Ibn Hajar on Obeying and Disobeying those in Authority

kuranThe following is from the translated meaning of the Qur’an (4:59):

“O Believers, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you; and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, refer it to Allah and the Messenger if you are [in truth] believers in Allah and the Last Day.” [Rendered by Shaykh Gibril Haddad]

The above verse is cited by Imam Bukhārī in his Ṣaḥīḥ as the heading of the first chapter of Kitāb al-Aḥkām (Book of Judgments). Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī says in his commentary of this section of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī:

‘The subtlety of repeating the verb for the Prophet – upon him blessings and peace – in Obey Allah and obey the Messenger but not for and those in command among you – although the one being obeyed in reality is Allah – is that the sources by which one determines one’s legal responsibility are the Qur’ān and the Sunna. It is as if Allah Most High were saying: “Obey Allah in whatever He textually stipulates for you in the Qur’ān and obey the Messenger in whatever he elucidates from the Qur’ān for you and textually stipulates in the Sunna,” or “Obey Allah in all He commands you in the revelation instituted for worship-through-recitation, and obey the Messenger in all he commands you in the revelation that is other than the Qur’ān.” Al-Ṭībī said (d. 743/1342): “He repeated the verb and obey the Messenger as a sign that the Prophet – upon him blessings and peace – is obeyed independently, but he did not repeat it for and those of you who are in authority as a sign that some of them do not have to be obeyed. Then He expounded this by saying and if you have a dispute concerning any matter, as if saying: if they do not act according to right, then do not obey them, and refer to whatever you differed about to the judgment of Allah and His Messenger.” ’

[Ḥāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري (Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī), translated in Integrated Encyclopedia of the Qur’ān (IEQ) by Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Sherwood Park and Seattle, Centre for Islamic Sciences, vol. 1 p. 279. For brief biographical details of Ibn Ḥajar, see the previous post on this blog entitled Ibn Hajar on Arab Rulers]

 

Post Script

The meaning of those in authority among you is elaborated by al-Bayḍāwī (d. 684/1286) in his tafsīr (commentary) of 4:59: “it comprises caliphs, judges, and military commanders … as long as they stand for truth” [see IEQ, p. 278].

Also, Ibn Kathīr cites the following in his tafsīr of the verse in question:

“Umm al-Ḥusayn said that she heard the Messenger of Allah giving a speech during the Farewell Ḥajj, in which he said:

‘Even if a slave was appointed over you, and he rules you with Allah’s Book, then listen to him and obey him.’ [related in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim].” (Ibn Kathīr, vol. 2, p. 497)

 

Ibn Hajar on the Sin of Living without a Caliph (Imam)

final caliph

The following is a hadith related by Bukhārī:

Abu Rajā’ related from Ibn ‘Abbās that the Prophet ﷺ said: “If someone dislikes what his Amir does, he should be patient. Anyone who separates himself from the Sultan even a hand’s breadth will die the death of al-jāhilīyyah.”*
(Kitāb al-Fitan, Chapter 2)

Hāfiẓ 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.”
[Hāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري (Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī) commentary on hadith #7053]

*cf.: “Whosoever dies without a bay‘ah (pledge of allegiance to a caliph) on his neck dies the death of al-jāhilīyyah.” [Hadith in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Nafi]

And

“Whosoever dies without an Imam dies the death of al-jāhilīyyah.
[Musnad Abu Dawud 259, Sahih Ibn Hibban 10/434, Mu’jam Al-Kabir, Tabarani 19/388, Musnad Ahmad 61/5, Sharh Al-Maqasid 4/239, al-Haythami in Majma’ az-Zawa’id 5/228]

Ibn Hajar on Arab Rulers

ibn saud and percy cox

From the commentary of Hadith Jibril by Hāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī:

…The man said: “Messenger of Allah! When is the Final Hour?” The Prophet ﷺ replied: “The one who is questioned about it is no more informed at all than the questioner. However, I shall tell you about its preconditions (ashrāṭihā). When the slave girl gives birth to her master – that is one of its preconditions. And when the naked and barefoot are the top leaders of the people – that is one of its preconditions. And when the shepherds compete in building tall structures – that is one of its preconditions. [It is] among five things none knows but Allah.” [aḥīḥ Muslim]

“are the top leaders of the people” This means the kings of the earth as explicitly stated in al-Isma‘īlī’s and Abū Farwa’s narrations. Those meant are the people of the desert, as explicitly stated in Sulayman al-Taymī’s and other narrations: “Who are the barefoot and naked?” He replied: “The little Arabs (al-‘urayb).”

Al-Ṭabaranī narrates through Abū Hamza, from Ibn ‘Abbās, from the Prophet ﷺ: “Part of the overthrow (inqilāb) of the Religion is the affectation of eloquence by the boors (al-naba) and their betaking to palaces in big cities.” Al-Qurṭubī said: “What is meant here is the prediction of a reversal in society whereby the people of the desert will take over and hold sway over every region by force. They will become very rich and their primary concern will be to erect tall buildings and take pride in them. We have witnessed this in our time.” Of identical import are the ḥadīths “The Hour will not rise until the happiest man in the world will be the depraved son of a depraved father (luka‘ ibn luka‘)” and “If leadership is entrusted to those unfit for it, expect the Hour,” both of them in the aḥīḥ.

[Hāfiẓ Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī, فتح الباري شرح صحيح البخاري (Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī). English translation of excerpts in Sunna Notes Volume 3, Studies in Ḥadīth and Doctrine: The Binding Proof of the Sunna by Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, AQSA Publications, UK, 2010, pp. 159-160, 196]

Ibn Ḥajar al-‘Asqalānī was born in Cairo in 773 H (1372 CE). A Shafi‘i Imam and hadith master (hafiz), he reached the level of Commander of the Faithful in Hadith, the only rank above that of hadith master. He first learned literature and poetry, but then devoted his considerable talents to hadith, which he studied under the renowned African master al-Zayla‘i and others in Cairo, Yemen and the Hijaz. His works were popular in his own lifetime and were hand-copied by the greatest scholars of the era. Known as Sheikh al-Islam, scholars travelled to take knowledge from him, and he was appointed to the judiciary in Egypt several times. He authored a number of works on hadith, history, biography, Koranic exegesis, poetry and Shafi‘i jurisprudence, among the most famous of them his fourteen-volume Fatḥ al-Bārī Sharḥ Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī [The victory of the Creator: a commentary on the “Sahih” of Bukhari] which few serious students of Islamic knowledge can do without. He died in Cairo in 852 H (1449 CE).
[Excerpted from The Reliance of the Traveller by Shaykh Nuh Keller]

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 ibn 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]