Maulana Islahi* on the Caliphate: A Duty upon every Muslim

The Duty of Muslims as Muslims

It is due to this duty of prophethood that his Ummah has been given the title of the best Ummah. If the Muslims forget this bounden duty of theirs, they are but a nation among the nations of the world. They have neither any good in them nor any reason for superiority over others. And then God is not at all concerned whether they are doing an honourable existence in the world or passing their days in abject misery and disgrace abounding. Nay – thus consigning this duty of theirs to oblivion they will bring themselves to the position of a nation incurring God’s wrath, the same as some other nations of the world exalted to this position, earlier, had brought themselves to this disgraceful and uncoveted position. The Quranic verse mentioning the honour of the best Ummah being conferred on the Muslims, details their duty also:

“You are the best of people evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and believing in God.” [3:110]

It was in compliance with this Commandment that the first act of the Muslims, after the passing away of the Prophet [ﷺ], was to institute the Caliphate, strictly on the lines of the Prophet’s [ﷺ] mission. This institution was the faith’s organ calling people to good, ordering Ma‘roof [1] and prohibiting Munkar [2], established by the Muslims for the discharge of the collective duty of the Ummah that had come to their shoulders, namely, to keep the Ummah staunch on the  path of the Truth and to convey the message of the Truth to the world. So long as this institution was run soundly and kept discharging its duties among the Muslims and also in the world outside, every Muslim was relieved of that duty imposed on him by God and His Prophet [ﷺ]. During that period the duty of preaching the Truth was Farz-e-Kafayah, the Khilafat-i-Rashidah discharging this duty relieved the rest of the Muslims from this duty in the sight of God. But after the abolishment of the Caliphate, the duty of evidence of the Truth fell on each and every individual in the same way as the duty of protection of life and property devolves on the individuals of a society in a state of total anarchy. So long as the Muslims do not re-institute this righteous and wholesome Islamic order which has been enjoined on them by God as a duty, every Muslim is earning the sin of neglecting this duty and will be called to account for it on the Day of Reckoning.

The Subject of the Preaching

  1. The duty of preaching the truth to the end of days, imposed on the Prophet [ﷺ], was assigned by him to the Ummah under orders from God and under his own guidance, so that the Ummah might go on preaching the truth in every country, every nation and in every language for ever.
  2. For taking this message to the people, the conditions from God are that it should be done with one’s heart and soul in it, by word and deed, of the truth as a whole, unaltered and unadulterated, without fear or favour, and, if need be, with one’s life.
  3. The regular institution for the discharge of this duty imposed on the Muslims as a whole was that of the Caliphate, and so long as it was functioning soundly, every Muslim was relieved of the responsibilities of the discharge of this duty.
  4. After this institution became defunct, the responsibility of this duty fell divided on every individual of the Ummah according to his status and capabilities.
  5. There are only two ways of relief for the Muslims from the accountability and responsibility of this duty. They should either re-institute the Caliphate or at least stake their all in their attempt for its re-establishment.
  6. If the Muslims did neither of these two things, they would be incriminated for neglecting the duty of prophethood imposed on them by God, and will suffer not only for their own misdeeds but for them misguidance of humanity at large.

This shows that the real motive for preaching is the realization of this onerous duty imposed by God on the Muslims. And what is to be kept in view as the goal in this connection if the re-institution of the order delivering the message of God to humanity and guiding them to the faith revealed by God, thus leaving them no excuse that they can put up before God for their misguidance on the Day of Reckoning. So long as this institution is non-existent, the prime object of every Muslim is to do what he can to bring it into existence. He should keep it in mind, sleeping, waking, eating and drinking and he should live and die for this goal. In its absence, the life of the Muslims contrary to what God approved for them, and they would not be able to put up any excuse for this shortcoming before God. This duty is the purpose of their existence and in losing it, they will lose the purpose of their existence and become fit for the dung-heap the same way as all other things are consigned to the dust-bin once their utility has come to an end. The present-day Muslims as such have no more importance than the rubbish of the earth. And it does not become them to regard themselves worthy of the title of the best or moderate Ummah or expect help or support from God.

[Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi, Call to Islam and How the Holy Prophets Preached, Islamic Book Publishers, Safat, 1978, pp. 30-32]

*Maulana Amin Ahsan Islahi (r) was born in 1904 CE in the village of Bamhur, Azamgarh, India. After a primary education in his village maktab, he completed his education in the prestigious Madrasatul Islah, founded by Maulana Shibli Numani, in the town of Seraj Mir. After graduating from the Madrasah in 1922, he entered the field of journalism. For a while, he edited a newspaper Madinah at Bijnawr and also remained associated with Sach, a newspaper edited by Maulana ‘Abdul-Majid Daryabadi.
In 1925, the great Hamid Uddin Farahi offered Maulana Islahi the opportunity to study the Quran with him. The latter abandoned his journalistic career with no hesitation, and for the next 5 years continued to study under Farahi. After Farahi’s death in 1935, Islahi studied Hadith from a celebrated scholar of this discipline, ‘Abdur Rahman Muhaddith Mubarakpuri. In 1936, Maulana Islahi founded the Da’irah-i-Hamidiyyah, a small institute to disseminate the Qur’anic thought of Farahi. Under the auspices of this institute, he brought out a monthly journal, Al-Islah, in which he translated many portions of Farahi’s treatises written in Arabic. The journal was published till 1939, after which it was discontinued.
Perhaps the Maulana’s greatest achievement was his groundbreaking tafsir Tadabbur-i-Quran, which emphasises the coherence of the Holy Book and which took him 22 years to complete. He passed away in 1997 CE.

[1] Ma‘roof: literally, well known (to human nature), having an affinity for it. As a technical term of the Islamic Shariah, it comprises the acts, attitudes and behaviours that the normal person with unsullied natures have approved in every age. Truth, keeping of one’s word, justice, equity and kindness, to name a few, have always been regarded as desirable and laudable.

[2] Munkar: literally means alien to human nature. Acts, attributes and behaviours for which men of wholesome nature, in every age ans under any order, true or corrupt, have had abhorrence. Barring the few perverts, nobody ever approved and acclaimed falsehood, breach of trust, tyranny and injustice and other evils.


Imam al-Shatibi* and Imam al-Tabari on Adherence to the Jama‘ah and the Imam (Caliph)

The sixteenth issue [1] is that the narration of those who narrated, “and that is the Jama‘ah (main body of Muslims),”  [see previous footnote] as the meaning of the saved sect, is in need of commentary, because although its interpretation is clear by means of the elucidation of another narration – and that is his statement, “what I and my companions are upon,” – the meaning of the word, “Jama‘ah,” in terms of its intent in the unqualified usage of the Shar‘iah is in need of commentary; as it has appeared in many hadiths:

  1. from them is the hadith which we are commenting on;
  2. from them is what is authentic from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) from the Prophet (ﷺ), he said: “Whoever sees from his commander anything he dislikes, let him endure it, for indeed the one who departs from the Jama‘ah one hand span, then dies, he dies the death of Jahiliyyah [2].” [Bukhari and Muslim]
  3. And it is authentic from the hadith of Hudhayfah (رضي الله عنه), he said: I said: “O Messenger of Allah! Verily we were in [a period of] Jahiliyyah and evil, and Allah brought this goodness to us. Then, is there any evil after this goodness?” He said: “Yes.” I said: “And is there any goodness after that evil?” He said: “Yes, and there is dinginess therein.” I said: “And what is its dinginess?” He said: “A people following other than [my] guidance, you recognise [some things] from them [as correct], and you do not recognise [other things].” And in another narration: “A people following other than my guidance and adopting other than my Sunnah, you recognise [some things] in them and do not recognise [other things].” I said: “Then, is there any evil after the goodness?” He said: “Yes, callers on the gates of Jahannam. Whoever answers them in that [call], they will throw them therein.” I said: “O Messenger of Allah! Describe them for us.” He said: “They will be of our complexion, and they will speak with our tongues.” I said: “What do you advise me, if that [time] reaches me?” He said: “[That] you stick to the Jama‘ah of the Muslims and their Imam.” I said: “And if they do not have a Jama‘ah, or an Imam [3] ?” He said: “Withdraw from the sects, all of them, even if it were that you bite on the root of a tree, until death reaches you, and you are in that [state].” [Bukhari and Muslim]

Al-Tirmidhi and al-Tabari transmitted from Ibn ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه), he said: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) delivered a sermon to us at al-Jabiyah, and he said: “I stand amongst you in the standing-place of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) amongst us, when he said: ‘I bequeath to you my companions, and then those who follow them and then those who follow them, and then lying will spread, until a man will take oath and will not be asked to take oath, and will bear testimony and will not be asked to bear testimony. [Incumbent] on you is the Jama‘ah! And beware of division! A man must not be in seclusion with a woman, for indeed a man is not secluded with a woman except the third of them is Satan. Satan is with the individual, and he is farther from two [people]. Whoever desires the centre of Jannah, let him adhere to the Jama‘ah. And whoever’s good pleases him and evil displease him, that is a believer.” [Al-Tirmidhi transmitted in his Jami‘ (2165) and he said: “This is a hasan sahih hadith.”]

  1. And [it is reported] in al-Tirmidhi from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه), he said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “The hand of Allah is with the Jama‘ah.” [It is] an uncommon hadith.
    And [he narrated] the like of it from Ibn ‘Umar, he said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Verily Allah will not unite my Ummah” – or he said “the Ummah of Muhammad” – “on misguidance, and the hand of Allah is with the Jama‘ah, and whoever is isolated, is isolated in the Fire.” [Al-Tirmidhi transmitted it in his Jami‘ (2167), and he said: “This is an uncommon hadith through this route.”]
    And Abu Dawud transmitted from Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنه), he said: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: “Whoever parts from the Jama‘ah one hand span, he has removed the noose of Islam from his neck.”
  2. And [it is narrated] from ‘Arfajah (رضي الله عنه), he said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) say: “Verily there will be tribulations after tribulations in my Ummah, so whoever wishes to split the affair of the Muslims while they are united, strike him with the sword whoever he may be.” [Sahih Muslim]

…al-Tabari, the Imam, [said] that the Jama‘ah is the group of Muslims when they unite on a commander, then he (upon him be peace) commanded adherence to him, and he forbade parting from the Ummah in that which they united upon in terms of their appointing him over them, because their parting [from them] will not go beyond one of two characteristics: either [it is] due to condemnation of them for obedience to their leader and attacking him in his conduct that was approved [by them] for no reason but for an interpretation of innovating an innovation in religion, like the Haruriyyah (Khawarij) who the Ummah were ordered to fight, and the Prophet (ﷺ) called, “deviated from the religion”; or to seek leadership after the conclusion of the pledge to the commander of the Jama‘ah, since it is breaking an agreement and revoking a contract after its conclusion. And he (ﷺ) said: “Whoever comes towards my Ummah to split their group, strike his neck, whoever he may be.”

Al-Tabari said: Thus, this is the meaning of the command to stick to the Jama‘ah.

He said: As for the Jama‘ah which when it agrees on consenting to appoint a commander, the one who disassociates from them, his death is Jahilli, it is the group which Abu Mas‘ud al-Ansari and others described, and that is the bulk of people and the majority of them from the people of knowledge and religion and other than them, and that is the greatest mass [of believers].

He said: ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) explained that. Thus, it is narrated from ‘Amr ibn Maymun al-Awdi, he said: ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) said to Suhayb (رضي الله عنه) when he was stabbed: “Lead the people in prayer for three [days], and ‘Uthman, ‘Ali, Talhah, al-Zubayr, Sa‘d and ‘Abd al-Rahman should enter upon me, and Ibn ‘Umar should enter to the side of the house – and he has nothing of authority. Then, stand, O Suhayb, over their heads with the sword! If five [of them] pledge allegiance [to one of them] and one man turns [on his heel], strike his head with the sword, and if four pledge allegiance and two men turn [on their heels], strike their heads; until they give their assurance on [the caliphate of] one man.”

He said: Thus, the Jama‘ah which the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) commanded adherence to, and he called the one isolated from them “one who has parted from them,” is equivalent to the group which ‘Umar (رضي الله عنه) obligated caliphate for the one they agree on, and he commanded Suhayb to strike the head of the one isolated from them with the sword, because of the abundance of the number of those who agreed to pledge to him and the fewness of the number that is isolated from them.

He said: As for the report in which it is mentioned that the Ummah will not assemble on misguidance, its meaning is that He will not unite them on causing deviation from the truth in that which afflicts them in the matter of their religion, such that the entirety of them would have deviated from [true] knowledge and missed it, and that will not occur in the Ummah.

This is the entirety of his [i.e. al-Tabari’s] speech, and it has been transmitted with the meaning [of his statement], and [in] seeking out most of [its] wording.

Its upshot is that the Jama‘ah goes back to the agreement on an Imam that is in accordance with the Book and Sunnah, and that is manifest in [showing] that uniting on other than the Sunnah is outside of the meaning of the Jama‘ah mentioned in the hadiths, like the Khawarij and those who tread their path.

[Translated by Zameelur Rahman with some corrections]

[Excerpted from Imam Shatibi’s Kitab al-I‘tisam (Book of Holding Fast [to the Qur’an and Sunnah]), Chapter 9 Section 3]

*Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Musa b. Muhammad al-Lakhmi al-Shatibi (d. 790H/1388 CE) was among the greatest scholars of al-Andalus. He studied with the renowned scholars of Granada and gained expertise in Qur’anic exegesis (tafsir), Hadith, jurisprudence (fiqh), the principles of Islamic law (usul al-fiqh) as well as Arabic language and grammar. He also wrote treatises on medicine and history.

[1] On the discussion of the hadith, “My Ummah will divide into seventy three sects.”
Abu Hurayrah narrated it, as transmitted by al-Tirmidhi in his Jami‘ (2640) – who said the hadith is “hasan sahih” –, and Ibn Majah in his Sunan (3991) and Abu Dawud in his Sunan (4586).

It is also transmitted authentically from the Sahabah, Anas ibn Malik, Mu‘awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan and ‘Awf ibn Malik al-Ashja‘i, with the addition, “All of them are in the Fire, except one, and that is the Jama‘ah.” (Musnad Ahmad, 12208, 12479, 16937; Sunan Abi Dawud, 4587; Sunan Ibn Majah, 3992)

[2] Commenting on the following hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه): “Whoever disapproves of something done by his Amīr (ruler) then he should be patient, for whoever disobeys (disunites and goes away from) his Sultan even for a span will die as those who died in the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance” Imām Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī explains the meaning of the phrase مات ميتة جاهلية:
“To die as those who died in the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance (al-jāhilīyyah) means the state of death: to die in a state of misguidance with no Imam [Caliph] to obey, as the inhabitants of that era had no such kind of ruling. The hadith doesn’t mean that the Muslim will die as a kāfir but as a disobeying Muslim. This Hadith has possible definitions: To resemble between the state of death between the disobeying Muslim and the Jāhil, even if the Muslim was not in reality a Jāhil; or, to frighten and reprimand, and this meaning is not the apparent one… Ibn Baṭṭāl said: this hadith is an argument to not disobey the Sultan even if he is wronged. The scholars agreed unanimously on the obligation of obeying the empowered Sultan and (engaging in) jihad under his commandment. As well the scholars consider that obeying the Sultan is better than disobeying him as this act prevents bloodshed and mitigates the masses.” (Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī #7053)

[3] In the absence of a Caliph (Imam) who rules over the main body of Muslims (the Jama‘ah) the duty of ordering mar‘uf and forbidding munkar (see the Qur’an 3:104, 110; 7:157; 9:71,112; 22:41 and 31:17) necessitates that we work collectively for a situation in which an Imam exists so that the Shari‘ah rules are implemented. For further details on the duty of ordering mar‘uf and forbidding munkar refer to the book Maroof and Munkar by Maulana Syed Jalaluddin Umari which has many references to classical sources. Also available in the Urdu language. See also other posts on this blog in which several classical scholars mention the obligation of establishing a Caliph.

Imam Ghazālī on Socialising with Despotic Rulers

Anyone who knows of a tyrant’s injustice, or of a sinner’s sins, should lower his esteem for that person in his heart. In fact, it is required (wājib) to do so. This is because if something that is disapproved is committed by a person, it is certain to detract from his standing. So, sin should be disapproved. This is because sin may be ignored, or condoned, or disapproved. Obviously, if there is knowledge of the sin, then it cannot be ignored. And there can be no reason for condoning it. Therefore, it must be disapproved. Anyone’s transgression against the rights of God should be the same as transgression against your rights.

OBJECTION: Disapproval (karāha) is not a matter of choice. How, then, can it be required?
My reply is, ‘This is not so.’ This is because a lover, by nature, will dislike whatever his beloved dislikes and stand opposed to it. Then, anyone who does not dislike sins against God does not love God. Furthermore, only those who do not know God will not love Him. Knowledge [of God] is essential, and [thereafter] love of God is certain to follow. If someone loves Him, he will dislike what He dislikes and love what He loves. A complete explanation of this will be given in the Book of Love and Contentment.

OBJECTION: The scholars among our Predecessors used to visit rulers.
My reply is, ‘Yes, they did. But first learn how they used to visit, before you go [and do the same].’ It is related that Hishām b. ‘Abd al-Malik went to Mecca for the pilgrimage. When he arrived, he said, ‘Bring me someone from the Companions.’ When he was told that they had all passed away, he said, ‘Then, from among the Successors.’ And so Ṭāwūs al-Yamānī [1] was brought to him.

When Ṭāwūs entered, he removed his sandals at the edge of the carpet; and he did not greet him as Commander of the Faithful, saying instead no more than, ‘Peace be upon you.’ Nor did he use the agnomen [2]. Then he sat by his side and said, ‘How are you, O Hishām?’ At that, Hishām flew into a towering rage, such that he considered killing him [Ṭāwūs]. But he was reminded, ‘You are within the sacred precincts of God [Mecca] and the sacred precincts of His Messenger [ﷺ], and that [killing] is not possible!’

So instead he replied, ‘O Ṭāwūs! What made you do what you have done? Ṭāwūs replied, ‘What did I do?’ Then Hishām grew even more angry and agitated. He said, ‘You took your sandals off at the edge of my carpet, but then you failed to kiss my hand. Nor did you greet me as Commander of the Faithful! Nor did you address me by my agnomen! Then you sat down beside me without first taking permission. Finally, you said, “How are you O Hishām!” ’

[Ṭāwūs] replied, ‘As for my removing my sandals by the edge of your carpet, I take them off five times a day when I go [to pray] before the Lord of All the Worlds. He has never punished me for doing so, or grown angry with me. As for your saying that I failed to kiss your hand, I once heard ‘Alī b. Abī Ṭālib, the Commander of the Faithful, (may God be pleased with him), say that is it is unlawful for anyone to kiss the hand of another unless it is a man kissing the hand of his wife in a surfeit of passion, or kissing the hand of his child in a surfeit of affection. As for your saying that I failed to greet you as Commander of the Faithful, well, not everyone is happy with your rule; so I disliked having to lie. As for your saying that I did not address you by your agnomen, God called His prophets and saints by their first name, saying, ‘O Dā’ūd!’ or ‘O ‘Īsā!’ or ‘O Yaḥyā!’ and He addressed His enemies, like Abū Lahab, by means of their  agnomen. Now, as for your saying that I sat next to you, I heard ‘Alī, the Commander of the Faithful, (may God be pleased with him) say, ‘If you want to look at a person from among the inhabitants of the Fire, look at someone who is seated while others remain standing around him.’ At that, Hishām said, ‘Please advise me.’ [Ṭāwūs] said, ‘I heard ‘Alī, the Commander of the Faithful, (may God be pleased with him) say, “Verily in hell there are snakes like the summits of mountains and spiders the size of mules to bite [and sting] any amīr who is not just to his subjects.” ’ Then Ṭāwūs rose and left.

It is related that Sufyān al-Thawrī (may God be pleased with him) said, ‘I was brought into the presence of Abū Ja‘far al-Manṣūr at Mina and he said to me, “Tell us what you need.” I replied, “Fear God! For verily the earth is filled with injustice and discrimination!” So he dropped his head [in shame]. But again he raised it and said, “Tell us what you need?” I replied, “You have reached this stage [in the conquest of new territories] by means of the swords of the Emigrants and Helpers, yet their children are dying of starvation! So fear God, and see that they get their due!” So he dropped his head [in shame]. But again he raised it and said, “Tell us what you need?” So I replied, “When ‘Umar b. al-Khaṭṭāb performed the Pilgrimage, he said to his treasurer, ‘How much have I spent?’ The treasurer replied, ‘Ten and something dirhams.’ But here I see more opulence than a camel load of money could pay for!” Thereafter, Sufyān departed.

So that was how they used to visit rulers, even if they did so under duress. Indeed, they risked their own lives in order to avenge for the Almighty those who had been treated unjustly.

[Ghazālī on the Lawful and the Unlawful: Kitab al ḥalāl wa’l-ḥarām – Book XIV of the Revival of the Religious Sciences Iḥya’ ‘ulum al-dīn (translated with an introduction and notes by Shaykh Yusuf Talal DeLorenzo), Islamic Texts Society, Cambridge, 2014, pp. 214-217]

[1] Ṭāwūs ibn Kaysān al-Yamānī was named Ṭāwūs (which means ‘peacock’) because of his fine reading of the Qur’an. He was one of the scholars of the Tābi‘īn, a narrator of hadith and a companion of ‘Alī Zayn al-‘Abidīn (The Prophet’s (ﷺ) great grandson – son of Al-Ḥusayn bin ‘Alī (رضي الله عنه)). Ibn Ḥayyān said about him, “He was among the worshippers of the people of Yemen and one of the masters of the leading members of the next generation.” He performed the pilgrimage forty times. He was also a student of ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه) and narrated ḥadīths from him. It was said he had met over 50 companions. He was the main teacher of ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azīz. He passed way in the year 106H (723 CE).

[2] “To do so would have been another way of showing respect, by saying, for example, O Abū Sulayman! To have neglected to address Hishām either by his title or by his agnomen was to have emphasised the fact that his words were chosen carefully, and that Ṭāwūs had meant to slight the ruler.” [Shaykh Yusuf’s footnote]

[3] “Sufyān ibn Sa‘īd ibn Masrūq Abū ‘AbdAllah al-Thawrī al-Muḍarī al-Kūfī (97-161) [716-778 CE], the Godfearing, wise, grief-stricken, Mujtahid Imām, was “Commander of the Believers in Ḥadīth” – the highest level in ḥadīth Mastership –, ‘Shaykh al-Islām, the Imam of ḥadīth Masters, the leader of the practicing Ulema in his time, the author of the Jāmi‘ ’ (al-Dhahabi)…‘If I had been asked to choose someone to lead this Umma [as a Caliph] I would have chosen Sufyān al-Thawrī’ (Al-Awzā‘ī)”
[The Four Imams and their Schools, Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Muslim Academic Trust, Cambridge, 2007, p. 103]


Al-Taftazani* and Al-Nasafi** on the Necessity of the Caliphate (Imamate)

The position of Agreement (ijmā‘) is that it is necessary (wājib) to appoint an Imam. The difference of opinion is on the question whether [the appointment] must be by Allah [1] or by His servants, and whether the basis [for appointment] is textual evidence (dalīl sam‘ī) or reason (dalīl ‘aqlī) [2].  The correct position is that the servants must appoint a Caliph on the basis of textual evidence because of the statement of the Prophet (ﷺ), “Whoever dies not having known the Imam of his time, dies the death of the days of Ignorance (al-jāhilīyyah) [3].” [Musnad Ahmad, IV, 96]
And they must appoint someone, since the people at the time of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) death made this question the most important matter of consideration, so important in fact that they considered it more important than the matter of his burial [4], and so also has it been after the death of each Imam. And they must appoint someone for so many legal obligations are dependent on the Imam, as he (al-Nasafi) has indicated in this statement:
“The Muslims must have an Imam, who will carry out the administration of their decisions, the maintaining of their restrictive ordinances (ḥudūd), the guarding of their frontiers [5], the equipping of their armies, the receiving of their zakat, the punsihment of those who rebel and those who spy and highwaymen, the establishment of jumu‘ah and ‘Eid, the settlement of disputes which take place among the servants (of Allah), the acceptance of the testimony of witnesses in matters of legal rights, the giving in marriage of the young men and women who have no guardians, and the distribution of the war booty” [Taftāzānī adds:] and similar matters which other individuals from the Ummah are not allowed to be in charge of.
(Excerpted from Sharḥ al-‘Aqā’id al-Nasafīyyah [Taftāzānī ‘s commentary of al-Nasafī’s essay on belief])

*Sa‘d al-Din Mas‘ūd ibn ‘Umar ibn ‘AbdAllah al-Taftāzānī  [722H/1322 CE 793H/1390 CE] was a renowned scholar and polymath from a distinguished scholarly family, born in the village of Taftazan in Khurasan. He authored works on Arabic grammar, rhetoric, theology, logic, jurisprudence (fiqh) and Quranic exegesis (tafsīr). His commentaries on well-known works in various fields of Islamic sciences were widely used in madrassas around the world until modern times. Imām Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī famously remarked that ‘science ended with him in the East’ and ‘no one could ever replace him’ (al-Durar al-Kamina).

**Najm al-Dīn Abu Ḥafṣ ‘Umar b. Muḥammad b. Aḥmad al-Nasafī, a master of the Hanafi school of law who excelled in many sciences and authored over a hundred books. He was the teacher of Marghināni (author of al-Hidāya), who stated, “I heard Najm al-Dīn (i.e. al-Nasafī) say, ‘I narrate hadiths from 550 Shaykhs’. He passed away in the year 537H (1142  CE).

[1] The Shī‘ah have the view that Allah appoints the Imam. But Ahl al-Sunnah insist he must be appointed by the people through a pledge of allegiance (bay‘ah).

[2] Most of the Mu‘tazilah (a misguided sect influenced by Greek Philosophy) held the view that the proof for this obligation was rational, not textual.

[3]  Commenting on the following hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbas (r): “Whoever disapproves of something done by his Amīr (ruler) then he should be patient, for whoever disobeys (disunites and goes away from) his Sultan even for a span will die as those who died in the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance” Imām Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī explains the meaning of the phrase مات ميتة جاهلية:
“To die as those who died in the pre-Islamic period of Ignorance (al-jāhilīyyah) means the state of death: to die in a state of misguidance with no Imam to obey, as the inhabitants of that era had no such kind of ruling. The hadith doesn’t mean that the Muslim will die as a kāfir but as a disobeying Muslim. This Hadith has possible definitions: To resemble between the state of death between the disobeying Muslim and the Jāhil, even if the Muslim was not in reality a Jāhil; or, to frighten and reprimand, and this meaning is not the apparent one… Ibn Baṭṭāl said: this hadith is an argument to not disobey the Sultan even if he is wronged. The scholars agreed unanimously on the obligation of obeying the empowered Sultan and (engaging in) jihad under his commandment. As well the scholars consider that obeying the Sultan is better than disobeying him as this act prevents bloodshed and mitigates the masses.” (Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī #7053)

[4] Ibn Kathīr said, “What is famously related from the majority of scholars is that the Prophet (ﷺ) died on Monday and was buried on Tuesday night.” (al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah (5/237) and Ṣaḥīḥ al-Sīrah al-Nabawīyyah, p.728)

[5] The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The Imam is but a shield for them (the Muslims). They fight behind him and are protected by him (from aggressors)…” (Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (r))

The Caliphate: The Secret to Unity for Moonsighting in Ramadan and ‘Eid

Imām Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī quotes the following in his Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī:

“Ibn al-Mājishūn* said: Only the people of the town where the witnessing occurs are obliged [to fast] unless it is established by the Caliph (al-Imām al Azam). In such a case, all the people are obliged [to fast], because all the towns with respect to him (the Caliph) are as one town, since his verdict is binding upon everyone.”
[Translated by Shaykh ‘Abdullah bin Hamid ‘Ali]

*”Abu Marwan ‘Abd al-Malik ibn ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn ‘Abd Allah ibn Abi Salama al-Majishun (r) (d. 212) the sea of knowledge, a Jurisprudent and Mufti of Madina, a contemporary of Malik more than his actual student, he studied mostly under his father, then with Malik and others. Whenever al-Shafi’i rehearsed Fiqh with him, people would not understand them because they spoke the desert Arabic of Hudhayl and Kalb. Suhnun and Ibn Habib praised him lavishly and preferred him to most of Malik’s companions.”
[The Four Imams and their Schools, Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Muslim Academic Trust, 2007, p. 148]

[NB: The relied upon opinion in the Hanbali, Hanafi and Maliki Madhabs is global sighting of the moon. The main point made here by Ibn al-Mājishūn is that if the Caliph announces the beginning of Ramadan (or indeed for ‘Eid), then all will be obliged to accept his decision since his verdict is binding upon everyone.
Having an orthodox Caliph ruling us would solve the chaos caused every Ramadan and ‘Eid by a certain kingdom]

[See for Hanbali Madhhab: Muwaffaq al-Din and Shams al-Din ibnu Qudama, al-Mughni (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, n.d.), 3:10-13]
[See for Hanafi Madhab: Muhammad Amin “Ibn Abidin”, Hashiya Radd al-Muhtar (Beirut: Dar al-Fikr, 1415/1995), 2:432-433]
[See for Maliki Madhab: Mubarak bin ‘Ali al-Ahsa’i, Tashil al-Masalik ila Hidaya al-Salik ila Madhhab al-Imam Malik, ‘Abdul Hamid bin Mubarak, ed. (Riyadh: Maktaba al-Imam al-Shafi’i, 1416/1995), 3:783]