LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 9pm

Why Muslims Must Choose Islam First When Voting

Following the dissolution of Parliament on April 7, 2018, the Election Commission (EC) held a special meeting on April 10, 2018 and determined the nomination day for the 14th General Election (GE14) falls on April 28, 2018, while voting was set on May 9, 2018. And though the campaign should only start after the nomination of candidates on April 28, 2018, the initial campaign has already begun.

In general, the electoral process requires the people to decide on the leaders whom they believe are most capable to govern the country. Hence, in a democratic country like Malaysia, the administration of the country is determined through this process.

With the power of a vote, each citizen who is a registered voter will have the right to choose their favoured representative. Majority of scholars meanwhile believe that every Muslim has a role to play in the voting process as it is significant to elect representatives or leaders, because they will have a big impact on our lives as well as the general well-being of the country.

In our country’s electoral process, each registered voter plays a role in determining their representatives for the respective Parliamentary and State Legislative Assemblies (DUN). The democratic system also gives freedom to anyone who wishes to contest in the election, so long as they meet specific conditions. Therefore, various ideologies exist and various characters have come forth as potential leaders.

Some “political nomads” are merely contesting to gain a position even though they are not from the constituency they contest in, what more help champion the cause of the people or develop the area. According to caretaker Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, these nomadic candidates only come once every five years without offering any benefits to the constituency they represent.

This is where we, as voters, play a role in choosing the best candidate to assist and lead us either at the DUN or Parliamentary level. However, in carrying out our responsibility as voters, we must first understand the traits of individuals who are qualified to be appointed leaders and make a wise choice. The Quran and Hadith on Rasulullah (PBUH) have similarly provided guidance on these matters as well.

‘One of the women said, "O my father, hire him. Indeed, the best one you can hire is the strong and the trustworthy."’ (Surah al-Qasas, verse 26)

Prof. Dr. Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi outlines at least three basic considerations in making the best choice:

• If everything is good, choose the best one.
• If there are good and bad ones, choose the good one.
• If everything is bad, choose the lesser evil.

We should not support leaders who are known for their evil deeds, like those who join politics for personal gain or are involved in corruption. We are well-off choosing a leader that is noble, sincere in serving the people, fair and just, doesn’t mind being reprimaded, willing to listen to suggestions or opinions on matters under his jurisdiction, as well as one who does not demand for a position or hopes to lead an easily life filled with lavishness.

58-year-old Ahmad Zaki Muhammad, a government retiree who is PAS supporter, urged for voters to reject DAP or its allies because it is detrimental as the party disrespects Islam as a Federal religion and opposes efforts to enforce Islamic laws which are applicable to Muslims. He wishes to retain the Islamic leadership held by PAS in Kelantan and hopes Barisan Nasional (BN) will continue its rule the Federal Government as UMNO will not go against Islam like DAP.

While a 40-year-old engineering consultant in Kota Bharu who wishes to remain anonymous, believes that politics is a fight for everyone trying to gain power. He is in view that the best player will have a game plan which will be difficult to be sniffed out by their opponent.

According to him, since the establishment of Malaya and subsequently the formation of Malaysia, the Chinese who are deemed as chauvinists, have dominated DAP. The term which derives from the French word "chauvinism", was coined after Nicolas Chauvin, a soldier who was devoted to Napoleon Bonaparte. Chauvin remained devoted despite being injured and receiving little credit. Even when Napoleon was defeated and exiled to St. Helena, he still honoured Napoleon.

Just as Chauvin’s extreme patriotism towards his beliefs, the term was used to describe this behaviour. In a political sense, "national chauvinist" means one who has extremely high regards that his beliefs are better than others that he is willing to sacrifice anything, even the nation for the sake of his own race.

A "chauvinist party" meanwhile refers to a group of people who have extreme confidence in a certain political party that it fanatically attacks anyone who supports a different party or has different views.

He adds that DAP displays such chauvinistic characteristics as the party is seen constantly attacking UMNO and the Barisan Nasional that are protective over the special interests and privileges of the Malays, who in history are recognised as the rulers of the nation. DAP's fight to create a nation that is based solely on nationalism without regarding the interests of Islam, undermines national harmony.

Through the observation of our country’s political history, DAP is seen trying to dominate the opposition pact through various means and under the guise of using different names. In realising that the majority of Malaysians are tied to social contracts that have long been in existence since independence and the sensitivies that come with it, DAP has been hiding behind Malay nationalists who are not aligned with UMNO and Barisan Nasional. The party has also been wise in playing up Sun Tzu's words "All warfare is based on deception" to control its allies.

In addition, he thinks DAP is not a threat to Muslims. However, taking into account non-Muslim politicians who are chauvinists when it comes to their religion without regarding the sanctity of Islam as upheld in the Federal Constituion and Islam as the Federal religion, DAP is viewed as a tool to undermine government policies that protect and spread the greatness of Islam.

For a 43-year-old voter who is sitting on the fence and wishes to remain anonymous, deems many like him are quietly observing the political developments in the country despite appearing to be inactive on social media. As a Malay Muslim, he shared that he will vote in the name of God the Almighty and will choose a government that can stand united, work together and is trustworthy.

In his opinion, Pakatan Harapan, which is a coalition made up of PKR, DAP, Amanah and Bersatu members, are not really a team. Even Pakatan Rakyat that was established previously has also split as they did not form a coalition on the basis of truth, and they only pretended to stand united to merely fish for votes.

He also questioned why DAP leaders often highlighted issues regarding integrity and corruption when it came to the ruling government, however remained silent on issues involving the bungalow or undersea tunnel project in Penang, as well as the Ijok land controversy in Selangor. “Why the double standard? What is the difference between PH and BN?,” he asked.

Although BN has a lot of weaknesses, so does PH, he points out. For voters sitting on the fence like him, he opined since both have their weaknesses, he will consider who is more advantageous to vote for. According to him, BN component parties which comprise of Malays, Indians and Chinese have proven to work well with one another for a long time compared to the disjointed PH coalition.

Aside that, he pondered how DAP's hardcore supporters who once were so hostile against Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the last 22 years are ready to forgive his sins in the blink of an eye. Likewise, for PKR hardcore supporters who opposed Tun M since 1998. “If they can forgive Tun M, why can’t they forgive Najib and Rosmah?“

He added that changing the government is not as easy as changing a restaurant; whereby, if the food served is not good, we can always opt to look for another restaurant. Unfortunately, we cannot do the same when we have changed the government and many things can happen in five years time. Hence, as a Muslim, he reminds voters to think wisely before making their choice. The real clash in GE14 is between UMNO, DAP and PAS, not BN, PH and PAS, he reminded.

Concluding the interview, he is of the view that for those who dislike UMNO, vote for PAS but never for the DAP-dominated PH. At least PAS is fighting for Islam, and not pretending to do so.

As a Muslim voter, it is our duty to vote for the representatives who can bring about a change to the country, represent the people and develop the ummah (Muslim community); not those who want to win the election and gain power.

The Federal Territories mufti Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad al-Bakri, had earlier detailed that voting for a non-Muslim candidate in the election and appointing them as a leader is a must, so long as they do not threaten the sanctity of Islam and are trustworthy as well as carry out their duties accordingly.

All these factors must be taken into account in making decisions before voting and choosing a representative, as well as ensuring the highest position of the country such as the Prime Minister, Islamic affairs minister and defence minister is upheld by only qualified Muslims (129th Bayan Linnas: Voting for non-Muslims in election, April 11, 2018).

In line with this view, we should support candidates who are supportive of the Islamic agenda, and does not oppose Islam’s sanctity in Malaysia. If Muslims were to vote for a non-Muslim candidate, it is advised to choose a candidate who is not hostile towards Islam or who does not challenge the ummah.

To all electoral candidates, please do not discriminate your opponent or blatantly create fake news to topple them. Instead, highlight why your manifesto is better than your opponent's manifesto and prove that you are able to carry out your promises. Don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk.

To all voters, please choose a candidate who will make sure justice is served and who serves for the well-being of the people. As Muslims, it is our duty to carry out this responsibility and to not waste it. Sayyidina Ali ibn Abi Talib RA once said: "Zulum (cruelty) will persist, not because there are more bad people, but because good people remain silent.”

Hence, if you want goodness and the blessings of God, to please Him, choose those who will uphold Islam as a way of life, as well as those who are deemed worthy, capable and willing to help the people.

Happy voting and may you make the right choice.


Johari Yap
Chairman of the Malaysian Chinese Muslim Association (MACMA), Kelantan Branch