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Kamaaluddeen al-Ismail

Islam advocates non-violent reform of unjust ruler

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In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful

It is not lawful for us to violently rebel against an unjust Muslim ruler, or any ruler, as long as we can practice the basics of Islam in safety. Rather, Muslims should be patient and encourage reform through non-violent action.

Obedience to civil laws, whether in a Muslim or non-Muslim state, is obligatory as long as we are not commanded to commit sins. If the rulers command us to commit sins or they stubbornly persist in oppression, then we must strive to reform them without resorting to violence or destabilizing civil order.

Allah said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ

O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.

Surat al-Nisa 4:59

Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

السَّمْعُ وَالطَّاعَةُ عَلَى الْمَرْءِ الْمُسْلِمِ فِيمَا أَحَبَّ وَكَرِهَ مَا لَمْ يُؤْمَرْ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ فَإِذَا أُمِرَ بِمَعْصِيَةٍ فَلَا سَمْعَ وَلَا طَاعَةَ

Listening to and obeying the leader is an obligation upon a Muslim, whether he likes it or dislikes it, as long as he is not commanded to disobey Allah. If he is commanded to disobey, then there is no listening or obedience.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 2796, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

In many narrations, the Prophet has forbidden us from rebelling against the rulers as long as they pray and allow Islam to be practiced in their lands. Violence that leads to civil war almost always results in a much worse situation than the unjust ruler himself. While an unjust ruler is an evil in itself, the violence required to overthrow him is even worse.

Hudhayfa ibn al-Yaman reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

يَكُونُ بَعْدِي أَئِمَّةٌ لَا يَهْتَدُونَ بِهُدَايَ وَلَا يَسْتَنُّونَ بِسُنَّتِي وَسَيَقُومُ فِيهِمْ رِجَالٌ قُلُوبُهُمْ قُلُوبُ الشَّيَاطِينِ فِي جُثْمَانِ إِنْسٍ

Rulers after me will come who do not follow my guidance and my tradition (sunnah). Some of their men will have the hearts of devils in a human body.

I said, “O Messenger of Allah, what should I do if I live to see that time?” The Prophet said:

تَسْمَعُ وَتُطِيعُ لِلْأَمِيرِ وَإِنْ ضُرِبَ ظَهْرُكَ وَأُخِذَ مَالُكَ فَاسْمَعْ وَأَطِعْ

You should listen and obey them even if the ruler strikes your back and takes your wealth, even still listen and obey.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1847, Grade: Sahih

Awf ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

خِيَارُ أَئِمَّتِكُمْ الَّذِينَ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَكُمْ وَيُصَلُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَتُصَلُّونَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَشِرَارُ أَئِمَّتِكُمْ الَّذِينَ تُبْغِضُونَهُمْ وَيُبْغِضُونَكُمْ وَتَلْعَنُونَهُمْ وَيَلْعَنُونَكُمْ

The best of your rulers are those whom you love and they love you, who pray for you and you pray for them. The worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and they hate you, whom you curse and they curse you.

It was said, “Shall we confront them with swords?” The Prophet said:

لَا مَا أَقَامُوا فِيكُمْ الصَّلَاةَ وَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ مِنْ وُلَاتِكُمْ شَيْئًا تَكْرَهُونَهُ فَاكْرَهُوا عَمَلَهُ وَلَا تَنْزِعُوا يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَةٍ

No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you find something hateful from them, you should hate their actions but not withdraw your hand from obedience.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1855, Grade: Sahih

Umm Salamah reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

سَتَكُونُ أُمَرَاءُ فَتَعْرِفُونَ وَتُنْكِرُونَ فَمَنْ عَرَفَ بَرِئَ وَمَنْ أَنْكَرَ سَلِمَ وَلَكِنْ مَنْ رَضِيَ وَتَابَعَ

There will be rulers from whom you will see both goodness and corruption. One who recognizes their evil and hates it will maintain his innocence, but one who is pleased with it and follows them will be sinful.

It was said, “Shall we not fight them?” The Prophet said:

لَا مَا صَلَّوْا

No, as long as they pray.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1854, Grade: Sahih

Many of those who call for violent rebellion have resorted to the use of terrorism against innocent civilians to destabilize the government. Such acts are completely forbidden in Islam. The Prophet severely warned those who engage in unlawful civil disobedience and acts of reckless and indiscriminate violence, saying that they have nothing to do with Islam and will have died a death of ignorance.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ خَرَجَ مِنَ الطَّاعَةِ وَفَارَقَ الْجَمَاعَةَ فَمَاتَ مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً وَمَنْ قَاتَلَ تَحْتَ رَايَةٍ عُمِّيَّةٍ يَغْضَبُ لِعَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَدْعُو إِلَى عَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَنْصُرُ عَصَبَةً فَقُتِلَ فَقِتْلَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ وَمَنْ خَرَجَ عَلَى أُمَّتِي يَضْرِبُ بَرَّهَا وَفَاجِرَهَا وَلاَ يَتَحَاشَ مِنْ مُؤْمِنِهَا وَلاَ يَفِي لِذِي عَهْدٍ عَهْدَهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَلَسْتُ مِنْهُ

Whoever rejects obedience to the ruler and divides the community and dies will have died upon ignorance. Whoever fights under the banner of one who is blind, raging for the sake of tribalism, or calling to tribalism, or supporting tribalism, and is killed will have died upon ignorance. Whoever rebels against my nation, striking the righteous and wicked alike and sparing not even the believers and does not fulfill the pledge of security, then he has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with him.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1848, Grade: Sahih

The righteous predecessors (al-salaf al-ṣāliḥ) recognized that the evil of violent rebellion is far worse than the evil of an unjust ruler himself. For this reason, they counseled patience and wisdom in the face of injustice. In fact, they would pray for the ruler to be guided to righteousness, as the reform of the ruler would benefit the entire society.

Hasan Al-Basri said:

لَوْ أَنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا ابْتُلُوا مِنْ قِبَلِ سُلْطَانِهِمْ صَبَرُوا مَا لَبِثُوا أَنْ يُفْرَجَ عَنْهُمْ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ يَجْزَعُونَ إِلَى السَّيْفِ فَيُوَكَّلُونَ إِلَيْهِ فَوَاللَّهِ مَا جَاءُوا بِيَوْمِ خَيْرٍ قَطُّ

If the people had patience when they are being tested by their unjust ruler, it will not be long before Allah will give them a way out. However, they always rush to their swords, so they are left with their swords. By Allah, not even for a single day did they bring about any good.

Source: al-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubrá 8789

Fudayl ibn Iyad said:

لَوْ أَنَّ لِي دَعْوَةً مُسْتَجَابَةً مَا جَعَلْتُهَا إِلَّا فِي إِمَامٍ فَصَلَاحُ الْإِمَامِ صَلَاحُ الْبِلَادِ وَالْعِبَادِ

If I had one supplication to be answered, I would make it for no one but the ruler. If the ruler is righteous then it will lead to the righteousness of the country and the people.

Source: Siyar A’lam An-Nubula 8/434

At-Tahawi said:

وَلَا نَرَى الْخُرُوجَ عَلَى أَئِمَّتِنَا وَوُلَاةِ أُمُورِنَا وَإِنْ جَارُوا وَلَا نَدْعُو عَلَيْهِمْ وَلَا نَنْزِعُ يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَتِهِمْ وَنَرَى طَاعَتَهُمْ مِنْ طَاعَةِ اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ فَرِيضَةً مَا لَمْ يَأْمُرُوا بِمَعْصِيَةٍ وَنَدْعُو لَهُمْ بِالصَّلَاحِ وَالْمُعَافَاةِ

We do not recognize the rebellion against our leader or those in charge of our affairs even if they are unjust, nor do we wish evil for them, nor do we refuse to follow them. We hold that obedience to them is part of obedience to Allah the Exalted and therefore obligatory as long as they do not command us to commit sins. We pray for their right guidance and pardon.

Source: al-Aqīdah al-Ṭaḥāwiyyah

Ahmad ibn Hanbal said:

لَا يُتَعَرَّضُ بِالسُّلْطَانِ فَإِنَّ سَيْفَهُ مَسْلُولٌ

Do not confront the ruler, for his sword is unsheathed.

Source: Jāmi’ al-‘Ulūm wal-Ḥikam34

An-Nawawi summarizes the views of the righteous predecessors, saying:

وَأَمَّا الْخُرُوجُ عَلَيْهِمْ وَقِتَالُهُمْ فَحَرَامٌ بِإِجْمَاعِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَإِنْ كَانُوا فَسَقَةً ظَالِمِينَ وَقَدْ تَظَاهَرَتِ الْأَحَادِيثُ بِمَعْنَى مَا ذَكَرْتُهُ وَأَجْمَعَ أَهْلُ السُّنَّةِ أَنَّهُ لَا يَنْعَزِلُ السُّلْطَانُ بِالْفِسْقِ وَأَمَّا الْوَجْهُ الْمَذْكُورُ فِي كُتُبِ الْفِقْهِ لِبَعْضِ أَصْحَابِنَا أَنَّهُ يَنْعَزِلُ وَحُكِيَ عَنِ الْمُعْتَزِلَةِ أَيْضًا فَغَلَطٌ مِنْ قَائِلِهِ مُخَالِفٌ لِلْإِجْمَاعِ قَالَ الْعُلَمَاءُ وَسَبَبُ عَدَمِ انْعِزَالِهِ وَتَحْرِيمِ الْخُرُوجِ عَلَيْهِ مَا يَتَرَتَّبُ عَلَى ذَلِكَ مِنَ الْفِتَنِ وَإِرَاقَةِ الدِّمَاءِ وَفَسَادِ ذَاتِ الْبَيْنِ فَتَكُونُ الْمَفْسَدَةُ فِي عَزْلِهِ أَكْثَرَ مِنْهَا فِي بَقَائِهِ

As for rebelling against the ruler and fighting him, it is forbidden by consensus of the Muslims even if he is sinful and oppressive. I have mentioned many narrations with this meaning. The people of the Sunnah have agreed that the ruler should not be removed due to his sinfulness. As for the view mentioned in the books of jurisprudence from some of our companions that he should be removed, which is also the opinion of the Mu’tazilites, then it is a serious mistake from them and is in opposition to the consensus. The scholars have said the reason his removal and rebellion against him is forbidden is because of what that entails of tribulations, bloodshed, and corruption, for the harm in removing the ruler is greater than letting him remain.

Source: Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1840

Some Muslims claim that the narrations mentioned earlier forbidding rebellion against a Muslim ruler only apply to a ruler who “implements the Sharia” as they understand it. This is an unjustified restriction of the prophetic command that they have invented.

Rather, the Prophet has forbidden violence even if “they strike your back and take your wealth” and “they do not follow my guidance or tradition” and they have “hearts of devils.” The only criterion the Prophet mentioned is that they allow the prayer.

For this reason, Imam Muslim collected all of these narrations under the following chapter heading:

وُجُوبِ الإِنْكَارِ عَلَى الأُمَرَاءِ فِيمَا يُخَالِفُ الشَّرْعَ وَتَرْكِ قِتَالِهِمْ مَا صَلَّوْا وَنَحْوِ ذَلِكَ

The obligation to denounce the rulers when they contradict the Sharia and to avoid fighting them as long as they pray and so on.

To claim that the Sharia is a political system, the absence of which necessitates violence, is a modern innovation in the religion.

Instead, the proper way to enjoin good and forbid evil regarding the rulers is through non-violent preaching, advising, and if necessary, acts of civil disobedience.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal said:

التَّغْيِيرُ بِالْيَدِ لَيْسَ بِالسَّيْفِ وَالسِّلَاحِ

Changing evil with one’s hand is not done with swords or weapons.

Source: Jāmi’ al-‘Ulūm wal-Ḥikam34

Muslims should sincerely advise the ruler using calm and measured speech. Allah sent Moses and Aaron, upon them be peace, to speak to Pharaoh gently, even though he was a great tyrant who claimed to be God and enslaved and massacred thousands.

Allah said:

فَقُولَا لَهُ قَوْلًا لَّيِّنًا لَّعَلَّهُ يَتَذَكَّرُ أَوْ يَخْشَىٰ

Speak to him with mildly that perhaps he may be reminded or fear Allah.

Surat TaHa 20:44

Moses and Aaron spoke to Pharaoh with the intention to guide him to the truth, not to condemn him to Hell. If this is how Allah asked his prophets to speak to one of the worst tyrants the world has seen, then we should act the same in our situation.

We must also have a good intention to benefit the ruler on a personal level, as part of the good will (naṣīḥa) they should receive from us. We should advise them of their misdeeds in private and only condemn their unjust deeds in public when it is necessary.

Iyad ibn Ghanam reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ أَرَادَ أَنْ يَنْصَحَ لِسُلْطَانٍ بِأَمْرٍ فَلَا يُبْدِ لَهُ عَلَانِيَةً وَلَكِنْ لِيَأْخُذْ بِيَدِهِ فَيَخْلُوَ بِهِ فَإِنْ قَبِلَ مِنْهُ فَذَاكَ وَإِلَّا كَانَ قَدْ أَدَّى الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ لَهُ

Whoever intends to advise one with authority, then he should not do so publicly. Rather, he should take him by the hand and advise him in seclusion. If he accepts the advice, then all is well. If he does not accept it, then he has fulfilled his duty.

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 14909, Grade: Sahih

Even so, it may be necessary to become more vocal and assertive if the ruler is a stubborn oppressor. Speaking the truth to him in this case is a form of non-violent jihād without weapons.

Abu Sa’eed Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ مِنْ أَعْظَمِ الْجِهَادِ كَلِمَةَ عَدْلٍ عِنْدَ سُلْطَانٍ جَائِرٍ

Verily, among the greatest jihād is a word of justice in front of a tyrannical ruler.

Source: Sunan al-Tirmidhī 2174, Grade: Sahih

In sum, Muslims should reform an unjust ruler and enjoin good without resorting to violence or destabilizing society. Violence and terrorism leads to the fracturing of Muslim society, which is even worse than the oppression of the rulers. Rather, Muslims must be patient and wise in the face of injustice, and we should pray for Allah to guide the rulers to right conduct.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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46 minutes ago, Kamaaluddeen al-Ismail said:

It is not lawful for us to violently rebel against an unjust Muslim ruler, or any ruler, as long as we can practice the basics of Islam in safety. Rather, Muslims should be patient and encourage reform through non-violent action.

In the majority of cases, an unjust ruler will never reform. An unjust ruler  forfeits his right to rule. Islam encourages the rejection of such a ruler, even by revolution if that is the only available option.  

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1 hour ago, Kamaaluddeen al-Ismail said:

You should listen and obey them even if the ruler strikes your back and takes your wealth, even still listen and obey.

Source: Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1847, Grade: Sahih

I doubt its authenticity, can anyone confirm? this is a sunni source

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5 minutes ago, kirtc said:

Non violence wont lead anywhere

Right, brother.

Imam Husain's revolution was non-violent but it was a clear rejection of Yazeed. And that is what needs to be done with unjust rulers.  Evil people cannot be reformed. Yazeed was not the one to reform.

But you should show your abhorrence to unjust rulers. If the Germans had done that to Hitler, 6 million Jews would not have been killed.

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1 hour ago, Kamaaluddeen al-Ismail said:

It is not lawful for us to violently rebel against an unjust Muslim ruler, or any ruler, as long as we can practice the basics of Islam in safety.

Im guessing the salafi Imams, and the gulf Imams dont agree with you. They are pushing for the overthrow of Basher al Assad massively.

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3 hours ago, kirtc said:

I doubt its authenticity, can anyone confirm? this is a sunni source

This is a Sunni hadith, these hadiths are sometimes used by Sunnis to justify their obedience to unjust transgressing rulers. 

"No matter how bad they are, we have to obey them".

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3 hours ago, kirtc said:

I doubt its authenticity, can anyone confirm? this is a sunni source

This is a Sunni hadith, these hadiths are sometimes used by Sunnis to justify their obedience to unjust transgressing rulers. 

"No matter how bad they are, we have to obey them".

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3 hours ago, iraqi_shia said:

Im guessing the salafi Imams, and the gulf Imams dont agree with you. They are pushing for the overthrow of Basher al Assad massively.

They (rebels) don't think he's a Muslim, they view him as a kafir, that is how they justify their revolution.

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Sunnis use these fabricated hadiths to support the government of their first three rightly guided caliphates who never followed the divine commands of the quran.

I dont think prophet muhammad (pbuh) would tell us to respect leaders who di not follow his sunnah.

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Just now, baqar said:

How do they define a Muslim? Do they think Saddam and Ghaddafi were Muslims? 

 Not sure about Saddam but I think alot of them viewed Gaddafi as an apostate.

A Muslim is he who believes in the fundamentals of Islam, the consider Assad as a kafir because he is an Alawite.

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20 hours ago, E.L King said:

They (rebels) don't think he's a Muslim, they view him as a kafir, that is how they justify their revolution.

According to the OP, it shouldnt matter : 

Quote

It is not lawful for us to violently rebel against an unjust Muslim ruler, or any ruler, as long as we can practice the basics of Islam in safety. Rather, Muslims should be patient and encourage reform through non-violent action.

The whole topic is shambolic.

We are narrating things from people who did the exact opposite of what they said.

They rebelled against, Ali, Hassan, Hussain, etc.

But we are supposed to take these sayings VIA THEM, of "do not rebel" ? This is a deeply flawed position. Im guessing Kamaaluddeen al-Ismail  has gone now, but it would be interested if he could explain this paradox.

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It would seem the underlying concept being promoted by the OP here is; Submission to a ruler is submission to God, and you will be rewarded for it.

This is sort of explained in the teachings of Jesus. I don't know how the hadith came about but Jesus spoke of focusing on obedience, even to an unworthy ruler. Most of the lessons Jesus taught on the subject was slave and master, but anybody who has a job knows the difference is they give you enough money to feed, clothe, and house yourself. Even if you live in a democratic country, once you land a job, you have joined a dictatorship. The only freedom option is to quit in which case they stop giving you money. 

The hadith may not be "authentic" but the guy who started it was making a point that is still relevant today. The point is, it doesn't matter as much what you do as how you do it, (in your heart). Focus on acceptance into the next life and less on the idiocy going on around you. The world is headed into a dark spiral, we know that. Is it our job to save it? It's like herding cats. You can't save what is destined and prophesied to fail. It's a no win battle. Is there valour in earthly justice, in the sight of God? 

I'm sure one of the prerequisites of Heaven is knowing how to get along. 

OP must have done something bad. 

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4 hours ago, Son of Placid said:

I'm sure one of the prerequisites of Heaven is knowing how to get along. 

Yes, sure. But that principle does not apply to an unjust ruler who could potentially cause havoc in the lives of people, just as Hitler, Stalin, Saddam and Gaddafi did.

You may not always be in a position to raise your voice, except at the risk of death or the destruction of your home and family.

But if it is possible, you should definitely raise your voice against an unjust ruler.

If some more people had done that to Hitler, there would be many more Jews in the world today.

The fact that no one stood up against Hitler is very sad.

The different flavours of Islam have opposite views in this matter.

Our friend was telling us the views of his denomination.

The hadiths he quoted are rejected outright by Shia Islam.

Islam is a religion built primarily on justice.

There is no compromise with injustice.

Mind you, I am not saying that everyone MUST stand up in revolt.

But if it is possible, then YOU MUST raise your voice and you must do what you can.

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4 hours ago, Son of Placid said:

 Submission to a ruler is submission to God.

No, not if the ruler is an unjust person!

You missed the word 'unjust' in that quote. That was the seminal part of his entire treatise.

Submission to an unjust ruler is quite frankly discouraged in Islam. As I said before, it does not mean that you must necessarily rise in revolt. Not at all. But you MUST do whatever is within your power to oppose him.

If you can do nothing, do nothing. But at least, do not show active support. 

The point of obedience to unjust rulers has been promoted by some sects of Islam because most of the rulers whom they honour were the worst of men.

So someone had to invent hadiths supporting that premise.

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    • Salam. If the person lives in another country and has the wish to be buried in Iraq, there are governmental regulations about shipping a person's remains. The country where that person lives has laws that need to be followed. For example, the person who died would need a medical statement that the body is not contagious. The casket would need to be inside a lead box that would not leak, then placed inside a wooden crate which is nailed shut and has special seals that show if there was tampering or opening. The funeral home would need government permission to transport the body by airline and not all airlines provide that service. The licensed funeral home worker would need to drive the prepared package with the person's remains to the licensed airline and make sure that the remains were placed on the airplane. At the arrival in the airport in Iraq, the person's remains would be in the customs area and the customs workers would wait for the person who would need to personally claim the body and sign documents that the body was picked up. Because the whole thing is very heavy and would not fit inside an ambulance or hearse, the wooden crate would need to be opened which means workers or relatives of the deceased would need to use crowbars to remove it. After lifting the lead box into the vehicle, the deceased would need to be transported to the cemetery location where the bodies are washed. The cemetery would take care of everything but of course the price will depend on the location of the cemetery. The most expensive part of the international burial is the western country (funeral home, trip to airport, airline shipping) and could reach $15,000. The price of the cemetery plot, washing the body, wrapping the body in kaffan, is a separate price. The temporary grave marker with the name written in chalk on it is probably free, but the grave stone with the name carved on it would be a separate price. This does not answer your question of whether someone can be buried in Iraq, but I just want you to know that the person needs to save his money if he has such a wish. May Allah SWT grant all halal wishes.  
    • That is the crux of the issue here brother. I am trying to understand what/who determines which parts to accept and which parts to reject.
    • Or this question: Can I use body wash to wash my hair?  
    • There isn't even unity among shias. You call non-twelver Shias heretics. Do you think you are ready to unity with Sunnis?
    • I suppose it all depends on the person. But yes, if someone took a literalist approach and did believe that the many strories of scripture were all true in a black and white way, and they simultaneously were consistent in believing all things they viewed as miracles, then yes they would believe both in the literal story of Adam and Eve, and the literal story of the virgin birth.
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