The Conservatives have won and now you face the aftermath. I believe that your situation mirrors the situation of US Muslims after Trump’s win in 2016. Here are the key things that happened around that time in the US to the Muslim community that very possibly are also going to happen in the UK, so it would be good to prepare for it.
1. In the US, liberal, secular, social justice, and leftist Muslims in general were greatly strengthened by Trump’s win. These Muslims, many of whom are very tenuously Muslim in the first place, if at all, came to the forefront because they spoke the most aggressively and stridently against Trump. These activists loudly shouted “Islamophobia!” and “Minority rights matter!” and “Trump is a mother$#^@!” 24/7, and unfortunately, some imams bought into this rhetoric, naively thinking this kind of activism was for the benefit of the Muslim community.
So these imams gave religious legitimacy to these activists and we are still suffering the consequences of this. It has caused great damage to the iman of the community because figures like the LGBT-marching, transgender-party-dancing, music-video-singing, Sharia-denouncing Ilhan Omar were praised from the minbar (!) and literally likened to anbiya by gullible imams! Don’t be surprised if an analogous “Muslim” figure comes to prominence in the UK in coming years, someone who will make Sadiq Khan look devout in comparison.
2. Regardless of whether you think voting is permissible or not, there is one big consequence of mobilizing electoral participation from the minbar. And that is: Political activism becomes a religious activity in the eyes of the community. This is a disaster, partly because it leads to point 1, but also, more significantly, because it drains the religious energy of the community. What do I mean by this? Every Muslim has a certain amount of energy to devote to `ibada, has a certain amount of money to give to sadaqa, has a certain amount of attention span to devote to listening to Islamic sermons/lectures/etc. But if political activism is understood as having religious merit and the community has been hearing about “how critical” elections are and how much the survival of the Ummah depends on a certain political party being in office, then they will dedicate a big portion of those religious energy reserves into politics.
So rather than volunteer for the masjid or volunteer time and money for dawah purposes, they will pour that time, money, and attention to a political party! In the US, masajid and non-political Islamic orgs are finding a dearth of volunteers and donations have decreased noticeably. The only way these religious organizations can generate excitement from a significant portion of their congregation now is if they become political and start giving khutbas about Trump or Ilhan or whatever recent political issue. The only way they can get enough people to come to their fundraisers is if they invite some social justice activist in a turban hijab or kufi to give the keynote. Alhamdulillah, this is not every masjid or every local Muslim community. But it is too many of them. And some imams now deeply regret their push for political participation, making voting wajib or otherwise religiously significant, because it has directly undermined them in the long run. They shot themselves in the foot in the truest sense of that expression.
3. The other consequence of points 1 and 2 is a renewed push to compromise on Islamic principles. You might very soon see some claim that the reason the islamophobic Conservatives won is because Muslims are not pro-LGBT enough, not pro-abortion enough, not pro-interfaith enough, etc. They will make their rhetoric as hyperbolic as possible. They will claim that “WE ARE GOING TO BE THROWN INTO CONCENTRATION CAMPS if we do not compromise on these issues!!!” They will use this fear-infused language to step by step get the community to move away from clear, established Islamic norms. And then the imam friends of these activists will chime in with MASLAHA and MAFSADA and say dumb things like, “Well, the pro-LGBT activists have a good point because the alternative is clearly concentration camps.” And if you are so bold as to oppose this agenda of watering down Islam, be prepared to be branded a blind, backwards, right-wing bigot who is aiding the fascists!
4. In the US, we also noticed a big shift in acceptable community discourse. This probably will have the most long term impact, Allahu `alam. But what is being taught on the minbar in 2019 is often very different from 2015. In 2015, it was possible for the khatib to talk about hijab and proper attire and interaction between the sexes, it was possible to promote certain traditional positions that went against the modernist liberal milieu. But those ideas and positions have essentially been blackballed at many masajid and if you continue to preach them, you will be blackballed as well.
I know a recent graduate of a prestigious Islamic university that was interviewing for an imam position at different masajid. He was shocked that the masjid boards were telling him in advance what topics he could or could not speak about in his khutbah. Topics like hijab, LGBT, other religions, anything that might sound “harsh,” i.e., not conformant to liberal feminist sensibilities, etc., were completely prohibited. Of course, most cases are not as overt as this. Many imams probably shifted their discourse without even realizing it because the atmosphere and sensibilities of their congregations have changed significantly because of points 1, 2, 3. The bottom line: parts of Islam are not being conveyed to the next generation, at least in some communities. Those parts won’t be conveyed to the generation after that, and so on, which means that their Islam is being fundamentally distorted for generations to come. This is a big problem.
5. The image of what it means to be a good Muslima has been completely distorted for many in the US. A “good” Muslima now is supposed to be loud and belligerent, running in front of men, demanding to be put on stage, demanding to be put on every board, insisting on leading men, demanding to be seen front and center. And if you make a peep against this, you are a violent, misogynistic abuser and oppressor of women at worst. At best, you don’t understand the “sacred Prophetic tradition” and other such nonsense.
Very probably, you might see clones pop up in the UK of the obnoxious leading ladies we have here in the US. If these clones follow their Yankee counterparts, expect parts of your community to become feminized and emasculated in the worst ways. It is really up to the Muslim sisters in the UK not to fall for this. Just because some activist wears cloth on her head does not mean she believes what you believe or even cares about what Islam teaches. For the sisters, you have a responsibility to reject such people and make it clear to your imams, husbands, fathers, and children that these women do not represent you nor appeal to you in any way.
6. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that just because a conservative party won, that means the majority of people in the country are “islamophobic” and want to kill Muslims. This is the narrative that some will quickly push, but don’t believe it. Most people in the country in the US and UK know very little about Islam and even for those that actively don’t like Islam, Muslims occupy a small part of their overall priorities. Only a fringe minority nowadays operate on the political premise of “Muslims are a cancer and must be excised at all costs.”
So it is misleading and potentially dangerous to mischaracterize the majority of non-Muslims as thinking in that frame because it leads to the hyper-fear mentality mentioned in point 3. It also impedes dawah because some might think, “Why invite racists and rabid bigots to Islam?” You have some Muslims in the US who now believe that is is unacceptable to have anything other than a belligerent attitude to white people because, “White people voted for Trump and that means they’re fascists.” It escapes them, of course, that fascists are worthy of dawah as well, but this makes no sense in the identity-politics-addled minds of social justice activists.
These are the trends I have seen in the past few years in the US context. Nothing here is inevitable. It is up to the UK community and its leadership to recognize these possibilities and take steps to prevent them. But that will take hard work and, sometimes, bitter confrontations. But it is your duty to do what you can and, in the end, it is worth it inshaAllah.
May Allah protect you, my brothers and sisters, in the UK and elsewhere and guide you to what is best.