Hassan Minhas, Student Jamia Ahmadiyya Canada
The world is going through precarious and unprecedented times. People are frustrated due to the economy and social welfare of the world. But all hope is not lost. The good news is that we, as citizens, always have the right to raise our voices for the betterment of society. It should be a natural tendency to look out for our fellow human beings; after all, that is one of the primary obligations of a human.
Come 3 November 2020, the stakes are at an all-time high. The most dominant and influential country in the world will find out their future president. The United States of America will have to choose between candidate Joe Biden from the Democrats and president Donald Trump from the Republicans.
It should not be forgotten that the result will not only affect the United States but the majority of the world, in many different ways. Therefore, it is incumbent upon the citizens to be responsible and seize this precious opportunity and pave the way for what they believe will be of benefit. Muslims should be at the forefront of this.
Primarily, this is due to the fact that in Islam a person has two substantial duties to carry out: huququllah and huququl-ibad, meaning the rights of God and the rights of mankind. Both of these are strongly intertwined. To say that only fulfilling duties towards God will suffice is completely against the philosophy of Islam.
Hence, we always need to be aware of both aspects in order to please God and be deemed a true Muslim. In this regard a fundamental teaching of the Holy Quran comes to mind:
کُنۡتُمۡ خَیۡرَ اُمَّۃٍ اُخۡرِجَتۡ لِلنَّاسِ تَاۡمُرُوۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ تَنۡہَوۡنَ عَنِ الۡمُنۡکَرِ وَ تُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ ؕ وَ لَوۡ اٰمَنَ اَہۡلُ الۡکِتٰبِ لَکَانَ خَیۡرًا لَّہُمۡ ؕ مِنۡہُمُ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ وَ اَکۡثَرُہُمُ الۡفٰسِقُوۡنَ
“You are the best people raised for the good of mankind; you enjoin what is good and forbid evil and believe in Allah. And if the People of the Book had believed, it would have surely been better for them. Some of them are believers, but most of them are disobedient. (Surah Al-e-Imran, Ch.3: V.111)
Allah has labelled Muslims as “the best people” and their purpose is to be good to all of mankind. This perfectly ties in with the concept of voting because it is the authority in charge who ends up making crucial decisions and passing laws which impact the entire population at large. The authority of making laws and decisions should not be given to people who are undeserving and unjust. Rather their decisions should reflect the opinions of the majority of the population.
Living in a democratic society is of no use when you do not avail the good that comes with it. For example, if there is racial injustice towards a certain group of people – which there are ample examples of in America – it demands that our officials work to solve this immediately. It’s up to us to vote for the officials we think can make this change. If we believe someone else’s suffering is not our business and doesn’t affect us, then this is in complete contradiction to the verse mentioned above.
The Holy Prophetsa said:
“None of you will [be counted among those who] believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
Therefore, if we are living in ease and safety while our fellow citizens are under constant threat, and do not act to make a change, then we have totally overlooked the aspect of humanity.
In fact, according to the Holy Prophetsa, we do not even qualify to be true believers. So we need to be cautious of this fact and grasp every opportunity available to make a change for the better. Voting is an essential tool to try and make a difference.
Another key aspect the Holy Quran mentions is:
یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَطِیۡعُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اَطِیۡعُوا الرَّسُوۡلَ وَ اُولِی الۡاَمۡرِ مِنۡکُمۡ ۚ فَاِنۡ تَنَازَعۡتُمۡ فِیۡ شَیۡءٍ فَرُدُّوۡہُ اِلَی اللّٰہِ وَ الرَّسُوۡلِ اِنۡ کُنۡتُمۡ تُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ بِاللّٰہِ وَ الۡیَوۡمِ الۡاٰخِرِ ؕ ذٰلِکَ خَیۡرٌ وَّ اَحۡسَنُ تَاۡوِیۡلًا
“O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey [His] Messenger and those who are in authority among you. And if you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and [His] Messenger if you are believers in Allah and the Last Day. That is best and most commendable in the end.” (Surah al-Nisa, Ch.4: V.60)
Taking this verse into consideration, we already know, as previously mentioned, that Allah has commanded us to do the best for mankind and the Holy Prophetsa has also reiterated this countless times. The next to be obeyed is the authority we fall under. The entire democratic system and philosophy begs its citizens to abide by the system of voting. Law-makers have given citizens the responsibility to be a catalyst for it. Otherwise, the entire system would collapse.
Therefore, we must not take these rights for granted and avail this blessing to improve the state of our society. The Holy Prophetsa stated:
“Whoever among you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of Faith.” (Sahih Muslim)
One can clearly derive the message being given here. This narration is pointing towards the need to take initiative and make a change for the better. Most certainly, there are so many problems that face society; therefore Muslims should act now by using the right and freedom to vote for the correct leadership. After all, this all ties in with the Islamic concept of justice. The Holy Quran states:
اِنَّ اللّٰہَ یَاۡمُرُ بِالۡعَدۡلِ وَ الۡاِحۡسَانِ وَ اِیۡتَآیِٔ ذِی الۡقُرۡبٰی وَ یَنۡہٰی عَنِ الۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَ الۡمُنۡکَرِ وَ الۡبَغۡیِ ۚ یَعِظُکُمۡ لَعَلَّکُمۡ تَذَکَّرُوۡنَ
“Verily, Allah enjoins justice, and the doing of good to others; and giving like kindred; and forbids indecency, and manifest evil, and wrongful transgression. He admonished you that you may take heed.” (Surah an-Nahl, Ch.16: V.91)
In the context of voting, this verse is essential. Allah enjoins that we do justice. So when we see injustices being committed and we have the opportunity to fix it, then why not implement our right? After all, in this situation, voting itself will be a form of justice.
The United States’ elections are of key importance; they come at a time when injustice towards different racial groups are at a high, polarisation of society is increasing, world economies are dwindling and there is an ongoing global pandemic causing havoc. Overall there is civil unrest among the people, which is of great concern.
The USA is still the most dominant force and influencer in the world. Therefore, the impact of its decisions will not only be confined to its borders. Muslims should also not overlook a very crucial message that is found in the following narration of the Holy Prophetsa:
“Once, the Prophetsa was speaking to us when a Bedouin came and asked him, ‘When will the Last Day be?’ The Messengersa of Allah continued to speak. Some of those present thought that he had heard him but disliked the interruption and the others said that he had not heard him. When the Messengersa of Allah concluded his speech he asked, ‘Where is the one who enquired about the Last Day?’ The man replied, ‘Here I am.’ The Messengersa of Allah replied, ‘When the practice of honouring a trust is lost, expect the Last Day.’ He asked, ‘How could it be lost?’ The Prophetsa replied, ‘When the government is entrusted to the undeserving people, then wait for the Last Day.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
How clear of a message has the Holy Prophetsa given! That one of the signs of the “Last Day” is the entrustment of leadership to the undeserving.
Certainly, as a Muslim, it becomes our responsibly to act justly and to take initiative.
Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has also advised that the solution to these problems is to vote and make a difference, rather than breeding unrest in society.
Let us not be the ones responsible for entrusting unjust people into office. Let us be role models for the entire world and act as an inspiration to others as well. Vote!