As one of Canada’s most critical elections is fast approaching, Muslims are once again faced with the long debated question: is voting halal or haram? Muslim Political Engagement Group (MPEG) is a newly established non-for-profit organization that took it upon itself to facilitate an event where it tackles the long debated issue of voting. MPEG’s goal is to increase Canadian Muslim civic engagement. It also aims to encourage and support the engagement of journalists, bloggers, political science students and any student of a major that can engage and provide a voice for the Canadian Muslim community.
On Sunday, August 30th MPEG hosted an event at ISNA titled, Voting: Is It Halal or Haram? Do We Need to Vote to Protect Our Rights? The panel of speakers included Sh. Abdalla Idris, ISNA’s Executive Director, Dr. Samir Matar, a much respected Al Azhar scholar, and Sh. Mohamed Al-Osta who is working on his Masters in Sharia at AlMishkat University. The event promised the audience a time for questions and answers after the speakers expressed their opinions on the matter.
Nonetheless, as the host of the event received an emergency call forcing him to leave, the event faced multiple incidents of confusion. As a result, the Q&A session was not fulfilled. The discussion gradually turned into a heated debate where some speakers were not granted an equal amount of time to back up their arguments compared to the time granted to other speakers. Members of the organization then introduced themselves and addressed the major negative consequences of Bill C-51 and Bill C-24.
The event ended with mixed feelings of interest and passion, confusion, and frustration. MPEG certainly took a courageous step to cover one of the much heated debates in our community. Due to the sensitivity of the topic and the sudden disappearance of the host, one has to note that the outcome is understandable. Nonetheless, it was frustrating for the people who hoped to ask questions and express their opinions. The debate also did not reach a conclusion as to whether voting is haram or halal. Ultimately, many people left the event unsure of what to do in a time when Canadian Muslims are facing much political pressure.
Having said that, the event was certainly very important as it tackles an unsolved issue in our community and MPEG did a good job addressing it. Educating the public about the two controversial bills and the how abouts of voting was essential and required. The organization’s efforts are much needed in our community given that the Muslim representation in Canadian politics is nearly invisible. After all, this topic is undoubtedly affecting our civic engagement as Canadian citizens even arguably as Muslim citizens in the developed world.