AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE OF PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS 

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.

BEING THE THIRD SERMON FOR THE MONTH OF SOFAR, DATED SOFAR 19TH, 1444 AH (16TH SEPTEMBER, 2022 CE).

TITLED: AN ISLAMIC PERSPECTIVE OF PARTICIPATION IN ELECTIONS 

THE FIRST SERMON

All praises indeed belong to Allah. W praise Him and seek His Help. We seek His Forgiveness and repent unto Him. We praise and give Him credit for everything good. Glory be to Him, the Owner of Grace and blessings Honor, Greatness and Magnificence, the One that is deserving of the greatest gratitude and the best praise. I testify that there is no god worthy f worship except Allah alone. He has no partner. I testify also that our prophet Muhammad is Allah’s servant and His Messenger. He’s the leader of the people of pristine faith, leader of the people of pure religion, the best of those who laid the foundations of reform and development, may the Prayer, Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him and his noble household and his loyal companions and their successors, and those that follow them in good till as long as the heaven and earth remain.

Servants of Allah! I enjoin you and myself with the fear of Allah almighty. Fera Him in your own sols and in your responsibilities. Fear of Allah is honour without prestige or lineage, and nobility without a position. It is wealth without money, and with it comes the best of conditions and belonging. Allah Ta’alah says: (وَمَنْ يَتَّقِ اللَّهَ يَجْعَلْ لَهُ مَخْرَجًا (2) وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ) “…And whosoever fears Allah and keeps his duty to Him, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine…” (At-Talaaq: 2-3)

Brethren of faith, the topic of our sermon today is the current issue in our country Nigeria. It is the Islamic view of participation in elections. Most of us know that people are preparing for the general elections next year, and as a result, a heated debate has taken place and is still continuing among Muslims over the issue between supporters and opponents.

First, a distinction must be made between democracy – which is an intellectual system that contradicts Islam in its reality and philosophy – and elections, which are one of its most famous mechanisms, to the extent that some people think that they are both the same thing, whereas elections are just a tool and a means, and not an ideology or a system.

Linguistically, voting is picking the best and most preferred, that is, making a choice carefully, making a selection. So, voting is about selection, choosing a person by giving him ones vote, in the election.

Technically, from a sharia perspective, Dr. Fahd Al-‘Ajlaan defined voting/elections as: “a method in which citizens, or some of them, choose whom they are satisfied with and achieve through it how to determine who is eligible for the mandate or mission they are elected for”. And Dr. Mustafa Sibaai said: “The election is the nation’s choice of the people (proxies) to represent them…”.

The basis for the legitimacy of elections and its evidence is from the Qur’an, the Prophet’s Sunnah, and the Sunnah of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs. We mention some of them as follows:

1- Allah Almighty’s saying: (وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى البِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ) “And cooperate in righteousness and piety, and do not cooperate in sin and transggression” (Al-Maaidah: 2). If the elections lead the good people to a position of influence in decision-making as required by the Shari’a, then their election is part of cooperation in righteousness and piety

2- What came in the hadith of the second pledge of allegiance at Aqaba, that the Prophet, may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family, said: “Get out twelve captains from among you who will be (leaders) over their people”. So, they brought out twelve captains from among them, nine of whom were from the Khazraj and three from the Aws. It was narrated by Ibn Ishaaq, and Al-Haythami said: “the men (in the chain o hadith) are the men of the Saheeh, other than Ibn Ishaaq, and he stated that he heard it.” (Majma’ al-Zawa’id: 6/44-45); It was authenticated by Sheikh Nasir-Deen Al-Albaani.

His saying, may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him: “Go forth to twelve…” means he requested the nomination of twelve deputies and their representatives, and this is the reality of election, regardless of its method and mechanism.

3- The saying of the Prophet – may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family: “If three go out on a journey, let them select one of them as the leader over them). Narrated by Ahmad and Abu Dawood, and a group of scholars authenticated it. And a group of people making one of them their leader: either by their consensus on him, or by choice and acceptance of most of them for his leaderhsip over them. And selection or choice is the what election is all about – as mentioned before.

Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allah have mercy on him – said in his valuable book “Al-Siyassatu al-Shari’iyyah”: “So the Prophet, may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family, made it obligatory to appoint one person in a small gathering that is occasional on a journey, as a way to call attention to it for all other types of group of people.”

This includes all civil society institutions, unions and other well-known gatherings in this era – their members choose their leaders in accordance with the regulations and laws in force, as long as it does not violate the Sharia.

Sheikh Abdullah Ibn Qa’uud – may Allah have mercy on him – said, commenting on the words of Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allah have mercy on him: “This includes groups that organize their affairs, provided that loyalty is not required to them only, so that they disavow others, and I have no problem with this, and the Prophet – may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family – asked delegations about their leader, captains and others, and the Sheikh’s words here are explicit in this”.

In this regard:

Ash-Shawkani said: “And in it there is evidence that it is prescribed for every number of three or more to make one of them leader over them, because in that there is safety from disagreement that can lead to problems. With no leadership, everyone stamps his opinion and does what satisfies his whims. If this is the case, they will perish. However, with leadership, disagreement will decrease, and their direction will come together. And so, if this is legislated for three who are in a deserted land or traveling – then its legitimacy is for a larger number who reside in villages and towns, and need to prevent grievances, and the separation of quarrels is most necessary and more important, and in that is evidence for the opinion of those who said: It is obligatory for muslims to appoint imams, governors and leaders.

4- Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – named six group of senior companions, may Allah be pleased with them. They are: Uthman Ibn Affaan, Ali bin Abi Talib, Al-Zubair bin Al-Awwam, Talha ibn Ubaidu-LLah, Sa’ad ibn Abi Waqqas, and Abdul Rahmaan bin Auf. So he made choosing the khaleefah a consultation among them, in his saying: “I do not know of anyone who is more deserving of this matter than these people, whom the Messenger of Allah – may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family – were pleased with at the time of his passing away, so whomever they appoint after me is the khaleefah. So listen to him and obey.” (Bukhaari)

This is the way of the guided khaleef, in which he combined the method of the Rightly Guided khaleef Abubakr As-Siddiq – may Allah be pleased with him – whereby he entrusted Umar – may Allah be pleased with him – with the khilaafah, and the method of leaving the choice to the ummah by delegating the matter to the muslims, which was used by the Prophet – may the salutations and peace of Allah be upon him and his family. So all the methods are part of the Sunnah. They are methods and mechanisms that can change. The constant is their goal, which is that the best should be made the leader, as much as possible.

THE SECOND SERMON

All praises are due to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. We seek blessings and peace be upon the best of His creatures, sent as mercy to the universe, our leader, Muhammad, his household, and all his companions.

O servants of Allah, know that the ruling on participating in elections differs from one country to another, with regard to the benefits and harms.

Categories of participation in elections with respect to the government are three:

The first type: Participation in Election in a Muslim country governed by the Shari’ah:
The Islamic ruling of the voter’s participation in it (election) is approval and permissibility, if he (the voter) participates, it is obligatory upon him to choose the best person he knows, because this is the requirement of conducting recommendation for Allah (sake), His Messenger and the leaders of the Muslims and their nation. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi views that election may be obligatory for the person when his vote would aid the trustworthy and competent person in winning, while his refusal to vote could result to victory for the incompetent person. (Fiqh ud- Dawlah, Qaradawi).

This is the norm in today’s elections, where majority is considered, regardless of competence and eligibility.

The second type: Participation in Election in a Muslim country that is not governed by the Shari’ah:
Most scholars went ahead to allow participation in the election for those who intend to achieve some benefits and ward off some evil, so that they may (through that) strengthen the religion of Allah and the Muslims, such as what happened in Turkey lately, such that the participation of Muslims in these non-Islamic governments will play a role that will prevent the monopoly of the wrong doers and the secularists’ grip on power. And through their participation, they can defend the rights of citizens and protect their boundaries which Allah has commanded. Allah says:

(﴿وما لكم لا تقاتلون في سبيل الله والمستضعفين من الرجال والنساء والولدان الذين يقولون ربنا أخرجنا من هذه القرية الظالم أهلها واجعل لنا من لدنك وليا والجعل لنا من لدنك نصيرا [النساء : 4\ 75])

 “ And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!” (4:75)

Sheikh Ajlan views it from the angle of taking up of the lesser of two evils, to prevent a greater one, which at the same time is a necessity, and necessity makes the forbidden matter permissible.

The third type: Participation in Election in Non- Muslim Western countries:
A collection of contemporary scholars has submitted that the Muslim living in non-Muslim countries may participate in the elections taking place in the country, they have declared it permissible even though the elections there are conducted based on non-shariah principles.

Dua

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