in our life time? Will the support of the UK Muslims be vital? If so, what can they deliver?

This sort of prediction also shows that you have little regard for the Muslim community; they are not that naive as you think. On the flip side, this reflects your arrogance. Trust me they do know the ‘reality’ as well.


Their slogan is simple - it is haram to participate in the political system, and voting is an example of that. Even after I had left the party, I used to subscribe to this view, but now I am of the opinion that there is more than one legitimate Islamic viewpoint on this matter. Moreover, the permissibility to vote in a non-Islamic country is the stronger viewpoint, and the following points will argue this.

a) You rule by Islam, but we live by Democracy!

The central argument against voting is based on the premise that Islam forbids the believers (Muslims) to legislate, this is the sole right of creator, numerous Quranic verses and Hadiths clearly supports that position. Whereas in a democracy, the people are sovereign, they are represented by the elected MPs in the Parliament who make the laws on their behalf. Thus, they argue Muslims cannot participate in the legislative process directly as MPs or indirectly by voting for any candidate, thereby endorsing a non-Islamic system.

However, this is a simplistic viewpoint as it overlooks the fundamental difference between a Muslim society and a non-Muslim society. The textual evidences obliging the Muslims to rule by Islam is addressing the believers collectively, where they have power and authority. This has to be the case rationally, because to implement the laws, one has to have the ability to do that in the first place.

Therefore, to apply the verses, HT should lead by example and try to acquire power in the UK, or migrate to a Muslim country where it is more practical to do that. But, HT members will do neither! Moreover, HT has specifically stated many times that they are not seeking to establish an Islamic government in the UK to apply those evidences. If you are not willing to do that, then how can you demand from others to do this here? This is an inconsistent position.

The reality of the Muslims is, they are willingly living in a Western democracy – and those calling for Sharia rules in distant lands are continuing to live by democracy in the West, their words do not match their deeds.

(Yusuf) There is a lack of clarity here, which I would welcome some clarification on:

The texts related to sovereignty belonging to Allah alone are general and not specific to a place or time, whatever the reality it is therefore forbidden for man to legislate or to allow another to this on your behalf, as in the form of a wakaala contract. If you are prohibited from doing something, by the same token you cannot delegate someone to do so on your behalf.

Therefore where an individual is concerned, the texts oblige them to refer to the hukm shar’ii and not to engage in contracts that involve haram.

Can you therefore clarify why it is necessary to draw up a distinction between a Muslim and a non-Muslim country? What specifies the text to specific actions or specific places?

Can you also clarify the final paragraph in this section. What words do not match up to their deeds?

Firstly, it is only forbidden for Muslims to legislate, for non-Muslims the Sharia laws are not applicable. Secondly, I never denied the generality of the text; I was referring to application of the text and the conditions for it. The issue of acquiring power to implement the Islamic Rule is self-evident.

By voting you are not authorizing the MPs to legislate – that system already exist and you are trying to function as best as you can within it. If you don’t vote, the process of someone legislating on your behalf will still take place. You authorize this legislative process not by voting but by your PRESENCE and OBIEDIANCE to the system. As I said, every single HT member is an excellent democratic citizen who is peaceful, law-abiding, and tax-paying – all are making valuable contribution to the democratic system in UK. This you cannot deny.

The distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim country stems from common sense, and also in the classical law, thus you have Dar-ul-Islam and Darl-ul-Harb etc. Your party also makes this distinction as only Muslim countries are suitable for the Caliphate, the more extreme HT members says only the Arab world is suitable!

As for the words not matching the deeds, is because if they were serious about Sharia Laws, they would migrate to the Muslim world which is also demanded by their adoption of only Muslim countries suitable for the Caliphate. I elaborated on this later in the article and I quote –

“If HT members are so eager to implement Sharia laws, they should have all migrated to Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power in the early years. The argument that they did not want to implement Islam fully is a poor excuse, they did what was in their ability, if you wanted to go the extra mile, and then logically you should have migrated there and offered full support to achieve that. At least you would have had some experience. The truth is nobody wanted to trade for the streets of London, Sydney, New York, Toronto, for the muddy streets of Kabul!”


b) Voting is haram, but what about the application of non-Islamic laws?

Following on from the above argument of the obligation to rule by the divine laws implies that the anti-Voting groups should only resort to the application of non-Islamic laws out of necessity or duress. Yet, they are now seeking to overturn a ban1 imposed in Germany by going to the German courts and seek judgement from non-Islamic (Kufr) laws. This is far from a life and death situation, it does not even constitute duress or hardship. The boycott imposed on the Prophet and his companions created very harsh conditions, yet, they did not seek judgment in the tribal courts of the pagan Arabs.

(Yusuf) As far as I am aware the basis for the permissibility of going to a non-Islamic court is that you can if the subject matter of the judgment is a right that the shariah has allowed. If a judgment is being sought on a right that the shariah does not recognise, then it would be prohibited to seek judgment of the courts of kufr. Therefore it’s the subject matter not the court.

Going to a court to provide a judgment on a right that the shariah recognises is one thing, but asking an MP/government minister/parliament to legislate a new law is a completely different thing.

Do you disagree there is a difference?

When you seek your rights by going to the non-Islamic courts, it means you are subjecting yourself to non-Islamic laws. This is an admission that Sharia laws permits in certain situation like ours to seek judgment from non-Islamic laws. If you consent to the point that you can go apply non-Islamic laws for your rights; then surely you can also participate to ensure that non-Islamic courts are favorable to you, thus to do that you need to have a say or try to influence in the formulation of the laws. This is what you are doing for example by lobbying the MPs and trying to prevent the ban on HT. This is a form of legislation. Thus, my position is consistent.

In contrast, you are saying we keep away from voting – but we should try enjoy its fruits. I am telling you that if you want to enjoy the fruits you better look after the tree too!


After lecturing the Muslims in the UK with the verses like “Judge by what Allah has revealed” they are now seeking judgement from non-Islamic courts. A vote may or may not lead to someone being elected, then it may or may not led to the person legislating, but actively seeking remedy by non-Islamic laws for a non-essential issue is a more severe violation of the principle of not judging by what Allah has revealed.

(Yusuf) Please refer to the above statements, the point is that the action should be judged its own merits devoid of the emotiveness a particular reality may evoke.

That is not the point I am making – look above.


c) The hype of participation

The main reason given behind the prohibition to vote in a non-Islamic society is participating and endorsing a man made system. HT has missed something fundamental. The vote does not endorse the system, which already exists and will continue to exist regardless of the number of participants in the general election. Therefore, the political system is independent of the number of people participating in voting.

(Yusuf) If this logic were to be followed, could someone conceivably argue that banks already exist, if we give or take interest they will still exist, therefore participation in riba should be acceptable. You may say, rightly that riba has been specifically prohibited, but so has legislating by other than what Allah has revealed.

No, that is not what I am saying. Look above in bold. Let me put it this way, voting is not endorsement of the system. That’s all I am saying above. Where as your (HT) argument has been ONLY voting is endorsement but obeying the laws, paying taxes etc are all excused.


Moreover, we are all participants by default as law-abiding citizens. By abstaining from voting, one also contributes to the election result.

(Yusuf) The point is the action of voting itself, not the decision not to vote which does not contribute to the result as far as the hukm shar’ii is concerned, but it is accepted that not voting may affect the result from the reality.

Again this is point about reality, not Hukm Shar’I. I am saying it is flawed to say by not voting we are not participating. You are a participant by your action of being here as a law abiding and tax-paying citizen.


Likewise, to say we do not vote because we do not wish to be represented by the MPs is also flawed, as every citizen is represented by their local MP. Since we are all participant by default, we can remain idle and be represented, or we play an active role and try to steer the ship in a certain direction as best as we can. HT is opposed to this, unless it is for their benefit, thus they lobbied MPs not to impose a ban on the party.

(Yusuf) Again, the issue is not about whether there is an MP in my constituency after the election, the reality dictates that an MP has to be elected to every constituency. It is permissible to visit an MP to discuss with them, just as it is permitted to speak to a minister. What is prohibited is to ask an MP or any other official to introduce or vote for a law, as this fundamentally contradicts the prohibition of law making for other than Allah.

Each action should be judged against the hukm shar’I and not the reality. Surely it is in the interests of HTB to call on Muslims to vote against the Tories, and to do so themselves, as a Tory government has promised to ban HT in their manifesto. Therefore if benefit were the criteria, then logically what HTB are calling for is inimical to its benefit.

How do you reconcile this in view of your claim?

Why the need to see an MP if he is a manifestation of the ultimate sin of legislating man-made laws? You have been campaigning precisely against such people. You are obviously seeking some benefit here. When you visit the MP you are trying to persuade him or her to see your point of view. That is as good as asking to act (eventually legislate) in a certain way. You would not need to do all this if you put up your own candidate there in the first place. Of course you can’t do that; you would rather work upside down, have someone hostile and convince them to your viewpoint.

As for why you are not calling on the Muslims to vote in a particular way is the fundamental issue we are discussing. You have not crossed that line as yet. If you called on the Muslims to vote we would not be discussing here. So your question is not valid.

But, why restrict participation to voting? On that premise, other forms of participation that makes greater contribution to the system should also be wrong. We know, real participation and endorsement of the system is done through giving obedience, and paying the taxes, which is the fuel for the system. It would collapse if the masses refused to pay tax or gave mass disobedience; in contrast, even if the entire country did not vote, it would have negligible impact on the system in place.

HT members may not vote, but for sure every single member is an excellent law abiding and taxpaying ‘democratic’ citizen, who are actively making valuable contribution to the functioning of the political system in the UK at the highest level.

To answer this inconsistency, they say paying tax is a matter of coercion. Nobody is literally forced to pay tax, one has the choice not to work, and survive comfortably on government benefit. Similarly, they can also disobey the law and go to prison, which is the best position in line with their argument of not supporting or endorsing the system, as they will make the least contribution inside a prison. Furthermore, the system will be supporting them and their families putting greater burden on it.

(Yusuf) There is no ikhtilaaf that working for ones rizq is an obligation. If taxes are therefore taken from this, how can I be culpable Islamically. The whole issue should not be boiled down to supporting or not supporting the system, this is a false premise. The issue is about the hukm shar’I of an action in its own right.

Up till now you attempted to answer, but now you are just screaming. Firstly you can still earn your rizq inside the prison, they will support you adequately. As long as you can meet your needs that should be enough. Secondly the argument of supporting or endorsing the system is put forward by your fellow members. Thirdly you failed to address the point about restricting participation. Fourthly do you deny that HT members are excellent democratic citizen who are making good contribution towards British Democracy?

That, still leaves the fundamental question of how the Muslims should engage politically living in a predominantly non-Muslim society. To support their isolationist stance, HT cites the early life of the Prophet in Mecca and the Muslims who sought temporary refuge in Abyssinia.

d) Mecca or Abyssinia

It is perplexing why HT mentions Mecca when they are at odds with the evidence. The Prophet (saw) was not living as a tax paying and law-abiding citizen in Mecca like the typical HT member, he was on a mission to establish a new order. This is in complete contrast to HT position in the UK who has gone to lengths to show how they are not a threat to the UK system, as their mission is only for the distant Muslims countries.

So, how is Mecca relevant to the issue of election or participation? They cite the example of the Prophet refusing the offer of power made by the Pagan Arabs as evidence of non-participation. However, they conveniently leave out the fact that there was a condition attached to the offer made to the Prophet. In contrast, there is no condition attached to voting or participating in the political process here.

(Yusuf) The condition is the acceptance of giving agency to someone who will rule by other than what Allah revealed. Back to the hukm Shar’I.

The above has no relevance to my point. Moreover you evade the point why your members are going around misquoting the incident of when the power was offer to the Prophet in Makkah.

As for Abyssinia, the Muslims were there only as temporary refugee and there is no evidence that shows they were given specific instructions about how they should conduct themselves. One has to prove such instructions were divine commandments.

There is no clear evidence, which shows how Muslims should engage with non-Muslims living under their authority. This is the reason why there is difference of opinion on this subject.

(Yusuf) Are you arguing that the texts are silent about this? What about the texts related to da’wah, treatment of neighbours, speaking the truth, treatment with kindness, fulfilling ones oaths, sticking to the hukm shar’I etc. The point is all of these texts are universal and demand application as individuals, with or without the khilafah.

I am not talking about engaging your neighbors as individuals; I mean how collectively we should deal with the non-Muslim authority.


e) Who are the benefit seekers?

For the Muslims in the UK, which includes HT, the reality is, they are living a relatively comfortable life under the authority of non-Muslims. Most of us are honest enough to recognise our weakness, and admit that we are here because of economic reasons. So nobody is in a position lecture others about benefit. It is part of human nature to seek benefit.

(Yusuf) Is it permissible to live here?

Yes, but why should you live here when the Muslim countries are ONLY suitable for the Caliphate? So why are you here supporting a democracy that spawns other democracies in the world? The reason why the majority of Muslims are here is because of benefit. So nobody should be lecturing others about benefit.

Is it incumbent on all Muslims to refer to the hukm Shar’I?

Strange question out of the blue – Yes it is. And?

Is it one of the acts of goodness to enjoin the ma’ruf and forbid the munkar?

Yes it is – again what has this got to do with my points here?

Benefit is acceptable as a reality construct as long as it does not contradict the hukm shar’I and each of us will be accountable for our deeds.

Yes, and I never implied otherwise.

Even if you are born here, you can migrate. Nick Griffin or the UKIP would happily pay for your ticket with some pocket money to move. If HT members are so eager to implement Sharia laws, they should have all migrated to Afghanistan when the Taliban seized power in the early years. The argument that they did not want to implement Islam fully is a poor excuse, they did what was in their ability, if you wanted to go the extra mile, and then logically you should have migrated there and offered full support to achieve that. At least you would have had some experience. The truth is nobody wanted to trade for the streets of London, Sydney, New York, Toronto, for the muddy streets of Kabul!

(Yusuf) It is not right for you to muddy the waters by questioning anyone’s sincerity or to bolster arguments by personalising matters. Even when the khilafah is re-established, bi iznillah, it would not automatically become incumbent to move if engaged in da’wah.

On an aside, the Taliban never claimed they established khilafah, they declared an imarah for the people of Afghanistan, that is why HT sent a delegation to verify this and to give bay’ah upon khilafah, just as the Chechens sent a delegation for this purpose.

You are not answering my point. Even if the Taliban were not perfect, you should have all moved there as they were already on that mode of implementing the Sharia Laws. You make it sound as though the Taliban were another secular regime!


HT logic seems to be, you cannot vote for the MPs but you can benefit from them, as you can lobby them. You cannot vote because they will legislate laws, but you can go to the court seek judgment from those laws for your benefit even on trivial issues. Their message is do not attempt to change the system here, but remain in the West as long as you like, do everything except vote, and watch us, we will bring the Khilafah back.

f) Is their a practical alternative or just wait of the Khilafah?

Groups like HT do not offer a practical alternative for the Muslims living here as means to protect our interests and identity. In fact, their message is do not attempt to change the system, just wait for the Khilafah in the Muslim countries, in the mean time do everything, except vote.

(Yusuf) With all due respect, this is not accurate. Firstly, if one believes that the hukm shar’I prohibits an action, khalas, there is no searching for ways around it. My father told me for years take a mortgage as there is no practical alternative. Let us put this dunya into perspective, the primacy of the hukm shar’I is paramount. This does not preclude using mubah means to achieve our rights.

HTB has outlined actions Muslims can do besides voting to have an impact, please see the links below as two examples.

Agree or disagree with alternatives, but please be accurate in your claims.

Could you also explain how voting as a minority protects our identity and interests?

Firstly, if you give primacy to Hukm Shar’I as you say you do, then you would move to a place where Sharia laws are implemented in many aspects – like Saudi or Afghanistan or Pakistan etc. Moreover, it is inline with your party idea that only Muslim countries are suitable.

Secondly, HTB can outline many dossiers as it likes, they need to take a more hands on approach. Go and speak to IFE for example, they will show you what they have built, and I am sure your members have used many of those facilities.

As for your final question is perplexing, I never said only voting will (may help) protect our identity and interests. That is one cog in the wheel.

If the BNP were engaged in an area to be elected and if one of the promises was to close down the Mosques, what would you do? The HT answer is nothing, as they did not spend any effort building them in the first place. However, if the BNP campaigned like David Cameron to ban the party – you would see them move to hold hands with Clare Short or even George Galloway.

(Yusuf) Again, HTB, based on your logic, should be encouraging people to vote to stop the advent of a Tory government.

Why do you think HTB do not agree with voting, if it is beneficial to their future here?

Again you are not answering the point made about closing the Masjid campaign, and how you would address that.

Well HTB do not agree with voting because they follow the weaker opinion (possibly minority opinion) that it is haram! I don’t understand your question. You do not consider voting as halal, so why would you ask the Muslims to vote in a particular direction!


The voting is undertaken with the intention of securing our interest and rights living under the non-Islamic system, it is not a vote for the system, which already exists. That is no more than going to the courts and seeking judgements from them. If you do not vote, you are still contributing towards the election result, and being represented. One can remain a spectator give others a free hand to decide your fate, or you try to influence the system to your favour.

It is time to move the debate of voting to the more serious issues affecting our own community, and the wider community. We should value those who have kept their heads down and worked hard for the community. They are the ones who have built numerous Mosques, community centres, help the poor and needy Muslims abroad, and built good relations with the non-Muslims to the extent that they were able to contribute towards the 2 million to march against the war. Yes, I know it did not stop the war, but none of the HT marches or demos did not achieve anything either! There is no instant solution anywhere.

(Yusuf) Achieving something is dependent on the objective sought, don’t you think? Therefore blanket statements like these can be perceived to be an ad hominem attack rather than an argument to be discussed.

My statement and reasoning are valid – thus you are not able to address the above points.

This is an excellent opportunity to unify the Muslims in the UK, and give them a clear direction to use their voting power – at the least, this will mean increase politicisation of the Muslims, which will not only help our cause but also the cause of Islam.

(Yusuf) I was surprised that the Islamic view on participation in the UK elections was not raised in this article, especially since that is the basis for HT’s opposition to voting.

I would be interested to know the following:

1) Which party do you feel would best secure the interests/identity of the Muslims?
2) What do you suggest should be the programme Muslims should adopt in order to move us forward as a community?
3) You said you changed your mind on voting, which scholars do you follow that convinced you of this stronger opinion.

The Islamic view was given in the first three to four paragraphs in the article. I said clearly, there is IKHTILAF on this issue. Many prominent scholars permit voting, and many prohibiting it.

1) Your question shows your incorrect PARTYSAN mindset, thus it is singular “which party”. The interest/identity of the Muslims will be best secured by a collective effort; I believe those who actually do the hard work of practically leading by example are the ones we should follow. Do not get me wrong, HTB also has a role to play, but they need to find that space to fit into the rest of the Muslim community.

2) This is another issue; we are only discussing here the issue of voting. There are many needs and we need to work collectively and not promote the idea that wait for the Khilafah – until then no charity, no jihad, no schools, no Masjids etc. I know you have altered your position in recent times but that is another issue.

3) I do not really need to refer to a scholar for this issue. I became convinced by applying my own thought process to this subject and looking at the arguments. In terms of scholars, there are numerous prominent ones, who permit voting. Look here for some example,

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