Whether we like it or not, elections with its various campaigns, voting and polling have to be borne with. What can we say to those who call for refraining from politics these days when it is labelled ‘dirty’ and ‘full of treachery’? No doubt decent people of fine character shy away from politics nowadays because of its offensive look which has tainted the very idea of an election to such an extent that whenever the subject of voting or election comes up, one’s mind immediately conjures up visions of treachery, lies, bribery and fraud. Therefore many remain far from politics and do not even exercise their participation in voting. This attitude, according to Islamic principles is incorrect and wrong.
Allah says in the ninth verse of Surah Maida in the Quran: “O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity, and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is informed of what ye do.”
In Islam voting comprises of five elements viz. (1) that of giving evidence. (2) Intercession (3) appointing someone as a representative (4) Mashwarah/consultation (5) and Wakaalah/proxy or agency. These elements, which govern voting in Islam, make it compulsory upon every Muslim to exercise meticulous care in his/her choice of a Representative in parliament.
People usually regard voting as a game of winning and losing. We must ponder how many voters are conscious of the fact that they are fulfilling a duty? “Whoso interveneth in a good cause will have the reward thereof, and whoso interveneth in an evil cause will bear the consequence thereof. Allah overseeth all things.” Quran – An Nisa 4/85
Thus if the elected person carries out good work during his/her stay in office then whatever rewards he/she will benefit from this, a share will also be due to the voter. The voter has a share in the good of the elected person.
Our friendship with non-Muslims and voting for them is not on the basis of Christian, Jewish or communist backgrounds. It is also not on the basis of showing approval to unislamic ideologies, but only on the basis that we secure our rights and perhaps show them through a practical example the beauty of Islam and its characteristic teachings. This is also a way of extending an invitation towards Islam.
In a reply to a query regarding participation in non-Muslim politics, Mufti Kifaayatullah RA writes… “The ideal situation is that the political leader of Muslims should be a Muslim who strictly adheres to the injunctions of Shariah and diligently follows the commandments of Allah SWT. However, if a person with such qualities is unfortunately not available to fill the post or the Muslim community is unable to recognize and nominate a person of such calibre to the post, then it should vote for any political thinker whether Muslim or non Muslim.”
Mufti Mahmood Hasan RA writes…”if by voting there is some benefit to the Deen, nation and country and it is strongly hoped that the party or candidate voted into power will render correct service, then one should vote.”
THERE ARE TWO REASONS WHY MUSLIMS SHOULD VOTE.
1. To secure adequate delivery of day to day basic necessities. (Water lights, road construction, community development etc)
2. To secure Islamic rights and the freedom to practise on Islam.
WHO TO VOTE FOR?
1. At a party political level – such a political party that has the capacity to deliver and that is Muslim friendly. I.e. does not oppose the Muslim cause. E.g. certain political parties have openly supported the publication of the cartoons of Muhammad SAW; they have supported the invasion of Muslim lands; and have objected to the modus operandi of the Palestinian cause, notwithstanding the sensitivities of the Muslim community. However, on the other hand there are other political parties who have openly expressed their views against the publication of such cartoons, keeping Muslim sensitivities in mind. They have also opposed the Iraqi invasion and have straightforwardly supported the Palestinian cause.
To vote for a particular political party does not necessarily mean that one votes for their un-Islamic ideologies.
2. At a candidate level – the candidate should have three basic qualities:
a. Sound leadership skills – that ensures adequate delivery of services.
c. Ability to represent
The above criterion indicates that it is not necessary to only vote for a Muslim. One may vote for a non-Muslim candidate who possesses such criterion.
In his Tafsir Maaariful Quran, Mufti Muhammad Shafee RA categorises friendship with non-Muslims into four components.
1. Muwaalaat – to develop a bosom type of relationship where one indulges in evils such as Zinaa fornication; alcohol; interest etc. such a relationship is prohibited.
2. Muwaasaat – to show sympathy and pity for the injustices and hardships afflicted upon non-Muslims. Such a relationship on humanitarian grounds is a must.
3. Muaamalaat – a relationship based on business. Such a relationship is sanctioned provided there is no harm to the Muslim community.
4. Mudaarat – displaying good manners; politeness and courtesy towards non-Muslims in order to live harmoniously with each other.
So it is clear that voting is a duty upon each individual and not just a right. Allah Says in Surah Baqarah Verse 283 that: “Conceal not evidence for whoever conceals it in his heart is tainted.”