Qadi ‘Iyad on the Sahabah, the Shari‘ah and Madinah and the Return of Ruling by Islam

Madinah

Qadi ‘Iyad* says in Tartīb al Madārik:

“The Prophet’s Companions supported him in firmly establishing his Shari‘ah during his lifetime and after his death. They succeeded him in protecting it and keeping it in good custody”.

“In numerous revealed texts Allah has indicated explicitly how He granted them excellence above others, commanding that they also be taken as examples to be emulated. And he gave severe warning against following paths other than theirs. He brought them to make their home in Madinah, the homeland of His Revelation, the ultimate refuge of His deen and the place where His Shari‘ah was instituted and established, the land to which His angels came down, the place of the hijra of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, the place in which His book was revealed, the land where the legacy of all His messengers was brought together to live forever, the place where all good was joined together. The cave of iman and wisdom, the golden mine of the Shari‘ah and Sunna, the radiant lamp of guidance by the light of which the regions of the East and West were illuminated. The unending fountainhead of knowledge from which all rivers, valleys and tributaries draw their water.”

“Allah then caused the Companions to be succeeded in each generation by followers of thorough truthfulness and justice.”

And later on in the book, Qadi ‘Iyad mentions this narration:

“From Abu Hurayra, may Allah be pleased with him, “The one upon whom we ask blessings and peace, said, ‘The Hour shall not take place until Iman returns to take refuge in Madinah just like the snake returning to take refuge in her hole.’ ”Abu Musab al-Zuhri** said regarding this hadith, ‘By Allah! It shall not return and take refuge but among its true followers and its people who establish it completely and properly and who institute in their lives its various precepts and laws, and who have knowledge of its proper interpretation, establishing firmly its rulings by which it judges.’ ”

*Qadi ‘Iyad is ‘Iyad ibn Musa ibn ‘Iyad ibn ‘Imran, Abu al-Fadl al-Yahsubi, born in Sabta (present-day Ceuta, on the Strait of Gibraltar) in 476 H (1083 CE). The Imam of western Muslimdom in hadith and Arabic lexicology, he was a gifted Maliki scholar and author who wrote a number of books in the sciences of hadith, Maliki jurisprudence, and history, though he is best remembered for his two-volume al-Shifa bi ta‘rif huquq al-Mustafa [The cure, in outlining the attributes of the Chosen One], universally acknowledged as among the finest works ever written on the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace). He was appointed as the judge of Sabta, then Granada, and finally Marrakesh, where he died in 544 H (1149 CE) [Excerpted from Reliance of the Traveller, by Shaykh Nuh Keller, p. 1089]

**He is the learned Scholar and trustworthy hadith Master of Madinah, Abu Musab Ahmad ibn Abi Bakr ibn al-Harith al-Zuhri (152 242 H). He was one of those who narrated the Muwaṭṭa directly from Imam Malik [cf. The Four Imams and their Schools, Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad, Muslim Academic Trust, 2007, p. 145]

[Qadi ‘Iyad, ترتيب المدارك وتقريب المسالك لمعرفة أعلام مذهب مالك (Tartīb al madārik wa taqrīb al masālik li ma‘rifat a‘lām madhhab Mālik), quoted in Root Islamic Education, Shaykh Abdalqadir al-Murabit, Madinah Press, Second Edition, London, 1993, pp. 36-37, 53-54]

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)

 

‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq’s Secular Heresy and the Orthodox Response

“In 1925, ‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq (1888-1966), brother of Mustafa, published a work on Islam and the bases of political authority. Like his brother, he had studied at the Azhar and had then come to Europe, but to Oxford and not Paris…The immediate problem with which ‘Abd al-Raziq is concerned is that of the caliphate. In 1922, after the revolution of Mustafa Kemal, the Turkish National Assembly had abolished the sultanate and set up a shadow-caliphate with spiritual powers only; in 1924 they abolished that as well.” [Hourani, Albert, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1983, p. 183]

‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq wrote:

“The truth is that the Muslim religion is innocent of this institution of the caliphate such as it is commonly understood by Muslims. It is innocent of all the apparel of seduction and intimidation, and the pomp of force and power with which they surrounded the institution of the caliphate. This institution has nothing in common with religious functions, no more than the judiciary and the other essential functions and machinery of power and state. All these functions are purely political; they have nothing to do with religion. Religion neither admits nor denies them. It neither orders nor forbids them. It simply leaves them to our free choice so that we will have recourse to rational judgement in their regard and base our judgement on the experience of nations and the rules of politics” [‘Ali ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa usul al-hukm (Islam and the Bases of Power), translated in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives, edited by Donohue, John J. and Esposito, John L., New York, Oxford University Press, 1982, p. 36]

Continuing with the excerpts from Albert Hourani’s book:

“ ‘Abd al-Raziq’s book aroused a violent storm, and the consequences for him were serious. It was refuted and denounced by Muslim thinkers of another complexion, and formally condemned by a council of the leading ‘ulama’ of the Azhar. In their judgment they refuted, by quotations from the Quran and hadith, seven propositions contained, or so they claimed, in ‘Abd al-Raziq’s work; and they pronounced the author unfit to hold any public function…”

“Once critic of the book, Rashid Rida, declared it was the latest attempt of the enemies of Islam to weaken and divide it from within, and another, Muhammad Bakhit, maintained that what non-Muslims said of Islam should never be accepted, and above all what they said about the caliphate, ‘the fearful ghost which, if the bravest man in Europe saw it even in his sleep, would cause him to rise in fear and panic’. [72] ‘Abd al-Raziq, he asserted, had accepted the historical thesis of Sir Thomas Arnold in preference to the whole consensus of Islamic thought; and he set himself, in great detail and at enormous length, to refute the author’s interpretation of Muslim history and cast doubt on his knowledge and understanding of the sources. He produced much evidence to refute the idea that there was no organized government in the Prophet’s [] time, and that the Prophet [] never taught his people about political organization [73], and to prove that there was as nearly a complete ijma’ on the necessity of some sort of imamate as there was on any question of doctrine.” [74]

“There was a still graver charge against the book, made by the  ‘ulama’ in their judgment and elaborated by Shaykh Bakhit. By implication, ‘Abd al-Raziq’s thesis attacked the whole system of Islamic doctrine in one of its two bases: the theory of prophecy. Muslim theologians had always taught that, while some prophets were sent into the world to reveal a Book only, that is to say, reveal a truth about God and the world, others were sent also to reveal a law, a system of morality derived from the Book, and to execute it; and that, while Jesus was a prophet of the first type, Muhammad [] was one of the second. [75] To execute the law was an essential part of his mission; [76] but this implies that he had political power, and that from the start the Islamic community was a political community. Moreover, since the Book and the law were not given for one generation only but for all time, there must always be someone who exercises political power in the umma:

[Shaykh Bakhit writes:] ‘The Islamic religion is based on the pursuit of domination and power and strength and might, and the refusal of any law which is contrary to its shari‘a and its divine law, and the rejection of any authority the wielder of which is not charged with the execution of its edicts.’ [77]

“If the Prophet was not a political leader, and if the umma was not a political umma, then either there was no Prophet and no umma, or else the conception of them – that is to say, the very essence of Islam – would have to be changed … The careful method of reasoning by analogy, with Quran  and hadith as its premises, the consensus which was both the product and the guardian of the process: all this had been rejected by ‘Abd al-Raziq, and in its place he had put the reason, fantasy and passion of the individual mind:

‘He has relied … on intellectual sophistry, suppositions and poetical proofs, although these matters which he denies, and of which he denies the proofs, are matters of jurisprudence and law, into which one cannot plunge with the intellect alone, and in regard to which tthere is no alternative but to rely on the Quran, the Sunna, the ijma’, or reasoning by analogy.’ [78]

“…The danger, in Bakhit’s view, was not theoretical only. In the last analysis, what ‘Abd al-Raziq was saying was that there was no such thing as the Shari‘a. But if there was no Shari‘a, no law standing above the government, then there was no political society in the true sense, and the umma would dissolve into anarchy. Men need a regulator and governor who will keep them within their due limits, prevent oppression and do justice, and to manage their worldly affairs by their own reason and knowledge, their interests and desires, for that would simply mean the domination of the strong over the weak and the end of individual security.” [80]

[Hourani, Albert, op. cit., pp. 188-191]

(72) Shaykh Muhammad Bakhit al-Muti‘i, Haqiqat Islam wa usul al-hukm, p. 43

(73) Ibid., pp. 113ff., 298ff

(74) Ibid., p.33

(75) Ibid., p.293

(76) Ibid., p. 238

(77) Ibid., p. 294

(78) Ibid., p. 3

(80) Ibid., p. 352abdelraziq

Post Script: the following is from Ibn Kathir’s tafsir of the Qur’an, volume 3, p. 202:

“Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance? And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith?” [Translated Meaning of Al-Qur’an 5:50]

Allah criticizes those who ignore His commandments which include every type of righteous good thing and prohibit every type of evil, but they refer instead to opinions, desires and customs that people themselves invented, all of which have no basis in His religion. During the time of Jahiliyyah, the people used to abide by the misguidance and ignorance that they invented by sheer opinion and lusts. The Tatar (Mongols) abided by the law that they inherited from their king Genghis Khan who wrote Al-Yasiq for them. This book contains some rulings that were derived from various religions, such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Many of these rulings were derived from his own opinion and desires. Later on, these rulings became the followed law among his children, preferring them to the Law of the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. Therefore, whoever does this, he is a disbeliever who deserves to be fought against, until he reverts to Allah’s and His Messenger’s decisions, so that no law, minor or major, is referred to except by His Law. Allah said:

“Do they then seek the judgement of (the days of) ignorance?”

Meaning, they desire and want this and ignore Allah’s Judgement.

“And who is better in judgement than Allah for a people who have firm faith?”

Who is more just in decision than Allah for those who comprehend Allah’s Law, believe in Him, who are certain that Allah is the best among those who give decisions and that He is more merciful with His creation than the mother with her own child? Allah has perfect knowledge of everything, is able to do all things, and He is just in all matters.

[End of quote from Ibn Kathir’s commentary of the Qur’an]