Voting: My Right, My Obligation, My Religious Duty

To be honest, I am glad that Election Day is coming upon us. I am tired of the constant bombardment of campaign ads by Democrats, Republicans, and third party interest groups. And I CAN’T STAND the seemingly unending robocalls to my home and cell phones. I will be so very glad when this is all over. Yet, despite my distaste for all the ads and phone calls, it has not soured my desire to participate and vote on November 2.

As far as I am concerned, voting is a religious duty, plain and simple. The Quran commands me to “enjoin good and forbid evil,” and there is no better way to do so than participating in every election, big and small, and making my voice be heard and counted. The Quran also says that I, as a believer, am charged with making the world a better place and helping stand up for justice even if it be against myself. One of the most important tools to help achieve these goals is exercising my right to vote.

The Prophet Muhammad was reported to have said, “If any one of you sees something wrong, he should seek to change it with his hands; if he is not able to do so, then he should speak out against it; if he is not able to do so, then he should at least hate it in his heart, and this is the weakest level of faith.” In no way, shape, or form does Islam condone “seeking to change [something wrong] with [one’s] hands” by turning to violence. Never. In no way, shape, or form did the Prophet ever mean that you can “change evil with your hands” by plotting to bomb Time Square or the Washington, D.C. subway system. Never.

This is not religiosity; it is barbaric thuggery. In fact, turning to violence against the innocent is the height of treachery and treason. And no Muslim must ever be dishonest, treasonous, or ungrateful. Killing innocent people in the name of Islam spits in the face of its letter and spirit, and it spits in the face of its Prophet and all that for which he lived and died.

As citizens, we have a right to disagree with the conduct of our government and those officials who act in our name. To redress those grievances, however, we must never turn to violence and murder. There are no “Second Amendment remedies,” as some are wont to say. If we do not like what our elected officials have done, then we show up on Election Day and replace them with other officials who will properly represent our interests. That is the American way. That is also the Islamic way.

As a child of the late 20th Century, I am not heedless of the sacrifices of the scores of men and women who stood up to secure their right to vote, frequently facing grave danger to life and limb. I am not heedless of the scores of men and women who faced the rage of the police dog, or the sting of the fire hose, or the searing pain of the baton to the face and body. I am not heedless of the fact that scores of men and women died to secure not only their rights, but my rights as well. As an American Muslim, it would be the height of ingratitude and discourtesy to ignore that legacy and forgo voting on Election Day. It is conduct unbecoming of a good citizen, and as a Muslim, Islam demands that I be nothing short of a good citizen.

And so, God willing, I am going to vote on November 2. No matter how busy my work day may be, God willing, I will do whatever it takes to cast my ballot and make my voice be heard. It is my right; it is my obligation; it is my religious duty.


2 thoughts on “Voting: My Right, My Obligation, My Religious Duty

  1. The jihadis, though, would claim that they are attempting to bring back into existence the Islamic form of Government, a Caliphate. Therefore, they see Muslim rulers who are not enforcing Sharia law, or who are friendly with ‘kaffirs’, as unbelievers and can quote endless Quranic verses and ahadith to justify violence against them. As for non-Muslim governments, they are by definition infidels to be killed. As far as I’m aware, there is no particular reference to democracy in the Quran or hadiths but plenty of references to fighting us kufar. I’ve recently read a well written short scholarly article about the meaning of the term kafir/kufar but it seems to me that the avergae Muslim has no idea of its theological/legal meaing but seem to mostly accept the jihadis’ interpretation. Which leaves me suspicious of a lot of the Muslims around me. Am I a kafir to be attacked? Do they despise the freedoms we have (with all the bad things as well as good that may come with those freedoms) and do they want to force a hand-chopping, stoning, medieval Caliphate upon us? There is a feeling among many non-Muslims in my country that the Muslim community is just waiting until it has enough power to force us under an Islamic Caliphate. That’s what fuels some racism, I think. You’re the only believing Muslim I’ve ver heard being so positive about democracy; are you a lone voice, out of step with your community or are there more of you?

  2. Thank you for your nicely-written article Dr. Hassaballa!

    Vince, there are definitely more Muslims that share Dr. Hassaballa’s opinions and think similarly as him. It is probably even a majority view! Unfortunately, as I sometimes call them, they are a “silent” majority because they are not the ones speaking their points of view. Thus, it seems like the majority are the ones who “hate” us.

    This is why it is so important to have blogs like these and for the rational, peace-loving Muslims to speak out about what they really believe: in justice, democracy, peace, and freedom.

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