The Allure of Parliamentary Politics

The Sharia Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid website has issued a new fatwa today by Abu Mundhir al-Shinqiti. The fatwa rules on the permissibility of Muslims electing representatives to parliaments and serving in those bodies. Since the Minbar’s Sharia Council has become the jihadis’ go-to resource for religious opinions, its fatwas on the Arab Spring matter in jihadi circles (see Joas’ and Brynjar’s earlier posts on the council’s output). This may become even more true in the months ahead if al-Qaeda continues to fade as the vanguard of the jihadi movement.

Unsurprisingly, the council rules that it is forbidden for Muslims to participate in a parliamentary system, even if it is to make the constitution more Islamic (the reasons are the same as those outlined in my Foreign Affairs article). It also enjoins Muslims to focus on fighting in “lands of jihad,” which is somewhat at odds with al-Shinqiti’s earlier ruling that mujahids should stay and fight in Egypt.

Of more interest than the council’s ruling is the question to which it responds. It gives a sense of the misgivings some jihadis have about their leaderships’ hard-line stance when there are real opportunities to advance their agenda to create an Islamic state. It is also an astute take on the political maneuverings of some Salafis in Egypt. Finally, it shows how the loyalties of some jihadis are split between Salafi and jihadi scholars:

Some of our noble shaykhs who have educated us have conducted ijtihad on this issue and sanctioned participation in the Egyptian legislative council (parliament) for a single term. That will be the term in which the new positive constitution for the country will be written for the coming period. They have sanctioned this for the sake of drafting legal material that is closer to Islam than secularism, although they recognize that participating here [Egypt] means the entry of some monotheists into elections and not just voting (although some differ on this matter).

What is your opinion? Do we agree or disagree with their ijtihad?

What is your opinion on the question of participating in the new political parties that they are presently establishing in the country, especially the Light Party and the Virtue Party, which are aligned with the well-known salafi mission in this country and are famous throughout the land?

What is your opinion on how we participate in the political movement after the election, knowing that the former regime used to imprison for years anyone it suspected of loving or supporting the mujahids or those who held their pure beliefs?

Or do we limit our goals to only seeking a way to go to the land of jihad?

I urge you to reply quickly since events are developing rapidly.


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