Anniversary of gaining the right to vote, and then be ignored like almost everyone else in a democracy
The 1918 Representation of the People Act allowed some women in the UK to vote for the first time in parliamentary elections. After a long and sometimes violent struggle, the men of the ruling class reluctantly included women over 30, who met certain property conditions, as well as practically all men over the age of 21 in suffrage.
A hundred years on, this day is being celebrated as a great victory for women, with media shows and politicians remembering those women who struggled, while also acknowledging that there is still a long way to go for women to gain similar rights to men in Western societies. Pay inequality and sexual harassment are common features of life for women in the West, as well as enduring simply shocking levels of violence, as misogynistic attitudes continue to prevail.
When parliamentary voting was first introduced in the West, it was confined to a very small minority of land and property-owning men with an unequal number of votes apportioned according to a scale based on property, educational achievement and age. In 1800, which is considered the peak of Britain’s colonial superiority, only 3% of Britain’s population had the right to vote. Only voters who owned sizeable areas of land in a patchwork of districts created during Medieval times, could elect members to the House of Commons. This system denied the vote to merchants, manufacturers, and skilled labourers who did not own land. Regions that had been prosperous hundreds of years earlier were overrepresented in Parliament while many new urban centres had no representation at all. Some parliamentary seats were virtually owned by individuals. By 1867, 13% of the population could vote. It would take until 1928 (another 61 years) before men and women were given equal voting rights in the UK.
By 1830, France only gave voting rights to those above the age of 30 who paid 300 francs in direct taxes, which was around 0.02% of the population of 32 million.
Universal suffrage in Western countries is relatively new. A partial list is given here:
- New Zealand, 1907
- Denmark, 1915
- Sweden, 1918
- France, 1946
- Germany, 1946
- Italy, 1946
- Belgium, 1948
- USA, 1965
The above examples of political participation is in stark contrast with the Shariah. Islam accorded all men and women many rights over fourteen hundred years ago including the right to choose their leader, the Khaleefah.
It is ironic that the muscular liberalists who today wish to forcibly convert all non-liberal heretics in a manner that any Medieval king would be proud of, still focus their attention on accusing Muslim women of being oppressed by Islam, while the real oppression is borne out of their own secular ideology. Islam not only gave women the right to vote in elections, but obliged upon them a role in political life twelve centuries before the West. Muslim men and women are required to undertake political culturing and activities to ensure that justice prevails and oppression is prevented. Furthermore, women have the right to dignity and honour within an Islamic society, as the Shariah rejects their objectification that is so common in today’s liberal societies. Men are forbidden from denying women the most basic right to safety, while a culture of respect is encouraged and enforced if necessary.
When looking at the Western struggle for women’s rights, we should not forget that Allah (swt) sent His Messenger 1400 years ago to secure men and women’s rights, within the Islamic State system. It is the barons and kings of the West who have denied all women and most men any basic rights for centuries. After the so-called European Enlightenment, the new democracies simply continued that trend, still only allowing a select elite ruling class true political participation. Even today, despite the charade of general elections and referenda, ordinary people still have virtually no role in political decision making. This is more so, as the modern media institutions and politicians work together to secure only the interests of the powerful ruling elite. So much for universal suffrage; there is only real suffrage for a tiny few.
The current repeated calls for liberalism to flex its muscles today, simply demonstrates that this democracy that we are expected to cherish, has no intellectual basis. It is not a liberalism of thought, which one can become convinced of, so the elite class use might to impose their will, regardless of what the people think. When ordinary people are given the binary options of the democratic status quo or returning to the serfdom of feudal Europe, no-one will focus on how defunct the ideology of secularism is. However, if we were to be offered Islam and life in the coming Khilafah (Caliphate) on the way of Prophethood, not only will our rights be secured and our standard of living be improved in many ways, but there is also a clear intellectual creedal foundation to be convinced of. The fact that all legislation must be derived from the Islamic creed is the greatest strength of the Islamic society. All citizens, men and women, are obliged to account the leadership on that basis, which practically denies an elite ruling class the opportunity to trample over the rights of the people. Such opportunity for abuse of power is inseparable from democracy, which has no fixed standard for legislation, no real accountability, and hence no fixed rights for anyone.