The Khalifah does not adopt any specific Shari’ah rule in matters related to rituals(‘ibadaat) except in Zakat and Jihad, and whatever is necessary to protect the unity of the Muslims, and nor does he adopt any thought from among the thoughts related to the Islamic ‘Aqidah.
There is a consensus of the companions that the Khalifah alone has the right to adopt and from this consensus the famous rules “the decision of the Imam resolves the disagreement” and “the decision of the Iman is binding” have been derived. However, it emerged from the events of Al-Ma’mun (pertaining the Fitna (strife) of the creation of the Quran), that adoption in the thoughts related to Aqa’id (beliefs, plural of ‘Aqidah) caused Fitna for the Khalifah and Fitnah amongst the Muslims. Therefore, the Khalifah deems it fit to abstain from adopting in matters related to ‘Aqidah and in rules related to rituals in order to avoid problems and to gain the consent and tranquillity of the Muslims. However, abstaining from adopting in matters of 'Aqa’id and in rituals does not mean that it is forbidden for the Khalifah to adopt in them, it rather means that the Khalifah chooses not to adopt in them for he can either adopt or abstain from adopting. Thus, he may choose not to adopt. That is why the article stated that the Khalifah “does not adopt” rather than stating that the Khalifah is “forbidden from adopting”, which indicates that he may choose not to adopt.
As for why he chooses to abstain from adopting in Aqa’id and in rituals, this is based upon two issues: Firstly, the hardship caused by coercing people to follow a specific opinion related to ‘Aqidah matters. Secondly, the fact that what prompts the Khalifah to adopt is in reality the management of the Muslims’ affairs by one single opinion and preserving the unity of the State and the unity of the ruling. Hence, he adopts in matters related to the relationships between individuals and related to public matters, and he does not adopt in matters related to relationship of man with his God.
With respect to the first issue, Allah prohibited the compulsion of the disbelievers to leave their beliefs and to embrace the Islamic ‘Aqidah, forbade forcing them to leave their rituals and ordered compelling them to be restricted by other Shari’ah rules so, by greater reasoning, the Muslims should not be forced to leave the rules related to the beliefs as long as they remained Islamic beliefs and should not be forced to leave the rules related to rituals as long as they were Shari’ah rules. Also, the compulsion to leave ideas connected to beliefs is a definite cause of hardship and will inflame loyalty (to those ideas) without doubt as proven by what happened with Imams such as Imam Ahmed Ibn Hanbal in the Fitna of creation of the Quran. When they were subjected to beating and humiliation, they did not submit neither did they leave what they believed in. Allah (swt) has said “(Allah) has not laid upon you in Deen any hardship” (TMQ 22:78).
The rituals are like the beliefs since compulsion upon specific rules while the person holds another opinion as the Shari’ah rule is a cause of distress upon the soul for it is the relationship of people with Allah and because it is bound to the ‘Aqidah; so the Khalifah should not adopt in whatever causes distress upon the Muslims. However, it is not forbidden for him to do so.
As for the second issue, the beliefs and the rituals are the relationship between man and the Creator and they do not bring about relationships upon which problems spring from, as opposed to the transactions and punishments since they are the relationship between the individuals within the society and cause the occurrence of relationships from which problems result. The origin in transactions is the resolution of disputes and the essence of the Khalifah’s adoption is to manage the peoples’ affairs. Their affairs are openly managed on the part of the Khalifah with respect to what is between them in terms of relationships and there is no scope for this in regards to their relationship with Allah, in other words in their beliefs and rituals.
For that reason the tangible reality of adoption by the Khalifah is that it can only be in respect to the relationships between people in order to manage their affairs and not in the relationships between them and Allah. Consequently, the reality of adoption is that it is only in the relationships between the people and the public relationships. So, adoption in the relationship between man and the Creator, in other words, in the beliefs and rituals, contradicts the reality of adoption. Based upon this, the Khalifah will not adopt in what contradicts the reality of adoption. However, it is not forbidden for him to do so.
Built upon these two matters – the distress or the hardship and the contradiction of the tangible reality of adoption, the Khalifah does not adopt in the thoughts of the beliefs or in the rules of the rituals. However, if a clear prohibition is mentioned in the Quran and in the Sunnah regarding a certain belief (‘Aqidah), then, at that time it is adopted (prohibiting that belief) even if there is hardship and even if it contradicts the reality of adoption so as to give preference to the definite text. For example, beliefs cannot be adopted except by conviction. In a similar fashion, it can be done if managing the affairs of the Muslims necessitates collecting them upon one rule. This is based upon the texts that enjoin the protection of the congregation of Muslims and the protection of the unity of the state. As example for this are the specification for the times of Hajj and fasting Ramadan, the Eid celebrations, Zakat and Jihad.
In these issues the Khalifah adopts a specific Shari’ah rule since, with respect to the ‘Aqidah, there cannot be compulsion to leave conviction, rather adhering to what is held as conviction is enforced. This is from text which is conclusive in its narration and indication (qati’ thabut qati’ dalalah). With regards to the ritualistic issues, there is no hardship in them since they are not from that which pertains to the relationship solely between man and His Lord such as prayer, rather they are those that are connected to the relationships between people, such as the celebrations. Due to this adoption is permitted in these two circumstance regarding beliefs and rituals.
What determines whether an idea is from the ‘Aqidah or from the Shari’ah rules is its Shari’ah evidence. So, if the evidence is an address related to the action of the servants of Allah, then, it is a Shari’ah rule since the Shari’ah law is the address of the Legislator related to the actions of the servant, and if it is not related to the actions of the servant, then, it is from the ‘Aqidah. Additionally, the difference between the ‘Aqidah and the Shari’ah rule is that what is requested to have Iman in and has no action requested in it, is from the ‘Aqidah, such as the stories and the information regarding the unseen. Those issues that request action are the Shari’ah rules. So, the following words of Allah are all from ‘Aqidah: “Believe in Allah and His Messenger and the Book which He revealed to His Messenger” (TMQ 4:136), “Allah is the Creator of all things” (TMQ 39:62), “And mention in the book Maryam…” (TMQ 19:16), and the words “It is a Day whereon mankind will be like moths scattered about; and the mountains will be like carded wool” (TMQ 101:4-5). All of these are from ‘Aqidah because they are not related to the actions of the servants; they are from what Iman is requested in, and there is no request for action in them. Also, the words of Allah: “And Allah has permitted trade” (TMQ 2:275), “If they suckle the children for you, give them their due payment” (TMQ 65:6), and His words “and when you judge between men, judge with justice” (TMQ 4:58) are all from the Shari’ah rules since they are related to the actions of the servants and they are from the issues that actions are requested in.
Based upon this, the fact that the Messenger of Allah
is the seal of the Prophets is considered from
the ‘Aqidah since it comes under what is requested to have Iman in.
Conversely, the Imamate, in other words the Khilafah is not from the ‘Aqidah
since it is amongst the issues which action is requested in. The fact that the
is free from sin is considered from the ‘Aqidah.
However, the issue of the Khalifah being from Quraysh,
Ahl Al-Bayt (family of the Prophet) or any Muslim from
amongst the Muslims is from the rules of the Shari’ah and it isn’t from
the ‘Aqidah since it is related to the actions of the servants and is
related to the the conditions of the Khalifah. In this manner, everything
that is not connected to the actions or is requested to have Iman in is
from the ‘Aqidah, but what is from the actions of the servants or what
is requested to be acted upon is considered to be from the Shari’ah
The reality of ‘Aqidah is that it is a fundamental thought; the meaning of it being an ‘Aqidah is that it is taken as the fundamental criteria to measure anything else; therefore if the idea was not a fundamental one, then it would not be considered ‘Aqidah. Also, ‘Aqidah is the comprehensive thought regarding the universe, man and life, what came before the life of this world and what will come after it and the relationship between life and what came before it and what will be after it. This definition is for every ‘Aqidah and is applied upon the Islamic ‘Aqidah. The definition also includes the unseen within it. Accordingly, every thought from the ideas of this comprehensive thought is from the ‘Aqidah. So, everything which is related to Allah, the Day of Judgement, the creation of the universe and the like is part of the ‘Aqidah, but everything which has no relation with that is not considered from the ‘Aqidah.