Scholars of Sunnah of Old and the Muslim Rulers

Bismillaahir-Rahmaanir-Raheem

Indeed hearing and obeying the people at the helms of Muslim affairs is one of the bases of the creed of Salafiyyah. You will hardly see a book written on that creed not containing some explanations on this. This is because of what it entails of mighty importance because hearing and obeying the rulers of the Muslims ensures orderliness in the matters of Deen and Dunya together. Acting against this phenomenon – whether via statement or action – is calling to destruction of the Deen and Dunya.

It is essentially a fact in Islam that the Deen cannot be upright except there is a community (of Muslims), and the community will not be except there is a ruler, and there is no rulership when there is no hearing and obedience.

Al-Hasan al-Basree (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) said about the rulers: ‘They take charge of five things in our matters: Jum’ah, Congregational Prayer, Eid, battle fronts and boundaries.

By Allaah, the Deen cannot be except there are rulers – whether sinful or otherwise. By Allaah what the rulers mend is more than what they destroy. Obedience to them – by Allaah – is desired while rebelling against them is disbelief.’ End of quote from Al-Hasan al-Basree (may Allaah bestow mercy on him).

The ruler was mentioned in the presence of Aboo al-Aaliyah (may Allaah bestow mercy on him), he said: ‘What Allaah mends thorough them is more than what they corrupt.’

The Salaf never slacked in giving special attention to the phenomenon of obedience to the rulers especially during the appearance of tribulations. Their concern for the matter can be summarized as thus:

Warning from Rebelling against the Rulers

The rulers during the time of Imam Ahmad (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) adopted one of the heretical views as the state creed and they compelled the people to adopt it; blood of many scholars was spilled as a result of. They made it a religious obligation on everyone to proclaim that the Qur’aan was a creation, in fact, the books of young learners at institutes of learning were not spared, yet Imam Ahmad (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) did not call to rebellion rather he remained firm on the Sunnah. He commanded that the ruler should be respected! The scholars of Baghdad gathered round Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) during the era of Al-Waathiq and subtly called to rebellion as a result of what the state had laid down as creed. Imaam Ahmad (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) addressed the gathering that day as thus: ‘Restrict your disavowal to your hearts, do not remove your hand from obedience, do not break the unity of the Muslims, do not spill your blood and the blood of the Muslims, ponder over the consequence of your matter. Be patient until the pious shall attain peace and the evil one shall be made to go. Disobeying him is not correct; it is contradictory of the narrations.’

Actively Supplicating for the Well-Being of the Ruler

An example of that is what al-Imaam al-Bar’bahaaree (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) recorded in his Sunan as follows: ‘When you see a person supplicating against the ruler be sure that he is a follower of whims; and when you hear a person supplicating for the ruler, know that he is a person of Sunnah – Inshaa Allaah.’

Al-Fudayl bn Iyaadh (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) said: ‘If I have a particular supplication, I will make it for the ruler. We have been commanded to make supplications for them not against them even if they are unjust and tyrannical. Their tyranny and injustice is upon their souls but their betterment is for them and the Muslims.’

Seeking Excuses for their Mistakes

Scholars do say: ‘When the affairs of the rulers are upright then be much in gratitude to Allaah, but if anything you detest comes to you from the ruler, allude it to some possible sins and transgression from you, seek excuses for the ruler because of many matters before him and what he faces in attending to the affairs of the state, so also plots of the enemy, sycophancy of friends, littleness of advisers and much mixing-up of the affairs and avarice.’

If you ponder on the foregoing, it will be clear to you the errors of the trouble makers who do not respect the rights of the rulers or give them the necessary worth such that he usurps their rights bestowed them by the Shariah by following his base desires and being under the influence of heretical thoughts.

Ash-Shaykh al-Imaam AbdulLateef bn AbdurRahman bn Hasan Aal-Shaykh (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) said: ‘These unscrupulous people do not know that right from the time of Yazeed bn Mu’aawiyah (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) except the time of Umar bn AbdilAzeez (may Allaah bestow mercy on him) and who else Allaah willed to exempt from the Umayyad had occurred some brazen actions and mighty happenings such as rebellion and corruption in the rulership of the people of Islam yet the histories of big scholars and leaders of the Deen with them (the rulers) are well-known; they would never remove their hands from obedience with regards to what Allaah and His Messenger - sallallaahu alahyi wa sallaam - commanded in the laws of Islam and imperatives of the Deen.

Let me site a good example in the era of Al-Hajjaaj bn Yoosuf of Thaqeef Clan. His affairs in the Ummah in terms of injustice, tyranny, spilling of Muslim blood, puncturing Allaah’s sanctity, killing of personalities like Sa’eed bn Jubayr, his siege on [Abdullaah] bn Az-Zubayr – who sought refuge in the sanctuaries of Makkah – and his eventual murder of Ibn Az-Zubayr – even after the latter gave him pledge of allegiance alongside the people of Makkah, Madeenah and Yemen, are well known. Al-Hajjaaj was just a viceroy of AbdulMalik bn Mar’waan who did not legitimately come to power yet none among the people of knowledge refrained from oath of allegiance to him…Ibn ‘Umar and those who met the time of Al-Hajjaaj from among the Companions of the Prophet would not fight him and would not refrain from obedience to him in what he carried out in the matters of Islam. So also was the case during the time of the Taabioon when there were the likes of [Sa’eed] bn al-Musayyab, al-Hasan al-Basree, Ibn Seereen, Ibrahim at-Taymee and others from the well known personalities of the Ummah.

So also was during the era of the Abbasids, their rulership over the Muslims was with force none among the people of knowledge aided them on that. They killed a lot of people from the Umayyad and their heads alongside their deputies. They killed Hubayrah who was the ruler of Iraq, and they killed Mar'waan. In fact it was reported that a ruler from the Abbasids who was nicknamed as-Saffaah [the Blood Spiller] killed about 80 members of Umayyad family just in a day he then marched over their corpses with his ride, sat over them and called for celebrations. Despite that, the history of the scholars such as al-Auzaa’ee, Maalik, az-Zuhree, al-Layth bn Sa’d, Ataa bn Abee Rabbaah with those rulers are not hidden…’ End of quote.

There is no doubt that our own time has the merger of two matters: prevalence of ignorance and spread of heretical thoughts. It is imperative on the scholars and the students to be steadfast on the pledge Allaah took from them that they would ‘explain matters of the Deen to the people and will not conceal them’ [Aal-Imraan: 187], so they must explain this fundamental to the people seeking rewards from Allaah when they do, they should not allow the confusion being peddled about by the unscrupulous people prevent them from that duty.

So the troublemakers should fear Allaah the Mighty and they should stop from misleading people from the path of Allaah in service to their parties or in helping evil thoughts such as these weak ones or following their desires without guidance from Allaah.

Abridged from preface to ‘Mu’aamalatul-Hukkaam Fee Dauhil-Kitaab was-Sunnah’ of Ash-Shaykh AbdusSalaam bn Bar’jas Aal AbdilKareem, pp. 8-14, Daarul-Ummah Edition

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