The UK is heading towards one of the most crucial elections of modern times. With fear growing against Muslims and recent legislation from the right-wing Tory government, Muslims are feeling ever more isolated. The rise of the extreme right wing UKIP party, whose members have called Islam an evil cult, for mosques to be shut down, for Muslims to sign a Nazi style charter and leader Nigel Farage said Muslims want to kill everyone, called for (and then recounted) the banning of the Burka and made ordinary Brits scared by falsely accusing Muslims of having formed ghettos where Shariah Law had replaced British Law, could be very troublesome for Muslims should this election grant them seats in parliament.
While such an election could be pivotal for the fate of Muslim freedom in the UK, some extremist Muslims have been pasted over the mainstream media saying that voting is a form of Kufr (disbelief). Although no such statements have been made by Muslim scholars, it has been wrongly reported that Saudi Arabia’s scholars hold similar views.
This couldn’t be further from the truth as the current senior Saudi scholars have reiterated the calls of the older senior scholars of Saudi Arabia in their encouraging of Muslims in the West to vote.
All fataawa (verdicts) are contained in their full length in this document: Scholars on Voting
Which Saudi Scholars Encouraged People to vote?
The well known giants of the Salafi world Shaykh AbdulAziz Bin Baaz, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Uthaymeen and Shaykh NasirUddin Al-Albani all encouraged Muslims to vote for the lesser of two evils.
From the current senior scholars of Saudi Arabia the Grand Mufti Shaykh AbdulAziz Aal-AshShaykh, Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al-Abaad and Shaykh WaseeUllah Abbass along with the “Permanent Committee for Islamic Research and Issuing Fatwas”, a panel of the most senior scholars in Saudi Arabia, all echoed similar calls encouraging Muslims in the West to vote.
It is An Obligation: ibn Uthaymeen
Shaykh Uthaymeen’s fatwa is the most striking. He said it is an Waajib (obligation) to vote for the lesser of two evils in elections in the west. “It is an obligation that the Muslim vote for the the less evil or harmful to the Muslims from among the non-Muslims and there is no problem in this
Pay attention! I said Waajib (obligatory)”
He backed his statement up with evidence from the Quran (Surah Rum: 1-4) in which Allah tells the Muslims to rejoice at the victory of the Christians over the Persian Magians. Shaykh Uthaymeen says “Allah has decided that we be happy for their victory. That is, about the Christians defeating the Persians, because they (the Christians) were closer to Islam”
The Confusion on Shaykh Albaani’s Views on Voting
Shaykh Albaani gave two verdicts, one for Muslims living in non-Muslim countries in which he encouraged Muslims to vote and one for Muslims living in Muslim countries in which he was opposed to democracy.
He even made clear that voting is different to standing for parliament or believing in democracy. He said about voting that “If a Muslim is placed between two evils he chooses the lesser of the two evils” and explained that the “…candidates who are imposed upon the Muslims, meaning that one of them has to be elected whether the Muslims like it or not”
He encouraged strategic voting, explaining that “Hypothetically speaking, if it were only the Muslims voting [for these candidates] and no one else – not even one other person is voting – such that if the Muslims refrained from voting they wouldn’t be elected, then it is not permissible to vote for them.” He then explained that strategic voting is not because the candidate is better but a lesser evil “…however based on the principle, and memorize what I am saying, based on the principle of repelling the greater evil with the lesser evil; not because he is better.” He then went further to clear up his opposition to democracy “…this system is not Islamic in any way whatsoever”
He explained with a theoretical situation in which many candidates of various religions and political beliefs ran for office, but only one of them was not Islamophobic. In this situation he says that the Muslims must vote for this one candidate further saying “If there is no way around the fact that one or two of them are going to be elected, then what should the Muslims do? Should they say, ‘We are not going to get involved? They are Christians. Let them fight each other.’ No, this is not the case, because two of these candidates will be elected regardless. So O Muslims, O you who have sense, is this principle to be applied in this scenario or not? I say yes, because the Muslims in this case are between two evils.”
What if Muslims are Not Forced To Vote?
Shaykh AbdulMuhsin Al-Abaad is one of the most reputable and senior scholars in Saudi Arabia today. When asked about voting in the West he said “…voting for them is an example of doing the lesser of two evils to avoid the greater evil” and then used the same evidence from the Quran as Shaykh Uthaymeen “If people have two choices, one being abhorrent and the other also detestable but of less harm, which should the people choose? The people should choose the lesser of the two evils, correct? Even though the Roman Christians and the Persians are all disbelievers, the people were happy when the Roman Christians were victorious over the Persians”
Many people who oppose voting say they are not forced to vote therefore should avoid it. Shaykh Al-Abaad said regarding this that “What I have mentioned is based on the premise that some benefit for the Muslims may be attained by voting.”
Senior Scholar who Frequents the UK Encourages Voting in Western Elections
Shaykh Dr. WaseeUllah Abbass is a senior scholar who teaches in the Masjid al-Haram in Makkah and Umm-ul Qura University in Makkah and is an examiner in the University of Madinah. He is a known as the Muhadith of Makkah as well as being the Mufti of Makkah. From the senior scholars of Saudi Arabia he is the one who has visited the West the most and as such has a deep understanding of life in the West. Furthermore he is a native Indian and is very familiar with the electoral process due to his life in India. It should be noted that Shaykh Dr. WaseeUllah Abbass was granted Saudi citizenship for his efforts serving Islam.
“That which appears correct to me, by the will of Allah, is that if some good is anticipated as a result of voting, then we vote. We vote for the candidate as long as he is presently benefiting the Muslims or promises to benefit the Muslims in the future, even if he is not a Muslim. It would be inappropriate for the Muslims to refrain from voting for this individual, especially if the leader of the Muslims can dictate terms, conditions, and other stipulations on him as a result of the Muslims voting. For example, the leader of the Muslims says, ‘We will vote for you on the condition that you support our interests, mention them to your superiors, etc.’ And this applies in any country where the Muslims are a minority, not just in America.”
“The Muslims should not hesitate to vote because withholding their votes will not harm these candidates in the least. They will win by the votes of non-Muslims regardless if the Muslims vote or not…, the Muslims can benefit from their empathy and their sympathetic views and understanding of Muslim causes. This is a general Islamic benefit required by the Islamic public interests. This is our belief.”
Assisting in Ruling by Other than Allah
Shaykh WaseUllah was asked if voting assisted the ruling by other than the book of Allah he replied “This doesn’t assist the one ruling by other than what Allah has revealed in view of the fact that if we don’t vote, the [non-Muslims] will win by their own votes. They will be elected without a doubt. They will come into power by their own accord whether or not we isolate ourselves from them or from the entire world… Thus, this does not assist them in establishing non-Islamic laws. They are the rulers and the ones in authority in those lands whether we vote for them or not.”
Shaykh WaseeUllah who is well known for researching an issue in depth before speaking on it said “I mention this with a clear conscience because we have heard our Shaykhs give this verdict, especially when it benefits the Muslims. This is also the case in India; some of the idol worshippers in the Parliament speak on behalf of the Muslims and their interests…and it is possible that Allah will aid the religion by using a disbeliever.”
The View of Shaykh Bin Baaz
Shaykh WaseeUllah explains that what he explained above is “…also the verdict given by our Shaykhs in India. Even Shaikh Bin Baaz, may Allah have mercy on him, from what we have heard, used to rule with the permissibility of participating in elections”
Shaykh Bin Baaz himself was asked about uniting with Muslims who differ in beliefs and methodology in a country where Muslims are a minority, he stated “The call to unite the Muslims is, whichever way you look at it, a good thing and very important and there is a pressing need for it. However, if knowledge and correct understanding of religion and the tenets of faith accompany it, then this is more complete and more obligatory.”
The Permanent Committee
The Lajna Ad-Da’imah is a group of senior scholars who give verdicts on contemporary issues. They said “It is prescribed for Muslims who are living in non-Muslim states to unite, to form bonds amongst themselves and cooperate with one another, whether that is in the name of Islamic parties or Islamic organizations, because that is a kind of cooperating in righteousness and piety.”
They even said that Muslims of strong faith and integrity should get more involved “Whoever has an understanding of Islam, strong faith, Islamic integrity, farsightedness and eloquence, and is thus able to exert some influence on the direction of the party so that it will take an Islamic direction, may get involved in these parties or with the one which is most likely to be more receptive towards the truth”
The Muslim World League
In 2007 the Muslim World League held a session in Makkah in which they gave a verdict on voting. Their message mirrored what the above scholars said. They said that a Muslim should weigh up the pros and cons of voting and that it is permissible with guidelines including the intention to ward off evil and to bring about a positive affect on the Muslims and that this should not lead neglecting the religion. The full fatwa can be found here
What is at Stake in the UK
While Labour leader Ed Miliband said he will outlaw Islamophobia and recognise the Palestinian state, the conservatives are sticking to their Islamophobic guns. Recently we saw the Conservative government introduce false and harsh attacks on Muslims such as Trojan Horse and they also introduced legislation which singled out Muslims with the CTS bill. Apart from this the Conservative government’s undying support for Zionism and their support for anti-Muslim media should any Muslim worried for the future.
If this was not enough, UKIP have grown recently. They have close links to anti-Muslim Islamophobes across Europe who incite fear of Muslims, (previously) call for the Burka to be banned, call for the Quran to be banned and for mosques to be shut down.
If anyone is in any doubt what a right-wing government winning from the fuel of the countries Islamophobic sentiment can achieve then we need not look far. In France the face veil is banned, beards are banned, mosques are being curbed and now even long skirts are being banned!
If Muslims do not vote then we have no one but ourselves to blame when our women cry at not being able to wear the Islamic dress they wish to wear or when our men have to bring a blade to their beards.
For the sake of Allah, get out and vote this Thursday.