• Are elections, to choose your leader, allowed in Islam?

    I have been reading some contradictory opinions on this, on the one hand we have the so called fundamentalists who label it as un-islamic and state that only caliph can rule muslims who is chosen by a group of clerics. On the other hand we have others who say that there is no clear rule of succession in Islam and all previous "Islamic" governments have been infact monarchies and that the act of Election is in effect like giving Bayath to the ruler.

  • Is democracy such that the constitution makes it clear that no law can be passed against Islam still shirk?

    I read the answers given here What's the limit of democracy in Islam?

    And understood that Democracy in it's most pure form is actually un-islamic. But what is the verdict regarding many "Islamic" countries which argue that since the consitution is based on Islam, the law creating bodies can never pass any law against Islam and is therefore a kind of Islamic democracy.

4 Answers 4


Are elections, to choose your leader, allowed in Islam?

Scholars have agreed and are not in difference, that election is 100% valid when restricted to the Ahlul Hulli Al Uqd (أهل الحل والعقد) who are the group which has the power the choose and give Bay'ah to the Imam, and take it away. Scholars have differed when it comes to election when made general for the people.

The main two opinions that contemporary scholars have, is one that it is valid, or two it is not valid. Each have their own proofs and evidences, and the most likely correct of the opinions is that which the majority of the contemporary scholars hold, that is it is valid/allowed.

Although I am in some agreeance with those who say it is not allowed, I take the opinion that it is allowed, so to answer your question, yes elections are allowed to choose your leader. But of course it is not done in the same way it is done in western countries and their democracy, but forced to adhere to the rules of the Sharia, and clear evidences and proofs. There are also two Asl to this

  1. That by using elections to fulfill a benefit of the Shar', the evil that may come out of it should not outweigh the benefit and good.

  2. That if there are any better ways to fulfill the requirement of selecting leadership, then that should be taken overall.

This arabic PDF goes into the details of the subject of election in Islam and fiqh, and our modern day.

Is democracy such that the constitution makes it clear that no law can be passed against Islam still shirk?

All of Democracy is un-islamic and clearly contradictory to islam, Democracy is the giving of the power of leading a nation to it's people, which not only includes the choosing of the leader, but also so called "Freedoms" or "rights" which are contradictory to the guidance Allah provided for all humanity to follow. It is impossible for a "constitution" to be based on Islam and Democracy at the same time, and even if we say that we can make it so laws cannot be past against islam or contradictory to it, then this is not Islamic Democracy, actually it isn't Democracy at all, one can call it any name one wishes.

Perhaps it is of benefit to look at the wikipedia page on Democracy. Here is the arabic wikipedia page for those who don't understand english.

Note: That technically, a constitution of a "Islamic country" shouldn't be based on Islam, but is Islam.

  • Freedoms and rights are decided in a legal process in countries, but if the majority of people are choosing something wrong, then forcing then into something they don't like may increase the dissatisfaction, and won't necessarily increase their iman. In addition, the ruler even may impose unjust rulings and laws that might be un-Islamic. In addition, there was nothing like Ahlul halli wa allaqd in the times of major caliphates, they made bay'ah with normal people.
    – Ghasan
    Apr 18, 2014 at 15:20
  • @Ghasan If the people choose something wrong then that has no weight as we are to enforce what is right and as we know from the Quran that the Majority of the people will not like it. Furthermore any ruling or laws that are introduced must be based on the asl of whether there is more evil in it then good, or more good than evil. Furthermore it is not fully accurate to say that Ahlul halli wa allaqd did not exist during the time of the Major Khulafa', as they existed during the times of the four righteous Khulafa'.
    – مجاهد
    Apr 18, 2014 at 15:31
  • the term Ahlul halli wa allaqd was invented later on, but there must be a group which is in the accordance with the requirements of Ahlul halli wa allaqd, or some of them, if not then the influence of the leadership is meaningless. Furthermore the Ba'yah is of two types, one is done by Ahlul halli wa allaqd and that, and one with the normal people, the second is a Bay'ah of obedience.
    – مجاهد
    Apr 18, 2014 at 15:33
  • 2
    The major question remains: who chooses "Ahlul halli wa allaqd"? Apr 18, 2014 at 17:50
  • @SystemDown I see that as a separate question, i did not add that to my answer because the user wasn't asking about that.
    – مجاهد
    Apr 18, 2014 at 20:22

Is it allowed?

Yes/No. Ultimately yes.

No because:

Are you allowed to choose who will be the prophet? Who will be prophet's successor? Absolutely not. Why? Because normal people can't see what's inside a person's heart. That knowledge only belongs to Allah.

وَاللَّهُ عَلِيمٌ بِذَاتِ الصُّدُورِ

And Allah is Knowing of that within the hearts.

Ali 'Imran

Aside from that not all people are capable of making choices. As an example look around, people elect presidents who have done a great number of terrible things.

Yes because:

At the end, every community/country needs a leader. Without a leader there will be chaos.

أبو البختریّ: دَخَل رَجُلٌ المَسْجِدَ فَقَالَ: لاَ حُکْمَ إلاّ للّه‏ِِ، ثُمَّ قَالَ آخَرُ: لاَ حُکْمَ إلاّ للّه‏ِِ، فَقَالَ عَلِیٌّ: لاَ حُکْمَ إلاّ للّه‏ِِ «إنَّ وَعْدَ اللّه حَقٌّ وَ لاَ یَسْتَخِفَنَّکَ الّذِینَ لا یُوقِنُونَ»، فَمَا تَدْرُونَ مَا یَقُولُ هؤلاَءِ، یَقُولُونَ: لاَ إمَارَةَ. أیُّهَا النَّاسُ ،إنَّهُ لاَ یُصْلِحُکُمْ إلاَّ أمِیرٌ بَرٌّ أوْ فَاجِرٌ . قَالُوا : هذَا البَرُّ فَقَدْ عَرَفْنَاهُ ، فَمَا بَالُ الفَاجِرِ ؟ فَقَالَ : یَعْمَلُ المُؤْمِنُ ، وَیَمْلَأُ لِلْفَاجِرِ ، ویُبَلِّغُ اللّه‏ُ الأجَلَ ، وَتَأمَنُ سُبُلُکُمْ ، وَتَقُومُ أسْواقُکُمْ ، وَیُجْبى فَیْئُکُمْ ، وَیُجَاهَدُ عَدُوُّکُمْ ، ویُؤخَذُ لِلضَّعِیفِ مِنَ الشَّدِیدِ مِنْکُم

A man entered the mosque and said: "affairs belong to none but Allah". Another said: "no one is deserving of command but Allah".

Then Imam Ali (PBUH) said: "Indeed command belongs to no one but Allah "for verily the promise of Allah is true: nor let those shake thy firmness, who have (themselves) no certainty of faith." You do not know what these say. They say : there is no need for sovereign/governing. Oh people! No one corrects you and brings reform to you other than a leader; Good or bad."

They asked: "What you say about a just/good leader is correct. But what about a bad/wrongdoer leader?"

He said: "A believer will be doing his own and a wrongdoer will enjoy. Allah will bring his defined destiny. Your roads will be secure. Your markets will flourish. Your costs will be gathered. Your enemies will be fought and and right of a weak will be took from the powerful"

Long story short.

  1. We can't claim the leader we choose is the divine leader/successor of Allah
  2. We need a leader. Good or bad
  3. Conclusion: Choose a leader, but don't think of him as a divine leader. He's not blessed with revelations or aided with Gabriel or protected from sins like our prophet. He's just another person with faults and no representative of Allah.

You said:

And understood that Democracy in it's most pure form is actually un-islamic

That's not accurate. In Shia Islam, while the Imam is always the spiritual leader. He won't become the actual governor/ruler unless people want him to be the leader. Examples: Imam Ali became the leader after Uthman was killed and people rushed to his house. Imam Hussain tried to become leader after he received letters from people to come and take the kingdom from Yazid son of Muawiah. Before these, since people didn't want the Imam to become their leader the Imams didn't take a physical action. Example: The other Imams 9 Imams after Hussain son of Ali didn't not ever seek to take control of the government.

My point is that in Shia Islam there is some democracy. If people want an Imam to be leader then he will seek it. If they don't he would just go back to his normal day, teaching students, spending time with his family, make a living by hard work. He won't start attacking terrorizing the current ruler (no matter how evil he is) just because he's chosen by Allah.


The Islamic political process for choosing the caliph or any ruler could best be termed as a meritocracy. The selection decision should be determined by shura (mutual consultation) of Islamic scholars and, if any still exist, the sahaba (companions of the prophet) (Tabari Vol.7).

“Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation” (Quran 42:38).

The prophet himself was commanded by Allah swt to consult with his companions in matters for which there was no revelation:

“and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast Taken a decision put thy trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust (in Him)” (Quran 3:159).

If the prophet himself, who was receiving revelation from God, was humble enough to seek advice from his companions before making decisions on matters large and small, then noone can make decisions on government in isolation whether it be choosing the leaders, or management of the government.

The ideal Islamic society should approximate perfect justice where the rights of all members of the umma are respected, and no one violates the life, liberty, and property of another. One can say that in an ideal Islamic system there is zero tyranny. Each person would have the right to be consulted on matters that directly affect them. That is because each person is given guidance from Allah swt:

“Our Lord is He Who gave to each (created) thing its form and nature, and further, gave (it) guidance" (Quran 20:50), so deriving collective guidance for a group is done through mutual consultation. This would apply for choosing a leader as well.

The selection of government leader by shura was demonstrated by how the khalifa were chosen from the Rashideen. All of the rightly guided caliphs, known as ‘rashideen’, were very careful and sensitive regarding the caliph selection process. The rashideen; Abu Bakr, Umar ibn Khattab, Uthman ibn Affan, and Ali ibn Abu Talib; all suffered, fought, and made much sacrifices in the development of the Muslim state. They all had much skin in the game, were the closest companions to the prophet, and had the protection and survival of the Muslim state the utmost priority on their minds when choosing caliphs. They would nominate and qualify each other instead of self endorsement. This was the case after the death of Muhammed pbuh, where the muhajir sahabi (the companions who immigrated to Medina from Mecca) had a meeting with the ansari sahabi (the companions from Medina) in the house of Saqifa in 632 AD (Tabari Vol.9). Umar nominated Abu Bakr but Abu Bakr insisted on Umar. They both were overwhelmed with the responsibility for the umma and knew they couldn’t fill the prophet’s shoes. Similarly, mutual consultation among the senior sahaba was how Umar and Uthman were selected (Tabari Vol.10). Ali ibn Abu Talib, the prophet’s cousin and son in law, was actually elected by the umma of Medina in an example of near democratic election.

So, raw elections as practiced in the west would not be halal, but a qualified election/consultation political process based on merit would work. All leaders would have to be chosen by the umma based on merit. There shouldn’t be dictators and tyrants abusing Islam for political purposes as is happening now and throughout much of Islamic history. The caliphates would have been much closer to true Islamic shariah where justice would have prevailed economically, politically, and socially.


Voting in democratic Elections is considered major disbelive and major sirkh without any doubt.

ALLAH has stated many times that the right of legislation is up to him.

Whoever declares himself as an legislator besides ALLAH and he legislates Laws, not to mention changing the whole system to something else, which contradict the sharia turns into a TAGHUT.

The ruling of Taghut is also applied on anybody who is supporting any Tawaghit (pl. Taghut). Voting is not only supporting Tawaghit it is giving them the right to speak and act on your behalf.

Whoever refuses to give to Hukm of Kafir on any Taghut is a Kafir. Since this is the first part of the Shahada.

From this we can derive, that the ruler who rules by other laws than those of the sharia is a Kafir and a Taghut. The person who is support the ruler and his false system is a Kafir and a Taghut. The person who is voting the ruler who is a taghut is a kafir and taghut. The person who does not give one of these people the hukm of kafir is a kafir himself, unknowingly oder knowingly.


Or have they other deities who have ordained for them a religion (deen) to which Allah has not consented? But if not for the decisive word, it would have been concluded between them. And indeed, the wrongdoers will have a painful punishment. [42:21]

[We said], "O David, indeed We have made you a successor upon the earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah ." Indeed, those who go astray from the way of Allah will have a severe punishment for having forgotten the Day of Account. [38:26]

He has ordained for you of religion (deen) what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus - to establish the religion (sharia) and not be divided therein. Difficult for those who associate others with Allah is that to which you invite them. Allah chooses for Himself whom He wills and guides to Himself whoever turns back [to Him]. [42:13]

And Pharaoh said, "Let me kill Moses and let him call upon his Lord. Indeed, I fear that he will change your religion (deen) or that he will cause corruption in the land." [40:26]

And when they are called to [the words of] Allah and His Messenger to judge between them, at once a party of them turns aside [in refusal]. [24:48]

And in anything over which you disagree - its ruling is [to be referred] to Allah (the HUKM). [Say], "That is Allah, my Lord; upon Him I have relied, and to Him I turn back." [42:10]

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to Allah ] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of Allah, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price. And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed (sharia) - then it is those who are the disbelievers. [5:44]

You worship not besides Him except [mere] names you have named them, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. Legislation (hukm) is for nobody, but for Allah . He has commanded that you worship not except Him. That is the correct religion, but most of the people do not know. [12:40]

And no sign comes to them from the signs of their Lord except that they are from it turning away. [36:46]

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