Posted by: raishussin | October 28, 2016

Debunking Blind Obedience II

  1. It has been narrated through a different chain of transmitters, on the authority of Hudhaifa b. al-Yaman who said:

Messenger of Allah, no doubt, we had an evil time (i. e. the days of Jahiliyya or ignorance) and God brought us a good time (i. e. Islamic period) through which we are now living Will there be a bad time after this good time? He (the Holy Prophet) said: Yes. I said: Will there be a good time after this bad time? He said: Yes. I said: Will there be a bad time after good time? He said: Yes. I said: How? Whereupon he said: There will be leaders who will not be led by my guidance and who will not adopt my ways? There will be among them men who will have the hearts of devils in the bodies of human beings. I said: What should I do. Messenger of Allah, if I (happen) to live in that time? He replied: You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched, you should listen and obey.

  1. The hadith quoted in Sahih Muslim narrated by Hudhaifa ibn al-Yaman has been grossly misunderstood and misapplied to support unjust and oppressive rules and regimes. It was recently used by many scholars to oppose the Arab spring and provide justification of Arab dictators and tyrants. In Malaysia too, suddenly this Hadiths became popular in support of scandal ridden Najib.
  1. There is a lot of discussion in hadith works about this hadith. Although it is narrated in Sahih Muslim, some hadith scholars deem this hadith to be weak (daeef) and thus cannot be used as an evidence.
  1. In the chain of narrators there is a narrator by the name of Abu Salam Mamtur ak-Habashi. He never met Hudhaifa ibn al-Yaman but narrates from him and thus this hadith is disconnected (mursal).
  1. Shaykh al-Qaradawi is of the opinion that the last part of this hadith is added and not from the hadith itself, something known as ‘ziyada’ in hadith terminology and he also considered it to be weak.

    وقال أن الزيادة التي فيها ( تسمع وتطيع للامير ) الي أخر الفقرة أنها ضعيفة مرسلة و قد ضعفها الدارقطني في الالزامات و التتبع وقال أنها مرسلة

  1. Even if one were to take the opinion the full hadith is authentic, then the understanding is that people do not take up arms against the ruler to remove him. It is a hadith warning against killing unjust rulers. Historical context stipulated that either rulers were obeyed or removed through armed rebellion. The hadith speaks against the latter.
  1. The Islamic legal principle states that to remove one harm a greater harm should not be caused. Hence the hadith speaks about obedience to an unjust ruler if it results in greater injustices.
  1. The same hadith in Ibn Hibban doesn’t include the last part from “you will listen to the leader and carry out his orders…”
  1. One also needs to go through all the different narrations of this hadith – in Musnad Ahmad, Dar al-Qutni, Ibn Hibban and other sources to get a complete picture of the context and intent of the hadith.
  1. Given that there are ways to remove rulers without armed rebellion – through courts, parliament or even the electorate – this hadith will not apply in terms of obeying unjust and corrupt rulers.
  1. With regards to taking wealth or property unlawfully, this hadith contradicts another categorical and authentic hadith in Sahih Muslim which speaks about fighting for one’s right:

    عَنْ عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ : جَاءَ رَجُلٌ إِلَى رَسُولِ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ جَاءَ رَجُلٌ يُرِيدُ أَخْذَ مَالِى قَالَ فَلاَ تُعْطِهِ مَالَكَ . قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَاتَلَنِى قَالَ قَاتِلْهُ . قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَتَلَنِى قَالَ فَأَنْتَ شَهِيدٌ . قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِنْ قَتَلْتُهُ قَالَ هُوَ فِى النَّارِ.أخرجه مسلم

  1. Abd al-Rahman narrates that Abu Hurairah said: one a man came to the Messenger of Allah and said ‘O Messenger of Allah – what do you say about someone who comes to take my wealth?’ He replied: “Don’t give your wealth to him” The man said: “What if he fights me?” The Prophet said: “Fight him.” The man said: “What of he kills me?” The Prophet said: “You will be a martyr.” The man said: “What if I end up killing him?” The Prophet said: “He’ll be in hellfire” (Recorded by Muslim).
  1. Reference is being made to the Hadith in Sahih Muslim which is narrated by Hudaifah Ibn al-Yaman. Some Hadith scholars deem this weak because it is mursal (disconnected). Hudaifah narrates from Abu Salam Mamtur al-Habashi – whom he never met.
  1. Some Hadith scholars deem the Hadith to be authentic (sahih) but the part where it mentions obeying rulers even if one is oppressed through violence and usurping wealth has been added and not part of the Hadith (ziyada). The other narrations of the Hadith in Musnad Ahmad and Dar al-Qutni do not mention this and in fact have a very different ending to the Hadith. Actually in Sahih Muslim itself there is another narration by Hudaifah which does not mention this part.
  1. Even if we were to accept the full authenticity of the Hadith then it’s meaning is not that we should provide support and be obedient to unjust and corrupt rulers but rather that they are not to be removed by armed rebellion/violence.
  1. All peaceful means to remove such leaders and redress the wrong should be pursued. At the very core of Islam is the message to speak truth to power, to subjugate the powerful to the law like all people and combat tyranny, oppression and corruption.
  1. Co-operating with non-Muslims who oppose Islamic law:

This requires a normative understanding of the notion of co-operation. Yes Islam does not permit any co-operation in sin, evil and aggression regardless who the perpetrators are. The Quranic principle is:

وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الْبرِّ وَالتَّقْوَى وَلاَ تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى الإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ {المائدة:2}،

“Co-operate with other in goodness and piety and do not co-operate in sin and enmity” (Surah al-Maidah)

  1. So if the co-operation with non Muslims –  or even Muslims for that matter – is on an agenda which violates Islamic law and it’s teaching then yes such co-operation will be deemed categorically prohibited (haram) in Islamic law.
  1. However if the co-operation with non-Muslims is to promote the common good, fight evil, oppression, injustices and corruption then it would not only be deemed permissible (mubah), but even recommended (mandub) and possibly an obligation (wajib) according to Islamic law.
  1. There are many evidences from the Quran and Sunna to substantiate this principle:
  • Prophet Yusuf co-operating and working within a non-Islamic governance in Egypt as ‘Finance Minister’ or responsible for the treasury. Assuming this role did not mean he endorsed the anti-Islamic stance of the government.


  • Incident of Hilful Fudhul in the Sirah – this is where the Prophet even as a young man in his twenties participated with polytheist members of his society in combatting injustices and oppression. He later said (after becoming a Prophet):

لَقَدْ شَهِدْت فِي دَارِ عَبْدِ اللّهِ بْنِ جُدْعَانَ حِلْفًا مَا أُحِبّ أَنّ لِي بِهِ حُمْرَ النّعَمِ وَلَوْ أُدْعَى بِهِ فِي الْإِسْلَامِ لَأَجَبْت” [ ابن هشام : 1/133]

“In the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an I was present at an alliance (referring to Hilful Fudhul) which was such that if I was invited to take part in it now in Islam, I would still do so” (Ibn Hisham)

  • Actually the incident of Hilful Fudhul is interesting – this is an alliance which took place because of economic exploitation. A man from Zabid arrived in Makka to sell goods and one of the nobleman of Quraysh al-As Ibn Wail bought the goods from him but then refused to pay. The man asked the leaders of the Quraysh to help but they all refused because of the status and position of al-As Ibn Wail. The main then called out to all the people of Makka to help him and may gathered in the house of Abdullah Ibn Jud’an – including the Prophet (pre-prophethood) – and formed an alliance to unite with the wronged man against the one who had wronged him.
  1. Islam advocates that justice is blind to faith, colour, nationality, ethnicity, power, gender, social class and race. When we speak about Shariah we do not only mean its laws but also its values and objectives. We need to uphold these values even if those who betray those values through some ‘interpretation’ of Islam. The great classical Islamic jurist Ibn al-Qayyim says:

فَإِنَّ الشَّرِيعَةَ مَبْنَاهَا وَأَسَاسُهَا عَلَى الْحِكَمِ وَمَصَالِحِ الْعِبَادِ فِي الْمَعَاشِ وَالْمَعَادِ وَهِيَ عَدْلٌ كُلُّهَا وَرَحْمَةٌ كُلُّهَا وَمَصَالِحُ كُلُّهَا وَحِكْمَةٌ كُلُّهَا فَكُلُّ مَسْأَلَةٍ خَرَجَتْ عَنْ الْعَدْلِ إلَى الْجَوْرِ وَعَنْ الرَّحْمَةِ إلَى ضِدِّهَا وَعَنْ الْمَصْلَحَةِ إلَى الْمَفْسَدَةِ وَعَنْ الْحِكْمَةِ إلَى الْبَعْثِ فَلَيْسَتْ مِنْ الشَّرِيعَةِ وَإِنْ أُدْخِلَتْ فِيهَا بِالتَّأْوِيلِ

“Indeed, the Shariah is founded upon wisdom and welfare for the servants in this life and the afterlife. In its entirety it is justice, mercy, benefit, and wisdom. Every matter which abandons justice for tyranny, mercy for cruelty, benefit for corruption, and wisdom for foolishness is not a part of the Sharia even if it was introduced therein by an interpretation.” (Source: I’lām al-Muwaqqi’īn 3/11)






  1. Dear Dr,

    There were/are/will be times when I tend to be more “rebellious” when speakers of truthfinders try to recall and quote “hadiths sahih” to support their cause or something to that effect. I am a fan of OTSB writings and many times I find his comments, reasons and arguments very realistic and critically reasonable viz Al-Quran’s literal message. I have yet to hear or come across people questioning authenticity of the contents of our holy Koran but in numerous encounters in a religious discourse, people “seemed” concerned about hadiths irrespective of sahih or not. At times I feel hadiths were “relevant” to those times. Some of course can be applied to today’s affair and problems. Time and circumstances change.

    My apology as I have not meant to offend anyone reading this blog. I have much respect for you, Dr. Sometime I see injustice and my quick respond to that is “we may have referred to wrong hadiths”. In Allah I seek his mercy


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