Albert Einstein is credited with the warning “Beware of rotten compromises.” A warning, Muslims calling for political participation should take seriously.
The need for a serious discussion is long overdue, an honest and objective appraisal of the perceived benefits of playing the game of political participation, without covering up the price tag that comes with it.
The Rules of the Game – Acceptance of Secular Values
Jack Straw writing in Prospect in 2002, discussing the need to combat Muslim fundamentalists opined, “Democrats, for example, can never accept that religious injunctions take precedence over temporal laws to do so would threaten the very basis of democratic society. Quite simply this is a central tenet of democratic political practice.”
His argument was to encourage Muslims to engage in the democratic political process as a means to combat those who believed in the ultimate supremacy of Shariah law. Jack Straw understood that engagement in the secular political process is not unregulated; rather it is governed by a number of key secular ideas, which by their very nature contradict the Islamic belief.
The Western world prides itself on these ideas and promotes them wholesale to the world. Britain is no different, enshrining these values into the bloodstream of the country, where it runs through each and every vein of the establishment. The laws and moral values, the entire social fabric of the nation sits on the basis that it is the mind of man that will decide in all matters – God has been relegated, in fact not even a back seat is offered. This decision making is facilitated in the House of Parliament, in which elected members, guided by the capitalist secular values (and big business) decide what is right and wrong, moral and immoral.
To play the game of political participation, the rules of the owner of the bat and ball have to be abided by. Therefore participation requires an explicit acceptance of these very same secular values; applying more so to candidates – but not exclusively to them. The Muslim electorate is by default accepting these yardsticks and criteria, in many cases unwittingly as they aspire to achieve their rights and ‘benefits’.
Compromising The Faith
In order to engage in the political system in the UK, a Muslim is expected to vote for parties with a secular philosophy, then lobby such parties by appealing to those secular philosophies in order to persuade them to provide some benefits to the Muslim community. This inevitably leads to the abandonment of Islamic values, and adopting the western secular framework when judging and arguing for ones rights. Joining such parties necessitates a person to make an explicit confirmation to the constitution, programme, principles and manifesto commitments of the party. These political parties are not neutral platforms but rather adhere to a specific ideology which also forms the foundation of the democratic system.
Muslim MP’s have been promoted to varying degrees over the years, attaining some status within their party of choice. This climb, beyond the rank and file of party membership, comes at a price, a very costly price. These MP’s have to consistently emphasise their commitment to the party’s philosophy and policies irrespective of whether these ideas contradict Islam. The recent appointment of Sajid Javid Conservative MP to the cabinet demonstrates how he had to express his lack of Islamic adherence and his support for the state of Israel. He said the only country in the Middle East where his children would feel the “warm embrace of freedom and liberty” is Israel.1
None of the other Muslim MPs from other parties fair any better. Sadiq Khan shadow Justice Secretary had to express his open support for gay marriages.2 He had also previously voted in support of draconian anti terrorism legislation that has been used unjustly against Muslims.3
Khalid Mahmood Labour MP for Perry Barr spoke out against the alleged Trojan Horse Islamic school takeover plot claiming they were trying to indoctrinate the children with a particular brand of Islam. He had also previously voted for gay rights.4
Baroness Warsi, although not an elected politician, was the first Muslim to serve in a British Cabinet. She openly criticised the Islamic permission related to polygamy.5
The selection processes in these parties filters out sincere Muslim candidates from holding Islamic opinions that contradict the brand of secular values their party expresses. Their loyalty is tested, if they are open advocates of the party’s ideas they will be offered opportunity to become councillors or MPs. While MPs the whipping process further ensures Muslim MPs do not depart from party philosophy and policies.
When Muslims have entered the political process to influence the political parties for the interests of the Muslim community while holding some key Islamic concepts, they are met with hostility. In one such incident it was alleged that IFE (Islamic Forum Europe) were trying to “infiltrate” the Labour Party, in the East London area, with party members who “supported sharia law.” The Labour Party in response to this alleged infiltration stated they would “take firm action and do whatever is necessary to ensure that everyone who joins the party does so as an individual and supports Labour’s aims and values.”6
The Corrupt Bargain – Reframing Islamic Values
Participation in elections is one of the tools used to assimilate Muslims, to dilute their Islamic identity and to make the perceived benefit as the measure for their actions instead of halal or haram. The Islamic concepts and values would be replaced by kufr concepts and values. As time goes by, Muslims would see no problem exposing their awrah, selling prohibited items, accepting homosexuality, condoning occupation of Muslim lands etc.
This is in essence the definition of secularisation, which is the activity of changing something (education, society or morality etc.) so it is no longer under the control or influence of religion. The reframing of the Muslim mindset, means that they no longer consider the Islamic values, but secular values when seeking their interests or as the criteria for their individual actions.
The interests promoted by the secular belief; inherently contradict the Islamic goals/values (maqasid). Whereas secular liberalism celebrates promiscuity, individualism and a hedonistic lifestyle; Islam determines that the preservation of the religion, life, mind, property and family are the key goals for society. The Shariah therefore came to secure these values by adhering to the commands and prohibitions of Allah swt. Thus taking away the sovereignty to man and placing it to the Shariah of Allah swt. Such is the current atmosphere that the commands of Allah (swt) are routinely rubbished and ridiculed. This is the blatant contradiction between the Islamic beliefs and the norms in secular society; norms which are set, enacted and implemented by the democratic political system which Muslims candidate and the electorate are asked to uphold.
It was former US President Jimmy Carter who rightly observed: “Politics is the world’s second oldest profession, closely related to the first.”
It is unfortunate that those Muslims who may have had sincere intentions in engaging in the political process end up changing their Islamic views to the extent they endorse homosexual relationships, occupation of muslim lands and the demonization Islamic values and beliefs. Indeed the democratic political process is a corrupting factor for the Muslim community and does not secure it’s key interests that transcends any personal benefits. These key interests are the development of an Islamic community that holds onto and acts by it’s Islamic beliefs and values while conveying an Islamic call to wider non Muslims society. Anything that compromises the building of an Islamic community in the UK would therefore be seen as antagonistic to the key interests of the Muslim community in the UK.
“You are the best of the nations raised up for mankind; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors.” [Quran TMQ 3:110]