Voting Or No Voting, As A Muslim, Where Did You Stand?

Islam is the total submission to the will of Allah. As a Muslim, it is incumbent upon us to know the Islamic rulings as regard our personal, religious, business and social matters before engaging in an act.

Voting in a democratic system of government as a Muslim is one of such endeavour whose rulings must be known according to Sharia lens.

Again, Islam is not Christianity, and our Imams are neither shepherds nor supreme leaders whose scholarly submissions and opinion are beyond investigation and logical understanding.

Islam does not have a fertile ground for ‘Baba sope’ (a term mostly used in Sufi mysticism and political godfatherism arrangement, meaning unquestionable authority).

The scholars cum spiritual leaders do not possess absolute power on their followers, only Allah does. This phenomenon is one of the saving grace that has been keeping Islam safe from hero-worship, heresies, and irreligious innovations.

Like doctors and engineers, there is specialization and expertise in the field of Islamic scholarship. The ability to interfere in significant religious matters are not achieved through regular attendance of halaqot, Fiqh forum, asalatu or any soul retreat centres, rather, it is achieved through rigorous training, practice and erudition. Hence, the need to accord reverence to scholars irrespective of our ideological persuasions and the scholar’s opinion on a particular issue.

It is pertinent to be conscious of the fact that, the most obscure and nebulous profession in southwest Nigeria is Islamic scholarship.

The general Muslims could hardly distinguish between a linguist(اللغوي) someone who is mostly versed in Arabic language and its dynamics from a jurist(الفقيه)a qualified person trained to interpret the laws of Allah and the objectives of Sharia. If it is difficult to differentiate between the two (a linguist and a jurist), it will be more difficult to differentiate between them and spiritual jobbers and calamity opportunist, whose primary preoccupation is spiritual consultation and diabolic concoctions (similar to Ifa priest).

It is worthy of mention that jurisprudential divergence (difference of scholarly opinion) is not the same as disunity. Some issues in Islam are not subject to any opinion, for example, the obligatory status of Solah, Hajj, fasting in the month of Romadan and so on are not open to any scholastic endeavours. They are as they are, but the ruling on FOREX trading, cryptocurrency, MLM, POS transaction, IVF, voting in a non-Islamic system of government and other contemporary issues are open to discussion on permissibility and vice versa.

I have critically studied the verdict of the following scholars (to the best of my knowledge)

-Ash-Shaykh Ismail Muhammadul Awwal (Ash-Shaokany)

-Prof. Abdur-Razzaq AbdulMajeed Alaro

-Dr. Sharafudeen Gbadebo Raji

-Ash-Shaykh Sulayman Muhammadul Awwal Aubieya

Ash-Shaykh Ibraheem Abdur-Rauf Abu Naasir

Their views can be broadly categorized into two, but before I delve into that, it is noteworthy that they unanimously agreed that democracy as a system of government is UNISLAMIC, but they differ in terms of participating as a Muslim in case of expediency (though this is not within the scope of this write-up).

Their views on voting go thus:

Voting is permissible for a Muslim in a society governed by a man-made law like democracy

2. Voting or participating in a political process in which man-made LAW like democracy is IN uses is HARAAM.

Our responsibility as Muslims when scholars differ

1. Sincerity

We should know that scholars do not seek any interest or worldly benefit behind their ijtihad (scholastic endeavors), rather, they do it as a religious duty incumbent on them, and in compliance with the command of Allah to guide and direct the Muslims.

2. Avoid cynicism

Don’t doubt their motives and reasons behind the opinion they make, you may be punished before Allah for suspecting them with ill-intent especially if you do not have a tangible proof to corroborate it. Ibn Aasim said: ولا يقال إنه تعمدا# خلاف قصد الشرع فيما عتمدا# وواجب في مشكلات الحكم#تحسيننا الظن باهل العلم

( It is forbidden to say a scholar deliberately act in contrary to the intent of the Sharia for his opinion, our responsibility as a follower in times of trial, is to have good thinking of the people of knowledge.)

3. Avoid insulting the scholars and tarnishing their honor

What should be taken into consideration when we have issues like these is avoidance of spewing abuses on the scholars, denigrating their honor, and eating their ‘meat’ by belittling them and blaming them.

Ibn Asakir – may God have mercy on him – says, اعلم أن لحوم العلماء مسمومة، وسنة الله في هتك منتقصيهم معلومة وإن من أطلق لسانه في العلماء بالثلب ابتلاه الله قبل موته بموت القلب.

“Know that the flesh of scholars is like a poison, and the way of Allah regarding insulting their detractors is well known, and whoever speaks out against the scholars with defamation, God will afflict him/her before his death with the death of the heart.”

4. You don’t have the right to scold whoever differs, let alone the scholars.

An imitator (مقلد) who follows the opinion of a particular scholar does not have the right to scold or denounce an imitator like him, let alone a mujtahid (a scholar).

There is an Islamic legal maxim which state:

-إنما ينكر ترك المتفق على وجوب فعله، أو فعل المتفق على حرمته، ولا ينكر المختلف فيه

We only get stern to someone who abandoned an act which is unanimously agreed upon by the scholars or who performed an act which is forbidden by all, we don’t retribute someone for acting based on a scholarly opinion he adopted.

May Allah make our actions and inactions pure for His sake and guide us to the best.

Bashir, an educator and serial entrepreneur writes in from Ibadan, he can be reached through;


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