Saturday, April 9, 2011

Valiante's Balancing Act

Writing in local Muslim rag The Muslim, Wahida Valiante, head of the Canadian Islamic Congress, urges the faithful to vote for candidates who most closely conform to Quranic ideals so that the land can attain the proper equilibrium:
...This brings me to our Canadian election and why it is crucial that Muslims must vote. It has taken Arabs 60 years to demand the freedom, equality, justice and rule of law that we here in Canada too often take for granted. Voting is one of our most basic rights and responsibilities in a democracy and for Muslims, our religion also demands it.
Islam is a religion of peace. And since peace is neither possible nor sustainable unless it is based on fairness, balance and justice, Islam places particular emphasis on the principle that Muslims must be standard-bearers for justice. The Qur’an clearly states that God sent messengers with His guidance and taught them to maintain balance so that people everywhere would be able to practice justice and human equity in their societies:

“Certainly We sent Our messengers with clear signs, and sent down with them the Book and the balance so that people may conduct themselves with equity.” (Qur’an, 57:25)

We need to have our say on issues that concern us and all Canadians and to elect those representatives who will do the best job of speaking up for their constituents. To that end we must exercise our best judgment when deciding who will get our votes. Candidates should be evaluated primarily based on their platform and (in the case of incumbents or former MPs) on their track record in dealing with important issues. Moreover, we need to consider each candidate from a Qur’anic perspective of how he or she has met the criteria of promoting goodness, discouraging evil, and maintaining balance, justice, equity and peace in society. The most balanced and practical approach to choosing a candidate is through an “issue-based evaluation,” rooted in the Qur’anic principles of justice, balance, equity and peace as is illustrated by the following verse:

O believers, be determined practitioners of justice as witnesses for Allah's (God’s) sake, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or near relatives; whether it concerns rich or poor, Allah (God) is more considerate of both of them. Therefore, do not follow a passion or desire lest you lose the balance. And if you distort it or disregard it, then surely Allah is well-aware of what you do. (Qur’an, 4:135)

Muslims are commanded to practice justice and maintain balance, moderation and equilibrium in society, both individually in their personal dealings, as well as collectively in public affairs:

Verily, Allah commands justice, patience in performing your duties, and giving to those close to you, while He forbids evil deeds, bad behaviour, and oppression and violating other’s rights and freedom. He admonishes you so that you heed the advice. (Qur’an, 16:90)

Our responsibility as Muslim citizens also demands that we vote for those who will apply Qur’anic principles (Qur’an, 4:5) to contemporary issues in their electoral jurisdiction. Consequently our vote is a trust that belongs to the best candidate. Therefore we must also choose among the available candidates with justice (Qur’an, 4:58) because to do so is a religious exercise of judgment, and justice demands that we select the best among candidates...
And if they do that, perhaps one day they may hold the "balance" of power.

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