(7) Rights of the Governor and the People

Governors or rulers are all those who are responsible for any organization in the government, regardless of its size or importance.  Any person who is in charge of certain affairs in an Islāmic state is considered responsible for his authority and must maintain an excellent, honest and smooth operation.  People who work with such an authorized person are entitled to certain rights that must be maintained, honoured and never overlooked. 

The essential rights of people upon their governors is the assurance of their active role in fulfilling all positive aspects of their entrusted responsibility.  They must demonstrate loyalty to their people, sincere advice, honest judgment and proper guidance following the straight path of the prophet (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) and his rightly guided companions who led the Muslim ummah to great success and victory.  This path fulfils both worldly pleasure and a sound relationship with the Lord Almighty that guarantees a sound position in the hereafter.  Rulers must strive to follow the straight path of the believers assuring happiness in both worlds and the pleasure of the people as well.  This path also assures the obedience of the people to their rulers, the fulfilment of their commands and directions and the protections of their trust.  It is indeed a general rule that he who fears the Lord Almighty, the people will like him and fear him as well.  It is also a general rule that he who attempts to please Allāh, will be able to please his people, as the hearts of all people are in the Hands of Allāh and He, the Almighty, steers the way He likes. 

As for the rights of the governors upon the people, the governors must offer them the best possible advice in their general and private affairs.  They must remind them to do their best in everything they do.  They must pray to Allāh to keep them on the straight path if the governors deviated from this path.  They must obey their commands as long as these commands do not conflict with the teachings of Islām and the commands of Allāh and His prophet.  If the governed people elected to disobey the commands of their governors/leaders, chaos and a state of confusion and disorder may spread within the society.  Therefore, Allāh legislated the general public to obey the commands and instructions of their leaders.  Allāh, the Almighty, stated in the glorious Qur’ān

“O ye who believe! Obey Allāh and obey the Apostle, and those charged with authority among you”.  [4:59]

Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) is reported to have said: "A Muslim must listen and obey the commands (of the governors/leaders) regardless if he/ she liked or disliked such a command as long as the commands do not conflict with the clear verse of the glorious Qur’ān or an authentic statement of Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam), if the command does conflict then he/she does not have to listen or obey such an order or command from his leaders."  (Reported by Bukhāree and Muslim). 

Abdullah bin Umar (radhi Allāhu 'anhu) reported also that: "Once we were travelling along with Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam).  At one point during the journey, we dismounted our animals for rest.  A man who was delegated by Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) announced the call for the congregational prayer.  We gathered around Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) who said: "There was never a Prophet of Allāh, the Almighty, who was commissioned as a Prophet and Messenger of Allāh except that it was made obligatory unto him to guide his nation to the best matters he was taught and warn them of the worst matters that he was aware.  Your nation is cured from such diseases in the first generation of early Muslims.  However, later generations will be afflicted with many problems no matter that you know not.  A believer then said: "This afflictions will wipe me out."  Afflictions, however come one after the other.  Another believer will say: “May be this affliction  will wipe me out”.  He whoever likes to be removed from the fire and enter the paradise of Allāh, the Almighty, let him face his Lord in a state of full faith complete belief in the Day of Judgment.  Let such a believer do to others what he likes others to do unto him.  If a believer commits himself to a leader, offering him his pledge of allegiance, let him obey such governor/leader.  If such a governor is threatened to be removed from authority by force, let such a remover be beheaded (by you committed believers who gave their pledge of allegiance to the existing governor.”  This Hadeeth is reported by Muslim. 

In another hadeeth, a man asked Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam): "O prophet of Allāh!  What if we were governed by leaders who demand their rights (obedience, respect, loyalty) but deny our rights (freedom of worship, speech, voting , education?) what do you command us to do in such a case?  Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) turned away from the man and did not give him an answer.  The same man persisted and again asked the same question.  Upon that Allāh’s Apostle (sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “Listen ( to your leaders) and obey them.  They will be responsible for what you do.” This hadeeth is reported by Muslim. 

The general public must assist their governors in achieving their missions and fulfilling their tasks and duties.  Each and every citizen must know the importance of his role in the society and consequently in the government in general.  If individuals fail to realize their duties and responsibilities, the situation will turn into chaos and confusion again.  Similarly, if the governors are not properly assisted by their constituents, confusion within the society will increase. 

It is only natural to have the commitment of the people and public for the administration to lead a decent government.  Islām requires the full support of the general public for the governor.  We can vividly see this in the various text of the glorious Qur’ān and the sunnah (practices and statements of Allāh’s Apostle, sallAllāhu `alayhi wa sallam). 

This proves that Islām agrees with the intelligent rules of nature, as nature is created, governed, ruled and organized by the same Creator Who created man and knows what benefits man and what harms him.  Islām is the religion of the pure, innate nature (fitrah) that helps man leads a very stable, clean, organized and intelligent life. 

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In addition to the (translated) paper of Shaykh 'Uthaymeen, below are some supporting evidences from Saheeh Muslim, The Book on Government (Kitab Al-Imara).

Chapter 8: OBEDIENCE TO THE RULER IS FORBIDDEN IN MATTERS SINFUL, BUT IS OTHERWISE OBLIGATORY

Book 20, Number 4517:

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn Juraij that the Qur'anic injunction: "0 you who believe, obey Allāh, His Apostle and those in authority from amongst you" (iv. 59) -was revealed in respect of 'Abdullāh b. Hudhafa b. Qais b. Adi al-Sahmi who was despatched by the Prophet (may peace be upon him) as leader of a military campaign. The narrator said: He was informed of this fact by Ya'la b. Muslim who was informed by Sa'id b. Jubair who in turn was informed by Ibn Abbas.

Book 20, Number 4518:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: Whoso obeys me obeys Allāh, and whoso disobeys me disobeys Allāh. Whoso obeys the commander (appointed by me) obeys me, and whoso disobeys the commander disobeys me. The same tradition transmitted by different persons omits the portion: And whose disobeys the commander disobeys me.

Book 20, Number 4519:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Whoso obeys me obeys Allāh; and whose disobeys me disobeys Allāh. Whoso obeys my commander obeys me, and whoso disobeys my commander disobeys me.

Book 20, Number 4523:

According to one version of the tradition, the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) said: Whoso obeys the commander. He did not say:" My commander."

Book 20, Number 4524:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: It is obligatory for you to listen to the ruler and obey him in adversity and prosperity, in pleasure and displeasure, and even when another person is given (rather undue) preference over you.

Book 20, Number 4525:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said: My friend (i. e. the Prophet) advised me to listen (to the man in position of authority) and obey (him) even if he were a slave maimed (and disabled).

Book 20, Number 4528:

It has been narrated on the authority of Yahya b. Husain who learnt the tradition from his grandmother. She said that she heard the Prophet (may peace be upon him) delivering his sermon on the occasion of the Last Pilgrimage. He was saying: If a slave is appointed over you and he conducts your affairs according to the Book of Allāh, you should listen to him and obey (his orders).

Book 20, Number 4532:

It has been narrated on the authority of Yahya b. Husain who learnt the tradition from his grandmother. Umm Husain. He said': I heard her say: I performed Hajjat-ul-Wada' in the company of the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him). He said a lot of things (on this occasion). Then I heard him say: If a maimed slave is appointed a commander over you the narrator says: I think she said:" a black stave" who leads you according to the Book of Allāh, then listen to him and obey him.

Book 20, Number 4533:

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Umar that the Prophet (may peace be upon him) said: It is obligatory upon a Muslim that he should listen (to the ruler appointed over him) and obey him whether he likes it or not, except that he is ordered to do a sinful thing. If he is ordered to do a sinful act, a Muslim should neither. listen to him nor should he obey his orders.

Book 20, Number 4535:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu 'Abd al-Rahmān from 'Ali that the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) sent a force (on a mission) and appointed over them a man. He kindled a fire and said: Enter it. Some people made up their minds to enter it (the fire), (carrying out the order of their commander), but the others said: We fled from the fire (that's why we have come into the fold of Islam). The matter was reported to the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him). He said to those who Contemplated entering (the fire at the order of their commander): If you had entered it, you would have remained there until the Day of Judgment. He commanded the act of the latter group and said: There is no submission in matters involving Allāh's disobedience or displeasure. Submission is obligatory only in what is good (and reasonable).

Book 20, Number 4536:

It has been narrated on the authority of 'All who said: The Mersenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) sent an expeditionand appointed over the Mujāhids a man from the Ansār. (While making the appointment), he ordered that his work should be listened to and obeyed. They made him angry in a matter. He said: Collect for me dry wood. They collected it for him. Then he said: Kindle a fire. They kindled (the fire). Then he said: Didn't the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) order you to listen to me and obey (my orders)? They said: Yes. He said: Enter the fire. The narrator says: (At this), they began to look at one another and said: We fled from the fire to (find refuge with) the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) (and now you order us to enter it). They stood quiet until his anger cooled down and the fire went out. When they returned, they related the incident to the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him). He said: If they had entered it, they would not have come out. Obedience (to the commander) is obligatory only in what is good.

Book 20, Number 4538:

It has been narrated on the authority of Ubida who learnt the tradition from his father who, in turn, learnt it from his own father. 'Ubada's grandfather said: The Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) took an oath of allegiance from us on our listening to and obeying the orders of our commander in adversity and prosperity, in pleasure and displeasure (and even) when somebody is given preference over us, on our avoiding to dispute the delegation of powers to a person deemed to be a fit recipient thereof (in the eye of one who delegates it) and on our telling the truth in whatever position we be without fearing in the matter ef Allāh the reproach of the reproacher.

Book 20, Number 4541:

It has been narrated on the authority of Junida b. Abu Umayya who said: We called upon 'Ubada b. Samit who was ill and said to him: May Allāh give you health I Narrate to us a tradition which Allāh may prove beneficial (to us) and which you have heard from the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him). He said: The Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) called us and we took the oath of allegiance to him. Among the injunctions he made binding upon us was: Listening and obedience (to the Amir) in our pleasure and displeasure, in our adversity and prosperity, even when somebody is given preference over us, and without disputing the delegation of powers to a man duly invested with them (Obedience shall be accorded to him in all circumstances) except when you have clear signs of his disbelief in (or disobedience to) Allāh's signs that could be used as a conscientious justification (for non-compliance with his orders).

Chapter 9: WHEN A RULER ENJOINS GOD-CONSCIOUSNESS AND DOES JUSTICE, HE WILL HAVE A (GREAT) REWARD

Book 20, Number 4542:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Prophet of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: A commander (of the Muslims) is a shield for them. They fight behind him and they are protected by (him from tyrants and aggressors). If he enjoins fear of Allāh, the Exalted and Glorious, and dispenses justice, there will be a (great) reward for him; and if he enjoins otherwise, it redounds on him.

Chapter 10: FULFILMENT OF THE COVENANT MADE WITH THE CALIPHS IS IMPERATIVE. THE CALIPH TO WHOM ALLEGIANCE IS SWORN IN THE FIRST INSTANCE HAS AN ESTABLISHED SUPREMACY OVER THOSE WHO ASSUME POWERS LATER

Book 20, Number 4543:

It has been narrated by Abu Huraira that the Prophet (may pceace be upon him) said: Banu Isra'il were ruled over by the Prophets. When one Prophet died, another succeeded him; but after me there is no prophet and there will be caliphs and they will be quite large in number. His Companions said: What do you order us to do (in case we come to have more than one Caliph)? He said: The one to whom allegiance is sworn first has a supremacy over the others. Concede to them their due rights (i. e. obey them). Allāh (Himself) will question them about the subjects whom He had entrusted to them.

Book 20, Number 4545:

It has been narrated on the authority of 'Abdullāh who said: The Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: After me there will be favouritism and many things that you will not like. They (his Companions) said: Messenger of Allāh, what do you order that one should do if anyone from us has to live through such a time? He said: You should discharge your own responsibility (by obeying your Amir), and ask Allāh to cuncede your right (by guiding the Amir to the right path or by replacing him by one more just and fearing of Allāh).

Book 20, Number 4546:

It has been narrated on the authority of 'Abd al-Rahmān b. Abd Rabb al-Ka'ba who said: I entered the mosque when 'Abdullāh b. 'Amr b. al-'As was sitting in the shade of the Ka'ba and the people had gathered around him. I betook myself to them and sat near him. (Now) Abdullāh said: I accompanied the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) on a journey. We halted at a place. Some of us began to set right their tents, others began to compete with one another in shooting, and others began to graze their beasts, when an announcer of the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) announced that the people should gather together for prayer, so we gathered around the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him). He said: It was the duty of every Prophet that has gone before me to guide his followers to what he knew was good for them and warn them against what he knew was bad for them; but this Ummah of yours has its days of peace and (security) in the beginning, and in the last phase of its existence it will be afflicted with trials and with things disagreeable to you. (In this phase of the Ummah), there will be tremendous trials one after the other, each making the previous one dwindle into insignificance. When they would be afflicted with a trial, the believer would say: This is going to bring about my destruction. When at (the trial) is over, they would be afflicted with another trial, and the believer would say: This surely is going to be my end. Whoever wishes to be delivered from the fire and enter the garden should die with faith in Allāh and the Last Day and should treat the people as he wishes to be treated by them. He who swears allegiance to a Caliph should give him the pledge of his hand and the sincerity of his heart (i. e. submit to him both outwardly as well as inwardly). He should obey him to the best of his capacity. If another man comes forward (as a claimant to Caliphate), disputing his authority, they (the Muslims) should behead the latter. The narrator says: I came close to him ('Abdullah b. 'Amr b. al-'As) and said to him: Can you say on oath that you heard it from the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him)? He pointed with his hands to his ears and his heart and said: My ears heard it and my mind retained it. I said to him: This cousin of yours, Mu'awiya, orders us to unjustly consume our wealth among ourselves and to kill one another, while Allāh says: "O ye who believe, do not consume your wealth among yourselves unjustly, unless it be trade based on mutual agreement, and do not kill yourselves. Verily, Allāh is Merciful to you" (iv. 29). The narrator says that (hearing this) Abdulllāh b. 'Amr b. al-As kept quiet for a while and then said: Obey him in so far as he is obedient to Allāh; and diqobey him in matters involving disobedience to Allāh.

Chapter 11: PATIENCE AT THE TYRANNY OF THE GOVERNORS AND THEIR UNDUE PREFERENCES

Book 20, Number 4549:

It has been narrated on the authority of Usaid b. Hudair that a man from the Ansar took the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) aside and said to him: Will you not appoint me governor as you have appointed so and so? He (the Messenger of Allāh) said: You will surely come across preferential treatment after me, so you should be patient until you meet me at the Cistern (Haud-i-Kauthar).

Chapter 12: OBEDIENCE TO BE SHOWN TO THE (CALIPHS) EVEN IF THEY WITHHOLD THE PEOPLE'S DUE RIGHTS

Book 20, Number 4551:

It has been narrated on the authority of Alqama b. Wai'l al-Hadrami who learnt the tradition from his father. The latter said: Salama b. Yazid al-ju'afi asked the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him): Prophet of Allāh, what do you think if we have rulers who rule over us and demand that we discharge our obligations towards them, but they (themselves) do not discharge their own responsibilities towards us? What do you order us to do? The Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) avoided giving any answer. Salama asked him again. He (again) avoided giving any answer. Then he asked again, it was the second time or the third time, when Ash'ath b. Qais (finding that the Prophet was unnecessarily being pressed for answer) pulled him aside and said: Listen to them and obey them, for on them shall he their burden and on you shall be your burden.

Chapter 13: INSTRUCTION TO STICK TO THE MAIN BODY OF THE MUSLIMS IN THE TIME OF TRIALS AND WARNING AGAINST THOSE INVITING PEOPLE TO DISBELIEF

Book 20, Number 4553:

It has been narrated on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said: People used to ask the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) about the good times, but I used to ask him about bad times fearing lest they overtake me. I said: Messenger of Allāh, we were in the midst of ignorance and evil, and then Allāh brought us this good (time through Islām). Is there any bad time after this good one? He said: Yes. I asked: Will there be a good time again after that bad time? He said: Yes, but therein will be a hidden evil. I asked: What will be the evil hidden therein? He said: (That time will witness the rise of) the people who will adopt ways other than mine and seek guidance other than mine. You will know good points as well as bad points. I asked: Will there be a bad time after this good one? He said: Yes. (A time will come) when there will be people standing and inviting at the gates of Hell. Whoso responds to their call they will throw them into the fire. I said: Messenger of Allāh, describe them for us. He said: All right. They will be a people having the same complexion as ours and speaking our language. I said: Messenger of Allāh, what do you suggest if I happen to live in that time? He said: You should stick to the main body of the Muslims and their leader. I said: If they have no (such thing as the) main body and have no leader? He said: Separate yourself from all these factions, though you may have to eat the roots of trees (in a jungle) until death comes to you and you are in this state.

Book 20, Number 4554:

It his been narrated through a different chain of transmitters, on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said: Messenger of Allāh, no doubt, we had an evil time (i. e. the days of Jahiliyya or ignorance) and Allāh brought us a good time (i. e. Islamic period) through which we are now living. Will there be a bad time after this good time? He (the Prophet) said: Yes. I said: Will there be a good time after this bad time? He said: Yes. I said: Will there be a bad time after good time? He said: Yes. I said: How? Whereupon he said: There will be leaders who will not be led by my guidance and who will not adopt my ways? There will be among them men who will have the hearts of devils in the bodies of human beings. I said: What should I do. Messenger of Allah, if I (happen) to live in that time? He replied: You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched, you should listen and obey.

Book 20, Number 4555:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: One who defected from obedience (to the Amir) and separated from the main body of the Muslims, if he died in that state, would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya (i. e. would not die as a Muslim). One who fights under the banner of a people who are blind (to the cause for which they are fighting. i. e. do not know whether their cause is just or otherwise), who gets flared up with family pride, calls, (people) to fight for their family honour, and supports his kith and kin (i. e. fignts not for the cause of Allāh but for the sake of this family or tribe) -if he is killed (in this fight), he dies as one belonging to the days of Jhiliyya. Whoso attacks my Ummah (indiscriminately) killing the righteous and the wicked of them, sparing not (even) those staunch in faith and fulfilling not his promise made with those who have been given a pledge of security -he has nothing to do with me and I have nothing to do with him.

Book 20, Number 4559:

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Abbas that the messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: One who found in his Amir something which he disliked should hold his patience, for one who separated from the main body of the Muslims even to the extent of a handspan and then he died would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya.

Book 20, Number 4561:

It has been narrated on the authority of Ibn 'Abdullah al-Bajali that the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: One who is killed under the banner of a man who is blind (to his just cause), who raises the slogan of family or supports his own tribe, dies the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya.

Book 20, Number 4562:

It has been reported on the authority of Nafi, that 'Abdullāh b. Umar paid a visit to Abdullāh b. Muti' in the days (when atrocities were perpetrated on the People Of Madinh) at Harra in the time of Yazid b. Mu'awiya. Ibn Muti' said: Place a pillow for Abu 'Abd al-Rahmān (family name of 'Abdullāh b. 'Umar). But the latter said: I have not come to sit with you. I have come to you to tell you a tradition I heard from the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him). I heard him say: One who withdraws his band from obedience (to the Amir) will find no argument (in his defence) when he stands before Allāh on the Day of Judgment, and one who dies without having bound himself by an oath of allegiance (to an Amir) will die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahillyya.

Book 20, Number 4563:

It has been narrated on the authority of Abu 'Umar that he visited Ibn Muti', and related from the Prophet (may peace be upon him) the tradition that has gone before.

Chapter 17: THE BEST AND THE WORST OR YOUR RULERS

Book 20, Number 4573:

It has been narrated on the authority of 'Auf b. Malik that the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) said: The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke Allāh's blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): Shouldn't we overthrow them with the help of the sword? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them. You should hate their administration, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience.

Book 20, Number 4574:

It has been narrated on the authority of Auf b. Malik al-Ashja'i who said that he heard the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him) say: The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, upon whom you invoke Allāh's blessings and who invoke His blessing upon you. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you, who curse you and whom you curse. (Those present) said: Shouldn't we overthrow them at this? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. Mind you! One who has a governor appointed over him and he finds that the governor indulges in an act of disobedience to Allāh, he should condemn the governor's act, in disobedience to Allāh, but should not withdraw himself from his obedience. Ibn Jabir said: Ruzaiq narrated to me this hadith. I asked him: Abu Miqdam, have you heard it from Muslim b. Qaraza or did he describe it to you and he heard it from 'Auf (b. Malik) and he transmitted this tradition of Allāh's Messenger (may peace be upon him)? Upon this Ruzaiq sat upon his knees and facing the Qibla said: By Allāh, besides Whom there is no other God, I heard it from Muslim b. Qaraza and he said that te had heard it from Auf (b. Malik) and he said that he had heard it from the Messenger of Allāh (may peace be upon him).