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Voting is coming up next year, Can we vote in Islam ?

Answered as per Hanafi Fiqh by Askimam.org

Voting is coming up next year, Can we vote in Islam. I am abit concern that I may be voting for non-muslims and they are going to implement un-islamic laws in south africa, please help as the Jamiat in JHB have placed notices in all mosques that we have to register. My urgument is that we all will be voting for non-muslims who dont represent us, also they will implement laws like abortion, prostitution also alowing alcohol. So is voting alowed ?


An Islamic perspective Before we embark on the issue of whether Muslims will be permitted or not to vote in the forthcoming General Elections, it would be appropriate to bring the significance of voting in the light of Shariah to the fore:-

The Significance Of Voting In The Light Of The Shariah
The elections should not be considered lightly as merely a game or a worldly pursuit wherein someone wins and someone loses. It should not be perceived as being a vic- tory or loss in terms of worldly and material gain alone. Beneath all this machinery and mechanism of the voting and electoral process there is also the spiritual aspect of either abiding by or transgressing the Divine Laws Of Shapiah.

In the light of Shariah, casting of votes bears the hallmark of very important responsibilities viz:

I. Voting as a form of testimony (Giving Shahadah):
Firstly, voting is a testimonial. By voting for a certain candidate or party, the voters are indirectly testifying to the credibility of that candidate or party. We, as voters, would be certifying that the party in whose favour we are casting our votes is capable of delivering the goods in as far as Islamic values and ideas are concerned. That party will endeavour and fight for the preservation and survival of our Islamic Beliefs, Laws, Norms and Values. It will not interfere with our Beliefs and Places of Worship. It will give us the freedom and right to implement rulings and judgements in religious issues in accordance with Muslim Personal Law. It will uphold Islamic values such as eradicating oppression and fostering good character, peace and harmony among the people.

II. Choosing ‘Lesser of two evils ‘ if confronted with a choice:
As we are in a unique situation where all the parties are non-Islamic and secular parties will not be able to guarantee all our Islamic requirements and demands in their entirety. It would be naive to expect that Perhaps, some party will oblige by guaranteeing most of them, in which case the voter could then opt for a decision less detrimental to Deen. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has said.

[ Arabic text ]
Translation: He who is confronted with two crucial decisions, should opt for the decision that is less detrimental [Kashful-khina Lil-Ajlooni vol 2, 322 and Asraarul-Mar-fooaah, Mulla Ali Qari 323).

III. Voting for a party less capable of fulfilling the rights of Muslims is a breach of trust (Amanah):
Since seeing that voting is a testimony (giving Shahadah) and being aware that a particular party will be more willing to fulfil our Islamic rights, not to vote for this party will he tantamount to transgression and breach of trust in the eyes of Shariah. Voting for a party that is less sympathetic to the Islamic cause would not only mean giving false evidence (which is a sin), but it could also mean becoming an instrument and tool of ensuing havoc, and corruption caused by that party in as far as the complete disregard of Islamic values and ideas is concerned.

IV. Voting and bribery (Rishwah):
One should also take cognisance of the fact that it has virtually become a norm of the elections-albeit a corrupted norm that in order to woo voters, parties tend to offer bribes in exchange for votes. Such bribery should be rejected with the contempt it deserves. Voting should he based on total integrity and sincerity wherein priority should he given to upholding the torch of Islam. The honour and dignity of the Muslims should he maintained at all times. The Deenul-Islam entrusted to us by Allah Ta’ala should be viewed not only as a boon but also as an awsome responsibility; hence extreme caution and diligence should be exercised in keeping its prestige aloft. One cannot surrender ones Islamic ethics for the sake of pittance of the Dunya. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has warned us in a Hadith that a time will come when a Muslim will sell his Deen for a few coppers. Hence, if a Muslim exercises his right of voting, he should do so keeping the consequences of the Hereafter in mind and not regard it as something to he done impromptu merely because it is a custom of the times or because ulterior motives can he achieved thereby.

V. Voting as a form of intercession (Shafaat):
Another aspect attached to voting is that it is a form of intercession. In other words, the voter intercedes for a certain party to come into a position where it can wield its power to acquire religious and other basic rights for the masses. Regarding intercession the Qur’an declares:

[ Arabic text ]
Translation: Whosoever intercedes with a good intercession, his shall be a portion there-from and whosoever intercedes an ill intercession his shall be a responsibility thereof.” (Al Qur’an 4:85)

The ideal intercession in an electoral process would be to intercede on behalf of the party deemed most likely to safeguard Islamic rights in particular and human rights in general. Incorrect and misleading intercession would mean voting and interceding for a party that would be unsympathetic to the tenets and requirements of Islam. For instance, it would not be permissible to vote for a party that shows complete indifference to Islamic Personal Law or/and clings to the now medieval policy of discrimination on the basis of colour and race; as such policies and doctrines are in total conflict with Islamic teachings. Interceding for such a party would mean becoming a tool of oppression and injustice.

VI. Voting must not be an aid to injustice:
Allah Ta’ala says in the Qur’an:

[ arabic ]
Translation: “And assist one another in acts of righteousness and piety and do not assist one another in act of transgression and sin.” (Al-Qur’an 5:2)

[ arabic ]
Translation: “I do not wish to be an aid to the wrong-doers.” (Al-Qur’an 28:17).

Commenting on the latter verse Allamah Qurtabi rahmatullahi alaih writes in his tafseer:

[ arabic ]
Translation: “Ataa rahmtiillahi alaih has said regarding this verse that it is not permissible to render any assistance to a tyrant and an oppressor.” Allamah Ourtabi rahmatullahi alaih further goes on to quote a Hadith in which Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has said: ‘Whosoever walks with an oppressed person in order to assist him with his problems, Allah Ta’aala will, on the Day of Qiyamah keep the feet of such a person firm on the Pul-Siraat while the feet of others will be faltering. On the other hand, he who walks with an oppressor in order to assist him in promoting acts of injustice, Allah Ta’aala will cause his feet to falter on the Pul-Siraat on the Day when other feet will also falter.’ After quoting this Hadith, Allamah Ourtabi rahmatiulaahi alaih sums up:

Merely walking (or talking and negotiating for that matter) with an oppressor is not in itself a crime and sin (especially when the motive is to steer the oppressor away from4 acts of oppression); but it becomes a sin when one begins to assist him in spreading oppression and tyranny because this constitutes a flagrant violation.”‘(Tafseer-e-Qurtabi Vol 7, 4979).

In a Hadith Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has sounded a grave warning with regard to oppression:-

[ arabic ]
Translation:- “Whoever oppresses his brother (in this Dunya), whether it be in the form of usurping someone’s wealth or in any other manner, he should compensate and make up for that; before a Day comes (the Day of Qiyamah) when there will be no Dirham or Dinaar (money) at his disposal with which to redeem himself There compensation will materialise in the form of righteous deeds being taken from the oppressor (in proportion to the injustice perpetrated) and given. If perchance the oppressor has no good deeds to his credit, then the oppressed person’s sins will be taken and thrown onto the oppressor. (Sahih Bukhari; Mishkaat p.4351]

VII Voting as a form of representation:
Voting is also attached to the principle of representation. By voting for a certain party, one is in essence appointing that party as a representative for one’s Islamic and human rights. Here too, extreme caution has to be exercised. Only that party should be considered eligible for representation that can strive for the implementation of our Islamic rights. Incorrect representation will ultimately lead to corruption and depravity will not he confined to mere individuals, but will have a broader effect on the Muslim community as a whole.

VIII. Voting as a form of consultation (Mashwarah):
Shura means to give counsel. Thus a prospective voter is offering his suggestion as to who, in his opinion is the most entitled to receive the vote.

Jamiatul Ulama (Transvaal and Natal)

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This answer was collected from Askimam.org, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Ebrahim Desai from South Africa.

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