Voting Is A Religious Duty


In the Name of God, the Subtle, the Loving
This post was published on The Seeker today.  

In the past few days and weeks, but most especially in the last 48 hours, I have been bombarded by numerous “robocalls” by various current and former elected officials urging me to vote in tomorrow’s primary election. That is on top of the countless emails (one I just deleted as I wrote this). As much as my frustration is at an all time high with these disturbing and annoying phone calls, their aim is noble: getting me out to vote today. I intend to do just that, the calls notwithstanding.

In fact, I believe it is my religious duty to do so, and I told the congregation as much in my weekly Friday sermon last week. The Quran extols the believers because they “enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil.”
The Prophet Muhammad repeatedly exhorted his followers to be the best in whatever they do. He once said, “God loves that you do something excellently.” The Prophet also said, “If you see something evil, then try to change it yourself…”

Voting on February 2 encompasses all these religious duties. If we do not like the state of our economy, the state of our government, the state of our neighborhoods, then we must seek to change it for the better.
There are few better ways to effect that change than voting in elected officials who will do what is good for all. Islam demands that we Muslims be the best at whatever we do: that includes being the best citizens possible, and one of the critical functions of citizenship is voting in each and every election: large or small, primary or general, national or local. One of the best ways to “enjoin good and forbid evil” is to vote in every election.

Moreover, the Prophet Muhammad once said that “one does not truly thank God if he does not thank other people.” Before I was even on this earth, countless brave men and women faced down fire hoses, batons, angry dogs, and the guile of a nation when they stood up for their long-denied right to vote. Before they stood up, scores of brave women stood up to the prejudice of their time to fight for their right to vote as well. Because of their sacrifices, I am given the opportunity to vote without obstruction, or baton, or poll tax, or voter examination. It would be horribly ungrateful of me not to take that opportunity and express my opinion and voice as a citizen. My faith demands that I not let the sacrifice of those before me to be made in vain.

Indeed, I do hate the “robocalls,” and they even inspire me not to vote for the various candidates on whose behalf the calls are being made. Nevertheless, vote I must. My God and my faith told me so.

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