Islam is the only system and way of life that, if practiced purely and in the spirit as was practiced by the Prophet and his companions, is perfectly balanced in every aspect, is completely fair to all segments of the society, frees people from bondage of the powerful, restores dignity for every human being, ensure equality of all humanity, establishes justice and peace in the society, nourishes the best qualities in people, brings out the best in humanity and succeeds in establishing a truly free, civilized, progressive, enlightened, advanced society which at the same time is the most caring, sharing, generous, kind and magnanimous.
It is but natural that such a wonderful society will result from the practice of Islam – a way life taught by the Creator Himself on the basis of His absolute and eternal knowledge of what kind of laws, rules, regulations and principles will make such a wonderful balanced, just and generous society possible. It is not only natural that Islam will create such a society but also it is the very purpose of Allaah teaching us Islam. Thus, He not only taught people Islam, he also required them to practice it in all their individual and collective affairs so that such a society in fact comes into being. Hence, Muslims have no choice but refuse to submit to any laws, rules, regulations, customs and traditions of any society or any authority that are inconsistent with the teachings of Islam. Rather they have a duty to ensure that the Islamic teachings become the supreme and dominant principles according to which people live and according to which the human affairs are conducted on Allaah’s earth. It has been obligated so that Islamic objective of establishing the peaceful, just fair and kind society as detailed above are achieved for the benefit of the whole humanity.
Establishment of such a society is not a fantasy, it is a reality that did materialize whenever a society or a segment of a society adopted and practised Islam purely and sincerely. This kind of society came into being to some extent as a result of the missions of various prophets and messengers, but it came into being in its best form and for the longest time as a result of Prophet Muhammad’s Islamic mission.
Unfortunately, Muslims like the followers of the previous prophets, did not sustain the Islamic way of life. Consequently, Islamic society vanished from practice and there is no Islamic society in the world now. However, it can come into being again, if a majority of Muslims start practicing Islam as it should be practiced and as it was practiced in Madeenah under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad.
The question is what should be done until such a society comes into existence. Should Muslims seclude themselves from the current systems completely until the Islamic system is put in place or should they participate in the existing political process? If they should participate, what kind of participation should it be and under what caveats and precautions. Let us explore these questions and see what makes sense, what does not and what fulfills Islamic objectives according to the ways of the Prophet and what defeats them.
There are diverse views held by different groups of Muslims. For the purposes of this article we will talk only about the views of those who consider themselves practising Muslims. They are those who participate or oppose participation in the current political process quoting Islamic reasons for their decision. On one extreme there are those who want to participate in the political process without taking due precautions or reservations. On the other extreme are those who consider it a major to participate in political process at all. When election times comes both groups fervently put forth their view in favour of participating or against participating and both of the groups quote Qur-aan as well as Sunnah in favour of their views. Obviously, both opposing views cannot be right at the same time. So many Muslims who want to do the right thing from Islamic point of view are confused as to what to do. What is the right answer? Let us see what are the risks and benefits of participation or boycotting:
Taking part has the following risks and benefits:
Majority of Muslims do not even realize that, wherever they live they have a responsibility to establish the deen of Allaah completely in their collective life so that all social, economical and political and international affairs are handled and enforced according to the Islamic goals, teachings and perspectives so that the fair, just and peaceful global society can come into being and sustain itself. Given this ignorance, Muslims may accept the current Taghooti and Dajjali system as acceptable and contribute to strengthen it rather than work on replacing it with the better, kinder, fairer, more civilized, more secure and far more peaceful Islamic alternative.
There is also a risk that when Muslim participate in the current system, they may compromise on their Islamic principles to succeed within the system, to be accepted in the system and to be effective within the existing political set up.
Both of these risks are real. They are already being witnessed in those Muslims who lack good Islamic background and good understanding of Islamic teachings, objectives and principles or those who lack solid commitment to the practice of the faith can already be seen making un-Islamic compromises and serving the interest of Dajjali system as if it is their own. Unfortunately, there are some Muslims who justify their serving of current system of taghoot by misquoting example of Prophet’s Yousuf. They think that because he accepted chief minister’s position from Pharaoh, serving as part of this system is justified. What they forget that Yousuf accepted the position with full authority to establish his (Islamic) laws and policies not merely as a worker of the existing system. Using his authority, he was able to propagate Islam, invite people to become Muslims and establish Islamic system in the land. His example should not be quoted unless someone has the same kind of unrestricted authority to establish Islam and he does use that authority to achieve Islamic goals.
Having clarified the Islamic objectives that a Muslims must continually strive to achieve and having identified the risks of political participation of Muslims in a non-Islamic set up, I must say that if Muslims are properly educated in the objectives of the Deen and its practices and principles, these risks can be mitigated. To ensure this mitigation, deliberate consistent education of the Muslim masses is needed. Also, it is absolutely essential that the Muslims who are given the leadership role to lead in the political activism are strongly grounded in faith and have deep understanding of Islamic political, economic and social system and goals. They must also have a profound understanding of the Sunnah methodologies to attain those goals and be equipped with a dynamism to apply the teaching of q and s in the contemporary society.
While working on educating Muslims in this respect and supporting or developing appropriate leadership and while taking effective precautions against the risks mentioned, active participation in the political process can afford the following benefits:
Muslims can improve the conditions of the societies they are living in by putting their weight in favour of a candidate who is closest in his/her stances, opinions and views to the Islamic goals of peace and justice. For this purpose, Muslims will have to judge each candidate, riding by riding, and select the best candidate to vote for regardless of the group or party to which the candidate belongs.
They will also be doing themselves a favour by electing those who are Muslim-friendly instead of having people in authority who are anti-Islam, anti-Muslim or Islamophobic.
People usually have a tendency to vote for the candidate who they think has a chance of winning. Voting for a candidate who is not very popular is considered wasting a vote. That is a very un-Islamic attitude. Vote must be given on the basis of the merits of the candidate regardless of the probability of his winning or losing. H q requires us to judge people with fairness, voting is in fact pronouncing judgement on the merits of a candidate. Thus, voting for any other consideration than his merit will be an unfair judgement. Similarly, not voting will be shirking one’s responsibility of standing up for justice, which is a very serious sin. In fact, not voting for the best person has the effect of voting in favour of the person who is least deserving. It reduces the support for the right candidate which in fact has the effect of helping the wrong candidate. That is a totally un-Islamic behaviour.
In addition, not participating in the electoral or political process has the following risks:
Muslim become marginalized in the society, having no effect or impact on policy, public opinion, or laws of the land of their residence.
Anti-Islam elements have total freedom to determine anti-Islam and anti-Muslim course of their governments and societies using the taxes paid by Muslims.
In cases like hijaab ban and attack on other religious tenets, Muslim can only complain without being heard;
Society keeps going to the wrong direction because the Muslim who could have influenced towards its improvement decided to stay away from the process.
Some people may think that demonstrating in the streets or arrange protest rallies can make any difference. Whether it is Rushdi affair in Britain or hijaab ban in France, evidence is abundant to show that none of protests makes any difference. The difference is made only when the politicians know that they will de deprived of the vote. Those who do not bother voting lose the lever that could have been used for the benefit of the society.
Some living in fools’ paradise hope that if they remain disengaged, the things will go so bad that people will start wanting for Islamic alternative. They do not realize that by that time constant false propaganda continue misguiding people about Islam and Anti-Islam measures would make even practice of basic Islamic teachings impossible. Also, the history is witness that the people themselves adapt to the new circumstances as they keep getting worse. Alternatives have to be visible to people through the activism of some dynamic people and they have to impress general public.
The religious people who usually oppose participation in the political process for two reasons:
- They have a very narrow concept of religion that do not see Islam anything beyond some ritualistic practices. They have no clue about the essence of Islam and its objectives that bring Falaah to believers. Their source of confusion is they do not understand Islamic paradigms properly.
- The second group of people are those who do understand the collective goals of Islam but fail to understand the methodology and process taught by the q and s for the accomplishment of Islamic objectives. They do not understand the difference between the methodology to be used in Makki period and that to be used in Madani stage. The Muslims living as minorities are in Makki stage. All the verses they quote from An-Nisaa, Al-Maaidah and At-Towbah are from advanced stages of the mission in Madeenah. The verses of the q and the examples of the Sunnah they should quote for the Muslims minorities must come from Makki period. Using Madani methodology in Makkan stage would only create problems for Muslims instead of achieving Islamic objectives. Everyone needs to understand one point clearly about the teachings of the Qur-aan and Sunnah. As opposed to the Islamic commands about the individual and personal behaviour of a Muslims which are universally applicable to a Muslim wherever he or she is, the Islamic commands about the collective socio-political aspects of life cannot be applied without regards to the realities and the circumstances of the society where Muslim are living. Muslims living in Muslim majority countries have to have a different emphasis and methodology of their struggle to establish Islam fro the Muslims living in a minority situation. The Muslims living in a Muslim-majority country must govern themselves according to the instructions given in the Madani stage of the Islamic mission of the prophet. While Muslims living as minorities should seek the guidance from Makkan chapters of the Qur-aan and from the wisdom of the Prophet in dealing with different situations in the Makkan period, while at the same time working tirelessly hard to promote Islamic teachings though all sort of dawah activities to increase the number of the Muslims in their societies, just as the Prophet was doing in Makkah. Many confusions arise and the contradictory conclusions are reached by people, when this basic principle is not kept in mind.
If people think that a boycott is going to be useful and effective, the boycott should be full and all-inclusive, before it can be useful. There should be a complete non-cooperation in all matters with those people: no trade, no relations, no working, no accepting welfare, no thing whatsoever. Muslims should refuse to buy, sell, work with or engage in any kind of activities with them. To make it happen, the non-cooperating Muslims must not live in their society. It will be useful if all Muslim living in Muslim countries adopt it.
For those living in non-Muslim countries, the proper Islamic response is that:
- Muslims must understand the goals Islam wants to achieve in the society for the benefit of the whole humanity;
- Those objectives can only be achieved through democratic process in the sense that until the majority of the people want to live by Islam, Islamic system cannot be implemented;
- Muslims must work hard, wherever they are, who spread the true message of Islam, attract converts to the faith, win hearts and mind of the people for the Islamic way of life and Islamic systems, until there is a majority of the population wants it passionately;
- Until that time, while working for the above-mentioned goals, Muslims must take part in the political process to elect the best possible candidates to represent them.
Those who, after reading this article, still stay behind and do not go for voting should be prepared to answer to Allaah SWT when they will be held accountable because they did not go out to vote for the best possible candidate and thus wrong persons were elected who used your taxes to invade and occupy Muslims lands and kill Muslims while you kept sending frustrating emails to each other.