Who is the Muslim Leader (Amirul Mu’mineen)?

Alhamdulillah, all praises be to Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala (SWT). May salawat and salam be showered upon Rasulullah who was sent as a mercy to the worlds, our Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam (SAW), along with his family and companions.

The Urgency of Leadership in Islam

There are many obligations in Islam which are jama’i in nature. Meaning, they cannot be established except in togetherness (collectively), such as the ‘Eid solat, Jumu’ah solat, jihad, hudud and others. And in conducting the togetherness, a unity and togetherness are required. Thus, in order for those obligations to be established, Islam instructs us to unite and have a jama’ah.

Allah (SWT) says:

وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ جَمِيعًا وَلَا تَفَرَّقُوا

“And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided.” (QS. Ali Imran: 103)

شَرَعَ لَكُمْ مِنَ الدِّينِ مَا وَصَّى بِهِ نُوحًا وَالَّذِي أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ وَمَا وَصَّيْنَا بِهِ إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَمُوسَى وَعِيسَى أَنْ أَقِيمُوا الدِّينَ وَلَا تَتَفَرَّقُوا فِيهِ

“He has ordained for you of religion what He enjoined upon Noah and that which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], and what We enjoined upon Abraham and Moses and Jesus – to establish the religion and not be divided therein.” (QS. Al-Shuuraa: 13)

Sheikh al-Sa’di rahimahullah, after explaining about the glory of this dien of Islam, as the best dien which is compatible with the conditions, the requirements of fitrah, which becomes the ruh (spirit) of happiness, he said: “Thus He says {establish religion}, meaning: He commands you to establish all the shari’ah (ordinances) of the dien, its ‘usul’ (principle) and branches, you establish on your own selves and you earnestly establish on others besides you, mutually helping each other in goodness and taqwa, and not mutually helping each other in matters of sin and enmity. {not be divided therein}, meaning: for the materialization of your agreement in matters of ‘usul’ (principle) of this dien and its branches, strive so that the prevalent issues do not disunite you and divide you into many groups…”

The commandment of uniting on the Muslims will never be established except by having leadership. Thus the Muslims are obliged to appoint one of them to lead and regulate their lives in order to exercise their religious rules (shari’ah). It is because of this that the obligation to establish an Islamic authority and leadership becomes one of the religious obligations. Where the welfare of the humans with regard to their religion and dunya will not be actualized except by establishing an Islamic authority and leadership.

From Umar bin Khathab Radhiyallahu ‘Anhu he said: “Indeed, there is no Islam except with jama’ah, there is no jama’ah except with imarah (leadership), and there is no imarah except with obedience. So whoever is appointed as a leader by his people because of his ilm’ (knowledge) and religion, then it becomes a life for himself and his people. And whoever is appointed to be a leader by his people because of other considerations besides those, then it becomes a destruction for him and his nation.” (Narrated by Imam Ibnu Abdil Barr from Tamim al-Daari in Jami-u bayanil Ilmi wa Fadhlihi 1/63, also Ad-Darimi with a weak sanad).

Sheikhul Islam Ibnu Taimiyah said: “It should be noted that regulating the affairs of the humans is one of the greatest obligations of the dien, in fact the dien and the dunya will not be established in the absence of the leadership. And indeed the welfare of the Bani Adam (mankind) will not be complete except with a congregation of themselves, because each is mutually in need of the other. And as they congregate they must have a leader, thus Prophet Shallallahu ‘Alaihi Wasallam said: ‘If three people go out to travel, let them select one of them as a leader.'(HR. Abu Dawud from Abu Sa’id and Abu Hurairah Radhiyallahu ‘Anhuma)

Imam Ahmad narrated in al-Musnad, from Abdullah bin Amr, Prophet (SAW) said: “It is not halal for three people to be in the desert wilderness, unless they appoint one of them as the amir (leader) for themselves.”

Therefore, he (SAW) obligates the appointment of a leader in the smallest congregation (3 persons) and the most brief (in a journey), to remind the obligation of appointing a leader for all other congregations.” (From the words of Ibnu Taimiyah in al-Siyasah al-Syar’iyyah)

He rahimahullah continued: “And Allah (SWT) has obligated the amar ma’ruf and nahi munkar, and all those cannot be complete except with power and leadership (authority), the same goes with the others that He has obligated in the form of jihad, justice, performing hajj, assembly, ‘Eid solat and helping the oppressed people, as well as implementing hudud; where all those cannot be complete except with power and leadership. It is because of this that it was reported: “That the sultan (leader) is the shade of Allah on Earth.” And it was said: “Sixty years of an unjust imam (ruler) are better than one night without a leader.”(The words of Ibnu Taimiyah in al-Siyasah al-Syar’iyyah)

So what’s compulsory is making leadership as the teaching of the dien, a qurbah (means of drawing closer to Allah), because drawing closer to Allah in leadership by obeying Allah and His Rasul is a form of drawing closer that is the foremost. That’s why Dr. Abdullah al-Muslih and Dr. Salah as-Sawi in Maa Yasa’ al-Muslima Jahluhu wrote:

“We believe that the supreme leadership (khilafah) is one of the biggest parts in the objectives and obligations which would be established by religion. The Khilafah functions as a replacement for the role of Prophethood in protecting this dien and regulating the world. And the Muslims are still not absolved from this responsibility until their words are united to appoint an Imam who regulates them with the Kitabullah (Islamic Shari’ah).” This is based on the verse of Allah (SWT):

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا

“Indeed, Allah commands you to render trusts to whom they are due.” (QS. Al-Nisa’: 58). The context of this verse is that, the khitab (command) in the verse is general in nature that requires the accomplishment of diverse amanah (trusts), including the amanah of jurisprudence/law. Muslims are required to carry out this amanah through the experts and hand it over to whoever is going to establish it correctly.

This gesture is also present in the words of the Prophet (SAW), “It is not halal for three people to be in the desert wilderness, unless they appoint one of them as the amir (leader) for themselves.” (HR. Ahmad)

Rasulullah (SAW) obligates us to appoint an amir in a small gathering that is temporary in nature to remind us of all the other types of gatherings. When it is required (by shari’ah) on just three persons, surely it is even more required (by shari’ah) on a larger number of people, where those people are living villages and towns, who are in dire need of someone to protect them from various injustices.

The strongest daleel in this discourse is the ijma’ (consensus) daleel. The Sahabahs after the demise of Rasulullah (SAW) had an ijma’ on the obligation of having the imamah (khilafah) and hence they hastened to establish this obligation. They prioritized this issue over the funeral of the Prophet (SAW) which was regarded as the most urgent matter at that time. So much so that Imam al-Qurthubi rahimahullah said: “There is no khilaf (difference of opinion) among the ummah, as well as the ulama’s in the matter (the obligation of having the imamah), except that was reported from Al-Asham, who indeed is Asham (deaf) from the shari’ah.”

Other daleel that argues about the severe obligation of having the imamah (Islamic leadership) is the existence of many shari’ah obligations which cannot be established without the existence of the Islamic rule, such as implementing the hudud and Islamic laws, guarding the borders, preparing and sending troops, maintaining security, appointing a judge and others. Whichever obligation that cannot be complete except by its existence, then it itself becomes obligatory. Especially, from its urgency in preventing the great dangers that happen amidst the disorder and the vacuum of the Islamic rule, then the command of establishing a leadership becomes very obligatory. Making it happens becomes the most urgent requirement of the shari’ah. Due to that, there is no reason to leave it and underemphasize this obligation.

Imam Ali radliyallahu ‘anhu said: “Man must have a leader, either good or bad.” They said, “O Amirul Mu’mineen, we already know about the good, but what about the bad?” He answered, “(With him) hudud can be enforced, the streets become safer, the enemies can be fought and the fa’i can be shared.”(From Maa Laa Yasa’ al-Muslima Jahluhu)

Who Is That Leader?

The Islamic leaders that must be established by the Muslims are the leaders who establish the Qur’an and Sunnah, and apply the Islamic Shari’ah in governing their subjects. That is why they get the rights to be heard and obeyed by their subjects, where the subjects cannot oppose them with arms and they cannot rebel against them, although they are sinners, dzalim (oppressive) and fasiq, i.e. other than kufr. (See: “Al-Wajiz: The Essence of the Aqeedah of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah” (transl.), Abdullah bin Abdul Hamid al-Atsari: 192-193)

Rasulullah (SAW) said: “You listen and obey your leader, even if your backside is smitten and your property is seized, so listen and obey.” (HR. Muslim no. 1847)

In his another saying: “He who hates (an action of) his leader, then he should be patient. Because indeed none of the humans who break away even an inch from his leader and then he dies in that condition, except that he dies in the state of jahiliyah.”(HR. Muslim no.1894)

In another riwaayah of Muslim (no. 1855): “And if you see on your leader something you do not like, then hate his action (only), and do not break away from the obedience to him.”

Sheikhul Islam said: “People who rebel against the leader will definitely give rise to greater damage, as compared to goodness, resulting from their action.” (Minhajus Sunnah, taken from the footnote of al-Wajiz: 194)

And then he said: “As for the leaders who do not heed the Shari’ah of Allah (SWT) and do not rule by it, instead rule by others besides it, then he has been out of the scope of the obedience of the Muslims, i.e. no more obligation to obey them.” (Minhajus Sunnah: I/146, quoted from Al-Wajiz: 194)

Why Such Leaders Have No Rights To Receive The Obedience From Muslims?

It is because they have wasted the purpose of their leadership, in which it is for that reason that they are appointed and have the right for their speech to be heard and their commands to be obeyed, also it is not allowed to break away from the legitimate rule. Because a ruler has no right to receive all those except for the reason that he has been fulfilling the affairs of the Muslims, upholding religion and spreading it, enforcing the law and fortifying the areas which are feared to receive the enemy’s attacks, quelling the people who oppose Islam after being talked over (da’wah), giving his loyalty to the Muslims and feuding against the enemies of religion. If he does not uphold religion or does not fulfill the affairs of the Muslims, then it means that his rights of leadership has gone, and it is wajib for the people –through Ahlul Halli Wal ‘Aqdi who have the rights to perform the assessment in the matter- to oust him from his post and appoint another who is capable of substantiating the objectives of governance.

Thus the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah do not allow the breakaway from the leaders just because of their wrongdoings and fasiq (evildoings) behaviours –because being a fajir (perpetrator of sins) and zalimuun (wrong-doers) doesn’t mean that they are forsaking religion-, but they are still ruling with the shari’ah of Allah. Because the Salafus Solih did not recognize the imarah (leadership) that does not uphold religion, so this is not called imarah according to their views. However, what is called imarah is that which establishes religion. Then after that, either a good imarah or fajir imarah would transpire as Imam Ali radliyallahu ‘anhu said:

“Man must have a leader, either good or bad.” They said, “O Amirul Mu’mineen, we already know about the good, but what about the bad?” He answered, “(With him) hudud can enforced, the streets become safer, the enemies can be fought and the fa’i can be shared.”(From Kitab Minhajus Sunnah, Ibnu Taimiyah: I/146, taken from Al-Wajiz, Abdullah bin Abdul Hamid al-Atsari: 194-195)

[PurWD/voa-islam.com]

Original article in Indonesian by: Badrul Tamam

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