This is the third part to this short series on the topic of obedience to our leaders. Here we will discuss the statements of the Scholars of Islam about this issue. Over the years and different generations the Scholars have been forced to deal with this dangerous misconception, as it is not a new affair that is specific for our days and times. This misconception and misinformation has been plaguing Muslim Societies for generations. So we want to take a minute to see what some of the respected people of knowledge have had to say about these issues.
From the first of these scholars that all of us know is Imaam an Nawawi (may Allah have mercy upon him). He said in his explanation of Sahih Muslim that there is actual an ijmaa (consensus) of the scholars about the issue of the obedience of to the rulers. In it he says, “The Scholars of Islam have a consensus about the obligation of being obedient to the rulers in everything other than disobedience.” As we know, the situation of Ijmaa (consensus of the scholars) is a serious issue. It is actually in itself a legislated proof in Islam. We as muslims are not permitted to go against a legislated proof except for another legislated proof of equal or greater value. This does not include that which some call common sense, some call deductive reasoning, some call intellect and others call rhetoric.
Imaam Abu Ja’far at Tahaawi (may Allah have mercy upon him) said in his famous book ‘The Aquidah of at Tahaawiyah’, “We do not see that revolting against our Imaams or Leaders, and if they do something wrong we do not supplicate against them and we do not take our hands from their obedience. We see their obedience to be from the obedience of Allah as long as it is not in some type of disobedience. We supplicate for them to be correct and for goodness for them.” In this quote it is clear what the position of the Imaam was about this topic.
For those of you who are familiar with Imaam as Shawkaani (may Allah have mercy upon him), then you know that he was a major and highly respected Imaam that many of our Scholars benefited from in the past and still do in these days and times. He said, “That it’s necessary that the one that some wrong has been made apparent to him (from the actions or statements) of the leaders, that they give them advice and not do it in front of the people. Rather that which is narrated in the Hadeeth is that he takes him by the hand and goes off into private with him, he kindly and humbly gives him advice and does not humiliate the one Allah has placed in that position of leadership. As we stated in the beginning of the book, it is not permissible to revolt against the leader regardless of what level of wronging has been done, as long as they establish the prayer and no CLEAR disbelief has come from them. The hadeeth concerning this meaning are mutawaatir (to many to be doubted in terms of its authenticity). Rather it is upon the one being led to obey the leader in terms of obedience and to disobey them (only) in that which is disobedience. Because there is no obedience to the creation in that which is disobedience to the Creator.”
The last of the great Scholars that will be mentioned in this article is that of Sheikh bin Baaz (may Allah have mercy upon him). In explaining this issue in his book about the relationship between the ruler and the one ruled over he said, “The obedience of those in authority, and they are the ruler and the scholars, is an obligation. There has come authentic narrations explaining that this obedience is something that necessary that it is established and it is an obligation in those issues that are not haraam.”
So we see here that the Scholars spent a lot of time advising the people on how to deal with these situations. They explained the meaning of the verses and hadeeth explained in part one and part two of this series. Yet there are some people that come around thinking that their understanding is better than that of the Illustrious Imaams. Even when they claim that they do not think this, we see that their speech and actions show otherwise. Instead of respecting the speech of our major and teaching it to the people, they prefer to put forth their own statements and understandings. Even though we may have taken these people as our teachers, we need to remember to keep everyone in their respective places. Being as though these are the teachers of our teacher and their teachers, should we not give their statements, understandings and view preference over our own limited understandings and those of others like us?