The following is a translation of an Arabic article.
It is obligatory to obey the Amir, and it is haram to betray him or break the oath given to him
Obedience (taa’ah) means compliance and submission; whilst Amir is the one who takes charge of a matter, whether this matter was general like that related to an ummah or a people. Or it might be specific like that related to a group that gathered over a common issue. Thus, the one who looks after the general affairs of Muslims is considered an Amir. Likewise, the one who looks after the affairs of a group structured over a common issue is considered an Amir as well; and the one who looks after the affairs of a group in travel is an Amir also.
Amir, chairman and leader hold the same meaning. Likewise, imarah, chairmanship and leadership have the same meaning as well.
Amir can be a ruler such as amir ul-mu’mineen (leader of the believers), and amir of wilaya (governor). He might be other than a ruler, such as amir of an army, an expedition, amir of a party (hizb) and amir of travel. So, the word of amir is general (‘aamm) that includes the amir who is a ruler, and the amir who is not a ruler.
Obedience (taa’ah) is obliged to every amir, by those whom he is amir to them, within the issue/matter he is made an amir over. Thus, it is obliged to obey the amir ul-mu’mineen, to comply with him and to execute his decrees and decisions, by all the citizens who live under his imarah. It is also obliged to obey the amir of the army, comply with him and execute his orders and decisions, by all the soldiers of the army, which he leads, regarding the matters which he was made an amir over. It is as well obliged to obey the amir of a hizb (party), comply with him and execute his orders and decisions, by all the members of the hizb, which he presides over, regarding the responsibilities given to him, in accordance with the hizb rules and adoptions, which the hizb members gave an oath on; this is as long as the person remained a member in it.
The obligation of obedience and compliance with the amir has been proved in Qur’an and Sunnah. Allah (swt) says:
يا أيها الذين آمنوا أطيعوا الله وأطيعوا الرسول وأولي الأمر منكم
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and people of authority from among you”. [TMQ 4: 59]
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Aby Hurairah that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:
«من أطاعني فقد أطاع الله، ومن عصاني فقد عصى الله، ومن أطاع الأمير فقد أطاعني ومن عصى الأمير فقد عصاني»
“Whoever obeyed me he would have obeyed Allah, and whoever disobeyed me he would have disobeyed Allah. And whoever obeyed the amir he would have obeyed me, and whoever disobeyed the amir he would have disobeyed me”.
The hadith was narrated in another form as:
«ومن أطاع أميري فقد أطاعني، ومن عصى أميري فقد عصاني»
“And whoever obeyed my amir he would have obeyed me, and whoever disobeyed my amir he would have disobeyed me”.
The words of amir and my amir that came in this hadith include the amir who is a ruler and the amir who is not a ruler, such as the amir of an army and the amir of an expedition. The Messenger of Allah (saw) had appointed amirs as rulers, such as Mu’adh bin Jabal as an amir over al-Jand, Ziyad bin Labid and Alaa’ bin al-Hadhrami over Hadramout, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari over Zubayd and Eden. He (saw) appointed also amirs other than rulers over armies and expeditions. He appointed Sa’d bin aby Waqqas amir over an expedition he sent towards Makkah, and appointed Zayd bin Haritha, Ja’far bin Aby Talib, and Abdullah bin Aby Ruwaha as amirs over the army of Mu’ta, one after the other. The mentioned hadith of Al-Bukhari and Muslim applies to these amirs he appointed as rulers over the countries and the amirs other than rulers, whom he appointed over the armies and expeditions. The Messenger of Allah (saw) considered obedience to them as obedience to him and obedience to Allah; and disobedience to them as disobedience to him and disobedience to Allah.
There are many verses and ahadith that command with obedience and urge to do it, so that obedience among Muslims becomes one of the natural dispositions. This is because obedience and compliance are fundamental and necessary for discipline and for the protection of the entity of the state, the ummah, the party and group. Without obedience and compliance there would be no discipline; besides disorder would prevail and the entity would be shattered and collapse.
Obedience came in the ahidith in an absolute form (mutlaq) and without being restricted to a specific amir or a specific matter. Thus, obedience is obliged to every Muslim amir, who is committed to the shar’, even if he was unjust, and even if he used to take property illicitly. There are sound ahadith that indicate this matter. Al-Bukhari narrated from Ibn Abbas, he said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
«مَن رأى من أميره شيئاً فكرهه فليصبر عليه، فإن من فارق الجماعة شبراً فمات إلاّ مات ميتة جاهلية»
“Whoever saw a matter he hates from his amir let him be patient about it. This is because whoever dissociated himself from the community (jamaa’ah), even by the measure of a hand span, and then he died as such he would have died a death of jahiliyya”.
It is also narrated from Hudhayfa bin Al-Yaman that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
«....، قال: تسمع وتطيع وإن ضرب ظهرك، وأخذ مالك فاسمع وأطع»
“…….He said: You have to listen and obey even if he hit your back and took your property (illegally); you have to listen and obey”.
The Messenger of Allah (saw) stressed on the obligation of obedience to the amirs to the extent that he considered the one who dissociates himself from the community (jamaa’a), even by the measure of a hand span, he would have broken the pledge to Islam from his neck until he restored it back, and considered the one who withdrew his hand from obedience he would meet Allah on Day of Judgment without having a proof for himself, as it was narrated by Muslim and Al-Hakim through Ibn Omer.
There is one matter excluded from the obligation of absolute obedience that is when the amir, whether he is ameer ul-mu’mineen, amir of an army or amir of a party or group, orders of a sin. If he ordered of a sin, then obedience to him is not allowed regarding that sin, which he ordered of it. However, this is not the case if the person just doubted that matter was a sin. Rather, the sin that the amir ordered of it is considered a sin by the amir, where he had no evidence or a possible evidence to allow it. This issue of ordering of a sin came in a hadith narrated by Muslim through Ibn Omer from the Prophet (saw), he said:
«على المرء المسلم السمع والطاعة فيما أحب وكره إلاّ أن يؤمر بمعصية، فإن أُمر بمعصية فلا سمع ولا طاعة» .
“The Muslim has to listen and obey regarding matters which he loves or hates, unless he was ordered of a sin. If he was ordered of a sin, then he has not to listen or obey”.
The obligation of absolute obedience to the amir regarding his authority does not mean absence of accounting of him. Allah (swt) had obliged the accounting of the amirs, whether they were rulers or otherwise, when they mistreat the rights of the people, fail to accomplish their (amirs) responsibilities, neglect any of the affairs of those under their leadership within their responsibilities, disagree with rules of Islam or judge/rule with other than the revelation of Allah. Muslim narrated from Umm Salama that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
«ستكون أمراء فتعرفون وتنكرون، فمن عرف برئ، ومن أنكر سلم، ولكن من رضي وتابع....»
“There will be amirs, where you will acknowledge (some of what they do as right) and refuse to acknowledge (some other). Whoever acknowledged (what is right) he would be cleared (of the sin), and whoever rejected (what is wrong) he would be blameless; however he whoever accepted and complied with (he would not be so)…”.
It is also narrated from Abu Said Al-Khudry, he said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
«من رأى منكم منكراً فليغيره بيده، فإن لم يستطع فبلسانه، فإن لم يستطع فبقلبه وذلك أضعف الإيمان» .
“Whoever of you has seen a munkar (evil) let him change it with his hand. If he could not, then (let him change it) with his tongue. If he could not, then (let him hate it) by his heart; and this is the weakest iman”.
Accounting of the amirs, whether they were rulers, amirs of armies, leaders of parties or leaders of groups, consists of discussing with them so as to show the error of the actions they did, the error of the orders and decisions they issued, the error of the rules they executed, and the error of the ideas and opinions they derived. The amirs must listen to those who account them and discuss with them the issues over which they carry this accounting. If the amirs were convinced of that which was discussed with them and found it to be right then they must return to it. If they however were not convinced of that which was discussed with them, and found it to be wrong, they have to explain to them the validity of the actions they did, and the correctness of the orders and decisions they issued, the rules they executed and the ideas and opinions they deduced.
After the amirs had explained their position, those who accounted, discussed and objected have to accept the views of the amirs after they (accounting people) did their utmost effort in persuading them. This is necessary for continuing abidance by the obedience, continuity of discipline, and maintaining the unity of the entity of the state and party. This is different to the case when the amir shows kufr bawah, over which we have proof from Allah, where this has a different rule.
It is not allowed for the accounting and objection to follow whims or be for achieving a special interest. Allah (swt) says:
ومن أضلّ ممن اتّبع هواه بغير هدى من الله
“And who goes farther astray than he who follows his whims without guidance from Allah”. [TMQ 28:50]
And He says:
ولا تطع من أغفلنا قلبه عن ذكرنا واتبع هواه وكان أمره فرطاً
“And do not obey the one whose heart We made heedful of Our remembrance, who followed his own whims and whose case had been abandoned”. [TMQ 18:28]
And He says:
فأما من طغى . وآثر الحياة الدنيا . فإن الجحيم هي المأوى . وأما من خاف مقام ربه ونهى النفس عن الهوى . فإن الجنة هي المأوى.
“As for him who rebelled. And preferred the worldly life. Lo! Hell will be his home. As for him who fear to stand before his Lord and restrained his soul from whims. Lo! The Garden will be his home”. [TMQ 79: 37-41]
Those who account and object are not allowed, in case the amir did not agree with them, to withdraw their hands from his obedience, to dispute with him over his imarah (leadership), to betray him, or to break their pledge to him or their oath they gave to him. All of these matters have been totally prohibited by Islam.
As regards prohibition of withdrawing the hand from obedience, Muslim narrated from Abdullah bin Omer, he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:
«من خلع يداً من طاعة لقي الله يوم القيامة لا حجة له....»
“Whoever withdrew a hand from obedience he would meet Allah on Day of Judgment without having a proof for himself…”
In another narration that came in Al-Hakim, the Messenger (saw) said:
«من خرج من الجماعة قيد شبر فقد خلع ربقة الإسلام من عنقه حتى يراجعه»
“Whoever dissociated himself from the community (jamaa’a) by the measure of a hand span he would have removed the pledge of Islam from his neck until he returns it back”.
It is also narrated from Awf bin Malik Al-Ashja’I, he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:
«.... ألا من وَلِيَ عليه والٍ فرآه يأتي شيئاً من معصية الله فليكره ما يأتي من معصية
الله ولا ينزعنّ يداً من طاعة» .
“Behold! Whoever had any governor (waaly) appointed over him, and he saw him commits a sin, let him dislike the sin he commits and do not withdraw a hand from obedience”.
As regards the prohibition of disputing the authority of the amirs unless they have seen kufr bawah, which they have proof from Allah upon it. Muslim narrated from Ubada bin As-Samit, he said:
«دعانا رسول الله فبايعناه فكان فيما أخذ علينا أن بايَعَنا على السمع والطاعة في منشطنا ومكرهنا، عسرنا ويسرنا، وأثرة علينا، وأن لا ننازع الأمر أهله، قال: إلا أن تروا كفراً بواحاً عندكم من الله فيه برهان» .
“The Messenger of Allah (saw) called upon us and we gave him bai’ah. Of the matters that we pledged ourselves to is that we gave bai’ah to listen and obey during our zeal and laziness, our hardship and our ease, and giving preference over ourselves, besides we must not dispute the authority with its people. He (saw) said: Unless you see kufr bawah you have upon it a proof from Allah”.
As regards the prohibition of betraying the amirs, Al-Bukhari narrated from Abu Huraira from the Prophet (saw):
«قال الله تعالى: ثلاثة أنا خصمهم يوم القيامة: رجل أعطى بي ثمّ غدر....»
“Allah (swt) said: I am an opponent to three (types of people) on Day of Judgment: A man who gave (something) using Me (ie My name as assurance) then he betrayed..”
Al-Bukhari narrated from Abdullah bin Omer, he said: The Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
«أربع من كُنّ فيه كان منافقاً خالصاً: من إذا حدّث كذب وإذا وعد أخلف، وإذا عاهد غدر، وإذا خاصم فجر، ومن كانت فيه خَصلة منهنّ كانت فيه خَصلة من نفاق حتى يدعها»
“Four (characteristics), any one who has them would be an utter hypocrite: The one who speaks and makes lies, he gives a promise but fails to observe it, he makes a covenant but betrays it, and he disputes (with some one) but exceeds the limit. He who has one of these characteristics he would have a characteristic of hypocrisy until he gives it up”.
Al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated from Ibn Omer, he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say:
«لكل غادرٍ لواءٌ يُنْصَبُ له يوم القيامة بغدرته» .
“Every traitor would have a flag raised to him on the Day of Judgment that points to his treachery”.
As regards prohibition of breaking the pledge (‘ahd) he gave to the amir and breaking the oath he took to him, this is proved in His (swt) saying:
إن الذين يبايعونك إنما يبايعون الله يد الله فوق أيديهم فمن نكث فإنما ينكث على نفسه ومن أوفى بما عاهد عليه الله فسيؤتيه أجراً عظيماً.
“Lo! Those who swore allegiance to you (Muhammad), swear allegiance to Allah. The Hand of Allah is above their hands. So whoever broke his oath, he broke it only to himself hurt; while whoever kept his covenant with Allah, He will bestow upon him immense reward”. [TMQ 48: 10]
And He said:
وأوفوا بعهد الله إذا عاهدتم ولا تنقضوا الأيمان بعد توكيدها وقد جعلتم الله عليكم كفيلاً إن الله يعلم ما تفعلون. ولا تكونوا كالتي نقضت غزلها من بعد قوة أنكاثاً تتخذون أيْمانكم دخلاً بينكم.
“Fulfill the covenant of Allah when you gave a covenant, and do not break your oaths after their assertion and after you made Allah custodian/responsible over you. Lo! Allah knows what you do. And do not be like her who tattered the thread after she had made it strong, to thin filaments, making your oaths a deceit between you”. [TMQ 16: 91-92]
And He said:
الذين يوفون بعهد الله ولا ينقضون الميثاق.
“Those who keep the pledge of Allah and do not break the covenant”. [TMQ 13: 20]
And He said:
وأوفوا بالعهد إن العهد كان مسؤولاً.
“And keep the pledge. Lo! You will be asked about the pledge”. [TMQ 17: