Fatwah on Participating in Democratic Elections

Question: What is The Islamic Verdict on those Participating in the British General elections and On Voting?

Praise be to the almighty Allah and may the peace of Allah and his Mercy be upon the Messenger Muhammad, his family and his companions and those who ally with them.

In order to be able to answer the urgent question of participating in the British Parliament and voting for candidates who want to participate in Parliament, we must understand the reality, for the Juristic principle states part of Judging a matter is comprehending it or understanding its reality.

Therefore we must understand the reality of two things:
1- The British Parliament who some candidates want to participate in and
2- The election which the people want to be involved in i.e. voting.

We must remember that part of our Imaan and belief in Allah (SWT) is At-Tawoheed which means obeying, following, worshipping and elevating Almighty Allah (SWT) exclusively, without associating with him or his attributes anyone else, and that conversely associating with God or with any of his attributes is an act of Shirk which makes a person go outside the fold of Islam and that this is why At-Tawheed is the fundamental pillar of Islam. One of Allah (SWT)’s attributes is that he is the legislator and the commander and he has the absolute right and power to command and legislate, and no-one shares this absolute power with him. For Allah (SWT) says:

“Verily the absolute right of legislating is for none but Allah (SWT)” [EMQ 12:40]

And Allah (SWT) says:
“It is unlawful for Believers male or female if Allah and His Messenger decree a command to have any choice but to abide with it and whosoever disobeys Allah or his Messenger went astray in plain misguidance” [EMQ 33:36]

After having established this absolute fact let us investigate the reality of Parliament or as it has been described ‘the Legislative House’ for the People; this is its description according to lawyers who call it the legislative body formulated for passing laws, Those who are associated with this body are called MP’s, i.e. The Representatives or Deputies of the people, who have been elected by them. There is no disagreement among anyone in the Eastern or Western Countries that the main function of Parliament is to legislate law and that the role of the MP’s is to choose from among themselves Ministers. We can summarise the main duties of this legislative body or parliament as:
1- Legislating or passing bills or law,
2- Giving a vote of confidence for the Prime Minister and his/her cabinet as the government.

As for the Sources of legislation for Parliament, it includes:
1- The mind and desires of the MP’s or Ministers as representatives on behalf of the people
2- International institutions or so-called international law.
The Deen of most people in the World today is Secularism which states that; God has Sovereignty ONLY in Heaven or Inside the Church and in the places of worship, whereas Man i.e. People, have Sovereignty On Earth in all other Spheres of Life Except Religion (which according to the Deen of Secularism States that Religion is a Personal experience between an Individual and a supernatural power or God such as the Sun, a Cow, Statues or people etc…) this is the reality of Parliament and the basis upon which it is built.

As for the reality of Voting; Voters have a common sovereignty as people who legislate for their own affairs in society therefore as a sovereign body they establish a mechanism to have representatives from among themselves, who they choose and vote for, who become MP’s and legislate law and order on their behalf for their own interests. This is manifested in the political man-made principle, which states that ‘the Rule is by the people, for the people over the people’, hence we can say that people are the source of legislation.

The reality of the voter is that he/she is the one who chooses his representative, which results in fact in his/her joint liability for whatever the representative has been chosen and allocated for. The task here being to legislate laws in order to manage peoples interests.

In Summary, Parliament is a body which legislates, people are sovereign and the source of legislation, and MP’s are chosen by the people to legislate on their behalf.

The Islamic verdict on the above:
1- Anybody who believes that almighty Allah (SWT) is not the only, exclusive Legislator and Commander is a disbeliever i.e. Kaafir.
2- Anybody who believes in Almighty Allah (SWT) and associates anyone else with Him, contravening his being the sole legislator and commander is a Mushrik i.e. associates another as partner unto Allah (SWT).
3- Any Muslim who votes for a person knowing that the Parliament is a body of legislating law is an apostate.
4- Any Muslim who participates in elections to become an MP knowing the reality of Parliament as a legislative House is an apostate.
5- Any Muslim who does not know the reality of Parliament and he votes is sinful because he did seek the divine ruling for his action before committing it, since the Juristic Principle is that every action, verbal or physical, must be based on an Islamic ruling which is derived solely from the Qur’an and Sunnah.
6-Any Muslim who participates in voting for a candidate whether the candidate is Muslim or non-Muslim basing his action on a misled so-called ‘opinion’ from a rationalist or secular clergyman has been misled and the issue must be explained to him/her. Though believing that Allah (SWT) is the only legislator is a matter known from the Deen of Islam by necessity, therefore ignorance about it is not an excuse and he/she is therefore sinful.
7- The only excuse is for a person who is new Muslim or fully Jaahil or someone ignorant about what is known by necessity from the Deen of Islam due to the fact that he has grown up under kufr law and between non-Muslims. Those Muslims need the matter explained to them but if they continue to vote claiming that they have a different opinion from another person they are sinful.

As for the divine evidences for the above verdicts, they are derived from the fact that Allah (SWT) says:
‘They imitate the sayings of the disbelievers, Allah(SWT)’s curse be on them, how they are deluded away from the truth; They took their Rabbis and their Monks to be their Lords and Legislators besides Allah(SWT) and took the Messiah, the son of Mary, while they were commanded to worship, obey and follow none but one God/Allah; none has the right to be worshipped or followed and to legislate but he, praise and glory be to him from having the partners they associate with him ’[EMQ 30:31]

The circumstances in which this ayah was revealed are as follows:

It has been reported by Huzaifah in Ahmad, Tirmizi and Ibn Jarir that the Messenger Muhammad (saw) was reciting this verse and Udayy (ra) said to Him (saw): ‘Oh Rasoul Allah, they do not worship the Rabbis and the Monks’ To which He (saw) replied: ‘The Rabbis and Monks make that which is lawful unlawful and that which is unlawful lawful and they i.e. the people, follow them, and by doing so they worship them’

In addition, Allah (SWT) says in another clear-cut and explicit evidence that obeying any man-made system knowingly with consent for its source, different to Allah (SWT) is apostasy. For Allah (SWT) says;

‘Eat not, Oh believers, of that meat on which Allah (SWT)’s name has not been pronounced at the time of slaughtering the animal, for surely it is Fisq (a sin and disobedience of Allah) and certainly the evil do inspire their friends to dispute with you and if you were to obey them by making a dead (un-slaughtered) animal lawful and eating it, then you would indeed be Mushrikoun (polytheists)’ [EMQ 6:121]

Note here that Allah (SWT) is describing obedience in a matter of legislation in the example of making the unlawful un-slaughtered meat lawful, as an act of shirk although people did not worship idols or pray to them. Even so God calls them Mushriks! As for the circumstances of this verse, it has been reported in Al-Haakim upon the authority of Ibn Abbas (RA) that this verse was addressing Muslims when a group of Mushriks were debating with them on the issue of legislating. The Mushriks said: ‘You call the sheep upon which the name of Allah has not been mentioned; dead, who is the one who killed her?’ The Muslims said: ‘Allah’ So they replied: ‘So what Allah has killed or slaughtered by a gold knife is haram and what you have slaughtered with a metal knife is halal?’ To which Allah (SWT) revealed the above ayah.

In this ayah Allah (SWT) has declared as Mushrik the one obeys anyone other than Allah(SWT), even if one does not make sujood to him/her. So what can we say about the one who obeys or votes for another to legislate law and order for them? Allah (SWT) says:

‘Or have they partners with Allah, who have legislated for them what Allah (SWT) has not decreed and had it not been for a decisive word the matter would have been judged between them and verily for the Polytheists and wrongdoers there is a painful torment’ [EMQ 42:21]

Moreover we know very well that Allah (SWT) says: ‘And He made none share in his decision or rule’ [EMQ 18:26]

It is well known in Islam that any law different to the law of Allah (SWT) is Taghout and Allah (SWT) rejects us to refer to Taghout:

‘Have you seen those who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you and that which has been sent down before you and they wish to go for judgment in their dispute to the Taghout i.e. false Judges etc… while they have been ordered to reject them but Shaytaan wishes to lead them far astray’ [EMQ 4:60]

It has been reported concerning the circumstances of the above ayah that some hypocrites claimed to be Muslims and yet in their own disputes they tried to refer to the man-made decision of some contemporary MP’s as legislators such as Amru Bim Luhay, Al-Khuzaa’ie and Ka’ab Bin Al-Ashraf with other Monks, Priests and MP’s who used to legislate for them, instead of going to the Messenger of Allah and seeking the legislation of the almighty Allah.

As for those people who have been misled and have fallen down in this clear-cut apostasy and crime, the Messenger Muhammad (saw) said: ‘One of the things I fear strongly for my Ummah is mis-guided Imaams who will lead part of my Ummah to worship Idols and they will lead others of my Ummah to follow the Mushrikeen’

Therefore whoever votes or follows any of those misguided legislators and gives them the vote enabling them to legislate has in fact chosen a lord to legislate for him and this is associating with almighty Allah another legislator and commander. Allah (SWT) says:

‘Are many different Lords better or Allah, the one the irresistible, you do not follow, obey, worship beside him but only figures which you have named, you and your fathers for which Allah has sent down no authority, Verily the Command and the Judgment and the power of legislation is for none but Allah, he has commanded that you worship and follow none but him, that is the true path but most people know not’ [EMQ 12:39 & 40]

This is the reality of the new Deen and Lordship, which declares sovereignty for man which most of the people have embraced. This is why whatever man does as a good Deed and whatever a Muslim does as prayer or fasting and other good deeds and afterwards commits this apostasy and does not repent from it, thereafter all his deeds will be abolished, for Allah (SWT) says:

‘This is the guidance of Allah with which He guides whomsoever he wills of his servants but if they have joined or associated in worship others with Allah all that they used to do as good will have been of no benefit to them’ [EMQ 6:88]

And for those who claim that we are not calling them Creators but we are merely calling them ‘Commanders’, we will remind them that Allah (SWT) says: ‘Surely he is the only Creator and the only Commander, blessed be Allah, the Lord of all that exists’ [EMQ 7:54]

Hence as no one is allowed to be associated with him in his absolute power of creation similarly no one has the right to associate with him in his absolute power of commandment and legislation.

As for those people who have been misled by others and have committed this crime before as an error from them we advise them to fear Allah and not to indulge in this crime again because Allah (SWT) will excuse them for what they commit out of error but he will never excuse them for what they commit intentionally until they give it up and ask for forgiveness, for Allah (SWT) says: ‘And there is no sin on you if you commit an error or mistake in your deeds except for those you committed deliberately or intentionally’ [EMQ 33:5]

The mistaken are therefore excused the way the Messenger Muhammad (saw) explained about the Bedouin who lost his camel in the desert with all his clothes and his water and then found it after having lost all hope of surviving and was ready to face death. Allah (SWT) sent his camel back to him and he supplicated and said: ‘Oh Allah you are my Servant and I am Your Lord’ The Messenger Muhammad (saw) said regarding this: ‘Verily he committed his mistake because h was lost in his happiness’

There is a world of difference between someone who votes out of error and mistake thinking he/she is doing a good deed and those who do such evil actions intentionally and they call people to participate in elections and voting day and night, collecting money for it, setting up stalls, writing and distributing leaflets for it, inviting MP’s to the houses of Allah, offering gifts to them, slaughtering meat and even sacrificing their Tawoheed in order to be elected or to vote so that they may get some benefit. Is there any comparison between such people and the Bedouin mentioned in the narration above?

Finally I would like to stress that the above seven verdicts passed do not include the one who voted under duress or absolute ignorance or the one who has been misled without any clarification for him/her. This is one of the calamities, which has affected many Muslims both in Muslim countries and non-Muslim countries today.

I pray to Allah (SWT) to forgive all those who commit sins out of mistake and to guide all of us to work to implement his command and to establish his Deen so that Sovereignty is for none but Allah and the Supremacy of Islam is dominant over the Whole World. All Glory and Thanks is for Him alone (SWT).

Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad

Fatwa No: L-221 – 20 Safar 1422 Hijri – 15th May 2001


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