Are Muslims duty bound to participate in elections?

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Are Muslims duty bound to participate in elections?by Muhammad Yunus and Mike Ghouse

Bad things happen because good people do nothing about it. Indeed, this old
adage makes more sense today than ever before.

Today, our nation is facing a
tough choice in the presidential elections. Neither the incumbent President,
nor the challenger is a perfect fit for the needs of the nation at this
juncture of high unemployment, and hopelessness that has gripped America.
Our criterion for electing our
president should have been “who can move the country forward”, rather than
redacted choice of finding who can do the least damage.
Romney has made blatant switches in his positions, and left us wondering who he would
be, if he were to be elected. Will his base continue to support him even though
they feel betrayed, is he for stricter regulations of the banking industry, or is
he a quarter guy who will sacrifice long term gains for this quarter? What
about women’s right to choose in case of abortion? Is Obama’s debate
performance an indication of what is yet to come?
In a conference
call recently with Christian conservatives, Gov. Rick Perry dismissed the
separation of church and state as an idea advanced to drive “people of faith
from the public arena.” The governor went on to say Satan is using it to keep
Christians from actively engaging in public policy.
In my weekly take at Dallas
Morning News
, I wrote, “The separation of church and state has been a catalyst in guaranteeing
freedom to every religious group. Indeed, it is an incentive to participate in
the political process to ensure that one’s rights are protected, and prevent
domination by any group from dictating its terms to others.”
Muslims have their share of ultra conservatives who think like Governor Perry, and it
keeps them from engaging in the electoral process which is catered
around the American constitution that does not expressly acknowledge the
sovereignty of God, and is a product of man’s intellectual enterprise. But this
disregards the following key aspects of the Qur’anic message. 
The role of
the Muslims as witnesses to all humanity, the way, Muhammad, their Prophet was
a witness to his audience (2:143); and 2, the Qur’anic exhortation to the
diverse faith communities, including the Muslims, to get to know each other and
vie with each other in good deeds and lawful pursuits (49:13).
Here are some
rare but preposterous statements one hears now and then.
“Muslims should not participate
in elections; it is Haraam (unlawful).”

“If the president you elected goes to war and kills Muslims, what will you tell
“ We cannot put an infidel in governance”

Nonsense is the right sentiment,
but uttering the word will not change the mind set of a few on the edge.
What does God want? He is the
creator and simply wants his creation to live in harmony with themselves and
with what surrounds them; people and the environment. He has not deprived his
love to his “banday” (created) and has sent guidance to every tribe, every
community and every nation, and declares the best one among you are the ones
who make an effort to know each other to mitigate conflicts and nurture
Prophet Muhammad initiated and
signed a treaty of peace and joint defence with the major tribes and families
of Medina,
including Muslims,
Jews, Christians and pagans
[2]. This Prophetic example gives American Muslims a religious basis for
participating in a secular democratic process. Besides, active involvement with
electoral process gives them an excellent opportunity of getting to know, and
competing with each other in a lawful arena of immense significance.
Furthermore, the Qur’an admits of mutual consultation on community matters
without having to endorse what is fundamentally wrong (42:37/38) and asks the
believers to collaborate even with erstwhile enemies in “good things (birre)
and in establishing what is morally upright (taqwa)” (5:2). On the strength of
these clear Qur’anic enunciations and principles, the American Muslims must
participate in the forthcoming Presidential election as part of their religious
The Arabic Qur’an in its
immensely rich and intertwined vocabulary encapsulates a set of universal
juristic notions, notably, logical analysis (fiqha) by engaging reason (aql),
cogitation and reflection (fikr); independent intellectual inquiry (ijtihad),
analogical deduction (qiyas) consensus of the scholar/ community (jama‘ah), custom and practice of the
community (‘urf ), community good (islah), the jurists’ best judgment (istihsan).

Practically all these notions are
consistent with and even identical to those employed by the American jurists
and doctors of law in jurisprudence and constitutional process, except for
terminological differences. Hence, regardless of whether the American doctors
of law believe in the Qur’an or not, the laws they developed are rooted in the
Qur’anic universal notions as has veritably been the case with the classical
Sharia law of Islam. Besides, the American Constitution with its supreme
emphasis on equity, justice, liberty, empowerment of women and a host of social
and egalitarian provisions is far more compatible with the Qur’anic paradigms
than the Classical Sharia law of Islam.
Thus the
American Muslims should actively and religiously participate in their national
electoral process as a mandatory religious obligation, to enjoin what is good
and forbid evil. Elections are not about winning or losing, it is about
supporting the most right choice or the least worst choice. Lack of
participation could amount at encouraging that which is evil.
It is our duty to continuously
share the knowledge of Quraan and wisdom of the Prophet with the Muslim
Neocons, hoping they would replace the myths with the values of the religion
they claim to follow.
When the first four rightly
guided Caliphs (heads of state) were chosen (accepted) by the people to run
their civic affairs (governance), they represented every one regardless of
receiving support from their constituents or not. The choices were not good or
bad, but who can lead the community in the best possible manner given the death
of the Prophet and each subsequent Caliph. The American Muslims must apply the
same principle and chose a candidate they think is most suited to the social
and economic issues facing the nation.
Additional Note by Mike Ghouse:
Please vote, regardless of whom you vote, you must be congratulated for exercising your right. Let’s respect our decisions motivated by our beliefs. On my Part, I Mike Ghouse have voted for Obama and some of my friends have voted for Romney. 
If you are still undecided, please take a look at a few pieces in support of Obama, I have written 60 pieces about him, and 40 about Romney. You know Romney was my choice, until he started flip flopping and I lost him. Not sure what he stands for.
Huffington post; Choice between Chaotic Romney and Stable Obama
Dallas Morning News: Do we thirst for political leaders

40 Pieces on Mitt Romney

This article is co-authored by Mike Ghouse, a speaker thinker and
a writer committed to building cohesive societies and offers pluralistic
solutions on the issues of the day, and Muhammad Yunus whose exegetical work on
Quran has been endorsed by Al-Azhar
University. He writes on the universal values enshrined in Quran.

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