From Issue: 1019 [Read full issue]


The democratic mechanism in elections and decision-making is voting, and its known and accepted form is "one person, one vote." This procedure was suggested by Caliph Umar for the committee that he appointed to determine who would succeed him as Caliph after being stabbed. It was further evident from many historical precedents that the Prophet and the early Caliphs followed the visible majority in making their decisions. The traditions of the Prophet teach that one has to follow the overwhelming majority (al-sawad al-azam) when there is a serious spilt.

To those who argue that "one person, one vote" makes the judgment of the most knowledgeable person equal to that of the most ignorant one, one may reply by saying that, in relation to the common interest of the people, any adult with common sense and civic abilities and experience can make a judgment. Campaigns that support different candidates' views and the mass media provide valuable information for a serious voter. Any discrimination in the votes, on whatever grounds, may be arbitrary. Judgment about a public matter of an uneducated but experienced person may be more sound than that of an inexperienced university graduate.

Compiled From:
"Islam in a Modern State: Democracy and the Concept of Shura" - Fathi Osman