Every year in England, we the Muslims are split on the issue of: “whether it is permissible or not to vote for man made laws” I ask this question as to whether it is permissible to vote for other then Allah’s laws, and does this lead to taghoot or shirk?
Are we only allowed to follow the shariah? The main argument is weather or not we are allowed to participate in this voting process?
In the name of Allah, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful,
The process of voting in non-Muslim democratic countries is not based on religious ideologies neither are elections won and lost on the basis of religion. As such, a candidate that stands up in an election does not promise to implement the laws of Islam or any other religion for that matter.
Normally a candidate promises the public better services and facilities. These services may also be connected to a particular religion, like promising Muslims financial assistance for the construction of Masjids, and so on.
Therefore, to vote a particular candidate or party in non-Muslim countries will be permissible and not considered a sin or Kufr. When one votes for a party, it does not necessarily mean that one agrees completely with their beliefs and ideologies, rather the intention is that the candidate (or party) will be of help to the whole community.
In light of the above, it becomes clear that to vote in itself is not something that is impermissible. However, the following should be kept in mind.
Voting in a way is giving a testimony in favour of the person/party whom one is voting. The way false testimony is a major sin, to vote in favour of a candidate that one knows is not worthy will also be unlawful and a major sin.
Allah Most High says:
“Allah commands you to render back your trusts to those whom they are due.” (Surah al-Nisa, 58)
He also says:
“When you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned.” (al-An’am, 152)
“And shun the word that is false.” (al-Hajj, 30)
Bearing false testimony has been considered one of the major sins. Imam Dhahabi (may Allah have mercy on him) included bearing false testimony in his famous book al-Kaba’ir, and then related the following Hadith:
“Shall I not inform you of the greatest sins (akbar al-kaba’ir): Associating partners with Allah (shirk), disobedience to parents, bearing false witness and speaking falsehood.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
When one is giving his vote, he is actually giving testimony on the fact that the candidate (or party) is trustworthy in his beliefs and actions, and better than the other candidates.
In a situation where there is no worthy candidate (as in non-Muslim countries, where at least the ideologies and beliefs of the relevant parties are contrary to the teachings of Islam), then the vote should be given to the one who is the better and more trustworthy than the other candidates.
Therefore, to give a vote on the purely basis of personal connections, family relationship, and the like (when one is aware that the one given the vote is not worthy) will be considered impermissible.
Vote should be given to the candidate that one believes will give people their rights, prevent oppression, and so on.
At times, voting becomes necessary. Sayyiduna Abu Bakr (Allah be pleased with him) narrates that the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him & give him peace) said:
“If people see an oppressor and don’t prevent him, then it is very likely that Allah will include all of them in the punishment.” (Sunan Tirmidhi & Sunan Abu Dawud)
Therefore, if you see open oppression and transgression, and despite having the capability of preventing this oppression by giving your vote, you don’t do so, then in the light of this Hadith you will be sinful.
In another Hadith it is stated:
“If a believer is being humiliated in front of a individual, and he despite having the capability of preventing this humiliation, abstains from doing so, Allah will humiliate him (on the day of resurrection) in the presence of all the creation.” (Jam al-Fawa’id, 2/51)
In conclusion, voting is not something that is impermissible. If it is thought that a particular candidate or party will be of benefit to the general public in their day-to-day affairs, then the vote should be given to him. And by voting a particular party, it will not be considered that one agrees with all their ideologies and beliefs.
And Allah knows best
[Mufti] Muhammad ibn Adam
Leicester , UK