Are Elections Haram?
Says Who? And Based on What?
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To do otherwise is unlawful. Call it Haram if you want to. Or call it a sin if you want to. In English language, the best-case scenario falls under the broad category of plagiarism. It is also a violation of copyright laws.
1. Waa Islaamaah!
That is what I say: Waa Islaamaah!
It is a distress cry – about the condition of Islam today. Poor, poor Islam! That is what it means: Waa Islaamaah!
And I will tell you why I am crying Waa Islaamaah!
It is a cry of deep distress and anguish, of the soul and mind, at the sad condition in which the most glorious system sent down by God to save humanity finds itself at the hands of its followers, and others, today – so many of whom deign, and dare, to speak in its behalf, no matter how little they may know or understand it.
Or how little they may understand the world in which Islam operates. And no matter how inadequately prepared and equipped they may be to do so.
Not so long ago, I was shown a Fatwa declaring elections to be Haram. It was in UK, I think. I call it a rejectionist, isolationist Fatwa.
But at bottom it may also be an un-Islamic one. For, elections and the fundamental right of choice they represent, is the way of life in Islam – the system God Almighty designed to run his world and which he then sent down at the hands of his messengers and prophets to guide, direct and organize human life on earth.
By seeking to keep Muslims from voting and from elections, this Fatwa rejects participation of Muslims in the political process in the West. And it seeks to isolate them from life around them – reducing Muslims and their communities to small, ineffective, marginalized, disfranchised ghettoes.
Anyone can see that it is a rejectionist, isolationist Fatwa. If some of you are shocked by this Fatwa, so was I. The logic behind the Fatwa was, I take it, if there was any logic to it at all, that elections were a Kafir concoction, opposed to the pure divine way of doing things in Islam – whatever that meant.
I am trying to reconstruct the argument here as best as I can. And then see if it holds any water.
Poor, poor Islam! I said to myself, over and over. Poor, poor Islam!
Beycharah Islam, as they say in Urdu and Farsi.
Or Al-Islamul Mazloom, as you would say in Arabic. Or, as my own heart cries out every time I see or hear one of these things – among so many other things one sees and hears these days: Waa Islaamaah!
And Yaa Lal Islaam!
It means will someone help me! It means I am in distress, please help. My poor, poor Islam is in trouble, it is in need of help. Is there anyone who would help? That is what it means: Yaa Lal Islaam!
My heart cries out Waa Islaamaah! And Yaa Lal Islaam! at what so many non-Muslims seem to be doing to Islam and Muslims these days. And anyone with even the least amount of intelligence can see that some of them have set out to do some really terrible things to Islam and Muslims, reminiscent of the implacable hate and hostility the people of Makkah displayed for Islam, Muslims and the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, centuries ago.
And not very different from the wickedness and machinations that Pharaoh and his arrogant hordes displayed before that against another Prophet of Islam, Musa, Alaihis-Salam – till Almighty Allah caused the ocean to split and swallow them.
And my heart cries out saying Waa Islaamaah! and Yaa Lal Islaam! at what so many Muslims themselves seem to be doing to Islam and Muslims – some of them in the name of Islam itself.
Poor, poor Islam! And I say: with friends like these, who really needs enemies?
There are those among Muslims who have wanted Muslims to go back from wherever they are in America, France, the Netherlands, U.K. or Switzerland to wherever they think “back home” is. How little they seem to care for the fact that we are all from Allah and to him it is that we must return.
Where are the poor Muslims supposed to go? What are we supposed to do? And to whom are we supposed to complain? Who would know our pain and our despair and our sense of frustration and come forward to help us deal with them?
What source of comfort, counseling and support can we turn to? All we can do perhaps is cry out to Allah for help. And I do so using the most beautiful words of the Qur’an:
Waj-‘al Lanaa Mil-Ladunka Waliyyan
Waj-‘al Lanaa Mil-Ladunka Naseera (4:75).
Provide for us a friend and protector from you;
And provide for us a helper from you.
In our own humble and confused ranks, who has the knowledge, background, courage, ability, skill, wisdom, tact, sophistication, patience – and resources – to represent the case of Islam – and Muslims – adequately in today’s complex and sophisticated world?
Or to defend Islam effectively against the myriad misrepresentations, attacks and vilifications to which it is subjected these days so relentlessly, meanly, viciously and I should say shamelessly?
And do so properly, adequately, nicely, smartly, effectively, using nothing but the finest and the most beautiful of the means and techniques that the Qur’an teaches and advocates?
Wa Jaadilhum Billatee Hiya Ahsan!
And counter them with that which is nicer, sweeter and more beautiful and meaningful!
What a beautiful message! What an amazing teaching! And what a decisive refutation of all the nonsense that a lot of people with vested interests and with all kinds of personal, political and religious agendas and motives have started to throw so brazenly at Islam and Muslims these days!
That is what it means to say Waa Islaamaah and Yaa Lal Islam.
It is the distress call of a heart in agony, a soul in pain, a mortal near despair, a community in confusion and an entire generation of humans reduced to utter helplessness and subjected to a state of personal and cultural depression and dysfunction.
But Allah’s mercy – and the law of Islam – forbids despair and denounces helplessness. The Qur’an says:
Wa Man Yaqnatu Mir-Rahmatillahi
Illal Qawmul Kaafiroon.
Who but unbelievers will despair of the mercy of God?
And the amazing Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, says Allah does not like someone who in the face of necessity or adversity just sits around and does nothing. The Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, used to seek Allah’s protection from being such a hopeless, helpless person.
Al-‘Ajz is what he called it – a state of self-imposed helplessness and inefficacy that keeps a person from getting up and taking steps to control his environment and change his life and work to change the conditions in which he finds himself.
Inactivity and helplessness, therefore, are not options for us. Certainly, not in the name of Islam!
And while I am at it, let me also make it perfectly clear that there is no such thing as fatalism in Islam – no matter how much Islam’s own ill-informed and confused followers from inside, or its many ill-wishers of questionable knowledge and suspect motives from outside, may say there is.
So here it goes – Wallahul Musta’an – even though I am by no means the most qualified person to do it. Here is an attempt, a rather reluctant one, and certainly a very diffident and halting one, to represent what I believe is the position closest to the teachings and spirit of Islam on the question of Muslim participation in the political process in general and in voting and elections in particular.
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