«
1
Helpful
»
0
Unhelpful
in category Fiqh (Jurisprudence)

What are the scholars' views on Muslims voting in elections in the West?

1 Answer
1 Answer
by
(79.0k points):

Masters in Education from Nottingham University in the UK. Also studied Masters in Islamic Studies and Islamic Banking & Finance. Political activist with interests in Geopolitics, History and Phil ...
2 Helpful
0 Unhelpful
In a Nutshell: All scholars agree voting for kufr parties who will participate in kufr systems is categorically prohibited. Some attempt to argue an exception through seeking benefits, necessity or lesser of two evils, none of which have been widely accepted.

Background

Few scholars take exception to the notions of mass elections or subjecting rulers to accountability – some scholars of the Wahabite/Salafite tradition being the notable exception. All object to absolute sovereignty residing with "the people", believing sovereignty belongs to Allah and an interpretive and executive role for man. None dispute the prohibition of cooperating in sin and delegating someone to sin.

For those who forbid voting they commence with the above premises and argue Muslims could not support or be members of British political parties as their ideologies, values and policies conflict with Islam. Support of such parties to enter parliament through voting would be forbidden as it is neither permitted to cooperate, delegate nor represent someone in sin and that which leads to sin is sinful. They reject secondary principles as unjustified given the existence of primary texts on the matter. They instead advocate political engagement to convey Islam through permitted means: lobbying, demonstrations, conferences, speeches and media engagement. Some even permit Muslims to stand as independent candidates for elections (or via Islamic parties) and to enter parliament for the purposes of admonishing the rulers or calling the establishment to Islam whilst abstaining from legislating or undertaking oaths.

Scholars who legitimise voting utilise three distinct approaches:

  • Everything in origin is permitted and there is no clear prohibition of voting.
  • A creative hermeneutical interpretation of divine texts where all the detailed rules are seen as means to achieve higher ends (maqasid) and a "utilitarian" style analysis that permits voting.
  • Participation in a non-Islamic government is forbidden in origin but voting is permitted through principles like the lesser of two evils or necessity.

The first two approaches do not recognise a problem with voting whilst the third acknowledges its evil nature but legitimises it. Differences also emerge on the Sharia ruling on voting varying from fard, mandub, mubah to waqf (and a number of other permutations). Concerns relating to non-Islamic political parties and collective legislation are generally circumvented through dislocating voting from its effects.

Scholars' Opinions

Briefly some of the different views regarding political participation are summarised below with no single position achieving a majority – despite some scholars claiming a near consensus on the issue.

Few scholars take exception to the notions of mass elections or subjecting rulers to accountability – some scholars of the Wahabite/Salafite tradition being the notable exception. All object to absolute sovereignty residing with "the people", believing sovereignty belongs to Allah and an interpretive and executive role for man. None dispute the prohibition of cooperating in sin and delegating someone to sin.

For those who forbid voting they commence with the above premises and argue Muslims could not support or be members of British political parties as their ideologies, values and policies conflict with Islam. Support of such parties to enter parliament through voting would be forbidden as it is neither permitted to cooperate, delegate nor represent someone in sin and that which leads to sin is sinful. They reject secondary principles as unjustified given the existence of primary texts on the matter. They instead advocate political engagement to convey Islam through permitted means: lobbying, demonstrations, conferences, speeches and media engagement. Some even permit Muslims to stand as independent candidates for elections (or via Islamic parties) and to enter parliament for the purposes of admonishing the rulers or calling the establishment to Islam whilst abstaining from legislating or undertaking oaths.

Scholars who legitimise voting utilise three distinct approaches:

  • Everything in origin is permitted and there is no clear prohibition of voting.
  • A creative hermeneutical interpretation of divine texts where all the detailed rules are seen as means to achieve higher ends (maqasid) and a "utilitarian" style analysis that permits voting.
  • Participation in a non-Islamic government is forbidden in origin but voting is permitted through principles like the lesser of two evils or necessity.

The first two approaches do not recognise a problem with voting whilst the third acknowledges its evil nature but legitimises it. Differences also emerge on the Sharia ruling on voting varying from fard, mandub, mubah to waqf (and a number of other permutations). Concerns relating to non-Islamic political parties and collective legislation are generally circumvented through dislocating voting from its effects.

Briefly some of the different views regarding political participation are summarised below with no single position achieving a majority – despite some scholars claiming a near consensus on the issue.

The European Council for Research and Fatwa, Taha Jabir al-Alwani, Haitham al-Haddad, Salman Al-Awdah, Abduljalil Sajid, Ahmad Kutty, Muhammad Al-Mukhtar Al-Shinqiti and Aurangzeb Khan are amongst those who argue political participation to be a duty:

"We call this participation a "duty" because we do not consider it merely a "right" that can be abandoned or a "permission" which can be ignored."

Ibrahim Mogra and Suhaib Hasan argue it is recommended:

"Looking at the situation of the Muslim community and their need to have their interests met, it becomes advisable for the Muslims to achieve this purpose through the available political system..."

Dr Jamal Badawi, Michael Mumisa, Muhammad ibn Adam, Ibrahim Desai, Sulayman Gani, Ibn Baz, Faisal al-Mawlawi, Ibn Uthaimin, Abu Eesa Niamatullah and al-Zuhaili argue its permissibility:

"… there is nothing wrong with Muslims casting their votes in favour of the less evil candidate."

Dr Musharraf Hussain ambivalently argues it is both recommended and obligatory:

"Muslims are recommended or even obliged to vote for the party who will be of most benefit on a national and international level..."

Yusuf al-Qardawi prohibited the participation of Muslims in the Israeli parliamentary elections, however, permits elections in Western countries, including the United States. He argues that the basic principle (al-asl) is that it is forbidden to participate in a non-Islamic government, but that there are certain grounds for exception.

Mohammed al-Salih al-Munajjid's nuanced approach refrains from a blanket permission, arguing it to be at times prohibited, permitted or even obligatory:

"This is a matter concerning which rulings may differ according to different circumstances in different times and places. There is no absolute ruling that covers all situations, both real and hypothetical. In some cases it is wrong to vote, such as when the matter will have no effect on the Muslims, or when the Muslims have no effect on the outcome of the vote. In this case voting or not voting is all the same. The same applies in cases where all the candidates are equally evil or where they all have the same attitude towards Muslims… It may be the case that the interests of Islam require Muslims to vote so as to ward off the greater evil and to reduce harmful effects, such as where two candidates may be non-Muslims but one of them is less hostile towards Muslims than the other, and Muslims' votes will have an impact on the outcome of the election..."

With similar caution advanced by Haitham Hadad:

"I would like to mention here that I also advise our brothers who are involved in leading Muslims in terms of politics to be aware that some Muslims might understand that voting means full involvement in the game of politics, a realm that is full of deception and cunning, a fact realised by many non-Muslims themselves. So they should use cautious language when encouraging Muslims to vote. Statements such as "voting is the only way for Muslims in this country", "voting is the lifeboat", "voting is part of our belief", "voting means citizenship" and so on should be avoided. Such emotional and excessive statements lead to contrary statements and reactions that are equally emotional and extreme...

We are not going to get anything by voting while it might be impermissible so it is better to abstain from it. It is not easy to come up with such a conclusion. We need a thorough analytical study that can confirm that all parties are nothing but different faces of one coin. I agree that voting is not the lifeline for Muslims in this country as represented by some Muslims and I have asked parties on both sides of the voting argument to come up with an academic study to prove their points."

Of the scholars who oppose political participation, all forbid it with some deeming it to be even kufr due to encroachment of legislation which is the right of Allah(swt) alone.

Yahya al-Hajoree argues:

"It is from the democratic systems that seek to wipe away Allah's true Laws... There are many dangers that can be found in elections and not one single benefit or advantage for the Muslims."

Whilst Muhammad ibn Abdullaah al-Raymee states:

"At any rate, democracy and voting is not combined with the Islamic Shura that Allah has legislated, not in the fundamentals of the religion nor its subsidiary branches, neither in totality nor in part, not in meaning or in foundation."

Imran Nazar Hosein posed:

"They should declare the specific conditions in which it would be Halal for believers to vote in national elections. For example, can a believer vote for an idol-worshipping Hindu, or for an enemy of Islam, a liar, a drunkard, a thief, an adulterer, a moneylender, who owns shares in a bank or is a bank director etc.? Can he vote in elections on the basis of racial solidarity or on the basis of a trade: "We will vote for you on the condition that we get such and such from you." Can he vote for a political party that is committed to supporting the Zionist State of Israel in its continuing occupation of, and oppression in, the Holy Land and Masjid al-Aqsa? Can he vote for a political party that supports the legalization of the lending of money on interest, lottery, homosexuality and abortion?"

Abd al-Qadir Ibn Abd al-Aziz refuting the fatwa of Ibn Baz said:

"I say that this Fatwā is wrong, according to what we have quoted from Al- Ghazālī, that sins do not become permissible by the intention. Besides, the Kufr is the greatest of sins. So as joining the Parliament is Kufr, it will not become permissible by the intention. This is because (of the fact) that the Parliament is the means by which the democratic system is implemented. So knowing the verdict of participating in it or electing (a member) relies on knowing the verdict of democracy, the verdict of which is dependent on knowing its reality."

Kamal Abu Zahra, Taqi al-Din Nabhani, Abd al-Qadeem Zaloom and Ahmed Da'oor of Hizb ut-Tahrir argue:

"Politics is obligatory in Islam as the Prophets used to undertake such matters for their peoples, and post-prophethood, this is a duty on Muslims. Parliament however is a legislature that passes laws based on majority... voting means the voter is delegating authority to an MP to enter parliament and legislate on his behalf, contradicting something categorically forbidden.

And Badd al-Din said:

"An ideology emerged from Europe and you accepted, you deemed the ideology of the Messenger(saw) deficient! ... Has Islam not taught you how to run the governments? Did not the Messenger(saw) establish an Islamic government within a kingdom of kufr? ...How is it that we accept those things that he(saw) cursed, and we accept the methodology of the enemies of the Messenger(saw)?"

Those who oppose democracy and participation therein have cited the following: Dr Asrar Ahmed (Pakistan), Hamood bin Uqlaa ash-Shuaibee (Saudi Arabia), Ahmed Muhammad Shaakir (Egypt), Muhammad Qutb (Egypt), Bakr Abu Zayd (Saudi Arabia), Jafar bin Muhammad al-Kataanee (Morocco), Umar Abdur Rahman (Egypt), Muhammad Naasir-ud-Deen al-Albanee (Syria), Muhammad bin Ibraaheem Aal-(Saudi Arabia), Abdur Raazaq Afeefee (Egypt), Muhammad Ameen ash-Shanqeetee (Morocco), Muhammad Haamid al-Faqee (Egypt), Muhammad Khaleel Haraas (Egypt), Muqbil bin Haadee al-Waadee (Yemen), Ali bin Khudar al-Khudayr (Saudi Arabia), Abdul Qaadir bin Abdul Azeez (Sayid Imaam ash-Shareef) (Egypt), Abdur Raheem at-Tahaan (Syria), Abdul Hafeedh al-Doosaree (Saudi Arabia), Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisee (Jordan), Ahmed bin Hamood al-Khaalidee (Saudi Arabia), Rifaaee Suroor (Egypt), Mustafa Shaamiyaah (Egypt), Abdul Kareem bin Saalih al-Hameed (Saudi Arabia), Omar Bakri Mohammed (UK/Lebanon), Abdul Hakeem Hasaan (Egypt), Ahmed as-Sabeyahee (Egypt), Haamid bin Abdullah al-Alee (Kuwait), Naasir bin Fahd al-Umar (Saudi Arabia), Hamid bin Abdullah al-Hameedee (Saudi Arabia), Yusuf al-Uyayree (Saudi Arabia), Abdul Azeez bin Saalam al-Umar (Saudi Arabia), Ahmed bin Saalih as-Sanaanee (Saudi Arabia), Hamid bin Hameed ar-Ras (Saudi Arabia), Abdullah al-Ghunaymaan (Saudi Arabia), Muhammad Abdus Salaam Faraj (Egypt), Umar Mahmood Abu Umar (Palestine), Muhammad Ismaaeel al-Maqdam (Egypt), Sayid Saeed al-Ghabaashee (Egypt), Abdul Aakhar Hamaad (Egypt), Muhammad al-Ghazaazee (Morocco), Muhammad Mustafa al-Muqree (Egypt), Haanee as-Sabaaee (Egypt), Muhammad bin Sulaymaan al-Sameyaee (Egypt), Saalih al-Awfee (Saudi Arabia), Abu Hafs al-Mureetaanee (Mauritania), Khaalid Fakree (Egypt), Ahmed Yusuf (Egypt), Abd al-Majeed al-Shaadhalee (Egypt), Abdul Majeed al-Faqee (Egypt), Khaalid al-Faqee (Egypt), Muhammad Taamir (Egypt), Muhammad Sharif (Egypt), Ahmed an-Najaar (Egypt), Jamaal Abdul Haadee (Egypt), Usaamah Mansoor (Egypt), Abdul Munim Haleemah (Syria), Abul Hasan al-Qaaree (Egypt), Mujadee Kamaal (Egypt), Muhammad Jameel Ghaazee (Egypt), Mustafa al-Adwee (Egypt), Usaamah Abdul Adheem (Egypt), Mustafa Kaamal (Egypt), Usaamah Haafidh (Egypt), Fawzee as-Saeed (Egypt), Shareef Hazaae (Egypt), Jafar Idris (Sudan), Saeed bin Zuayr (Saudi Arabia), Abdullah ar-Rashood (Saudi Arabia), Taqi al-Din al-Nabahaanee (Palestine), Abd al-Qadeem Zaloom (Palestine), Ahmed ad-Daoor (Jordan), Ustaadh Mahmood Abd al-Kareem al-Hasan (Lebanon), Ahmed al-Qasos (Lebanon), Ali Saeed Abul Hasan (Sudan), Haafidh Saalih (Jordan), Ataaa Khaleel (Jordan), Isaam Ameerah (Palestine), Imam Anwar al Awlaki (Yeman), Abdullah Khaatar (Saudi Arabia), Abdur Razaaq bin Muhammad al-Hamid (Kuwait), Taariq Abdul Haleem (Egypt), Ahmed Fareed (Egypt), Muhammad Yaaqoot (Egypt), Abdul Qaadir Arnaoot (Syria), Shuaib Arnaoot (Syria), Abu Abdullah Abdul Fataah al-Afreeqee (Nigeria), Abd al-Azeez al-Badree (Iraq), Imran Nazar Hosein (Trinidad), Abd al-Qaadir ibn Abd al-Azeez, Badee al-din, Ubayd al-Jaabiree, Yahya al-Hajoree, Ahmed bin Yahya al-Najmee, Abd al-Azeez Buree, Saalih al-Fawzaan, Abdullaah al-Ghudayaan, Abu Nasr Muhammed ibn Abdullah al-Raymee, Badiuddin Shah al-Sindhi, Imran Nazar Hosein, Rabee, Muqbil bin Haadee, Fez Mohammed and Shahrul Hussain al-Azhari (UK).


References

al-Aawa, On the Political System of the Islamic State
al-Nabhani, Shaksiyya Islamiyya
al-Ghazali, Islam and Political Dictatorship
al-Khalidi, Naqdh Al-Nizzam al-Democratyya (Criticism of the democratic system)
al-Qadri, The Islamic State
al-Qaradawi, Min Fiqh al-Dawla Fi al-Islam (On the fiqh of the Islamic state)
Muhammad al-Imaam, Tanweerudh-Dhulamaat bi Kashf Mafaasid wa Shubahaat al-Intikhabaat (Illuminating the Darkness in order to uncover the corruptions and doubts concerning Voting)
Z Kauser, Mawdudi on Democracy: A Critical Appreciation, The Islamic Quarterly


User Settings


What we provide!

Vote Content

Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.

Multiple Perspectives

Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.

An authoritative community

Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come

Join Now !

Update chat message

Message

Delete chat message

Are you sure you want to delete this message?

...