Some Scholarly Views on the Electoral Process

Updated: 3 days ago

Indeed, all praise belongs to Allah. We laud Him, we seek His aid, and we ask His forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evils of our own souls and the evils of our own actions. Whomsoever it is that Allah has guided, there is none that can misguide him. And whomsoever it is that Allah has misguided, there is none that can guide him. I testify that there is none worthy of worship in truth except Allah without any partner. I also testify that Muhammad is His servant and messenger.


To proceed:


Our Lord, The Glorious, has stated,


“Hold on to the Rope of Allah, all of you together, and do not be divided.”


Soorah Aali ‘Imraan (3): 103


And the Magnificent, the Exalted has stated,


“Verily, the people of correct faith are but brothers. So make settlement between your brothers. And fear Allah so that you may receive mercy.”


Soorah Hujuraat (49): 10


And He, the Exalted, has stated,


“Then they are your brothers in the religion.”


Soorah at-Tawbah(9): 11


The Prophet ﷺ has stated,


“And be servants of Allah and brothers. The Muslim is the brother of his fellow Muslim.”


Collected by Muslim in his Saheeh on the authority of Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him.


And he ﷺ has stated,


“There are no two individuals who love one another for the sake of Allah and then they separate from one another except that it is due to a sin that one of the two of them has committed.”

May Allah forgive us.


Collected by al-Bukhaaree in al-Adab al-Mufrad on the authority of Anas bin Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him.


In light of recent events in our region, we would like to present alternative views to what we may commonly come across within our social media networks. This is not to be understood as an advocation of the Western electoral process. But rather, this is simply an invitation to expand our thinking and balance the other side of the equation.


In this regard, Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic, has stated,


“O you who possess correct faith, persistently stand firm for Allah, witnesses for justice. And do not let the hatred of a people prevent you from being just. Be just. This is nearer to piety.”


Soorah al-Maa’idah (5): 8


The ‘Allaamah, Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, has stated in I’laam al-Muwaqqi’een (3/94),


“For Allah, the Exalted, loves balance. Rather, this is the most virtuous of adornment that a man can adorn himself with. This is the case particularly for the individual that has placed himself in the position of judging between statements and schools of thought.

Moreover, Allah, the Exalted, has ordered His messenger (to say),


‘And I have been ordered to be fair between you all.’


Soorah ash-Shooraa (42): 15


So the inheritance of the Messenger is that they (i.e. Ahlus Sunnah) hold the position of being fair between parties. One should not then be overly inclined towards someone who is his relative, of his school of thought, of his party or of his followers. Instead, the truth is his aim that he traverses towards and settles with. His religious practice is one of fairness and balance.”


In affairs that are open to Ijtihaad, the servant must follow that which Allah has guided him to being more correct, after examination of the matter, in accordance to the extent of his ability. And if the servants choose opposing views on an affair that is open to Ijtihaad, one cannot force the other to accept his personal view. The likes of these issues should also not be a cause for descension or disruption of the Islamic brotherhood.


Offering advice on this matter, the ‘Allaamah, Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, has stated on page 30 of The Book of Knowledge under the section, Expanding One’s Chest Towards Matters of Varying Views,


“He should allow himself to be open-minded in areas of difference that are susceptible to Ijtihaad (i.e. independent legal reasoning). This is due to matters of difference between the scholars either not being susceptible to Ijtihaad (i.e. independent legal reasoning), such as where the matter is clear, and no one is excused for opposing it or being matters that are susceptible to Ijthiaad (i.e. independent legal reasoning). Here, one is excused for opposition therein. In this case, your view is not evidence against the one who opposes you in your view. If we were to accept that, then we would also have to accept its opposite. His view would then be evidence against you.


What I intend here is that in which there is room to hold a particular view, that which is susceptible to varying views. As for opposition to the way of the Salaf in such affairs as creed, then opposing what the righteous Salaf were upon is not to be accepted from anyone. To the exclusion of this, in other matters where there is room for varying views, it is inappropriate to allow differences of opinion to be the cause of reviling others or to be a cause for enmity and hatred.”


Giving consideration to the aforementioned, we present to you a selection of scholarly views on the electoral process.


We ask Allah that He brings forth benefit by way of this effort; that He benefits the one who has written it, the one who reads it, the one who hears of it, and the one who examines it. We ask Him that He makes this effort sincerely seeking His Noble Face obligating His success and being granted entrance into His blessed Paradise. Certainly, He suffices us and is the best of guardians.


The ‘Allaamah, ‘Abdul ‘Aziz bin ‘Abdullaah bin Baaz, was asked concerning the legislation of electing candidates for the parliament as well as the legislative verdict regarding registering to vote with the intention of voting for those in favor of Islamic views.


He, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, responded,


“Actions are based upon the intentions and everyone shall have what they intended. For this reason there is no objection to enrolling in the parliament if one’s intent in that is to support the truth and to not condone falsehood. This is due to what is within that of supporting the truth and being in union with those who invite to Allah. There is also no objection with utilizing this registration to assist with electing righteous callers, supporting the truth, and supporting its people. And Allah is the custodian of success.”


Published in Kuwaiti Society Magazine 5/23/1989.


The ‘Allaamah, Muhammad bin Saalih al-‘Uthaymeen, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, was asked about the elections that exist in Kuwait knowing that most individuals who enter into them from amongst those who hold Islamic views and are men of invitation are people who have been put to trail in their religion. He was also asked about the verdict on the primary sub-divisional elections that take place there.


He, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, responded,


“I hold the view that voting is obligatory. It is incumbent that we appoint those that we see good in them because if we forego the people of good then who will take their place? The people of evil; either them or the people of neutrality who neither have good or evil with them. They simply follow anyone who shouts aloud.


It is imperative that we select the one we see as more favorable. If one were to say, ‘We can choose someone however most of the representatives will still be in line with views contrary to that.’ We say, ‘This is not an issue. If Allah places blessing in this one individual and he propagates the truth within the assembly, it is imperative that this has an effect.’


…So I say, ‘Hypothetically, even if the Parliament only had a small number of people who were upon the truth and correct, they will bring about benefit. However, it is upon them to be honest with Allah, the Mighty, the Majestic. As for the statement that the Parliament itself is not permissible and that it is also neither permissible to participate in this with the disobedient nor sit with them, are we saying that we are sitting with them in order to be in agreement with them? We are sitting with them in order to explain the truth to them.


Some of our brothers amongst the people of knowledge say it is not permissible to participate in this because this individual who is upright will be sitting with an individual who has deviated. Is this upright individual sitting with him so that he can deviate or so that he can straighten his crookedness?! Yes. So that he can straighten his crookedness and correct it. If he is not successful this time, he will be successful the next.’”


In response to questions posed to him from Algeria, the ‘Allaamah, Muhammad Naasirud Deen al-Albaanee, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, stated the following,


“I do not see what would prevent Muslim citizens. If there are candidates who are in opposition to Islam and other candidates holding views in alignment with Islam from varying methodologies, it is valid in this instance for every Muslim to vote for those individuals in alignment with Islamic views and those nearest to the correct academic methodology.”


Salafiyyah Magazine of Saudi Arabia 1418H. Issue number 3 page 29.


Subsequently, Shaikh al-Albaanee holds the view that this route of electing candidates and voting does not effectuate the desired objective. However, this statement of his is from the perspective of decreasing evil and suppressing a greater evil with a lesser evil.


The Permanent Committee for Academic Research and Verdicts was asked the following:

“As you all are well aware, we have electoral voting legislations in Algeria. There are parties that invite to Islamic rule and other parties that do not want Islamic rule. So what is the verdict concerning electing someone upon other than the Islamic rule while bearing in mind that he prays?”


They responded,


“It is obligatory upon the Muslims living in lands that do not rule by the Islamic legislation to exert all the effort they are able in establishing Islamic legislation. They should tie all their hands together as one in their efforts to assist the party they acknowledge will rule in accordance with the Islamic legislation.


As for assisting those who call to not applying the Islamic legislation, then this is not permissible. Rather, this can lead such an individual to disbelief due to His statement, the Exalted,


‘And judge between them by what Allah has revealed and do not follow their inclinations and beware of them, lest they tempt you away from some of what Allah has revealed to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allah only intends to afflict them with some of their own sins. And indeed, many among the people are defiantly disobedient.’


Soorah al-Maa’idah (5): 49


‘Then is it the judgment of the time of ignorance that they desire? But who is better than Allah in judgment for a people who are certain (in faith).’


Soorah al-Maa’idah (5): 49


It is for this reason that Allah has clarified the disbelief of those who do not rule by the Islamic legislation. He has cautioned from assisting them or taking them as protectors, and He has ordered the believers with piety if they are truly people of correct faith. For He, the Exalted, has stated,


‘O you who possess correct faith, do not take those who have taken your religion in ridicule and amusement among those who were given the scripture before you or those who have disbelieved as allies. And fear Allah, if you are truly believers.’


Soorah al-Maa’idah (5): 57


And success lies with Allah. May Allah bestow salutation and blessing upon Muhammad, his family, and companions.”


Chairman: ‘Abdul ‘Aziz bin ‘Abdullah bin Baaz

Vice Chairman: ‘Abdur Razzaaq ‘Afeefi

Member: ‘Abdullah bin Ghudayyaan

Verdict no. 14676, Vol. 1, Page 373.


The ‘Allaamah, ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdur Rahmaan bin Jibreen, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, was asked about participating in the national election proceedings taking place in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as well as registering to vote and nominating officials.


He responded,


“Examining the importance of elections, their presumed effect upon improving the circumstances of the country, and their presumed effect in focusing upon the important and beneficial matters for the country and its people, we definitely see the importance of participating in these elections and selecting the better of the nominees from amongst the people of experience and awareness, the ones most suitable for servicing the country’s projects.


It is hoped that the nominees will be people of moral standing and rectification. It is hoped that this effort will be a cause for uprightness, selecting what is most befitting for the country, and selecting righteous individuals bringing about rectification. It is expected that these individuals hope for Allah, hope for the hereafter, and that they sincerely advise government officials as well as citizens. For whenever the people of experience, awareness, and uprightness come forward in order to select those who are most suitable and skilled, this is excellent for the present and the eventual future. And Allah knows best.”


The ‘Allaamah, Ahmad Shaakir, may Allah bestow mercy upon him, stated in his book, It is Obligatory that the Book and the Sunnah are the Source of Law in Egypt, pages 40-41,


“And by way of this, it will lead to the suitable avenue of supporting the Shari’ah. The sound constitutional path is that we propagate our invitational message, that we strive for it, and publicize it. We should then compete against them with this in the elections. Thereafter, we can make an appeal to the nation for their decision. If we fail on one occasion, we will be successful on many other occasions. Rather, we will simply make our failure a prelude to our success as this raises ambition and awakens resolve.”


The ‘Allaamah, Wasiyyullah bin Muhammad ‘Abaas, may Allah preserve him, was asked,


“The following question, from America, is about voting for those it is believed will benefit the Muslims. We are not asking about a Muslim entering into an election as a candidate, nor are we concerned about Federal elections. Rather, the question is about voting in local elections for those who have the authority to delegate plots of land to the Muslims, abandoned buildings, and other such benefits. If the Muslims don't vote for them, other groups will and, therefore, acquire these benefits. So, may Allah reward you well dear Shaikh. Do you have any advice in this matter?”


“That which appears correct to me, Allah willing, is that if some good is anticipated as a result of voting, then we vote. We vote for the candidate as long as he is presently benefiting the Muslims or promises to benefit the Muslims in the future, even if he is not a Muslim. It would be inappropriate for the Muslims to refrain from voting for this individual, especially if the leader of the Muslims can dictate terms, conditions, and other stipulations on him as a result of the Muslims voting. For example, the leader of the Muslims says, ‘We will vote for you on the condition that you support our interests, we will vote for you on the condition that you mention our interests to your superiors, and so on and so forth.’ And this applies in any country where the Muslims are a minority, not just in America.


By voting the Muslims may gain needed influence over politicians and other authorities. In return, these politicians and authorities may do something that will benefit Islam and the Muslims. This is especially the case in local elections where, as you have mentioned, the one who wins may have the authority to give away plots of lands on which schools can be built. I am familiar with this because it is even practiced in India. In this instance, it is not befitting in the least for the Muslims to hesitate or delay voting for these candidates.


The Muslims should not hesitate to vote because withholding their votes will not harm these candidates in the least. They will win by the votes of non-Muslims regardless if the Muslims vote or not. For this reason, the Muslims should use their vote as a favor to these candidates. As a result, the Muslims will be placed in an advantageous position of influence over these candidates. When they feel that they are indebted to the Muslims, the Muslims can benefit from their empathy and their sympathetic views and understanding of Muslim causes. This is a general Islamic benefit required by the Islamic public interests. This is our belief.


This is also the verdict given by our Shaikhs in India. Even Shaikh Bin Baaz (may Allah bestow mercy upon him), from what we have heard, used to rule with the permissibility of participating in elections. And for this, insha'Allah, we hope from Allah a good future for the Muslims in every land. If this affair brings good to the Muslims then it's not befitting to hesitate.


Questioner,


‘May Allah reward you with good. In order to bring about further benefit, dear Shaikh, for those who say that this action includes assisting one who rules by other than what Allah revealed...’


Shaikh,


‘This doesn't assist the one ruling by other than what Allah has revealed in view of the fact that if we don't vote, the [non-Muslims] will win by their own votes. They will be elected without a doubt. They will come into power by their own accord whether or not we isolate ourselves from them or from the entire world. Thus, this does not assist them in establishing non-Islamic laws. They are the rulers and the ones in authority in those lands whether we vote for them or not. As a result, we should make an effort to influence them in a way that will be beneficial to Islam and the Muslims, insha'Allah.’


Questioner,


‘May Allah reward you with good dear Shaikh. Please excuse us for taking so much of your time.’


Shaikh,


‘May Allah reward you with good. I mention this with a clear conscience because we have heard our shaikhs give this verdict, especially when it benefits the Muslims. This is also the case in India; some of the idol worshipers in the Parliament speak on behalf of the Muslims and their interests...and it is possible that Allah will aid the deen by using a disbeliever.’”


The ‘Allaamah, ‘Abdul Muhsin bin Hamad al-‘Abbaad, may Allah preserve him, was asked the following:


“There is a question from America related to the ruling of Muslims living in non-Muslim countries who vote in local elections. Is it permissible for these Muslim minorities to vote in local elections if they believe that one of the candidates can benefit the Muslims by giving land, allowing them to give da’wah, or other benefits?”


He responded,


“There is no harm in voting for candidates who will be of more benefit to the Muslims than the others. In this instance, voting for them is an example of doing the lesser of two evils to avoid the greater evil. All of the candidates do not take Islam as their practicing faith and, as a result, (unintentional and unknowing) harm may come to the Muslims. However, the candidate who is less harmful to the Muslims is better than the candidate whose harm is far greater.


Questioner,


‘For the one who says that voting is from the innovated means, for example...?’


Shaikh,


‘In any event, this is something evil with which the people have been afflicted. If people have two choices, one being abhorrent and the other also detestable but of less harm, which should the people choose? The people should choose the lesser of the two evils, correct? Even though the Roman Christians and the Persians are all disbelievers, the people were happy when the Roman Christians were victorious over the Persians.’


Questioner,


‘Some people oppose this by mentioning that they are not forced to vote in the first place?’


Shaikh,


‘What I have mentioned is based on the premise that some benefit for the Muslims may be attained by voting. However, if there is no benefit then they should not participate.’”


The Islamic Fiqh Council in its 19th session, which was held in the headquarters of the Muslim World League in Makkah between the 22nd and 27th of Shawwaal of the year 1428 AH (coinciding with the 3rd through the 8th of November 2007 CE), they examined the issue of “The participation of Muslims in elections with non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries” and stated the following,


“Muslim participation in elections with non-Muslims in a non-Muslim country is one of the Islamically legislated political matters in which the ruling is determined by way of weighing the pros and cons, and verdicts concerning it differ according to time, place, and circumstances.


It is permissible for a Muslim who enjoys the rights of citizenship in a non-Muslim country to take part in elections and the like because it is more likely that his participation will bring benefits such as presenting a true picture of Islam, defending Muslim issues in that country, supporting religious rights and the rights of other minorities, strengthening their role in circles of influence, and cooperating with reasonable, fair-minded people on a basis of truth and justice. This, however, should be in accordance with the following guidelines:


(i) The Muslim participants should intend thereby to serve the interests of the Muslims and ward off evil and harm from them.


(ii) The Muslim participants should think it most likely that their participation will have positive effects that will benefit the Muslims in that country, such as supporting their position, conveying their requests to the decision makers and those who are in charge of the country, and protecting their religious and worldly interests.


(iii) The Muslims’ participation in these elections should not lead to him neglecting his religious duties.”


The ‘Allaamah, Saalih bin Sa’d as-Suhaymee, may Allah preserve him, has stated,