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Does the Hadith about the 5 periods of Rulership in Musnad Ahmad and that the last of times will be a righteous Caliphate (Khilafah Ar-Rashidah), apply to Modern times or not ?

Does the Hadith about the 5 periods of Rulership in Musnad Ahmad (مسند احمد)and that the last of times will be a righteous Caliphate (Khilafah Arrashida), apply to Modern times or not ?

فقد روى الإمام أحمد عن النعمان بن بشير رضي الله عنه الله، قال: كنا جلوساً في المسجدفجاء أبو ثعلبة الخشني فقال: يا بشير بن سعد أتحفظ حديث رسول الله صلى الله عليهوسلم في الأمراء، فقال حذيفة: أنا أحفظ خطبته. فجلس أبو ثعلبة.
فقال حذيفة: قال رسول الله صلى اللهعليه وسلم: تكون النبوة فيكم ما شاء الله أن تكون، ثم يرفعها الله إذا شاء أنيرفعها، ثم تكون خلافة على منهاج النبوة فتكون ما شاء الله أن تكون، ثم يرفعهاالله إذا شاء أن يرفعها، ثم تكون ملكًا عاضًا فيكون ما شاء الله أن يكون، ثميرفعها إذا شاء الله أن يرفعها، ثم تكون ملكًا جبرية فتكون ما شاء الله أن تكون،ثم يرفعها الله إذا شاء أن يرفعها، ثم تكون خلافة على منهاج النبوة، ثم سكت. قالحبيب: فلما قام عمربن عبد العزيز، وكان يزيد بن النعمان بن بشير في صحابته، فكتبت إليهبهذا الحديث أذكره إياه. فقلت له: إني أرجو أن يكون أمير المؤمنين — يعني عمر — بعد الملك العاضوالجبرية، فأدخل كتابي على عمر بن عبد العزيز فَسُرَّ به وأعجبه.
It was narrated by Ahmed in his Musnad, from Al-Nu’man b.Bashir, who said: “We were sitting in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah(saw), and Bashir was a man who did not speak much, so Abu Tha’labah Al-Khashnee came and said: ‘Oh, Bashir bin Sa’ad, have you memorized the words of the Messenger of Allah (saw) regarding the rulers?’ Huthayfah replied, ‘I have memorized his words’. So Abu Tha’labah sat down and Huthayfah said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (saw) said ‘Prophet-hood will be among you as long as Allah wishes, then He will lift it up when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of the Prophet, and it will be as long as Allah wishes it to be, then Allah will lift it up when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be an inheritance rule (ملكًا عاضًا),and it will last as long as Allah wishes it to, then Allah will lift it up ifwhen He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be a coercive rule(ملكًا جبرية), and it will last aslong as Allah wishes it to be, then Allah will lift it up when He wishes to liftit up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of Prophet-hood.’ Then he (saw)was silent.” Habib said: “When Umar ibn AbdulAziz became caliph I wrote tohim, mentioning this tradition to him and saying, “I hope you will be thecommander of the faithful after the biting and the oppressive kingdoms.”It pleased and charmed him, i.e. Umar ibn AbdulAziz.”
Reference: Masnad Ahmed bin Hanbal (Hadith # 18430) ,As-Saheeha al-Albani (Hadith # 5). It has been declared Hasan by Sh’uaibArnaoot, and al-Albani classified it as Sahih. The text quoted is the one fromMasnad Ahmed.
This hadith is informative in nature and does not carry any Hukm as such rather is depictive of a reality, there is a possibility that some people may get confused with its actual intended meaning and may mistake with their application of the periods as discussed in the hadith.
I have come across several kinds of explanations of the hadith recently with some commentators saying that the period of the second righteous Caliphate is that of Umar bin Abdul Aziz and they substantiate their viewpoint with the last part of the hadith where the narrator Habib said: “When Umar ibn AbdulAziz became caliph I wrote to him, mentioning this tradition to him and saying, “I hope you will be the commander of the faithful after the biting and the oppressive kingdoms.” It pleased and charmed him, i.e. Umar ibn AbdulAziz.”
There’s another viewpoint that some people carry and that is that if we take this hadith to refer to our times and that the Khilafah discussed in the last part of the hadith is yet to be established , that would simply imply that all rulers of Muslims before our times where despots and oppressors.
The correct way to study the subject
To understand the hadith, firstly we need to appreciate the fact that the hadithtalks about 5 different periods with clear distinctions between one period and the others. So the period of the righteous Khilafah after the prophet (saw) was different to the period that succeeded this period, i.e the Mulkan Aa’dan.Mulk here does not mean Kingdom rather means rulership [For more details refer to Mu’jam al waseet and Tajuluroos min jawahir al Qamoos]. As for the term aa’ddan it means biting and here it is used metaphorically to mean that the rulers will hold onto power as if they were biting on to power and this is why the Scholars referred this period to be the inheritance rule, this is the period that started with mua’wiya (ra) who appointed his son yazid to power.
This period continued until 1924 when the last remains of the UthmaniKhilafah was dismantled and it was then replaced with the Psuedo-Democratic, Secular Nationalist states which oppressed its masses.
These states brought turmoil and killings on its people of a scale which humanity had never seen before and they replaced the Shariah with the Man-made laws and relegated the Law of God to the Masjids and the Courts OfNikah.
We should remember that even this understanding cannot be considered as a correct & accurate understanding but when we compare the realities as described in the hadith, the application which we have described here is in line with the reality.
As for the issue that the second righteous Khilafah was established at the time of Umar bin Abdul aziz, there are a few points.
Firstly, the hadith ends where the narrator makes the statement ‘then the prophet stopped”, After that it is the opinion of the narrator that is presented and it is merely his wish that is being discussed here that he hoped that Umar bin Abdul aziz was that righteous Khalifah. He understood the 3 khalifahs after Ali (Ra) to constitute the period of hereditary rule and the period of oppression, however we need to understand that the hadith refers to a period of oppression and a period of hereditary rule and a period cannot be taken to mean the rule of one ruler or two, rather it is the manifestation of a trend and behavior for a period of time that is being indicated here, this is what Albani (rah) says in his book silsilah asaheeha:
ومن البعيد عندي جعل الحديث على عمر بن عبد العزيز؛لأن خلافته كانت قريبة العهد بالخلافة الراشدة، ولم يكن بعد ملكان ملك عاض وملك جبري.والله أعلم.
“it is far fetched for me to say that the hadith applies to umar bin abdul aziz because his khilafah was close to the period of the (first)khilafah arrashida and after this first khilafah arrashida twoperiods that is the period of hereditary rule and the period of oppression did not take place. Allah knows best”
Secondly, even if we were to take into consideration that the opinion of the narrator is correct and that indeed with Umar bin abdulaziz the second righteous caliphate had started and ended ,we should remember that the implementation of the rule of Allah (swt) is a fard and that it is a sin to remain under the authority of the ruler who rules by kufr.
Just because an informative hadith leads to a different understanding cannot mean that the ayat which command the muslims to rule by the book of Allah (swt) and gives warnings about those who rule by other than what allah (swt) sent be left aside or reinterpreted ? The question that needs to be answered now is — Because umar bin abdulaziz was the second righteous Caliphate does it mean that The Muslims no longer need to apply the Shariah ?
Allah (swt) Says:
أَفَحُكْمَالْجَاهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ مِنَ اللَّهِ حُكْمًا لِقَوْمٍيُوقِنُونَ
Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of)Ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allâh for a people who have firmFaith. [Maidah:50]
وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
And whosoever does not judge by what Allâh has revealed,such are the Kâfirûn [Maidah:44]
وَمَنْلَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
And whosoever does not judge by that which Allâh hasrevealed, such are the Zâlimûn [Maidah:45]
وَمَنْلَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
And whosoever does not judge by what Allâh has revealed(then) such (people) are the Fâsiqûn [Maidah:47|
قال الرازي: وهذا ضعيف لأن الاعتبار بعموم اللفظ لا بخصوص السبب. ثمنقل عن عكرمة: قوله: وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِما أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ إنما يتناول منأنكر بقلبه وجحد بلسانه، أما من عرف بقلبه كونه حكم اللّه وأقر بلسانه كونه حكماللّه، إلا أنه أتى بما يضاده، فهو حاكم بما أنزل اللّه تعالى، ولكنه تارك له، فلايلزم دخوله تحت هذه الآية
Imam razi says in his tafseer: it is incorrect to assume that the ayat above apply to the Jews because “the consideration is given to the generality of the words and not the specificity of the cause” [this is a well known usuliprinciple] , and then he quoted Ikrimah — the one who does not rule by what allah has sent applies to the one who denies it by his heart and his tongue , as for the one who accepts by his heart that this is the rule of allah and accepts it by his tongue that this the rule of allah but does what is contradictory to the rule then he does not fall under this rule.
Ibn Abbas (ra) says
أن من لم يحكم بما أنزلالله جاحداً جاحداً به ، فهو كافر ، ومن لم يحكم مقراً به فهو ظالم فاسق ، وهذاقول ابن عباس .
“the one who does not rule by what allah (swt) has revealed and denies it , he is a kafir, and the one who does not rule by the rule of allah but accepts it is aZalim and a fasiq
The prophet (saw) said:
سَتَكُونُأُمَرَاءُ فَتَعْرِفُونَ وَتُنْكِرُونَ فَمَنْ عَرَفَ بَرِئَ وَمَنْ أَنْكَرَسَلِمَ وَلَكِنْ مَنْ رَضِىَ وَتَابَعَ ». قَالُوا أَفَلاَ نُقَاتِلُهُمْ قَالَ «لاَ مَا صَلَّوْا »
“Amirs will be appointed over you, and you will find them doing good deeds as well as bad deeds.The one who hates their bad deeds is absolved from blame, the one who disapproves of their bad deeds is also safe, but the one who approves and follows is doomed.” It was said: “O Messenger of Allah! Should we not fight them with thesword?” He said: “No, as long as they continue to establish prayer amongstyou.”
The opinion of the scholars that the Ummah should be ruled by the book of Allah (swt) and the Sunnah of his messenger and that it should remain under the authority of an imam is a matter that the scholars extensively wrote about:
Imam abu ul-Hasan al-Mawardi (rh.a.) said, “”The contract of the Imamah(leadership) for whoever is standing with it, is an obligation by Ijmaa’a(consensus)”. (al-Ahkam us-Sultaniyyah [Arabic] p56.)
Imam Ahmed (rh.a.) said: “”The Fitna (mischief and tribuulations) occurs when there is no Imaam established over the affairs ofthe people”.
Abu Hafs Umar al-Nasafi (rh.a.) a noted scholar of the 6th century Hijri states;
“The Muslims simply must have an Imam (Khaleefah),who will execute the rules, establish the Hudud (penal system), defend the frontiers, equip the armies, collect Zakah, punish those who rebel (against the state) and those who spy and highwaymen, establish Jum’ah and the two ‘Eids, settle the dispute among the servants (of Allah),accept the testimony of witnesses in matters of legal rights, give in marriage the young and the poor who have no family, and distribute the booty”.
Imam Al-Juzayri, an expert on the Fiqh of the four great schools of thought said regarding the four Imams, “The Imams (scholars of the four schools of thought- Shafi’i, Hanafi, Maliki, Hanbali)-may Allah have mercy on them- agree that the Imamah (Leadership) is an obligation, and that the Muslims must appoint an Imam who would implement thedeen’s rites, and give the oppressed justice against the oppressors”.(“Fiqh ul-Mathahib ul- Arba’a” [the Fiqh of the four schools ofthought], volume 5, page 416.)
As for the understanding that if we take this hadith to refer to our times and that the Khilafah discussed in the last part of the hadith is yet to be established that would simply imply that all the rulers of Muslims before our times were despots and oppressors — this understanding arises because of mixing between the concept of Mulkan Aaddan and Mulkan Jabriyy.
The two periods are distinct with clearly different behavioral traits exhibited by the rulership with in them. The mulkan aaddan isdistinct due to the rulership held in a clan or a family , however the rulers of this period implemented the rule of Allah (swt), this is apparent from the record of their courts and the fatwas issued and the books that where written during that time and the 100’s of books of history that documented their affairs, they all indicate that the rulers during the time of Abbasids, Umayyad and theOttommans ruled by the book of Allah. There are indications that there were transgressions that happened however, none led the rulership to become one that was out of Islam. This is offcourse while keeping in consideration that there were certain rulers who indeed left the fold of Islam like Akbar, the Mughal ruler who tried to create a new religion — Deen iIlahi.
The Mulkan Aa’ddan period can be understood to have ended with the destruction of the Ottoman Khilafah but this is debatable as some scholars say that it ended a few years prior to the destruction of the ottoman Khilafah when the western forces had occupied large swathes of Turkey.
The period of Mulkan Jabriyy is distinct due to its oppression, the oppression being manifest in aspects of deen where they removed the deen from the life affairs to that of the masjid only and the torture of people and taking away their wealth. These are but a few of the manifestations of this period which we all are living through. Todays rulers, Sisi, Salman, bashar assad, Mubarak, all fall under this period and it is these who form the crux of the Oppressive rulers.
The sincere observant of history and global politics will appreciate that thehadith talks about our times indeed and that there is no doubt that we are in the period of Mulkan Jabriyy (the Oppressive Rule) and it is inevitable that the prophesied Khilafah Arrashida will be a period after this.

Abu Khaled Al Hejazi

Geo-Political observer & commentator. Tech Enthusiast. Digital Entrepreneur. Hafidh Al Quran, Recieved Ijaza in Shariah. A Humble student of of Islamic Sciences


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