Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Multiplicity of Rulers

 بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

وصلى الله تعالى على خاتم النبيين

Allah Most High says:

یٰۤاَیُّہَا الَّذِیۡنَ اٰمَنُوۡۤا اَطِیۡعُوا اللّٰہَ وَ اَطِیۡعُوا الرَّسُوۡلَ وَ اُولِی الۡاَمۡرِ مِنۡکُمۡ

O ye who believe! obey Allah, and obey the Messenger and those who are in authority among you

(Surah 4:59)

At present, and for the overwhelming portion of our history, the Muslims have been divided into multiple polities with a different ruler or government for each polity or state. Only in modern times, with the rise of the so-called ‘pan-Islamists’ has this reality been questioned as something that opposes the teachings of Islam. The ‘pan-Islamists’ argue that the entire Muslim Ummah must exist as a single polity with a single ruler or imam. In the Quran, the term أولي الأمر منكم ‘those who are in authority among you’ is in the plural, indicating that the norm for the Believers is that they shall have multiple rulers. However, by multiple rulers is meant a ruler for each different polity or jurisdiction. The Shari’ah is clear that there cannot be two different rulers or governments for the same jurisdiction. The ‘pan-Islamists’ quote the Ahadith to that effect as proof for their argument that the Muslim Ummah is required to exist as a single polity only with a single ruler or government. In refutation of their argument, I shall quote some of the classical scholars of Islam. Imam al-Qurtubi writes:

لَكِنْ إِنْ تَبَاعَدَتِ الْأَقْطَارُ وَتَبَايَنَتْ كَالْأَنْدَلُسِ وَخُرَاسَانَ جَازَ ذَلِكَ

But if the lands are far apart and independent, like Anadulsia and Khurasan, it becomes permissible. (al-Jami li-Ahkam il-Quran; Surah 2:30, p.408):


Shaikh ul-Islam, Ibn Taymiyah, said:

وَالسُّنَّةُ أَنْ يَكُونَ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ ‌إمَامٌ ‌وَاحِدٌ وَالْبَاقُونَ نُوَّابُهُ فَإِذَا فُرِضَ أَنَّ الْأُمَّةَ خَرَجَتْ عَنْ ذَلِكَ لِمَعْصِيَةِ مِنْ بَعْضِهَا وَعَجْزٍ مِنْ الْبَاقِينَ أَوْ غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ فَكَانَ لَهَا عِدَّةُ أَئِمَّةٍ لَكَانَ يَجِبُ عَلَى كُلِّ إمَامٍ أَنْ يُقِيمَ الْحُدُودَ وَيَسْتَوْفِيَ الْحُقُوقَ

The Sunnah is for the Muslims to have a single ruler (imam), with others being his deputies. But if it happened that the Ummah left this, due to sin from some and inability from others, so that it had multiple rulers, it would them be incumbent upon each ruler to establish the prescribed punishments and preserve peoples’ rights. (Majmu al-Fatawa; v.34, pp.175-176):



Imam al-Shawkani said:

وأما بعد انتشار الإسلام واتساع رقعته وتباعد أطرافه فمعلوم أنه قد صار في كل قطر أو أقطار الولاية إلى إمام أو سلطان وف يالقطر الآخر أو الأقطار كذلك ولا ينفذ لبعضهم أمر ولا نهي في قطر الآخر وأقطاره التي رجعت إلى ولايته فلا بأس بتعدد الأئمة والسلاطين ويجب الطاعة لكل واحد منهم بعد البيعة له على أهل القطر الذي ينفذ فيه أوامره ونواهيه وكذلك صاحب القطر الآخر

However, as for after Islam became widespread and had reached many far away lands, then as is known, there arose in each province or territory a state with its own leader or ruler. This happened in all regions. The authority of each of them does not extend to the area of others, hence there is no harm in there being a number of leaders and rulers. Obedience to each of them, after the oath of allegiance, is obligatory upon the people of that area where his orders and prohibitions are operative. The same goes for the ruler of each area.

وهكذا العكس فاعرف هذا فإنه المناسب للقواعد الشرعية والمطابق لما تدل عليه الأدلة ودع عنك ما يقال في مخالفته فإن الفرق بين ما كانت عليه الولاية الإسلامية في أول الإسلام وما هي عليه الآن أوضح ‌من ‌شمس ‌النهار

So realise this. For it is in full accord with the principles of the shari‘ah and agrees with what the texts indicate. Ignore what is said contrary to this, since the difference in the condition of the rule of Islam in the beginning and the condition today is clearer than the daytime sun (al-Sayl al-Jarar, p.941):


Shaikh Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab رحمة الله عليه said:

لأن الناس من زمن طويل قبل الإمام أحمد إلى يومنا هذا، ما اجتمعوا على إمام واحد، ولا يعرفون أحدا من العلماء ذكر أن شيئا من الأحكام، لا يصح إلا بالإمام الأعظم

For a very long time, since before the time of Imam Ahmad, till nowadays, the people have not united under one single ruler. Nor is it known that any of the scholars have said that there is any ruling which is not correct except with the greater imam (al-imam al-a‘zam) (al-Durar al-Saniyah; v.9, p.5):



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