Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Are Demonstrations & Revolutions Allowed In Islam?

I was watching the famous Egyptian talk show “Al Ashera Masa’an” on Dream TV, and they were discussing the Camilla Shahata issue (a Christian woman whom had converted to Islam a few months ago, but was “allegedly” forced back to Christianity by being detained in a church somewhere).

One of the guests was a Salafi (Salafi comes from the word “Salaf” which mean the early followers of islam, as in: people whom follow the early followers of Islam before any alterations or impurities went into the application of Islam), this guy said something that is also mentioned by other Salafis (and was used by pro-Mubarak fake religious figures as a way to discredit pro-democracy demonstrators in Egypt). He said that he does not believe in demonstrations and that it is NOT part of our religion or accepted per Islam (per his interpretation).

Other Salafis have said more than that, others said that going against the ruler is forbidden (Haram/sinful).
But just out of fairness, I have to say, that there are other Salafis whom say the opposite of that.

For me the right to peacefully demonstrate is given and logical. Yet, I thought I’d do some research.

What do Salafis say?
1- Demonstrations are not part of islam and they never happened in our history.
2- Going against (revolting) the ruler are not part of islam.

Their Proof (main two):

في الصحيحين من حديث عبادة بن الصامت قال: "بايعنا رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم على السمع والطاعة في العسر واليسر والمنشط والمكره وعلى أثرة علينا وعلى أن لا ننازع الأمر أهله وعلى أن نقول بالحق أينما كنا لا نخاف في الله لومة لائم. وفي رواية: وعلى أن لا ننازع الأمر أهله إلا أن تروا كفرا بواحا عندكم من الله فيه برهان"

Part of this Hadeeth (Saying by the prophet) states that Muslims promised the prophet not to argue or go against the people whom are leading something rightfully. And that one must always say the truth and what is right no matter what.

Answer:In islam hadeeths and Quran verses are not separate, they continue each other and build an overall weaved fikh (Islamic rulings). Maybe here the prophet said “not to go against someone whom is leading”, but other hadeeths do state that we have to go against them if they are corrupt (check the proof later on in this post). One would conclude from that (and from the fact in this very hadeeth states that one must always say the truth no matter what the consequences will be) that going against the ruler is not something to be taken lightly. Yet, if the ruler is unjust or systematically corrupt…etc. we must stand against him!

- في صحيح مسلم من حديث حذيفة رضي الله عنهما "يكون بعدي أئمة لا يهتدون بهداي ولا يستنون بسنتي وسيقوم فيهم رجال قلوبهم قلوب الشياطين في جثمان إنس "قال حذيفة: قلت: كيف أصنع يا رسول الله إن أدركت ذلك؟ قال: تسمع وتطيع الأمير وإن ضرب ظهرك وأخذ مالك فاسمع وأطع".

In this Hadeeth, the prophet is advising his followers that when times are tough and rulers are brutal make sure you follow the ruler even if they beat you (torture you…etc).

Answer:This hadeeth is obviously in cases when a muslim cannot do anything against the corrupt ruler (certain death and having no support).

Ibn Hazm (an Islamic philosopher and researcher whom lived in Andalusia about 1000 years ago) was once confronted by people whom used the same argument. His answer was simple: “Your argument (letting a ruler rule even If he does everything wrong) means that muslims can be forced to pay unjust taxes, their chidren can be killed by the sword, their women raped, all this only if the ruler is said to be a muslim” does that sound logical?!!!

Proof From Quran & Suna That Demonstrations & Revolutions Are Allowed:
قوله تعالى: "فَاسْتَخَفَّ قَوْمَهُ فَأَطَاعُوهُ إِنَّهُمْ كَانُوا قَوْمًا فَاسِقِينَ [الزخرف/54]

During the time of Prophet Moses, God in this verse said (meaning of) that the people whom obeyed the pharaoh (Feroon) are evildoers. In other words, Moses and his followers (the Israelites and Egyptians whom followed him) whom went against the Atheist Pharaoh (the ruler) were righteous, and the others whom followed the brutal Pharaoh were evildoers.

Since Islam is a continuation of Judaism and Christianity (as per Islamic belief) , and since Moses went against the ruler (to worshipping God and wanting to leave Egypt to go worship in peace elsewhere), then it is not something non-religious to go against an unjust ruler (especially in peaceful ways as the Jews did).

OK, as for demonstrations, the prophet and his followers during their early days in Makkah (Mecca), when they first decided to go public as a group with their religion, the first thing they did was a peaceful demonstration. The prophet (Mohamed) and his uncle Hamza were in front of a two columns made up of all the followers in Makkah. They then peacefully headed to the Kaabah (worshiping area) walking (demonstrating) peacefully through the streets. This was an obvious peaceful way of showing themselves in front of people.
If demonstrations were not allowed or not part of Islam, do you think the prophet would have done this??

OK, someone might say, that the above was about going against an “Atheist” not a Muslim ruler.

If so is said, then this is the answer:

After the decease of Ali Ibn Abi Talib (4th Islamic state ruler after the prophet passed away), Abdullah Ibn Marawan (islamic state ruler) was denounced in “Al Madena” city because of his injustice which lead to war in the Higri year 63.
So, here you have the followers of the prophet (whom learned about Islam first hand from the Prophet) whom lived in Al Madina all revolted against a “MUSILM” ruler because he was unjust.

Also, during the rule of Ali Ibn Abi Taleib, a lot of the prophet’s followers (of them were Talha Ibn AL Zubaier, AL Zubaier Ibn AL Awam, and A’esha Bent Abi Bakr the prophet’s widow) went against him because per their point of view that he didn’t want to chase the killers of Osman Ibn Affan (3rd ruler of the Islamic state after the prophet passed away).
If going against a “Muslim” ruler was unacceptable or not part of religion or only done against non-Muslim rulers, then how come Ali Ibn Abi Taleb when in confrontation with them never used that argument. Don’t you think of all people Ali Ibn Abi Taleb of all people knew our religion well enough to use such an argument (if it was valid)?


-"إنه سيلي أموركم من بعدي رجال يطفئون السنة و يحدثون بدعة ويؤخرون الصلاة عن مواقيتها . قال ابن مسعود: كيف بي إذا أدركتهم ؟ قال: ليس - يا ابن أم عبد -طاعة لمن عصى الله . قالها ثلاثا ".

Part of this hadeeth states very clearly: “There is no obeying to whom disobeys God”. When a ruler is unjust, forges elections, imprisons people because of their political views, allows torture, does not fight corruption…etc Isn’t that considered disobeying God and his rules of justice, freedom of believe, Shura – ballots and public opinion, being merciful to everything even animals…etc (per our Islamic believe)?


-في صحيح مسلم من حديث عبد الله بن مسعود أن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قال: "ما من نبي بعثه الله في أمة قبلي إلا كان له من أمته حواريون وأصحاب يأخذون بسنته ويقتدون بأمره، ثم إنها تخلف من بعدهم خلوف يقولون ما لا يفعلون ويفعلون ما لا يؤمرون، فمن جاهدهم بيده فهو مؤمن ومن جاهدهم بلسانه فهو مؤمن ومن جاهدهم بقلبه فهو مؤمن، وليس وراء ذلك من الإيمان حبة خردل".

As part of this hadeeth the prophet states that rulers whom “say what they do not do, and do what they do not say” have to be stopped if not by hand or tongue, then at least by the heart (as in by pleading God to stop those rulers).

7- And Finally, the knockout by Abu Bakr!

أبو بكر الصديق: "يا أيها الناس إني وليتُ عليكم ولست بخيركم، فإن رأيتموني على الحق فأعينوني وإن رأيتموني على باطل فسددوني، أطيعوني ما أطعت الله ورسوله، فإن عصيتُ الله فلا طاعة لي عليكم"،

Abu Bakr (the first ruler of the Islamic state after the prophet passed away) said the following after being announced the ruler (meaning of): “O People I have been assigned as your ruler, yet I am not the best of you. If you see me doing what is right, help me continue it. And, if you see me doing something wrong, stop me. Only obey me if I do what adheres to the rulings of God and his prophet. If I do not adhere to them, then you should not obey”.

It is obvious (to me at least) that going against the ruler “IS” part of Islam and “IS” allowed if the ruler is unjust, corrupt, brutal…etc.

We need to remember that the current revolutions in the Middle East were peaceful (Egypt and Tunisia), they were for just causes, against injustice, corruption, demanding dignity and equality.
Another point we need to remember is that the two rulers Hosni Mubarak (Egypt) and Zein El Abedeen Bin Ali (Tunisia) stayed in power for over 30 years through brutality, forging elections, detaining (or destroying) any opposition…etc. They by no means deserved to give them “another chance” or “maybe they will change”…etc. These rulers, didn’t just do one or two mistakes, they systematically over 30 or more done many wrongdoings to their people and country.

For someone to tell me that I (or muslims) should shut up and not revolt against unworthy dictators because “THIS IS ISLAM”… that is way out of line!!
To me Islam has many meanings. One of the most important ones is “Hope”.
Hope in a better life in the grace of God…
Hope to live in justice, dignity, and to treat and be treated in fairness…

Hope that can best be illustrated by the look in the eyes of this Egyptian woman…

HOPE in the eyes of an Egyptian woman as Mubarak stepped down on 11Feb11

- Ismalonline Fatawa
- Dream TV

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