The participation of Muslims in politics in non-Muslim countries could show the true Islam but it also could lead to division within the Muslim community. It depends on the balance between benefit and harm.  

Participation in Politics

Similar Questions

  • Standing for parliament;

  • Participation in elections.

The Issue

Should Muslim minorities take part in political decision-making through membership of political parties or participation in local and parliamentary elections, and even contesting such elections?


Participation in politics by Muslims living in non-Muslim countries involves a mixture of benefit and harm. Among the benefits are that it allows a positive contribution to solving the problems faced by the populations in these countries from an Islamic perspective. It also contributes to showing Islam in its true nature and provides an avenue to explain that it is the true divine faith, and gives a positive image of Muslims as citizens who contribute to their societies in different fields of civilization. It leads to the protection of the rights of Muslims who live outside the Muslim world and supports the fair demands and issues of the Muslim community. On the negative side it requires attending some sessions that may be unfair and involve violation of Islamic rules. It may also lead to division within the Muslim community or to compromises that are not counterbalanced by clear benefits.

The whole issue of participation is one of performing acceptable political work that is subject to the balance between benefit and harm resulting from it. Participating in politics is perfectly legitimate when it is approached with good intention and the benefit is clear and outweighs the harm. It may even be a duty if it is a way to ensure some clear benefit or stop and prevent some clear harm. On the other hand, such participation may be forbidden if the harm resulting from it clearly outweighs its benefit. It may indeed lead to people entertaining unacceptable concepts and beliefs. As such, the fatwa regarding participation in politics changes according to the time, place and conditions, and is subject to the changes of the benefit or harm resulting from it.

This view is endorsed by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (Decision 5-4), the European Council for Fatwa and Research (Decision 5-16) and the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League (Decision 5-19). All these councils stress that the main principle that governs political work is that it should be subject to Islamic values and principles, controlled by what brings legitimate benefit and supervised by a group of scholars and experts. For political participation to be legitimate and effective it should be subject to certain proper controls, including:

  1. A Muslim who participates in politics should intend such participation to serve the interests of Muslims and prevent harm from being inflicted on them.

  2. Such a Muslim should be convinced that his participation in politics is more likely to bring about positive results that benefit Muslims in his country.

  3. Participation in politics must not adversely affect his faith and attending to his Islamic duties, and must not take up all his time and energy so as to divert him from playing his role in advocacy and educational activities.

  4. Muslims participating in politics should maintain Islamic moral values, such as truth, justice, fulfilment of promises, being true to their trust, etc.


Political participation comes under general Islamic policy and the verdict concerning it depends on balancing the benefit against harm resulting from it. This is indicated by

the Qur’anic verse:

‘Help one another in furthering righteousness and piety and do not help one another in furthering evil and aggression.’

(5: 2)


As such, the whole issue is subject to the general rules of balancing the resulting benefit against the likely harm.


  • Decisions by the Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America.

  • Decisions by the European Council for Fatwa and Research.

  • Decisions by the Islamic Fiqh Council of the Muslim World League.

  • Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Sina'at al-Fatwa wa Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat.

  • Sulaiman Muhammad Topoliyak, Al-Ahkam al-Siyasiyyah lil Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah fi al-Fiqh al-Islami.

  • Khalid Abd al-Qadir, Fiqh al-Aqaliyyat al-Muslimah.

  • Muhammad al-Subayyil, ‘Musharakat al-Muslim fi al-Intikhabat ma' Ghayr al-Muslimin’.

  • Abd al-Kareem Zaidan, Al-Dimuqratiyyah wa Musharakat al-Muslim fi al-Intikhabat (a paper presented to the sisxteenth session of the Islamic Fiqh Council, Makkah 1422 AH, 2001).

  • Wahbah al-Zuhaili, ‘Musharakat al-Muslim fi al-Intikhabat’.