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You Are Here: Knowledge Base Aqeedah (Pillars of Faith) On Rulers and Ruling by the Sharee'ah

what are the rights and duties of a ruler?

Rulership and Al-Siyasah Al-Shar`iyyah

Q. What are the rights and duties of a ruler?

A. It is the right of the legal Muslim ruler that people obey him to do Ma`ruf (that which is judged as good, beneficial, or fitting by Islamic law and Muslims of sound intellect) in their adversity, prosperity, pleasure and displeasure even when he is given (rather undue) preference over them. Moreover, it is also his right to be provided with necessary advice and to support and help him to do all that which is beneficial.

Proof of the foregoing is a Hadith which is narrated in the Two Sahih 'authentic' Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) on the authority of Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

It is obligatory upon Muslims that they should listen 'to the ruler appointed over them' and obey him whether they like it or not, except if they are ordered to commit a sin.

Moreover, on the authority of Anas (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
You have to listen to your ruler and obey him even if he was an Ethiopian (black) slave whose head looks like a raisin.
(Related by Al-Bukhari).

Furthermore, on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) who said that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:
It is obligatory on you to listen to and obey 'the appointed authority' in your adversity and prosperity, in pleasure and displeasure, and even when another person is given 'rather undue' preference over you. (Related by Muslim).

The meaning of the saying of the Prophet (peace be upon him): or when someone is given undue preference over you is that rulers have to be obeyed even if they keep worldly pleasures for themselves and do not give you your due rights.

On the other hand, it is narrated on the authority of Abu Ruqayyah Tamim ibn Aws Al-Dary (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

'Din 'religion' is based on advising one another.', he repeated it three times. Upon this we said: 'For whom?' He replied: 'For Allah, His Book, His Messenger and for Muslim rulers and the public.' (Related by Muslim).

Regarding the duties of rulers, they are to rule according to Shari`ah (Islamic law) and to be sincere to their people.

It is narrated in the Two Sahih Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) on the authority of Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:

All of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges, the Imam (i.e. ruler) is the guardian of his charges and is responsible for them, and the man is the guardian of his family and is responsible for them, and the woman is the guardian of her husband's house and is responsible for it, and the servant is the guardian of his master's belongings and is responsible for them, and all of you are guardians and responsible for your charges.

It is worth mentioning that rebelling against the legal Islamic ruler is Haram (prohibited) even if the latter is Fasiq (someone flagrantly violating Islamic law) so long as he is not in a clear state of Kufr (disbelief).

Proof for this is a Hadith which is narrated on the authority of Ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) who said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saying:

Whoever withdraws their hand from obedience 'to the Muslim ruler' will find no argument 'in their defense' when they stand before Allah on the Day of Judgment, and one who dies without having bound themselves by an oath of allegiance 'to a Muslim ruler' will die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyyah 'pre-Islamic time of ignorance'. (Related by Muslim).

It is also related by him:

Whoever dies having discarded their association with the main body of the 'Muslim' community, dies the death of one belonging to the Days of Jahiliyyah.

The meaning of: Whoever withdraws their hand from obedience 'to the Muslim ruler' refers to whoever draws back from obeying the ruler and submitting to him to do things which are not tantamount to sins.

The meaning of: dies the death of one belonging to the Days of Jahiliyyah: refers to the one who dies in the state of deviation as the people of Jahiliyyah did for they did not use to bind themselves by allegiance to any ruler.

Finally, on the authority of Ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said:

Whoever disapproves of something done by their ruler will have to be patient, for whoever disobeys the ruler even a little 'i.e. a span' will die as those who died in Jahiliyyah , 'i.e. as rebellious sinners'. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim).

May Allah grant us success! May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions!

Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta'

Member     Member     Member     Chairman
Bakr ibn `Abdullah Abu Zayd     `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah Al Al-Shaykh     Salih ibn Fawzan Al-Fawzan     `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah ibn Baz

Permanent Committee Fatwas>Group 1>Volume 23: (oaths>vows>imamate)>Rulership and Al-Siyasah Al-Shar`iyyah>A ruler's rights and obligations>Second question of Fatwa no. 17627

Reference: qsep.com