On Political Participation
Q: Nowadays some say it is imperative to support a political philosophy. What do you say?
Sometimes political participation may be imperative. Every believer should vote and participate in the decision making process regarding the general public as it is a duty of any citizen. A believer would be responsible if she or he does not fulfill this assignment. Not only that, one should also inform their parents and other close relatives about the importance of this matter.
However who should vote for what party is not my business. Throughout my life, I always found it essential to avoid not only publicly commenting on it but even making a slightest bit of an innuendo. I am not saying “Vote for this party, or do not vote for that party!” All I am saying is, “Voting is a duty for every citizen, so everyone should do their job, or otherwise they will be responsible”. That is as much as I participate in politics…
On the matter of supporting a specific party; our interest in the elections start only a week before the election date. People like us can talk among themselves and discuss what party they should vote for and then they go and vote on the Election Day. After that, they don’t discuss it a bit. In the real democratic countries this matter is handled like that. As an example, when a citizen of the US arrives at Turkey, and asked about what party he did support, “Are you a republican or a democrat?” He replies as “I don’t support either!” When asked, “Have you not voted? Who did you vote for?” he says “I voted for Kennedy, but I don’t think about the rest, as my business and interest in elections is just that, nothing more!”
As such, we have very important duties in our own life that we need to focus on. While we are doing our own job, this or that political thought should not interfere with that. This very important duty is related to our spiritual life. We mostly keep ourselves busy with that.
These principles are important for every believer. Because believers have very important duties within the domain of heart and soul; duties like performing the daily prayers regularly, cleansing one’s heart, paying close attention to one’s connection with the Almighty and considering any disconnection in that regard a fatal failure. These are continuous ongoing duties of a believer that should not ever be interrupted. But elections come only every four years. The campaigns last and get intensified within the last week. Then people vote and the fight is over. That’s what smart people do. Others, who are foolish, keep talking about after everything is over, badger others, keep singing the same tune –of disunity, and promote hatred and waste their lives in this fight.
Let’s think about the Messenger (peace be upon him). Before Uhud he recommends to stay in Medina and not go out to Uhud. In response to this, especially the youth say “No lets go out and fight and stop them all!” The results of the consultation come out as the way the young wanted. They all go out to Uhud, but right before the fight, the hypocrites leave the front. At this point anyone in the position of the Messenger could have got mad. Although he never gets mad about that, the Almighty warns the believers in the Holy Quran (3:159) “It was by a mercy from God that (at the time of the setback), you (O Messenger) were lenient with them (your Companions). Had you been harsh and hard-hearted, they would surely have scattered away from about you. Then pardon them, pray for their forgiveness, and take counsel with them in the affairs (of public concern); and when you are resolved (on a course of action), put your trust in God. Surely God loves those who put their trust (in Him).” This is the way taught to the Messenger (peace be upon him). Now we should evaluate our own situation accordingly and try to understand what I am trying to say in my above comments.
This is a partial translation of an excerpt “Siyasete Bakis” from Cizgimizi Hecelerken by Fethullah Gulen.
SOURCE: Who is Fethullah Gulen? http://whoisgulen.com/on-political-particapation/
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