The Sedition of Revolting Against Rulers

One of the main aspects or causes of terrorism is revolting against rulers. It was a historic phenomenon espoused by some Islamic sects, and an approach embraced by the recent deviant groups. It was the principle behind the Kharijites’ radical approach against Muslim communities, both common people and rulers. They often make false claims against rulers such that they are ruling with other than what was revealed by Allah and thus not Muslims, or they claim that they are oppressors and unjust, or that they are failing to command righteousness and forbid indecency; they further claim that by revolting they will alter the rule of law across the land, etc. However, all of these claims are utterly delusive and moreover contradict the fundamental principles of Islamic law, as we shall soon demonstrate.

Before we refute the deceptive claims espoused by the contemporary twisted Kharijites, we ought to explain to these rogues that revolting against rulers is religiously forbidden, and a major sin, for it contributes to massive corruption, insecurity, violation of others’ rights, and inability to ward off the oppressor and defend the oppressed. Moreover, it is strictly forbidden to revolt against the Imam as long as he does not manifest explicit heresy, even if he committed the major sins, or was unjust to his people or violated their rights. Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, said: “They were forbidden to fight them as long as they prayed. This is because they are still Muslims, and worship one God, and have advantages and refrained from a lot of sins” ([1]).
According to the Hadith of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, “You have to abide and obey in contentment and dissatisfaction and monopolies,” ([2]) where and monopolies means take over your rights or violated your funds. He then said after that, “It is the command of Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, to obey governors, which is obligatory on every Muslim even if they monopolize. And since disobedience is forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, it means that it is religiously forbidden to revolt.

This obedience is as obligatory as the five daily prayers, fasting, almsgiving and the pilgrimage to the House of Good, even if he doesn’t pledge alliance to them. Moreover, if he happens to pledge alliance to them as a form of confirmation of what Allah and His Messenger peace be upon him commanded of pledging alliance to governors, then it is certainly impermissible for him to revoke this pledge whether he has sworn in Allah’s name or other known swears. ([3]) No one may give a fatwa allowing the revocation of this pledge, or contradict what has been pledged of what Allah and His Messenger, peace be upon him, commanded in obeying governors, and the mufti who gives such fatwa is definitely a misrepresentative of the religion of Islam.

Moreover, pledging alliance to governors is one of the greatest pledges Allah commanded us to fulfill, for it is religiously prohibited to revolt against governors, even if it is for the sake of modifying their injustice and religious violations due to the corruption it might lead to. For change can sometimes be more damaging and unjust. This is usually a human instinct to alter vice with what is even more vicious, or modify aggression with excessive aggression. ([4]). Revolution in fact does not eradicate injustice, but aggravates it instead; so the solution is to deal with unjust leaders with patience. He says: “Revolting against them contributes to more damage and corruption than the current corruption; therefore he must deal with them with patience.” ([5]).

He also says: “The Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade us from fighting unjust imams, for a fight would contribute to a corruption greater than their injustice.” ([6])

He said: ” the Sharia directed everyone in a manner that serves his best interest, directed governors to be just, and directed the community to obey and remain patient, and forbade them from revolting against rulers no matter how unjust they may be, for sedition might endanger Muslim’s unity and lead to a greater corruption than already exist.” ([7]).

Likewise, history is the best witness, for the only things revolutions contributed to are bloodshed, hatred, survival of the vicious and perishing of the pious, in addition to injustice, hindering the nation from real change, and the rulers’ consultation of hypocrites who wish ill upon our Islamic nation.
Ibn Taymiyyah takes experiments and their results into account more, for there is no need to relive these bitter experiences. Hence, as licentious as a ruler may be, as long as he performs prayers, people should obey him, and remain patient unless patience leads to heresy. This is one of the attributes of the Sunnis and orthodoxy, where we see that “it is not permissible to disobey the Imam whether just or unjust, unless he demands the disobedience of Allah” ([8]).

Furthermore, a ruler’s oppression or injustice is not an excuse for people to deprive rulers of their rights. He says, may Allah have mercy on him, “They are not supposed to deprive the Sultan of his right even if he is unjust, as the Prophet, peace be upon him, said when he mentioned the injustice of governors: ‘Give them their rights, for Allah will question them about their people.'” (([9]).

Ibn Masud, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said, ‘You will witness after my death excessiveness and things you condemn.’ The people asked, ‘What do you ask us to do, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said, ‘Give them their right, and ask Allah for your right.'” (([10]).

Revolting against rulers is forbidden, except in one case, which is when they manifest explicit heresy openly, then this is an undisputable matter.

Moreover, he says that the approach of the religious scholars and habits of Sunnis over the years “don’t permit what Allah has forbidden of disobeying rulers, and revolting against them in anyway, as I have learnt of the habits of Sunnis in the past and present” ([11]).

Rulers’ injustice does not justify or permit fighting or revolting against them, for even the historic texts directed people to remain patient and not fight the cruel, unjust Imams, as the Prophet ordered us. For he never authorized injustice by fighting; rather, he directed us to be patient. Even if injustice happens to occur either through the violation of funds or forceful leadership, still Allah did not demand that Muslims fight over that. For fighting over authority or wealth is a kind of injustice as well, and that’s why the Prophet, peace be upon him, forbade us from fighting unjust imams, for the fight would contribute to a greater corruption, and he peace be upon him said: “You will see after my death excessiveness and things you condemn.” The companions asked, “So what do you ask us to do, O Messenger of Allah?” He said, “Give them their right, and ask Allah for your right.” (([12]).

Ibn Taymiyyah, may God have mercy on him, said:

Thus it is well known from the way of the people of the sunnah that they do not approve of people fighting and revolting against their unjust imams as indicated by the rigorous authenticated traditions from the Prophet, peace be upon him, for the corruption of sedition is even more horrific than the corruption of unjust Imams. Thus, you ought to choose the lesser evil of the two. For we have never heard of a sect that has revolted against a Sultan without contributing to a more heinous corruption than the eradicated corruption.” ([13]).

He said also said: “No one has ever revolted against a Sultan without contributing to a vice greater than their virtues, like those who revolted against Yazeed in Medina, Ibn Al Ashath who revolted against Abd al-Malik in Iraq, Ibn Muhallab, who revolted against his son in Khurasaan, and Abu Muslim who revolted in Khurasaan, also those who revolted against Al Mansur in Medina and Basra.” ([14]).

Ibn Qayyim, may Allah have mercy on him, said to dissuade the Muslim leaders. This is also contrary to deceit and dissuasion cannot be combined with deceit, for he who dissuades imams is never deceptive, saying “This, too, purifies the heart of fraud, for this person remains in the Muslim community, and wants for them what he wants for himself, and hates what they hate, deplores what they deplore, and delights in what they delight in. This is definitely contrary to the ones who revolted such as the Kharijites and Mutazelah who alienated themselves from the Muslim community, abused and insulted them, since their hearts are full of fraud and deceit, they lack sincerity and are the most distant from the Muslim community.” ([15]).

He also said: “The first example is that the Prophet, peace be upon him, permitted the condemnation of vice, so that we can implement with this condemnation what Allah and His messenger love of virtue. Hence, if the condemnation of vice would lead to an even more deplorable vice, a vice Allah and His messenger abhor, then he is not permitted to condemn it. Such as condemning kings and rulers by revolting against them.

Moreover, the messenger’s companions, peace be upon them, excused the Prophet in fighting the rulers who delayed the prayer beyond its time, it was said: “O messenger of Allah, do you not condemn them with your sword?” He replied, “No, as long as they perform prayer.” (([16]). He also said, “He who sees something he deplores from his prince must remain patient ([17]) and does not take his hand from obedience.” (meaning does not disobey the obeyed.) ([18]) Impatience was the reason behind the seditions that took place in Islam, for impatience in the request to obliterate evil, contributed to a greater evil ([19]).

Likewise, it is strictly forbidden to revolt against the Imam so long as he does not manifest explicit heresy, as mentioned in the Hadith. Religious scholars set the conditions that an Imam has to openly manifest such evils before his people start a revolution against him; these conditions are taken from the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him, as Ubada bin Samet, may Allah be pleased with him, said, “We pledged allegiance to the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, to listen and obey in vigor and discomfort, in hardship and ease and excessiveness, and to not deprive them of their rights, unless you witness explicit heresy.” ([20])([21]).

Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen explained these conditions by saying that ([22]) we ought to know that revolting against an authority is impermissible unless certain conditions are met:

– First condition: to witness (in the sense, to certainly know) that the authority committed open heresy.
Second condition: that the thing committed by the authority has to be “heresy”, for licentiousness and immorality do not warrant a revolt no matter how bad they are.

– Third condition: “explicitly” means obvious, unable to be misinterpreted.

– Fourth condition: you have to have the proof from Allah, meaning based on a conclusive proof from the Quran and Sunnah or the agreement of the community. These are the four conditions.

– Fifth condition: taken from the origin of the Islamic religion, which is the ability of those opponents to bring down authority, for if they lack the ability then the damage will be much greater than the damage caused by remaining silence.

The scholars’ opinions and views of in the issue of revolting against leaders

After learning the necessary conditions to denounce a Muslim ruler who does not judge by what Allah has revealed, we come now to a range of the scholars’ opinions and views on the issue of revolting to clarify and unfold the matter to the oblivious.

Imam Muhammad bin Al Hussein Al Ajurrimay, may Allah have mercy on him, said that the scholars agreed in the past and present that Kharijites are licentious sects, disobedient to Allah the Almighty and His messenger, peace be upon him, and no matter how much they prayed and fasted, and worked hard in worship, it will never benefit them. For they are people who infer from the Quran what their desires want, and Allah, the Prophet, the companions and the guided Caliphs warned us of them. Thus, the Kharijites and their followers are the licentious who revolt against leaders and permit Muslims’ bloodshed.

The first Kharijite to appear during the time of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, was a man who abused the messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, while he divided the spoils in Al Jarana. He said: “O Muhammad, be just for I don’t see you being fair.” He replied, peace be upon him, “Woe, if I am not just then who is?” Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, wanted to kill him, but the Prophet, peace be upon him, stopped him, and said, “He and his companions’ prayers are not compared to your prayers and their fast is not like your fast, yet they go out of religion (([23]).

He also said: “Whoever witnesses a revolt against the Imam, whether the Imam was just or unjust, and revolts with them, then he should not take pride in his prayer, fasting or reciting of the Quran, if his doctrine was the doctrine of the Kharijites.”

Thus, the one Allah guides, and remained patient in the face of unjust imams or rulers, and whoever did not revolt against them but asked Allah the Almighty to uplift the injustice inflicted upon him and Muslims, and prayed for the rulers’ guidance, and fought the enemy with them, and prayed with them the Friday and Eid prayers, and obeyed if ordered to obey, but if ordered to sin did not comply, and if he remained in his house when sedition took place, and did not participate in it… He who falls under this category is on the right pathAllah willing. ([24])