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1. REVOLTING AGAINST IMPIOUS RULERS (1) Long, long ago, in summer (June and July) o 1988, my Egyptian friend and I were taking a journey with his car to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories of Canada. We stopped on the way to have rest and made fire for our food and drink. After we finished our meal and drink he kept the fire burning with wood which I considered wasting. So, I told him: “Do you realize how long it took to grow a tree, just to burn it for nothing?” He said: “What about bush fire, where so many trees are burned for nothing?” Different view makes different attitude and behaviour. Now, 25 years later, the same question comes to my mind. In order to raise a child to become a young man to defend our country, religion etc. it takes over twenty years, not to mention the nine-month suffering of his mother carrying him in her womb before he was born. We have a very long list of young Palestinian men who sacrificed their lives in defending their rights, even before reaching their thirties, and the list is going on and on. Palestinian mothers keep raising their children to become one day martyrs in defending their home-land. It is not an easy job to raise a child for over twenty-years to become a hero. A mother might have two, three, even more children to raise, and they grow up to sacrifice their lives. When we see the situation in the Middle-East, such as Egypt, Syria, and Lebanon I remember what my friend did and said when he burned the wood wasting trees, and compared it to bush fire. Bush fire is accidental, unless a crazy arson does it, whereas the situation in the Middle-East which almost like a civil war, is not accidental, but the works of human, our own brothers and sisters in faith who are at each other’s throat. This is the consequence of revolting against their rulers. This situation could have been avoided, if everyone followed reason, rather than


emotion, the teachings of Islam, rather than their own passion and the whisper of Satan who is our real enemy. The Qur’an gives us a very valuable moral lesson in the history of Hābīl and Qābīl (Abel and Cain). Allah said: ِ ‫َح ِد ِه َما َولَ ْم يُتَ َقبَّ ْل‬ َ ‫َواتْ ُل َعلَْي ِه ْم نَبَأَ ابْنَ ْي آ‬ َ ‫َد َم بِال‬ َ ‫ْح ِّق إِ ْذ قَ َّربَا قُ ْربَانًا فَتُ ُقبِّ َل م ْن أ‬ ِ َّ ِ ِ ِ َ َ‫َّك ق‬ ‫ت إِلَ َّي يَ َد َك‬ َ َ‫َخ ِر ق‬ َ ‫ال ََلَقْتُ لَن‬ َ ْ‫سط‬ َ ‫ِم َن ْاْل‬ َ ‫ال إنَّ َما يَتَ َقبَّ ُل اللهُ م َن ال ُْمتَّق‬ َ َ‫ لَئ ْن ب‬. ‫ين‬ ِ ٍِ ِ ِ ِ ِ . ‫ين‬ َّ ‫اف اللَّ َه َر‬ ُ ‫َخ‬ َ َ‫ك َِلَقْتُ ل‬ َ ‫ي إِلَْي‬ َ ‫ك إِنِّي أ‬ َ ‫ب ال َْعالَم‬ َ ‫لتَ ْقتُ لَني َما أَنَا ببَاسط يَد‬ ِ ِ ِ ‫َص َح‬ ‫ك‬ َ ِ‫اب النَّا ِر َوذَل‬ َ ‫وء بِِإثْ ِمي َوإِثْ ِم‬ ْ ‫ك فَتَ ُكو َن م ْن أ‬ َ ُ‫إنِّي أُ ِري ُد أَ ْن تَب‬ ِ ِ ِ ِ َّ ‫َصبَ َح‬ ْ ‫ فَطََّو َع‬.‫ين‬ ْ ‫سهُ قَ ْت َل أَخيه فَ َقتَ لَهُ فَأ‬ َ ‫َج َزاءُ الظالم‬ ُ ‫ت لَهُ نَ ْف‬ ِ ِ )03-72 : ‫ين (المائدة‬ َ ‫م َن الْ َخاس ِر‬

And recite (O Muhammad) to them (the Jews) the Story of the two sons of Adam (Hābīl and Qābīl –Abel and Cain) in truth; when each offered a sacrifice (to Allah), it was accepted from one but not from the other. The latter said to the former “I will surely kill you.” The former said: “Verily Allah accepts only from those who are pious. If you do stretch your hand against me to kill me, I shall never stretch my hand against you to kill you: for I fear Allah the Lord of the world (mankind, jinn and all that exists). Verily, I intend to let you draw my sin on yourself as well As yours, then you will be one of the dwellers of the Fire; and that is the recompense of wrong-doers.” So, the nafs (self) of the other (latter one) encouraged him and made fair-seeming to him the murder of his brother; he murdered him and became one of the losers. (Q. 5: 27-30) Out of jealousy Hābīl killed his own brother Qābīl in cold blood.


There are two views among Muslim scholars concerning rebellion against oppressive, unjust, impious, or oppressive rulers. The first view is that it permissible, which is the view of the minority of scholars, whereas the second view is that it is prohibited to do so which is the view of the majority of Muslim scholars. Among the arguments of those who allow it are as follows: 1. Allah says in the Qur’an, ِِ ِ ِ ِِ ‫اه َما‬ ْ َ‫َصلِ ُحوا بَ ْي نَ ُه َما فَِإ ْن بَغ‬ ُ ‫ت إِ ْح َد‬ ْ ‫ين اقْتَتَ لُوا فَأ‬ َ ‫َوإ ْن طَائ َفتَان م َن ال ُْم ْؤمن‬ ِ ِ َّ ِ ‫َعلَى ْاَلُ ْخرى فَ َقاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَ ْب ِغي َحتَّى تَِف‬ ‫َص ِل ُحوا‬ ْ ‫اء‬ ْ ‫ت فَأ‬ َ َ‫يء إلَى أ َْم ِر الله فَإ ْن ف‬ َ َ ِِ ِ ‫ب ي نَ هما بِالْع ْد ِل وأَق‬ )9:‫ين ( الحجرات‬ ُّ ‫ْسطُوا إِ َّن اللَّهَ يُ ِح‬ َ َ َ ُ َْ َ ‫ب ال ُْم ْقسط‬ If two parties among the believers fall into a quarrel, Make peace between them. But if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight (all) against the one that transgresses until it complies with the command of Allah.(Q. 49:9) They say that since tyrannical ruler and those who follow him transgress beyond bounds against the other party, then fighting them is justifiable. 2. Allah says: ِ ‫ال إِنِّي ج‬ ٍ ‫وإِ ِذ اب تَ لَى إِب ر ِاهيم ربُّهُ بِ َكلِم‬ ِ ‫ك لِلنَّا‬ ‫س إِ َم ًاما‬ َ َ‫ات فَأَتَ َّم ُه َّن ق‬ َ ُ‫اعل‬ ْ َ َ َ َ َ َْ ِ َ َ‫ق‬ ِ ُ َ‫ال ََل ي ن‬ ِ ِ ِ َّ )471:‫ين ( البقرة‬ َ َ َ‫ال َوم ْن ذُ ِّريَّتي ق‬ َ ‫ال َع ْهدي الظالم‬ And (remember) when the Lord of Ibrāhīm (Abraham) (i.e., Allah) tried him with (certain) Commands, which he fulfilled. He (Allah) said (to him), “Verily, I am going to make you an Imām (a leader) for mankind (to follow you). Ibrāhīm (Abraham) said, “And for my offspring (to make leaders).” (Allah) said, My Promise does not extend to the wrong-doers.” (Q. 2:124)


They say that since it is not permissible for wrongdoers to obtain leadership, it becomes obligatory to rebel against him to stop him from committing wrongdoings. 3. Allah says: ِ ‫اْلثْ ِم والْع ْدو‬ ِ )7:‫ ( المائدة‬... ‫ان‬ َ ُ َ ِْ ‫ َوتَ َع َاونُوا َعلَى الْب ِّر َوالتَّ ْق َوى َوََل تَ َع َاونُوا َعلَى‬... Help one another in righteousness and piety, but help not one another in sin and rancor (Q. 5:2) They say that not revolting against the tyrant is tantamount to helping him in his committing sin and rancor. 4. Islam enjoins Muslims to do what is right and prohibits them from doing what is wrong. Allah says, ِ ‫ولْت ُكن ِم ْن ُكم أ َُّمةٌ ي ْدعُو َن إِلَى الْ َخي ِر ويأْمرو َن بِالْمعر‬ ‫وف َويَ ْن َه ْو َن َع ِن ال ُْم ْن َك ِر‬ َ ْ ْ ََ ُْ َ ُُ ََ ْ )431:‫ك ُه ُم ال ُْم ْف ِل ُحو َن (آل عمران‬ َ ِ‫َوأُولَئ‬ Let there arise of you a band of people inviting to all thatis good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong they are the ones to attain felicity (Q. 3:104) The Prophet s.a.w. says, ِ ِِ ِ ِ ِِ ِ ‫سانِِه‬ َ ‫َم ْن َرأَى م ْن ُك ْم ُم ْن َك ًرا فَ لْيُ غَيِّ ْرهُ بيَده فَإ ْن لَ ْم يَ ْستَط ْع فَبل‬ ِ ‫اْليم‬ ‫ان‬ ُ ‫ض َع‬ ْ َ‫ك أ‬ َ ِ‫فَِإ ْن لَ ْم يَ ْستَ ِط ْع فَبِ َق ْلبِ ِه َوذَل‬ َ ِْ ‫ف‬ )‫(رواه مسلم والترمذي وأبو داؤد و النسائي و ابن ماجه‬ Whoever of you sees an evil must then change it with his hand. If he is unable to do so, then [he must change it] with his tongue. And if he is unable to do so, then [he must change it] with his heart. And that is the slightest [effect of] faith. (Reported by Muslim, al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dā’ūd, al-Nasā’ī and Ibn Mājah)


5. The Prophet’s statement that there is no obedience in a matter involving disobedience to Allah. He says, ِ ِ ِ ِ ‫ب أَو َك ِرَه إََِّل أَ ْن ي ْؤمر بِم ْع‬ ‫صيَ ٍة فَِإ ْن أ ُِم َر‬ َّ َ َّ‫الس ْم ُع َوالط‬ ْ َّ ‫َح‬ َ ‫يما أ‬ َ ََ ُ َ ‫اعةُ َعلَى ال َْم ْرء ال ُْم ْسل ِم ف‬ ِ ‫بِم ْع‬ )‫اعةَ (رواه البخاري و مسلم والترمذي وأبو داؤد والنسائي و أحمد‬ َ َ‫صيَ ٍة فَ ََل َس ْم َع َوََل ط‬ َ

Hearing and obeying are upon a person concerning what he likes and what he dislikes, unless he is ordered to do an act of disobedience [to Allah]. If he is ordered to do an act of disobedience, there is no hearing or obeying. (Reported by Bukhārī, Muslim, al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dā’ūd, al-Nasā’ī and Aḥmad) 6. The Prophet s.a.w. indicates the danger of misguiding rulers when he says, ِ ‫اف َعلَى أ َُّمتِي ْاَلَئِ َّمةَ الْم‬ ‫ضلِّْين‬ ُ ‫َخ‬ َ ‫إِنِّي أ‬ ُ )‫(رواه الترمذي وأبو داؤد و أحمد‬

I fear for my Nation from the misguiding rulers. (Reported by al-Tirmidhī, Abū Dā’ūd, and Aḥmad) They say that it implies revolting against them. 7. Muslim scholars agree that any Muslim group that refuses to abide by Islamic law is to be fought. This could imply fighting governments that rule by man-made laws rather than the Sharī‘ah. According to the majority of Muslim scholars the above arguments do not imply rebellion against unjust rulers. Fighting against the group that transgresses, and revolting against a ruler is itself a kind of transgression. Instead of fighting the unjust ruler which could lead to bloodshed, trials and affliction, people are ordered to be patient. The obligation of enjoining of what is good and prohibiting evil should not be used as evidence in justifying rebellion against unjust rulers. Disobeying unjust rulers who orders to commit sin, does not necessarily mean removing him from his position. Imām al-


Nawawī, for example, says: “As for rebellion against them [rulers], this is forbidden according to the consensus of the Muslims, even if they were impious, oppressors.” An oppressive ruler is better than anarchy. The Prophet’s statement indicating the prohibition of revolting against unjust rulers is as follows: ِ ِ ِ ِ ِ ‫ِخي‬ ، ‫صلُّ ْو َن َعلَْي ُك ْم‬ َ ُ‫صلُّ ْو َن َعلَْي ِه ْم َوي‬ َ ُ‫ َوت‬، ‫ار أَئ َّمت ُك ُم الَّذيْ َن تُحبُّ ْونَ ُه ْم َويُحبُّ ْونَ ُك ْم‬ َُ ِ َّ‫و ِشرار أَئِ َّمتِ ُكم ا‬ : ‫ قُ ْلنَا‬، ‫ َوتَ ْل َعنُ ْونَ ُه ْم َويَ ْل َعنُ ْونَ ُك ْم‬، ‫ض ْونَ ُك ْم‬ ُ ‫ض ْونَ ُه ْم َويُْب ِغ‬ ُ ‫لذيْ َن تُ ْب ِغ‬ َُ َ ُ ِ ‫ياَ رسو َل‬ ، ‫الصَل َة‬ َ ‫ فَ َق‬، ‫ك ؟‬ َّ ‫ َلَ َما أَقَ ُام ْوا فِ ْي ُكم‬: ‫ال‬ َ ِ‫الل أَفَ ََل نُنَابِ ُذ ُه ْم ِع ْن َد َذل‬ ُْ َ ِ ِ ِ ِ ‫صي ِة‬ ِ ِ ‫الل فَ ْليَ ْك َرْه َما يَأْتِي ِم ْن‬ َ ‫إَلَّ َم ْن َول َي َعلَْيه َو ٍال فَ َرآهُ يَأْتي َش ْيئًا م ْن َم ْع‬ ِ ِ ‫صي ِة‬ ِ .‫اع ِة‬ َ َ‫ َوََل يَ ْن ِز َع َّن يَ ًدا م ْن ط‬، ‫الل‬ َ ‫َم ْع‬ )‫(رواه مسلم و أحمد و الدارمي و البيهقي‬

“The best of your rulers are those whom you love and they love you. You pray over them and they pray over you. The worst of your rulers are those whom you have and they hate you. You curse them and they curse you.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, shall we fight and oppose them over that?” He replied, “No, not as long as they establish the prayer among you. No, not as long as they establish the prayer among you. If someone is appointed over a person and he sees some act of isobedience to Allah from him, he should dislike what he does of disobedience to Allah but he should not remove his hand from obedience.” (Reported by Muslim, Ahmad, al-Dārimī, and al-Bayhaqī) One example is Imām Abū Ḥanīfah who did not accept alManṣūr as the rightful caliph was offered a position of the Qāḍī al-Quḍāt (Chief Judge) of the State in 146/763. He refused the offer politely, saying that he was not fit for the position. “You are lying,” said al-Manṣūr, and Abū Ḥanīfah said, “If I am lying, then how can you appoint a liar to the exalted post of a Chief Qadi


(Judge)?” He also said, even if he were to accept this position, and the caliph wanted him to pass his judgment on his favour, or to be thrown into the river, surely, he would choose to be thrown into the river. Al-Manṣūr imprisoned him and thrashed him with a stick, but he became more popular, that the caliph allowed him to teach in the prison. Out of frustration, the caliph poisoned him, and died in the prison of Baghdad in 150/767 at the age of 70. His funeral was attended by over fifty thousand people and the funeral prayer was performed six times. The qāḍī who washed his body said to him, ‘You are the greatest faqīh (jurisprudent) and most pious man of our time.” But this view of the minority is being adopted by many people in Muslim countries. People revolted against their rulers whom they considered corrupt, and the rulers oppressed the rebels. The consequence: bloodshed, sufferings of people including elders, women and children who are not involved in the conflict. They have become unsafe in their own homes, and many of them took refuge to neighboring countries. Most refugees nowadays are Muslims from Muslim countries. It may take and sacrifice thousands and thousands of innocent people to replace a corrupt ruler. May Allah guide us all to the right path. (CIVIC, 30.08.13) Sources: 1. Al-Maktabah al-Shāmilah 2. Al-Mutairi, Dr.Abdul Rahman (trans. Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo), Religious Extremism in the Lives of Contemporary Muslims. Denver: al-Basheer Publication & Translation, 2001 3. imam_abu_hanifah.htm 4.ū_Ḥanīfa

1 revolting against impious rulers (1)  

A Friday khutbah/sermon delivered at CIVIC, Canberra, on 30 August, 2013