Whom shall we choose?
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One of the most useful and lasting projects of the then Local Government Support Program for ARMM in partnership with the Assembly of the Darul Iftah is the production and publication of a book containing a compilation of Selected Khutbas. Entitled Selected Khutbas: A Guide to Social Development for the Muslim Communities in the Philippines (LGSPA 2008), the book was a collective effort of five Muslim religious leaders – the Muftis of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Maguindanao, and Lanao, and their respective Sharia’h experts and advisers.
A big portion of the book is in support of voter’s education. With the approaching May 2013 elections, it serves as a rich source of guidance not only among Muslims, but also among Christians living in this region.
Although there are existing forms that are already being used in the mosques, the Muslim Religious Leaders hope that the Imams (prayer leaders) will find the book a useful reference in giving their Friday sermons. It is with this purpose that we have picked a few paragraphs from the book to encourage its use to promote responsible voting:
“Respected brothers and sisters in Islam! Our dear Prophet said that leadership is a rare opportunity but it entails a big responsibility. A leader should lead a simple life. Simple life is a necessary ingredient for integrity. A leader must be the model of honesty, both in public and private affairs. But honesty is not enough. Complete transparency must be seen in all matters at all times and at all places. What is pertinent to these leaders is to ensure that the members of the public are not victimized and unjustly acted upon by incapable administrators or leaders.” (Selected Khutba, p.16)
“In this regard, my dear brothers and sisters in Islam, it is incumbent to all of us to work in our limited capacity in the elimination of graft and corruption at all levels. We are responsible in the eyes of the Almighty. We have to be careful from the very beginning. We have to exercise our rights to choose the right persons that will promote the welfare of the community and will lead the campaign and drive against graft and corruption.” (Selected Khutba, p. 46)
“Islam rejects all kinds of autocratic authority or special privileges for a special person, groups or community. It also rejects hereditary rule because in Islam, no particular lineage has the monopoly over competence and integrity.
The best person you can employ as stated in the Qu’ran is the one who is competent and honest. Therefore, we Muslim voters as prescribed by Islam ought to choose and elect those who are deem to be the most competent and the most honest.” (Selected Khutba, p.50)
As can be seen from these paragraphs taken from the book, the Khutbas are not just relevant to Muslims in this region. The same guidance applies in its universality to Christians and Lumads.
Let it remind us all that the election in May is not just to elect into public office candidates who belong to our party affiliation, kinship ties, or social circles.
A greater consideration is whether the chosen candidate will steer the region to greater heights of social and economic development. It’s time for the electorate to practice a higher degree of discernment in exercising democratic rights. This we owe to the next generation.
Eva Kimpo-Tan is the editor-in-chief of The Mindanao Cross, the oldest Catholic weekly in the southern Philippines.