Obedience to the Ruler

Obedience to the Ruler

Q: Many questions have arisen regarding the statement of Your Eminence “Obeying the ruler is Obligatory” and the Hadith “He who obeys the commander (appointed by me) obeys me.” Does this mean we should obey the ruler in everything?

A: This is a Hadith related by Al-Bukhari and Muslim in the Two Sahih (authentic) Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim)on the authority of Abu Hurairah in which the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stated, “Whoever obeys the commander (appointed by me) obeys me, and whoever disobeys the commander disobeys me.” Moreover, Allah (سبحانه) states in His Glorious Book, “O you who believe! Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger (Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم)), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.” [Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 59]

This ruling is general and its meaning is qualified by other Hadiths from the Sunnah, as both the Quran and the Sunnah are integrated and their rulings restrict each other. That is to say, the general meaning in the book of Allah can be defined by a Hadith of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and vice versa. Thus, the Ayah under discussion is among the positions which the Sunnah confines its meaning. Allah (عز وجل) stated, “… and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority.” ]Surah An-Nisa’, 4: 59] And it reported in the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet, “Obedience is obligatory only in what is good.” Those in authority should not be obeyed except in Islamically lawful matters. Similarly, parents, a husband etc., should not be obeyed except in Islamically allowable matters as stated in aforementioned Hadith and the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) in the other Hadith, “There is no obedience to a creature in defiance to the Creator.” When the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said to the Sahabah (the Prophet’s companions, (رضی اللہ عنھم)), “You will be ruled by leaders and you will find from them good matters and abominable matters.” They asked, “O Allah’s Messenger, what do you command us to do? Should not we declare war on them?” He (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, “No. Fulfil the rights due to them and ask Allah for the rights due to you.” And in other narration he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) stated, “Give them their due rights and ask Allah for your rights.” And in other narration “No, unless you see an evident infidelity on which you have a proof from Allah.” and in other narration “No, as long as they establish Salah (prayer) among you.” Accordingly, submission and obedience to rulers are established by the authentic Hadiths, but are restricted to Islamically lawful matters.

[Majmoo’al-Fataawa Ibn Baaz, Vol.: 9; pp. 103 – 105]

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