1. The participation of Prophet Yusuf, upon whom be peace, as a minister in the Government of the King of Egypt
Allah, the Most High, said:
“And the king said: “Bring him to me that I may attach him to my person.” Then, when he spoke to him, he said: “Verily, this day, you are with us high in rank and fully trusted.” [Yusuf] said: “Set me over the storehouses of the land; I will indeed guard them with full knowledge.” Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf in the land, to take possession therein, as when or where he likes.” 20
So those who use the example of Yusuf, upon whom be peace, use this to show that he became established in the government of the King and they conclude on the basis of this that if it is permissible to become a minister in a non-Muslim government, then surely it is permissible to vote for the least harmful candidate who will become a Member of Parliament to act on our behalf.
And those who use this as evidence must have missed what Yusuf, upon whom be peace, said to his two companions of the prison prior to his taking this position:
“The Hukm (i.e. judgment) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him, that is the (true) straight religion, but most men know not.” 21
So how could we say about Yusuf, upon whom be peace, that he would compromise and cooperate in a government with those who legislate man-made laws, while he was the very one who admonished others about this issue, saying: “The Hukm (i.e. judgment) is for none but Allah?!”
Firstly, those who use this example are in need of evidence to substantiate their claim that the law of this government was not in accordance with the Shari’ah of Yusuf, upon whom be peace. And there is nothing to indicate this within the example itself. Rather, it was narrated that the King whose Kingdom Yusuf became a minister within became a Muslim.
Ibn Jarir At-Tabari narrated that Mujahid said,
“The King whom Yusuf was with entered Islam.” 22
And Al-Baghawi said,
“Mujahid and others said, ‘Yusuf, upon whom be peace, did not stop calling the King to Islam while being kind to him, until he and many of the people entered Islam.”
Also, it is narrated that Yusuf, upon whom be peace, was the ruler himself and his duties as Minister also was to govern Egypt.
Ibn Jarir At-Tabari narrated from As-Suddi that he said,
“The King employed Yusuf over Egypt and he was the person in authority and he (also) used to supervise the buying and the trade and all of its matters. So that was His saying: “Thus did We give full authority to Yusuf (Joseph) in the land, to take possession therein, as when or where he likes.”
Also, he narrated from Ibn Zayd concerning His saying: “…to take possession therein, as when or where he likes…” He said,
“We put him in authority over whatever was in it (i.e. Egypt), wherever he willed from that place. He did in it whatever he willed. It was granted to him.”
And Al-Qurtubi narrated that Ibn ‘Abbas said about Yusuf,
“So he sat upon his bed and the Kings approached him. And the King entered his home with his women and the authority of Egypt was granted to him.”
Al-Qurtubi said, “And when the King gave the authority of Egypt to Yusuf, he was generous to the people and called them to Islam until they believed in him and he established the justice amongst them. So the men and the women loved him. And from what has come from Wahb and As-Suddi and Ibn ‘Abbas and others is the saying of the King to Yusuf, when he saw his complete wisdom in implementing the ruling and spreading the justice: “I give you the authority, so do whatever you will. And we are merely your followers and I am not one to refuse being your subject and obeying you and I am no more than one of your subjects.”23
If this is a possibility – that the King entered Islam – and quoting it as evidence becomes questionable, then it would be incorrect to use it, due to the principle: ‘If possibility arises, the usage of it as evidence drops’ (Itha Waradal-Ihtimal, Batula Bihil-Istidlal).
Furthermore, the legislation of those before us, is a legislation for us – according to the majority of Usiliun – only if it does not contradict our legislation, and if one were to hypothesize, for sake of argument, that Yusuf had not followed his own Shari’ah, then we say, had he been alive today, he would have not had a choice but to follow what has been revealed upon Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him.
The second argument we will look at is:
2. The Rule: “The Lesser of Two Evils is Chosen”
And with this rule, those who permit the participation in elections, use this to suggest that in voting for the candidate whose policies are the least in opposition to Islam, this is the selection of the lesser of the evils. Or they say that the choice between not voting at all and allowing a worse candidate to prevail is a greater evil than to vote for another one, whom they intend to elect due to his policies being closer to Islam. Like with most rules of Islamic Jurisprudence, people often name a correct rule and then implement it either incorrectly or in circumstances where it would not apply.
The error of those who use this rule is that it can only be applied when the choices are inevitable. An example of this rule is when someone is faced with two choices that are completely unavoidable, each of which are impermissible. So if a person was in a situation where they are being compelled to choose between two issues that are both essentially impermissible, the lesser of the two sinful choices is to be selected. As one brother put it:
When one attempts to implement this principle in this situation, it is akin to him drinking alcohol in the following scenario: A brother invites another to his home. There, he forces him at gun point to drink either one of the two glasses of alcohol: one with 50% alcohol, and one with 25% alcohol. He chooses the latter.
As for the participation in these democratic elections, there is no compulsion whatsoever, so there can be no excuse for committing this Shirk by using the excuse of “the lesser of two evils.” Rather, we say that choosing to commit the act of Shirk – sending someone to rule according to man-made law instead of the Shari’ah of Allah – is a far worse evil than abstaining from voting in this Taghut oriented system. So in reality, it would be like the person choosing the 50% alcohol over the 25%.
3. The rule: “The Benefit is taken over the Harm”
And this rule is similar to the one which has passed. Those who use this rule to permit the participation in democratic elections say that the benefits that result in electing a candidate whose policies are the least harmful to the Muslims, outweigh the harm of other candidates, whose policies are more threatening towards them.
Firstly, the claimed benefits of electing a candidate within a democratic election – while this is Shirk, as it has passed – does not permit the action being encouraged. This is because the one who participates in this action is in reality seeking a benefit from Allah while violating the sanctities of His Tawhid. In his rebuke of Dr. Safar Al-Hawali’s “Open Letter to George W. Bush”, Shaykh Abu Basir Mustafa Halimah, said the following regarding Al-Hawali’s mentioning that he had encouraged the Muslims in the United States to vote for President Bush:
“I say: The words of the Shaykh (i.e. Safar Al-Hawali) here are false and rejected for different reasons. From them, it was wrong for him to encourage the Muslims to participate in the game of Democracy, which is in place in America and that which takes place due to it from mistakes in creed (i.e. ‘Aqidah) and Shari’ah, whose results are un-praiseworthy, and which can not be excused no matter how many benefits are claimed. So how about here when it opposes the fundamentals of the Shari’ah and its general matters, as we have clarified in many places throughout our projects?!” 28
And even if we were to concede that there are actual benefits in the participation in democratic elections, this still does not make the action permissible. As Allah, the Most High, said:
“They ask you concerning alcohol and gambling. Say: “In them is a great sin, and (some) benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” 29
And with that, Allah said:
“O you who believe! Alcohol, gambling, Al-Ansab, and Al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that in order that you may be successful.” 30
In his Tafsir of the first verse, Ibn Kathir said,
“As for their benefit (alcohol and gambling), it is material, including benefit for the body, digesting the food, getting rid of the excrements, sharpening the mind, bringing about a joyous sensation and financially benefiting from their sale. Also, (their benefit includes) earnings through gambling that one uses to spend on his family and on himself. Yet, these benefits are outweighed by the clear harm that they cause which affects the mind and the religion. This is why Allah said: “…but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.” 31
And likewise, even if we were to concede that their may be a benefit in participating in democratic elections, 32 the harm upon one’s religion in committing this act of Shirk, by sending someone to legislate laws besides Allah is far greater upon one’s religion and faith than any possible benefits. And we say with all certainty that Shirk is far more harmful to the slave than any intoxicant or gambling and its effect is far more threatening.
4. The Rule: “Actions are based on Intentions”
And those who apply this principle say that as long as one’s intention is to lessen the oppression upon the Muslims, or to provide them some relief or things of this nature, then the action becomes permissible. And they say that as long as one does not intend by his participation in democratic elections to commit any evil and as long as the only intent is to bring about the good, then this permits the action and makes it praiseworthy.
And we say that this error in logical thinking is not only prevalent in the topic we are addressing, but it also permeates other serious topics as well. Therefore, we will give it some detail here, Insha’Allah.
The first point is that sins do not stop being sinful due to the intention of the one who commits them. Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali, may Allah be merciful to him, said,
“The sins; they do not change their nature by the intention. So the ignorant one must understand that from the generality of his saying, peace be upon him: “Actions are based on intentions”, then thinks that a sin can be turned into an obedience by (a good) intention, such as the person who backbites a man to please the heart of someone else, feeds a needy person with someone else’s money or builds a school, a mosque or a military camp with unlawful money, while his intention is to do good. This is all ignorance, and the intention has no effect in ruling out its being a transgression, a wrongdoing and a sin. In fact, his intending to do good by an evil means – which opposes the requirement of the Shari’ah – is another evil. So if he is aware of this (evil means), then he is stubborn in regards to the Shari’ah. But if he ignores it, then he is sinful for being ignorant, because seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim. In addition, since good things can only be known as such by the Shari’ah, how can an evil be good, then? That is very unlikely. As a matter of fact, the things which cause this in the heart are the hidden pleasure and the inner desire…”
Then he went on to say,
“What is implied is that whoever ignorantly intends to do good by means of a sin, he will not be excused, unless he is new in Islam and does not have the time wherein he can acquire the knowledge, and Allah, the Most High, indeed said: “So ask those who possess the Reminder if you know not.” 33
And he (i.e. Al-Ghazali) further said –
“Therefore his saying, peace be upon him: “Actions are based on intentions” is restricted, as far as the three categories are concerned, to obedience’s and permitted things (i.e. Mubahat), but not to sins. This is because an obedience can be turned into a sin by the (the wrong) intention. Also the permitted action (i.e. Mubah) can be turned into a sin or an obedience by the intention. In contrast, a sin can never be turned into an obedience by the (good) intention. Yes, the intention could have an interference in it (i.e. the sin); and that is when (other) evil intentions are added to it, and which would increase its burden and its great evil result – as we have mentioned in the Book of Repentance.” 34
And in his refutation of the Fatwa of Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Aziz Ibn Baz, who permitted becoming a Member of Parliament and the participation in democratic elections, based on the rule: “Actions are Based on Intentions”, 35 the Shaykh, ‘Abdul-Qadir Ibn ‘Abdil-‘Aziz, said:
“I say that this Fatwa is wrong, according to what we have quoted from Al- Ghazali, that sins do not become permissible by the intention. Besides, the Kufr is the greatest of sins. So as joining the Parliament is Kufr, it will not become permissible by the intention. This is because (of the fact) that the Parliament is the means by which the democratic system is implemented. So knowing the verdict of participating in it or electing (a member) relies on knowing the verdict of democracy, the verdict of which is dependent on knowing its reality.” 36
Therefore the intention is not a factor in permitting a sin as long as the one is aware that it is a sin. And it does not permit committing Kufr or Shirk even if the intention for the outcome of that action is a benefit or relief for the Muslims. If this were the case, then we would permit the selling of Bibles and idols so that the proceeds could be donated to the Muslims in need, and no one would permit such a thing.
5. The Rule: “Commanding the Good and Forbidding the Evil”
Those who use this rule say that to vote for the least harmful candidate in the democratic election, or to vote for him based on some of his good policies which are in opposition to the evil policies of his opponents; then this is a form of commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
So our reply to this is that participating in the democratic elections is itself an evil which is to be forbidden, as it seeks to associate the desires of men with the Legislation of Allah, the Most High. And if this concept is clear in the mind of the reader, then the argument that voting for a candidate in a democratic election – which is Shirk, is equal to the commanding of the good and the forbidding of the evil – which is obligatory, then he will see that this is the exact opposite and reversal of the ruling, which was applied incorrectly in the first place.
From the known conditions of commanding the good and forbidding the evil is that it must be done by means of permissible methods. Thus, it is not allowed to kill a man to stop him from stealing, and it is not allowed to cheat a Muslim out of his money in order to keep him from paying interest (Riba) and it is not allowed to kidnap a man’s family in order to keep him from beating them. This is not hidden from the one with the most basic understanding of commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
Another condition is that the outcome of that commanding or forbidding must not result in a greater evil. Shaykh Al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah be merciful to him, said,
“And if those commanding and forbidding know that the outcome of their action will have an inseparable combination of good and evil, then they are not allowed to do it until they evaluate its outcome. If the good would be predominant, then they should proceed with it. And if the evil would be predominant, then they are prohibited from doing it, even if it entails the loss of a lesser good. In this case, commanding the good that would result in more wrong would be an act of commanding evil and promoting disobedience to Allah and His Messenger.” 39
And Ibn al-Qayyim, may Allah be merciful to him, said,
“So if one’s act of forbidding the evil will lead to what is worse and more hated by Allah and His Messenger, then it is not allowed to forbid it, even though Allah hates it (i.e. that evil) and hates those who do it.” 40
So the attempts to forbid the evil, by those who call to participation in the democratic elections, are paid for by the price of Shirk and disobedience. So examine the scale. Even though we agree with our brothers about the terrible and grievous situation faced today by the Muslims in ‘Iraq and elsewhere, we weigh this against the act of Shirk, which we are being invited to, with the intent of reducing this oppression of these Muslims. Allah, the Most High, said:
And ‘Al-Fitnah’ is worse than killing. 41
And He, the Most High, said:
…and ‘Al-Fitnah’ is greater than the killing. 42
And here, the word “Al-Fitnah” means the Shirk and Kufr, as it has come in the books of Tafsir. Shaykh Al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah be merciful to him, said about these verses,
“In other words, that the killing; even if there is an evil and malevolence in it, then in the Fitnah of the disbelievers, there is from the evil and malevolence which is even greater than it.” 43
And Shaykh ‘Ali Al-Khudayr mentioned in his chapter: “Calling to the Testimony of ‘La Ilaha Ill-Allah’ that Shaykh Sulayman Ibn Sahman said about these verses:
“Al-Fitnah’ is the Kufr. So if all the Bedouins and the city dwellers (i.e. all the people) fight until they are all gone, that would be less severe than them establishing a Taghut in the land who rules with what contradicts the Shari’ah of Islam.” 44
Therefore there is no doubt that to commit an act of Shirk with the intention of reducing the harm upon other Muslims (even when this harm reaches the level of death), then the Shirk is a greater evil and can not be performed as part of commanding the good and forbidding the evil, as the evil of that action outweighs the evil of the harm upon the Muslims. 45
6. The Rule: “The Necessity Permits the Unlawful”
So those who use this rule say that the Muslims are in a situation of necessity (Dharurah) wherein performing unlawful actions, such as participating in the democratic elections becomes permissible.
As for the usage to this rule then the reader must know that it is not absolute. Rather, there are exceptions and stipulations to this rule which make it inapplicable to the participation in democratic elections.
Firstly, there are matters that do not qualify as necessities. Therefore, one must be careful not to apply the concession of this rule to something that does not even qualify as a necessity. And it is known that the necessities are five basic categories; one’s religion, one’s self (life), one’s mind (i.e. sanity), one’s linage/honor, and one’s money. 46 Therefore, it is not permissible for one to commit fornication or marry someone who is essentially un-weddable (i.e. Mahram) due to his sexual desires and then for him to excuse his sin with the above rule. Therefore, we see that only certain matters fall into necessities and not all things can be permitted with the application of this rule.
Secondly, when it comes to Kufr and Shirk, there is no excuse to perform it due to a necessity (Dharurah). This is because committing Kufr or Shirk is a violation of one of the categories of necessity itself; one’s religion, as it has passed. Rather, it is in violation of the greatest necessity of all; one’s religion. So how can one seek to justify the preservation of one necessity at the expense of another? Rather, the only time it is permitted is when one is under compulsion (Ikrah). 47
And how could we look to some examples where it is permissible to perform a sin, based upon a legitimate necessity and then use that comparison to permit the performance of an act of Kufr or Shirk?
Shaykh Al-Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah be merciful to him, said,
“Verily, the things which are forbidden; from them is that which is clearly stated that the (Islamic) legislation did not permit anything from it; neither for necessity or for other than necessity, such as Shirk and illegal sexual acts and speaking about Allah without knowledge and the clear transgression. And they are the four things mentioned in His, the Most High’s, statement: “Say: ‘The things that my Lord has indeed forbidden are the great evil sins, whether committed openly or secretly, sins (of all kinds), unrighteous oppression, making Shirk with Allah for which He has given no authority, and saying things about Allah of which you have no knowledge.” 48 So these things are forbidden in all of the Shari’ahs. And with this prohibition, Allah sent all of the Messengers and He did not permit anything from them whatsoever, not in any condition from the conditions. And due to this, they were revealed in a Makkah chapter (i.e. at the beginning of the Revelation).” 49
Shaykh ‘Ali Al-Khudayr narrated from Shaykh Hamad Ibn ‘Atiq, who said,
“He, the Most High, said: “He has forbidden you only the Maytah (dead animals), and blood, and flesh of swine, and that which is slaughtered in sacrifice for other than Allah. But if one is forced by necessity without willful disobedience nor out of transgression of limits, then there is no sin on him.” 50 So it was made a condition, while necessity exists, that the one who eats it, does so without willful disobedience or transgression. And the difference between the two conditions is not hidden (meaning between compulsion and necessity).” And he (i.e. Ibn ‘Atiq) said, “And in the permissibility of the dead (meat) for the one in need, is there anything that indicates the permissibility of voluntary apostasy?! And is this comparison anything like the comparison of marrying one’s sister or daughter, based upon the permissibility of marrying the free one marrying the slave, when he fears fornication and inability (to marry a free woman)? So this purveyor of doubt has added more than the comparison of those who said: “Trading is only like Riba (usury).” 51 52
And Shaykh ‘Ali Al-Khudayr continued,
“And we say: Is there in the permissibility of the dead (meat) for the one who is in need, anything to indicate the permissibility of entering into the councils of Shirk voluntarily, while allying oneself with the secularists and the Taghut-oriented governments by using the argument of ‘the benefits of the Daw’ah’?!” 53
7. The Rule: “Kufr is excused Due to Compulsion”
Once since it is established that Kufr and Shirk are not permitted by necessity, as it has passed in the previous rule, the next step is to validate the participation in democratic elections by using this rule. And those who use this rule attempt to show that the situation is so dire, that it is a matter of compulsion (Ikrah). And we say that if a person were truly compelled to participate in the democratic elections, then this rule would excuse him and there would be no blame on him for doing so.
However, the definition and conditions for compulsion are not found in the situation we are discussing. Firstly, the definition of compulsion (Ikrah) necessitates that one is literally being forced to do something, and not that he voluntarily does it.
‘Ala’ Ad-Din Al-Bukhari defined compulsion as:
“Holding another person upon a matter, which he refused to do, through his fear that the one who is committing it (i.e. the compulsion) is able to implement it (i.e. his threat). So the other one becomes fearful and his being satisfied is removed, due to the implementation (of this compulsion).” 54
And Dr. Muhammad Ibn ‘Abdillah Al-Wuhaybi said,
“It is the type which takes place upon the compelled one himself and the individual has no more ability or choice due to that.” 55
Therefore, the one who uses this rule to permit the participation in the democratic elections can not claim that this is compulsion (Ikrah). And the mere fact that the Muslims are being called to do this action voluntarily is the clearest proof that they are not being compelled to commit it.
As for the conditions of compulsion (Ikrah), Ibn Hajr said,
“And the conditions of compulsion are four. The first is that the one committing it is able to implement what he is threatening with, while the one being threatened is unable to repel that (threat) even by fleeing. The second is that it is his strong assumption that if he refuses (to comply) then this (threat) will be put upon him. The third is that what he threatened with is immediate. So if he says, ‘If you do not do this, I will beat you tomorrow,’ he is not considered a compelled one. And an exception from that is if he mentioned an amount of time, which is very near or if customarily he does not backtrack. The forth is that nothing is shown by the commanded one that would indicate his voluntary compliance.” 56
Therefore this is a correct rule and if one were truly compelled to participate in the democratic elections, this would excuse him from the Kufr and Shirk he committed thereby. However, it is clear that what is being called compulsion, in this case, does not meet the definition of compulsion (Ikrah), nor does it meet the criteria for the conditions for it to be valid.
20 Yusuf, 54-56
21 Yusuf, 40
22 “Jami’ Al-Bayan ‘An Ta’wil Ay Al-Qur’an”, Vol. 9/217
23 “Al-Jami’ Li-Ah’kam Al-Qur’an”, Vol 9./215
28 “Waqafat Ma’ Ash-Shaykh Safar”, Pg. 18
29 Al-Baqarah, 219
30 Al-Ma’idah, 90
31 “Tafsir Al-Qur’an Al-‘Athim” 1/345
32 And this is yet to be proven as the outcome of the election is not certain nor is any action of the party or Member of Parliament who takes power. What is certain; however, is that in order to reach these claimed benefits, one must engage in an act of Shirk, as it has passed.
33 An-Nahl, 43
34 “Ihya’ Ulum Ad-Din ”, Vol. 4/388-391
35 And this Fatwa was issued in “Liwa’ Al-Islam” magazine, issue #11, 1409 H. Pg. 7
36 “Al-Jami Fi Talab Al-‘Ilm Ash-Sharif ” 1/147-148
39 “Al-Amru Bil-Ma’rufi Wan-Nahyu ‘An Al-Munkar”, Pg. 21
40 “‘I’lam Al-Muwaqqi’in”, Vol. 3/4
41 Al-Baqarah, 191
42 Al-Baqarah, 217
43 “Al-Fatawa ”, Vol. 28/355
44 Look to “Al-Jam’u Wat-Tajrid Fi Sharhi Kitab At-Tawhid ”, Pg. 121
45 And this ties in with the next two rules so pay attention to how these are linked.
46 Look to “Fath Al-Bari ”, Vol. 1/179
47 And we shall address this within the next rule, Insha’-Allah.
48 Al-‘Araf, 33
49 “Al-Fatawa ”, Vol. 14/470-471
50 Al-Baqarah, 173
51 Al-Baqarah, 275
52 “Hidayat At-Tariq ”, Pg. 151
53 “Al-Jam’u Wat-Tajrid Fi Sharhi Kitab At-Tawhid ”, Pg. 121
54 “Kashf Al-Asrar ”, Vol. 4/482
55 “Nawaqidh Al-Iman Al-I’tiqadiyyah Wa Dhawabit At-Takfir ‘Ind As-Salaf”, Vol. 2/7
56 “Fath Al-Bari ”, Vol. 12/311