The Proper way of Dealing with Unjust Rulers

The religion of Islam has paid great attention to establishing good relationships between the ruler and the public, through building effective social relationships, regulating the relationship between the ruler and the public, building mutual respect among the two parties, and determining the rights of both the ruler and the ruled.
Thus, since rulers are human beings that are inclined to error, Islamic Sharia has demonstrated how to guide, exhort, and properly deal with unjust rulers, through the following:

• Islamic Sharia directed people to guide unjust rulers through exhorting and reminding them of the severe punishment that waits immoral and unjust people in the Hereafter, for Ibn Abbas Narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, “Whoever disapproves of something done by his ruler then he should be patient, for whoever disobeys the ruler even a little (a span) will die as those who died in the Pre-lslamic Period of Ignorance.” And Abu Hurayranarrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “Allah is pleased with three things from you, and He is angry with three things from you. He is pleased that you worship Him and do not associate anything with Him, and that you take hold of the rope of Allah altogether, and that you give good counsel to the one to whom Allah gives command over you. He is angry with you for gossip, squandering property, and asking too many questions.” Hafiz IbnAbd al-Barr Said, “There is general consensus among scholars that it is obligatory to exhort the Sultan as long as he is willing to accept the advice.” [Recall 8/579] He also added, “The public should also advise the ruler for Abu Hurairah narrated that the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him said, “Religion is exhortation, religion is exhortation, religion is exhortation.” They said, “To whom, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “To Allah, to his Book, to his Messenger, to the imams of the Muslims and to their common folk.”

• Islamic Sharia also called people to pay more attention when they address rulers, and urged them to reform their ways through wisdom and fair exhortation, instead of provoking the public against them, forAbu ‘Abdullah Tariq bin Shihab narrated, “A person asked the Prophet, peace be upon him, when he had just put his foot in the stirrup, and said, “What is the highest form of Jihad?” The Prophet, peace be upon him said, “Speaking the truth in the presence of a tyrant ruler”. And Bukhari and Muslim narrated, “It was said to Usama bin Zaid, “Why don’t you visit ‘Uthman and talk to him?” Thereupon he said, “Do you think that I have not talked to him but that I have made you hear? By Allah. I have talked to him (about things) concerning me and him and I did not like to divulge those things about which I had to take the initiative and I do not say to my ruler”

• Islamic Sharia disapproved of submission to rulers in matters involving Allah’s disobedience or displeasure, for Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Ali, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, sent a force and appointed over them a man. He kindled a fire and said, “Enter it”, some people made up their minds to enter the fire, (carrying out the order of their commander), but the others said, “We fled from Hell (when we converted to Islam), The matter was reported to the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, who 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 Allah’s disobedience or displeasure. Submission is obligatory only in what is good.” And Abdullah ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ” “It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen (to the ruler) and obey whether he likes it or not, except when he is ordered to do a sinful thing; in such case, there is no obligation to listen or to obey.” Muhammad bin Jarir said, “This Hadith indicates the prohibition of obeying the ruler or any person in anything that may lead to the disobedience of Allah the exalted, and although the Prophet, peace be upon him, guided us to obey rulers in a lot of Hadiths, such as, “”Listen and obey (your chief) even if an Ethiopian whose head is like a raisin were made your chief.” And said, “One who found in his Amir something which he disliked should hold his patience.” Yet the Prophet, peace be upon him, indicated that this obedience should never lead to the disobedience of Allah, for it is not permissible to obey anyone in matters leading to the disobedience of Allah.” [SaheehBukhari Explanation by IbnBattal 8/214]

• Islamic Sharia called people to keep their patience when dealing with unjust rulers, and urged them to not revolt against rulers, as Ibn Abbas narrated, that the Prophet, 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.” Also, Malik al-Ashja’i said that he heard the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, say, “The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, upon whom you invoke God’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. 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 God.”

IbnTaymiyah, said, “This Hadith guides people to keep their patience when dealing with unjust rulers,for revolting againstrulers may lead to the spread of great corruption, and that is why the Prophet, peace upon him, praised al-Hassan and said, ” This son of mine is a chief, and I hope Allah may reconcile two parties of my community by means of him.”” [SunnahApproach 4/531]. IbnTaymiyah also said, “The Sunnis and the group also emphasized the need to remain patient and to not fight nor revolt against unjust Imams.”[ Total Fatwas 28/128].

Also, Imam Aajurri mentioned in his book “The Islamic law”, that Umar ibn al-Yazid, said, “I heard Hassan, in the days of bin Muhallab, order a group of people to stay indoors and shut their doors, and then said, “By Allah, people would have been rescued by Allah, had they only maintained patience with unjust rulers, instead of resorting to arms, then read, “And We caused the people who had been oppressed to inherit the eastern regions of the land and the western ones, which We had blessed. And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel because of what they had patiently endured.”

Moreover, Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal, said to Baghdad scholars who came to him and expressed their intention to overthrow “al-Watheq” who espoused the theory of the creation of the Quran, “You should deny it in your hearts, but never disobey him, nor provoke the public against him, for sedition would contribute to corruption, and the bloodshed of innocent people, thus maintain patience until Allah saves the righteous from the licentious.”
Also, Ibn al-Izz said in his explanation of the “Tahawih”, “People should keep their patience when dealing with unjust rulers, because it is the lesser of two evils, for obedience would contribute to great corruption, and the bloodshed of innocent people. Also, patience will earn us forgiveness form Allah, as Allah said, “And whatever strikes you of disaster – it is for what your hands have earned; but He pardons much.”[Shura: 30], “Why [is it that] when a [single] disaster struck you [on the day of Uhud], although you had struck [the enemy in the battle of Badr] with one twice as great, you said, “From where is this?” Say, “It is from you.” Indeed, Allah is over all things competent.” [Al-Imran: 165], ” What comes to you of good is from Allah, but what comes to you of evil, [O man], is from yourself.”[An-Nisa: 79], “And thus will we make some of the wrongdoers allies of others for what they used to earn.” [Al-Anaam: 129].

To conclude, all of these Hadiths and statements demonstrate the proper way in dealing with unjust rulers which is far from armed action, protests or revolutions.