Saturday, 10 June 2017

Rulership Among the Quraish

بسم الله الرحمـن الرحيم

الصلوة والسلام على من لا نبى بعده

A certain doubt that has become lodged in the minds of some Muslims is concerning the legitimacy of the government of a non-Quraishi or even a non-Alid (descendant of the Prophet through his cousin and son-in-law, Ali b. Abi TalibRA). Without a doubt, the position of Ahlus Sunnati wal-Jama’a is that it is ideal and preferable that the government and administration of the Muslims be given to the Quraish. The history of early Islam informs us that the believing Muslims particularly desired and looked to the Alids to establish their temporal authority in the land. They were even rendered material support to this end in launching armed uprisings against the various tyrannical governments of the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties.

Regarding the preference for the Quraish to rule over the Muslim Ummah, the Prophet said:
لا يَزَالُ هَذَا الأَمْرُ فِي قُرَيْشٍ، مَا بَقِيَ مِنْهُمُ اثْنَانِ
“This affair (of rulership) will not vanish from the Quraish, even if there remains only two from among them” (Bukhari)

However, this does not mean that the government or administration of a non-Quraishi is illegitimate. The Prophet said:
اسْمَعُوا وَأَطِيعُوا وَإِنِ اسْتُعْمِلَ عَلَيْكُمْ عَبْدٌ حَبَشِيٌّ كَأَنَّ رَأْسَهُ زَبِيبَةٌ
 “Listen and obey even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like a raisin were made your chief” (Bukhari)

*Note: the Prophet did not mean that the heads of Ethiopians in general resemble raisins; but that if a specific Ethiopian individual, who in addition to being a slave his head resembles a raisin, even then obedience is due to him if he occupied the office of temporal authority despite the fact that society may consider such an individual unfit for leadership.

The narrations about temporal authority being the prerogative of the Quraish are to be understood as not only being a matter of preference, but also prophetic and predictive. In other words, the Prophet stated that those who would be given charge of the Ummah will be men of Quraish, and these are predictive statements not necessarily instructive. And of course the prophecy materialised in the sense that whenever the Muslim Ummah was under a single, unified authority, it was the temporal authority of the Quraish, i.e., Khulafa al-Rashidin, Umayyads, and Abbasids. Likewise, we know that the future government of the Mahdi al-MuntazirAS is a restoration of the government of not only Quraish but the Alids.
The fact that rulership belonging to the Quraish is something ideal and preferential, but not a condition for the legitimacy of rulership, can be derived from other narrations, the Hadith about obedience to an Ethiopian slave having already been cited. Another narration states:
الْمُلْكُ فِي قُرَيْشٍ وَالْقَضَاءُ فِي الأَنْصَارِ وَالأَذَانُ فِي الْحَبَشَةِ وَالأَمَانَةُ فِي الأَزْدِ
“Rulership is among the Quraish, judgment is among the Ansar, the Adhan is among the Ethiopians, and the trust is among the Al-Azd.” meaning Yemen. (Tirmidhi)

Because the Azdis are known for their trustworthiness, the Ethiopians for their strong and beautiful voices, and the Ansaris for their justice; the Prophet preferred that they be appointed to those respective positions. But no one infers from this that an Amâna (trust) cannot be rendered to a non-Azdi, or that a non-Ethiopian’s Adhân is invalid, or that a non-Ansari cannot be a judge in a court of law. Likewise, although the Quraish are preferred for temporal authority because of their respectable position, this does not mean that the government of a non-Quraishi is illegitimate.

1 comment:

  1. *Note: It becomes explicitly clear that the Prophet (peace be upon him) gave the example of a specific Ethiopian individual as having a small, deformed head like a raisin, and did not intend to describe an entire genus when we examine related and similar narrations:

    فَقَالَ أَبُو ذَرٍّ أَوْصَانِي خَلِيلِي صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنْ أَسْمَعَ وَأُطِيعَ وَإِنْ كَانَ عَبْدًا حَبَشِيًّا مُجَدَّعَ الأَطْرَافِ
    Abu Dharr said: “My close friend (i.e., the Prophet (ﷺ)) told me to listen and obey, even if (the leader was) an Ethiopian slave with amputated limbs.” (Sunan Ibn Maja)

    Hence if someone claims that the Prophet (peace be upon him) described the entire genus of Ethiopians as "raisin-heads", they would have to be consistent and likewise say that the Prophet (peace be upon him) described them as having amputated limbs as well; something self-evidently absurd.


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