An Islamic Perspective on Civic Engagement and Voting in America

Posted on October 9, 2008

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Islamic Shura Council of Southern California

The future of America will be decided as Americans cast their votes this November for the next president of the United States. In looking to the coming months, the Muslim American community must remain steadfast in our commitment to political and civic participation in accordance to the guiding principles of our religion.
 
As Muslims, we believe that the message of Islam is sent as guidance to humankind for the betterment of life everywhere (Quran 34:28, 21:107).
 
In American society, the most effective way for Muslim Americans to share their values, the values of Islam, is through participation. American civil society is a dynamic institution shaped by the participation of its members.
 
As Muslims, the Quran encourages us to engage with any project that seeks to do good (Quran 5:2). In America this project is society, which can be improved by our participation within it, not merely during elections but at all times.
 
Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) himself participated in an alliance held by the chiefs of the tribes to ensure justice in society (Treaty of Fudul), saying “If I am invited to be part of such a treaty, I will join.” It is a duty upon us, then, to follow in the footsteps of the Prophet and participate in society in order to create better policies for our nation.
 
According to the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad (peace & blessings be upon him), the only way to make the values of Islam beneficial and relevant is to have a voice within pluralistic democratic society, and to stand for our Islamic beliefs as well as the principle of justice. We must concern ourselves with each candidate’s plan for economic reform, accessible health care, foreign policy, alternative energy, as well as the various other substantive issues that affect not only the Muslim American community, but all Americans. We cannot not sit idly by and let others make decisions that affect all of us.
 
As Muslims, we must strive to model our lives on the teachings of the Quran and the life of the Prophet, which advocate for active participation, not isolation in society. We, as Muslim Americans, believe that making our voice heard is a duty upon us, and in a democracy that voice becomes audible primarily by voting. Voting is not just allowed by Islam, it is mandated by it.
 
We suggest that the Imams/Khateebs add the following in their sermons:

We suggest that Muslims must vote their conscience.

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