"The Lesser of Two Evils": Islamic Law and the Emergence of a Broad Agreement on Muslim Participation in Western Political Systems

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Abstract

Through an analysis that focuses on wasati and salafi fatwas, but searches also beyond them, this article demonstrates the emergence of a broad agreement (albeit not a consensus) in Islamic jurisprudence on the permissibility of political participation in the West. This broad agreement is based primarily on jurists' evaluation, drawing on 'fiqh al-muwazanat' (the jurisprudence of balances) that, in some cases, participation brings more benefit (maslaha) than harm (mafsada). The article comparatively examines wasati and salafi approaches to politics and to Muslim minorities to explain why jurists who disagreed on other fundamental issues in the field of fiqh al-aqalliyyat al-Muslima (the religious law of Muslim minorities) reached similar (but not identical) conclusions on political participation. Based on this analysis, a revision of some prevailing categorizations of salafiyya is suggested. Deliberations by some salafis, jihadi-salafis and members of Hizb al-Tahrir who oppose political participation and their refutations of the justifications invoked by jurists who legitimized it are also examined.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)239-259
Number of pages21
JournalContemporary Islam
Volume8
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 2014

Keywords

  • Democracy
  • Electoral politics
  • Fiqh al-Aqalliyyat al-Muslima
  • Hizb al-Tahrir
  • Muslims in the West
  • maslaha
  • salafiyya
  • wasatiyya

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