Many prominent scholars, including the leading Saudi dissident, Professor Muhammad Al-Massari, endorse the permissibility to vote in the UK election. Although, there are differences on how we should exercise our votes, but there is broad consensus that it is primarily aimed at protecting our rights and to cater for our expanding needs as we continue to grow as a community.
The following points will elaborate on the permissibility to vote based on the premise of the anti-voting camp.
a) There is consensus from all factions that Islam permits us to seek our rights in the non-Islamic courts. In practical terms, the secular courts are the only option available for Muslims to seek justice. For example, if a debtor is refusing to pay, we are compelled to go the courts to recover the money owed.
b) Hence, it is imperative to ensure that our rights are not eroded by adverse legislation, specifically those aimed against the Muslims. Otherwise, we are leaving ourselves to be devoured. The Islamic duty to protect the individual and the collective body from harm is clearly established in the Islamic text. Such laws are self-evident, as human beings propelled by the instinct of survival do their utmost to prevent harm.
c) Therefore, the pertinent question arises - how do we halt adverse legislation that is detrimental to the Muslim community? Living in a non-Islamic society, we have to cope with laws that contradict Islamic values, but now we see the possibility of new legislations that specifically targets the Muslims. This is not a hypothetical statement; one can see this trend in Europe as it is gearing up to ban the veil after it had banned the minarets in one country. What will follow next? Across the Atlantic, the situation is worse; numerous innocent Muslims are incarcerated and tortured in the US with the assistance of the British government. On daily basis, we see the Muslim community subjected to verbal and physical abuse, which creates the climate for anti-Islamic legislation.
d) In fact, our Islamic obligation extends beyond protecting those existing rights, because our community continues to expand. We need to cater for our growing needs as well.
e) The simplistic view of the anti-voting camp, that it is haram (forbidden) to get involved in the legislative process, but halal (permitted) to seek our rights in the non-Islamic courts is self-destructive. I do not believe the Islamic laws works in this perverse manner. It is commonsense that if you are permitted to drink from the pond, you have the permission to ensure that nobody poisons it. As a famous Hadith states if you travel on a ship – regardless of who is in charge, you have a responsibility to ensure nobody goes to the bottom of the ship and drills a hole.
So, I asked some of the anti-voters the simple question:
What would you do, if the British Parliament started to follow the European trend of banning the Niqab, followed by a ban on the Hijab, and then to other aspects of Islam?
The initial response is they would resort to demonstrations, distribute leaflets, hold meetings, discuss with the MPs, and rally the majority non-Muslim population to the cause. Why would you engage in such actions? Are you not trying to dissuade people from voting for nasty candidates such as Nick Griffin or Tony Blair or David Cameron? Is the ultimate aim to persuade the MPs to halt or change the legislation? If so, then you are clearly getting involved in the legislative process and trying to influence the process of voting. Then you see the real Kufr (non-Islamic) politics come out – laughably I might add. Oh, we are just convincing these people about the merit of our case, we are not telling them to reflect this in the Parliament. Yes, the discussion is entirely academic!
After making so much noise against voting, they are unable to provide credible answers. Moreover, the anti-voters are advocating demonstrations, after constantly pointing fingers at the futility of the anti-war demonstration that failed to halt the Iraq war. This only reinforces the point that in addition to mass mobilisation, petitions, leaflets, ultimately one has to engage in the legislative process somehow to prevent our situation from deteriorating.
You have been asking for evidence to permit voting, and this evidence is built on your premise, which is as follows:
If seeking the rights in the Non-Islamic courts is a right given by a Sharia Laws, then by inference so is the duty to protect those rights to prevent harm, especially when there is no other alternative. This infers that we have a duty to influence the legislative process with a view to prevent harm to the Muslim community and to expand those rights as we continue to live and grow here. Thus, lobbying MPS and voting for MPs are attempts to influence the legislative process.
This is the basis for the legal permit to vote and engage in other forms of interactions with the MPs. However, some people will still demand evidence from me, what they want is a precise text stating you cannot vote in the UK general election. That is not how legal judgement on new issues occur, there is extrapolation, inferences etc. For example, we know the Caliphate was never re-established by the Prophet or the Companions, so how can you say we have evidence in the life of the Prophet’s example.
When the legal arguments fail, the anti-voting camp resorts to the usual moans, without offering any practical alternatives. They have become the masters of scepticism, and this is part of the general disease of the Muslims, especially the radical elements, blame everyone else except ourselves.
a) They scream - look at rogue Muslim MPs like Khalid Mahmud – if such nasty MPs exist then that is a grounds for voting such people out, the Muslims should have helped Salma Yaqub of the Respect Party to replace him in the last general election. You got what you deserved.
b) Labour went to war against Muslims, so those Muslims who voted Labour endorsed the war. I am sure going to war was not part of the Labour Party’s pre-election manifesto. In any case, this is more of a reason to participate in voting, remove the warmongers, and reduce the chances of it happening again.
c) A vote for the individual is not always indicative of the vote for the party or that it endorses everything the individual stands for. That is not possible in any society. Within all the political parties, the individuals differ. For example, many in the Labour party were staunch opponents of the war, campaigned hard against the war, and supported the Palestinians. We need to give maximum support to those individuals regardless of their party membership.
d) The Muslims are a minority, thus cannot have any impact, so we should not even bother. The Muslims are a growing population, and we cannot get all the rights in one election. This is a gradual process and the journey has just begun. Even if our chosen candidates become second, that will give them encouragement for next time. If the Muslim community as a whole become politically active, this will help our cause.
How do we vote?
This is largely common sense, but still needs to be elaborated. Nobody is saying you just cast a vote for anyone like a sheep. The objective is clear; we want to remove the most hostile elements and support those who will be relatively favourable to the Muslims. Note the word ‘relative’, as we are talking about mainly non-Muslim candidates, they will not comply with all the values of Islam; otherwise, they would be Muslims. Therefore, you got use your mind and pick the one that will comply with your values and interests. It is even better to have our own candidates. Indeed, the Muslims are in need of representation from their community.
Last year, the removal of the Zionist MP in Bethnal Green was an excellent example of mobilisation and tactical voting. Yes, we will not get everything this time, or the next time, but this is a long road, and process of change is gradual. Removing pro-Zionist MPs, sends a message that we cannot be ignored, and we are not going to tolerate the double standards as they watch the massacre of 1500 Palestinians in Gaza as Israel defending itself, or invade a country that has done no harm to this nation, and then scream terrorism against acts of retaliation. Apart from the national election, we also need to participate in the local election, and our influence should grow in line with our population size.
Published on 1/05/2010
Yamin Zakaria (email@example.com)