Before we embark on the issue of whether Muslims will be permitted or not to vote in the forthcoming General Elections, it would be appropriate to bring the significance of voting in the light of Shariah to the fore:
1.The Significance Of Voting In The Light Of The Shariah
The elections should not be considered lightly as merely a game or a worldly pursuit wherein someone wins and someone loses. It should not be perceived as being a victory or loss in terms of worldly and material gain alone. Beneath all this machinery and mechanism of the voting and electoral process there is also the spiritual aspect of either abiding by or transgressing the Divine Laws Of Shariah.
In the light of Shariah, casting of votes bears the hallmark of very important responsibilities viz:
2.Voting as a form of testimony (Giving Shahadah):
Firstly, voting is a testimonial. By voting for a certain candidate or party, the voters are indirectly testifying to the credibility of that candidate or party. We, as voters, would be certifying that the party in whose favour we are casting our votes is capable of delivering the goods in as far as Islamic values and ideas are concerned. That party will endeavour and fight for the preservation and survival of our Islamic Beliefs, Laws, Norms and Values. It will not interfere with our Beliefs and Places of Worship. It will give us the freedom and right to implement rulings and judgements in religious issues in accordance with Muslim Personal Law. It will uphold Islamic values such as eradicating oppression and fostering good character, peace and harmony among the people.
3.Choosing 'Lesser of two evils' if confronted with a choice:
As we are in a unique situation where all the parties are non-Islamic and secular parties will not be able to guarantee all our Islamic requirements and demands in their entirety, it would be naive to expect that, perhaps, some party will oblige by guaranteeing most of them, in which case the voter could then opt for a decision less detrimental to Deen. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has said:
"He who is confronted with two crucial decisions, should opt for the decision that is less detrimental" [Kashful-khina Lil-Ajlooni vol 2, 322 and Asraarul-Mar-fooaah, Mulla Ali Qari 323).
4.Voting for a party less capable of fulfilling the rights of Muslims is a breach of trust (Amanah):
Since seeing that voting is a testimony (giving Shahadah) and being aware that a particular party will be more willing to fulfil our Islamic rights, not to vote for this party will he tantamount to transgression and breach of trust in the eyes of Shariah. Voting for a party that is less sympathetic to the Islamic cause would not only mean giving false evidence (which is a sin), but it could also mean becoming an instrument and tool of ensuing havoc, and corruption caused by that party in as far as the complete disregard of Islamic values and ideas is concerned.
5.Voting and bribery (Rishwah):
One should also take cognisance of the fact that it has virtually become a norm of the elections (albeit a corrupted norm) that in order to woo voters, parties tend to offer bribes in exchange for votes. Such bribery should be rejected with the contempt it deserves. Voting should he based on total integrity and sincerity wherein priority should he given to upholding the torch of Islam. The honour and dignity of the Muslims should he maintained at all times. The Deenul-Islam entrusted to us by Allah Ta'ala should be viewed not only as a boon but also as an awsome responsibility; hence extreme caution and diligence should be exercised in keeping its prestige aloft. One cannot surrender ones Islamic ethics for the sake of pittance of the Dunya. Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam) has warned us in a Hadith that a time will come when a Muslim will sell his Deen for a few coppers. Hence, if a Muslim exercises his right of voting, he should do so keeping the consequences of the Hereafter in mind and not regard it as something to he done impromptu merely because it is a custom of the times or because ulterior motives can he achieved thereby.
May Allah SWT give us all the ability to act upon it!