Islamic Law

Imam Ibn `Abd al-Salam_non-Muslim rule

Imam al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam:

Qawa`id al-Ahkam fi Masalih al-Anam

  • Imam al-`Izz Ibn `Abd al-Salam wrote the following in his book Qawa`id al-Ahkam:

“If the non-Muslims (al-kuffar) take possession of a large region (iqlim `azim) and they put in power someone who will establish the general interests of the Muslims (masalih al-muslimin al-`ammah) then in all that it must be clear the general interests must be fulfilled and the general harms prevented because it would be far from the mercy and concern of the Law-Giver towards his servants that their general interests be undermined or eliminated or that general harm and corruption be tolerated disappearing completely from one who assumes power to  one who is worthy of it and this is a very unlikely possibility.

If the rulers vary in their depravity and corruption (al-fusuq) then we would give precedence to the least depraved and corrupt one because if we were not to give precedence to him, then our interests would be undermined so we have virtually no choice in that. It would not be permitted to ruin or jeopardise the interests of Islam unless it is absolutely unavoidable. If this and examples like it are not permitted, then the properties of orphans and indeed general property interests will be undermined and ruined. Allah most High has said {be conscious of Allah as much as you can…}…“[1]

ولو استولى الكفار على إقليم عظيم فولوا القضاء لمن يقوم بمصالح المسلمين العامة، فالذي يظهر إنفاذ ذلك كله جلبا للمصالح العامة ودفعا للمفاسد الشاملة، إذ يبعد عن رحمة الشرع ورعايته لمصالح عباده تعطيل المصالح العامة وتحمل المفاسد الشاملة لفوات الكمال فيمن يتعاطى توليتها لمن هو أهل لها، وفي ذلك احتمال بعيد

المثال الثاني: الحكام إذا تفاوتوا في الفسوق قدمنا أقلهم فسوقا، لأنا لو قدمنا غيره لفات مع المصالح ما لنا عنه مندوحة، ولا يجوز تفويت مصالح الإسلام إلا عند تعذر القيام بها، ولو لم يجوز هذا وأمثاله لضاعت أموال الأيتام كلها، وأموال المصالح بأسرها. وقد قال الله تعالى: {فَاتَّقُوا اللَّهَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ}. ولو فاتت العدالة في شهود الحكام ففي هذا وقفة، من جهة أن مصلحة المدعي معارضة بمفسدة المدعى عليه، والمختار أنه لا يقبل، لأن الأصل عدم الحقوق المتعلقة بالذمم والأبدان، والظاهر مما في الأيدي لأربابها.

Some basic points

  • The section is: ta`adhdhur al-`adala fi ’l-wilayat (‘when the situation is such that it is not feasible to justly rule over provinces’).
  • The general principle of the section is stated by the shaykh as:

“When any form of just rule becomes impossible to implement in a given province – whether general or specific – then we should adopt the least depraved and corrupt one…”[2]

إذا تعذرت العدالة في الولاية العامة والخاصة بحيث لا يوجد عدل، ولينا أقلهم فسوقا


  • The reality of the fatwa is non-Muslim imposition, i.e. seizing a territory or region and then establishing a small authority for the interests of the Muslims.
  • The reality seems not to be Muslims legislating but securing their interests only or it seems to be pertaining to implementing Islamic laws and not actually legislating them. The two processes of application of law and are different.
  • Whoever is given the authority to rule in the interests of the Muslims, must attempt to realise them as much as he can.
  • It is the intent of the Shari`ah (Allah) to be concerned with the interests of its adherents.
  • The choice is made between two corrupt or depraved choices – one worse than the other.
  • It is difficult to see how Sh. Faisal Mawlawi can make the following inference from quoting (in different translation) the excerpt above:

It is clear from the foregoing that a Muslim is allowed to participate in the political systems under any condition, even if this leads him to engage in unjust fight. However, we restrict here the Muslim’s participation in un-Islamic systems to political activities only.[3]

  • “Under any condition” seems like an unwarranted qualification. It definitely cannot be attained from the Arabic excerpt.
  • There appears to be no direct analogous reality to apply the judgment of Imam Ibn `Abd al-Salam.


Allah knows best.

 S. Z. Chowdhury

[1] Imam al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, al-Qawa`id al-Ahkam, vol.1, pp.99-100.

[2] al-`Izz ibn `Abd al-Salam, al-Qawa`id al-Ahkam, vol.1, p.98.

[3] F. Mawlawi, “The Ruling of Political Participation in the West” retrieved at <;


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