Some Muslims here in the UK, believe we should participate in elections, and vote in MPs to represent the Islamic perspective. Others have countered that this course of action is intellectually inconsistent with the concept of sovereignty to God alone (not man), while others may argue that it such participation is naive and self-defeating. There is a great deal of social pressure for Muslims to vote in General Elections, and many Muslims have been lured into believing that voting equals representation. This is despite the fact that many non-Muslim British citizens (as much as one third of the UK electorate) have expressed apathy when it comes to elections, and a majority of them simply do not bother to vote when elections come.
Many Muslims in the UK , still labor under the assumption that if Muslim MPs enter into parliament, they would represent Islamic beliefs or interests – and that British parliament (of all places) would ever entertain Islamic-based agendas by any of its MPs, here is a wake up call:
The British Muslim MP’s who voted for the recent gay marriage bill (according to the BBC):
- Shabana Mahmood (Birmingham Ladywood)
- Sajid Javid (Bromsgrove)
- Anas Sarwar (Glasgow Central)
- Sadiq Khan (Tooting)
- Rushanara Ali (Bethnal Green & Bow)
Even the Respect Party MP, George Galloway voted in favour of it as well
Only 3 Muslim MPs didn’t attend parliament on the day of the vote on the bill (for reasons that remain unclear – although most of them later reported that they generally supported the bill).
Muslims may need to reconsider the wisdom of participating formally in the political system of the Western countries they live in, and focus on where the real power lies – with the people. Giving Dawah (the call and invitation) globally to a better way of life and alternative to the crumbling economic and social structures in the West is needed, especially in the Muslim world, who look towards the West as an example.
As for advocating justice, and helping the oppressed, it is not Voting that changes this, but only by changing the ideas on the ground, does a country truly change and eliminate injustice.
This is because a country’s system is not based upon its rulers, but based upon its ideas, culture and worldview. If you change the ruler, someone else will take their place and do exactly the same as (or worse than) their predecessor (e.g. Obama). However, if you change the ideas, culture or worldview of a country, then it will change everything about it – creating a change in how it lives and treats people.
“Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” Quran 13:11
Political work is much much larger than merely putting an X on a voting card once every 4 years. Real political impact can be delivered by protests, demonstrations, leafleting, lobbying, raising public awareness, campaigning etc etc. These things have been the exclusive reason for change in recent political history.
So why the incessant need by some to vote and prop up a system that depends on the numbers of people voting, to claim legitimacy for system itself? That’s like trying to get rid of gambling, by taking money and going to a casino to play and vainly hoping to win enough money there to buy the casino itself and change it into something else.
Every time you walk into a casino, and every penny you gamble there is just perpetuating the existence of the casino. And, as we all know, the famous motto of Casinos ‘The House always wins’.
The next time someone comes to the Muslim community, promising us many ‘benefits’ in exchange for political participation in the current system and renouncing any peaceful Islamic political work (which they call ‘extremism’) – let us respond to them using the response of Muhammed (saaw) who was similarly offered a place as head (King) of the parliament (al mala) of the Quraysh if he renounced his Dawah.
The Prophet is narrated to have responded “If they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left, to force me to renounce my work, verily I would not desist therefrom until Allah made manifest His cause, or I perished in the attempt.”