Ahmad Zayed, a professor of shari'a at Qatar University, said in a June 12, 2019 debate on Al-Araby TV (U.K.) that Islamic law permits non-Muslims to run for office, but that it is impermissible for Muslims to vote for non-Muslim candidates, since shari'a says the ruler must be a Muslim. Qatar-based Saudi academic Raed Al-Samhouri also participated in the debate.
Raed Al-Samhouri: "Does Islamic law allow for a Christian to rule over Muslims? I would like to get an answer."
Ahmad Zayed: "The answer to this...Had you understood what I said before, things would have been clear to you. I said that according to the general law of equality, anyone can run for office. This is not a problem."
Raed Al-Samhouri: "Is this concept secular or Islamic?"
Ahmad Zayed: "Hold on, my dear brother. Anyone can run for office, but when a Muslim votes, in accordance with the principle of shura, he knows who he should vote for."
Debater 2: "So it is the responsibility of the people, not of the regime..."
Raed Al-Samhouri: "In principle, does this mean you allow people to choose between a Christian and a non-Christian? Is this in line with the principles of shari'a?"
Ahmad Zayed: "A ruler cannot be Muslim..."
Debater 2: "Come again?"
Ahmad Zayed: "Sorry, a non-Muslim."
Raed Al-Samhouri: "End of story..."
Debater 2: "So non-Muslims can run for office, but Muslims are not allowed to vote for them."
Ahmad Zayed: "Yes, that's it."
Raed Al-Samhouri: "But is it allowed, according to the shari'a, for a Muslim to vote for a Christian?"
Ahmad Zayed: "No."
Raed Al-Samhouri: "I rest my case."