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The Lesser of Two Evils

This is a discussion on The Lesser of Two Evils within the Islam in General forums, part of the Main Topics category; evil.jpg The Lesser of Two Evils By Alomgir Ali "Throughout the last election campaign there were frequent discussions amongst Muslims ...

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    Default The Lesser of Two Evils

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    The Lesser of Two Evils
    By Alomgir Ali
    "Throughout the last election campaign there were frequent discussions amongst Muslims regarding the permissibility of participating in the electoral process. This brief article does not intend to address that specific issue (dealt with by scholars elsewhere), but instead, debunk a current myth amongst many people that one of the principles that was used to justify the permissibility of voting (although not the main argument used which many people do not realise), the lesser of two evils, only pertains to matters of life and death and can only be applied in matters of coercion and necessity. Although this misconception is often attributed to laymen, it seems to have also found its place amongst certain callers to Islam (duat)."
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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    read this article when it originally came out, and was unimpressed with it.

    there are numerous explanations of the lesser of two evils as a maxim, but this type of loose explanation to fit the reality of voting in the UK is a stretch too far. The claim that "this isn't the only proof" used actually weakens the whole proposition in any case, given that the maxim is used when necessary and not optionally.

    Anyhow there is a short refutation elsewhere which is clearer in my opinion, this is part of a longer article on the issue of voting in the UK, and it doesn't fall into any grand statements about shirk etc.

    Btw - the most obvious weakness in the pro-voting camp is the scholars approach - the last video had them all smiling in the camera basically saying "just do it" - hardly the lesser of two evils.


    Voting and Participation within un-Islamic Systems Refuting Spurious Assertions | Islamic Culture

    "7. Voting for certain candidates to prevent others from coming in, is the lesser of two evil:
    The principle lesser of two evils is a sub-principle of the principle Harm is to be lifted[4] and is only applicable when the Shariah has defined the two evils, and defined which is the lesser of the two, such as the example given by al-Zayla`i and quoted by Ibn Nujaym in Ashbah wal-Nazair: An example is that of a man who has a wound where if he were to prostrate in the Prayer the blood will flow from the wound but if he did not, then it would not flow. In this case, he must sit and pray indicating his act of bowing and prostrating because to leave the act of prostration is less evil (ahwan) than praying in a state of impurity. Is it not the case that leaving the prostration is permitted in certain conditions where one can choose not to do it like in the case of offering optional prayers while on a riding animal whereas being in a state of impurity and praying is not permitted at all[5] Another example Ibn Nujaym quotes is: Likewise is the case of an elderly person who is unable to recite the Quran in the prayer while standing but is able to do so in a sitting posture. If this is so, he prays in a sitting posture because it is permitted to either sit or not to sit in optional prayers whereas it is not permitted to abandon the recitation in the Prayer in any circumstances[6]

    Here, the mind is not used to outweigh the lesser of the two evils or to decide what action to take but the text and its indications. Other examples include the difficult situation of a mother giving birth and where both are in danger of losing their lives, who then ought to be saved. Thus, the examples are connected with inevitable evils and not in cases where options to avoid the evil exist.

    Therefore, it is wholly inapplicable to apply the principle of the lesser of the two evils as a default premise because it forbidden to commit a haram in origin and the principle is invalidated whenever a third option exists that does not require one to commit an evil. In the case of voting for mainstream political parties, no coercion, compulsion or necessity exists. The third option is a permitted one which is to abstain and warn others from doing it. It is also not possible to tell which is the lesser or greater evil in a given situation especially when voting for these major political parties and it inevitably becomes a case of voting for who brings personal benefit. For example, in these elections none of the major parties in Britain are against the war in Afghanistan, while the xenophobic BNP is. So which is the lesser evil increased prejudice against Muslims in the UK, or the killing of Muslims in Afghanistan? Whoever you vote for you share responsibility in their actions since you actively empowered them.

    Some claim that by not voting you have an impact upon the result and therefore you are intrinsically involved in the action. Such a claim is demonstrably false, since its parallel would be the claim that the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) should have participated in the ruling in Mecca, a position he was capable of given his position and stature amongst his people, since if he didnt participate others would in his place and impose harsher laws upon him."

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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    Valid point brother AbdulMatin but, one of the points the original article did raise was that it is a legal maxim that is not neccessarily only used in issues of dharurah. Unfortunately, you have some brothers that have that understanding.


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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    I didn't advocate voting in these (or previous) elections because I couldn't see any tangible real Islamic interest, and I can't speak on behalf of Alomgir or Sh Haytham, however, my take on it is as follows:

    1) Voting for a Kafir candidate with Islamic interests at heart is not Haram to begin with, and hence, presenting abstinence as the only Halal possible option is inapplicable here.

    2) The two evils/harms being referred to here are not a) evil of a bad candidate and b) evil/harm of voting for Islamic interests -because as I said, b is not an evil to begin with. The two evils actually refer to the two candidates, a) a bad candidate for Islam and Muslims, b) a much worse candidate for Islam and Muslims.

    3) On the basis that it is not haram to vote for a kafir candidate with Islamic interests at heart, making it a Shara'i viable alternative, abstinence would mean doing nothing to minimise the harm which is in itself haram.

    As you can see, all of this is based on one maxim, and that is: Voting for a non-Muslim candidate purely out of Islamic interests is not Haram.

    What would be your criticism on this?
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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    1) Voting for a Kafir candidate with Islamic interests at heart is not Haram to begin with, and hence, presenting abstinence as the only Halal possible option is inapplicable here.

    As you can see, all of this is based on one maxim, and that is: Voting for a non-Muslim candidate purely out of Islamic interests is not Haram.

    What would be your criticism on this?
    this is the crux of the discussion

    the criticism is as follows:

    this is a representative democracy
    this means you select a candidate, and through voting, give them their legitimacy to be your representative

    in Islam - it is permitted to give someone the right to represent you in those issues that are halal, and it is not permitted to give someone the right to represent you in those issues that are haram

    In this case - the representative, or candidate, is running on a political platform/ program. We all agree that the platform he is running upon is an unislamic, and therefore haram, platform.

    so to give your vote to that candidate would be haram, as you are - through voting -giving them legitimacy to be your representative upon his (haram) platform.

    this is based upon the political theory of representative democracy, and what voting means and entails - it is not simply a shahada as argued (and even if it was - how could you give it to these candidates!?!), but is closer to a form of wakala.

    And therefore a good intention does not free one from the implications of taking the action, similar to any other haram act, the haram in this case being giving someone your representation in that which is haram

    ws

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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    Quote Originally Posted by Tuwaylib View Post
    Valid point brother AbdulMatin but, one of the points the original article did raise was that it is a legal maxim that is not neccessarily only used in issues of dharurah. Unfortunately, you have some brothers that have that understanding.
    but actually the article does not clarify it correctly

    the point is the maxim is actually a sub-rule from the main rule regarding darura

    and it is a branch of that - in that you are compelled to take one of 2 actions
    eg. either pray sitting while wounded, therefore leaving the rukn of qiyam or not pray/ either grab the man therefore making the urine go everywhere, or leave him and the urine going to one place

    etc.

    So it is correct to say it does not only apply in life and death situations, but it is not correct to claim it is applied in situations where there are various other options other than those which are in origin evil. This is a real misunderstanding.
    Last edited by AbdulMatin; 5th May 2012 at 02:51 PM.


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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    But to be honest, the difference in the rule is not as problematic IMO as the naivete of those pushing people to vote.

    Lets apply the lesser of two evils in a different way:

    the Western government are tryoing their best to integrate and assimilate muslims into their societies, and getting them to give up their Islam.

    One way - is to get them to identify with party politics, and therefore the big push to get Muslims into local and national politics through the established and independent political parties

    So pushing people to vote - the layman will inevitably be more affected by the integration policy, partially as a result of the encouragement of the "shuyukh" etc. to participate.


    So what is the lesser of two evils?

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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    I didn't advocate voting in these (or previous) elections because I couldn't see any tangible real Islamic interest
    The problem is when we have a situation developing where every layperson makes this determination for themselves and their vote.

    I don't consider you a 'layperson' rather I'm easily imagining your way of approaching the situation in 'seeing Islamic interest or not' being applied by those without the ability or knowledge necessary to make a determination of what constitutes a sound/valid Islamic interest.

    Also, coming out as a proponent of 'voting' without qualifying it with conditions engenders the risk of others coming along later using one's words as a general permission. This happens all the time with the words of leaders and scholars such that actions they would not approve of are sanctioned using their rulings and words out of context.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    1) Voting for a Kafir candidate with Islamic interests at heart is not Haram to begin with, and hence, presenting abstinence as the only Halal possible option is inapplicable here.
    Remove the 'Islamic interest' part and it becomes Haram. In terms of the 'at heart' part then I don't believe that the Shari'ah takes this into consideration at all. The intentions of the Kuffar should be assumed to be in their own self interest and not Islamic interests. A proven track record of supporting Muslims and their interests must be the only factor used to determine whether a candidate can [knowingly or unwittingly] serve an 'Islamic interest'.

    Notice I use the term 'Muslims and their interests' and not 'Islamic interest' because never should a Muslim believe a Kafir who pretends to know what an 'Islamic interest' amounts to where it comes to public policy or legislation. Also, oftentimes in the West, even Muslims cannot be left to distinguish between a personal/social benefit and an actual 'Islamic interest'; even less so then for a Kafir.

    In this case, the Asl for laypeople is abstinence from voting unless or until people of knowledge inform them otherwise and inform them exactly which candidate fulfills the conditions laid down by scholars. Otherwise we must place the Ijtihad involved in voting into the hands of every Muslim and allow them to vote by 'conscience' which would result in a diminished effect for the simple fact that each Muslim may vote differently or not at all thus negating the ability to achieve the 'Islamic interest' through voting.

    There is also the possibility for further division among Muslims along political lines unless Ijtihad about 'Islamic interests' and 'benefits vs. harms' in Kafir candidates is left to people of knowledge. The door to this type of division among Muslims must be kept closed and anything leading to it would also be Haram as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    2) The two evils/harms being referred to here are not a) evil of a bad candidate and b) evil/harm of voting for Islamic interests -because as I said, b is not an evil to begin with. The two evils actually refer to the two candidates, a) a bad candidate for Islam and Muslims, b) a much worse candidate for Islam and Muslims.
    'B' is only not an evil when 'Islamic interests' are proven and agreed to be involved. This must be proven in each instance of voting as explained in the Fatawa of scholars relied on for the ruling of the permissibility of voting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    3) On the basis that it is not haram to vote for a kafir candidate with Islamic interests at heart, making it a Shara'i viable alternative, abstinence would mean doing nothing to minimise the harm which is in itself haram.
    Only when Shar'ee benefits/harms are proven to take place in voting or not voting, according to the above reasoning.

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    As you can see, all of this is based on one maxim, and that is: Voting for a non-Muslim candidate purely out of Islamic interests is not Haram.
    This would only apply in elections where there are only non-Muslim candidates, in a non-majority Muslim land, and when the 'Islamic interests' have been properly determined by Islamic authorities/people of knowledge.

    Without at least the above conditions, the potential for division among Muslims, divergent Ijtihad in the hands of laypeople, and the potential for contravening overriding 'Islamic interests' may outweigh any benefit that may be had in voting in the first place.

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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    @AbdulMatin

    One doesn't need to vote for an MP in order to appoint him as his representative. An MP remains a representative of all his constituents, whether they voted for him or not. For instance, Muslims in Tooting, even if they despise Sadiq Khan for a number of valid reasons, and do not vote for him, they are still entitled to go to him and say: You represent us in the Parliament, we are your constituents, and we want you to do A, B and C on our behalf. Sadiq Khan will be obliged to do what he is asked. Legally, he cannot turn around and say: You didn't vote for me, so suffer! (Though, practically, what happens might be completely different)

    Point being, you do not have the option of having or not having a representative. You will have a representative, so the choice here is: Which of the candidates you would rather have representing you.

    And this is only based on the assumption that the UK democratic system is in reality a representative democracy. However, like any other democracy, it is far from being representative of its electorates. In reality, MPs do not represent anyone but their own interests, and to that end, make 101 promises and deliver none. This is why people do not see the point in voting for anyone at all, because the system does not do what it says: i.e. it does not represent the constituents.

    And since things are judged on the essence of what they are, instead of how they appear, it seems elections are all about bringing some MPs to power while excluding others. To many voters, it is nothing more than that. And if this is how it is to many voters, there shouldn't be anything wrong with a Muslim voting one MP in and another MP out, because the former MP is less harmful to Islam than the latter.

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    Default Re: The Lesser of Two Evils

    Quote Originally Posted by Expergefactionist View Post
    An MP remains a representative of all his constituents, whether they voted for him or not. For instance, Muslims in Tooting, even if they despise Sadiq Khan for a number of valid reasons, and do not vote for him, they are still entitled to go to him and say: You represent us in the Parliament, we are your constituents, and we want you to do A, B and C on our behalf. Sadiq Khan will be obliged to do what he is asked. Legally, he cannot turn around and say: You didn't vote for me, so suffer!
    That is actually the best argument against voting in the first place if the assertion is that without doing so harm/evil cannot be lifted or benefit/Islamic interest cannot be achieved.

    If the same thing can be achieved by lobbying or mass demonstration of political will, and these are perfectly legal ways of imposing leverage, why present the option which does not necessarily ensure effectiveness but rather immerses the general Muslim public in a situation where fulfillment of conditions to accomplish the same are next to impossible and rather the likelihood of Fitnah and division are greatly increased?

    I'm with Abdul-Matin on this- there is a huge [and false] assumption being made that 'voting' or the paradigm that one of the candidates is 'the lesser of two evils' are the solution to increasing political leverage and influence on behalf of Islamic interests in Dar ul-Kufr. All we have to do is look to other minority groups in Dar ul-Kufr who are political powerhouses and see what their path has been.

    We will find that it is all about political contributions and lobbying. Policy is not developed by a single person in any political position but rather over time and by political parties who perpetually have contenders vying for office. Influence the politics and positions of the party and you influence any given politician running for any given office on a party platform.

    Politicians will completely oppose the will of their constituents but not their financial supporters and contributors.

    A'immah would have a much easier time convincing people that spending on this or that campaign/party would yield results than voting for this or that puppet. Not that one is better in terms of supporting Kuffar in their system of Shirk in legislation, rather we should all know by now which is more effective and less likely to require Kafir muppets in the Masajid or speaking on behalf of Muslims and Islam.
    Last edited by Ibn al-Iskandar; 5th May 2012 at 06:22 PM.

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