Don’t Waste Your Vote on Kufr
At the end of August, Justin Trudeau called for a snap federal election for September 20th. The rationale Trudeau expressed was, “Canadians need to choose how we finish the fight against Covid-19.”
The real politics behind the decision to call for early elections was likely because of the polls, which indicated that most Canadians were pleased with the federal pandemic response, and that the Liberals garnered popular support. Since calling the election however, there has been a sharp decline in support for the Liberals. At least one cause of this disenchantment is the calling of the election itself.
There is no convincing reason articulated by the government that would justify putting the country through an election while many families are still navigating their way through the pandemic. And as with previous elections, the Muslim community is once again being encouraged to vote. We are told we need to have our voice heard, our concerns addressed, and our electoral power felt by the elected officials. What can we expect from lending our support to secular parties and politicians, and what does it implicate us in?
Voting for the Rule of Men
Before we initiate any task, call for any action, or support any initiative, it is vital for us as Muslims to determine whether it lines up with what Allah (swt) expects from us. This means we have to look at the reality of what we are doing or calling for and see what Allah’s (swt) revealed message and Messenger (saw) has to say about it.
There are many slogans around voting such as “making our voice heard,” “getting a seat at the table,” “strengthening our community,” etc. But the reality of it is quite simple. When we vote, we are giving our support to the political platform of a secular party. What this means is that we are supporting a politician or party that will devise solutions to social, economic and political problems without making any reference to the commands of Allah (swt) or the example of His Messenger (saw).
Allah (swt) has warned us:
“…And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed – then it is those who are the defiantly disobedient.” [TMQ 5:47]
And He (swt) tells us:
“And judge, [O Muḥammad], 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. Then is it the judgement of [the time of] ignorance they desire? But who is better than Allah in judgement for a people who are certain [in faith].” [TMQ 5:49-50]
It should be clear from these verses that Allah’s (swt) judgement should be the only one we refer to. However, this is not limited to personal problems. We must also advocate for the rule of Allah (swt) when it comes to societal issues. For example, the Canadian government legalized marijuana for recreational use, but Allah (swt) made this haram. Consequently, following the inclinations of men, no matter how relevant or tempting it may seem, is only a path to ignorance, disobedience and weakening of our iman.
Voting for politicians who do not refer to Allah’s command is in fact supporting them in their misguidance. It is enabling their economic platforms, based on riba and the enriching of the elite at the expense of everyone else. It is encouraging them in the social values, that are built on hyper-individualism, materialism and pleasure-seeking.
And it is validating their political system, one in which the inclinations of humans are given precedence over the commands of Allah (swt). This is the opposite of what we are commanded to do as a Muslim community.
Allah (swt) revealed:
“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression. And fear Allah; indeed, Allah is severe in penalty.” [TMQ 5:2]
But What About Maslaha – Communal Benefit?
The argument that we commonly hear from community leaders who encourage voting in a secular system is that while all parties have haram aspects within their platforms, it is in our communal benefit to vote for the lesser of the two evils. Especially since we are a minority in an increasingly bigoted and hostile environment, voting advocates argue that we must choose the party that is more open to addressing our concerns.
It should be noted at the outset that maslaha, or choosing between the lesser of two evils, is only allowed in Islam if choosing one of the two evils in unavoidable. For example, if our choices were starvation or eating pork, we can eat just enough of the haram meat to survive. If our choices were to touch a non-mahram who was drowning to rescue them, or let them die, we would rescue them.
In the case of voting, withholding our vote does not directly lead to any unavoidable haram result, so the conditions for a maslaha argument are not met. And once we have committed the haram action of supporting one of these secular parties, what assurance do we have that they will meet our needs? Political parties in liberal democracies are designed to aggregate votes, not articulate values. This means they rely on symbolic gestures to secure votes from particular pockets of the population, while betraying the interest of those communities when it harms the interests of the economic elite.
As an example, Trudeau will tearfully apologize for the historic treatment of indigenous communities but will give those same communities no control over resource development or pipelines that go over their land. This control stays with multi-national corporations.
What’s more, their messaging will change depending on whatever polling is supporting at the time.
So, the NDP’s Jagmeet Singh can have media event after media event where he forcefully and emotionally condemns bigotry, but he refused to challenge the anti-hijab law in Quebec during the last federal election, as he needed Quebec to win the election.
Instead of jeopardizing our iman for the sake of promises that can be betrayed at any time, is it not in our communal interest to put our trust in our Most Wise and Merciful Creator?
A Poisonous Choice
What’s more, how would we even decide which is the lesser of the two evils? If the Conservatives want to align with bigots, this will affect the safety of our community. But if the Liberals wish to enforce a social agenda that normalizes sexual transgression amongst our youth, then our iman is in peril.
Which of these is the “lesser” evil?
It is not just that none of these parties can be trusted. Rather, they are actively working against our interests as a community in both the dunya and the akhira.
All major political parties and virtually every elected official or government agency in Canada is dedicated to the continuation of the existing socio-economic and political system – Capitalism.
This system is built on individualism, self-interest, and the exploitation of the many by the privileged few who are born into wealth, ability, and influence. The Islamic system, built on the Qur’an and the example of our beloved Messenger (saw) is at direct odds with such a system.
This means that while the political elite call us to an economic system built on riba or interest-based banking, hoarding and unchecked greed of the 1%, Islam, in contrast, ties our economic activity to relationships and the provision of real goods and services to the people. More importantly, it ensures that the wealth circulates throughout society.
While the political elite call us to a social system that teaches our children to be individualistic, free of responsibility and pursue their own base desires, Islam teaches us that we are responsible for our family and community and have to regulate our desires according to the rules of Islam.
It should be abundantly clear that the interests of these politicians not only diverge but come into direct conflict with our interests as a Muslim community.
Beyond the Ballot Box: It’s Time for Grassroots Activism
Calling for principled disengagement from the democratic process is not the same as calling for isolation. Rather, by understanding the reality of the democratic process, we as a community will be better positioned to protect ourselves from harm.
Instead of attaching our hearts to political campaigns that will deceive us and damage the Islam of our families and communities, we should concern ourselves with building resilience in our community. This means creating communal spaces where Allah’s (swt) name can be remembered, where the concepts of the deen can be instilled in our young and old, and from where we can invite all to the unique vision Islam has for individuals, communities and society as a whole.
Instead of relying on the fickle attention and support of opportunistic politicians to feel secure, we should rely on the support of each other to support community projects and collect funds that will meet the needs of our needy, fund legal challenges, etc. Harper’s anti-niqab law during oath ceremonies was beaten in the courts, not in the House of Commons, and Bill 21 is more likely to be beaten the same way.
Instead of having our voice be filtered through secular parties agenda and be removed of any content that would damage the interests of the economic elite, we should articulate our vision for society clearly and directly. We should sit with those who are economically or socially challenged, understand their concerns, and find solutions for them from the Qur’an and Sunnah. It is this kind of grassroots activism, free from political affiliations and loyalties, that has any chance of securing the rights of our community. The Civil Rights movement won its victories this way, as did the earlier labour unions who fought for a 40-hour workweek, for example.
Instead of trying to derive our strength from the rule of men, we should be dedicating our efforts to calling for the return of the rule of Islam in the Muslim lands. We should use our collective voice to demand the rise of righteous Islamic leadership in the Muslim lands, who – through the complete implementation of Islam – will be a beacon and a voice for Muslim minorities and the oppressed all over the world.
“…God will protect you from them: He is the All Hearing, the All Knowing. And say [believers],‘[Our life] takes its colour from God, and who gives a better colour than God? It is Him we worship.’ Say, [O Muhammad], “Do you argue with us about Allah while He is our Lord and your Lord? For us are our deeds, and for you are your deeds. And we are sincere [in deed and intention] to Him.” [TMQ 2:137-139]