Islam and Politics

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Townhall with the County Executive

Shaykh Muhammad ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allah have mercy on him) was asked about the ruling on elections, and he replied:

I think that elections are obligatory; we should appoint the one who we think is good, because if the good people abstain, who will take their place? Evil people will take their place, or neutral people in whom there is neither good nor evil, but they follow everyone who makes noise. So we have no choice but to choose those who we think are fit. (source)


The Fiqh Council has issued a statement on this issue: Participation of Muslims in elections with non-Muslims, the text of which is as follows:

Praise be to Allah alone, and blessings and peace be upon the one after whom there is no Prophet, our Prophet Muhammad, and his family and companions.

The Islamic Fiqh Council in its nineteenth session, which was held in the headquarters of the Muslim World League in Makkah al-Mukarramah between 22 and 27 Shawwaal 1428 AH (3 to 8 November 2007 CE) has examined the issue of “Participation of Muslims in elections with non-Muslims in non-Muslim countries.” This is one of the topics on which discussion was deferred in the sixteenth conference which was held between 21 and 26 Shawwaal 1422 AH in order that it may be examined more thoroughly.

After listening to the research that was presented and the discussions concerning it, the Council has determined the following:

Muslim participation in elections with non-Muslims in a non-Muslim country is one of the shar’i political matters in which the ruling is determined in the light of weighing up the pros and cons, and fatwas 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 the rights of religious and other minorities, strengthening their role in circles of influence, and cooperating with reasonable, fair-minded people on a basis of truth and justice. That 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 Muslim’s participation in these elections should not lead to him neglecting his religious duties.

And Allah is the source of strength. May Allah send blessing and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad and his family and companions.

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commented 2017-03-14 08:47:59 -0400 · Flag
Who says ibn ‘Uthaymeen is a qualified shaykh? As far as I know, he is a Salafi/Wahhabi scholar. We need to look at the opinions of scholars with an education based on traditional Islamic roots, not a fringe movement ignored by the majority of Sunni Muslims.
commented 2016-03-16 10:27:40 -0400 · Flag
The reality here is how Ibn Uthaymeen’s position is specific to circumstances where Muslims have power to actually select people whom they deem most qualified to rule, as exists in some Muslim lands for example. Yet it says nothing of circumstances as in the US, where the persons running are mostly nominated by their non-Muslim colleagues and then presented to the Muslims to elect.

Which raises a serious question: Since the answer is quite general, did the questioner inform Ibn Uthaymeen of the specifics of Muslims voting in the US or did he simply ask a general question realizing the answer could then be applied to a variety of circumstances?

As for the ruling for participation, it says at the very beginning, that “fatwas concerning it differ according to time, place and circumstances.” Thus, it should not be thought of as an immutable ruling, but rather one that could very well be invalidated by unforeseen circumstances! Moreover, it states voting ‘is permissible’ (yajooz). It does NOT say, ‘it is an obligation’ (yajib).

It is interesting to note that the council stresses the duty of Muslims living among non Muslims, to present “a true picture of Islam” and the rights Muslims have to practice their faith, and reinforces this in its conclusion, “The Muslim’s participation in these elections should not lead to him neglecting his religious duties.”

Yet is this the focus of every Muslim who casts their ballot? On the contrary, we see many examples of Muslims standing on the side of politicians, many of whom pander to Muslims for votes, only to stab them in the back after achieving office. Besides, what if a Muslim views the nominees’ platforms and comes to the conclusion that voting for either nominee will bring more harm than good and thus elects to boycott both? Could this too be exercising his voting rights? Or must we choose between the gas chamber or the guillotine?

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