The Khalifah adopts specific Shari’ah rules which he will enact as a constitution and laws. If he adopts a Shari’ah rule, this rule alone becomes the Shari’ah rule that must be acted upon and it becomes a binding law that every citizen must obey openly and privately.
The evidence of this article is derived from the Ijma’ (General Consensus) of the Companions that the Khalifah reserves the right to adopt specific Shari’ah rules. It has also been established in the same manner that it is obligatory to act upon the rules adopted by the Khalifah. The Muslim is not permitted to act upon any rule other than what the Khalifah has adopted in terms of rules even if these rules were Shari’ah rules adopted by one of the Mujtahideen (scholars of Islam). This is so because the rule of Allah that becomes duly binding upon all the Muslims is what the Khalifah adopts. The rightly guided Khulafaa’ proceeded in this manner; they adopted a host of specific rules and ordered their implementation. Thus the Muslims, with all of the Companions amongst them, used to act upon these rules and to abandon their own Ijtihad (Islamic opinion derived from the Islamic evidences). For instance, Abu Bakr (ra) adopted in the matter of divorce a rule stipulating that the triple divorce would be considered as one divorce if it were pronounced in one sitting. He also adopted in the matter of distributing the wealth upon the Muslims a rule stipulating that wealth should be distributed equally amongst the Muslims, regardless of seniority in Islam or anything else. The Muslims followed him in this as well as the judges and the Walis (governors) implemented the rules that he had adopted. When Umar (ra) took office, he adopted other opinions different to those of Abu Bakr (ra) in the same two matters; he imposed the rule stipulating that the triple divorce is considered as three and he also distributed the wealth among the Muslims according to their seniority in Islam and according to their needs rather than distributing equally. The Muslims duly followed him in this and the judges and the governors implemented the rules he had adopted. Then, Umar (ra) adopted a rule stipulating that the land conquered in war is a spoil for Bayt al-Mal (the State’s treasury), not for the fighters, and that the land should remain with its owners and should not be divided among the fighters or among the Muslims. The governors and the judges duly complied and implemented the rule that he had adopted.
It was in this manner that all of the rightly guided Khulafaa’ proceeded with respect to adoption of opinions, ordering people to abandon their Ijtihad and the rules which they had acted upon, and instead adhere to that which the Khalifah had adopted. So the Ijma’ of the Companions was established on two matters; the first is the right of adoption and the second is the obligation of acting upon what the Khalifah adopts. Famous Shari’ah principles were derived based on this Ijmaa’ of the Companions. These are: “The Sultan reserves the right to effect as many judgements as the problems which arise”, “The order of the Imam resolves the disagreement” and “The order of the Imam is binding”.
The evidence for adopting one Islamic opinion is the fact that there are different Islamic opinions regarding one single matter; hence, in order to act upon the Shari’ah rule in any matter it is imperative to adopt a specific Islamic opinion for it. This is so because the Shari’ah rules, which represent the address of the Legislator related to the actions of the worshippers, have come in the Quran and in the narrations, and many of these can have a number of possible meanings according to the Arabic language and according to Shari’ah. For that reason, it is natural and inevitable that people differ in their understanding of the address of the Legislator and that this difference in understanding reaches the level of disparity and contradiction in the intended meaning. Thus, it is inevitable to have different and contradictory understandings of the same matter. Because of this, there could be a host of different and contradictory opinions in a single matter. So when the Messenger of Allah
said at the battle of
Ahzab: “None of you should pray ‘Asr except in Bani Quraythah”
(recorded by Al-Bukhari through Ibn Umar), some understood that he was urging
haste and so they prayed on their way to Bani Quraythah, while others
understood that he
had literally ordered them
to pray ‘Asr in Bani Quraythah; therefore, they delayed praying ‘Asr
until they reached their destination. When the Messenger of Allah
heard of this, he
approved both understandings, and there are many verses and narrations similar
The difference of opinion in single matters makes it incumbent upon the Muslims to adopt one opinion from these various opinions since all of them are Shari’ah rules and the rule of Allah (swt) in one single matter regarding one person is not multiple. Therefore, it is imperative to choose one single rule from the Shari’ah in order to act upon. Hence, the Muslim’s adoption of a specific Shari’ah rule is necessary and inevitable when he or she undertakes the action since undertaking the action obliges the Muslim to accomplish it according to the Shari’ah rule. The obligation of acting according to the Shari’ah rule, whether this was a Fard (obligatory), Mandub (recommended), Haram (forbidden), Makruh (despised) or Mubah (permitted) makes it incumbent upon the Muslim to adopt a specific Shari’ah rule. Therefore, it is obligatory upon every Muslim to adopt a specific Shari’ah rule when taking rules for actions, irrespective of whether he or she was a Mujtahid or a Muqallid (someone who follows the opinion of a scholar in an issue rather than deriving it themselves) or whether they were the Khalifah or other than the Khalifah.
With respect to the Khalifah, it is imperative for him to adopt a host of specific rules according to which he assumes the management of peoples’ affairs. Hence, it is necessary for him to adopt certain rules pertaining to what is of a general nature to all the Muslims in terms of matters of government and authority such as Zakat, levies, Kharaj (land tax), foreign relations and everything that is related to the unity of the State and ruling.
However, his adoption of the rules is subject to scrutiny. If the Khalifah’s managing of the people’s affairs were subject to adopting specific Islamic rules, then in this case the adoption would be obligatory upon the Khalifah. This would be in concordance with the Shari’ah principle stipulating that: “Whatever is necessary to accomplish a duty is in itself a duty”, such as the signing of treaties. However, if the Khalifah could manage peoples’ affairs in a specific matter according to the Islamic Shari’ah rules without having to resort to the adoption of a specific rule in this matter, then in this case the adoption would be permitted for him rather than an obligation, such as Nisab Al-Shahadah (the minimum number of witnesses in a testimony). In this case, it is permitted for him to adopt or not to adopt, for in essence the adoption is permitted and not obligatory; this is so because the Ijma’ of the Companions is that the Imam can adopt and there is no Ijma’ that the Imam must adopt. Therefore, the adoption itself is permissible and it does not become obligatory unless the obligatory management of peoples’ affairs cannot be accomplished except through adoption. In such a case it then becomes obligatory so that the duty could be accomplished.