Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Vote is your right. Choose honest, trustworthy Muslim-friendly candidate

Vote is your right. Choose honest, trustworthy,
Right-thinking and Muslim-friendly candidate

Dr. Mozammel Haque

This is the Election season. I would like to make the voters aware of their duties and responsibilities in a democratic process where they can make their voices heard. Muslims are living in this country as citizens and it is their civic and Islamic responsibility to cast their votes and participate in the political process. Both the Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders and organisations inside the country and around the world expressed their opinion that nothing prevents Muslims Islamically from participating in the political process where they are living.

This right of voting and participating in the electoral process is the fundamental right of citizens, through which they can take part indirectly, through their representative, in the policy-making and decision-making process. For this reason, I interviewed Muslim personalities from different fields, such as member of British Parliament, member of Muslim Think-tank, Muslim member of Judiciary and community leaders. Let us start, first, with the member of the British Parliament, Lord Ahmed of Rotherham.

Lord Ahmed
In reply to my queries about the importance of this year elections, Lord Ahmed said, “I think this is going to be the most historic elections in our times because most of the 114 seats which are marginal are going to be dependent on ethnic minorities, i.e., black, Asian, Afro-Caribbean Muslim and Hindu votes. So if we cannot make impact on this occasion, then for the next foreseeable future we cannot see anything happening. This is the time when we should be campaigning to make sure that our people turnout to vote. We are not a single topic community. We are not homogeneous community. We have to vote in accordance with our beliefs and in accordance with our thinking. But I think that we have to make sure that we first turnout for votes; secondly, we need to make sure that good candidates are supported and thirdly, I would say: support Labour.”

“In this election, there have UK Independent Party (UKIP) and British Nationalist Party (BNP) which are very anti-Muslim parties because UKIP is not only supporting Geert Wilders but also the Lord Pearson down here leader of the Party is very anti-Muslim and we have to make sure that our people turnout and vote for the major political parties and reject this extremist in our society,” added and advised Lord Ahmed.

Dr. Muhammad Manazir Ahsan
I have the opportunity to meet and interview two respected personalities at the Annual General Meeting of Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) in Leicester. I was very much worried the way Muslim vote will be split in the Bethnal Green & Bow constituency. I requested Dr. Muhammad Manazir Ahsan, Director-General of the Islamic Foundation, Leicester, to comment on the situation and give his advice. Dr. Ahsan said, “Our aim is to bring a good Muslim who can serve the community, who can also serve the cause of Islam and the wider community; who is honest, trustworthy; and who has have a background. So this is what we are trying to do. Unfortunately, the temperature of election is so high that everybody thinks he will win. This is something which is bad. We are trying our best from behind.”

“It is quite obvious if the Muslims fight amongst themselves, they will not be able to get the seat,” said Dr. Ahsan and argued, “We cannot ask them; we can only request them from outside. What we are seeing observing, this is not a good sign for them. If somehow they could come together, make some sort of adjustment that would be the best thing to do, Insha Allah.”

Judge Khurshid Drabu
I also interviewed Judge Khurshid Drabu, the first Muslim Judge in the UK and requested him to advice the constituents on the May 6 elections. Judge Drabu said, “I would like to take this opportunity of emphasizing and making the point most strongly that we, as Muslims, have a duty in this country to participate effectively in the election process. This country is a free country; we must take advantage of that freedom and each one of us is an ambassador of our faith. We have a moral and religious duty to ensure that we follow our faith and the laws of this country. We have a duty to engage in the political process of this country.”

“We have freedom here and we can actually make a difference by engaging in political discourse and in the political process if more and more Muslims partake in election and ensure that Muslim-friendly government comes into being, we will be much richer and much better community all round. Because Islam as a faith practise properly and true to spirit and letter, is the best deen in the world. There is no doubt about it. We can only do the Dawah of Islam if we actually take the opportunity to engage in the process, which then gives us the power to make the difference,” added Judge Drabu.

While emphasizing on choosing for Muslim-friendly candidates, not the parties, Judge Drabu argued, “I don’t care which party they represent; as long as they are understanding of Islam and support you and your aspirations that matters.”

Sir Iqbal Sacranie
Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former Secretary General of Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) and presently Chairman of Muslim Aid, said to me in an interview: “During this election, Muslim vote will be very crucial in determining who is elected as the MP in more than 50 constituencies around Britain.”

“It is now becoming apparent that the guidance given by prominent Islamic scholars around the country as well as all major Muslim organisations that it is their duty as a responsible citizen who cares for the welfare of the community in which he lives that he exercises his fundamental right to vote in the election,” said Sir Iqbal.

Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha
Dr. Syed Aziz Pasha, General Secretary of the Union of Muslim Organisation of the UK & Eire (UMO) said to me in an interview, “Our position in this regard has always been we should participate fully in the mainstream of society and make our contribution for the welfare of the society as a whole retaining our religious and cultural values. Therefore, elections is a good opportunity to express their views on the manifestoes of the political parties and ensure that members to the Parliament should be elected who are favourable to the requirements of the Muslim community in terms of all aspects of their day-to-day life, like equality in jobs, housing, financial institutions, society as well as religious needs like planning permission for Mosques, Halal foods in school, workplace, hospital and at all public places and application of Muslim Family Laws.”

“From the Islamic perspective, we are living in this country and we should avail of every opportunity to promote the cause of Islam and eradicate all misunderstandings surrounding our religious practices. Therefore, voting is one of the opportunities Muslims have which they should not abdicate and they should not abdicate their responsibilities,” said Dr. Pasha.

From the above, it becomes clear that a tiny minority group is trying to dissuade people from neither participating in election which has neither the support nor the backing from the Islamic scholars or Muslim leaders and organisations. Rather the Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders and organisations are urging the Muslim community to exercise their fundamental right to vote in elections because during this election, Muslim vote will be very crucial in determining who is elected as the MP in more than 50 constituencies around Britain.

So do join in elections; turnout in large numbers on the election day, i.e. on May 6; cast your votes tactfully and intelligently or choose a honest, trustworthy, sincere, right-thinking and Muslim-friendly candidate and thereby participate in the political process of the country.

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