We are now less than 90 days away from the November 2018 midterm election which potentially is one of the most important in the history of the United States. The fundamental democratic pillars of this country are at risk. Consider the following:
- A nation established by immigrants is increasingly becoming anti-immigrant;
- A republic that nominally guarantees freedom of religion in its Bill of Rights is increasingly hostile to Islam and other minority religions;
- A country once heralded as a promoter of world peace and global human rights now stands by as innocents around the world are slaughtered, and;
- A country that has been committed to social justice is now experiencing a peak of social polarization.
The US Constitution provides a means to address these threats to our democracy and that means is our right to vote. Despite attempts to restrict that right with recent legislation that suppresses voter turnout among people of color and others, we still have the right to vote and we must use it and using it can make a difference in how we are governed.
Voting not only can make a difference in how we are governed but also in how we develop as Muslims. As Muslims, we constantly seek to perfect our character and the following are three, Islamic principles essential to our doing so:
- Saving Lives;
- Supporting Social Justice; and
- Showing Gratitude (Shukr)
Voting in local, state, and national elections can help us save lives, support social justice, and show gratitude. Listed below are brief explanations of how our voting can help us carry out each of these Islamic principles and by doing so we can improve our lives and the life of our communities:
- Saving Lives
In Surah Al-Maidah (5) ayah 32, Allah (SWT) instructs us:
“Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a soul unless for a soul or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he had slain mankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he had saved mankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors.
By voting we get to choose leaders who, in sha allah, will support policies that share our regard for the sanctity of life. By voting, in sha allah, we can prevent the election of candidates who have a less regard for the lives of certain people – here and abroad – than they do for the lives of others.
- Supporting Social Justice
Like saving lives, social justice is a fundamental principle in Islam. In Surah Al-Maidah (5) ayah 9, Allah (SWT) commands us:
“O ye who believe! be steadfast in the cause of Allah, bearing witness in equity; and let not a people‟s enmity incite you to act otherwise than with justice. Be always just, that is nearer to righteousness. And fear Allah. Surely, Allah is aware of what you do”.
Voting for candidates who come closest to being just rather than oppressing in their support for policies that affect the poor, orphaned, widowed, needy, and others is a way we can fulfill this fundamental principle of Islam.
- Showing Gratitude (Shukr)
In Surah Luqman (31) ayah 12, Allah (SWT) reminds us:
“And We had certainly given Luqman wisdom [and said], “Be grateful to Allah .” And whoever is grateful is grateful for [the benefit of] himself. And whoever denies [His favor] – then indeed, Allah is Free of need and Praiseworthy.”
By voting, we show gratitude to those who gave their lives for us to have the right to vote, worship, and freely assemble together. When I grew up, many of us who worship together could not do so because some of us would have been too black and others of us would have been too white to enter in through the same door, drink from the same fountain, eat at the same table, or stand toe to toe and shoulder to shoulder. These freedoms we sometimes take for granted came about because people died that we might have the right to vote and people voted that we might not let these freedoms die. I encourage you as a fellow Muslim who has experienced the pain and peril, in this country, of what happens when people fail to vote, please vote. Vote for candidates that are closest to our Islamic principles of Saving Lives and Supporting Social Justice – by doing so you will be Showing Gratitude for the price paid for you to have the right to vote.
The first step in exercising your right to vote is to register to vote. If you need assistance in registering to vote or want to learn more about how your Muslim vote can make a difference I encourage you to become a member of an organization I recently joined – the Muslim American Public Affairs Council (MAPAC).
After 9/11, MAPAC was organized as a political action committee to represent the interests of Muslim Americans in the political process. It costs nothing to join MAPAC and the benefits are many. However, if you prefer not to join then I encourage you to at least sign up for periodic MAPAC updates to stay informed about MAPAC sponsored Candidate Forums, Voter Education Programs, Elections Issues Analysis, and Local, State, and Federal candidate evaluations and recommendations for the 2018 elections. You can join MAPAC at: www.mapacnc/join.