An explanation of a contemporary dilemma by Shaykh Muhammad Naasiruddeen al-Albaanee & Shaykh Ubayd al-Jaabiree.
Questioner: Some students of knowledge issued a verdict permitting voting for the best of the available Christian candidates based on the premise that this is from choosing the
lesser of two evils. Is this permissible?
Shaykh: I have been asked this question on more than one occasion, and I believe that it is incomplete. So if you want to complete this unfinished question by bringing further clarity [then do so]
Questioner: What is the permissibility of voting for the best available candidate, particularly if they are Christian?
Shaykh: This question is incomplete just as it was when presented by other than you. I will now say what I think is intended by the question. In the event that there are a number of Christian candidates who are imposed upon the Muslims, meaning that one of them has to be elected whether the Muslims like it or not, the previously mentioned principle is applied: namely, choosing the lesser of two evils.
For example, there are four Christian candidates in a certain country and it is inevitable that one of them will be the winner (elected). Hypothetically speaking, if it were only the Muslims voting [for these candidates} and no one else not even one other person is voting such that if the Muslims refrained from voting they wouldn't be elected, then it is not permissible to vote for them. Is it clear up to here?
Shaykh: However, if the situation is contrary to this, and this is what I think the question is referring to, then one of them must be selected due to the electoral process established today. It is upon you to know that this system is not Islamic in any way whatsoever…[The Shaykh then begins to explain some of the ills of democracy and the harm of giving power to someone who requests it, in contrast to the beauty of the Islamic shooraa]
Discussing these issues is lengthy......
However, the point is that it has been imposed upon the Muslims living in that particular country to choose a candidate just as it is imposed upon them that some of the elected politicians be Christian. Why? Because there are Christian citizens. The government takes into account the percentage of Christian citizens in the country and makes calculations. They compare, for example, the ratio of Muslims to Christians. Do they consider the Jewish citizens in this process? I'm not sure. Based on these calculations they conclude that the country should have, for instance, two Christian politicians.
If the Muslims do not choose between them, then their own people will choose. In either case, one of them is going to be elected. But as we said earlier there may be four or five candidates. The Muslims in that country must consider it like this: The first candidate is a Baathist and a non-Muslim, the second is a communist and a non-Muslim, the third is an atheist and a non-Muslim and so on.
The last is a practicing Christian who does not harbour animosity towards the Muslims. If there is no way around the fact that one or two of them are going to be elected, then what should the Muslims do? Should they say, "We are not going to get involved? They are Christians. let them fight each other,- No, this is not the case, because two of these candidates will be elected regardless.
So O Muslims, O you who have sense, is this principle to be applied in this scenario or not? I say yes, because the Muslims in this case are between two evils. Similarly, this is the case if the candidates were Muslims, since amongst the Muslims are Communists, Baathists and so on. Okay, do we sit back nad watch or should we choose the one whose harm is less?!
[Source: Silsilatul Hudaa wan-Noor (Series of Guidance and Light) of Shaykh Nasireen al-Albaanee, Tape #284 starting at approx 54mins and continuing on tape #285]
Elections Are A Bid'ah!
Question: Is it permissible for the Muslims in the lands of disbelief to enter into elections and request from the Muslims to support them in this from the aspect [of being] from the lesser of the two evils or to repel the greater evil?
Answer: I say: Elections are not from the Sunnah (the way of the Prophet) that is known by the Muslims and that which the Salaf [pious predecessors] traversed upon from the time of the Companions and the Imaams of the Tabieen, and those who came after them. But rather it is a newly invented matter in Islam, so it is a Bid'ah (innovation), and if it is a Bid'ah then it is impermissible. But if the Muslims in the West or other than it are compelled to enter into elections then there are a number of circumstances [to be present]. From them: That they will not receive any of their rights that are legislated in their country except by way of a representative to speak on their behalf.
So if they are forced to do this and they have no choice they either elect a man who is Muslim or lose their rights and have no one to hear their concerns in this situation they elect a righteous man who is wise that benefit the Muslims and look after their rights. But if the muslims were patient upon the hardships and loss of their rights in the way of a abandoning this innovated matter it is better for them and more desirable. And Allaah knows best.
[A current and relevant fatawa Shaykh Ubayd al-Jaabiree, a senior scholar from Saudi Arabia]