Ruling by other than what Allah has revealed | Fitrah Tawheed

The subject of ruling

Islam has given us many verses regarding legislation. The Quran itself is a book of legislation that Muslims use to guide their lives with.

Ruling has to do with governing a people with a type of legislation. Ruling with man-made laws imply setting up own punishments for certain acts of criminal activities, but also coming up with own laws about what is forbidden and what is permitted.

Allah is The Judge, also known in Arabic as Al-Hakam. For this reason, Muslims believe that only Allah judges whether something is forbidden/permitted, and what punishments are to be given for certain criminal activities.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "Allah is The Judge (al-Hakam), and to Him judgment belongs." [Sunan Abi Dawud 4955]

Is ruling by other than Shariah an act of major kufr?

This subject has been debated very often, and not always with the result of clarity. So this needs to change. The issue of 'ruling with what other than Allah has revealed' needs to be dealt with so that the people get clarity on this matter.

It is a big subject, because if this would be kufr, then that would mean a drastic change of perception, which some would not like.

So is not ruling with Shariah an act of kufr? And why would this be kufr? What about Kufr duna Kufr?

In short, making laws is an act of major kufr, same with setting up new punishments by replacing punishments from the Sharia.

But as for the Islamic ruler who rules with the Sharia, but leaves out certain implementations of punishments out of desire or corruption, then he is a Fasiq and not a kafir. He would commit Kufr duna Kufr, as he did not rule with what Allah revealed, and he instead left it out because he took bribes or because he is unjust.

Also the individual actions of the oppressive Islamic ruler, does not make him a kafir. Even when his actions goes against the Sharia. This ruler would be unjust, but he would not commit Kufr, even when he does not judge exactly with the Sharia in his actions. For example killing scholars, taking wealth, and other oppressive actions.

1. None has the right to legislate except Allah

There is not a person who can name himself a Muslim if he rejects the premise that Allah is the only legislator. Because this goes directly against the natural inclination (Fitrah), verses of the Quran and Ahadith.

So claiming someone else besides Allah can make laws, is major kufr, and the person believing in this cannot be Muslim. To accept that only Allah can make laws is needed, in order to fully understand the hukm of ruling by other than what Allah has revealed.

None has the right to legislate except Allah. This has been mentioned in the Quran in many places.

إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ Legislation belongs only to Allah [Surah Yusuf verse 40]
وَلا يُشْرِكُ فِـي حُكمِهِ أحَداً And He shares His Hukm with none [Surah al-Kahf vers 26]

Now, how can be said that ruling by other than Shariah, making laws while only Allah has the right to make laws, that this is not major kufr?

Making laws is an act of major kufr by itself, because Allah is the only One who has the right to make laws, and by making laws, you are setting yourself up as god besides Allah.

Legislating is a supreme act, which only belongs to Allah. He decides what is forbidden and what is allowed, and no one else can take this right of His and place it upon himself. Not even for a single law.

So again, how is legislating not an act of shirk and kufr while this is only the right of Allah?

2. Declaring haram halal and halal haram

A ruler who rules with man-made laws would make the haram halal and the halal haram. How could anyone disagree that if someone makes permissible what Allah has made forbidden, that this is an act of major kufr?

Istihlal is not only done in the heart, it can also be a form of action to make something haram halal or halal haram. Normalizing alcohol for example, this would be a form of allowing what is forbidden, even if you believe alcohol to be haram.

You would see many rulers among the Arabs who make permissible the consumption of alcohol, fornication, musical instruments, and many other things. So how can these rulers ever be considered Muslim when they make halal what Allah made haram?

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "From among my Ummah there will be some people who will consider illegal sexual intercourse, the wearing of silk (for men), the drinking of alcoholic drinks and the use of musical instruments, as lawful." [Sahih al-Bukhari 5590]

Legislation is different to rules. It would not be kufr (yet very sinful) to allow consumption of alcohol in your own house.

Legislation decides how the person living in a certain place must conduct his life within certain boundaries. Rules are applied to limited people, without there being any consequences of official punishments through court.

Islamically, no one has the right to officially deem something forbidden or allowed and impose this on the whole community, while also applying judicial processes.

3. Context of the verse 'And whoever does not rule by what Allah has revealed, they are the disbelievers'

The verses about judging with what Allah has revealed, are said to be from the ambiguous verses of the Quran. Which means that the verses are to be understood in context, and should not be taken by the apparent blindly.

So what is the exact context of these verses? These verses were originally sent down regarding the Jews and Christians, but they apply to the Muslims as well.

إِنَّآ أَنزَلْنَا ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةَ فِيهَا هُدًۭى وَنُورٌۭ ۚ يَحْكُمُ بِهَا ٱلنَّبِيُّونَ ٱلَّذِينَ أَسْلَمُوا۟ لِلَّذِينَ هَادُوا۟ وَٱلرَّبَّـٰنِيُّونَ وَٱلْأَحْبَارُ بِمَا ٱسْتُحْفِظُوا۟ مِن كِتَـٰبِ ٱللَّهِ وَكَانُوا۟ عَلَيْهِ شُهَدَآءَ ۚ فَلَا تَخْشَوُا۟ ٱلنَّاسَ وَٱخْشَوْنِ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا۟ بِـَٔايَـٰتِى ثَمَنًۭا قَلِيلًۭا ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْكَـٰفِرُونَ Indeed, We revealed the Torah, containing guidance and light, by which the prophets, who submitted themselves to Allah, made judgments for Jews. So too did the rabbis and scholars judge according to Allah’s Book, with which they were entrusted and of which they were made keepers. So do not fear the people; fear Me! Nor trade my revelations for a fleeting gain. And those who do not judge by what Allah has revealed are the disbelievers. [Surah al-Maaidah verse 44]
وَكَتَبْنَا عَلَيْهِمْ فِيهَآ أَنَّ ٱلنَّفْسَ بِٱلنَّفْسِ وَٱلْعَيْنَ بِٱلْعَيْنِ وَٱلْأَنفَ بِٱلْأَنفِ وَٱلْأُذُنَ بِٱلْأُذُنِ وَٱلسِّنَّ بِٱلسِّنِّ وَٱلْجُرُوحَ قِصَاصٌۭ ۚ فَمَن تَصَدَّقَ بِهِۦ فَهُوَ كَفَّارَةٌۭ لَّهُۥ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ We ordained for them in the Torah, “A life for a life, an eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, an ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth—and for wounds equal retaliation.” But whoever waives it charitably, it will be atonement for them. And those who do not judge by what Allah has revealed are the wrongdoers. [Surah al-Maaidah verse 45]
وَقَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰٓ ءَاثَـٰرِهِم بِعِيسَى ٱبْنِ مَرْيَمَ مُصَدِّقًۭا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةِ ۖ وَءَاتَيْنَـٰهُ ٱلْإِنجِيلَ فِيهِ هُدًۭى وَنُورٌۭ وَمُصَدِّقًۭا لِّمَا بَيْنَ يَدَيْهِ مِنَ ٱلتَّوْرَىٰةِ وَهُدًۭى وَمَوْعِظَةًۭ لِّلْمُتَّقِينَ Then in the footsteps of the prophets, We sent Jesus, son of Mary, confirming the Torah revealed before him. And We gave him the Gospel containing guidance and light and confirming what was revealed in the Torah a guide and a lesson to the God-fearing. [Surah al-Maaidah verse 46]
وَلْيَحْكُمْ أَهْلُ ٱلْإِنجِيلِ بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فِيهِ ۚ وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ So let the people of the Gospel judge by what Allah has revealed in it. And those who do not judge by what Allah has revealed are the rebellious. [Surah al-Maaidah verse 47]

So let us look at these verses in more detail. These verses were mentioned to be first sent after an incident of the Jews, where they made up a new punishment and replaced the already existing punishment in their Tawrah.

Al-Bara' b. 'Azib reported: "It happened that a Jew passed by Allah's Messenger (ﷺ), while he (the Jew) was smeared black with coals and scourged. Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) called them (the Jews) and said: Is this the punishment you find in your Book (Torah) as a prescribed punishment for adultery?” They said, Yes. He (the Holy Prophet) called one of the scholars among them and said: I ask you in the name of Allah Who sent down the Torah upon Moses if (what these people said) is the prescribed punishment for adultery which you have found in your Book. He (the Jewish scholar) said, "No. If you had not asked me in the name of Allah, I would not have given you this information. We find stoning to death (as a punishment prescribed in the Torah). But this crime (adultery) became very common among our aristocratic class (wealthy class among us). So when we caught a rich person (indulging in this crime) we spared him, but when we caught a poor person we imposed on him the prescribed punishment. So we then said: Let us change this by agreeing (on a punishment) that we can inflict on both the rich and the poor. So we decided to blacken the face of the criminal with coal and to be flogged as a substitute punishment for stoning. Thereupon Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Allah, I am the first to bring Your command back to life after they (the Jews) killed it. He (the Messenger) then commanded and he (the transgressor) was stoned. Allah, the Majestic and Glorious, sent down (this verse):" O Messenger, (the behavior of) those who rival each other in denying the truth should not grieve you..." to "be granted, accept it" (v. 41) It was said (by the Jews): Go to Muhammad; if he orders you to blacken the face and assign flogging (as a punishment for adultery), accept it, but if he pronounces judgment for stoning, reject it. It was (then) that Allah, the Majestic and Great, sent down (these verses): "And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, they are the disbelievers (verse 44)", "And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed , they are the wrongdoers (v. 45)" and "Whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, they are the transgressors (v. 47)" All these verses were revealed in connection with the disbelievers. [Sahih Muslim 1700a]

So at first, the Rabbis spared some of the Jews of the prescribed punishment, because of their great status. And they gave the punishment to others, who did not have a great status. They did this out of corruption, which in Islam is Kufr duna Kufr. Not applying the judgement on a person out of corruption falls under the major sins, not major kufr.

What is considered major kufr however, is when they replaced the punishment with something they made up themselves. This was what made Allah use the word 'Al-Kafirun' for whoever does not judge with what He revealed. So the verse talks about replacing a law or punishment from the Sharia, which is an act major kufr.

So not judging with what Allah has revealed by not applying a punishment, this is Kufr duna Kufr. And not judging with what Allah revealed by replacing a punishment or law, then this is major kufr.

٦٤٢٦ - حَدَّثَنَا أَبِي ثنا أَبُو صَالِحٍ حَدَّثَنِي مُعَاوِيَةُ بْنُ صَالِحٍ عَنْ عَلِيِّ بْنِ أَبِي طَلْحَةَ عَنِ ابْنِ عَبَّاسٍ قَوْلَهُ: وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بما أنزل الله يَقُولُ: مَنْ جَحَدَ الْحُكْمَ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَقَدْ كَفَرَ، وَمَنْ أَقَرَّ بِهِ وَلَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِهِ فَهُوَ ظَالِمٌ فَاسِقٌ. يَقُولُ: مَنْ جَحَدَ مِنْ حُدُودِ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا فَقَدْ كَفَرَ.

Ibn Abbas said: "{And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed}, whoever rejects His Judgment (by replacing it) has disbelieved. Whoever recognizes it (by taking on Sharia) but then does not judge by it, is a wrongdoer and a rebellious transgressor." [Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim hadith 6426]

٦٤٢٧ - أَخْبَرَنَا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ عُثْمَانَ بْنِ حَكِيمٍ الأَوْدِيُّ فِيمَا كَتَبَ إِلَيَّ ثنا أَحْمَدُ بْنُ مُفَضَّلٍ ثنا أَسْبَاطٌ عَنِ السُّدِّيِّ قَوْلَهُ: وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالَ: مَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلْتُ فَتَرَكَهُ عَمْدًا وَجَادًّا وَهُوَ يَعْلَمُ فهو من الكافرون.

Al-Suddi said: "And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, and deliberately forsakes it and persists in it (out of rejection of the Sharia), then he is of the disbelievers." [Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim hadith 6427]

Those Rabbis who replaced the prescribed punishment from the Tawrah never said the new punishment is better than the prescribed one, nor did they believe that the new punishment came from Allah.

So how can some people say that replacing Sharia will only be major kufr if you believe that the replacing punishments/laws are better than the Sharia, or that the replacing punishments/laws are from Allah?

The mere action of those Rabbis who replaced a punishment from the Tawrah, was considered major kufr. So what is concluded from that, is that making a new punishment by replacing the prescribed one, is an act of major Kufr, as the verse clearly says 'Al-Kafirun'.

These verses are applicable to the Muslims

These verses are general and applicable to Muslims as well, as was narrated by Nakha'ee and Al-Sha'bi. For this reason, replacing any punishment or law is considered to be an act of major kufr, like this is for Jews and Christians.

عبد الرزاق عن الثوري عن منصور عن إبراهيم قال نزلت هؤلاء الآيات في بني إسرائيل ورضي لهذه الأمة بها تفسير القرآن - عبد الرزاق الصنعاني - ج ١ - الصفحة ١٩١

Ibrahim an-Nakha'ee said: "This verse: 'And whoever does not judge with what Allah has revealed', was sent down on the Jews. It is (also) applicable to this Ummah." [Tafsir Abdurrazaaq 1/191]

6433 حدثنا الحسن بن أبي الربيع اثنا عبد الرزاق ثنا الثوري، عن زكريا عن الشعبي يعني قوله: ومن لم يحكم بما انزل الله فأولئك هم الكافرون قال: للمسلمين.

Al-Sha'bi said regarding the verse 'And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, they are the disbelievers': "(also) For Muslims." [Tafsir Ibn Abi Hatim hadith 6433]

So how are the Arab rulers any different to those Rabbis who replaced the punishment of adultery? Do these Arab rulers not replace punishments as well?

So the verses in Surah Al-Maaidah can either be minor kufr or major kufr, depending on the context. And these verses cannot be applied in its apparent without the right context.

The Khawarij used to apply these verses to anyone without applying its context, so they made takfir of the Islamic ruler who withheld punishment without replacing it.

[المائدة 44] وَيَقْرَءُونَ مَعَهَا: (ثُمَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ يَعْدِلُونَ) [الأنعام 1] فَإِذَا رَأَوُا الْإِمَامَ يَحْكُمُ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ قَالُوا: قَدْ كَفَرَ، وَمَنْ كَفَرَ عَدَلَ بِرَبِّهِ فَقَدْ أَشْرَكَ فَهَؤُلَاءِ الْأَئِمَّةُ مُشْرِكُونَ، فَيَخْرُجُونَ فَيَفْعَلُونَ مَا رَأَيْتَ، لِأَنَّهُمْ يَتَأَوَّلُونَ هَذِهِ الْآيَةَ "
[الشريعة (1/341)]

Imam Ajurri said: "And from which the Hururis (Hururiyyah, sect of the Khawarij) follow from the ambiguous is the saying of Allah: {And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed then those are the disbelievers} and they read with it {Then those who disbelieved in their lord equate (others in worship with him)} Thus if they see the Imam rule by other than the truth they say: "He has disbelieved, and whoever disbelieves equates with his Lord, therefore those Imams are Mushrikeen." Hence they rebel and do what you have seen because they interprete this Ayah." [al-Shariah 1/341 of Imam Ajurri]

That is the falsehood in which the Khawarij fell into. They saw these verses and applied it blindly, without learning its context. They saw an Islamic ruler who withheld punishment or was oppressive, and they made takfir of him. This is because they interpreted these verses to mean in all cases, but these verses came down for a specific case.

These verses apply to the ruler who replaces a punishment or law. Anyone who makes takfir on rulers because they make laws or replace punishments, has used these verses in the right context.

But anyone who makes takfir of the Islamic ruler who withholds punishment without replacing any law or punishment, or is oppressive and thus goes against Sharia, he has fallen into the falsehood of the Khawarij.

For the Khawarij would see an Islamic ruler who is oppressing the people and would say: "See? He is not judging with what Allah has revealed, so he is a kafir". But in reality, such Islamic ruler is not a kafir, as he has not replaced anything from the Sharia, nor did he make any law. He just does not judge with what Allah revealed out of corruption, not out of rejection.

حدثني المثنى قال، حدثنا حجاج قال، حدثنا حماد، عن عمران بن حدير قال: قعد إلى أبي مجلز نفرٌ من الإبَاضيَّة، قال فقالوا له: يقول الله: " ومن لم يحكم بما أنـزل الله فأولئك هم الكافرون "، فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ ، فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ ! قال أبو مجلز: إنهم يعملون بما يعلمون = يعني الأمراء = ويعلمون أنه ذنب! قال: وإنما أنـزلت هذه الآية في اليهود! والنصارى قالوا: أما والله إنك لتعلم مثل ما نعلم، ولكنك تخشاهم! قال: أنتم أحق بذلك منّا! أمّا نحن فلا نعرف ما تعرفون! [قالوا]: (70) ولكنكم تعرفونه، ولكن يمنعكم أن تمضوا أمركم من خشيتهم! (71)

Al-Mathna narrated from Hajjaj ibn Minhal from Hammad from Imran bin Hudayr that he said: "There were people of the Ibadiyyah (sect of the Khawarij) sitting with Abu Mijliz (A great Tabi'ee) and they said to him: "Whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, they are disbelievers, wrongdoers and evildoers!" Then Abu Mijliz said: "They (the rulers) act according to what they know, and they know that they sin. And these verses had come down upon the Jews and the Christians." Thereupon the people of the Ibadiyyah said, "However, by Allah, you know as much as we do, but you are afraid of them (the rulers)." Abu Mijliz then said, "Indeed, you are more befitting to belong to that category than us, and we do not assume what you assume (that a ruler becomes a kafir by going against implementation of Sharia)." [Tafsir Tabari hadith 12026]

This is what the Khawarij did, they applied the verses of Surah Al-Maaidah in the wrong context. They made takfir of an Islamic ruler who ruled with Sharia and never made any law or replaced anything from it, but the ruler was oppressive.

So the Khawarij believed that if an Islamic ruler is oppressive, he is not judging with what Allah has revealed (which is correct, oppressing implies not judging with what Allah revealed), so they made takfir of such ruler because of it.

The Ibadiyyah in this narration were complaining to Abu Mijliz about the actions of the Ummayad rulers of the time, specifically around the time of Abdulmalik ibn Marwan.

So these Ibadis were experiencing the ruler being oppressive towards the people by heavy taxation. The elites would be rich and the common people suffered from poverty. The Ibadiyyah deemed this to be against the Sharia, which it is, and they believed this would be major kufr, which it is not.

The corruption of Abdulmalik ibn Marwan

Abdulmalik ibn Marwan had illegally appropriated many lands and property which should have been deposited in the Bait ul-Mal (state treasury). Bait ul-Mal is a pot of money and ownings that is acquired through spoils of war. It must be spent on things like building infastructure and the likes, so as to strengthen society.

But Abdulmalik ibn Marwan used to spent a portion from that money on himself and his lifestyle, which was a major sin and transgression.

When Mu'awiyah radiyAllahu 'anhu conquered Cyprus he made a peace treaty with Ahl Dhimmah stipulating an annual jizyah payment of 7000 dinars (£1.3million) for the whole island. This treaty remained in effect up until Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan wrongfully increased it by 1000 dinars (£189,000K).

So he took more from Ahl Dhimmah than what was originally agreed upon. This was one of his injustices, he would take from Ahl Dhimmah and tax them heavily, and even wrongfully take their owned pieces of land.

These injustices of Abdulmalik ibn Marwan led the people to become very poor and the elites very rich. So rebels from the Ibadiyyah and others emerged, and they wanted to revolt against Abdulmalik ibn Marwan for how he treated his people and heavily taxed them.

They would say, "See? Do you not see how the ruler is oppressing us? Is he judging with what Allah has revealed? He is not, so he is a kafir".

But Abu Mijliz told them, no, this does not make him a kafir. As these verses you mentioned were revealed about the Jews and Christians who replaced punishments! Do you see these rulers replacing any punishments or laws?! Rather, they are just going against Sharia out of their rebelliousness, and not because they reject or replace the Sharia.

Also obey the oppressive Islamic leader

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "There will be rulers from whom you will see both goodness and corruption. One who recognizes their evil and hates it will maintain his innocence, but one who is pleased with it and follows them will be sinful." It was said, “Shall we not fight them?” The Prophet said: No, as long as they pray. [Sahih Muslim 1854]

The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke God's blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): Should we not overthrow them with the help of the sword (by fighting them)? The Prophet (ﷺ) said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them, you should hate their actions, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience." [Sahih Muslim 1855a]

These narrations show that there is a possibility of an Islamic ruler who is corrupt and spreads oppression. This means that him going against the commands of Allah by becoming oppressive is not an act of major kufr.

This is a refutation of the Khawarij who make takfir of the Islamic ruler because of his oppression. The Prophet (ﷺ) said you should not fight such ruler, unless he leaves prayer (commits major kufr).

If the Prophet held the position that the Islamic ruler who oppresses becomes a kafir because of it, then Khawarij would have a point, but it is not like that.

When Abdulmalik ibn Marwan committed kufr

Abdulmalik ibn Marwan was known to heavily tax those who lived under his rule. He would oppress his people, take their wealth unjustly, and even their property.

But this was not a valid Islamic reason for people to rebel against him, as he was committing wrong and transgression, without reaching major kufr.

As Ibn Abbas explained, the Islamic ruler does not become kafir if he does not judge with Shariah in certain matters out of corruption. This was the case with Abdulmalik ibn Marwan, but not for long.

He eventually went further and reached the level of major kufr by making a new law. He was the first who made a law of Jizyah for Muslims.

So when he placed jizyah on Muslims, he reached the level of major kufr, because he made halal what Allah made haram. He placed jizyah on converts, and obligated them to still pay it eventhough they converted.

He would not like it when a non-Muslim converted who used to pay jizyah, so he implemented a new law, that the converts must also still pay jizyah. This way, he did not hamper the constant stream of income coming from jizyah.

The rebellion of the Qurraa (Quran reciters)

So now Abdulmalik ibn Marwan committed kufr by making a new law, and making halal what Allah made haram, many scholars of Islam rebelled against him, as it would be permissible to rebel against the former Islamic ruler who commits major kufr.

The Qurra rebelled against Abdulmalik ibn Marwan and those who were governors, such as the tyrant Al-Hajjaj ibn Yusuf. They rebelled because those rulers committed major kufr by introducing a new law.

وَإِنَّمَا احْتَاجَ النَّاسُ إِلَى هَذِهِ الْآثَارِ فِي زَمَانِ بَنِي أُمَيَّةَ، لِأَنَّهُ يُرْوَى عَنْهُمْ، أَوْ عَنْ بَعْضُهُمِ: أَنَّهُمْ كَانُوا يَأْخُذُونَهَا مِنْهُمْ وَقَدْ أَسْلَمُوا، يَذْهَبُونَ إِلَى أَنَّ الْجِزْيَةَ بِمَنْزِلَةِ الضَّرَائِبِ عَلَى الْعَبِيدِ يَقُولُونَ: فَلَا يُسْقِطُ إِسْلَامُ الْعَبْدِ عَنْهُ ضَرِيبَتَهُ، وَلِهَذَا اسْتَجَازَ مَنِ اسْتَجَازَ مِنَ الْقُرَّاءِ الْخُرُوجَ عَلَيْهِمْ.

Abu 'Ubayd Al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam said: "Jizyah is only obligatory on the disbelievers, not on Muslims. And when the people protested against the leaders of Bani Umayyah, it was because those leaders obliged Jizyah on the converts among the Muslims. So therefore it was permissible for the Qurraa (Quran reciters) to rebel against them." [Al-Amwal Hadith 125 of Al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam]

And this rebellion against Al-Hajjaj was major, and many scholars and Quran memorizers revolted against him, including the sons of Anas ibn Maalik. and this revolt is known as 'The Revolt of the Scholars', or 'The Revolt of the Quran reciters'.

List of scholars who participated in this revolt:
  • Abu 'Ubaidah (son of Ibn Mas'oud)
  • Al-Nadr ibn Anas (son of Anas ibn Maalik)
  • Muhammad ibn Sa'd b. Abī Waqqās (son of Sa'd b. Abī Waqqās)
  • Mujāhid ibn Jabr
  • 'Amr ibn Dīnār
  • 'Amir al-Sha'bi
  • 'Abd al-Rahmān ibn Abī Layla
  • Sa'īd ibn Jubair

The revolt was led by Ibn al-Ash'ath, who was a former commander of Al-Hajjaj. Many scholars supported this revolt, including Sa'id ibn Jubayr (a great tabi'ee, student of Ibn Abbas).

قال ابن أبي خيثمة: نبأنا أبو ظفر، نبأنا جعفر بن سليمان، قال بسطام بن مسلم، عن قتادة، قال: قيل لسعيد بن جبير: خرجت على الحجاج؟ قال: أي والله! ما خرجت عليه حتى كفر.

Qatadah narrated: Sa'id ibn Jubayr was asked if he rebelled against Al-Hajjaj, to which he said: "Yes, but I only did this when he committed Kufr." [Tarikh Dimashq 12/183]

This is evidence that Sa'id ibn Jubayr did not revolt against Al-Hajjaj for his oppression, rather it was because of his act of major kufr by implementing a new law.

So many scholars revolted against Al-Hajjaj, and they did this because they deemed him to have become a kafir for implementing a new law. Not because he killed many people and took wealth unjustly, or did many other evil sins.

This shows that rebellion against the Islamic ruler is not allowed, and it becomes Islamically allowed only when that ruler becomes kafir.

However, this does not mean it is permissible to rebel against a kafir asli ruler who rules with secular laws and does not come from an Islamic ruling system background.

So rebelling against a seculair/democratic ruler, is not from Islam. And one should obey them if they have a covenant with them, and such covenant is impermissible to break in any way shape or form, which happens by rebelling or by going against the conditions agreed upon. For this would be haram, and a great injustice.

What right do some believe to have to think that they can enter a country of the kuffar, and then rebel against those who are in charge?! This is not from Islam. Anyone who goes to a kafir country and is accepted to live there under covenant, can never go against that covenant by betraying and rebelling!

If you have a covenant with the government you live under from the non-Muslims, then this is binding, and you are not allowed to take anything from the wealth of the non-Muslims, for that would be treacherous, and that is haram.

(قَالَ الشَّافِعِيُّ - رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى -): وَإِذَا دَخَلَ رَجُلٌ دَارَ الْحَرْبِ بِأَمَانٍ فَوَجَدَ امْرَأَتَهُ أَوْ امْرَأَةَ غَيْرِهِ أَوْ مَالَهُ أَوْ مَالَ غَيْرِهِ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِينَ أَوْ أَهْلَ الذِّمَّةِ مِمَّا غَصَبَهُ الْمُشْرِكُونَ كَانَ لَهُ أَنْ يَخْرُجَ بِهِ مِنْ قِبَلِ أَنَّهُ لَيْسَ بِمِلْكٍ لِلْعَدُوِّ وَلَوْ أَسْلَمُوا عَلَيْهِ لَمْ يَكُنْ لَهُمْ فَلَيْسَ بِخِيَانَةٍ كَمَا لَوْ قَدَرَ عَلَى مُسْلِمٍ غَصَبَ شَيْئًا فَأَخَذَهُ بِلَا عِلْمِ الْمُسْلِمِ فَأَدَّاهُ إلَى صَاحِبِهِ لَمْ يَكُنْ خَانَ إنَّمَا الْخِيَانَةُ أَخَذَ مَا لَا يَحِلُّ لَهُ أَخْذُهُ وَلَكِنَّهُ لَوْ قَدَرَ عَلَى شَيْءٍ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ لَمْ يَحِلَّ لَهُ أَنْ يَأْخُذَ مِنْهُ شَيْئًا قَلَّ أَوْ كَثُرَ لِأَنَّهُ إذَا كَانَ مِنْهُمْ فِي أَمَانٍ فَهُمْ مِنْهُ فِي مِثْلِهِ وَلِأَنَّهُ لَا يَحِلُّ لَهُ فِي أَمَانِهِمْ
[ص284 - كتاب الأم للشافعي]

Imam Shafi'i said: "Treachery is if someone takes something that it is not lawful for him to take. If a Muslim were to come into Darul Harb and live there in safety, and is able to take something from the wealth of the non-Muslims, then it would not be lawful for him to do that, whether it be small amount or large amount, because he has been granted safety and has a covenant with the place he lives in, so he must ophold this covenant he has with them. [Kitab ul Umm volume 4 page 284]

Not even a captured Muslim prisoner can betray the covenant he has with the enemies who imprisoned him.

(قَالَ الشَّافِعِيُّ - رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى -): وَإِذَا أَسَرَ الْعَدُوُّ الرَّجُلَ مِنْ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَخَلُّوا سَبِيلَهُ وَأَمَّنُوهُ وَوَلَّوْهُ ضِيَاعَهُمْ أَوْ لَمْ يُوَلُّوهُ فَأَمَانُهُمْ إيَّاهُ أَمَانٌ لَهُمْ مِنْهُ وَلَيْسَ لَهُ أَنْ يَغْتَالَهُمْ وَلَا يَخُونَهُمْ.»
[ص292 - كتاب الأم للشافعي]

Imam Shafi'i said: "If the enemy captures a Muslim and imprisons him, and after that they release him and give him security, and they allow him to live among them, the covenant they give to him is a covenant from him to them (i.e. it is binding on him), it is not allowed for him to kill them or betray them." [Kitab ul Umm volume 4 page 292]

"But what about Kufr duna Kufr?"

The matter of Kufr duna Kufr is accepted, reported by Ibn Abbas and his students Tawus and 'Attaa. So none can dispute its validity and it being part of Islam.

The context of Kufr duna Kufr deals with the Khawarij who used the verse in Surah al-Maaidah to claim that any ruler who does not rule with what Allah has revealed, that he becomes a kafir.

Ibn Abbas responded to them by saying that whoever does this from the Islamic rulers, commits Kufr duna Kufr (minor kufr).

Another point to be made, is that Kufr duna Kufr has also been related to taking bribes in the act of judging in court. So the Islamic judge who withholds prescribed punishment out of corruption, then this judge would commit Kufr duna Kufr. And the matter of Kufr duna Kufr has already been explained in detail.

So the context of Kufr duna Kufr is not making laws, or a ruler who replaces prescribed punishments from the Sharia by making his own. These are related to acts of major kufr.

Ibn Abbas responded to the Khawarij who said that if the Islamic ruler does not judge with the Sharia out of corruption, that he becomes a kafir. Ibn Abbas said, no, this is Kufr duna Kufr.

"How about Najashi ruling by other than what Allah revealed?"

Najashi, an Arabic term defining a king of Abyssinia (Kingdom of Ethiopia/Eritrea), has been claimed (by some people) to rule by other than what Allah revealed. This is not entirely true, as the kings of Abyssinia ruled with the Christian laws given by the Old Testament of the Bible.

So in principle, this Najashi who later converted to Islam, did rule with what Allah revealed, and it cannot be said that he did not. And it would be even more a horrendous claim to say he made his own laws.

This Abyssinian king ruled his kingdom under the laws of Christianity. He allowed some Muslims in and granted them protection, while letting them practise their religion in peace.

This specific Najashi later converted to Islam, and he died not having ruled with Islamic laws. This is because he was new to Islam and had absolutely no knowledge about the Islamic laws, so he continued to rule with what Allah revealed from the Christian laws until his death.

The Prophet's letter to a Najashi

Anas ibn Maalik narrated: The Prophet of Allah (ﷺ) wrote to Chosroes (King of Persia), Caesar (Emperor of Rome), Najashi (King of Abyssinia) and every (other) authority figure inviting them to Allah, the Exalted. And this Najashi was not the one for whom the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) performed the funeral prayer (As-hama). [Sunan Abi Dawud 4955]

So when the Prophet wrote letters to those rulers, there was a different Najashi (King of Abyssinia) who held power, and that Najashi was not narrated to have become Muslim after the letter.

After some time, that Najashi was replaced with another Najashi of Abyssinia, who's name was Ashama (as-hama), and this king of Abyssinia did convert to Islam after another letter.

وفي كتاب عن أبي عبد الله الحافظ في الجزء الذي أجاز لي روايته عنه قال: أخبرني أبو الحسن محمد بن عبد الله الفقيه، بمرو، قال: حدثنا حماد بن أحمد، قال: حدثنا محمد بن حميد، قال: حدثنا سلمة بن الفضل، عن محمد بن إسحاق قال: بعث رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم عمرو بن أمية الضمري إلى النجاشي في شأن جعفر بن أبي طالب وأصحابه، وكتب معه كتابا: "بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم من محمد رسول الله إلى النجاشي الأصحم ملك الحبشة، سلام عليك، فإني أحمد إليك الله الملك القدوس المؤمن المهيمن، وأشهد أن عيسى ابن مريم روح الله، وكلمته ألقاها إلى مريم البتول الطيبة الحصينة، فحملت بعيسى، فخلقه من روحه ونفخه كما خلق آدم بيده ونفخه، وإني أدعوك إلى الله وحده لا شريك له، والموالاة على طاعته، وأن تتبعني وتؤمن بي وبالذي جاءني، فإني رسول الله، وقد بعثت إليكم ابن عمي جعفرا، ومعه نفر من المسلمين، فإذا جاؤوك فاقرهم ودع التجبر فإني أدعوك وجنودك إلى الله وقد بلغت ونصحت فاقبلوا نصيحتي , والسلام على من اتبع الهدى" وكتب النجاشي إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم إلى محمد رسول الله من النجاشي الأصحم بن أبجر، سلام عليك يا نبي الله من الله ورحمة الله وبركاته، لا إله إلا هو الذي هداني إلى الإسلام، فقد بلغني كتابك يا رسول الله فيما ذكرت من أمر عيسى، فورب السماء والأرض إن عيسى ما يزيد على ما ذكرت، وقد عرفنا ما بعثت به إلينا، وقد قرينا ابن عمك وأصحابه، فأشهد أنك رسول الله صادقا مصدقا، وقد بايعتك وبايعت ابن عمك وأسلمت على يديه لله [ ص: 310 ] رب العالمين، وقد بعثت إليك يا نبي الله بأريحا بن الأصحم بن أبجر فإني لا أملك إلا نفسي، وإن شئت أن آتيك فعلت يا رسول الله، فإني أشهد أن ما تقول حق.
[دلائل النبوة للبيهقي [ ص: 309 ] باب ما جاء في كتاب النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم إلى النجاشي]

Ibn Ishaq narrated, the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Amr ibn Umayyah Ad-Damri to Najashi regarding Ja'far ibn Abi Talib and his companions coming to him, and he wrote a letter: "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. From Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, to Najashi, Ashama, king of Abyssinia, Salamun 'alayk. Indeed, I praise to you Allah, the Sovereign, the Holy, the Trustworthy, the Supreme. And I bear witness that Jesus, son of Mary, is the Spirit of Allah and His word which He conveyed to Mary the chaste, the steadfast. So she conceived Jesus, and He created him from His Spirit and His blowing life as He created Adam with His Hand and His blowing life. And I invite you to Allah alone, with no partner, and to adhere to His obedience, and to follow me and believe in me and in what has come to me, for I am the Messenger of Allah. I have sent to you my cousin Ja'far along with a group of Muslims, so when they come to you, honor them and abandon arrogance (do not wrong them). For I invite you and your soldiers to Allah, and I have conveyed and advised, so accept my advice. And peace be upon those who follow guidance." And Najashi Ashama wrote back to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ): "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. To Muhammad, the Messenger of Allah, from Najashi, Ashama son of Abjar, peace be upon you, O Prophet of Allah, from Allah, and may Allah's mercy and blessings be upon you. There is no god but He who guided me to Islam. Your letter has reached me, O Messenger of Allah, regarding what you mentioned concerning Jesus. By the Lord of the heavens and the earth, Jesus is no more than what you have mentioned. And we have come to know now what you have been sent with, and we have read what you said about your cousin and his companions. I bear witness that you are the Messenger of Allah, truthful and trustworthy. I have pledged allegiance to you and to your cousin (Ja'far ibn Abi Talib), and I have submitted to Allah, the Lord of the worlds. And I have sent to you (to give you this letter) my son called Arihah, for I have no authority over anyone except myself. And if you wish for me to come to you, O Messenger of Allah, then I will do so, for I bear witness that what you say is true." [Dalaail Al-Nubuwwah page 309]

So the Najashi at that time, named Ashama, received a letter from the Prophet (ﷺ) inviting him to Islam and calling him towards justice to those who were sent to him. Ashama accepted the invitation to Islam and protected the companions from any wrongdoing, and they had peace and were free to practise Islam.

Najashi Ashama accepted Islam and was still unaware of its various laws, as he accepted it quite early in Islam (period of emigration). The verse of Surah Al-Maaidah were not even sent down yet at his point of conversion.

Because of that, it cannot even be said that him ruling with the Biblical revelation at that point of time would have been kufr, because the verse was not sent down, nor was every Islamic law.

Conclusion about Najashi Ashama

He became Muslim, and continued ruling with whatever he knew which was revealed by Allah. And he knew nothing about Islam in order to rule with it, so he stuck with what was revealed by Allah through the laws of Christianity.

And this argument some use about Najashi is actually pretty weak as well, because he never made laws himself. And the rulers of today who rule by other than what Allah revealed, have gone even further by legislating themselves, instead of using older revelations of Allah.

So they can never even compare Najashi Ashama with those lawmakers and rulers of secularism and democracy, as he stuck with what Allah revealed until his death, may Allah have mercy upon him and grant him the highest place in Paradise.

Jabir ibn 'Abdullah narrated: The Prophet (ﷺ) said: "A pious servant of Allah named Ashama has died today." So the Prophet (ﷺ) stood up and led us in (funeral prayer) over him." [Sahih Muslim 952b]

"But Prophet Yusuf was a Minister"

There is not a single evidence that Prophet Yusuf ruled by other than what Allah revealed, and thus this argument is baseless.

Prophet Yusuf was given a high status and role in Egypt after he was wrongfully put in prison. The king of Egypt made up for this by making Prophet Yusuf Minister of Finance.

This is evidence that working under a government that is unislamic does not make one a kafir, as some like to claim.

Prophet Yusuf worked under the king of Egypt at his time, and he was responsible for the finance of that area. He stored produce and was given knowledge on when drought would happen, so he held precautions by storing produce.

Then when a long period of drought happened, his people could live from the stored produce which he intelligently stored beforehand.

And one day the King said, “I dreamt of seven fat cows eaten up by seven skinny ones; and seven green ears of grain and seven others dry. O chiefs! Tell me the meaning of my dream if you can interpret dreams.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 43]

They replied, “These are confusing visions and we do not know the interpretation of such dreams.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 44]

Finally, the surviving ex-prisoner remembered ˹Joseph˺ after a long time and said, “I will tell you its interpretation, so send me to Yusuf.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 45]

He said, “Yusuf, O man of truth! Interpret for us the dream of seven fat cows eaten up by seven skinny ones; and seven green ears of grain and seven others dry, so that I may return to the people and let them know.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 46]

Yusuf replied, “You will plant grain for seven consecutive years, leaving in the ear whatever you will harvest, except for the little you will eat.
[Surah Yusuf verse 47]

Then after that will come seven years of great hardship which will consume whatever you have saved, except the little you will store.
[Surah Yusuf verse 48]

Then after that will come a year in which people will receive abundant rain and they will press oil and wine.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 49]

The king of Egypt freed Prophet Yusuf after the incident of slandering, because the person who accused him finally told the truth. Which made the king want to make up for Prophet Yusuf by giving him high esteem and status. So Prophet Yusuf asked the king to place him as a Minister of Finance, responsible for the store-houses.

The King said, “Bring him to me. I will employ him exclusively in my service.” And when Yusuf spoke to him, the King said, “Today you are highly esteemed and fully trusted by us.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 54]

Yusuf proposed, “Put me in charge of the store-houses of the land, for I am truly reliable and adept.”
[Surah Yusuf verse 55]

Prophet Yusuf was then placed as Minister of Finance, responsible for the store-houses of the country. So he stored produce in a wise and intelligent manner for years, until the period of drought came and many places were starving, but not Egypt, because Prophet Yusuf had stored produce for this moment.

So as you can see, Prophet Yusuf had nothing to do with any legislative role or governing, rather, he was placed as a Minister of Finance, where he was responsible for the store-houses of Egypt.

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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