Voting is Permissible

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by DarulUloomTT.net


Please find attached an article containing excerpts from Quran and Sunnah. These are used to say that we as muslims should not be voting and also is the Fatwa given by Darul Uloom on this issue. Can you please read and advise on a way forward. For surely Allah knows best.



First of all, the article which you have asked me to read is one which I already read. However, I paid no attention to it, because it was totally baseless, and an individual’s personal opinion about the issue of voting.

By using these verses, the individual committed a grave sin by applying his own Tafseer to these verses, after which he applied a concocted judgement of ‘shirk’ on those who vote.

My advise to the writer of this article (who is not a scholar of Islam) is that ‘since this country’s affairs is based on elections and voting’, then it means that in the opinion of the brother, the country is governed under a shirk system. So why is this brother still living under a shirk system. Why doesn’t he go to another land where the system is not of shirk?

Those who have written this article have no knowledge of the sciences of Islam. They read Islamic books and formulate their own opinions. They do not turn to any scholar. They do not accept the authoritative works on Tafseer, hadeeth, fiqh and any other sciences. One person in this area assumes himself to be the leader and ‘khalifah’, who has not studied Islam, and every other person in that area must accept him as the final authority.

The act of drawing a picture of a man in Salaah in the position of ‘Tashahud’ is another foolish act of this writer. The index finger is used for many different reasons and not only the Shahadah. It is therefore, the height of ignorance for one to refer to dipping the index finger into ink as ‘taking the shahadah finger to cement the thrones of tyrants’. The Prophet (SAS) never referred to this finger as the ‘shahadah finger’, he always used the word ‘Sabaaba’ for this, which is the Arabic word for ‘index finger’. So using the name ‘Shahadah finger’ for the index finger a concoction of the writer which is without evidence, and it has only been used to enforce a point which is baseless and unsound.

The brother has written about the khalifah system which he propagates. However, he fails to realize that Islamic History (books) are filled with tyrant and oppressive khalifahs. It was a khalifah who used to whip the great Muhadith Ahmad Ibn Hambal everyday, and then sent him to a dungeon. It was also a khalifah who cut off the hand of Imam Malik. It was also a khalifah who imprisoned Imam Abu Hanifa. It was also the khalifah Hajaj bin Yusuf who killed thousand of scholars. It was also a khalifah during the time of Imam Ahmad bin Hambal who removed the ‘Sunni’ doctrine and imposed the deviated ‘Mutazilite’ doctrine upon the Muslims. The one who was responsible for the attack of Imam Husain was also the self-imposed khalifa Yazeed. If we look through the pages of Islamic History, we will find tyranny, oppression and injustice from the hands of those who used the ‘title’ of khalifah or ‘leader of the Muslims’. The objective of the sacred religion of Allah is that people rule with justice and fairness and they show mercy, compassion and kindness to those under their care.

The Prophet (SAS) was sent as a Prophet and Messenger. However, his first duty was not to ‘topple over’ the rule of Makkah, nor was it to fight the ‘ruling state’. Instead, it was to deliver a message to mankind. His main concern was about getting the people to believe in Allah, and not about taking over the country. In this way, he spent 13 years  as a Prophet in Makkah and lived continuously under the rule of the Makkan Quraish leaders, all of whom were not Muslims. In fact they were polytheists who practiced shirk. He (the Prophet SAS) was not concerned about who ruled Makkah, he was more concerned about spreading the message of Tauheed.

During the course of his stay in Makkah, he sent over 80 Sahabahs to the land of Abysinia to live under a Christian King (Negus). He did not instruct his companions to fight the rule and governance of the people. He sent them so that they may live in peace with others. The Sahabahs who migrated to this land were least concerned about the affairs of ‘the Government’ or ‘state rule’. They were concerned about worshipping Allah in safety and protection, and spreading the message as far as they could. Eventually, the Prophet (SAS) migrated to Madina and started to live amongst the people of this city. Here, he concentrated on preaching the religion of Islam and defending the Muslims from the attacks of the Makkans. He was least concerned about whom or what was the governance of Madina. In fact, when he arrived in Madina, he called the leaders of many tribes who were all non-Muslims, and signed a peace pact (agreement) so that everyone will live in peace and harmony. The Prophet (SAS) continued to live in Madina and preached the religion of Islam. He never assumed the leadership role of the people in Madina, nor did he seek to impose Islam as the state religion. At this time, all tribes lived on their own, with their own leaders and interacted with other tribes in a peaceful manner. The Prophet (SAS) continued in this manner, preaching and teaching Islam among the people until they all started to embrace Islam. Then eventually, due to a ‘breach of trust’ on the part of the Makkans, the Prophet(SAS) entered Makka during the course of 10 AH and this eventually led to the conquest of Makka.

What we see from the blessed life of the Prophet (SAS), is that his main aim and objective was not to change a state of governance. His sole purpose was to preach Islam, and this is exactly what he did. For approximately 22 years of his life as a Prophet, he lived in such cities and states which were not governed by Islamic or Religious law. This however, did not prevent him from his job as a Prophet. For years, he preached Islam among the people with patience and forbearance, consistency and steadfastness, and through Allah’s grace, the people accepted Islam. This transformation which took place in the lives of the people then led to a transformation in law, order and governance of the state/country and so, an Islamic state emerged. At no time, the Prophet (SAS) enforced Islam as a state religion before the conquest of Makka (which came about 22 years after he became a prophet), and at no time during his mission, he imposed himself as the ruler and governor of Makka and Madina. Along with this, we also see that, while he was in Madina, he sent many teachers and preachers to other places, only to preach and teach Islam, and not to interfere with the governance of the people. He sent Mu’az bin Jabal (RA) as a teacher to the Muslims in Yemen who embraced Islam, and allowed him to live there, although the rule was not Islamic. He also sent many sahabahs as teachers/preachers to nearby tribes and states directing them to propagate Islam. From the life of the Prophet (SAS), and from the teachings he gave to his Sahabahs, it can be clearly seen that a Muslim must continue to practice his religion wherever he is, and try his best to preach it to others Allah Has given the Muslims a religion which they can practice any where in the world, they do not need to be the leaders of a country nor do they need Islam to be the state religion to practice Islam. For 22 years of his life, the Prophet (SAS) lived in a territory that was not known to be governed under Islamic law, and this was not haram, nor can it be said that they lived under a ‘shirk system’. After his demise, the sahabahs moved to many different countries in order to preach Islam, and they lived under the ‘governance of the day’ which was not an Islamic one. This was not haram, nor can it be said that they lived under a shirk system. The most important duty for a Muslim is to practice Islam wherever he is.

At present, Muslims find themselves living in almost every country of the world. Some of these countries are ‘known’ to be Islamic, while many others are not. Muslims who live in these non-Islamic countries are normally in the minority, and are in these countries on account of different reasons. Most of these non-Islamic countries are governed by a set of laws which are normally made taking the welfare of all citizens into consideration. Leaders of these countries from the very beginning, were not Muslims or are not presently Muslims, hence, it is not obligatory upon them to follow the laws of Islam. While formulating their ‘system of governance’ they look at being fair and equal to those who live in their country. In this regard, they have given full freedom and liberty for citizens to practice their religion, and to build their places of worship. They have also given them the privilege of having their own laws of marriage and divorce, and also allow their religious leaders to decide their cases. In countries like these, elections and voting is not about religion, nor is it about religious beliefs and practices. It is simply about who can run the affairs of the country with justice and fairness and give the citizens their due. Whether Muslims like it or not, they are already in a system which is connected to them. At present, all Muslims pay tax to the government. If it is said that this is a ‘Taghoot’ system (as the brother wants us to believe) then it means that we are supporting and propagating a ‘Taghoot System’ by giving our monies to the Government. At present, thousands of Muslims are employed in the government service in different fields. If the brother’s statement is correct, then it means that all the Muslims must now leave their jobs since they are working for a ‘Taghoot System’.

What we need to know is that as Muslims, Allah did not command us to change a system of governance. Allah has ordered us to practice Islam and spread the message far and wide. In this regard, we are not to force people to Islam, nor are we to force a ‘religious system’ upon people who are not Muslims and are in the majority. The way of the Prophet (SAS) was the best way, and this is what we need to follow.

Allah Has ordered us to be true and sincere believers and follow the dictates of our religion to the best of our ability. Whether we have Islamic Governance or not, we have to continue to fulfill our duty to Allah. Today, there is absolutely no country (even the Islamic ones) who runs their affairs in accordance to what the brother has described. Even in Makka/Madina there is the monarchy rule. All the others have a similar rule, and are going in the direction of Democracy.

In many countries, voting is not about religion or religious beliefs, it is about managing the affairs of the country. This sort of management is not about religion or religious groups. It is about using the wealth of the country in the proper manner, building roads, schools, hospitals, looking after the elderly, fighting crime, implementing law and order, and a whole lot of other things which we all know about. As such, whenever people are asked to vote for a person, it is about voting for someone who can do the above in the best possible way with honesty, integrity and fair play. If the good and honest people are not elected through voting, then the bad, dishonest ones may have the chance to become the leaders who may then, not rule with justice and fairness. In this country, the Muslims are a great number and their voices can be heard. Though, they may not be able to change the system of governance, they can indeed change the people who run this system.

Voting is not shirk, and voting for a  person to run the affairs of the country is not voting for Taghoot. It is sheer ignorance on the part of some to use these statements. These people simply give their personal opinion and interpretation of Quranic verses and ahadith, and propagate it as the truth. When in reality it is totally wrong.

All Muslims believe that Allah alone must be worshipped, and that his law is supreme which must be adhered to, and this is exactly what Muslims do. However, along with this, there will always be the need for people to run the daily affairs of the country. If we put people to take care of building roads, bridges and drains and to overlook the expenses and income of the country, what shirk are we committing? If we put people who will secure the borders of our country and to protect us from criminals, what shirk are we committing? How are we setting up rivals to Allah by doing this?

People who make these ‘guesses’ are clearly applying wrong judgement on Muslims without having any knowledge of the matter. The verse which the brother quoted of Sura Nisa (4) verse 60 was another reckless and careless act on his part.

This verse in reality was revealed regarding a special case where a hypocrite decided to take his case to a Jewish leader for a ruling, instead of the Prophet (SAS). Eventually, he did receive the ruling of the Prophet (SAS) on the matter, but was displeased with it. So, in reality, the hypocrite who declared that he was a Muslim wished to go for judgement to a Jewish leader and ignored the ruling of the Prophet (SAS). Due to the fact that the Jewish leader was a wicked person, Allah used the word Taghoot for him.

It must be understood that when Muslims vote or elect a person to run the affairs of a country, they are not ignoring or neglecting the teachings of Islam, and are not taking a ruling from a non- Muslim above the ruling of the Prophet (SAS). No one is voted for/elected to impose their teachings/religion upon others.

The other verse which has been quoted refers to the issue of following a person’s words and statements in a manner that one equates it to the orders/commands of Allah.

Many scholars of recent times have written on the topic of voting, and from their statements, one will see clearly that what has been written by the writer, is based on his personal deduction and ignorance of the shariah. Some of these statements are as follows:-

DR.AZZAM TAMIMI [Director, Institute of Islamic Political Thought] explains. He says that: “Those who treat the questions of democracy or power-sharing as matters of ‘aqeeda (faith), usually do not have specialized or adequate knowledge in the humanities, and are indoctrinated with some shallow Islamic literature. They tend to define things with extreme simplicity. For instance, they understand Islamic government to mean ‘God’s rule’ and democracy to mean ‘people’s rule’. Not only are issues of politics too complex to be simplified in this manner, but the conception of God’s rule is totally misunderstood.”[ Voting in Islam by Islamic Forum of Europe, April 2010, London].


(European Council for Fatwa and Research) rejects the notion that Muslims are forbidden from engaging in the democratic system, adding that democracy is a political system opposed to dictatorship, not to Islam. He states the key features of democracy – individual freedom, equality, rule of law, justice and holding the government to account – are enshrined in Islam. The Shaykh concludes that political participation cannot be limited to establishing Islamic law alone. And while that may be an objective in Muslim countries, it is not necessary for Muslims in other countries to have this objective.[Ibid]

SHAYKH HATHAM AL-HADDAD (Islamic Shari’a Council) is also of the opinion that voting and participating in the democratic political process is not haram or kufr.[Ibid]

SHAYKH SULAYMAN GHANI of Tooting Islamic Centre in London stressed that the ‘most important aim of Islamic Law is the deterrence of harm and the attainment of good. It is important therefore to make an informed choice by taking part in the political process. Echoing the same point, Shaykh Abdul-Qayum of The East London Mosque emphasized the need for Muslims to remain united.[Ibid]

SHAYKH MICHAEL MUM1SA, University of Cambridge reminds us that: There is no explicit textual evidence either from the Qur’an nor Sunna that can be used to substantiate the view that Muslims in Britain should not vote or that participating in voting is an act of apostasy.” Moreover, the Shaykh reminds us of the Islamic principle al-Asl fi al-Ashya al-Ibaha, that originally all things are permissible unless proven to be unlawful. The burden is not therefore on the voter to provide evidence for participation.[Ibid]

SHAYKH NIZAM YA’QUBI, states that in the matter of elections and voting we must look at what is in the best interest of the whole community (maslaha) and what is the lesser of the two evils (Akhaf al-Dararayn).[Ibid]

SHAYKH SALMAN Al ‘AUDAH, (Saudi Arabia), issued a fatwa declaring that participation in the political process can be a vehicle to reduce suffering of Muslims. He further stated that it can be a forum for countering ineffective policies as well as being an opportunity to present alternative proposals that may help people.

This was also the conclusion in the joint statement issued by Islamic Scholars in the UK (MCB, 10/04/2010). It stated that participation in the democratic process is vital and as Muslims we have an obligation to join hands with others to elect those who will seek the common good.


In a climate where politicians are viewed as potentially corrupt, it is all too easy to be apathetic and disengage from the political process. Such dilemmas are nothing new and also not unique to Western democracies. Muslim scholars in the past have demonstrated how we can overcome such predicaments with the simple principle, which is also known in the West, of choosing the lesser of the two evils. In this regard Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said that the Shari’a was revealed to obtain all possible benefits and to prevent as much harm as possible. Its aim is to achieve the best possible scenario from two good options if both cannot be achieved together, and to ward off the worst of two evils if both evils cannot be prevented.[Voting in Islam Islamic Forum of Europe].

From the above it can be clearly seen that the principle in Shari’a known as warding off the greater of two evils even if it involves performing the lesser evil (Akhaf al-Dararayn) is an obvious and agreed upon tool to help Muslims deal with difficult situations, whilst still being loyal to their tradition and heritage. Shaykh Muhammad al-Kawthari [Dar al-lftah, UK], adds that at times voting becomes necessary, substantiating this point with a Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah 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.” [Al-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud].[Ibid]

DR. JAMAL BADAWI, of Canada illustrates the point further: “Suppose there are two candidates, it may be that both of them are unsympathetic to Muslim causes. However, one of them may be more detrimental to Muslim interests than the other. If the Muslim community was to collectively abstain from voting, then the candidate more detrimental to Muslim interests might win and pursue policies such as closing down mosques, Islamic schools and work towards banning the hijab.[Ibid]

Answering this question, SHAYKH MUHAMMAD Al- HANOOTI (North American Fiqh Council) argues: “More than half of our welfare and interests are run through a polling system: schooling, sanitation, zoning, social services, police, court, medication, finance, business, sports, recreation, etc are run by people that are elected to office. If you have a vote power, you have the legitimacy to reach and accomplish anything of your needs or goals. Without it, you are a dead battery. Can you tell me, where in the Qur’an or Hadith does it say, ‘Don’t take help for these affairs?’ Are you going to tell me that I am loyal or giving allegiance to the kuffar (non- Muslims) because I want to lead myself in the way that can get a school for my children, good sanitation for my neighbourhood or good cooperation with the police to protect me? When it comes to making a law by congressman, senators, or any other politicians, I should try my best to oppose anything contradictory to Shari’a.”[Ibid]

It is established so far, that the overwhelming majority of Muslim scholars have not only said that political participation is allowed but that it is to be encouraged. Amongst these majority voices are the largest body of Muslim scholars, the Fiqh Council of Jeddah headed by the Mufti of Saudi Arabia along with scholars such as Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Shaykh Muhammad bin Bayyah, Dr Wahba Zuhaili, Dr Taha al-‘Awani, Shaykh Abdul Karim Zaydan, Dr Munir Wasil, former Mufti of Egypt, Shaykh Nizam Ya’qubi, Shaykh Haitham al-Haddad from the Islamic Shari’a Council, Mufti Muhammad ibn Adam from Dar al-lftaa in Leicester, Mufti Zubair Butt from Al Qalam Institute, Shaykh Muhammad al-Shinqiti, Shaykh Salman al-‘Audah, Shaykh Muhammad al-Munajjid and Maulana Khalilul Rahman Nomani Nadwi. [Ibid]

In conclusion, I quote the famous statement of the great scholar and Muhadith, Hadiz Ibn Qayyim. He writes, ‘The Shariah is all justice, common good and wisdom. Any rule that departs form justice to injustice…..or departs from public interest (Maslaha) to harm (Mafsads)…is not part of shari’a, even if it is arrived at by ta’wil (literal interpretation). (I’laam Al- Muwaqi’in – Hafiz Ibn Qayyim).

And Allah knows best.

Mufti Waseem Khan

This answer was collected from DarulUloomTT.net, which is operated under the supervision of Mufti Waseem Khan from Darul Uloom Trinidad and Tobago.