1. Voting is just a means of choosing the most popular candidate. What’s wrong with voting in the UK General Election?
Voting is a means to ascertain the opinion of the people. It is a means used in different areas of life in both political realms and in the commercial world. Voting is something Islam permitted and it was used in different forms throughout Islamic history.
Voting is a means, therefore what is being voted over needs to be permissible according to Ahkam Shariah. There can be no vote on implementing a Hukm of Allah (ﷻ), or if hijab should be permitted as these are issues Islam has mandated for implementation. It would therefore not be permissible to have a referendum on such issues as the Islamic texts already command them. As Muslims, we do not have a choice over the Hukm of the Creator.
In the context of the upcoming elections in the UK, voting in a democratic system is a decision to elected MPs, who sit in Parliament making laws amongst a number of other duties. This is prohibited because only Allah (ﷻ) is the Law Giver, Al-Hakim. Only Allah (ﷻ) has the absolute right to make laws.
Allah (ﷻ) has commanded us to refer matters to His judgement and to follow the Shariah, and has forbidden us to rule with anything else, as is clear from a number of ayaat in the Quran.
وَأَنِ احْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءَهُمْ
“And that you should judge/rule between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their low desires” [Al-Ma’idah: 49]
2. We are here to stay in the UK. We pay taxes and use public services from health to education. Don’t we have a civic duty to vote?
A civic duty does not overrule the Shariah, which is the command of Allah (ﷻ) derived from the Quran and Sunnah.
وَمَا كَانَ لِمُؤْمِنٍ وَلَا مُؤْمِنَةٍ إِذَا قَضَى اللَّهُ وَرَسُولُهُ أَمْرًا أَن يَكُونَ لَهُمُ الْخِيَرَةُ مِنْ أَمْرِهِمْ ۗ وَمَن يَعْصِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ ضَلَالًا مُّبِينًا
It is not for a believing man or a believing woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided a matter, that they should [thereafter] have any choice about their affair. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger has certainly strayed into clear error. [Al-Ahzab: 36]
A civic duty is one where people considered residents perform based on customs. Customs constantly change, therefore building any position on such a basis will be liable to a constant change.
3. Some of the candidates and the political parties they represent will be harmful to Muslims while others will be beneficial if they come into Government. Should we therefore not vote for the candidate or party that lessens the harm or is most beneficial to Muslims?
The premise of this assertion is built upon the human mind determining benefit and harm. The Shariah is followed to worship Allah (ﷻ) irrespective of whether it is beneficial or harmful. Otherwise, some would not pay zakat and others would not follow Allah (ﷻ)’s laws on inheritance because following Allah (ﷻ)’s rule would reduce their wealth. This would be absurd and would make a mockery of the Shariah.
The scholars that used the principle of benefit applied it only when there was no clear evidence in the Quran and Sunnah on a matter. With respect to voting in a democratic system, its prohibition is clear from the decisive evidences presented above.
The ultimate way to lessen the harm upon the Ummah has been explained to us by our Prophet (ﷺ) who worked to establish Islam and then implemented the Ahkam of Islam. Getting involved in the secular democratic system has shown us that despite some small marginal benefits, what the Ummah has lost in providing a leg-up to the secular system has been far more damaging.
4. Is there not a principle in Islam of choosing the lesser of two evils that allows us to vote, which in origin is prohibited?
The lesser of two evils argument for voting suggests that it is halal (permissible) to vote, that is, commit haram to avoid what seems a bigger haram. Necessity (dharura) in Islamic Law is applied only in times of necessity such as when one is forced to eat pork when dying of hunger, and then only to eat an amount sufficient to stave off death. Dharuraha has strict principles in application, to ensure it is applied only in life and death situations. Voting in the UK general election is not, by any definition, a life and death situation.
5. When voting, it does not mean I endorse or approve of all the views of the candidate I am voting for. Should we not be voting for Jeremy?
Corbyn who has spoken against Islamaphobia and supported Muslim causes like Palestine and Kashmir?
Voting is not about endorsing the views of individual candidates. Candidates represent their political party with its ideology and policies. Voting is executing a trust or amanah. We will be questioned by Allah (ﷻ) on how we executed all our trusts. Willingly giving your amanah (trust) to any candidate/political party that has an agenda contrary to Islam, its teachings, laws and judgements is prohibited.]
وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ شَدِيدُ الْعِقَابِ
And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty. [Al-Ma’idah: 2]
There is cross-party agreement, underpinned by the British state, which accepts Israel’s occupation of Palestine and promotes LGBTQ, just two clear examples that are contrary to Islam.
6. Is it correct to say that not voting is giving your vote to the party that’s most harmful to Muslims? Therefore, some scholars are saying it is obligatory to vote and sinful if you don’t vote.
As stated above as Muslims we base our actions on the Shariah (halal and haram) from clear and decisive evidences from the Quran and Sunnah, and not whether it is harmful or beneficial. So, there is no question of not voting being sinful.
It is incorrect to say that not voting gives your vote to the opposition. In fact, if none of the electorate voted, the government would not have a mandate or legitimacy. In reality, the turnout at UK general elections has decreased from over 80% of the electorate in the 1950s, to under 69% in the 2017 general election; as people lose trust in politicians and mainstream politics to deliver real change to their lives.
7. By tactical voting can Muslims make a difference in the election?
Our circumstance should not be the basis for our actions. A Muslim’s decision to vote, as with any action in Islam, must be based on the criteria of halal and haram only, because every action is an act of worship when done in accordance with the commands of Allah (ﷻ).
While the Muslim population may be important in some marginal seats, that’s according to the last general election and the political scene has shifted considerably following three years of the Brexit impasse. Furthermore, demographics have changed with new voters and constituency boundary changes. Traditional party loyalties have turned, with the creation of new political parties and more independents. At the same time, the so-called Muslim vote is not homogenous, meaning the swing in the last general election may be irrelevant to determining this one. Tactical voting is therefore a gamble at best, with little certainty of the desired outcome.
8. Isn’t voting the only way to achieve our interest in the UK?
Every election the community is encouraged to participate on the pretext of fear in that non-participation will worsen our situation or false hope that participation will bring change.
Muslims were told to vote for Tony Blair and we all know what happened next – the Iraq war, with the death of millions and the distraction of a nation. Despite this, in the following general election, Muslims were told to back Sadiq Khan – who then went on the promote LGBTQ.
Muslims face huge challenges living in Britain, and in the West in general. Politicians, of all colours, applauded by the media have blamed Islam and immigration for the crises in housing, education and health, turning the wider community against Muslims. This has created an atmosphere against Islam and Muslims with all political parties pandering to public demands to be tougher on Muslims; with Brexit basically an excuse for racism. What we are witnessing is the utter failure of the system and the scapegoating to Muslims as a cover. It does not make sense to run to these politicians and the same system that has created this mess.
In a hadith narrated by Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه), the Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“A believer is not stung twice (by something) out of one and the same hole.” [Sahih al-Bukhari 6133]
On a wider point, by calling for voting we are telling Muslims to put their faith in a godless democracy and capitalism that have ruined the West (homelessness, food banks, family and social break down) and is ruining countries around the world (poverty, unemployment, inflation etc).
9. How else can we protect Muslim interests without political participation?
Not voting does not mean we do not engage with wider society. Indeed, we must help our community, strengthen its Islam and economic wellbeing. Voting is a distraction when real groundwork is required to build self-sufficient masjids and institutions to develop our youth, support our sisters, protect our elders and give dawah to non-Muslims.
10. How should Muslims view the General Election?
Muslims need to rise above this political circus. Rather than getting embroiled in nasty politics of the West with its lies, broken promises, prejudice and hate, with scapegoating of vulnerable communities. We need to show what politics means in Islam. It means being principled, without compromising on the halal and haram. It means looking after the affairs of the people without prejudice or favour, being hard on the oppressors and soft on the victims, and at all times being honest with the people.
This was demonstrated when Abu Bakr (رضي الله عنه) became the first Caliph, the Ameer of the Muslims.
“O people, I have been appointed over you, though I am not the best among you. If I do well, then help me; and if I act wrongly, then correct me. Truthfulness is synonymous with fulfilling the trust, and lying is equivalent to treachery. The weak among you is deemed strong by me, until I return to them that which is rightfully theirs, insha Allah. And the strong among you is deemed weak by me, until I take from them what is rightfully (someone else’s), insha Allah. No group of people abandons military/armed struggle in the path of Allah, except that Allah makes them suffer humiliation. And evil / mischief does not become widespread among a people, except that Allah inflicts them with widespread calamity. Obey me so long as I obey Allah and His Messenger. And if I disobey Allah and His Messenger, then I have no right to your obedience. Stand up now to pray, may Allah have mercy on you” [Al-Bidaayah wan-Nihaayah (6/305,306)]
In these testing times may Allah (ﷻ) protect and guide the Ummah of Muhammad (ﷺ). Ameen.