Muslim Participation in American Election Process

Here is a good response to an email appealing not to participate in the “kuffar” system of election as it is “haraam”:

Every now and then we hear the same complaints from some readers, usually the same group of readers, about the “evils” of participatory democracy. We are told that democracy is contrary to Islam, and that democracy is the work of the kuffaar, and hence, un-Islamic and haram.

What is democracy anyway? It is a process by which people appoint leaders who they believe will create a society that the people would like to live in.

If we are not to go this democratic route, then what route do we choose to help create more Muslim-friendly laws in this country? The naysayers have nothing to say on this. They don’t offer a solution; they simply say that whatever is being practiced in the West is most certainly evil and nothing more. By that standard, the Bill of Rights is perhaps un-Islamic. By the logic of the naysayers, the first amendment, which guarantees us the right to practice Islam freely and in accordance with our values, is perhaps un-Islamic since this law is enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Similarly, by using the logic of the naysayers, who insist that all that is American is evil and the work of Satan, the fourth amendment, which protects us against injustices of the authorities, the fifth and the sixth amendment that guarantees us a fair trial are all un-Islamic. From the naysayers¢ point of view, the eighth amendment that protects us against cruel, torturous and excessive punishments is also un-Islamic. And what about slavery, that was abolished by the 13th amendment? Is that also un-Islamic in the eyes of the naysayers?

The naysayers offer us no solution but a nebulous idea based on rhetoric that lacks solidity. Based on the “lack of solution” offered by the naysayers, what are we to do? How are we to bring about positive change in the policies of the country we live in? If the goal is to introduce laws that are acceptable to us, then how should we make those laws and how should we implement them? If we cannot elect leaders to do that, then who is going to do that and how is that person going to be appointed? Are we suggesting that someone should rise up, slash the head of the man in charge and take his place? Is that the “peaceful” way the naysayers have in mind? Have the naysayers lost their marbles?

If all the positive things found in our country are to be rejected solely on the basis of the Non-Muslim-ness of their origins, then that is a sad day for Muslims, for every single one of the amendments mentioned above are rooted in Islamic values also. It is strange that we are willing to paint the entire society with a broad brush like this and declare all the laws, good or bad, as purely evil and un-Islamic, yet in the same breath, we demand that others treat us fairly and not call us terrorists when someone somewhere, who identifies himself as a Muslim, commits an act of terror in the name of Islam. It is an odd expectation of us that we feel that others should respect our values and accommodate our religious and cultural requirements and treat us with dignity, yet we proudly use such bigoted, hateful and racist words as, “Kuffaar”, “the inhabitants of Hellfire” or “those Kaafir filthy lying secularist dogs of Hellfire”, when addressing the Non-Muslim community. Are we insane? What childish expectation is this?

We complain that these politicians will never address our issues. Why would they when we have nothing but so much hatred and vitriol for them. How would they even know that they can count on us during elections, when all they know is that we have nothing but utter distain for them and that we consider them “filth”? Politicians need money and physical support from the people to win elections. If we don’t build relationships with them then others will, and we will be the losers.

In conclusion, we understand that there are plenty of things that happen in this country that are absolutely wrong. The foreign policy and the occupations of Iraq and Palestine come to mind. What’s wrong with our country is not just limited to foreign policy, there is plenty wrong within the country also. But non of this will ever change unless we change it ourselves. The tools of democracy, freedom of speech, and political and civic activism are available to us. Use them to bring about positive change in America that is good for all Americans. This will not happen if we sit on our hands and complain. No nation can succeed only on prayers. God does not change the condition of a people unless the people change themselves. We must form alliances with people of good conscience, get involved in the political process, perform our civic duties, become visible and enguage the politicians. We cannot remain on the sidelines. We are the most hated group in the country. Being a Muslim is almost tantamount to treason today. We must do the hard work to change all that.

Sal Suboor
Director of Political and Community Relations
MPAC San Diego

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