Voting in Egypt as ‘Holy War’ to Empower Sharia
The following article was originally published by the Gatestone Institute.
Despite the fact that some in the West portray Islam and democracy as being perfectly compatible, evidence continues to emerge that, for many countries in the Middle East, democracy and elections are various means to one end: the establishment of a decidedly undemocratic form of law—Islamic, or Sharia Law.
Thus, Egyptian cleric Dr. Talat Zahran proclaimed that it is “obligatory to cheat at elections, a beautiful thing,” his logic being that voting is a tool, an instrument, the only value of which is to empower Sharia. Likewise, Hazim Shuman, a cleric who has his own TV program, issued a fatwa likening the voting for Islamist candidates who will implement Sharia as a “jihad,” adding that paradise awaits whoever is “martyred” during the electoral campaign.
Most recently, according to Al Wafd, last Friday, May 18, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, one of if not the most authoritative clerics in the Islamic world, “called on all Egyptians to vote for one of the Islamist candidates,” specifically naming the three Islamists, Muhammad Mursi (candidate of the Salafist party), Abd al-Mun’im Abu al-Futuh (candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political wing), and Muhammad al-Salim al-Awwa (who contributed to making Coptic life miserable in Egypt). Qaradawi described them as “best for Egypt” because they will “apply the Islamic Sharia and achieve justice.” Moreover, during his Friday sermon, Qaradawi said that it is “mandatory for every Egyptian to go and vote at the presidential elections,” calling it a form of “obligatory testimony” on behalf of Islam, and quoting Koran 2:283 as proof: “And do not conceal testimony, and whoever conceals it, his heart is surely sinful; and Allah knows what you do.” In short, Egypt’s Muslims are being threatened with hell fire if they don’t vote for the Sharia-pushing candidates.
Qaradawi’s position was restated yesterday, Monday May 21, when, according to Al Ahram, the Sharia Body for Rights and Reforms—one of the most powerful Islamic organizations, with members from the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, and Al Azhar—issued a fatwa asserting that it is “impermissible to vote for anyone not intending to apply Islamic Sharia, and it is obligatory to vote for those who do seek to implement it,” adding that the “presidential election is a modern way of directing the state, and therefore it behooves Muslims to use it as a way to enforce Sharia.”
If Qaradawi and many others are stressing the obligation to vote for those Islamists most likely to enforce Sharia, Sheikh Osama Qassim, a member of Egypt’s notorious Islamic Jihad, which also seeks to enforce Islamic law, recently attacked the non-Islamist candidates—specifically naming Ahmed Shafiq and Amr Mussa—saying that if they win the presidential elections, it will only be “by cheating,” at which point “the Islamist organizations” will resort to “armed action” (code for Jihad), adding that such presidents will suffer the same fate of Anwar Sadat (assassination), but that this time, the struggle will see “the Islamists achieve complete domination” in Egypt.
Finally, beyond threats and commands are the sheer bribes—in this case, a form of Islamic “bread and circuses.” As they were accused earlier, the Muslim Brotherhood was just caught bribing Egypt’s poor with packets of food. Yesterday an Egyptian activist posted a video on YouTube about “the Brotherhood’s scandal: they buy the votes of the poor through food and drink.” The video shows several poor women sitting with bags of food from the Muslim Brotherhood’s “Freedom and Justice” party. The Egyptian activist keeps asking them, “Really, is that how they bought your vote?” even as the women hide their faces and leave.
Bribery is a form of deceit, and these presidential elections are something of a war for Egypt’s future; so, considering that Islam’s prophet Muhammad famously declared that “war is deceit,” all of the aforementioned approaches—threats of hellfire, threats of jihad, and food bribes—are legitimate.
Raymond Ibrahim, a Shillman Fellow at the DHFC, is a widely published author on Islam, and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum. Join him as he explores the “Intersection”—the pivotal but ignored point where Islam and Christianity meet—including by examining the latest on Christian persecution, translating important Arabic news that never reaches the West, and much more.