Islam is a comprehensive and complete religion that covers all aspects of life whether social, economic, religious, and political or any other aspect. Thus, practicing politics is not haram as long as it is in accordance with the teachings and the rules of Islam.
Regarding this issue the eminent Muslim scholar, Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, states: “It should be made clear to all people that Islam addresses all aspects of life; political, social, economical and other aspects. Once we claim that Islam has nothing to do with politics, then it ceases to be a comprehensive divinely revealed course.
As for the claim that Islam deals with political aspects of life, there are two reasons for that:
1- Islam has a vivid stance on politics and a direct ruling in matters that are considered to be political. Islam is not merely dogmas or acts of worship that has nothing to do with life; rather, it is a comprehensive course of life for man. “Islam is a comprehensive system, dealing with all spheres of life; it is a state and a homeland, or government and a nation; it is a morality and power, or mercy and justice; it is a culture and law, or knowledge and jurisprudence; it is material and wealth, or gain and prosperity; it is Jihad and a call, and finally it is a true belief and worship, as highly clarified by Imam Hasan Al-Banna.
2- The true character of a Muslim as required by Islam obliges him to be a man of politics. Every Muslim is required to fulfill the Islamic obligation of commanding good and forbidding evil. Also, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to offer advice to all his Muslim brothers and the leaders of the Muslim nation. We, Muslims are also commanded in surat Al-`Asr to enjoin good and stick to patience. Allah says: “By the declining day. Lo! man is in a state of loss. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance” (Al-`Asr: 1-3) The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) urges every Muslim to fight mischief and combat injustice and never accept oppression. Upon being asked about the best form of Jihad, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The best form of Jihad is upholding the truth before a despotic ruler.” It is also reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “The master of martyrs is Hamzah and comes after him a man who gets killed just because he stands to a despotic ruler commanding him to do good and give up evil.”
Islam implants in the soul of every Muslim the will and the determination to combat evil and evildoers and fight oppression and oppressors. In urging Muslims to fight for those who are weak and oppressed in the land, the Qur’an says: “How should ye not fight for the cause of Allah and of the feeble among men and of the women and the children who are crying: Our Lord! Bring us forth from out this town of which the people are oppressors! Oh, give us from Thy presence some protecting friend! Oh, give us from Thy presence some defender!” (An-Nisa’: 75)
It is an utter mistake and idle thinking to believe that the domain of prohibition in Islam is confined to committing adultery, drinking wine or the like only; rather, it’s of wider dimension. It extends to all acts that involve humiliating peoples, rigging the votes, oppressing the individuals and casting them in the dungeons of prisons without committing any crime; all these are apparent forms of evil. Appointing incompetent people and dismissing, without justifiable cause, the qualified ones is surely a sinful act, and, thus, a form of evil.
Thus, it has become crystal clear that evil which should be eradicated and blotted out involves many issues that form the core of politics. How can a true Muslim evade facing all these atrocities and evils, claiming that it falls outside the scope of Islam? The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is reported to have said: “If my followers fail to stand up to an oppressor and say to him: ‘You are an oppressor’, then there will be no good in them.” (Reported by Ahmad in his Musnad on the authority of Abdullah ibn `Amr) A true Muslim can never stay idle before evil, be it of social nature, political, economic or whatever. He is to combat it with his hand, if not, with his tongue, if not, then with his heart.
What urges a Muslim to engage in politics is the fact that he/she is required to show care for others and concern himself/herself with the problems of his/her Muslim brothers, for all Muslims constitute one brotherhood. In the Hadith, we read: “He who does not concern himself with the affairs of Muslim can never be one of them.” In addition, all Muslims are commanded to combat political oppression in the same way they are commanded to combat social injustice. Both an oppressor and his advocate are punished severely. Allah says: “ And incline not toward those who do wrong lest the Fire touch you, and ye have no protecting friends against Allah, and afterward ye would not be helped.” (Hud: 113)
It goes without saying that it is the responsibility of every Muslim to lead his life in an Islamic state governed by the Qur’an and Sunnah and in a society that is established on the Shari`ah. This involves that the law of the state be derived from the Islamic Shari`ah and all people there be judged according to the stipulations of Islam. So all this makes it clear that there is nothing wrong for a Muslim to practice politics in addition to observing his religious duties. To make this clear, in abiding by the theme of the following verse in surat Al-Ma’idah that reads: “ Whoso judgeth not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers” (Al-Ma’idah: 44), he will be considered practicing politics as this represents a direct objection to any form of ruler’s judgments that contradict the law of Allah.
now, the question we’d like to pose is “Is politics a bad thing?” The clear answer to this is that politics is a branch of knowledge full of great benefits, for it involves arranging people’s affairs in the best way. Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim is quoted as saying: “ Politics that aim at arranging peoples affairs and securing their welfare is really something good so long as it goes in consistence with Shari`ah. It is even a part of Shari`ah. It is called “politics” only for the sake of definition.” (At-Turuq al-Hukmiyyah fi as-Siyasah ash-Shar`iyyah by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah)
In conclusion, it is to be noted that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was a great man of Shari`ah-oriented politics besides his being a teacher, a guide and a great leader. The Rightly-Guided Caliphs were also men of politics. Their policy was establishing justice and mercy. Due to their facing many persecution and torture at the hands of rulers, many people refrained from politics; such brutality orchestrated against many scholars made them feel nonchalance towards politics, to the extent that the prominent Imam Sheikh Muhammad `Abduh said: “I seek refuge in Allah from politics”. This non-committal attitude prevailed until recently when Muslim scholars started making a comeback. It was due to this that the enemies of Islam try to describe such attempt of reviving the spirit of Islam in its comprehensive meaning as being a call to political Islam; this is ridiculous, for Islam and politics are correlated.”