Press Release: Elections, Politics and Islamic EtiquettesZubair Akram
09 December 2019
Elections, Politics and Islamic Etiquettes
The 12th December will be a memorable moment for the UK as it places votes for the General Elections. In recent years, political conversations have been saturated by debates surrounding Brexit, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism and the teaching of RSE in schools. As a result of this, the Muslim community have noticeably become more politically engaged. The Muslim vote, as highlighted by MEND and other organisations, can often swing the vote for some critical seats.
Muslims make up almost 5% of the UK population. At the hospital, you will find yourself being treated by Muslim doctors. On TV, you see Muslim sports personalities. In schools, you will find Muslim teachers educating your children. While running errands, you will encounter Muslim taxi drivers. When deciding to renovate, you’ll come across Muslim builders. Not only are Muslims instrumental when it comes to the British economy, but they also make up the diverse fabric of the multi-cultural British experience.
It is unsurprising, therefore, that the current elections have sparked a significant rise in political interest amongst Muslims. On social media, league tables of leading parties and their commitment to Muslim manifesto pledges are circulating, much to the interest of the community. Within personal spheres, the topic of voting is heavily debated and discussed with concern. It is uncontested that the voice and values of Muslims have their place in politics. Yet, how should a Muslim engage with politics? During times of political pressure, intensity and anticipation, how is one to deal with speech that can become slanderous and slurring? Further to this, how are we to navigate through incidents in which public figures verbally abuse each other, arguments become heated and offensive behaviour becomes widespread?
On 6th December, Dr. Ahsan Hanif, a senior Islamic scholar and Imam at Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre (GLMCC) in Birmingham addressed the issue of politics. He began by giving several examples of how the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, would display the best of etiquettes and manners when dealing with a situation which was displeasing, difficult or disagreeable.
With over three thousand people in attendance the Imam educated the congregation on the necessity of voting. He advised Muslims to consider their stance towards the democratic process by reflecting on a core principle. Central to the practice of Muslims is the principle that we must always weigh up the harms and benefits of a given situation. We question, for example, ‘will doing x do me more harm overall, or actually bring me a number of benefits?’ Therefore, in the context of politics, by involving ourselves, we are essentially taking a proactive stance in which our views must be considered. This empowers us to ensure our religious freedom, general welfare and the future of our children is protected. The takeaway message from the sermon was that we must, in all instances, embody respectable character and moral principles.
Politics close to people’s hearts can often turn into regrettable expressions of anger and aggression. In the age of social media, it has become all too easy to smear and insult others publicly. Regardless of whether it is a Muslim or a non-Muslim in question, GLMCC would like to advocate and encourage good character, at this tensioned time. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was explicitly known for his exemplary manners; not only did he win over the hearts of people, but also promised a great reward by God. He said:
“There is nothing that will weigh more heavily in the balance of the believer on the Day of Resurrection than a good attitude, and verily Allah (God) hates the foulmouthed person who speaks in an offensive manner.”
The importance of holding onto good manners at all times cannot be devalued. It is the character of the virtuous:
“Verily the best of you, are the best of you in attitude.”
Is it then justifiable to argue one’s point, or to show aggression and anger towards others even if one is in the right? Rather, this lies on the contrary. The prophet, peace be upon him, is also known to have said that a person is guaranteed paradise if they give up arguing, even if they are in the right. This highlights the importance of not arguing profusely and endlessly. One should make their point succinctly, sincerely and with humility – not to simply annoy or irritate the other party.
As we delve into politics, let us all, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, retain good character, show respectfulness and avoid harshness. Debates, discussions and disagreements should not be taken as an opportunity to vilify or shame others, but rather as an opportunity to display the epitome of good manners. When one is treated rudely or with aggression, one should consider the teachings detailed in the Qur’an, which advises on such situations,
“Push back (against aggression) with that which is better (with compassion and love) then he (who is showing aggression), between you and whom there was enmity, will become like a close friend.”
Diversity is an asset to society: diversity in race, culture and thoughts provide us with rich, multifaceted experiences as we live side by side. Every Briton should strive to exemplify tolerance, mercy and respect for one another, as we work collectively for the progress of our society.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [49:13]
Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre
20 Green Lane
Birmingham, B9 5DB
Tel: 0121 713 0080