Folks, here’s a must-read article on how Islamic authorities worldwide are urging that Muslims in the west participate in voting in this year’s election and to vote for John Kerry. The Muslim authorities only favor John Kerry beause they are quite sure he will permit the undoing of Bush’s work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
It is a rather surprising by product of the War on Ter ror: For the first time, a consensus seems to be emerging among Islamic authorities worldwide that Muslims in the West should participate in democratic politics.
Before taking credit for this, President Bush might note that these authorities tend to favor votes for his opponent. But Sen. John Kerry’s pleasure in that must be tempered by the awareness that those authorities favor him only because they are quite sure he will permit the undoing of Bush’s work in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The emerging consensus could become a turning point for Islamic theology. It drives a hole in the cardinal concept of “association and exoneration” (al-wala’a wa al-bara’a), which means that Muslims should steer clear of non-Muslims, and associate only with fellow believers.
The consensus also challenges the classical Islamic division of the world into two parts: the House of Faith (Dar al-Iman), meaning Muslim countries, and “The House of War” (Dar al-Harb Dar), meaning countries ruled by the “infidel.” The emerging view, it seems, would allow for a third category of countries to be recognized as the “House of Truce” (Dar al-Sulh), of which the United States would be one.
By declaring participation in Western elections “licit” (yajuz), Islamic theology is abandoning two traditional positions:
* Muslims, although allowed to spend time in non-Muslim lands for trade and/or missionary activity, should not settle in countries ruled by non-Muslims. Muslims owe no loyalty to a non-Muslim authority which is, by definition, an expression of “un-belief” (kufr). A Muslim is not allowed to pay taxes to an “infidel” government or fight in its army.
* Islam, while encouraging consultation and consensus, rejects lawmaking by mortals, and is opposed to any election in principle.
Both positions have been undermined by events. Almost 300 million Muslims, a quarter of the world total, now live in countries under “infidel” rule, including an estimated 6 million to 9 million in the United States.
The first fatwa (religious edict) allowing Muslims to vote in non-Islamic countries was issued at Aligarh, India, in 1947. Since then, Muslims, 16 percent of India’s population, have played am active part in all elections.
For American Muslims, taking part in elections was declared “licit” at the 1999 Islamic Summit in Detroit, Mich. A year later the European Islamic Council for Fatwa and Research issued a similar fatwa.
As the debate has heated up in recent months, more and more fatwas have been issued. Some theologians have gone so far as to declare that taking part in elections is not only “licit” but an “obligation” (wajib) for Muslims in non-Islamic lands.
The theologians who say taking part in elections is “licit” include the Egyptian Ali Jad al-Haq, the Lebanese Muhammad-Hussein Falallah, the Iraqi Abdul-Karim Zaydan and the Saudi Muhammad-Saleh al-Munjed.
Their argument is that, though Muslims owe no loyalty to non-Islamic states, they must be free to decide when their participation in elections serves the interests of Islam. “What matters is whether or not any action is good for Islam,” says al-Munjed. “No vote should be cast unless the voter is certain that it will benefit the faith and his Muslim brethren.”
Theologians insisting that voting is an “obligation” include Yussuf al-Qaradawi (an Egyptian based in Qatar), the Lebanese Faisal al-Mawlawi and the Iranian Makarem Shirazi. Their argument is that Muslims living in non-Muslims lands should regard themselves as missionaries whose task is to convert the citizenry to Islam and, in time, establish an Islamic state. Thus if taking part in elections is a means of achieving those goals, it is incumbent on Muslims to do so.
“Wherever they are, Muslims should work towards the day when humanity is united in the only true faith, which is Islam,” says Qaradawi. “If taking part in elections is one way of achieving that, it is an obligation.”
Some theologians claim that the Koran, which contains all possible and imaginable knowledge of the past, the present and the future, has anticipated and answered the question.
Salah al-Din Sultan, who has devoted a book to the subject, quotes verses from two of the Koran’s most famous Surahs, The Cow (al-Baqarah) and The Banquet (al-Ma’edah), to show that voting should be regarded as a form of “bearing witness” (shihadah) to what a believer regards as right. A similar view is expressed by the Iranian Ayatollah Muhammad Yazdi. He sees elections as a method of “commanding the Good and combating evil,” an Islamic duty.
Both recall a fatwa by Al-Izz bin-Abdul-Salam that makes it incumbent on Muslims to “snatch away every bit of power they can” from the “infidel.”
British Muslims have used that fatwa to inflict defeat on candidates from Tony Blair’s Labor Party in a number of recent local and by-elections. The idea is that, facing the possibility of losing the next general election as a result of Muslim votes for the opposition, Blair would be forced to abandon his alliance with the United States in the War on Terror.
One problem remains, however. It concerns the attitude of Muslims towards laws that contravene Islamic jurisprudence (shariah). Most theologians, whether they regard voting as merely “licit” or an “obligation,” agree on one thing: Muslim voters should not vote for legislation that contravenes the Shariah and, if such is passed, have a duty to disregard or, when necessary, actively oppose it. “The believers should do what is good for Islam,” says Shirazi. “There could be no ambiguity [about that].”
The debate has generated much excitement among American Muslims, who are reportedly registering to vote in record numbers. According to the latest polls by John Zogby, almost 60 percent of them intend to vote for Kerry.
Arab newspapers are full of editorials urging American Muslims to “throw Bush out of the White House” as a prelude to “kicking the United States out of Iraq and Afghanistan.”
“We may not be able to throw the American army out of Afghanistan and Iraq,” says Hassan Nasr-Allah, leader of the Lebanese Hezbollah (Party of God). “But we can throw George W. Bush out of the White House.”
Muslim support for Kerry is not inspired by any love for the senator but by the perception that he would withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan , thus allowing the establishment of Islamic regimes in Baghdad and Kabul.
“Both Kerry and Bush represent corruption and tyranny,” says theologian Farid al-Nasar. “Neither is acceptable to true believers. The difference is that Bush is aggressive, and Kerry is not.”