Answered by Shaykh Sulaiman Moola and Shaykh Yūsuf Badāt
I need your guidance in the light of Islamic law for the following questions;
- In what circumstances can a Muslim act as or be appointed as a proxy.
- Can he [or she] collect proxy votes from his [or her] family, friends and clan to get a position on Majlis-e-Shūra (Board of Directors). Please give example of Islamic Institutions in Islamic countries etc.
- What are the qualities of a person to hold such positions?
In the Name of God, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate
Jazāk Allāh Khayr/ Thank you for your question.
Defining Proxy and its Permissibility
Proxy in Islam is termed as “wakālah” under Islamic jurisprudence, which means to authorize someone to act or be a representative on one’s behalf. In general, this is permitted in Islam. There are several source texts that indicate its general permissibility. Some examples are listed here-below:
- God summons us to appoint an arbitrator to represent the husband or wife when there is a difficult situation in the marriage, to attempt reconciliation and or settlement. (See: Qurʾān: 4:35).
- The Prophet Yūsuf (peace and blessings upon him) requested to act on behalf of the ruler for administering crops and vegetation during the forecasted drought. (See: Qurʾān: 12:55)
- The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) appointed a number of Companions to collect zakāh charity on his behalf and distribute it to the needy (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim).
- The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) sent ʿAmr bin Umayyah (may God be pleased with him) on his behalf with a marriage proposal to Omm Ḥabībah (may God be pleased with her). (See: Siyar A’alām Al-Nubalāʿ)
The wisdom of proxy being permitted is that there are times when one is not available to conduct a transaction or obtain a right. Thus, by appointing another person on one’s behalf, the transaction can be completed and or the right is obtained.
Proxy is permissible, islamicaly legal and allowed (mubāḥ). It is praiseworthy when it is the means to support something praiseworthy. Proxy would be religiously disliked (makrūh) when it is the cause to support a disliked matter. Likewise, proxy would be forbidden (ḥarām) to support a prohibited matter.
Conditions for an Islamicaly Valid Proxy
- The one appointing (muwakkil) another person should have a right in conducting the transaction that is being delegated to another.
- The one appointed (wakīl) should be one who is competent and capable of conducting the transaction.
- The task and the individual appointed for proxy must be clearly specified. There should be no ambiguity.
- There must be consent and agreement from both, the one appointing and the one appointed for proxy.
- The matter or task in which one is appointed must be a matter that is permissible in Islam for proxy. For example, one cannot appoint another to perform their mandatory prayers (farḍ ṣalah) on one’s behalf.
Masājid Boards and Elections
Based on the above, there is no harm or objection if a community agrees to use the election and voting process to appoint a masjid board or committee to run the day to day activities and make decisions for the masjid. Some examples of similar committees, from source texts are as follows:
- The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) asked the Anṣār to appoint a twelve member committee who would lead them and their community. (See: Musnad Aḥmad, Ṭabrānī and Muṣannaf Ibn Abī Shaybah)
- The Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings upon him) asked a delegation of the Hawāzin to have everyone in their community appoint a council of competent individuals who would make decisions on behalf of their tribe. (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
- ʿAbd Al-Raḥmān bin ʿAwf (may God be pleased with him) waited three days seeking input from the masses before making the decision regarding Othmān’s leadership. (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
- ʿOmar bin Khaṭṭāb (may God be pleased with him) reprimanded some people when they expressed that after his demise they would pledge allegiance to a particular individual. ʿOmar bin Khaṭṭāb (may God be pleased with him) emphasised that they must seek the opinions of the masses before appointing the next leader. (See: Ṣaḥīḥ Bukhārī)
- Muʿāwiyah (may God be pleased with him) deposed and removed ʿObaydullāh bin Ziyad (may God be pleased with him) as governor of Baṣrah, as some of the residents of Baṣrah disapproved his leadership. Thereafter Muʿāwiyah (may God be pleased with him) said, “Choose a governor that you all approved of.” (Tarīkh Al-Ṭabariy)
Seeking Proxies to Attain a Masjid Board Position
To answer your question regarding seeking proxies for a masjid board position, kindly note that if every candidate who is running for a masjid board post all have the same right of canvasing and soliciting for votes and proxies then it is permissible to seek out the proxies.
Seeking out proxies for a post or position would be impermissible (ḥarām) if it entails any of the following:
- Those seeking the votes and proxies only strive to do so to satisfy their ego, personal interests, attain a post, attain name and fame rather than serve the community and the masses.
- Those seeking the votes and proxies do so to only serve their family and friends rather than the general community at large.
- Voters are forced to provide a proxy.
- Voters vote or conduct a proxy for a candidate simply on the basis of family relations or friendship without selecting the most competent and most suitable candidate.
- Voting and proxies are rendered to forge enmity, hatred, divisions and detrimental grouping.
- Voting and proxies that lead to religiously impermissible and or illegal activities.
(See: Mukhtaṣar Al-Qudūrīy, Al-Fiqh Al-Islāmiy Wa Adillatuh, Al-Intikhābāt Wa-Aḥkāmuhā Fi-Fiqh Al-Islāmīy, Fatāwā Dār Al-ʿUlūm Zakariyah)
And Allāh Knows Best