Written by Jihad Turk
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinions/beliefs of Muslim Girl. However, Muslim Girl encourages all its readers to exercise your civic duty and vote.
This election is not over – not by a long shot. Some polls put Hillary ahead; others put Trump in the lead. Many American Muslims are conflicted on how to respond to the election cycle’s competing narratives – or whether to respond at all.
I believe it is a religious, moral and civic obligation for Muslims to vote in order to stop Trump. That means voting for Hillary. That’s reality, whether we like it or not.
I was a big Bernie supporter, but I’ve had to accept that on Nov. 8, he is not going to be President. We also have to accept that not only will neither Jill Stein, nor Gary Johnson be President, but that a vote for them (or no vote at all) is effectively voting for Trump.
This election isn’t just about politics anymore. Trump’s rampant Islamophobia has made this about the safety of our families and communities. We simply cannot afford to stay silent (or vote for a third party) and risk a Trump Presidency.
Déjà vu is an unsettling prospect. In 2000, George W. Bush won Florida with only 537 votes. Many Florida Muslims did not vote and yet several others voted for Ralph Nader, the third-party candidate and the equivalent of today’s Jill Stein.
When I was an Imam at the Islamic Center of Southern California, I wasn’t allowed to endorse candidates (there are strict electoral rules about non-profits campaigning for a particular candidate). Now I’m President at Bayan / Claremont School of Theology, I’m happy that I get to endorse Hillary.
None of this means that Hillary is an ideal candidate. And I can understand those who say that voting for Hillary to avoid Trump is sacrificing our brothers and sisters overseas (who will be on the receiving end of her foreign policies) to save ourselves.
Clearly, Hillary’s hawkishness is cause for reservations. As a Palestinian-American I’m very concerned by her posture towards the Palestinians (i.e. my family members). But in every foreign policy area, Trump’s stance is either unpredictable, or predictably worse. If Hillary’s position is to selectively intervene, Trump’s is to “bomb the shit out of them.” If Hillary will continue Obama’s drone strikes, Trump has said he will “take out terrorists’ families,” possibly with “bullets dipped in pig’s blood.”
And it’s not just Trump’s support for heavy-handed approaches and his extremely hostile rhetoric. He’s talked about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East like it would be a good thing.
We need to get real. We are dealing with limited choices for our next President. It is either Trump or Hillary. And anything other than a vote for Hillary is effectively a vote for Trump. We need to put our idealism to one side for two weeks and be honest about who is the best of the two candidates — for Muslims, and for America. In my opinion, this is a religious and moral obligation.
Don’t take my word for it — this is backed up, even by some of the most conservative scholars in Saudi Arabia. In a fatwa, Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Uthaymeen ruled: “I think that [participating in] elections is obligatory; we should appoint the one who we think is good, because if the good people abstain, who will take their place? Evil people will take their place.” In this election, it is clear who the evil candidate is.
We Muslims are meant to use our common sense to minimize harm to ourselves, even in the presence of two non-ideal options. This is an established principle of Islamic jurisprudence, in the same way that a starving person is obliged to eat un-slaughtered meat. It does not mean that he is endorsing eating un-slaughtered meat; he is endorsing the difference between these options which, in this case, is saving his life.
America needs to save its civic life. And with Islamophobic attacks on the rise, American Muslims need to save their lives. The only real option is to vote Hillary to stop Trump. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
Jihad Turk is President of Bayan Claremont, a graduate school designed to educate Muslim scholars and religious leaders. He previously served as the Director of Religious Affairs at the Islamic Center of Southern California, the oldest and largest mosque in the Los Angeles area.
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