Affairs of the Ummah

Sayings of the Salaf concerning the state and well-being of the Muslims as a whole, or communities amongst them.

Being Two Faced to the Muslim Ruler

Muḥammad b. Zayd b. ʿUmar reports from his father:

Some people said to Ibn ʿUmar, “We enter upon our rulers, and we say to them something different to what we say when we leave their company.” He said, “We used to regard this as [a type of] nifāq (hypocrisy).”

Al-Bukhārī, Ṣaḥīḥ Al-Bukhārī no. 7178, and others.

Imam Ahmad on Rebelling against Rulers

Abul-Hârith Ahmad b. Muhammad Al-Sâ`igh, the close and respected friend of Imâm Ahmad, reports:

I asked Abû ‘Abdillâh (Imâm Ahmad) about something that had occurred in Baghdâd, and [because of which] some people were considering revolting [against the ruler]. I said, “O Abû ‘Abdillâh, what do you say about taking part in the revolt with these people?” He decried it and started saying, “Subhânallâh! The blood [of the people], the blood [of the people]! I do not believe in this and I do not tell others to do it. For us to suffer our situation in patience is better than the fitnah (tribulation) in which blood is spilt, property is taken, and the prohibited are violated (e.g. the honor of women). Do you not know what happened to the people (in the days of the previous fitnah)?” I said, “And the people today, Abû ‘Abdillâh, are they not in fitnah [because of the ruler]?” He replied, “If so, it is a limited fitnah, but if the sword is raised, the fitnah will engulf everything and there will be no way to escape. To suffer patiently this [current difficulty], where Allâh keeps your religion safe for you is better for you.” I saw him decry revolting against the leaders, and say, “[Do not spill the people’s] blood. I do not believe in this and I do not command it.”

Abû Bakr Al-Khallâl, Al-Sunnah article 89.

Umar on obeying the Muslim Ruler

Suwayd b. Ghaflah reports that ‘Umar b. Al-Khattâb – Allâh be pleased with him – once took him by the hand and said:

O Abû Umayah, by Allâh, I know not if we will meet again after today. Fear and obey Allâh your Lord until the Day of Resurrection, as if you see Him, and obey the ruler (imâm) even if he is a cut-nosed Abyssinian slave: if he beats you, be patient; if he robs you, be patient and if he belittles you, be patient. And if he tells you [to do something] to the detriment of your religion (to sin), say: “I hear and obey, [but] my blood goes before my religion.” Never leave the Main Muslim Body (Al-Jamâ’ah).

Ibn Zanjawayh, Kitâb Al-Amwâl article 30; Ibn Abî Zamanîn, Usûl Al-Sunnah article 205 with a slight variation in wording. Also recorded in other collections.

The scholar, the ruler, and your brother

It is reported that ‘Abdullâh b. Al-Mubârak – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

It is right that an intelligent person does not undervalue three [types of people]: the scholars, the rulers, and [his Muslim] brothers. Whoever undervalues the scholars will lose his afterlife, whoever undervalues the rulers will lose his worldly life, and whoever undervalues his brothers loses his good character and conduct.

Al-Dhahabî, Siyar A’lâm Al-Nubalâ`17:251.

Supplication or the Sword? [oppressive rulers]

It is reported that Al-Hasan Al-Basrî – Allâh have mercy on him – said:

If people called on Allâh when put to trial because of their rulers, Allâh would relieve their suffering; but instead they resorted to the sword, so they were left to it. And not one day of good did they bring.

Then he recited (Quran 7: 137):
And the good word of your Lord was fulfilled for the Children of Israel, for the patience and perseverance they had, and We destroyed the works of Pharaoh and his people and what they had erected.

Ibn Abî Hâtim, Al-Tafsîr no. 8897.