West Midlands Faith Forum is wrong to criticise Hizb ut-Tahrir’s position on secular government. It has said that the HT ‘did not represent most Muslims’. That’s correct. However, it is only correct in the sense that no group or organisation ‘represents most Muslims’. Not the Faith Forum itself. Not the Muslim Council of Britain. Not any particular group or organisation. In fact, certainly not ‘moderate’ organisations of any persuasion such as the Quilliam Foundation, which Inayat Bunglawalah, of the MCB, has fiercely criticised precisely because it is too moderate (or it only pretends to be moderate).
Non-Muslims, or indeed Muslims, shouldn’t hastily jump in the air simply because one organisation out of hundreds, the Faith Forum, says that voting in ‘not haram’. Sceptically it can even be said that Faith Forum Muslims themselves only believe in voting, or parliamentary democracy, now. That is, until Islam has gained for itself enough power to break free of the voting system and parliamentary democracy. Faith Forum Muslims, instead, may be waiting until the Muslim population is large enough to make the rejection of parliamentary democracy a feasible and workable political option.
Let’s be sceptical again. Qamar Bhatti, of the Faith Forum, has said that British Muslims had a duty to vote in a society ‘which protected Muslim rights’. He gives the game away. He is not saying that Muslims should vote because voting and parliamentary democracy are good things in themselves. He is saying that British Muslims should vote specifically to ‘protect’ British Muslims – to ‘protect Muslim rights’. That’s a way of saying that in a state in which Muslims are a minority, Muslims have to play the game to some extent in order to secure benefits for themselves and indeed their ‘Muslim rights’. So voting and democracy is yet another game Muslims must play in order to protect themselves and their religion. At this moment in time, Muslims cannot rely exclusively on themselves and their religion to protect themselves when they are a minority with little power vis-à-vis the state and the non-Muslim majority. All this will change, of course, when the Muslim population increases and Muslims gain more power as Muslims. This is a way of saying that most Muslims have no choice but to play the game or take part in a haram secular system at this moment in time. In the future this position is almost bound to radically change. And we all can guess how it will change.
We’ve also got to ask what exactly Qamar Bhatti, of the Faith Forum, means when he states that voting is not haram in Islam. What could it mean? There were no voting systems in the time of the Koran. Mohamed knew nothing of democracy. So how could it be, strictly speaking, acceptable, Islamically, to vote when the Koran explicitly is against such a thing? Hizb ut-Tahrir, on the other hand, will have a mountain of evidence and proof that Islam, the Koran and Mohammed are all explicitly against secular democracy and ‘man-made governments’ of all kinds. It is no surprise that Qamar Bhatti does not offer us even a minute piece of Islamic theological backing for his embracing of the voting system and parliamentary democracy as a whole. Indeed it would need some pretty nifty footwork and obfuscation on his part to defend such things theologically or Islamically. He can only defend such things in spite of Islam and the Koran, not with the help of Islam and the Koran. That’s exactly what you would expect him to do. There is nothing else for him to do. There evidently won’t be any theological back-up for secular government and man-made systems in the Koran or anywhere else in the Islamic repertoire.
So when the average Muslim comes across Hizb ut-Tahrir outside the main mosques in Belgrave Road, Birmingham, or Cheetham Hill, Manchester, or Regent Street London, before the 6th of May, I would love to know what they will say to HT about secular democracy and voting. I really cannot even imagine how they could possibly defend such things Islamically or theologically. What the hell will they say? My guess is that the average Muslim will not say much to HT in defence of secular democracy. And what they do say will not have much - or any - backing in the Koran itself or even in the Islamic theology and jurisprudence which followed it.