وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقۡوَىٰۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَٱلۡعُدۡوَٲنِۚ
“But help ye one another unto righteousness and pious duty. Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is severe in punishment.”
(Qur’an: Maa-idah: 5: 2)
Muslims are commanded to compete and cooperate with all people (Muslims and non-Muslims) in every matters of doing good and in every acts of piety (god consciousness), but never in matters of sins and transgression (rancour). In this atmosphere of election, how should one exercise one’s right as a citizen to choose the nation's representatives? How does one choose? Those who are seeking office would offer us their credentials, their plans, their promises, and perhaps enumerating various programs and good deeds they may have done. Jostling for support, we are inundated with so much information, mixed with facts and propaganda, with threats as well as assurances, being drawn into debates regarding issues as well as the contending personalities in the election,etc. Indeed, it can be an eye-opening experience, especially when media is not monopolised. As much as it is enlightening, it can also be confusing to some. What is worrying is that, for the unwary and simple minded, the young voters as well as the elderly, it can misled and be misleading if not guided.
Someone gave a general advice to Muslims – to consider what the “maslahat dunya” (worldly benefit) for our community which one’s choice (or vote) would make. But being a Muslim, the concept of “maslahat” (benefit) – even on such worldly matters in our practices living amidst the secularists – it must always be linked to its consequence for us in the hereafter (dunya wal aakhirah), and cannot be dichotomised. Muslims must not be misled by certain ‘pragmatic’ people who suggest to us to put on “blinkers”- as though we can disregard the effect that our vote can have in the hereafter (akhirah). Alas, remember not all Muslims are the same. Allah SWT even warns us:
وَمِنَ ٱلنَّاسِ مَن يُعۡجِبُكَ قَوۡلُهُ ۥ فِى ٱلۡحَيَوٰةِ ٱلدُّنۡيَا وَيُشۡهِدُ ٱللَّهَ عَلَىٰ مَا فِى قَلۡبِهِۦ وَهُوَ أَلَدُّ ٱلۡخِصَامِ
وَإِذَا تَوَلَّىٰ سَعَىٰ فِى ٱلۡأَرۡضِ لِيُفۡسِدَ فِيهَا وَيُهۡلِكَ ٱلۡحَرۡثَ وَٱلنَّسۡلَۗ وَٱللَّهُ لَا يُحِبُّ ٱلۡفَسَادَ
"There is the type of man whose speech about this world's life may dazzle thee and he calls Allah to witness about what is in his heart; yet is he the most contentious of enemies. When he turns his back his aim everywhere is to spread mischief through the earth and destroy crops and cattle. But Allah loveth not mischief."
(Qur'an: Baqarah: 2: 204-205)
Therefore we should always remember this verse - which is repeated at the end of every sermon on Friday (Jumu'ah) khutbah:
إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ يَأۡمُرُ بِٱلۡعَدۡلِ وَٱلۡإِحۡسَـٰنِ وَإِيتَآىِٕ ذِى ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَيَنۡهَىٰ عَنِ ٱلۡفَحۡشَآءِ وَٱلۡمُنڪَرِ وَٱلۡبَغۡىِۚ يَعِظُكُمۡ لَعَلَّڪُمۡ تَذَكَّرُونَ
Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberty to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.”(Qur’an: Nahlu: 16: 90)
One of the important point to note from this verse is for Muslims to know the important and very significant Islamic (Qur’anic) priority commanded by Allah – where specifically Allah puts Justice ('ADL) before the doing of good, excellence (IHSAN).
Enumerating the many goodness that some candidates may have done or which the other candidates may promise to do, although relevant, yet it is not the highest or most crucial criteria. The most important criteria is ‘ADALAH (Justice). Without justice, whatever good any programs or policies may seem to be, would still be regarded as ZULM (unjust) and therefore are to be disregarded. Therefore apply this litmus test before choosing any as the parliamentary representative irrespective whether they are Muslims or non-Muslims., Remember In the Seerah-Nabawiy, the Prophet chose Negus the Christian king of Ethiopia, for the first migrating Muslims to seek patronage from, wa because he was known for being Just.
"O Allah! Do guide us upon the Straight path, the path of those who receive your favours, not of those who earn your anger, not those who are astray. O Allah!. Make us see truth to be true and grant us ability to follow. Make us to see falsehood as false and make us able to reject it. With our invoking Your salutations and peace upon our prophet Muhammad, and his family and companions, all praises belongs to You O Allah, Lord Sustainer of all the worlds".