The False notion of those who declare it permissible to betray the rulers of the Muslims and others

From the astonishing things – and they are many – is that from the false notions of the Khawaarij extremists is declaring things which are completely and unequivocally prohibited in Islam to be permissible, so that they become a means for their supposed jihaad, such as their persistence in that their betrayal and breaking of contracts is from that which is permissible for them in Islam. They give as evidence the action of the noble companion Muhammad ibn Maslamah – may Allah be pleased with him – when the Jew Ka’b bin Ashraf was killed.

So can this notion of theirs be correctly used as a proof for their betrayal and treachery? We will see this in the following quick points:

Firstly, comparing a believer with someone who offended Allah and His Messenger with slander, abuse, and cursing is a false comparison from every angle.

Al-Bukhari – may Allah have mercy on him – recorded in his Saheeh, along with others, from Jaabir bin ‘Abdullah – may Allah be pleased with them both – that he said:

“The Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said, ‘Who will kill Ka’b bin Ashraf, for he has offended Allah and His Messenger – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him –?’ Muhammad bin Maslamah said, ‘I will.’ Then [Muhammad bin Maslamah] came to [Ka’b] and said, ‘We would like you to advance us a wasq (1) or two’. He replied, ‘Mortgage me your women.’ [Muhammad bin Maslamah] said, ‘How can we mortgage you our women when you are the most handsome of the Arabs?’ He replied, ‘Then mortgage me your sons.’ [Muhammad bin Maslamah] replied, ‘How can we mortgage you our sons, so that one of them would be insulted and it would be said, He was mortgaged for a wasq or two. That is shameful for us. However, we will mortgage you Al-La’mah.’ – Sufyaan said, ‘He meant: armor’ – So he promised that he would come, then they killed him, then they came to the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – and they told him.”

This hadeeth contains a number of evidences: –

Firstly, that the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – told that the Jew Ka’b bin Ashraf had offended Allah and His Messenger, and he did not make the ruling general for all of the Jews. So have the Khawaarij extremists been sent down revelation that the rulers of the Muslims that testify that there is no god worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah have offended Allah and His Messenger?

Secondly, The noble companion Muhammad bin Maslamah – may Allah be pleased with him – did not go ahead with his action until after the request of the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – for him to do so. His seeking permission – may Allah be pleased with him – from the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, then he emphasised this in another narration in Al-Bukhari, “…’Do you wish that I kill him?’ [The Prophet] replied, ‘Yes.’ [Muhammad bin Maslamah] said, ‘Then he gave me permission to say something…’” So who have these extremists sought permission from to betray the Muslims and to violate their sanctity?

Thirdly, that betrayal is repeatedly mentioned in Islamic legislation as being from the characteristics of the hypocrites. It has been authentically recorded by Al-Bukhari – may Allah have mercy on him – from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr, that the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said:

“There are four [characteristics], whoever has them is a complete hypocrite, and whoever has one of the four has a characteristic of hypocrisy unless he gives it up: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; when he makes a pledge, he betrays it; and when he disputes, he resorts to foul language.”

Abu Hurayrah – may Allah be pleased with him – narrated that the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – said:

“Allah said, ‘There are three whose opponent I will be on the Day of Resurrection: a man who makes a promise in My name then breaks his word, a man who sells a free man and consumes his price, and a man who employs another and benefits from him (his labour), then does not give him his wages.’”

Al-Bukhari also narrated from Naafi’ that he said:

“When the people of Madinah renounced their obedience to Yazeed bin Mu’aawiyah, Ibn ‘Umar gathered his servants and children, and said, ‘I heard the Prophet – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him – say, ‘Every betrayer will have a banner erected on the Day of Resurrection’, and we have given the pledge of allegiance to this man upon the conditions of Allah and His Messenger, and I do not know a greater betrayal than for a man to be given the pledge of allegiance upon the conditions of Allah and His Messenger, then to declare war against him. I do not know any of you who have left his obedience nor followed [the others] in this matter, except that it is severance between me and him.’”

Al-Imaam Ibn Hajar counted betrayal as being amongst the major sins, and he counted along with it, killing and oppression of the one who has a guarantee of safety, or protection, or a covenant. He said:

“Counting these three [as part of the major sins] is the express meaning of the ahaadeeth and is evident. Due to [the hadeeth], some of them spoke against the killing of a person who has a agreement of protection from the Muslims being included in betrayal. It has been narrated from ‘Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – that he considered Nakth As-Safqah [lit. breaking the treaty] from the major sins, meaning killing a person who has an agreement of protection from the Muslims.”

A similar opinion was held by Al-Imaam Adh-Dhahabi. He considered betrayal and not honouring a covenant to be the forty fifth major sin, and he mentioned evidences from the Qur’aan and the Sunnah which support this.

So, which foul characteristic is fouler than betrayal, and since when has betrayal been something which is taken as a part of the religion by which Allah’s pleasure is sought? And is there any doubt which the extremists can cling to in their betrayal of those in authority over the Muslims and the general public, after these clear, precise, and authentic texts?

Thirdly, The extremists claim that they undertake their betrayal because they have not given any pledge or guarantee of security to the one in authority. Due to this they see themselves as being exempt from the sin resulting from betrayal. So, is it a requirement for every Muslim to give a pledge to their rulers, so that they stick to that pledge, or is it a condition for the correctness of the ruler’s authority that every single Muslim gives him the pledge of allegiance? We will see what the well grounded scholars say in this issue: –

Al-Imaam Ahmad – may Allah have mercy on him – said in Usool us Sunnah:

“Whoever rebels against a ruler from the rulers of the Muslims, whom the people have agreed upon, and affirmed his rulership, whether by their being pleased with him, or him overcoming them by force, this rebel has revolted against the Muslims and has gone against the narrations from the Messenger of Allah – may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. If this rebel dies upon this, he dies the death of the time of ignorance. It is not permissible for any single person to fight the ruler, nor to rebel against him, and whoever does that is an innovator, upon something other than the Sunnah and the [straight] path.”

Ibn Qudaamah – may Allah have mercy on him – said in Lum’at-ul-‘Itiqaad (181):

“And whoever becomes in control of the khilaafah, and the people unite upon him, and are pleased with him, or if he overcomes them with his sword until he becomes the Khaleefah and is named Ameer-ul-Mu’mineen, it is obligatory to obey him and forbidden to go against him, and rebelling against him is considered revolting against the Muslims.”

Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah – may Allah have mercy on him – said in Minhaaj As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah (1/531):

“Even if it was decreed that some of the people disagreed with the pledge of allegiance, this would not affect its purpose, since his (2) deserving it is authentically proven by the Islamic evidences which prove that he was the most deserving of them of being given it. Therefore, with the presence of Islamic proofs, it does not matter who disagrees with it. Similarly, the attainment of [rulership] and its presence is established by attaining the ability and the authority [to rule], by the obedience of those who have power.”

He also said – may Allah have mercy on him – in Minhaaj As-Sunnah An-Nabawiyyah (1/527):

“Rather, according to them, rulership is established by the agreement of the those who have power, and a man does not become a ruler until the people of power agree to it; those who their obedience to him results in rulership, since the desired result of rulership is only achieved by ability and authority, so if he is given a pledge of allegiance by which he achieves ability and authority, he becomes a ruler.”

For this reason, the salaf said that whoever gains ability and power by which he can undertake the purpose of his authority, he becomes from those in authority whom Allah has ordered us to obey as long as they do not order disobedience to Allah. This is because rulership is dominance and authority, and dominance does not happen because of the agreement of one, two, or even four, except if their agreement necessitates the agreement of others, to the point where he becomes a sovereign in this way. In this manner, every matter which is in need of co-operation in order to be completed, cannot be completed without those who give the ability to co-operate in it.

Al-Imaam Al-Maawardi said in his book Al-Ahkaam As-Sultaaniyyah (35):

“If those who are in charge come together to choose [a ruler], and they go through the situation of those who fulfill the conditions of rulership from them, then they put forward for the pledge of allegiance the greatest of them in virtue and the most complete of them in fulfilling the conditions, and the one whom the people will rush to obey and will not hesitate to give the pledge of allegiance to; if someone stands out from amongst them as being someone whom their estimation leads them to choose, he is to be offered [the rulership]. If he agrees to it, they are to give him the pledge of allegiance, and by their pledge of allegiance his rulership is established, and it becomes obligatory upon the rest of the ummah to enter into the pledge of allegiance to him, and to comply in his obedience.”

Al-Qaadi Abu Ya’laa Al-Farraa’ said something in Al-Ahkaam As-Sultaaniyyah (1/24) similar to Al-Maawardi,

“if someone stands out from amongst them as being someone whom their estimation leads them to choose, he is to be offered [the rulership]. If he agrees to it, they are to give him the pledge of allegiance, and by their pledge of allegiance his rulership is established, and it becomes obligatory upon the rest of the ummah to enter into the pledge of allegiance to him, and to comply in his obedience.”

Based on this, we say that it is clear that the pledge of allegiance from the people of power and those in charge is enough to require that all of the Muslims abide by the pledge, and that they fulfill its obligations and rights, from which is honouring it, and the prohibition of breaking and leaving it. It also becomes clear the weakness of the proof of the extremists, when they claim that the Muslims’ pledge of allegiance to a ruler does not obligate them.

1 Translator’s Footnote: A camel’s load, it is equal to 60 saa’, according to the prophetic measurement. It is said to be around 130kg.

2 Translator’s Footnote: i.e., Abu Bakr – may Allah be pleased with him.