Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen about the Arab rulers (exclusive, detailed Fatwâ)
Scholar: Imâm Muhammad bin Sâlih bin ´Uthaymîn
Source: Liqâ’ al-Bâb al-Maftûh (51 B)
Translation and Video by aFatwa.com (site is down)
Question: There is a matter it is written much about and it goes by the name “Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamâ’ah” while in fact it is the methodology of Khawârij. We would like to confirm this matter with you. It is namely about the general legislation the rulers are judged by. They argue with your Fatwas in “al-Majmû’ ath-Thamîn” and that this deed is clear disbelief since it is about Tabdîl, replacement. This opinion is also attributed to Shaykh Muhammad bin Ibrâhîm [Âl ash-Shaykh] (rahimahullâh). In order for the answer to be explicit and clear, the question goes as follows; does one take into consideration the factors that hinder from Takfîr or the Iqâmat-ul-Hujjah which Ahl-us-Sunnah wal-Jamâ’ah put as a condition for the one who rules by a general legislation rather than the law of Allâh?
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymîn: A factor that hinders from Takfîr shouldn’t exist when a person performs a disbelieving deed [I.e. if we are to do Takfîr]. It is therefore mentioned in the authentic Hadîth when the prophet (sallâ Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked if they should fight against the rulers that he said:
“Except if you see clear and explicit disbelief of which you have proof from Allâh.”
The disbelief has to be clear and known and it shouldn’t be possible to misunderstand it. If one can misunderstand it, then one doesn’t do Takfîr on the person who falls into it (this deed) EVEN IF THE DEED IS DISBELIEF. There is a difference between the speech and the speaker and (between) the deed and the doer. The deed can be a defiant sin without the person (whom performs it) being a defiant sinner because there is an obstacle that hinders him from being it. It can also be disbelief without the person being a disbeliever because there is an obstacle that hinders him from being is (I.e. a disbeliever).
It was nothing other than this unsound misinterpretation that made the rebellion of the Khawârij harm the Islâmic Ummah. Khawârij get the idea that the deed is disbelief and (thusly) they revolt, which they said to ‘Alî bin Abî Tâlib. They were together with ‘Alî bin Abî Tâlib against the army of Shâm. After the peace treaty between ‘Alî bin Abî Tâlib and Shâm, Khawârij revolted against him after having been with him. He fought against them and killed them and all praise is due to Allâh. The point lies in the fact that they revolted against him and said:
“You have judged by something other than the law of Allâh. You have let the human judge.”
As a result thereof, they revolted against him. Thus, the catastrophe of the Ummah is because of this misinterpretation. A person can mistakenly get the idea that something is clear and explicit disbelief and revolt (due to it). It is possible that the deed really is disbelief without its doer being a disbeliever because of an obstacle (I.e. ignorance, compulsion etc). The rebel believes that this person is free from excuses and (thus) does the likes of these revolts.
Therefore, a person has to make sure not to be in a hurry with making Takfîr or Tafsîq upon the humans. There is a risk that a person falls into a clear, defiant sin without knowing about it. When he finds out that it is forbidden, he thanks you (Jazâk Allâhu khayr) and leaves it. Does this exist? Yes, beyond the shadow of a doubt [it does]. How can I then judge a person to be a defiant sinner while he hasn’t received the truth?
Those you accuse among the Arab and Muslim rulers can be excused. They have perhaps not received the truth. They maybe have received it while at the same time somebody made them misunderstand the matter. Thus, one has to be sensible when it comes to this matter.
Let us say that all of the conditions have been met for us to be allowed to revolt in the way that we have seen clear and explicit disbelief of which we have proof from Allâh. It is a condition to have seen it. The disbelief is a condition. That it is clear and explicit is a condition. That we have proof of it from Allâh is a condition. These are four conditions. His (sallâ Allâhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) words “except if you see…” are there so that one doesn’t fall victim to baseless rumours. It means that one should be convinced. The word “disbelief” (Kufr) is there so that one doesn’t get hung up on a defiant sin. If the ruler is a sinning alcoholic without having fallen into disbelief, then it is not allowed to revolt against him. The words “clear and explicit” mean that it is definite and that it (the Kufr) can’t be misinterpreted. The fourth is “of which you have proof from Allâh”. It should thusly not only be definite according to us. Rather, we should base ourselves on clear and definite evidence. These four conditions are the conditions for it to be allowed to revolt.
However, there is a fifth condition for the revolt to be obligatory. Is it obligatory for us to revolt against the ruler just because it is allowed? One has to consider the advantage. Are we able to overthrow him? [If yes] then in this case we revolt. If we are unable, then we do not revolt. All religious duties are only [duties] if they are doable.
Moreover, if we are able to revolt, then there is a risk that the disadvantage is greater and worse than if this leader were to keep his (position as a) leader. If we revolt against him and he wins, we become more humiliated while he becomes even worse in his transgression and disbelief.
These matters require common sense and that it is tethered with the Sharî’ah and that it isn’t led by emotions. We are in need of emotions in order to have enthusiasm and we are in need of the Sharî’ah to curb us. We have to have brakes. A car without brakes will crash and a car without power doesn’t drive.