So there I was, in zen harmony with my Muslim-American (or American-Muslim) identity, choosing to be all that I could be and exercising my right to abstain from voting altogether when my Facebook feed was buzzing with a strange idea (not a fatwa, but an idea) – voting in elections was wajib!
What! Holy moly! If don’t vote in the election, I’m allowing bombs to fall on Muslims around the world, I’m ripping apart the threads that make the fabric of my cushy western lifestyle, and Muslim politicos may *gasp* unfriend me!
This means if I don’t participate in every local county election, by golly I’m a sinner! If I don’t participate in every state referendum, I’m a sinner! If I don’t put together my own super-secret super-pac to help shape the agenda of a leaderless western Muslim diaspora, I’m a sinner! And if I ever use diaspora in a sentence, I’m trying to impress you with a vocabulary I don’t have (so don’t fall for it). Hopefully, that doesn’t make me a sinner (at least, not until the academic thought police show up on my door and make excessively verbose SAT-level vocabulary wajib for the good of the Ummah).
Look, I’m all for Muslim minorities engaging the political process if they feel this is the best way to bring about positive change domestically and internationally. There exists loads of support from scholars of all labels, and if you’re doing it, go in with guns blazing – hit up the school boards, the county board elections, the state senate elections, get on the board of directors for your home owners association, and above all, lead with proper Islamic manners and ethics.
But I sincerely beg of you, please don’t make a mockery of our faith by making it wajib on me to get out and vote to help the Muslim Ummah. There is no consensus on who to vote for, or why, and if I were to vote Romney in this election, I strongly suspect (being fully aware our religion doesn’t sanction suspicion of one another) the “must-vote” camp would throw apoplectic fits.
If you think that by voting you’re stopping bombings and harm from happening to Muslims, then let’s review – Bush Sr (Gulf War), Clinton (8 years of sanctions, 1.5 million Iraqi civilians dead and sanctions + bombs on Afghanistan), Bush Jr (Guantanamo, Gulf War II, Afghanistan again), and Obama (Drone Wars, Kill Lists, re-written rules on the definition of civilian casualties). And I realize the fear is greater with Romney than Obama, but let’s not kid ourselves along the way – one way or another, you’ll have a butcher of Muslim children and international law, it’s really just asking which one is worse.
Vote your conscience and go Green if you like, vote for the lesser of two evils because you feel in practical reality it’s a two party system, or vote if you feel a civic duty to help your fellow man (and yes, woman too). And if you want to stay home, then stay home. But please, back off on making this thing wajib, it’s excessive.
Besides, I’m not a female voter in Ohio.
PS: As my wife has pointed out in the comments section, I’m still a Canadian citizen and haven’t yet applied for my US citizenship (though I’ve lived here since my elementary school days), but that’s more due to laziness than anything else. Barring that, I’d still be at home.