Britain is set for another general election and the controversy surrounding the ‘Muslim vote’ is as contentious as ever. There are many motives and incentives to tempt a Muslim to vote and many in the community feel that it is a civil duty. MPs promote voting to Muslims as ‘a means to an end’: whether to protest against the war, keep the BNP at bay, or just to hope that the least evil government reaches power. But is this really what democracy is all about?

Whether you are a secular democrat, a concerned Muslim or just an apathetic citizen, all of these strategic schemes and political posturing cloud the reality of what voting really is. What are MPs really asking us to do by voting for them?

The truth is, MPs are not asking us to protest against the occupation of Afghanistan, they are not asking us to join hands in support of Palestine, they are not asking us to send a message to Labour or to help keep the BNP out of government and they are not calling us to make Shura (consultation).

Whatever we might personally think about it, the Houses of Parliament describes itself on its website as a place of legislation and supreme sovereignty. “Parliament is where new laws are debated and agreed.” It also says, Parliamentary

sovereignty is a principle of the UK constitution. It makes Parliament the supreme legal authority

in the UK, which can create or end any law.” And that

A Member of Parliament (MP) is elected by a particular area or constituency in Britain to represent them in the House of Commons.” []

There is no doubt that MPs are campaigning so vigorously in the community for one thing and one thing only. They are asking you to select them to be the ones who will legislate on your behalf.

So the question for Muslims is: what is the Islamic ruling on making laws and what is the ruling on asking others to legislate on your behalf? It is also important to discuss the ruling on doing these things with the intention of benefitting the community.

Legislation (Al-Tashree’)

It is a basic belief of all Muslims that the Shari’ah of Islam is the revealed law of Allah and that it abrogates all other laws and guidance, including those revealed before the Qur’an such as the Torah, Psalms and the Gospel. Seeking guidance from any other law or constitution is condemned to failure. Allah (SWT) says,

“With Allah rests all power of decision, from before and after all else.” [EMQ 30:4]

And the Prophet (SAW) said to Umar (RA) when he found him reading only a page from the Torah, “Are you in doubt O Ibn al Khattab? Have I not brought you something shining and

pure? If my brother Musa were alive, he would have no choice but to follow me.” [Musnad Imam Ahmed and Sunan Al Darimi]

Indeed it is agreed among all sects and schools of thought in Islam that the Shari’ah of Islam has been completed and is perfect; nothing has been forgotten and nothing can be surpassed, Allah (SWT) says, “Today, I have perfected your Deen (way of life) and completed My favour upon you all and I have chosen Al-Islam to be

your Deen.” [EMQ 5:3]

The Shari’ah of Allah is perfect and better than any alternative, including democracy. Moreover, the right to legislate and decide what is lawful and unlawful is exclusive to Allah, Who says,

“The right of legislation is for none but Allah.” [EMQ 12:40]

And He (SWT) also says, “He does not share His right of legislation with anybody.” [EMQ 18:26]

There are many other verses like these. It is also agreed upon and known by necessity that people are obliged to seek the judgement of Islam in all matters and forbidden from seeking judgement from any other legislator. Allah (SWT) says, “On whatever you may differ; theHukm (decision and law) is for Allah.” [EMQ 42:10]

“No by your Lord! They are not believers until they seek your judgement (O Muhammad) in all of their disputes without feeling any hardship in your decision and until they submit to it completely.” [EMQ 4:65]

[Say:] ‘Am I, then, to look to anyone but Allah for judgment [as to what is lawful and unlawful], when it is He who has revealed to you this Book, clearly clarifying the truth?’” [EMQ 6:114]

“Are you seeking the law of Jahiliyyah (i.e. man made law)? And who is better than Allah in legislation for people of certainty [the believers]?” [EMQ 5:50]

In fact, ruling, legislating and debating what is lawful or not according to our own opinions and wishes, as is what happens in Parliament, is described as lying about and abandoning the Revelation, Allah (SWT) says, “And rule and judge between them according to what Allah has

revealed and do not follow their desires. And beware of them lest they turn you away from even a part of what Allah has revealed to you.” [EMQ 5:49] “And do not say for any lie your tongue may utter, ‘this is lawful and this is unlawful’ so as to attribute a lie to Allah. For those who attribute lies to Allah will never succeed.” [EMQ 6:116]

Representation (Al-Wikaalah) So there is no doubt that the job of an MP as a

legislator is prohibited in Islam and is a form of associating partners with Allah (major shirk). But what about the one who votes and delegates the job of legislation to someone else, such as an MP?   In Islam, the responsibility and sin arising from representation (Al-Wikaalah) is shared by the agent and the one on whose behalf he is acting upon. In other words, whether you ask someone to buy, sell or pour alcohol for you; or if you pay someone to commit murder, order someone to steal for you or delegate an MP to legislate law on your behalf, you will share the sin and punishment with your representative. For example, the Prophet (SAW) said, “Truly, Allah

has cursed Khamr (alcoholic beverages) and has cursed the one who produces it, the one for whom it is produced, the one who drinks it, the one who serves it, the one who carries it, the one for whom it is carried, the one who sells it, the one who earns from the sale of it, the one who buys it, and the one for whom it is bought.” [Reported by At-Tirmidhi and Ibn Majah)

Regarding legislation specifically, particularly when it contradicts Islamic laws, Allah (SWT) has described this type of representation as taking and worshipping others as lords and partners with Allah (i.e. al-shirk), “Or do they

have partners that legislate for them in the way of life what they had no permission from Allah?” [EMQ 42:21]

And, “They took their rabbis and priests as lords besides Allah.” [EMQ 9:31]

Uday bin Haatim (RA) was passing by while the Messenger (SAW) recited the above verse and said,

“We did not worship them (rabbis and priests).” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Did they (rabbis and priests) not forbid what Allah permitted and hence you forbade it; and they permitted what Allah forbade and thus you permitted it?” “Yes,” replied ‘Uday. The Prophet (SAW) said, “That is how you worshipped them.” Public Interest and Benefit (Al-Maslahah) Despite the clear prohibition of voting for a legislator besides Allah, there is still much talk

about the benefit to the community that could be lost by abstaining from the ballot boxes. Shaykh ul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Verily, the Shirk and to attribute to Allah

without knowledge and all forms of unlawful sexual acts, sayings and transactions, whether hidden or apparent, and oppression cannot contain any form of interest or benefit. Whatever is forbidden upon every person in every situation, such as Shirk, Kufr, oppression, unlawful sexual acts or to attribute Ahkam (laws) to Allah that He never legislated, nothing is permissible from it under the pretexts of interest and benefit. That is because Allah (SWT) says, “Verily, Allah forbade the unlawful sexual transactions, whatever was hidden or apparent, and any form of rebellion without Haq and to associate with Allah that which He never revealed, or to attribute to Allah what you do not have knowledge, all of this is forbidden.” [EMQ 7: 33] All these are forbidden amongst all people, in all religions and all Anbiyaa (prophets) have been sent with its prohibition. Nothing is permissible from it ever, whether before Islam or after Islam, and none of these can be taken by permit for any interest or benefit for the Deen or for the Dunyaa.” [Majmoo’ al Fattawaa v18 p476]