A common question in the ummah today is; how should the ummah deal with the oppressive Muslim rulers of today? This article is aimed at answering that question inshallah.
1. The ummah should make duaa for the oppressive rulers and ask Allah to make them become just and righteous rulers because when the ruler becomes righteous, the ummah becomes safe from their evil, oppression and tyranny. This duaa for the oppressive Muslim leaders should be made as opposed to making duaa for the oppressive ruler’s destruction and removal.
Fudayl Ibn Iyaad (d.187H) said, “If I had a supplication that would be answered, I would not make it, except for the ruler. Because when the ruler becomes righteous, the towns and the servants become safe and secure.” Refer to Hilyatul-Awliyaa (8/91-92).
Imaam Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (d.241H) said, “Verily I supplicate for the ruler, for his correctness, success and support – night and day – and I see this as being obligatory upon me.’’ Refer to as-Sunnah (no. 14) of Aboo Bakr al-Khallaal. The ruler in the time of Imam Ahmed torched him and imprisoned him because he believed the Quran was the speech of Allah (correct opinion) and told the Muslims that. However the ruler wanted him to believe the Quran was created and tell, the Muslims that. So the leader in the time of Imam Ahmed was a tyrant who even oppressed him but he still would make duaa for him and not against him.
Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan said in Al-Ijaabaat al-Muhimmah fee Mashaakil il-Mudlahimmah, by Muhammad bin Fahad al-Husayn, “Sincerity to the rulers consists of the following: Supplicating for their righteousness and firmness, since it is from the Sunnah to supplicate for the Muslim rulers, especially during times in which the supplication is answered and the places in which it is hoped the supplication is answered.”
2. The ummah should ask those who have the ability to advice the leader to advice him about how he is mistreating the people. Those from among the governments of the Muslim lands, scholars and other influential Muslims should advice the ruler. Both groups of people should do this instead of back biting (i.e. speaking the truth about the rulers personal affairs which have nothing to do with his leadership) and slandering (i.e. telling lies about the ruler, adding lies to the truth when speaking about the ruler and twisting the truth about the leader) the ruler publicly or privately.
It is authentically reported from the Messenger of Allah Muhammad in the a longer hadeeth of Iyaad Ibn Ghunum who said, “The Messenger of Allah Muhammad said, “Whoever desires to advise the one with authority then he should not do so openly, rather he should take him by the hand and take him into seclusion (and then advise him). And if he accepts (the advice) from him then (he has achieved his objective) and if not, then he has fulfilled that which was a duty upon him.” Reported by Ahmad (3/403) and Ibn Abee ‘Aasim in Kitaabus-Sunnah (2/251): ‘‘Chapter: How are the leaders of the common-folk to be advised?’’ (2/521) with a Saheeh isnad and it was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Dhilaalul-Jannah fee Takhreejis-Sunnah (no. 1096).
In Aqeedah at-Tahawiyah of Imam Tahawi it says “When changing the evil of the rulers, then this should be done by the scholars and not openly as is mentioned by a clear Ahaadeeth of the Prophet “When you wish to correct the sultan then take him by the hand in secret and advise him.””
Imam Maalik Ibn Anas (d.179H) said, “The right of every Muslim whom Allah has blessed with something of knowledge and understanding (fiqh), is that he enters upon the ruler to command him with goodness, and to prohibit him from evil, and to admonish him.” Refer to Tarteebul-Madaarik (1/207-208) of al-Qaadee ’Iyaad.
Ibn Abee Haatim relates in al-Jarh wat-Ta’deel (1/30) from Imam Maalik, that it was said to him: ‘Verily you enter upon the ruler whilst they (the people) are being oppressed (by the ruler)!’ So Maalik said: “May Allah have mercy upon you! So where is the person who will speak with the truth?! Indeed the Messenger of Allah said: “The most excellent Jihad is a truthful word spoken to (not behind the rulers back in the streets) an oppressive ruler.” The hadeeth was related by Ibn Maajah (no. 4012), and Ahmad (5/251); and it was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Saheehul-Jaami’ (no. 1100).
Sa’eed Ibn Jumhaan said: ‘I came to Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa and his eyes were covered, so I greeted him. He said to me: Who are you? So I said: I am Sa’eed Ibn Jumhaan. He (Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa) said, So what was done with your father? I (Sa’eed Ibn Jumhaan) said to him. The Azaariqah (a branch of the Khawarij, followers of Naafi’ Ibnul-Azraq al-Khaarijee) killed him. May Allaah curse the Azaariqah! May Allaah curse the Azaariqah! He (Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa) said, The Messenger of Allah has informed us that they are the ‘dogs of the Hellfire.’ So I (Sa’eed Ibn Jumhaan) said: The Azaariqah alone, or all of the Khawaarij? He (Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa) said: Yes, all of the Khawaarij. So I (Sa’eed Ibn Jumhaan) said: Verily the ruler is oppressing the people and affecting them. He said (Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa): So give him your hand, and connect your hand to his firmly. Then he (Abdullaah Ibn Abee Awfaa) said …If the ruler will listen to you, then go to his house and inform him of what you know. So he may accept from you, but if not, then leave him; since you do not know more than him (about his subjects).’’’ This incident was reported by Ahmad (4/3272-372), it was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albaanee in Dhilaalul-Jannah (no. 508).
Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar (d.852H) clarifies what advice to the Muslim leads is, he said in Fathul-Baaree (1/138): “The advice to the leaders of the Muslims is to aid them upon that by which they will become established. And it is to warn them against negligence, and to correct their deficiency when they slip, and to unite the word upon them, and to reject the hearts that have enmity towards them. And the greatest advice is to prevent them – by using that which is good – from oppression.”
Shaykh Abdul Azeez Ibn Baaz explains the reason why it is haram to openly criticize or advice the leader from a historical perspective as it lead to the first major fitnah between the Muslims after the death of the prophet and it can often lead to hatred, fighting and killing between Muslims. The shaykh said, “And when the fitnah occurred in the time of Uthmaan (the third caliph), some of the people said to Usaamah ibn Zaid (a sahaba), “Will you not speak to Uthmaan?” So he replied, “You think that I will not talk to him without letting you know about it (also) (meaning he will advice Uthmaan but he will not tell the people about his going to advice him or about their conversation). Indeed, I will certainly talk to him regarding that which concerns me and him without initiating a matter which I do not love to be the first to initiate (he did not want to be the first to openly speak about the ruler).”
And when they (the Khawarij) opened up the evil in the time of Uthmaan and rejected Uthmaan openly, the fitnah, the killing and the mischief, which has not ceased to affect the people to this day, was brought about. And this caused the fitnah to occur between Alee and Muaawiyyah, and Uthmaan was killed for these reasons (the Khawarij openly spoke about why they rejected Uthmaan and they openly criticized him claiming this was advice to him. This got the Muslims of that time all stirred up until eventual someone killed Uthmaan).
(Furthermore) a large number of companions and others besides them were killed due to this open rebellion and the open proclamation of the faults (of the ruler), until the people began to hate the one charged with authority over them and killed him. We ask Allah for success.” (These were the words of the Shaykh Abdul Azeez Ibn Baaz. Taken from Al-Ma’loom min Waajib il-‘Ilaaqah bain al Haakim wal-Mahkoom, (pp. 22-23).)
3. The ummah must have patients with the oppressive ruler’s sins, evil and oppression and advice each other to have patients with their tyrannical reign. The ummah must do this instead and stop putting a time limit on its patients towards the ruler’s oppressions (due to its lack of patients) which leads to demonstrating, revolting and eventual bloodshed, violence and fighting between Muslims.
Al-Barbahaaree (d. 329H) said, “It is not permissible to fight the ruler or rebel against him even if he oppresses. This is due to the saying of the Messenger of Allah to Abu Dharr al Ghifaaree, “Have patience, even if he (ruler) is an Abyssinian slave.” Reported by, Muslim. The prophet said ‘Abyssinian slave’ not to be raciest or because he was raciest. He only said this because in his time the hardest thing for the Arabs to handle would have been being ruled by a non-Arab or a slave. Having a ruler that was both (a slave and a non-Arab) it would be very hard for the Arabs to not revolt and rebel against this type of ruler whether he was good or bad so this is why the prophet told the sahaba to have patience with this situation or any similar situation where in they dislike the ruler whether it be because he is a tyrant, a non-Arab or a slave.
The prophet also said to the Ansaar (the Muslims who lived in Medina by the other Muslim came from Mecca and the surrounding areas.) when talking about having patient with rulers, “Have patience until you meet me at the pool (this is the pool that Allah will give to the prophet for the Muslims to drink from on the day of resurrection).” Reported by Bukhari
Umar Ibn Yazeed said: I heard al-Hasan al-Basree (who was from the greatest of the salaf (early generations of Muslims) during the days of Yazeed Ibnul-Mahlab, and there came to him a group of people (asking about revolting and fighting against the sinful ruler of that time). So he commanded them to stay in their houses and to close their doors. Then he said: ‘‘By Allah! If the people had patience when they were being tested by their unjust ruler, it will not be long before Allah will make a way out for them. However, they always rush for their swords, so they are left to their swords. By Allah! Not even for a single say did they bring about any good.’’ It is related by Ibn Sa’d in at-Tabaqaat (8/164), and by Ibn Abee Haatim in his Tafseer (3/178).
It is also related by Ibn Sa’ad in Tabaqaatul Kubraa (7/163-165) A group of Muslims came to al Hasan al Basree (d. 110H) seeking a verdict to rebel against al Hajjaaj (a tyrannical ruler who even killed a few sahaba in the era of Hasan al-Basree). So they said, “O Abu Sa’eed (meaning Hasan al-Basree it was his kunyah) What do you say about fighting this oppressor who has unlawfully spilt blood and unlawfully taken wealth and did this and that?” So al Hasan said, “I hold that he should not be fought. If this is the punishment from Allah, then you will not be able to remove it with your swords. If this is a trial from Allah, then be patient until Allah’s Judgement comes, and He is the best of Judges.”
4. The ummah must obey the oppressive ruler when he commands them in things that involve obedience to Allah.
The Prophet said: ‘‘The person must obey in whatever he loves, and in whatever he hates, in ease and in hardship, in willingness and un-willingness; except if he is commanded to disobey Allah. So if he is commanded to disobey Allah, then he should not listen, not should he obey.’’ Related by al-Bukhari (4/203)
Hudhaifah reports that the Messenger of Allah said “There will come leaders who will not follow my guidance and will not follow my Sunnah. There will be amongst them men who will have the hearts of devil and bodies of humans.” He (Hudhaifah asked) “What shall I do, o Messenger of Allah if I reach that?” He replied, “You should hear and obey the ruler even if he flogs your backs and takes your wealth, then still hear and obey.” Reported by Muslim (Eng. trans Vol 3/1029/34554)
This hadeeth is the same as the one above however it as slight different wording, the prophet said “If Allah has on earth a caliph (leader of all the Muslim countries) who flays your back and takes your property, obey him, otherwise die holding onto the stump of a tree.” (Translation of Sunan Abu-Dawud, Book 35, Trials and Fierce Battles (Kitab Al-Fitan Wa Al-Malahim), Number 4232)
But if the oppressive ruler commands disobedience (to Allah), then he is not to be obeyed in this command, meaning: in the command of disobedience. However, he is still to be obeyed in other than that, from that which does not involve sin.
Ibn Umar reported that the Prophet said, “A Muslim man must hear and obey both in respect of what he likes and dislikes, unless he is commanded to do a wrong action. If he is commanded to do a wrong action, he should not hear or obey“. Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim
The Prophet said, ‘‘The person must obey in whatever he loves, and in whatever he hates, in ease and in hardship, in willingness and un-willingness; except if he is commanded to disobey Allah. So if he is commanded to disobey Allah, then he should not listen, not should he obey.’’ Recorded by Bukhari
After reading what has been written in this article I you dear reader for the sake of Allah then for the sake of the ummah, that you must take the stances out lined in this article in regards to the corrupt evil Muslim rulers of today and may be of the future inshallah. Even though it may be hard, against your natural desires for revenge and justice and most of the people may rejected this stance of yours towards these tyrants. So they may laugh at you, mock you and call you evil names but this must not stop you from following the Sunnah, the sahaba and the way of the salaf in this matter as in following these things lies true guidance and is the key to success in this life and the next.
I ask Allah to give this ummah righteous rulers, make the ones we have become righteous and to give the rulers pious subjects in the future and to give those subjects who under the Muslim rulers of today and those who leave under the disbelieving rulers of the kufr lands the ability to become pious as soon as possible. Ameen.