Fatwa Bank

Muslims Participating in the US Local Councils

17/03/2008

Dear scholars, As-Salamu `alaykum. I want to know the ruling on participating in the City Council of our local city in the US. The roles of City Council are: looking into the needs, legislating and voting upon decisions of city concern. Jazakum Allah khayran!

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

Dear brother in Islam, we would like to thank you for showing keenness on knowing the teachings of Islam, and we appreciate the great confidence you repose in us. May our efforts come up to your expectations!

With regard to your question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), answers:

“The Shari`ah does not forbid Muslims to live in non-Islamic states. There are more than four hundred million Muslims in the world (almost one-third of the total population) who are living as minorities in non-Islamic countries. Some of them are the natives of these countries and some of them have migrated to these countries for better educational, economic and other reasons.

Most of the Muslim countries today are also not ruled totally by the rules of Allah the Almighty. So what should Muslims do? I think, Muslims are supposed to practice and preach their faith, but at the same time they must protect their lives, their properties and their rights to live in peace. In order to protect their own rights and to promote the good things in the society, if it is necessary for them to participate in the political system of non-Islamic states, then it is their duty to do so. It is in the best maslahah (welfare) of Muslims to participate in the system to safeguard their own interests and to establish good in the society.

In the Glorious Qur’an we have a lesson in the story of Prophet Yusuf (Joseph) (peace and blessings be upon him). He was brought to Egypt as a slave and was later imprisoned under a kafirsystem and a kafir ruler. Then the king of Egypt released him from the prison. As he was very impressed by Prophet Yusuf’s intelligence and knowledge, he offered him Egyptian citizenship (“You stay with us safe and secure.” 12:54). Yusuf (peace be upon him) did not say to him, ‘Thank you very much. But I have to go to my country. I want to be with my father who is a Prophet of Allah and I do not want to live in your kafir system. The only way I can live with you will be if you leave your kingship and make me change your system completely.’ Instead, the Qur’an tells us that Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) told the king, “Appoint me on the treasures of the land. I am a capable guardian and know things well.” (Yusuf 12:55) Yusuf (peace be upon him) wanted to help Egyptian people. He wanted to take care of Egyptians’ economic interests. He wanted to implement a fifteen year economic plan to save the country and its people. In the process he also helped his own family and they all moved to Egypt. He slowly changed the conditions and finally he became almost a final authority in the country.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also lived in Makkah for thirteen years under the protection of his uncle Abu Talib who was non-believer and who supported him under the pre-Islamic Jahili system of family and tribe. The Prophet openly criticized the un-Islamic beliefs and practices of his people but he participated in their tribal system and did benefit from it. He lived in that system as long as it allowed him to live there. After the death of his wife and uncle he went to Ta’if seeking the Jiwar (a pre-Islamic custom of protection) of the chiefs of Ta’if. When they refused and it was impossible for him to live in Makkah, then he migrated to Madinah.

It is true that Islam stands for the sovereignty of Allah the Almighty and Allah’s rules are not limited to the acts of worship, they also include social, economic and political matters. By participating in a non-Islamic system, one cannot rule by that which Allah has commanded. But things do not change overnight. Changes come through patience, wisdom and hard work.

I believe that as Muslims, we should participate in the system to safeguard our interests and try to bring gradual change for the right cause, the cause of truth and justice. We must not forget that Allah’s rules have to be established in all lands, and all our efforts should lead to that direction.”

Do keep in touch. If you have any other question, don’t hesitate to write us.

Allah Almighty knows best.

 

 

 

 

Muzammil Siddiqi