By Sajid Iqbal and Shaid Ayub
Now if I mentioned the words ‘politics’ and ‘voting' what would be your reaction: “Politics! what a waste of time? All politicians are dodgy? Aren't all parties the same? Politics is dull and boring! Politicians and parties are all against Islam and the Muslims? I ain’t got time for politics!”
Well you know what? I might agree with you on a few of those points but if you think voting and getting politically active in the UK is a waste of time then I suggest you cut down on the Red Bull, wake up and open your eyes! All Muslims should be politically active in the UK.
So you don't do politics?
- Opening a mosque/school/institute needs planning permission-that's politics.
- Want to hold a rally, march, open celebration? That's politics!
- Want a fair chance to get a job, a fair chance in life (equal opportunities)? That's politics!
- So you are now allowed to read your prayers at work? That's politics!
- The hijab was banned in France. That's politics!
- BNP want to ban Islam in the UK. That's politics!
- Want decent transport? That's politics!
- Hacked off with student fees/taxes? That's politics!
- Want to ban racism? That's politics!
- The war OF terror has killed thousands of Muslims across the world. That's politics!
WHY SHOULD MUSLIMS BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE IN THE UK?
- Politicians make decisions, laws and policies that affect us all. For example, banning the hijab, beard and restrictions on mosques & Imams etc. If we are not involved in the political system and are not politically active then we will have no say and wont be able to do anything, jack, nowt, zilch - apart from doing duaa of course!
- If Muslims don't get involved in politics then others who are against Islam and Muslims will make it very difficult for us e.g. the BNP, Islamophobic individuals, groups and institutions.
- If we get involved in politics then we can highlight the local and national issues that concern Muslims and do something about it.
- If Muslims were politically active then we can have some influence in foreign policy, e.g. Highlight the Muslim issues and put massive pressure for action and justice for Kashmir, Chechnya and Palestine etc. Only then can we demand an end to Israeli occupation, argue strongly against the so-called war on terror at the highest level. Or you can just go to an anti-war march every year, feel good and tell your mates about it for years!
- By being active in the political structure Muslims can hold the elected MP and councillors to account. They are there to deal with your concerns but by staying away from politics you are letting them get away with doing nothing. Do you know your local MP?Did he/she support the Iraq war? What did you do about it?What will you do now?
- If Muslims became politically active then there would be opportunities to debate issues in the mainstream media from a Muslim perspective.
- If most of the 2 million Muslims in the UK took political action together then we will become a force to be reckoned with and probably make the biggest voting bloc in the UK.
HOW CAN MUSLIMS BE POLITICALLY ACTIVE?
OK, you’re thinking “lets just say I agree with becoming politically active, but what can I actually do?”. You can do this by:
- Supporting and even joining politically active Muslim organisations. They lobby politicians, political parties and the government. They also encourage other Muslims to become politically active. They don’t tell you to just read prayer and the jobs done!
- Lobbying (trying to persuade and influence) your local MPs directly which will achieve influence and policy changes. Your concerns will be heard in the House of Commons!
- Only supporting politicians who support your cause, the concerns of the Muslims, regardless of the party.
- Having an organised opposition and plan of action against MPs, political activists, parties, institutions etc. who are Islamophobic.
- Joining a mainstream political party you can use that platform to encourage support for your cause. Select politicians that would support the Muslim cause.
WHY SHOULD I VOTE IN THIS GENERAL ELECTION?
- 1.Politics is involved in every aspect of life. We should choose people to represent us who agree with our concerns and can do something about them. It’s our responsibility to ensure that people we vote for listen to us.
- If you don't vote then you don't have a say, a voice or any influence. If ALL the Muslims used their votes in an effective and organised way then it would have influence and change policies. E.g. Vote out Jack Straw in Blackburn- one of the main men in UK responsible for taking Britain to war in Iraq!
- By voting somebody in or out will hold parties and politicians accountable. For example if you want Blair and Labour to pay for taking us to war, then now is your chance. If you don’t want Charles Clarke to get away with his ridiculous anti-terror laws then use your vote!
- If we don’t vote then anti-Muslim parties and politicians will not need too many votes to be successful. The likes of the BNP and other Islamophobic political figures will get their way and will harm the Muslims in the UK.
Okay, to sum up: Islam is not just about prayer and worship. Its about doing good in society, helping the Muslim cause and defending the Muslims at the highest level. This can only be achieved by being politically active. So the least you can do NOW is the following 3 points:
- On General election day make sure you vote! The Muslim vote is not cheap! It’s powerful so don’t waste it! Use it wisely.
- Get to know your politicians, councillors, the parties, the political system- do your research. Be totally aware of how politics affects your life and what you need to do and can do.
- Join a politically active Muslim organisation. Give your money, time and effort to their activities that concern the important Muslim issues in UK. For a full list of politically active organisations visit The Revival website.
So you still think politics is a waste of time? Fine, go away and watch EastEnders or football on the telly. Oh I forgot you need a TV licence. Guess what? That's politics!
NOTE: If you think voting and getting politically active in the UK is not 'Islamic' then visit our politics page on The Revival website which answers this issue.