Shaykh ‘Uthmān Dan Fodio* on the Obligation of Appointing a Caliph (Imām)

“I say, and tawfīq is from Allah: Be it known that there is consensus on the point that it is the duty of the Muslims to appoint an Imām according to the law. With regard to the words of the versifier [1]:

‘It is an obligation to appoint a just Imām. Know that this is by divine precept, not the judgement of human reasoning.’

[Commenting on this] ‘Abd al-Salām ibn Ibrāhīm al-Laqqānī said in his Itḥāf [2]:

‘That is, to appoint and install an Imām. This law is addressed to the whole community (umma) as from the death of the Prophet (عليه الصلاة و السلام) until the Day of Resurrection; but when the influential men (ahl al-ḥall wa al-‘aqd) perform this task, it suffices for all, no matter whether it be in times of civil strife or otherwise. This is according to the Sunnis, and, when [the term] Imamate is used unrestrictedly, it means the Caliphate, which is an overall leadership embracing all religious and temporal affairs – [undertaken] on behalf of the Prophet ﷺ.’

Expounding the meaning of ‘by divine precept’ Al-Laqqāni said:

‘It means that the obligation of appointing an Imām over the community (umma) is based on divine law, according to the Sunnis, // for a number of reasons, the chief of which is the ijmā‘ of the Companions (رضي الله عنهم) who so emphasised it that they considered it the most important of duties and were distracted by it from burying the Prophet ﷺ. A similar [situation has occurred] following the death of every Imām up to the present day. However, their disagreement on who is suitable for the office of Caliph does not detract from their agreement on the obligation of appointing one. Thus none of them said that there was no need for an Imām.’

Al-Subki said:

‘According to the Consensus of the Companions (رضي الله عنهم) after the death of the Prophet ﷺ, men should appoint an Imām who will look after their interests. They gave this precedence over all other obligations and people have been abiding by this over the ages. Even if the appointed Imām is not the most suitable, nevertheless the mere act of appointing him is sufficient to discharge the [religious] obligation.’ ”


*Shaykh ‘Uthmān Dan Fodio was born in 1168 AH (1754 CE). He is well known as Dan Fodio which literally meant son of the scholar, as his father was already a well known and established scholar in Hausaland.

For the next thirty years Shakyh ‘Uthmān, along with his family, relatives, fellow scholars and students, committed themselves to da‘wah (calling to islam) and teaching tours throughout Hausa land (West Africa): calling people to establish Islam in their hearts and homes; adhere to the Qur’an, Sunnah and Ijmā‘ (or consensus) of the Sunni scholars; forsake innovation; show compassion towards all Muslims; and to end all forms of political and economic oppression.

When the rulers became fearful and envious of Shaykh ‘Uthmāns large and loyal following of believers, they began persecuting the Muslims severely.

This led to their being blessed by Allah to perform hijra (emigration) and ultimately to their successful military struggle against the Hausa kings.

Their blessed struggle established an Islamic Sultanate in 1807 CE that became one of the most righteous, just and equitable societies this world has ever known.


[1] i.e. Shaykh Ibrāhīm al-Laqqānī (d. 1041 H), Jawharat al-Tawḥīd

[2] Shaykh ‘Abd al-Salām ibn Ibrāhīm al-Laqqānī (d. 1078 H), Itḥāf al-Murīd Sharḥ Jawharat al-Tawḥīd

[Shaykh ‘Uthmān Dan Fodio, بيان وجوب الهجرة على العباد وبيان وجوب نصب الإمام وإقامة الجهاد (Bayān Wujūb al-Hijrah ‘ala al-‘Ibād wa Bayān Wujūb Nasb al-Imām wa Iqāmat al-Jihād), English translation by Fathi Hasan El Masri, Khartoum: Oxford: Khartoum University Press; Oxford University Press, 1978, p. 61]

Shāh Walī Allāh’s Definition of Khilafah

“It [the Caliphate] is the general authority to undertake the establishment of Religion through the revival of religious sciences, the establishment of the pillars of Islam, the organisation of jihād and its related functions of maintenance of armies, financing the soldiers, and allocation of their rightful portions from the spoils of war, administration of justice, enforcement of udūd, elimination of injustice, and enjoining good and forbidding evil, to be exercised on behalf of the Prophet ﷺ.”

[Shāh Walī Allāh, Izālat al-Khafā’ ‘an Khilāfat al-Khulafā’, Volume 1, p. 13, translated in The Socio-Political Thought of Shāh Walī Allāh, Professor Muhammad al-Ghazali, Adam Publishers, New Delhi, 2004, p. 86 ]

Hadith: The Knots of Islam will be Untied One by One

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said*:

لَيُنْقَضَنَّ عُرَى الْإِسْلَامِ عُرْوَةً عُرْوَةً فَكُلَّمَا انْتَقَضَتْ عُرْوَةٌ تَشَبَّثَ النَّاسُ بِالَّتِي تَلِيهَا وَأَوَّلُهُنَّ نَقْضًا الْحُكْمُ وَآخِرُهُنَّ الصَّلَاةُ

The knots of Islam will be undone one by one, each time a knot is undone the next one will be grasped, the first to be undone will be the Rule [of Islam; The Caliphate] and the last will be the Prayer (Salah).

Narrated by Abu Umamah al-Bahili (ra)

Commentary on the hadith from The Sixty Sultaniyya:

A: It was the Prophet ﷺ who tied together the knots of Islam, including the uppermost knot of ruling after he established the Islamic state between the Ansar [Helpers], the Muhajiroon [Emigrants], and the non-Muslims in and around Yathrib (Medina) after Hijra from his own people of Mecca.

B: As mentioned by Imam Mawardi, the leadership has been prescribed as the succession of the Prophet ﷺ in protecting the deen and governing the societal affairs. In this respect, Imam Baidawi mentioned that the Imamah/Khilafah is the succession from the Prophet in the establishment of the laws of the Shari‘ah and the protection of the territory. So without the Imam the laws lie unapplied and the territory is not protected effectively.

C: The hadith indicates that it is the uppermost knot that keeps the subsequent knots safe from being untied. This is since it is the ruler that is responsible to apply Islam in its entirety, to implement the limits proscribed by Allah سبحانه وتعالى and to protect the society.

D: Imam Ahmed mentioned without an Imam (for the Muslims as their leader) there would be fitna, and the destruction of the symbols of Islam ending with the Prayer is a great fitna.



  1. al-Bukhari, Ta’rikh al-Kabir, 4:233.
  2. Imam Ahmad from Fayruz al-Daylami from his father in the Musnad, 4:232, hadith no. 18068 (hasan, Shaykh al-Arna’ut).
  3. al-Tabarani, Mujam al-Kabir, 8:98, hadith no. 7486.
  4. al-Hakim, al-Mustadrakala ’l-Sahihayn, 4:469, hadith no. 7022 where he declared the isnad (chain of transmission) as sahih
  5. Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 15:111, hadith no. 6715 with a very strong isnad (Shaykh al-Arna’ut).
  6. Al-Mundhiri, al-Tarhib wa’l-Targhib, 1:263 with a sahih chain of transmission
  7. Al-Haythami, Majmaal-Zawa’id, 7:284 where he comments that the narrators of the hadith are all sound (rijaluhu rijalun sahih).

Hat Tip: Dar al-Nicosia

Syrian historian: All pious well-read Muslims believe in the need to establish the Caliphate

All pious Muslims well-read in the Hadith (the compiled sayings of the Prophet*) firmly believe in the need to establish an Islamic State headed by a Muslim Caliph. This is mentioned twice in the Holy Quran and it’s central to the Islamic faith. No Muslim scholar would debate an Islamic state and the caliphate.

[Sami Moubayed, Syrian historian and former Carnegie scholar writing in the Daily Telegraph, 23rd September, 2015]

*ﷺ Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him

UK Muslim Scholars: “Israel” is an illegitimate state and Jerusalem will be the capital of the future Islamic Caliphate

We the undersigned do not recognise “Israel” as a legitimate state.

“Israel” must return the entirety of Palestinian land. Palestinians have no link to the holocaust and the crimes of the Second World War against the Jewish people.

We condemn the continued fascist Zionist oppression which has cost the Palestinian people their freedom, homeland and lives for over seventy years.

Islam does not promote anti-Semitism and Arabs are also a Semitic people. On the contrary, the second Caliph of Islam, Hadrat Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) took charge of the Church of the Sepulchre and commanded Muslims to take care of it and give Christians their full rights to worship which were curtailed prior by sectarianism.

The caretakers of this Church have been a Muslim family since the arrival of Islam in the seventh century. Jews, Christians and Muslims coexisted in peace and security in Palestine, until the Zionist occupation ended the mutual tolerance that had existed for over a millennium.

Jerusalem will be the capital* of the Islamic Caliphate when it returns, Allah willing.


  1. Shaykh Asrar Rashid, Birmingham
  2. Maulana Muhammad Din Sialwi, Accrington
  3. Maulana Kamran Khan, Birmingham
  4. Imam Khalid Hussain, Leicester
  5. Hafiz Kasad Ali, Birmingham
  6. Maulana Shahid Barelwi, Burnley
  7. Maulana Haroon Raza, Birmingham
  8. Hafiz Ehsan Qadri, Sri Lanka
  9. Maulana Masud Qadri, Bolton
  10. Imam Adil Shahzad, Bradford
  11. Imam Zahoor Chishti, Oldham
  12. Maulana Naveed Ashrafi, Blackburn
  13. Imam Shahid Ali, Bradford
  14. Imam Sudagar Husain, Bradford
  15. Maulana Nizam Ashraf, Bolton
  16. Maulana Yasir Ayyub, Oldham
  17. Shaykh Danyal, Birmingham
  18. Maulana Aqeel Khan, Bolton
  19. Maulana Omar Shabier Naqshbandi, Netherlands
  20. Maulana Saad bin Sadiq, Birmingham
  21. Maulana Anis Ahmed, Birmingham
  22. Maulana Ibrar Shafi, Derby
  23. Maulana Sayyid Samdani, Bolton
  24. Maulana Haider Ali, Preston
  25. Maulana Nabeel Afzal, Coventry
  26. Shaykh Noorud-Deen Rashid, Luton
  27. Maulana Mohammed Bilal Naushahi, Bradford
  28. Imam Muhammad Husnain, Chesham
  29. Maulana Majid Abdul Rahman, Chadwell Heath
  30. Maulana Qasim Hussain, Luton
  31. Maulana Hafiz Arfat Ahmed, Luton
  32. Maulana Sajid Ali, Luton
  33. Imam Muhammad Nazim, Bedford
  34. Maulana Moqaddam Shahzada Naushani, Manchester

[Source: 5 Pillars website, 1st July 2019]

*Yunus Ibn Maysarah relates that the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said,

هَذَا الأَمْرُ كَائِنٌ بَعْدِي بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالشَّامِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْجَزِيرَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْعِرَاقِ ، ثُمَّ بِالْمَدِينَةِ ، ثُمَّ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ ، فَإِذَا كَانَ بِبَيْتِ الْمَقْدِسِ فَثَمَّ عُقْرُ دَارِهَا ، وَلَنْ يُخْرِجَهَا قَوْمٌ فَتَعُودَ إِلَيْهِمْ أَبَدًا

“This matter (the Caliphate) will be after me in Madinah, then in Al-Sham, then in the peninsula, then in Iraq, then in the City (Constantinople), then in Bait ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem). If it is in Bait ul-Maqdis, its home country is there, and no people will be able to remove it, so it will return to them forever.” [Ibn Asakir, 368]


Imam Dhahabi* on Tyrants and Oppressors

The Sixteenth Major Sin
The Leader who Misleads his Following, The Tyrant and Oppressor

Allah Most High says:

“The dispute [lit. ‘way against’] is only with those who oppress people and wrongfully commit aggression in the land: these will have a painful torment” (42:42)

“Do not suppose that Allah is unmindful of what the unjust do. He only gives them respite until a Day when the eyes will stare (in terror) as they come hurrying on in fear, their heads upraised, their gaze not returning to them, and their hearts blank” (14:42-43)

“And those who do wrong will come to know by what a (great) reversal they will be overturned” (26:227)

“They did not forbid each other the evil that they did, and how wicked was what they would do” (5:79)

The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

“Whoever deceives is not from us” (Sahih Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him))

“Oppression will be darkness on the Day of Resurrection” (Bukhari, Muslim and Tirmidhi on the authority of Ibn ‘Umar (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)))

“All of you are trustees, and each is responsible for those entrusted to his care” (Bukhari & Muslim on the authority of  Ibn ‘Umar (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)))

“Any superior who misrules his followers shall go to hell” (Tabarani)

“If Allah makes someone responsible over a people and he does not deal with them with sincerity, Allah will prohibit him the Garden” [related with slightly different wording in Bukhari]

“On the day of Resurrection, every Judge who gives Judgements among the people will be held, an angel seizing him by the back of his head. If it is said, ‘Throw him!’ he will be thrown into Hell, and he will sink into it for forty years” (Musnad Ahmad)

“Woe to the princes, woe to the officials, woe to the guardians! On the Day of Resurrection, people will wish that their forelocks were tied to the (constellation) Pleiades, that they were swinging between Heaven and earth, and that they had never exercised any rule” (Musnad Ahmad)

“On the Day of Resurrection, a time will come for the Judge of a court when he will wish that he had not Judged between two people, even concerning (so much as) a piece of fruit”

“There is not a leader of ten people who will not be brought forth, on the Day of Resurrection, without his hands being bound to his neck, and either his justice will free him or his injustice destroy him”

In one of his supplications [du‘as], the Messenger of  Allah (ﷺ) said: “O Allah, if anyone who is in charge of anything in this Ummah (community of Muslims) is kind to them, may You be kind to him, if anyone is compassionate to them, may You be compassionate to him!” (Muslim and al-Nisa’i on the authority of ‘A’isha (raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her)))

Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said:

“If Allah appoints someone as a manager of Muslims’ affairs and he removes their needs, their miseries, and their poverty, Allah will remove his need, his misery, and his poverty” (Abu Daud and Tirmidhi)

“There will come corrupt, tyrannous rulers: whoever confirms their lies and assists them in their oppression is not  of me, nor I of him, and shall not meet me at my watering place in paradise” (Al-Hakim)

“On the Day of Resurrection, the most severely punished among the people will be a tyrannical ruler.”

“O people, command what is honourable (ma‘ruf) and forbid what is dishonourable (munkar), before a time comes when you will call upon Allah and He will not respond, and when you ask Allah’s forgiveness and He will not forgive you. When the Jewish rabbis and the Christian priests stopped commanding what is honourable and forbidding what is dishonourable, Allah cursed them by the tongues of their prophets and unleashed troubles among them”

“One who introduces something new into this affair of ours which is not from it, is rejected [that is to say, the sin of it is upon him]”

“He who shows no mercy will not be shown any” (Bukhari)

“Allah will shade a just ruler under His own shade on the Day when there will be no shade except His” (Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayra (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)))

“The just will be on platforms of light – those who set things aright by their judgement among their people and do not deviate from justice”

When the Prophet (ﷺ) sent Mu‘adh (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)) to Yemen, He said: “Be careful of their most valuable possessions (when collecting Zakat), and beware of the cry of the oppressed. Truly, there is no veil between him and Allah” (Bukhari)

And He (ﷺ) said:

“There are three (kinds of) people to whom Allah will not speak on the Day of Resurrection” and he mentioned among them a king who is a liar.

“You’ll be anxious to lead, and this will be a source of remorse to you on the Day of Judgement” (Bukhari)

“By Allah, I will not appoint to a post anyone who asks for it or who is eager to get it” (Bukhari)

“O Ka‘b bin ‘Ajrah, may Allah protect you from the rule of the foolish – such rulers as will come after my time, those who are not guided by my guidance and do not follow my Sunnah”

“Whoever has sought authority among the Muslims and attained it, if his justice dominated his oppression, the Garden is for him. But if his oppression dominated his justice, the Fire is for him” (Abu Daud)

‘Umar said to Abu Dharr (رضي الله عنهما): “Tell us a tradition  which you hear from Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ).” Abu Dharr then said: “I heard Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) say: ‘On the Day of Resurrection, the ruler will be brought and left on a bridge across Hell. The bridge will shake so violently with him that nothing on it will remain on its place. If he was obedient to Allah, in his actions, he will cross over it, while if he was disobedient to Allah, in his actions, the bridge will break and he will be thrown into Hell, sinking in it for fifty years.’ ”

‘Umar then said: “Therefore, who would desire such a position, Abu Dharr?” Abu Dharr replied: “The one who would have his nose chopped off for Allah’s sake, being dragged to it by force” [that is to say, forced by the people to accept the position].

‘Amar bin Muhajir (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)) said: “ ‘Umar bin ‘Abdul ‘Aziz (raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him)) told me: ‘If you see me deviating from justice, put your hand on my collar and say, “ ‘Umar what are you doing?’ ”.

[Imam Dhahabi’s Kitab al-Kaba’ir, English translation The Major Sins by Mohammed Moinuddin  Siddiqui, Dar el Fiker, Beirut, 1993, pp. 77-80]

*Imam Dhahabi (673 H/1274 CE to 748 H/1348 CE)  is Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn ‘Uthman ibn Qaymaz, Abu ‘Abdullah Shams al-Din al-Dhahabi, the great Shafi‘i hadith master (hafiz) and historian of Islam. Of Turcoman origin, he first studied in Damascus and then travelled to Cairo and other cities in pursuit of Sacred Knowledge. He authored nearly a hundred works, some of them of considerable size. In addition to his mastery of hadith, he was also an Imam in canonical Koranic readings (qira’at) and textual criticism. [excerpted from Reliance of the Traveller by Shaykh Nuh Keller, p. 1045].

The Caliphate in Durr al-Mukhtār*

Book of Prayer, Section on Imāmah

It (the Imāmah) is either minor or major. The major (type) (i.e. the caliphate) is the right of general administration over the people. Its realization is in kalām (scholastic theology) and establishing it is the most important of obligations, hence they (the Sahabah) gave it priority over the burial [1] of the Possessor of Miracles (ﷺ).

*The Durr al-Mukhtār [‘The Chosen Pearl’] is one of the central late texts of the Hanafi school. Its author, ‘Ala’ al-Dīn al-Haskafi (Allah have mercy on him), was the Grand Mufti of Damascus during the 11th Islamic century, and his works, particularly the Durr, profoundly influenced all texts that came after it, and became the central reference for legal details and rulings (Shaykh Faraz Rabbani).

Al-Durr al-Mukhtār, the commentary on Tanwīr al-Absār, has flown through the lands, and circled the cities, and become more manifest than the sun at midday, until people have busied themselves with it, and it has become their recourse. It is most deserving of being sought, and of the school (madhhab) being on it… for it contains more well-verified rulings, and sound details than many a longer work…” [Ibn ‘Abidīn, Radd al-Muhtār, 1: 2] (ibid)

[1] 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)