Islamic Themes / Khilafah

Imam al-Zahawi_obedience to the Ruler

The True Dawn:

On the Refutation of the Alleged Reprehensible Act of Tawassul and the Miraculous Feat of the Saints[1]

الفجر الصادق:

الرد على منكري التوسل والكرمات والخوارق

S. Z. Chowdhury

            The knowledgeable Mufti and Scholar al-Imam al-Zahawi al-‘Iraqi wrote in his treatise al-Fajr al-Sadiq:

[al-Imamah al-Kubra][2]

The Imamah is defined as: ‘the supreme leadership (riyasah ammah) for the temporal as well as religious affairs over everyone.’[3] A group of the scholars have given preference to this definition but have also objected to it in that [the definition] does not preclude (ghayru mani‘) the inclusion of the Prophethood. What appears to be better (al-awla) is to say it is: ‘the Khilafah[4] of the Messenger of Allah – upon him be blessings and peace – in establishing the Religion (fi iqama ’l-din) and executing and fulfilling [its] temporal interests (qada’ masalih al-dunya) as well as to organise its affairs (wa tadbir shu’uniha)’ such that the entire Muslim Ummah is obligated to obey it (yajibu ittibauhu).

It is not a condition of the Imam[5] that he be infallible (masuman), divine (‘uluwiyyan)[6] or from the tribe of Quraysh although we have differing groups [on the issue]. As for [it being] the case rationally (‘aqlan), the Imamah upon both these stipulated definitions is universal[7], which does not mean it is restricted to only the Quraysh[8] (li-ikhtisasiha bi-qurayshin) otherwise it will be unjust with regards to the rights of the greater part of the Muslim [Ummah].[9] Islam has made [Muslims] brothers (jaalahum ikhwanan) and has made each individual equal (sawa bayna afradihim) even in the most smallest of matters; so what then do you reckon with regards to [this] great matter (al-amr al-jalil) and important issue (al-matlab al-ahamm)?

Allah Most High said: (Indeed the Believers are brothers).[10] And this brotherhood (al-ukhuwwah) is both religious as well as worldly and is not complete unless there is true equality between them with respect to what belongs to them and what is obligated upon them of rights. Moreover, what is patently clear is that the Imamah is the successorship (khilafah) and the representative (niyabah) of the Prophethood,[11] so just as the Prophethood is universal for all humankind and Allah Most High has not restricted it to a part of the people over others, likewise the Imamah also is not restricted to a group of people from the Muslims over others so the discernable differentiation in the example is the fact of the Prophethood which is universal embracing all of humankind (kaffah sunuf al-bashr) whereas the Imamah is general extending to all Muslims.[12]

As [an example of] textual evidence (naqlan) is His saying: (O you who believe! Obey Allah! Obey the Messenger and those in authority over you).[13] What is meant by His [Most High] saying “those in authority” are the ‘rulers’ (al-umara’) and the ‘scholars’ (al-ulama’) which we will presently explain in what follows. The address (khitab) in the saying “from you” (minkum) is general in its purport meaning all the believers the evidence being His saying “O you who believe!”[14]

This verse also has another subtle point which is that when obedience to Allah and obedience to His Messenger was indicated and a differentiation was made with regard to Allah Most High being the Creator (al-khaliq) and the Messenger being the created (al-makhluq), He Blessed and High repeated the command, so He Most High said: ‘Obey Allah and obey the Messenger’ and in the emphasis what is understood from this repetition is an allusion to that differentiation as though He Exalted and Mighty is saying: ‘Obey my Messenger the way you obey me and do not consider there to be any differentiation between Creator and Created.’ However, there was no indication between the Messenger [of Allah] and the ‘People in Authority’ (ulu ’l-amr) by a differentiation with respect to being created beings.[15] The ‘People in Authority’ used to be the Khulafa’ of the Messenger and his representatives over the Muslims, so obedience to them is in effect obedience to [the Messenger of Allah] in every respect. Therefore, He Mighty and Exalted did not repeat the command, i.e. He did not say: ‘Obey the People in Authority over you’ like how He commanded [us] to obey the Messenger.

And another textual evidence is found in his saying – upon him be blessings and peace – “…listening and obeying even if it is an Abyssinian slave”.[16] This indeed is clear evidence indicating that the Imam need not be from the tribe of Quraysh.[17] Those who differ say that this narration is regarding one whom the Imam has ordered in secret or a region [of land] and it is necessary to carry this [meaning] in order to prevent [they say] the conflict (li ’l-taarud) between it and the Consensus (ijma‘) and the difference of understanding itself is said to be generated from the narration: “The leaders are from Quraysh”.[18]

We respond by saying that with regard to the claim that the Imam is ordered in secret or for only a region [of land] it is at variance with the generality (al-umum) manifest (zahir) in the narration.[19] As for [their saying] that there is Consensus, it certainly is not [consensus of] the Muslims because many past nations have come to power who have been Khulafa’ and were not of the Quraysh tribe without any opposition from anyone nor from anyone of the scholars in their time rather, there was a consensus on [the legitimacy] of their Caliphate. As for those who differ in saying that the meaning by the consensus is that of the first generation (al-sadr al-awwal) of Muslims, they make a judgement and specification without any specifying evidence. How can it be that when there is no actual consensus in every age regarding that which is conclusive of those important matters occurring every day in accordance with the changing times (tajaddad al-zaman) with that which is not explicit from the Book[20] and Sunnah?

As for the narration that the rulers are from Quraysh (al-a’immah min al-quraysh), its wording – to the nearest correct meaning – is that ‘this matter lies with Quraysh’ means that they obeyed Allah and remained upon the straight path as mentioned by Muhammad b. Ishaq in his great book[21] about the narration of the Bani Sa‘adah on the day of Saqifah.[22] In this narration, the Prophet (SAW) has reported that the Khilafah remains (da’imah) with the Quraysh as long as they are obedient to Allah and remain upon the Straight Path. So its meaning is that when they are not upon the Straight Path, Allah Most High takes [that power] away from them and gives it to those more worthy of it (ahaqq bi-ha). Thus ‘the matter’ remaining with Quraysh reported by the Prophet (SAW), is so long as they are upon the Straight Path (ma istaqamu),[23] so when they began to remove themselves from the matters of this Religion and did not remain upon the Straight Path like what happened in the last part of the Banu ‘Abbas Khilafah, Allah Most High took [the power] away from them and bestowed it upon Banu ‘Uthman as they were more worthy of it than those removers [of the Islamic rulings] and were more desirous (ahras) in wanting to uphold the Religion of Allah and implement all the rulings of His Law (wa tanfidhu ahkam shariatihi). For indeed, this is one of those Miraculous utterances of the Prophet (SAW) because in the narration is a report (ikhbaran) relating to the future which then actually came about. Furthermore, the narration regarding ‘listening’ and ‘obeying’ even if it were ‘a Abyssinian slave’, it is a corroborative evidence for the manifest generality of the verse as was mentioned before regarding the disagreement over the narration when there was [thought to be] no corroboration for it.

[taah uli ’l-amr]

Whoever used to believe in the Prophet Muhammad*

And [believed] in that which came in the Qur’an*

And knew for certain that he was in his Religion*

It was obligatory that he obey the Sultan*

            It is not a hidden fact for the one who discerns, closely examines, follows the pious precedence (al-athar) and yields to the transmitted reports that appointing an Imam is a divine duty (nasb al-imam wajib) so that the interests of the Muslims are established such as:

– protecting thre borders (sadd al-thughur),

– preparing the armies (tajhiz al-juyush),

– quelling resistance and bandits (qahr al-mutaghallibah wa ’l-mutalassisah),

– building/protecting roads (qita al-tariq),

– preventing the violation of Allah’s sanctuaries (zajr muntahaki hurmat Allah),

– stopping real strife between dissenters (qat al-munazaat al-waqiah bayna ’l-khusum) and

– Protecting the religious and worldly interests of the general people (hifz masalih al-nas al-diniyyah wa ’l-dunyawiyyah).

Thus, if there is no head Imam (al-imam al-azam), then there will be no-one to safeguard the people from the perpetration of evil and oppression, no-one to ensure their laws are implemented and their prescribed penalties enforced.[24]

            The Companions of the Prophet (SAW) have unanimously agreed[25] upon appointing him to office (ajmaa ala nasabihi)[26] after the passing away of the Prophet (SAW) to the extent that they considered it to be the most important of obligations (ahamm al-wajibat) giving it precedence even over his (SAW) burial and people in every generation since have not stopped doing this.[27] Also, many narrations support this [obligation of appointing an Imam] one of them being his saying – upon him be blessings and peace – “Whoever dies and does not have on his neck (fi unqihi) a pledge of allegiance (bayah), he dies a death like in the days of ignorance.”[28]

Many a heretics (mariq) may say that the Legislator did not explicitly mention the command to follow or appoint the Imam so where then is it an obligation? We reply by saying that Allah Most High commanded us to establish the Religion and there is no means (la sabil) of establishing [the Religion] except by having security for the people, their families and their properties as well as preventing the transgression of some over others and so all this is not possible [to realise] except with the existence of the Imam (la yasihhu ill maa wujud al-imam) whose punishment they fear, reward they hope for, whom they refer to and are united upon. If they themselves are not safe or secure, then perhaps they will fail in establishing the Religion in life which Allah Most High has obligated upon them to establish. And if an obligation cannot be fulfilled except by something, that thing itself is an obligation (wa ma la yatawassalu ila ’l-wajib illah bihi fa huwa wajib); therefore, the appointment of an Imam is an obligation.[29]

            Similarly, obedience to him is an obligation both rationally and textually. As for rational evidence, it is because he being present is a great wisdom and general blessing, shared by the people, protecting the lands and preventing rebellion because of it and establishing what comes closest to the proper and attentive safeguarding of the citizens.[30] Indeed, people without a leader (sultan) are like the scores of fish in the sea (mithl al-hitan fi ’l-bahr), where the large and small are swallowed (yazdaridu al-kabir al-al-saghir). For when there is no powerful Sultan over them, none of their affairs will be collectively organised neither will their lives be properly directed and Allah – Glorified is He – made all of creation out of love of justice (al-intisaf) and not injustice (al-insaf).

            The Sultan is fit, qualified and apt to preside over the affairs of the people; fit for protecting the lands of Allah, safeguarding the Religion of Allah, upholding the penalties prescribed by Allah, protecting the laws of Allah, to restrain the enemies of Allah and that [the Sultan’s] appointment is one of the proofs from Allah regarding His existence, one of the evidences of His Unity.[31] So, just how it is not conceivable that the world, its systems and every tiny created thing in it fail to exist without a Creator who created it, an All-Knowing Designer precisely fine-tuning [everything] and a Wise Mind organising it all, likewise it would not be possible to establish the affairs of the people without a organiser (mudabbir) devoted to the management of its matters, a ruler bearing all its burdens and uniting (yalummu) all its mixes (shashaaha).[32] Again, just as it is impossible for there to be two deities (ilahayn) in the world, likewise there cannot be two rulers (sultanayn) in one land[33]; such an example is like that of the shepherd. And the example of the citizens (al-raiyyah) is like the flock of sheep. If the flock do not have a shepherd to watch and protect them, then the foxes will wreak havoc (‘athat bihi ’l-dhi’ab) on them and they will be eaten.[34] Indeed, the just Imam is more valuable than the fall of rain (inna ’l-imam al-adil khayr min al-matar al-wabil). Thus, to whomever Allah allots the authority (al-sultan), it is greater than he to whom He allots the Qur’an.

            When this is explained, it should be clear to you with the light of reason that obedience to the Sultan is a duty (wajibah) since the notion of authority will not be complete except with obedience. More still, the obedience of the people (jamaah) to one type of person ruling over them and they taking recourse to him in the organisation of their affairs is a matter naturally found not only in the meanest of tribes but even in animals like in wasps and ants which are not able to live without the king who guides them and whom they follow in their dispersion and their movements, revering him and following him over themselves under all circumstances. [If this be the case], what then do you reckon of the rational and intelligent human beings who are superior in the stages of perfection (madarij al-kamal)? Islam and authority are like the pole (al-amud) and tent (al-fustat); for the tent is Islam while the pole is the authority and the pegs are the people where one part cannot be serviceable or function without the other.[35]

The People cannot prevent chaos when there is no way out for them*

And there is no way out for them when their ignorant rule*

A house cannot be built except with a roof*

And there cannot be roofs if there are no pillars*

But if the pillars and the roofs are brought together*

They have attained that matter which they would have almost [lost]*

            As regard the textual evidence for the obligation of obeying [the ruler], then consider what Allah most High has ordered us with in the perspicuous verse (muhkam)[36] of His book. He Exalted and Sublime said: (Obey Allah, obey the Messenger and those in authority over you). Abu Hurayrah (RA) said that when this verse was revealed, [Allah] ordered us to obey the Imams as obedience to them is obedience to Allah and disobeying them is disobeying Allah.

            The meaning of ‘those in authority over you’ is that it refers to the Muslim rulers as Abu Hurayrah’s (RA) statement requires. As for those who differ by saying that it refers to the ‘scholars’, then there is no strength to it since it negates what precedes this noble verse which is His saying: (And when you rule amongst the people, rule with Justice).[37] Those who differ say that those who rule amongst the people [as mentioned in the verse], they are the ‘scholars’ (al-ulama’) and no other. We respond to them by saying that the qualification of the ruling (taqyid al-hukm) with ‘justice’ is the clear proof that the ruling is not regarding the intricate legal issues (laysa min al-hukm fi ’l-masa’il al-shariyyah) which the Scholars take recourse to but rather it is of the rulings regarding the acts of injustice and disputes in order to be settled by the rulers. Furthermore, the general sense of the verse is supported by His saying Most High “you rule”[38]. Thus, it supports the general purport of His saying “amongst the people”[39] because the ruler is for his citizens both Muslim and non-Muslim.

            As for other textual evidences for the obligation to obey the Sultan, one of them is his (SAW) saying: “Whoever separates from the Community or withdraws his hand from obedience, he dies a death like in the days of ignorance”.[40] Another is his (SAW) saying: “The Religion is counsel, the Religion is counsel, and the Religion is counsel. They asked: ‘for whom O messenger of Allah?’ He [SAW] replied: ‘for Allah, His Messenger and those in authority over you.’” The counsel of the Imam as well as obedience to him is an obligation and necessary matter where one’s belief (iman) is not completed except with it and where Islam is not firmly established without it.

            A further [evidence] is the narration of Anas (RA) who said that the Messenger of Allah (SAW) said: “Listen and obey even if an Abyssinian slave is ruler over you” and in Muslim from the narration of Umm al-Hasin: “Listen and obey even if a slave rules over you with the Book of Allah.”[41] And there is nothing obscure in his (SAW) statement. The word slave” (‘abd) is for the exaggeration in the command (mubalaghah fi ’l-amr) to obey [the Imam] and prohibition against dissenting and separating from him.


                                                                                                And Allah knows best.

[1] al-Fajr al-Sadiq: al-Radd ala Munkari ’l-Tawassul wa ’l-Karramat wa ’l-Khawariq written by the grand Mufti of ‘Iraq al-Imam Jamil Afindi al-Sidqi al-Zahawi (d.1936), 1st edn. Dar al-Haqiqah, 1905 Istanbul, pp.5-14 on the Section: al-Imamah al-Kubra (‘The Greater Caliphate’). Imam al-Zahawi’s short treatise in its wider context and purpose is intended to rebut the theological attacks made by the Wahhabites that Muslims are involved in acts of idolatry (shirk) as well as general deviancy (bidah) if they seek a means to Allah (SWT) through intermediaries whether it is via the devout petition (dua’) of the Holy Prophet (SAW) by visiting his grave or venerable and righteous individuals (al-awliya’ wa ’l-salihin). He also rebuts, with an admirable display of subtle reasoning and acute textual argument the Wahhabite rejection of analogical deduction (al-qiyas), consensus (al-ijma‘), the role of reason (‘aql), ijtihad (‘the independent judgment of a jurist of the foremost calibre’) and taqlid (‘adopting the legal judgment of a jurist’) of any of the Imams of the four schools of Jurisprudence (madhahib al-arbaah). The treatise also shows his wonderful and eminent command of the Arabic language as well as his penetrative grasp of the Islamic sciences such as Usul al-Fiqh (‘Islamic Jurisprudence’), Tafsir (‘Qur’anic exegesis’) and ‘Ulum al-Hadith (‘The Science of the Hadith Literature’).

[2] The preference for translating this particular section of the treatise is in order to make clear to the modern Muslim reader how important the Caliphate (an anglicised form of the Arabic word ‘al-Khilafah’) was to the Muslims even as recent as the 20th century before it was formally dismantled in 1924 at the hands of the CUP Turks with British and French assistance. Throughout the introductory parts of al-Fajr al-Sadiq, for example, Imam al-Zahawi indulges in praise of Sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid (d.1918), venerating, revering and respecting the ruler (sultan) of all the Muslims, e.g. see p.5. Imam al-Zahawi’s analysis, although brief, is nevertheless succinct including a plethora of textual sources highlighting the obligation to remain obedient to the ruler as well as those administered in authority over the Muslims (ulu ’l-amr) such as the governors (wali) and judges (al-qudat). The reminder is fitting because during the time which his treatise was written, the Ottoman Caliphate (‘Uthmaniyyah Khilafah) had strategically lost its territories, was harbouring an extremely weakened administration and was out-manoeuvred in its military projects by European colonial countries in addition to other internal political and religious factors. For an account of the rise and decline of the Ottoman Caliphate, see Colin Imber’s The Ottoman Empire, 13001650: The Structure of Power, Palgrave Macmillan 2002; Donald Quataert, The Ottoman Empire 1700-1922, Cambridge University Press, 2000; Süleyman the Magnificent and His Age: The Ottoman Empire in the Early Modern World, ed. by M. Kunt and C. Woodhead, Longman Group Limited 1995; Essays in Ottoman and Turkish History 1774-1923: The Impact of the West, ed. R. H. Davidson, Saqi Books, 1990 and History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, vol.2: Empire of the GhazisThe Rise and Decline of the Ottoman Empire 1280-1808, Stanford J. Shaw, Cambridge University Press, 2002. Imam al-Zahawi’s warning is also relevant to the Muslims today, in fact far more urgent and necessary than ever before seeing as though no Khilafah presides over the Muslims today that would defend its lands, its citizens, its honour and its unique tradition. Not to mention the additional fact that Muslims and non-Muslim intellectuals alike teach that there is no defined ruling system in Islam. May Allah have mercy on Imam al-Zahawi and enable us to gain multi-dimensional benefits from his treatise. Amin.

[3] The definition is found in al-Iji’s Mawaqif with the commentary by Imam al-Jurjani, 8 vols. in 4, 1st edn. Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah, Beirut 1998, vol.8, p.376. Imam Abu ’l-Hasan al-Mawardi (d.450) defines the khilafah as: “…that matter [which succeeds] the Prophetic Khilafah in protecting the Religion (fi hirasah ’l-din) as well as looking after all temporal affairs (wa siyasah al-dunya)…” al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah wa ’l-Wilayat al-Diniyyah, 1st edn. Dar al-Fikr, Beirut 2002, p.5; Imam al-Kamal b. al-Humam says it is: “Justly administering the general rights of all the Muslims (istihqaq tasarruf amm ala ’l-muslimin)”, al-Musamarah bi-Sharh al-Musayarah, 1st edn. Beirut-Cairo 1317 AH, P.307 and Imam Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani (d.1977) defines it as: “The general temporal leadership (ri’asah ammah) of all the Muslims that establishes the Islamic rulings (li-iqamah ahkam al-sharal-islami) and carries the Islamic invitation (al-dawah) to the entire world…” see Nizam al-Hukm fi ’l-Islam, 3rd edn. Dar al-Ummah, Beirut 1990, p.32. These definitions though slightly varied, share one essential characteristic: that is the Khilafah is the ruling apparatus in Islam, i.e. it is that ruling system that implements laws, thus for al-Mawardi it is a siysah (‘governing the affairs of citizens’), for ibn al-Humam it is a procedure of istihqaq (‘executing and realising those legitimate rights of the citizens’) and for Imam al-Zahawi and al-Nabhani it is iqamah ’l-din (‘that which establishes all the ordinances of the Religion’). Therefore, the application (tatbiq) of Islamic laws cannot be disengaged from temporal concerns; hence unlike other religious denominations, secularism has absolutely no place in Islam.

[4] i.e. the ‘successorship’ of the Prophethood.

[5] Referring to the khalifah. The term ‘khalifah’ or its synonyms “Imam”, “sultan” and “amir” is defined by al-Jurjani as: “The one who possesses the supreme leadership over all matters related to the temporal as well as the religious (huwa alladhi lahu riyasah al-ammah fi ’l-din wa ’l-dunya jamian),” Kitab al-Tarifat with additional entries, ed. by Dr. ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Hafni, Dar al-Rashad, Cairo n.d. p.45. For the role and conditions of the khalifah see Imam Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani: al-Dawlah al-Islamiyyah (Arabic 5th edn.), Beirut 1994, pp.120-122; al-Shakhsiyyah al-Islamiyyah, 3 vols. Dar al-Ummah (Arabic edn.), Beirut 2003, vol.2, pp.31-37; Nizam al-Hukm fi ’l-Islam (6th Arabic edn.), Beirut 2002, pp.49-50; Nizam al-Islam (Arabic 6th edn.), Beirut 2001, pp.94-99; Imam al-Nawawi’s Rawdah ’l-Talibin, 1st edn. Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut 2002, pp.1715-1718 & Hashiyah al-Bujayrimi: Sharh Minhaj al-Tullab, 4 vols. 1st edn. Dar al-Fikr,Beirut 1998, vol.4, p.

[6] The khulafa’ of the Muslims are not Prophets so therefore it is not rationally possible that they are infallible in all matters. Neither is the Islamic ruling system controlled by angelic beings that possess supernatural properties. Imam al-Zahawi’s point is a confirmation of orthodox belief which is that the Khilafah is a succession to the Prophethood in ruling only and not Prophethood itself, therefore, the condition of being infallible (masum) cannot be stipulated because such a property is only instantiated in Prophets and Messengers because they must be impeccable in delivering (tabligh) the revelation communicated to them from Allah (SWT). In fact, it would be haram (‘unlawful’) and punishable by state authority if an individual made such a claim to be infallible because he would be making an implicit claim to a Prophethood.

Furthermore, Imam Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani writes: “… [the khilafah] is a temporal office (mansib al-dunyawi) and not an office pertaining to the hereafter (mansib akhruwiyyan) and it exists to spread Islam to all people. It is certainly not the Prophethood  (al-nabuwwah) because Prophethood and Messengership (al-risalah) is an office whereby a Prophet or Messenger receives (talaqqi) the divine law (shar‘) from Allah through the intermediary of revelation in order to propagate it to the people regardless of its implementation… therefore, the office of Prophethood and Messengership is not [the same as] the Khilafah, for the office of Prophethood is a divine office (mansib ilahi) bestowed by Allah to whomever He wills whereas the Khilafah is a human office where the Muslims give the pledge of allegiance (bayah) to whomever they wish and appoint over themselves whomever they choose…” See Nizam al-Hukm fi ’l-Islam, pp.113-115. cf. also pp.114-121 where the discussion concludes that the Khilafah is a ruling system implemented by human beings along with all the limitations and restraints corollary to that. Bernard Lewis wrote in his concise analysis on political concepts in Islam: “By far the more usual interpretation, that of the totality of the Sunni ulema, was that the caliph was the deputy or successor of the Prophet – that is to say the custodian of the moral and material heritage of the Prophet in his dual capacity as founder of the faith and creator of the Islamic polity, but not in his spiritual office as Prophet and as the bringer and interpreter of God’s word,” The Political Language of Islam, University of Chicago Press, 1988, ch.3, pp.43-70.

[7]ammah = ‘general’, ‘universal’ and ‘encompassing’ meaning the khilafah is a leadership for all Muslims, and if this is the case, then any eligible Muslim may lay claim to it – Qurayshite or other.

[8] The word ‘Quraysh’ means “shark” and it was the powerful Makkan tribe at the time of the Prophet (SAW). The Qurayshite were also descendents of Qusayy and came to be known as ‘Quraysh of the hollows’ (quraysh al-bata’ih) because they held the keys to the Ka’bah. The Quraysh were also wealthy merchants possessing almost un-challenged control of trade routes and regional commerce of Makkah and its immediate surroundings. The Prophet (SAW) was born into the Hashemite clan of the Quraysh tribe.

[9] Virtually the entire Muslim populace is non-Qurayshite hence to simply restrict the legitimacy of ruling the affairs of the Muslims to only the Quraysh would be rationally meaningless if Islam is intended to be universal; to do so would be to define a fixed Muslim ruling class for all generations and no such notion exists in Islam.

[10] Surah al-Hujarat:10.

[11] That is, ‘successorship’ and ‘representative’ in ruling.

[12] Meaning that although Islam is universal, its implementation and manifestation via its various systems lie with the authority of the Muslims. Non-Muslims have no contribution in determining the structure, rulings and shape of the Khilafah.

[13] See surah al-Nisa’:59. Who are the ulu ’l-amr referred to in the verse? The classical commentators wrote thus:

a. The ‘Shaykh of the Salaf’ al-Hafiz al-Imam ibn Jarir al-Tabari (d.310) wrote in his colossal commentary, the following: “The worthier opinion regarding this with all correctness is the opinion that they are the leaders and the governors (al-umara’ wa ’l-walat) due to the authentic reports from the Prophet (SAW) regarding the command to obey the leader and the governors (al-amr bi-taah ’l-a’immah wa ’l-wulat)…”, Jamial-Bayan an Ta’wil Ay al-Qur’an, 2nd edn. ed. by Mahmud Shakir, Dar al-Ma‘arif,Cairo n.d., vol.8, p.502.

b. Imam al-Qurtubi the famous Andalusian commentator writes in his gigantic commentary: “Thirdly, [Allah commanded] obedience to the leader (al-umara’) according to the opinion of the majority (al-jumhur) as well as Abu Hurayrah, ibn ‘Abbas and others,” al-Jamili-Ahkam al-Qur’an, 1st edn. Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut 2004, vol.1, p.912.

c. al-Hafiz al-Imam al-Shawkani (d.1250) wrote: “And the ‘uli ’l-amr’ are: the leaders (a’immah) the sultans (­sulatin) and the judges (qudat) or anyone who has a shariah administration (wilayah shariyyah) and not oppressive administrations (la wilayah taghutiyyah) and the meaning of obeying them is in that which they command and that which they forbid (fima ya’muruna bihi wa yanhawna anhu),” Fath al-Qadir: al-Jamibayn al-Fanniyy al-Riwayah wa ’l-Dirayah, 1st edn. Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut 2000, p.392.

d. The great Philologist, Grammarian and Rhetorician Abu ’l-Qasim al-Zamakhshari (d.538) wrote: “What is meant by [the term] uli ’l-amr are the true leaders (umara’ al-haqq),” al-Kashaf an Haqa’iq al-Tanzil wa Uyun al-Aqawil fi Wujuh al-Ta’wil, Maktabah Masr,Cairo n.d. vol.1. pp.457-458.

e. al-Qadi al-Baydawi (d. 791) writes in his commentary: “What is meant by them are the Muslim leaders during the time of the Prophet (SAW) and after. Who they comprise of are the khulafa’ (the caliphs), the judges (al-qadat) and the ruling class (amura’ al-sirriyyah). Allah has ordered the people to obey them after ordering them to be just by way of warning and that obedience to them is an obligation so long as they remain upon the truth (ma damu ala ’l-haqq),” Anwar al-Tanzil Wa Asrar al-Ta’wil, 1st erdn. Dar al-Bayan al-‘Arabi, Cairo 2002, vol.1, p.220.

f. Imam al-Nasafi (d.) says: “Meaning the governors or the scholars because their order is executory over the leaders (li-anna amrahum yanfudhu ala ’l-umara’),” Madarik al-Tanzil wa Haqa’iq al-Ta’wil, 1st edn. Dar al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut 2000, p.234.

g. The great Shafi‘i Faqih (jurist) Sultan al-‘Ulama’ ‘Izz al-Din ‘Abd al-‘Aziz b. ‘Abd al-Salam (d. 660) writes: “Obedience to the governors is in nothing but the Good (al-maruf),” Tafsir al-Qur’an (being an abridgment of Imam al-Mawardi’s Commentary al-Nukat wa ’l-Uyun) 1st edn. Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut 2002, p.108.

h. al-Hafiz al-Imam Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (d.911) writes: “(O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey His Messenger as well as those) companions (in authority) meaning the rulers, (from amongst you) so long as they rule over you with obedience to Allah and His Messenger…” Tafsir al-Jalalayn, 2 vols. Dar al-Turath,cairo n.d. vol.1 p.78.

i. The Hafiz of Damascus Imam ibn Kathir (d.774) wrote: “‘obey Allah’ means to follow His Book (i.e. the Qur’an), ‘obey the Messenger’ means holding fast to his sunnah and ‘those in authority over you’ refers to [obedience to the rulers] with regards to your affairs so long as it is obedience to Allah (min taah Allah) and not in disobedience to Allah for there is no obedience to the creation if it entails disobedience to Allah… (la taah li-makhluqin fi masiyyah Allah),” Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Azim by Imam ibn Kathir, 8 vols. in 4, 1st edn. eds. Mahmud b. al-Jamil and Walid b. Muhammad b. Salamah, Maktabah al-Safa,Cairo 2002, vol.2, pp.206-208.

j. Imam al-Mawardi (d. 450) wrote: “…and regarding the ulu’l-amr, there are four views. One of them is that it refers to the rulers (al-umara’) and this is the saying of ibn ‘Abbas, Abu Hurayrah, al-Suddi and ibn Zayd…” al-Nukat wa ’l-Uyun, 6 vols. 1st edn. Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyyah,Beirut n.d. vol.1, p.499.

k. Imam al-Nisaburi (d. 318) wrote: “The verse is referring to the rulers” and see the hadith no. 1924-1934 with his chain of transmissions; Kitab Tasir al-Qur’an (partially completed), ed. by Dr. Sa‘d. b. Muhammad al-Sa‘d, 1st edn. Dar al-Mathir, Madinah 2002, pp.764-768. cf. also ibn Mansur, hadith no.652; ibn Abi Shaybah in his Musannaf, vol.12, pp.212-213, hadith no. 12577 & 12585; ibn Abi Hatim, vol.3, p.988, hadith no. 5530 and ibn Jarir al-Tabari in his Jami al-Bayan, vol.8, p.497, hadith no. 9856.

[14] Although the Usuliyyun do not consider the vocative formula “ya ahhuha ’lladhina amanu” to be a contextual indication (qarinah), it nevertheless functions as a reminder (tadhkirah) establishing that the audience being addressed are the Muslims.

[15] The command given by Allah (SWT) is first to obey Him and then to obey the Messenger of Allah (SAW). There can be no doubt that both Allah and His Messenger must be obeyed as the imperative ‘obey!’ (atiu) is repeated twice for emphasis (ta’kid). Moreover, the particle ‘waw’ in (atiu Allah wa atiu ’l-rasul) acts as a co-ordinator (‘atf) explicitly joining the need for obedience to Allah with that of His Prophet making no differentiation in that obedience. Moreover, the command is said to carry the value of an obligation (wujub) for the reason that obedience to Allah and His Messenger leave no room for choice (ikhtiyar) because of surah al-Ahzab:23. Furthermore, the obedience to the category of ‘Those People in Authority’ over the Muslims is again joined to Allah and his Prophet (SAW) due to the particle ‘waw’ functioning as co-ordinator (‘atf). No explicit command has been made to directly obey the “uli ’l-amr” hence their obedience is conditional, i.e. so long as they rule by what Allah and His Prophet demand. The sequence (tartib) is fitting in that it is Allah who is mentioned first, and then His Apostle (SAW) and then the rulers discharged with the affairs of the ummah and the people in general.

[16] See the Sahih of al-Bukhari, 2nd edn. Dar al-Salim li ’l-Nashr wa ’l-Tawzi‘, Riyad 1999, hadith no. 693, 696 & 7142, p.114 where the wording has the addition: “…as though his head is coloured.” The identical point was mentioned by the Prophet (SAW) in his farewell address during the season of Hajj in which he said: “O people fear Allah! And should even a disfigured Abyssinian slave rule over you, listen and obey him so long as he establishes the Book of Allah over you.” See the Sunan of al-Tirmidhi, hadith no.1706, p.398; Sunan of ibn Majah, hadith no. 2859-2862, pp.485-486 both ed. by Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Maktabah al-Ma‘arif li ’l-Nashr wa ’l-Tawzi‘, Riyadh 1417 AH and Imam Ahmad b. Hanbal’s Musnad, 1st edn. Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah, ‘Amman 2004, 3/115, hadith no. 12151 & 12786.

[17] Many rulings (ahkam) may be derived from the narrations two of which may be that a black individual may be khalifah of the Muslims or that obedience to the ruler is absolutely paramount and may not be abandoned. Those who adhere to the opinion that the khalifah must be from the tribe of Quraysh are according to Imam ibn Hazm: 1) the Ahl al-Sunnah (meaning the Ash‘arites); 2) all the sects of the Shi‘ites; 3) Some of the Mu‘tazilites and 4) majority of the Murji’ites the main dissenters being the Kharijites, the bulk of the Mu‘taziltes and Imam Abu Bakr al-Baqillani. See his al-Fasl fi ’l-Milal wa ’l-Ahwa’ wa ’l-Nihal, 1st edn. Cairo n.d. vol.4, p.108; Imam al-Amidi’s Ghayah al-Maram fiIlm al-Kalam, 1st edn. ed. by Hasan Mahmud ‘Abd al-Latif, Cairo 1971, p.384 and ibn Khaldun’s Tarikh, 2nd edn. Mu’assasah al-A‘lami, Beirut 1971, vol.1, p.345 where he notes Imam Abu Bakr al-Baqillani as being the only one of the giants from the Ash‘arites who disagreed. Furthermore, al-Baghdadi reports al-Ka‘bi permitting the Imam to be a non-Qurayshite but only on the condition of preventing discord (fitnah) and Dirar b. Amr being the most vocal dissenter, see Kitab Usul al-Din,  1st edn. Matba‘ah al-Dawlah,Istanbul 1346 AH, p.275.

[18] The narration is found in the Musnad of Imam Ahmad (‘Alimiyyah edn), hadith no. 12433 where the narration is considered weak due to the narrator: Bukayr al-Jazari who is merely “accepted” (maqbul) according to Imam ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in his Taqrib al-Tahdhib, 2 vol. 3rd edn. Dar al-Ma‘rifah, Beirut 2001, vol.1, p.116 as well as al-Azdi although ibn Hibban seems to be the only person to have deemed him thiqah (‘trustworthy’) listing him in al-Thiqat, 9 vols, 1st edn. ed.  by M. ‘Abd al-Latif Khan, Hyderabad 1973, vol.4, p.77 and Sahl Abu ’l Asad who is also considered as “accepted” as per ibn Hazm, al-Daraqutni and ibn Hajar in Taqrib al-Tahdhib, vol.1, p.325.

Numerous narrations exist that appear to establish authority belonging only to the Quraysh. Bukhari narrates in his Sahih from ibn ‘Umar: “This matter will still continue in Quraysh even if two from amongst them remain (ma baqiya minhum ithnan)”, hadith no. 3501 & 7140, p.589 and from Mu‘awiyah (RA) that: “Indeed this matter lies with Quraysh. No-one is hostile to them except Allah turns him on his face (kabbahu Allah ala wajhihi) but so long as they establish the Religion”, hadith no. 3500 & 7139, p.588. Cf. also the extensive commentary on those narrations by Imam ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani in his Fath al-Bari, 3 vols. 1st edn. Bayt al-Afkar al-Dawliyyah, ‘Amman n.d. vol.1, pp.1608-1609 & vol.3, pp.3195-3198. A variant of that narration is founding the Musnad of Ahmad where it warns: “whoever insults (man ahana) a member the Quraysh, Allah insults him”, 1/64, hadith no. 460, p.62. ibn Hibban authenticated it in his Sahih, hadith no. 6269 and al-Hakim mentioned it in his Mustadrak, vol.4, p.74 and Imam Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut declared it ‘fair via another’ (hasan li-ghayrihi). Cf also hadith no. 1473, 1521 & 1586-1587 all graded hasan by Imam Shu‘ayb al-Arna’ut.

Imam al-Nabhani gives three concise arguments as to why the condition that the Imam be a Qurayshite is not a contractual condition but a condition of ‘excellence’ and ‘preference’ (shurut al-afdaliyyah): 1) that the above narrations have come in the “informative form” (sighah ’l-akhbar) and not in the “imperative form” (sighah ’l-amr) and neither narrations carry a clear imperative although they do carry a request (talab) but the request is not supported by contextual indications (qara’in) that raise it to the level of a ‘decisive request’ (talab jazm); 2) That the Messenger of Allah appointed non-Qurayshite members ‘Abd Allah b. Ruwahah, Zayb b. al-Harith and Usamah b. Zayd in positions of ruling (hence according to Imam al-Nabhani, the noun “al-amr” is generic [li ’l-jins] referring to all posts of ruling and not just the Post of the Khilafah) and 3) the term ‘Quraysh’  is a ‘title’ (laqab) and titles (known in Usul al-Fiqh as the mafhum al-Laqab) cannot be used to establish a hukm (‘Islamic ruling’) because it retains no sense or ‘concept’ (mafhum); Nizam al-Hukm, p.54. The majority of Usuliyyun do not employ the mafhum al-laqab. See ‘Abd al-Karim Zaydan’s al-Wajiz fi Usul al-Fiqh, 7th edn. Mu’assasah al-Risalah,Beirut 1998, p.369.

The narration above in Bukhari is also found in the Sahih of Muslim with the Commentary of Imam al-Nawawi entitled al-Minhaj bi-Sharh Sahih Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, 1st edn. Dar ibn Hazm, Beirut 2002, hadith no. 1820, p.1416. Another narration also purporting to establish sole authority for the Quraysh can also be found in Sahih Muslim where it states that: “People follow (taba‘) the Quraysh in this matter (fi hadha ’l-sha’n), their Muslims follow their Muslims and their non-believers follow their non-believers,” hadith no.1818, p.1416 and in another narration: “the people follow the Quraysh in good and bad (fi ’l-khayr wa ’l-sharr).” From this narration, Imam al-Nawawi concludes that the Khilafah is restricted to the Quraysh only which appears to be the dominant understanding of the classical ‘ulama’. He (may Allah protect him) said: “These narrations and their like are clear evidences that the Khilafah is restricted to the Quraysh (mukhtassah bi-quraysh) and its contract (‘aqduha) is not permissible for anyone other than them and this has proof from the Consensus of the Companions as well as the first wave of successors (tabiin) and those after them.”

[19] Imam al-Zahawi is establishing the point that any word or text that is “zahir” (i.e. that’s its meaning in relation to its context is ‘manifest’) must be adhered to unless a compelling interpretation is required which might be in greater harmony with the intention of the original statement.

[20] i.e. the Qur’an. Imam al-Zahawi is suggesting that the proponents of the Qurayshite view must account for why in every generation subsequent to the Prophet (SAW), non-Qurayshite Imams became khulafa’ of the Muslims without there ever existing a consensus both of the ummah and the ‘ulama’ in rejecting them or deeming their khilafah as void (batil).

[21] In his famous account on the life of the Prophet (SAW); see The Life of Muhammad: A Translation of ibn Ishaq’s Sirat Rasul Allah, trans. by A. Guillaume, 16th impression, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 200, pp.683-687.

[22] Cf. also Imam Ahmad in the Musnad, 1/56, hadith no. 391, p.56 for the account of Saqifah; Buhkari in his Sahih, hadith no. 2462; Muslim in his Sahih, hadith no. 1991; ibn Hibban in his, hadith no. 414 and al-Sirah al-Nabawiyyah of ibn Hisham, 4 vols. in 1, 1st edn. al-Maktabah al-Qimah,Cairo n.d., vol.4, pp.171-175.

[23] No doubt, the Quraysh do not enjoy the special privilege of unconditional obedience; like any authority in Islam, so long as they rule by what Allah and His Messenger have revealed obedience is obligatory.

[24] It is very unfortunate that Muslims today do not see matters in the same way. Imam Taqi al-Din al-Nabhani writes: “The Islamic State (al-dawlah al-islamiyyah) is a Khalifah implementing the law. It is a political (siyasi) and executive (tanfidhi) entity for the reason of implementing and executing the divine laws of Islam. [It is also] for carrying the Divine Message to the world by means of invitation and Jihad. And it is the only means that Islam has determined for implementing all its systems and laws in life and society as well as vital for the existence of Islam in life. Without it, Islam will be relegated from being an ideology and a system for life to a set of spiritual rites (tuqus ruhiyyah) and moral values (sifat al-khuluqiyyah). That is why it is permanent and not temporary;” see Nizam al-Hukm (2002 Arabic edn.), p.18.

[25] For an account of “ijma‘” (‘consensus’) see Imam al-Shirazi’s Sharh al-Luma‘, ed. by ‘Abd al-Majid Turki, Dar al-Gharb al-Islami, Beirut 1988, vol.2, pp.665-710 and Imam al-Ghazzali’s al-Mustasfa minIlm al-Usul, al-Matba‘ah al-Amiriyyah, Cairo 1906, vol.1, p.173-198.

[26] i.e. having an Imam or Khalifah in office to rule of over the Muslims and Abu Abkr al-Siddiq (RA) was finally chosen.

[27] See al-Amidi’s Kitab Ghayah ’l-Maram fi Ilm al-Kalam, p.364 and al-Iji’s al-Mawaqif fi Ilm al-Kalam, vol.8, pp.377-378.

[28] Part of the narration from ibn ‘Umar found in Bukhari’s Sahih, hadith no. 7054 & 7143. Another narration is contained in Bukhari with the wording: “Whoever dislikes a matter regarding his Amir let him have patience. For whoever separates himself from the Sultan (fa-innahu man kharaja min al-sultan) even a hands span (shibran), he has died a death of jahiliyyah,” hadith no. 7053. The supreme hadith Master Imam ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalani writes that the warning in the sentence “for whoever separates himself from the Sultan” means “whoever separates from obeying the sultan” (min taah ’l-sultan) and the term “shibran” is a metonymy (kinayah) or a non-literal expression denoting disobeying the ruler (masiyyah ’l-sultan) or fighting him (muharabatuhu). Moreover, ibn Hajar reports that Imam ibn Abi Jamrah stated the view that the meaning of “separating” means seeking ruin by undoing the contractual pledge of allegiance (al-say fi hall aqd al-bayah) for instituting a particular Imam; see his Fath al-Bari, vol.3, p.3151.

                Furthermore, this narration from ibn ‘Umar indicates the necessity of having a pledge of allegiance upon the neck of every Muslim (not, however, that every Muslim must give the pledge) which would then necessitate the presence of a Khalifah to whom that pledge of allegiance would be given. His presence is what will allow the pledge (bayah) to be fulfilled and realised, so hence his presence is a necessity (wajib). The narration alone does not establish that the act of making the pledge of allegiance is an obligation, this is because the qarinah (‘indication’) in the text corresponds to the rebuke by the Prophet (SAW) for not having the pledge of allegiance upon the neck of every Muslim at the time of death and does not correspond to the actual act of giving the pledge by every individual. See, al-Nabhani’s Nizam al-Hukm, pp.65-68 and al-Shakhsiyyah al-Islamiyyah, vol.2, pp.31-34 as well as Kamal Hussain’s wonderful article ‘The Fardiyyah (Obligation) of Working for Khilafah’ in The Khilafah Magazine, vol.15, issue 12, London 2002, pp.15-18. The article is attached at the end of this document.

[29] For more on the principle ma la yatimmu ’l-wajib illa bihi, fa-huwa wajib – “That without which a duty cannot be fulfilled becomes itself a duty” see al-Zaydan’s al-Wajiz fi Usul al-Fiqh, pp.299-300.

[30] The Arabic is very eloquent. He writes: fa-li’anna fi wujudihi hikmah azimah, wa nimah amimah, yunatu bi-ha ’l-ibad, wa tahfazu bi-ha ’l-bilad, wa yaqtau bi-ha ’l-inad, wa yaqumu bi-ha ’l-sadad mimma adnahu hirasah ’l-riayah wa siyasah ’l-barayah.

[31] The Islamic systems ordained by Allah for human beings to live by are in a sense an extension of the laws (sunan) fixed by Him in nature the only major difference appearing to be that in the former instance it is a realm wherein which human beings implement to the best of their abilities those systems with choice whereas in the latter there is no manoeuvre for choice – the laws and systems of nature follow their determinations placed by Allah. Imam al-Zahawi’s point about how the Sultan is a proof for Allah’s existence and His Unity is established on the premise that if an individual, group, region or even a community of nations saw the actual ruling system of Islam i.e. the Khilafah as implemented by the Khalifah then they cannot but be impressed seeing the equity and fairness of it. It is in effect a political manifestation of the abstract notion of Justice. Hence, this unique embodiment of Justice can only come from a supernatural source of all Justice as human bias, predilection, intellects and knowledge cannot fashion and delineate such a programme for themselves. In fact, history gives testimony to why Islam was so readily and rapidly accepted by the greater portion of the known world.

[32] i.e. uniting all the different races, communities, faiths etc. under Islam.

[33] The textual example is taken from the narration found in the Sahih of Muslim where it states that Abu Hurayrah (RA) said that the Prophet (SAW) said: “’The Children of Israel used to be ruled by their Prophets (tususuhum al-anbiya’). Whenever a Prophet passed away, another would succeed him. But there will be no prophet after me rather there will be khulafa’ and they will number many.’ They asked: ‘what then do you order us to do?’ He [SAW] replied: ‘Fulfil your pledge of allegiance to them one after another and give them their due rights for Allah will ask them regarding what he entrusted them with (‘amma istarahum).’” Imam al-Nawawi deduces the ruling of the explicit prohibition of instituting two khalifahs simultaneously. He writes: “And the meaning of the narration is that if a khalifah is given the pledge after another khalifah, the first pledge is valid (sahih) and it is obligatory to fulfil it whereas the second pledge is void (batil) and it is unlawful to commit to it and it is unlawful too for anyone to seek it even if [the Muslims] had contracted [a pledge] for the second [khalifah] with or without knowledge of the first and even if [both khalifahs] are in two different countries or even the same one…” al-Minhaj bi-Sharh Sahih Muslim b. al-Hajjaj, p.1431, hadith no.1842.

[34] The analogy is inspired by the Prophetic narration found in the Sahih of al-Bukhari from ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar (RA) which reads: “you all are shepherds responsible for your flock and the Imam is a shepherd and he is responsible for his flock… (wa huwa mas’ul an raiyyatihi)” hadith no. 893, 5188, 5200, 2409, 2558, 2751 & 2554 and Muslim, hadith no.1829, p.1422.

[35] A most wonderful analogy! The point is utterly true. Islam can never fully exist without the khilafah. It is not permissible, therefore, to divest Islam of its ruling system and neither is it permissible to call, propagate and teach Islam with the notion that it has no such system.

[36]muhkam:” the perspicuous, i.e. that word or statement whose meaning is unequivocal and in utter harmony with its context. It is also not open to abrogation (la yaqbaku al-naskha). Thus, statements such as ‘Allah knows all things’ cannot be abrogated. Thus, the muhkam is that word whose meaning is expressly clear (zahar manahu) and is disclosed without ambiguity (inkashafa kashfan).

[37] Surah al-Nisa’:58. The verse reveals several matters: 1) the command of Allah (SWT) is regarding fulfilling the “trusts” (amanat) of the people. This fulfillment must reside within every issue concerning the Muslims; in other words it is a general address (khitab amm) which is indicated by the attachment of the definite article ‘al-’ to the plural noun “amanat” known grammatically as the ‘lam al-jins’. Indeed, the command is given to all the Muslims but the complete and satisfactory fulfillment of these trusts cannot be realised unless a leader, ruler or Imam is in place to fully execute everything necessary to maintain these trusts which would require the requisite systems, structures and so on. Hence, the command to obey them is in effect the command to have them appointed. 2) The value of the command is said to be that of an obligation (wujub) for the reason that no other, group, faith or people have been discharged with this duty by Allah (SWT) except the Muslims who must execute it on behalf of the general people – Muslim or otherwise. Moreover, the command is linked – via the particle of co-ordination (waw al-atf) – to obedience to Allah and His Prophet both of which constitute obligations themselves and 3) Allah (SWT) warns that if and when the Muslims rule the people, they must do so with justice (an tahkamu bi ’l-adl). This command is connected to a condition (yuallaqu maa ’l-shart) and such a command entails it must be repeated or continual so long as that condition persists; and the condition mentioned in the verse is the existence of Muslim rule (idha hakamtum), thus Muslims must regulate the affairs of the people with full Justice, fairness and equity every time and whenever they rule.

[38]an tahkamu” – ‘you rule’ i.e. in the plural form.

[39]bayna ’l-nas” – ‘amongst the people’ which is general (‘amm) and hence refers to all people Muslim or non-Muslim because no specifying evidence exists to restrict its sense to only the Muslims.

[40] The full narration is as follows: ‘Ubayd Allah b. Mu‘adh al-‘Anbari related that: my father related that: ‘Asim – who is ibn Muhammad b. Zayd narrated from Zayd b. Muhammad from Nafi‘ who said that: ‘Abd Allah b. ‘Umar came to ‘Abd Allah b. Muti‘ and it was during the time when al-Harra [had occurred] in the reign of  Yazid b. Mu‘awiyah and [ibn Muti‘] said: ‘bring a cushion for Abu ‘Abd al-Rahman’ but [the latter] said: ‘I have not come here to sit with you, rather I have come to tell you (li-uhadditha laka) about a narration (hadithan) I heard from the Messenger of Allah (SAW): ‘I heard Allah’s Messenger say’: ‘Whoever withdraws (man khalaa) his hand from obedience, he will meet Allah on The Day of Judgment with no argument for him (la hujjah lahu); and anyone who dies without a pledge of allegiance (bayah) on his neck, he dies a death like the days of ignorance (maytatah jahiliyyah).’” Two broad points can be made about the narration: 1) the negation in “la hujjah lahu” is known as the ‘negation of the genus’ (la li-nafy al-jins) which denotes the negation of every category and type and so precludes any and every kind of defence, stand or apology. This is a strong qarinah (indication) establishing the extreme importance of having obedience to the khalifah for no person will have any acquittal or pretence whatsoever before Allah on the Day of Judgment as Imam al-Nawawi writes: “‘Whoever withdraws his hand from obedience, he will meet Allah on The Day of Judgment with no argument for him’ means: there is no defence for him and no excuse (la udhr lahu) for opposing it,” al-Nawawi, Sharh Sahih Muslim, hadith no. 1851, p.1435 and 2) The co-ordinator particle “waw” here stands to denote what is ‘newly commenced’ (li ’l-isti’naf) and according to the rules of Arabic grammar, a ‘newly commenced sentence’ (jumlah isti’nafiyyah) establishes an entirely new subject-matter and reference. The hadith is in fact a disjunction of two separate statements the first being recanting from giving obedience to the ruler and the second having the pledge of allegiance upon one’s neck. Cf. Kamal Hussain’s article, The Fardiyyah, pp.15-18.

[41] Cf. also footnote 16 above.


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