Yes, you will end up in Hell if you participate in the forthcoming 2023 elections as voters, contestants or ad-hoc staff. You may find this shocking. I find it shocking too. It is a recent fatwa (religious verdict) by some scholars. The evidence for this verdict is very simple: Democracy is Kufr (disbelief). Just like Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; democracy is a religion and its adherents are called democrats. Like synagogues, churches, and mosques; the houses of worship of the democrats in Nigeria are National and State Assemblies, Aso Villa, Government Houses, and the Courts.
Are you still not convinced that democracy is disbelief? Okay. Take this: like the Hebrew Scriptures, the Bible, and the Qur’an, democracy has its books of worship. Interestingly, these books, unlike the Qur’an, have different versions. The one in use in Nigeria is called the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It was created (or should I say revealed since it is a religious book?) in 1999—now amended. It has many secondary or explanatory documents that shed more light on some of its provisions just as the Hadith explains the Qur’an.
We can therefore say the books of hadith of Nigerian Constitution include the Electoral Law, Public Service Act, Acts of Parliament, Legal Precedents, and Criminal Code Act etc. It is known, by necessity, that the Hadith cannot contradict the Qur’an, if it does, it has to be harmonized. And if that is impossible, the Hadith, to the extent of its disagreement with the Qur’an, is considered null and avoid. Similarly, any other laws in Nigeria that is contrary to any of the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) is, to the extent of the contradiction, declared null and void.
What is said above is meant to illustrate, for clarity, the position of those scholars who assert that democracy is Kufr (disbelief) and when you participate in it you are automatically qualified for Hell. In fact, no further examination. Muslims’ participation in election (democracy) is just the requirement for admission into Hell. By Hell, I mean Hell Fire. In Nigeria, Nigerian Muslims are admitted into Hell every four years. In some countries, it is every five years.
Any willing candidate for Hell Fire in Nigeria should get their documents ready. Registration is on. The new admission is next year—2023 general elections. Entry requirements for any aspiring candidate for Hell are majorly the Permanent Voters Card (PVC), being a Nigerian Muslim, and attainment of voting age (18 year old). If you are under 18, you cannot vote. If you do, that is underage voting and it is punishable. The punishment is still Hell. This is because the valid voters who are of age 18 and above are automatically going to Hell for voting. So the underage voters will be going to hellish Hell for committing sin along with Kufr (disbelief).
Please, before you call me Boko Haram, this isn’t my opinion nor is the verdict from me. It is the position of those scholars who said democracy is Kufr (disbelief) and participation in election, which is around the corner, is correspondingly adjudged as disbelief. Indisputably, in the Islamic Theology, whoever commits acts of disbelief goes to Hell—for, it is the greatest sin.
Readers will be wondering: who are these scholars? That should not interest us and that isn’t my focus. My focus is to expose the dangers inherent in this idea: ‘voters commit an act of disbelief and will go to Hell’. While I do not intend to mention names of these scholars, and I will not—God willing—, It is important, at least to avoid generalization, to give some specific descriptions of these scholars and where they are found.
Lest someone think all Nigerian Islamic scholars hold this dangerous belief, these scholars are majorly found in the South West of Nigeria including Kwara State (my state of origin). To be more specific, they are called Salafists. Don’t get me wrong. The Salafists are of two categories, or should I say three? We have the Hell Gate Keepers described above. We have those who are absolutely neutral—they are neither political nor apolitical. Yet, we have those who are political. This last category are majorly found in the North of Nigeria. A handful of them are also found in the South West.
Recently, I asked a friend of mine in the North who claims to be a Salafi if he subscribes to that group of Salafism which holds that Muslims’ participation in democratic system is disbelief. To my utter surprise, my question looked strange to him and outrageous. He retorted that there is no such Salafi doctrine that says one should not participate in politics. He further explains that though democracy is not Sharia and not even comparable, it is an evil that must be tolerated. However, invoking the Doctrine of Necessity and other Islamic principles that revolve around public interest, he argued that, participation in election as electorate and aspirants becomes imperative for the Muslims.
I understand his perspective which is, to me, not in dispute. My confusion, and I am actually helpless, is how to know the authentic Salafists. I hope someone can help me out. I further learn that there are serious Salafists and the unserious ones. Mind you, these categorizations are very important vis-a-vis Muslims’ participation in the upcoming general elections. I do not also know if all these categories of Salafists are going to heaven or some are going to Hell. Let’s assume they all go to Paradise, which group will enter first? Anyone who is willing should please educate me more on Salafism. I think the challenges faced by Muslims are more than these indolent theological debates on democracy.
Plus, how and when did democracy transform to religion in which Muslim participants automatically become apostates who must be ushered into Jahannam (Hell)? It will be a disservice to Islam and to Nigeria if Muslim political scientists—especially those with bias in Islamic Political Thought—do not wade into this discussion to lend their perspectives and set the record straight. Thus, for me, wading into this issue is more of a duty. I have spent a reasonably number of years on earth studying politics and its science. I have taught it also for many years; and because of my Islamic background, I took it upon myself to research, unceasingly, on Islamic Political Thought. It is always my area of research interest. I think I have something to say.
And because I have been a teacher before becoming a writer, it is important to have an introduction to a trivial-turned-controversial topic like this. This column is meant to serve as a preamble to the main discussion which follows subsequently by God’s leave. I shall address myself to concepts like ‘Democracy’, ‘Modern State’, ‘Dar-ul-Islam’, ‘Dar-ul-Kufr’, ‘Public Interest’ and allied concepts. Watch out!