Fighting under a banner and with the permission of the leader
In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, Most Merciful
It is a condition for the correctness of jihad to have a legitimate banner to fight under that has been designated by the leader of the Muslims, the one whom the pledge of allegiance has been given, or someone whom he delegates that authority to. Failing that, a Muslim must ask his permission if he wishes to perform jihad under someone else’s banner, whilst thepledge of allegiance remains for the first leader and without leaving it.
From the proofs of this is the following:
1. Allah’s statement, Glory be to Him:
And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favor of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Satan, except for a few.
In this āyah is an unequivocal command to stick to those in authority at times of security and fear. There is no doubt that jihad and military conquest are from the affairs of public security, which must be returned to those in authority, and those who have jurisdiction from the scholars.
2. Allah’s statement, the Exalted:
O Prophet, urge the believers to battle.
In this āyah Allah is ordering His Prophet (pbuh) to encourage his believing followers to fight. Yet, He did not order some of the believers to encourage others. The Prophet (pbuh) was only singled out because he was the person of authority. Therefore, it becomes clear from this that encouragement to fight is from the sole rights of the one in authority, and is not from the rights of others.
3. Allah, Glory be to Him, has encouraged sticking to the obedience of the one in authority in His Noble Book, as well as those who are delegated by the one in authority to take care of military affairs and the army. Allah the Exalted said:
O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you.
Ibn ‘Abbās said:
This āyah was revealed with regards to ‘Abdullah bin Hudhāfa ibn Qays ibn ‘Adiyy, when the Prophet (pbuh) sent him out for a military expedition.
4. From the Sunna is the hadīth of Hudhayfa bin al-Yamān which is recorded in the two sahīhs:
The people used to ask the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) about the good, and I used to ask him about the evil out of fear that it would happen to me…- In it is his question -: “What do you think if such a thing should happen to me?” The Prophet (pbuh) said: “Stick to the united body of the Muslims and their leader.” I said: “What about if there is united body and no leader?” He said: “Avoid every one of those sects, even if you were to bite on the roots of a tree until death overtakes you while you are in that state.”
The proof from the hadīth is that the Muslim is required to stick to the united body of the Muslims and their leader in every situation; this includes affairs of jihad and military campaigns, and affairs of public safety and security. Also, the Prophet ordered Hudhayfa to keep away from the sects which go against the united body of the Muslims, at a time in which there is no united body of Muslims and no leader. He did not order him to fight them, and this proves that fighting can only be behind a ruler. In addition, if the Prophet (pbuh) ordered Hudhayfa to keep away from these groups, when there is no leader of the Muslims, then keeping away from these groups, including the jihadi groups that are present today, whilst there is a leader of the Muslims, is even more deserving.
5. On the authority of Ibn ‘Abbās, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
There is no hijra after the conquest [of Mecca]. However, there is jihad and intention. If you are asked to go forth [in battle] then go forth.
An-Nawawi said when explaining the hadīth:
His (pbuh) saying “If you are asked to go forth [in battle] then go forth.” It means: If the ruler calls you to participate in a battle then go.
Therefore, it is understood from the hadīth that if the ruler does not tell you to go forth into battle, then there is no going. For that reason, al-Kirmāni said, as is mentioned by al-Hāfidh ibn Hajar in Al-Fath:
It is possible to extract from his saying: “If you are asked to go forth [in battle] then go forth” that it means: do not be disloyal to the rulers and do not go against them, because the obligation of fulfilling the responsibility of going forth for battle necessitates forbidding disloyalty.
6. It is narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked his permission to perform jihad. He (pbuh) replied: “Are your parents alive?” The man replied: “Yes.” He said: “Then your jihad is with them.” The point of proof in the hadīth: that this man came and asked the Prophet (pbuh) to allow him to perform jihad. This proves that they did not go to jihad except with the permission of the Prophet (pbuh) and the obligation of seeking the permission of the person in authority to perform jihad is taken from this.
7. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said:
Whoever fights under a blind banner which calls to partisanship, or gets angry because of partisanship and is killed, his death is one of the time of ignorance.
8. Al-Bukhāri entitled a chapter in his Sahīh: ‘Chapter: Fighting is to be performed behind the ruler and he is a protection’, then he narrated with his chain of narration to Abu Hurayra that the Prophet (pbuh) said:
And the leader is a shield who is to be fought behind and people protect themselves with him. If he orders the fear of Allah and is just, then he has a reward because of it, and if he orders something else, then it is against himself.
His statement (pbuh) that “the leader is a shield,” means like a screen, because he prevents the enemy from harming the Muslims, he prevents the people from harming each other, and protects the territory of Islam. The people fear him and fear his force.
Similarly, the verbal sentence: “who is to be fought behind” is an adjective clause of “the leader is a shield,” so it enters within the constraint. It is as if he said: “There is no fighting except with the leader.
9. It is also reported from the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) that he said:
A military expedition is of two types: As for the one who wishes for Allah’s face, and obeys the leader, and spends from the best of his wealth, and makes things easy for his companion, and keeps away from corruption, his being asleep and awake are all rewarded. As for the one who goes out with pride, so that he is seen and heard, and disobeys the leader and causes corruption on the earth, he does not return with enough to fulfill his needs.
The Companions set out the best example in obeying the leader in jihad. In the Battle of the Trench, on a very cold and rainy night, when the Prophet (pbuh) ordered Hudhayfa to bring news of the enemy, he did not languish in complying with the order of the Prophet (pbuh). Hudhayfa said, when he was narrating the story: “I found no alternative when he called me by my name except to stand.” When he wanted to go, the Prophet (pbuh) said to him: “Go and bring news of the enemy and do not do anything to alarm them,” and in another narration: “O Hudhayfa, go to the enemy and see what they are doing, and do not do anything amongst them until you return to us.” Hudhayfa said:
When I left him I went as though I was walking through a spa , until I came to them and I saw Abu Sufyān warming his back at the fire, so I put an arrow in the middle of the bow and I wanted to fire it. Then, I remembered the statement of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh): “Do not do anything to alarm them,” and if I were to have fired I would have hit him, but I went back.
He remembered the order of the Prophet (pbuh) not to do anything amongst them, so he stuck to it, despite being able to kill Abu Sufyān. Had he wanted to kill him he would have done so, but he put the order of his Prophet and ruler ahead of his own lot.
On the authority of Mujāhid who said:
I asked Ibn ‘Umar about fighting alongside the leaders of tyranny, and they had innovated in the religion. He said: “Go and fight (with them).”
Imam Ahmad said in Usūl as-Sunna :
Going to battle with the leaders will continue until the Day of Judgment, the pious of them and the wicked, it is not to be left.
Abu Dāwūd said:
I said to Imam Ahmad: “[What] if the leader says: ‘Let no one from the people of ‘Ayn Zarba go to battle’?” He said: “Thenno one from there should go.”
At-Tahāwi said in Al-‘Aqīda at-Tahāwiyya :
Hajj and jihad will remain with the Muslim rulers, whether pious or wicked, until the Day of Reckoning, nothing invalidates these two things and nothing cancels them.
In the commentary of the shaykh and great scholar, Sālih al-Fawzān, may Allah preserve him, on the statement of at-Tahāwi:
Who organises the fighting and leads it? It is the imam. Therefore, we follow the leader. If he orders us to do battle, we fight, and we do not do so without the permission of the leader, since this is not allowed. That is because it is from the rights of the leader.
O you who have believed, what is [the matter] with you that, when you are told to go forth in the cause of Allah, you adhere heavily to the earth?
Therefore, fighting is from the privileges of the leader, so if the leader tells the people to go forth and fight, it becomes obligatory upon everyone who is able to carry a weapon. It is not a condition for the leader who performs hajj or jihad that he is not sinful. He may have some sins and transgressions, however, as long as he has not left Islam it is obligatory to perform hajj and jihad with him.
Al-Muwaffaq ibn Qudāma said in Al-‘Umda :
…and battles are fought alongside every leader, pious or wicked…
The one who explained Al-‘Umda, Bahā’ ad-Dīn al-Maqdasi, said:
“Battles are fought alongside every pious or wicked person,” he (Ibn Qudāma) means: alongside every leader.
Ibn Qudāma said in Al-Muqni’ :
…and it is not permissible to go forth in battle except with the permission of the ruler, except if an enemy appears suddenly and they fear that they will be overcome.
And Ibn Qudāma said in Al-Mughni :
The matter of jihad is the responsibility of the leader and his ijtihād. His subjects are obligated to obey him with regard to his opinion about it.
Shaykh Majd-ud-Dīn Abul-Barakāt ‘Abdus-Salām Ibn Taymiyya said:
It is not permissible to fight in battle except with the permission of the leader, except if they are suddenly attacked by an enemy and it is feared that they will overcome them if they wait for permission, in this case it is not required.
Shaykh-ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyya said in Al-Aqīda al-Wāsatiyya, relating the belief of Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a:
They take the opinion of performing hajj and jihad and the Jumu‘a and ‘Eid prayers along with the rulers, whether they are pious or wicked.
The honourable Shaykh Muhammad bin Sālih al-‘Uthaymīn said commenting on this:
Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a say: We hold the opinion of performing hajj with the rulers regardless of whether they are pious or wicked. Similarly the performance of jihad with the ruler, even if he is an evil-doer (fāsiq); and they perform jihad with a ruler who does not pray with them in congregation, rather he prays in private. Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a have far sightedness, since opposition in these things is disobeying Allah and His Messenger, and leads to great trials. What is the thing which opened the door of trials and fighting between the Muslims and disagreement in opinions except rebelling against the rulers?! Therefore, Ahl-us-Sunna wal-Jamā‘a hold the opinion of performing hajj and jihad with the leaders, even if they are wicked people…”
The great scholar, al-Hajjāwi, said in Zād al-Mustaqni’:
The leader organizes his army before heading out on an expedition… and the army are obliged to obey him and to be patient with him. It is not allowed for them to go into battle except with his permission.
The noble shaykh, Muhammad bin Sālih al-‘Uthaymīn said, commenting on the above:
Meaning that it is not permissible for an army to go into battle except with the permission of the leader, no matter what the situation, since the ones who are responsible for military expeditions and jihad are those in authority, not individual people.
Individual people are followers of those charged with authority, so it is not permissible for anyone to go into battle without the permission of the leader except for the purposes of defence. And if their enemy attacks them suddenly and they fear he will overcome them; in this case they are allowed to defend themselves since the fighting has already been determined in this case.
The imam and shaykh, Muhammad bin Abdul-Wahhāb, said in his treatise on ‘aqīda which he sent to the people of Qaseem:
I take the opinion that jihad is to be performed with every leader, whether he is pious or wicked, and praying in congregation behind them is permissible.
Some of the leaders of the Najdi d‘awa , may Allah have mercy upon them, said in some of their writings:
As for the matter of jihad, it is comes down to the opinion of the leader. He has to look at what is more beneficial for Islam and the Muslims according to what the Sharia entails.
They  also said in some of their writings:
And we have seen something which necessitates weakness for the people of Islam and the entrance of sectarianism into their countries. It is: acting independently without their leader, thinking that this is with the intention of jihad – and they do not know that the reality of jihad. Making treaties with enemies, giving out general protection and carrying out prescribed punishments are all unique to the leader and connected to him and it is not for any of his subjects to enter into any of this except with his authority
Shaykh Sa‘ad ibn Muhammad bin Atīq said:
From that which some of those ignorant confused people claim: belittling those who are in authority of the Muslims, and considering it nothing to go against the leader of the Muslims and to rebel against his authority, transgressing against him by battling against him… This is from ignorance and making corruption on the earth. This is known by everyone with intellect and faith.
The noble and exemplary scholar, Muhammad bin Sālih al-‘Uthaymīn, said:
It (meaning jihad ) must have conditions. From these conditions is the ability to fight the enemy, such that those who take part in the jihad are capable physically, financially, and in terms of their equipment, and from the conditions is that they are under the banner of the leader and they fight on his command.
The noble shaykh, Sālih al-Fawzān, may Allah preserve him, was asked the following question: What are the conditions of jihad and are they present now? He replied:
The conditions of jihad are well known: that the Muslims have the strength and ability to perform jihad. If they have neither ability nor strength, then there is no jihad upon them. The Messenger of Allah r and his companions were in Mecca before the hijra and jihad was not legislated for them, since they were not able. Similarly, the jihad must be under Muslim leadership, on the command of the one in authority, since he is the one who commands it, organizes it, is responsible for it, and manages it. Therefore, it is from his prerogative and it is not from the prerogative of any person or any group which goes out to fight without the permission of the one in authority.
He was also asked, may Allah preserve him: What is the ruling of going to jihad without the permission of the ruler, since the one who goes for jihad is forgiven from the first drop of his blood and will he be classed as a martyr? He replied:
If he disobeys the one in authority and disobeys his parents and goes, he will not be a mujāhid, rather he will be a sinner.
1 The Quran, Sura an-Nisā’ :83.
2 The Quran, Sura al-Anfāl :65.
3 The Quran, Sura an-Nisā’ :59.
4 Recorded by al-Bukhāri 4584, Muslim 1834, an-Nasā’i 4194, Ibn-ul-Jārūd in Al-Muntaqā 1040 and Ahmad 3124.
5 Recorded by al-Bukhāri 7084, Muslim 1847, Ibn Mājah 3979, al-Hākim 386, and al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunan al-Kubrā 16387.
6 Narrated by al-Bukhāri 2783 and 2825, Muslim 1353, Abu Dāwūd 2480, at-Tirmidhi 1590, an-Nasā’i in As-Sunan al-Kubrā 8703 and Ibn Hibbān 3720.
7 Sharh an-Nawawi li Muslim (9/128).
8 Fath Al-Bāri (6/342).
9 Narrated by al-Bukhāri 3004 and 5972, Muslim 2549, Abu Dāwūd 2529, at-Tirmidhi 1671, an-Nasā’i 3103, Ibn Hibbān 318 and 420, and Ahmad 6544 and 6765.
10 Narrated by Muslim 1848 and 1850, an-Nasā’i 4114, Ibn Mājah 3948, Ibn Hibbān 4580, Ahmad 8047 and Al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunan al-Kubrā 16388.
11 Narrated by al-Bukhāri 2957, Muslim 1841, an-Nasā’i 4196 and Ahmad 10787.
12 Sharh Muslim li an-Nawawi (12/434).
13 Narrated by Abu Dāwūd 2515, an-Nasā’i 3188 and 4195, Mālik in Al-Muwatta 912, al-Hākim 2435, al-Bayhaqi in As- Sunan al-Kubrā 18328, ad-Dārimi 2421, Ahmad 22095, ‘Abd bin Humayd in Al-Muntakhab 109, at-Tabarāni in Al-Mu’jam al-Kabīr (20/91), as well as Musnad ash-Shāmiyyīn 1159, Ibn Abi ‘Āsim in Al-Jihād 133 and 134, and al-Albāni declared it to be “fair.”
14 The narration of Ahmad, 23382.
15 Translator’s note: Meaning he did not feel the cold at all.
16 Hadīth narrated by Muslim 1788, Ibn Hibbān 7125, and al-Bayhaqi in As-Sunan al-Kubrā, 18223.
17 Narrated by Ibn Abi Shayba in his Musannaf (6/33371).
18 Usūl as-Sunna by Imam Ahmad, within Tabaqāt al-Hanābila (1/244).
19 Masā’il al-Imām Ahmad, the narration of Abu Dāwūd as- Sijistāni, p. 316.
20 Sharh at-Tahāwiyya by Ibn Abil-‘Izz, with the commentary of al-Albāni, p.387.
21 The Quran, Sura at-Tawba :38.
22 At-T‘alīqāt al-Mukhtasara ‘alal ‘Aqīda at-Tahāwiyya, p.190.
23 Al-‘Udda Sharh Al-‘Umda, p.567.
24 Al-Muqni’ fi Fiqh al-Imām Ahmad, by Al-Muwaffaq Ibn Qudāmah al-Maqdisi رحمه الله, p. 89.
25 Al-Mughni (13/16).
26 Al-Muharrar fil Fiqh ‘alā Madhhab al-Imām Ahmad (2/341).
27 Sharh al-‘Aqīda al-Wāsitiyya, by Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymīn (2/337-8).
28 Ash-Sharh al-Mumti’ (8/25).
29 Majmoo’ Mu’allafāt ash-Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abdil-Wahhāb (3/7).
30 They are: Shaykh Sa’d bin ‘Atīq, Shaykh Sulaymān bin Sahmān, Shaykh ‘Abdullah bin ‘Abdul-‘Azīz al-‘Anqari, Shaykh ‘Umar bin Salīm (or Sulaym), Shaykh Sālih bin ‘Abdul-‘Azīz, Shaykh ‘Abdullah bin Hasan, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azīz bin ‘Abdul-Latīf, Shaykh ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul-Latīf, Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibrahim, Shaykh ‘Abdullah ibn Zāhim, Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Uthmān, and Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azīz ash-Shathari – may Allah have mercy on them all.
31 Ad-Durar as-Saniyya fil-Ajwibatin-Najdiyya (9/310).
32 They are: Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azīz bin ‘Abdul-Latīf, Shaykh Hasan bin Husayn, Shaykh Sa‘ad bin ‘Atīq and Shaykh Muhammad bin ‘Abdul-Latīf – may Allah have mercy on them all.
33 Ad-Durar as-Saniyya fil-Ajwibatin-Najdiyya (9/95-6).
34 Ad-Durar as-Saniyya fil-Ajwibatin-Najdiyya (9/142-3).
35 An addition to the text [by the author] in order to clarify the meaning.
36 Tafsīr Al-Qur’ān al-‘Adhīm by Ibn ‘Uthaymīn (3/49).
37 Fatāwā al-A’imma fin-Nawāzil al-Mudalhima, p.205.
38 Al-Fatāwā ash-Sharī‘a fil-Qadāyā al-‘Asariyya, p.159.