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Response to Saleh's fatwa for sale: "Revolutionary Declaration" from Imam in Canada‏
 

Response to Saleh's fatwa for sale: "Revolutionary Declaration" from Imam in Canada‏

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    Response to Saleh's fatwa for sale: "Revolutionary Declaration" from Imam in Canada‏ Response to Saleh's fatwa for sale: "Revolutionary Declaration" from Imam in Canada‏ Document Transcript

    • On  the  Permissibility  And  Practices  of   Opposing  Unjust  Rulers  in  Islam  In  the  name  of  Allah,  the  Most  Gracious  and  Most  Merciful:  Faced  with  the  popular  and  (with  the  help  of  God)  world-­‐changing  events  of  the  so-­‐called  “Arab  Spring”,  certain  rulers  of  Muslim  majority  nations  in  the  Middle-­‐East  have  sought  to  declare  those  who  question  or  oppose  their  conduct  as  rulers  as  perpetrators  of  a  “Fitnah”,  an  Arabic  word  meaning  “division”,  with  negative  connotations  of  unnecessary  conflict,  upheaval  and  chaos.    This  implication  is  then  being  used  to  justify  obviously  anti-­‐Islamic  behavior  against  that  Muslim  nation’s  citizenry  by  that  ruler’s  followers,  not  limited  to  but  including  murder,  rape,  the  threat  of  rape,  torture,  coercion,  and  other  acts  of  oppression.    These  tragic  events  raise  three  basic  questions,  requiring  answer:   1. Must  Muslims  bow  to  authority,  when  they  consider   that  authority  to  be  unjust  in  intent  or  practice?   2. What  are  the  requirements  and  responsibilities   placed  upon  the  ruler  of  an  Islamic  State?   3. What  actions  are  permissible  to  Muslims  in  seeking   redress  when  those  requirements  and   responsibilities  are  not  being  fulfilled?    With  the  help  of  Allah,  His  revealed  message  to  humanity  through  the  pages  of  the  Holy  Quran,  and  the  example  of  our  beloved  prophet  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  and  his  earliest  followers,  it  is  our  intent  to  answer  those  basic  questions.  
    • 1.  Must  Muslims  bow  to  authority,  when  they  consider  that  authority  unjust  in  intent  or  practice?    Alhamdulillah  this  is  the  easiest  question  to  answer.  The  Holy  Quran  itself  declares:  O  ye  who  believe!  Stand  out  firmly  for  justice,  as  witnesses  to  God,  even  as  against  yourselves,  or  your  parents,  or  your  kin,  and  whether  it  be  (against)  rich  or  poor:  for  God  can  best  protect  both.  Follow  not  the  lusts  (of  your  hearts),  lest  ye  swerve,  and  if  ye  distort  (justice)  or  decline  to  do  justice,  verily  God  is  well  acquainted  with  all  that  ye  do.    “The  Women”  4:135  This  Ayah  makes  it  clear  that  Justice  is  the  prime  virtue  for  which  Muslims  are  commanded  to  strive,  pursuing  it  to  the  best  of  our  ability  above  all  else  in  this  life.  Another  Ayah,  revealed  close  to  the  time  that  Muslims  became  dominant  in  the  Arabian  peninsula  made  it  very  clear  that  oppression  and  the  disruption  unjust  rulers  impose  upon  Muslim  lives  can  outweigh  the  value  of  even  those  lives  themselves.  When  unjust  rule  prevented  Muslims  from  following  their  religion  in  the  Holy  environs  of  Mecca,  the  earliest  Muslims  were  told:  And  slay  them  wherever  ye  catch  them,  and  turn  them  out  from  where  they  have  Turned  you  out;  for  tumult  and  oppression  are  worse  than  slaughter;  but  fight  them  not  at  the  Sacred  Mosque,  unless  they  (first)  fight  you  there;  but  if  they  fight  you,  slay  them.  Such  is  the  reward  of  those  who  suppress  faith.    “The  Heifer”  2:190  However,  valid  Hadithi  also  tell  us  Allah  loves  a  Just  ruler:  “There  are  seven  categories  of  people  whom  God  will  shelter  under  His  shade  on  the  Day  when  there  will  be  no  shade  except  His.    [One  is]  the  just  leader.”(Saheeh  Muslim)  This  valid  Hadith  confirms  that  a  Just  Muslim  ruler  has  God’s  blessing,  and  deserves  Muslim  support,  making  the  discerning  of  an  unjust  ruler  an  important  Muslim  task.  But  that  realization,  that  Allah’s  beneficence  demands  a  Just  Ruler,  begs  an  obvious  question:  How  then,  can  a  Muslim  discern  the  characteristics  of  a  Just  Ruler,  truly  deserving  our  fullest  Muslim  support?  
    • 2.  What  are  the  requirements  and  responsibilities  placed  upon  the  ruler  of  an  Islamic  State?    Alhamdulillah,  to  answer  this  question  we  have  the  example  of  our  beloved  prophet  Muhammad’s  (peace  be  upon  him)  earliest  companions  and  the  dictates  of  Sharia.    Few  familiar  with  the  history  and  character  of  Caliph  Umar  would  question  that  if  there  were  to  be  an  absolute  and  dictatorial  ruler  over  the  Muslim  people  it  would  have  been  Umar.  Physically  and  intellectually  imposing,  respected  by  all  and  feared  by  his  enemies,  Umar  was  a  man  who  knew  his  own  mind.  And  yet,  all  Muslims  know  that  his  governance  was  one  of  enlightened  empowerment  for  all  Muslim  and  non-­‐Muslim  alike.    When  he  sought  to  impose  his  own  wishes  upon  the  Ummah  regarding  the  size  of  a  woman’s  wedding  dower,  the  voice  of  one  woman  alone  speaking  the  words  of  the  Holy  Quran  was  sufficient  to  call  him  back  to  the  true  path  of  Islam.    When  he  could  have  conquered  Jerusalem  through  military  might  alone,  he  instead  chose  to  walk  up  to  the  gates  with  one  servant,  and  instead  left  Jerusalem’s  governance  in  the  hands  of  it’s  then  Christian  governor,  merely  confirming  that  governor  would  ensure  equal  rights  and  freedoms  for  all,  regardless  of  race,  gender  or  creed.    Under  Umar,  Islamic  governance  does  not  empower  a  ruler  over  their  subjects.  In  fact,  according  to  his  example  Islamic  governance  is  an  act  of  obedience,  a  daunting  task.  Caliph  Umar  summarized  a  Muslim  ruler’s  responsibilities  by  pointing  out  that  before  God,  if  a  she-­‐donkey  stumbled  in  Iraq,  he  would  be  responsible  in  the  eyes  of  God  for  neglecting  to  pave  the  roads  for  her.    Instead  of  conferring  power  on  rulers,  Sharia  makes  it  clear  that  the  obligations  of  an  Islamic  State  towards  those  under  that  State’s  authority  are:   1.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  life.     2.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  family.   3.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  education.   4.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  religion.   5.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  property.   6.  The  right  to  the  protection  of  their  human  dignity.    Any  state  that  does  not  recognize  and  protect  those  rights  for  it’s  citizens  is  not  an  Islamic  State,  and  a  ruler  who  does  not  protect  those  rights  to  the  best  of  his  or  her  ability  is  not  a  “Just”  ruler,  under  the  expectations  of  our  Lord  Creator’s  Islam.    
    • 3.  What  actions  are  permissible  to  Muslims  in  seeking  redress  when  the  requirements  and  responsibilities  incumbent  upon  an  Islamic  State  are  not  being  fulfilled?    Alhamdulillah,  to  answer  this  most  difficult  question  we  have  nothing  less  than  the  example  of  our  beloved  prophet  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  himself.      There  are  four  occasions  well  know  to  all  Muslims  familiar  with  the  Sunnah  of  our  prophet,  during  which  he  was  forced  to  respond  to  an  unjust  State.  The  first  occasion  was  during  his  early  life  and  the  early  years  of  our  Ummah  in  the  city  of  Mecca.  At  that  time,  when  he  and  his  followers  were  weak  and  powerless  before  the  temporal  powers  of  the  day  they  were  forced  to  dissemble,  accommodate  and  to  eventually  flee.    From  this  example  we  may  conclude  that  when  Muslims  are  weak  and  powerless  and  facing  oppression,  we  should  dissemble,  accommodate  and  perhaps  even  flee,  avoiding  conflict.  The  second  occasion  that  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  was  forced  to  respond  to  unjust  rule  was  in  the  early  days  of  his  leadership  in  Medina,  when  Medina  was  plagued  by  inter-­‐tribal  strife  and  intrigue.  In  response,  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  authored  what  today  is  known  as  the  “Charter  of  Medina”,  a  document  which  spelled  our  clearly  the  independent  rights  and  freedoms  of  Medina’s  citizens  regardless  of  race,  or  creed,  and  clearly  stated  the  responsibilities  of  those  citizens  towards  the  nascent  City-­‐State  of  Medina,  and  towards  each-­‐other.    Once  the  leaders  of  Medina  had  accepted  those  terms,  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  governed  himself  and  that  State  according  to  the  terms  of  that  mutually  acceptable  Charter.  That  document  created  a  consultative  form  of  government  termed  “Shura”  which  many  now  consider  most  similar  to  representational  parliamentary  democracies  found  in  Britain  and  Canada,  with  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  acting  as  Prime  Minister.      From  this  example  we  may  conclude  that  when  governing  a  diverse  people  including  Muslims,  non-­Muslims,  and  different  interpretations  of  Islamic  jurisprudence,  Islamic  government  should  be  consultative,  democratic  and  representational,  confirming  and  protecting  the  rights  and  freedoms  of  all.    The  third  occasion  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  was  forced  to  respond  to  unjust  rulers  was  upon  his  return  to  Mecca,  best  demonstrated  in  his  negotiations  with  the  Meccan  leadership  at  the  well  of  Huddaybiyyah.  There,  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  and  his  companions  were  present  in  force,  with  sufficient  power  to  enforce  
    • justice  upon  the  rulers  of  Mecca  immediately,  but  at  significant  cost  of  human  life  both  Meccan  and  Medinan.      The  Medinan  and  Meccan  expectations  were  clear:  Mecca  expected  a  bloody  battle  to  defend  their  oppressive  power,  and  Medina  craved  a  bloody  conquest  for  the  sake  of  justice  and  Islam.  However,  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  saw  a  better  way.  Instead  of  battle  he  pledged  to  retreat,  requiring  nothing  from  the  Meccans  at  that  time  and  demanding  no  immediate  justice,  in  return  for  the  right  to  return  a  year  later  to  see  justice  fulfilled.    It  is  important  to  note  that  when  the  Medinans  did  return  to  Mecca  a  year  later,  even  though  they  had  received  permission  to  pursue  bloody  conquest,  Mecca  fell  without  bloodshed,  and  even  without  a  blow  being  struck  by  either  side.    From  this  example  we  can  conclude  that  Muslims  granted  near  absolute  power  must  still  protect  the  life,  rights  and  freedoms  of  their  enemies  as  well  as  their  own.    If  justice  delayed  can  be  achieved  through  peaceful  means,  then  justice  delayed  remains  a  better  path  to  resolution  than  unnecessary  conflict.    The  final  occasion  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  was  forced  to  respond  to  unjust  rule  was  in  the  conflict  between  the  Arabs  of  Medina  and  the  Jews  of  Khaybar.    In  that  conflict,  Khaybar’s  Jews  were  weak,  and  their  leadership  pursued  a  pact  with  non-­‐Muslim  Arabs  to  exterminate  every  Muslim  in  the  world,  in  return  for  surrendering  half  Khaybar’s  possessions  and  produce  from  that  point  onwards.  This  unquestionably  evil  and  provocative  pact  begged  for  a  commensurate  response.    However,  instead  of  seeking  to  exterminate  all  Khaybar’s  Jews  in  return  for  that  evil,  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  punished  Khaybar’s  leadership  alone,  and  even  accepted  the  terms  of  the  pact  upon  himself  and  his  fellow  Muslims,  pledging  to  protect  them  according  to  their  contract,  a  pact  the  Muslims  kept  for  over  a  thousand  years.    It  should  be  noted  that  at  a  banquet  thrown  by  the  Jews  of  Khaybar  to  honor  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him),  a  young  Jewess  tried  unsuccessfully  to  poison  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him),  instead  killing  one  of  his  closest  companions.  When  the  poisoner  was  brought  before  Muhammad  for  judgment,  she  proclaimed  the  poisoning  was  an  attempt  to  test  his  prophet-­‐hood  that  he  passed  by  surviving.  Muhammad  (peace  be  upon  him)  spared  her  life,  perhaps  in  hope  for  the  peace  to  come.    From  this  example  we  can  conclude  that  even  when  faced  with  the  greatest  of  possible  injustice  at  the  hands  of  people  living  far  from  Islam  and  pursuing  an  obviously  evil  course  (like  those  Muslims  supporting  unjust  dictators  in  the  Muslim  world  today),  Muslims  should  punish  only  those  in  command,  while  still  striving  to  protect  the  rights  of  those  in  conflict  with  them,  but  not  themselves  directly  responsible  for  the  conduct  of  the  conflict  itself.    
    • Conclusion:  Pertaining  to  the  permissibility  and  practices  when  opposing  an  unjust  ruler  in  Islam.  Alhamdulillah,  on  this  issue  our  religion  is  clear.  Rather  than  being  guilty  of  a  “Fitnah”,  when  faced  with  the  necessity  of  opposing  unjust  rule  in  a  Muslim  country  Muslims  have  an  obligation  to  do  so,  because  justice  for  all  is  Islam’s  primary  goal.    However,  it  is  incumbent  upon  us  to  do  so  in  accordance  with  the  commands  of  our  Holy  Quran  and  the  example  of  our  prophet  and  his  earliest  followers.    To  honor  those  commands  and  that  example,  Muslims  have  a  responsibility  to  avoid  unnecessary  conflict  and  upheaval,  to  seek  a  moderating  course,  and  to  protect  the  life  and  freedoms  of  all  others  to  the  best  of  our  ability.  Muslims  should  never  forget  our  duty  to  Allah,  as  stewards  over  His  Creation.  When  opposing  unjust  rule  certain  principles  stand  clear:  Our  rulers  deserve  our  support  when  they  are  seeking  justice,  and  also  deserve  our  help  if  at  all  possible,  when  seeking  to  find  a  better  path  if  they  have  gone  astray.    Even  if  active  opposition  proves  necessary,  discretion,  consultation  and  mercy  remains  the  best  course  for  all.    In  a  State  blessed  with  diverse  tribes,  cultures  and  religions,  the  Sunnah  of  Medina’s  governance  indicates  that  a  consultative  form  of  democracy  similar  to  a  modern  representational  parliamentary  system  is  likely  best.    In  true  Islamic  practice,  violent  opposition  and  conflict  is  a  last  recourse,  reserved  purely  for  purposes  of  self-­‐defense.    Instead,  the  earliest  Muslims  sought  consultation  with  even  their  worst  enemies,  and  protected  the  rights  of  even  those  they  found  the  furthest  from  Islam.    When  dealing  with  claims  and  counter-­‐claims  of  “Fitnah”,  it  should  perhaps  be  remembered  that  the  word  “fitnah”  first  referred  to  the  act  of  refining  pure  metal  from  base  ore.  That  process  certainly  demands  some  division,  requires  some  loss,  and  permits  some  destruction,  but  it  requires  discretion,  discernment  and  wise  judgment  as  well.    InshaAllah,  the  so-­‐called  “Arab  Spring”  will  be  most  successful  when  all  voices  are  heard  equally,  all  perspectives  sought  avidly,  and  all  our  lives,  rights  and  freedoms  are  protected  and  respected  honorably  and  reliably  by  all,  for  the  sake  of  the  One  Who  Made  Us  To  Be  Together.  AMEEN