Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra, The Muslim Council of Britain
Sheikh Suhaib Hasan
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. Through voting, a man can bring to Parliament such candidates who sympathise with the Muslim cause. The vote can be treated either as a good intercession (Ayah 85, Surah An-Nisa), or as Naseehah (hadith narrated by Tamim Ad-Dari in which Naseehah is to be advanced for the betterment of the Muslims in general), or it can be treated as Tawkeel (deputising someone on your behalf to achieve a certain task). Whichever you take, by voting you can bring a better change in the affairs of this country.
Sheikh Michael Mumisa
I would like to argue [here] that while I do not share the view that voting in Britain is tantamount to apostasy, the question regarding Muslims' participation in so-called non-Islamic systems of government is not an isolated view but part of centuries of Islamic political thought and theo-legal discourse. I would like to mention right at the outset that there is no explicit textual evidence either from the Qur'an nor sunna (or imitatio Muhammadi) that can be used to substantiate the view that Muslims in Britain should not vote or that participating in voting is an act of apostasy.
Muslim legal theorists and pragmatists have always agreed that the Qur'an is not prescriptive in the sense that it provides detailed instructions on how laws should be applied or executed in society. Instead, it tends to be general providing only general principles and guidelines. The Muslim jurists such as Abu Hanifa, al-Shafi'i, Ja'afar al-Sadiq, Ahmad Ibn Hanbal, Malik, to name just a few, developed a means of deducing the law through a complex hermeneutical theory, whereby they were able to interpret the Qur'an and sunna in as extensive a manner as was possible, thereby making the limited legal verses of the Qur'an useful in providing answers to the new questions…. For the purpose of my argument, I will only discuss how the theories of maqasid (purpose of law in Islam), masalih (public interest), and kulliyyat al-ahkam (general and universal principles of law) can be applied in our attempt to explain why Muslims should vote in British elections. What is of particular interest to me is how Muslim legal classicists such as the great Abu Ishaq al-Shatibi (died. 1388) interpreted these theories.
….. With the concept of maqasid al-shari'a (intent and motive of Islamic Law), it becomes possible to apply the Qur'an to changing times and changing conditions in society, so that the data revelata remain dynamic and creative, always applicable and always invigorating society. Unfortunately, due to the development of legalism in Islam, the focus has shifted from the kulliyat to the juz'iyyat. Under correct interpretations of law in Islam, the change and the modification of juz'iyyat is acceptable in order to meet social change as long as such change does not undermine the kulliyat.
Therefore, any political and legal system that fulfils the kulliyat is acceptable and considered as fulfilling the requirements of the Shari'a. The question is, does the British and political systems fulfil the kulliyat as required under Islam? It is my opinion that the British legal and political systems as they stand at the moment meet the goals of the Shari'a. I am aware that there are still points of conflict with regard to certain 'moral' issues. Islamic law requires that we overlook such differences and focus on masalih (public interests) and universal principles (maqasid) such as justice, respect and protection of a person's beliefs, protection of life, protection of sanity and intellect, preservation of lineage, and protection of a person's property or wealth, among others.
Sheikh Muhammad ibn Al-Mukhtar Ash-Shanqiti
The [second] incident reported in the Sunnah is that of Muslims' migration to Abyssinia, as recorded in Musnad of Imam Ahmad on the authority of Umm Salamah, Mother of the Believers (may Allah be pleased with her), who was among those who migrated to Abyssinia. It is reported that Umm Salamah, narrating the incident of their migration, said: "We stayed in his (An-Najashi's) land, where we were treated with great generosity and hospitality. During my stay there, some people rebelled against him (An-Najashi) and tried to take the hold of the reigns of power. By Allah, we haven't felt sadness as we felt at that time, for fear that such rebellious (ones) might succeed in their scheme, and then a man who does not know the truth of our religion (nor does he observe our right as refugees) as An-Najashi did may be the sovereign. An-Najashi set out to meet the enemy, who was on the opposite bank of the Nile River. Then the Prophet's companions said that a man of them may cross the river to investigate the enemy intensively. On that, Az-Zubayr ibn Al-`Awwam, who was one of the youngest among us, said, 'I will.' Then they gave him a float and he swam to the opposite bank and investigated the enemy's preparations for the battle. During this, we observed du`a' (supplication) heavily for An-Najashi to be victorious over his enemy and he succeeded and stability was achieved again in Abyssinia." (Reported by Ahmad)
You see, when An-Najashi's nephew rebelled against him and tried to elbow him out, the Muslim migrants in Abyssinia did not stand as onlookers; they didn't stay idle because An-Najashi was a Christian and so was the enemy. Rather, they made du`a' to Allah to give An-Najashi victory over his enemy. They also sent a man from among them to collect information about the battle, and if they had anything more to do, they would have willingly offered it.
That is the way that Muslims living in non-Muslim countries in the West should look upon participation in the political life there. In this context, taking part in [the US] elections is required, so that goodness may overcome evil and justice would prevail. It is not a sign of affiliation to the polytheists, nor is it a kind of support for the oppressors.
Dr Musharraf Hussain
The opinion of imams and scholars on taking part in election are clearly in favour of taking part in the democratic process. This gives us an opportunity to choose the candidate who will best serve the interest of our community. Not taking part in election will deprive us of the political prowess and clout that we command in certain inner city areas of Britain. That is not our interest. I urge every one to use their vote effectively.
Sheikh Ibrahim Mogra
I consider muslim political participation, especially in a non-muslim country, as a form of jihad. This is our country and it would be foolish not to participate in the political processes which eventually shape our future and that of Islam. I support marching in the streets to raise awareness about certain issues. However, if we really want to change the status-quo then we have to influence those who walk the corridors of power. Muslims need not only to vote but put forward Muslim candidates in all the mainstream and serious independent parties. We need to be represented or be present at the tables around which policies are discussed, made and agreed.
Sayyiduna Yusuf (as) put himself forward in the political process of Egypt - the rest is history! [Refer to Quran 12:55]. He saved countless lives, united people with God and showed how rulers ought to rule. Are Muslims in our country saying they do not want to unite people with God and save them from eternal doom? Do we want to remain "slaves" under the dominion of others without power of any sort? Or do we want to become masters; just, caring and merciful? The right to vote is one of Allah's blessings over us which we can use to benefit society. There are many in the world who do not have this blessing. Allah says in the Quran:
"Allah presents an example: a slave (who is) owned and unable to do a thing and he to whom We have provided from Us good provision so he spends from it secretly and publicly. Can they be equal? Praise be to Allah! But most of them do not know." [Quran 16:75]
So get up and use that blessing!