THE CONSENSUS OF THE SALAF FROM THE COMPANIONS OF ALLAAH’S MESSENGER (sallAllaahu alayhi wasallam) ON THE PROHIBITION OF REVILING THE RULERS BE THEY RIGHTEOUS OR SINFUL – A REFUTATION OF THE KHAWAARIJ
From the Book, Mu’aamalatul-Hukkaami fee Daw’il-Kitaabi was-Sunnah, pp. 173-185,
by Shaikh ‘Abdus-Salaam ibn Barjas ibn Naasir Aal-’Abdul-Kareem.
Attacking the honour of the Rulers (Umaraa) and occupying oneself with reviling them and mentioning their shortcomings is a very big mistake and a repugnant Sin: The purified revelation has forbidden it and has censured the one who does so. It is (also) the starting point of rebellion (i.e., by which such rebellion is initiated and developed) and taking arms against the rulers and this rebellion, is the basis of the corruption of both the religion and the world. 1
It is also known that the ways and means (wasaa’il) have the same rulings as the ends to which they lead (maqaasid). Therefore, every text regarding the prohibition of rebellion (against the rulers) and the censuring of those who do so is an evidence for the prohibition of reviling and abusing the rulers and also (an evidence) for the reprimand of the one who does so.
It is established in the two Saheehs from the hadeeth of Aboo Hurairah that the Prophet (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) said, “Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let him either speak good or keep silent.” And likewise in the two Saheehs from Aboo Moosa al-Ash’aree who said, “They said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, which part of Islam is the most excellent?’ He replied, ‘(It is) he from whose hand and tongue the Muslims are safe.” The prohibition of reviling the Rulers (Umaraa) has been reported more specifically, on account of the kindling of the fire of tribulation and the opening of the doors of evil upon the Ummah that it contains.
Ziyaad ibn Kusaib al-Adawiyy said, “I was with Aboo Bakrah beneath the minbar (pulpit) of Ibn Aamir. He was giving a speech and was wearing a fine garment. So Aboo Bilaal said, ‘Look at our ameer wearing the garment of the disobedient.’ Then Aboo Bakrah said, “Be silent. I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) say, ‘Whoever demeans the sultaan (ruler) of Allaah upon the earth Allaah will humiliate him.” 3
Anas ibn Maalik said, “The senior amongst the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) forbade us (saying), ‘Do not revile your Rulers (Umaraa), not act dishonestly with them, nor hate them and have taqwaa of Allaah and be patient — for verily the matter is close (at hand).”4 Its chain of narration is jayyid (good) and all of its narrators are thiqaat (precise, reliable and trustworthy).
Yahyaa ibn Yamaan said, “Sufyaan (ath-Thawree) narrated to us from Qais ibn Wahb from Anas ibn Maalik (radhiyAllahu anhu) that he said, “The most senior of the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) used to forbid us from abusing and reviling the Rulers (Umaraa).”5
Anas ibn Maaiik (radhiyallahu anhu) said, “The most senior amongst us from among the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) forbade us, that we should not revile our Rulers (Umaraa), nor to be dishonest with them, nor to disobey them (but) to have patience and to have taqwaa of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, for verily the matter is close (at hand).” 6
And likewise al-Bayhaqee has also mentioned this narration with the wording, “The most senior amongst us from among the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) commanded us not to revile our Rulers...” 7 and its
chain of narration is jayyid (good).
Therefore, in this narration is the unanimous agreement of the most senior of the Companions of Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) upon the prohibition of attacking the honour of the Rulers by reviling and abusing them. 8 And this prohibition from them (radhiyAllahu anhu) is not a magnification of the Rulers, but rather it is due to the greatness of the responsibility which they have been entrusted with by the Sharee’ah and which cannot be established and maintained in the desired manner, in the presence of their being reviled and their honor being attacked.
And also because reviling them leads to the absence of obedience to them in that which is good, and (it leads to) the arousing of bitterness and malice of the hearts of the general folk against them, and (this) opens the way to confusion and strife which does not bring anything to the people except far-reaching evil, since the end result of reviling them is rebellion and taking up arms against them to fight them. This is the greatest catastrophe and the mightiest reviling the Rulers, that a Muslim in whose heart eemaan has settled and who has honoured the Symbols of Allaah embarks (boldly) upon this crime or remains silent regarding this evil? We can never think and conceive of this for a Muslim and we can never imagine that it should occur from him. And this is because the texts of the Sharee’ah and what the Companions of the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) were upon have a greater position in his heart than (mere) emotions and sentiments and agitation and excitation, which in reality, are but satanic suggestions and innovatory ejaculations. None submit to them except the People of Desires, those in whose hearts there is no value for the texts (of the Book and the Sunnah). Rather, the tongue of their disposition says, ‘In this topic the texts (of the Book and the Sunnah) have fallen short (i.e., missed something):
“Mighty is the word that comes from their mouths. They utter nothing but a lie.”
Ibn Abee Shaibah (rahimahumullah) said, “Ibn ‘Uyainah narrated to us from Ibraaheem ibn Maisarah from Taawoos who said, ‘The Rulers were mentioned in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbaas and a man amongst them began to censure them. He continued to arrogate himself, standing and stretching out his neck in doing this until I did not see in the House (i.e., the Haram) a man taller than him. Then I heard Ibn ‘Abbaas say, ‘Do not make yourself a trial for a wrongdoing people.’
Then the man constricted himself and I did not see in the House a man shorter than him.” 10
Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr reported with his isnaad from Aboo Dardaa (radhiyAllahu anhu) that he said, “Verily, the first (appearance) is the hypocrisy of a man is his censure and rebuke of his Ruler (Imaam).” 11
Ibn Abee ‘Aasim reported from Ahul-Yamaan al-Hawzaniyy from Abud-Dardaa that he said, “Beware of cursing the Rulers (Wullaat), for verily, cursing them is clipping (i.e., of the religion) and hating them is barrenness.” It was said, ‘O Aboo Dardaa, then how should we behave when we see in them that which we do not like?’ He said, “Have patience, for verily, when Allaah sees that from you He will take them away from you with death.” 12 All of its narrators are thiqaat (precise, reliable and trustworthy) save Abul-Yamaan al-Hawzaniyy whose name is ‘Aamir ibn ‘Abdullaah ibn Luhayy, al-Hawzaniyy, al-Himsiyy. Ibn Hibbaan included him in his Ath-Thiqaat and Haafidh Ibn al- Hajar said about him, ‘Maqbool’ (i.e., his reports are acceptable). Ibn Zanjooyah has also reported this narration in Kitaabul-Amwaal with the same chain of narration.
Aboo Nu’aym reports as does Ibn Abid-Dunyaa from Zaa’idah ibn Qudaamah who said, “I said to Mansoor ibn ah-Mu’tamir, When I am fasting can I revile the Ruler (Sultaan)?’ He said, ‘No.’ I then said, ‘Then can I revile the People of Desires (i.e., Innovators)?’ He said, ‘Yes.” 13
Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr reports from Aboo Ishaaq as-Sahai’iyy that he said, “Never do a people revile their Ruler (Ameer) except that they are prevented from his goodness.” 14
Hannaad reported, “‘Abdah narrated to us from az-Zabriqaan who said, ‘I was with Aboo Waa’il, Shaqeeq ibn Salamah, and I began to revile al-Hajjaaj and mention his faults and bad deeds. He (Aboo Waa’il) said, ‘Do not revile him. And what will inform you that perhaps he says, ‘0 Allaah forgive me,’ so He forgives him?” 15
Ibn Zanjooyah reports from Aboo Idrees al-Khawlaaniyy that he said, “Beware of censuring and rebuking the Rulers (A’immah). For verily, rebuking them is clipping. (That is) the clipping of the Deen not the clipping of the hair. Verily the Ta’aaneen (those who rebuke and revile) — they are the losers and they are the most evil of the evil ones.” 16
Ibn al-Jawzee reports that when Khaalid ibn ‘Abdullaah at-Tustaree addressed the people on the day he was appointed the governor of Makkah he said, “By Allaah, no one is brought to me who curses his ruler (Imaam) except that I till beat him in the Haram.” 17
And in At-Taareekh Al-Kabeer of Imaam al-Bukhaaree who reports from Aboo Jamrah ad-Duba’iyy who said, “When news of the burning of the House reached me, I left for Makkah and visited Ibn ‘Abbaas (there) frequently until he recognised me and was amicable to me. Then I reviled al-Hajjaaj in the presence of Ibn ‘Abbaas and he said, ‘Do not be a helper to Shaytaan.” 18
Ibn Sa’d reports ‘Abdullaah ibn Idrees informed us from Muhammad ibn Aboo Ayyoob from Hilaal ibn Aboo Humaid that he said, “I heard ‘Abdullah Ibn Idrees say, ‘I will never ever help in the blood of a Khaleefah after Uthmaan.’ It was said to him, ‘0 Aboo Ma’bad, did you help in (bringing about the shedding of his blood)?’ So he said, ‘Verily, I consider tile mentioning of his faults and Shortcomings to have been of help in (the shedding of his blood)
Therefore, in all of these narrations, and whatever else has come with their meaning, is a clear evidence and strong proof for the severe prohibition and firm forbiddance of reviling the Rulers and mentioning (or publicising) their faults and shortcomings.
Therefore, let the Muslim stop where the people (i.e., the Companions) stopped, since they are the best of people to the testimony of the Chief of all of Humanity (radhiyallahu anhu).
They stopped where they stopped out of knowledge, and with penetrative insight did they hold back and restrain themselves. Whoever is below that, then he is negligent and Whoever is above them, then he is one Who causes grief. And whoever opposes this Salafee manhaj, and follows his desires then there is no doubt that his heart is filled with rancour and hatred. Since, revilement and vilification negates giving advice to the Rulers. It has been established from the
Prophet (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) that he said, “There are three things towards which the heart of a Muslim never shows hatred or rancour: making ones action sincerely for the sake of Allah, giving obedience to the rulers (wulaatul-amr) and sticking to the group (jamaa‘ah) - for verily, their supplication encompasses those who are behind them (i.e., those whom they rule over).” 20
And whoever thinks that attacking the Rulers by reviling them and finding fault with them is from the Sharee’ah of Allaah, the Exalted, or (that it) constitutes repelling the evil and other such things, then he has got astray and has said upon Allaah and upon his Sharee’ah other than the truth. Rather he is an opposer of the requirement of the Book and the Sunnah and whatever the narrations from the Salaf of this Ummah have spoken of. It is obligatory upon the one who comes across these clear and plain texts that he prevents everyone whom he hears reviling and attacking those assigned with the rule, expecting his reward from Allaah and giving advice to the general people. And this is the action of the People of Knowledge and Religion.
They restrain their tongues from (attacking) the Rulers and they order the people with restraining from attacking them (by reviling and abusing them) and this is because the knowledge, which they carry, has directed them to this and has guided them to it.
And as for advising the Rulers of the Muslims, then its manner and procedure is well known to the lowest student of knowledge, let alone being firmly established with the leading scholars of the ummah. ‘lyaad ibn Ghunm reports that the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) 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 from him (the advice) then (he has achieved his objective), and if not then he has fulfilled that which was a duty upon him.” 21
And in accordance with this hadeeth, there are many sayings of the Salaf, as well as their actions, which are in agreement with it. Imaam ash-Shawkaanee said, “It is desirable for the one to whom a mistake of the leader (Imaam) appears in certain matters that he advises him but does not openly rebuke him in front of all the people to see. Rather it should be as has been reported in the hadeeth - that he should take him by the hand, should take him into seclusion and should offer him the advice, and he should not humiliate the sultaan of Allaah. And we have already said in the beginning of the book of Siyar that it is not permissible to revolt against the leaders, even if they reach (excessive) levels of oppression, as long as they establish the prayer and no manifest and clear disbelief appears from them. And the ahaadeeth that have been reported with this meaning are mutawaathir. However, it is necessary for the follower that he follows the leader (Imaam) in obedience to Allaah and he disobeys him in (what entails) disobedience to Allaah, for verily there is no obedience to the creation in disobedience to Allaah.”
Shaikh Saalih ibn ‘Uthaimeen (rahimahumullah) said, when affirming that offering advice to the rulers is something that is done in secret and not openly and he quoted some evidences for that, and amongst them was this hadeeth 23, he said,
“So when speaking about the king by backbiting, giving him advice in the open and publicising (his faults), when that is (but) humiliation of him, that humiliation for which Allaah has threatened the one who does it with humiliation and debasement, then there is no doubt that it is obligatory to carefully observe what we have mentioned —that he should desire to give advice in secret and other such things. (This being) for the ones who are capable of advising them, from among the scholars, those who visit them and mix with them and by whose advice they find benefit, as opposed to those besides the (scholars) ...” up until he said, “... for openly opposing the ruler (sultaan) in that which is not from the necessities of the religion, and rejecting that (openly) in the gatherings, in the mosques and in the ranks and other places of admonition and other such things, then that is not advice at all. So do not be deceived by the one who does that, even if it is with good intention, for verily, that is in opposition to what the Salafus-Saalih, those who are to be followed, were upon —and your guidance is in Allaah’s control.” 24
And this is an affair in which there is unanimous agreement between those firmly rooted in knowledge and guidance from among the leading scholars of the Salaf of the ummah as has already preceded, and from Allaah is all aid sought.” 25
1 - Ibn al-Qayyim (r) said, “This is a great topic, containing much benefit and due to ignorance of this topic a great mistake has fallen upon the Sharee’ah...” up until he said, after mentioning that the basis of the Sharee’ah is built upon the welfare and benefits of the servants, “... The Prophet (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) legislated for his ummah, the obligation of rejecting the evil so that by its rejection, the goodness that Allaah and His Messenger love is obtained. And when rejecting the evil leads to what is more evil and more hated by Allah and His Messenger then it is not allowed to reject it— even if Allaah hates it and detests those who perform it (the evil). And this is like rejection (inkaar) against the kings, and the ones in authority by coming out against them (with arms etc., to fight them), for verily, that is the basis and foundation of every evil and every tribulation till the end of time. And the Companions asked permission from the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) for killing the leaders (Umaraa’) who delay the prayer from its proper time, saying, ‘Shall we not kill them.’ So he said, “No, so long as they establish the prayer,” and he also said, “Whoever sees something from his leader (ameer) something that he dislikes then let him be patient and let him not raise his hand (away) from the leader’s obedience.” And whoever reflects upon the greatest and smallest trials that have befallen Islaam, then he will see that they are due to the negligence and wastage of this principle and the lack of patience upon (witnessing) evil. So he seeks to bring about its end and as a result of this, a greater evil is brought about. And the Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) saw the greatest of evils in Makkah and he was not able to change them. In fact even when Allaah opened up Makkah for the Muslims (i.e., gave the Muslims victory over it) and when it became Daarul-Islaam he was resolved to changing the Ka’bah and returning it to the foundations that Ibraaheem (alaihi as-alaam) had built it upon, but even though he had the capacity to do that, he was prevented from it by the fear that something greater would occur due to the lack of tolerance of the Quraish, since they were new to Islaam and had recently left disbelief — and for this reason he did not grant permission for rebelling against the leaders (Umaraa’) with the use of one’s hand (i.e., with force) due to the greatness of what results afterwards on account of it ...“ Ibn al-Qayyim in ‘I’laamul-Muwaqqi‘een ‘an Rabbil-’Aabaineen.
2 - The Shaikh and Imaam, ‘Abdul-Lateef ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Hasan Aal Shaikh said, in powerful words that uncover the confusing doubts in this topic and that refute the one who spreads them from amongst the ignoramuses, “... And those people, those who are under trial, do not know that with the exception of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul-Azeez and whoever Allah willed from among the Banee ‘Umayyah, great mishaps, insolence, taking up arms (against the people) and corruption occurred from most of those in charge (wullaat) of the people of Islaam from the time of Yazeed ibn Mu’aawiyah (till the present). But along with that, the manner and behaviour of the notable scholars and mighty leaders with the rulers is well-known and renowned — they do not raise a hand against giving obedience in that which Allaah and His Messenger have commanded from among the legislated actions and obligatory duties of Islaam. And I will give you an example, that of al-Hajjaaj ibn Yoosuf ath-Thaqafee, and his affair is well known in the ummah, that of oppression, repression, excessiveness in spilling the blood (of the Muslims), desecration of the Sanctities of Allaah, the killing of whomever he killed amongst the notables of the umrah such as Sa’eed ibn Jubair, the besieging of Ibn az-Zubair even though he had sought refuge in the Haram, and making lawful the sacred and sanctified, the killing of Ibn az- Zubair, even though Ibn az-Zubair had given obedience to him and the people of Makkah, Medinah, Yemen, and most of ‘lraaq had given the pledge of allegiance to him (Ibn az-Zubair) and al-Hajjaaj was only a deputy of Marwaan, and then of his son ‘Abdul-Malik and none of the khulafaa’ (successors) had given Marwaan a pledge and none of the influential people, those with power had given the pledge of allegiance to him. And along with all of this none of the People of Knowledge hesitated in obeying him and complying with him in that in which obedience is permissible from amongst the pillars of Islaam and its obligations. And Ibn ‘Umar and whoever met al-Hajjaaj were from amongst the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) and they never contested with him and nor did they prevent obedience to him in that by which Islaam is established and by which eemaan is perfected. And it is likewise for those who were also in the era of al-Hajjaaj from among the taab’ieen such as Ibn al-Musayyib, al-Hasan al-Basree, Ibn Seereen, Ibraaheem at-Taimee and those like them from among the leaders of the Ummah. And the affair continued like this between the leading scholars of the ummah, they would enjoin obedience to Allah and His Messenger and making jihaad in His path along with every leader (Imaam) whether righteous or sinful, as is well known in the books of the fundamental principles and beliefs of the religion. And similarly, Banul-’Abbaas, they conquered the lands of the Muslims forcefully, with the sword, and not one of the People of Knowledge and Religion aided them in that, and they killed hordes of people and many of the creation from among the Banu Umayyab, their leaders and their deputies. And they killed Ibn Huhairah, the Ameer of ‘Iraaq and they also killed Marwaan, the khaleefah and it was reported that the murderers killed around eighty people from Banu Umayyah in a single clay, and then they placed their blankets above the corpses, sat upon them and then called for food and drink. So along with all of that the conduct of the leading scholars, such as al- Awzaa’ee, Maalik, al-Layth ibn Sa’d and ‘Ataa ibn Abee Rabaah with those kings is not hidden from the one who has a share in knowledge and realization. And then the next generation of the People of Knowledge such as Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Muhammad ibn Ismaa‘eel (al-Bukhaaree), Muhammad ibn Idrees (ash-Shaafi’ee), Ahmad ibn Nooh, Ishaaq ibn Raahawaih and their brothers…their occurred in their time what occurred from the kings of the great innovations and the denial of the Sifaat and they were called to (affirm) these things and were put to trial by them and whoever was killed, was killed, such as Ahmad ibn Nasr. But along with all of this it is not known that a single one of them raised his hand against obedience (to those kings) and that he saw fit to attack them...” Ad-Durar as-Sunniyyah fii Ajwibatun-Najdiyyah, 7/177-178.
3 - Sunan of at-Tirmidhee, no. 2225
4 – As-Sunnah of Ibn Abee ‘Aasim, 2/488.
5 - Ibn ‘Abdul-Barr reported it in At-Tamheed, 21/287
6 - Al-Haafidh Abul-Qaasim al-Asbahaanee in his book At-Targheeb wat-
7 - In his book Al-Jaami’ li-Shu’abil-Eemaan, 13/186-202.
8 - Imaam al-Barbahaaree (d. 329) said, “When you see a man making a supplication against the Ruler (Sultaan) then know that he is a person of desire. And when you hear a man making a supplication for the Ruler, for his rectification, then know that he is a person of the Sunnah, if Allaah, the Exalted, wills. Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyaad says, “If I had a supplication (that would be answered) I would not make it except for the Ruler.” So we have been commanded that we supplicate for them, for their rectification and we have not been commanded to make a supplication against them, even if they oppress and commit injustice, and this is because their oppression and injustice is against themselves but their rectification is for them and for the Muslims.” Tabaqaatul-Hanaabilah, 2/36.
9 – Soorah al-Kahf (18):5
10 - In his Musannaf, 15/75.
11 - In At-Tamheed 21/287
12 - In As-Sunnah, 2/488
13 - Al-Hilyah of Aboo Nu’aym, 5/41-42 and As-Samt wa Aadaabil-Lisaan
of Ibn Abee Dunyaa, p. 145
14 - In At-Tamheed, 21/287
15 - Az-Zuhd, 2/464
16 - Kitaabul-Amwaal, 1/80.
17 – Al-Muntadham fee Taareekhil-Mulook
18 - At-Taareekh al-Kabeer, 8/104
19 - At-Tabaqaat 6/115.
20 - This Hadeeth has been reported from a group among the Companions, and see Sunan at-Tirmidhee, no. 2657, Al-Musnad 4/80-82 and 183, Jaami’ul-Usool 1/265 and Majma ‘uz-Zawaa’id 1/137-139.
21 - Reported by Ahmad, 3/403 and Ibn Abee ‘Aasim, 2/521 with an authentic chain of narration. And Shaikh Muhammad Naasirud-Deen al-Albaanee (r) declared it authentic (saheeh) in Zilaalil-Jannah fee Takhreejis-Sunnah, 5/229.
22 - As-Sailal-Jarraar, 4/556
23 - Referring to the hadeeth which has already preceded above, Ziyaad ibn Kusaib al-Adawiyy said, “I was with Aboo Bakrah beneath the minbar (pulpit) of Ibn ‘Aamir. He was giving a speech and was wearing a fine garment. So Aboo Bilaal said, ‘Look at out ameer wearing the garment of
the disobedient. Then Aboo Bakrah said, ‘Be silent. I heard the Messenger of Allaah (sallAllaahu alaihi wasallam) say, ‘Whoever demeans the sultaan (ruler) of Allaah upon the earth Allaah will humiliate him.
24 - In Maqaasidul-Islaamn, p. 393
25 - Refer to the book Mu’aamalatul-Hukkaami fee Daw’il-Kitaabi was- Sunnah by Shaikh ‘Abdus-Salaam ibn Barjas ibn Naasir Aal ‘Abdul- Kareem for an excellent and comprehensive coverage of this topic.