Forest Gate Muslim group defends Islam’s democratic traditions

07:00 30 May 2014

Islamic group staff members 
Zahid Rehman, Ashar Saeed, Ajmal Khan, and Ali Khan.

Islamic group staff members Zahid Rehman, Ashar Saeed, Ajmal Khan, and Ali Khan.


A Muslim group in Forest Gate says Muslims taking part in elections has a tradition going back to the Prophet Muhammad.

Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for Minhaj-ul-Quran, said the idea that voting in the local elections or any elections is Haram (forbidden) in Islam is a misinterpretation of the faith.

“Muslims should take part in voting and the political process,” he said.

“We encourage voting and we host debates at our centre. Last year we hosted Boris Johnson and had a Question Time with the local community at our Mosque in Forest Gate.

“Next month we’re starting a radio station that will be covering Ramadan.

“We’re planning to invited Boris Johnson back, along with the Labour Party, the Conservative Party and a few others, to come on and discuss local issues, discuss local problems, or even political things effecting Muslims in east London.”

Mr Mursaleen said extreme Muslim groups that say voting is forbidden are mistaken.

He said: “It is all allowed in Islam. Groups that are against it have a wrong interpretation of Islam.

“They say it’s against Islam, they want a Khalifah (Islamic state). But this is completely going against the teachings of Islam.”

He explained there are some things forbidden in the Qur’an, such as drinking alcohol and eating pork, but anything not mentioned is allowed.

“Voting is not mentioned as being prohibited. In fact, the Prophet Muhammad and his followers took park in voting.

“There were elections in his time. There was even a parliament where women were voting.

“During that time they used to call it Shura, but it’s like a parliament.”

Minhaj-ul-Quran was founded by Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri, a Pakistani theologian who authored a fatwa against terrorism and suicide-bombing in 2010.

Earlier this year it published a book on Muhammad as part of its work to counter what it considers false interpretations of Islam.

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