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.

 

*See:

  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

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)

Ibn Khaldun on the Defeated Mentality

“The vanquished always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive characteristics, his dress, his occupation, and all his other conditions and customs. The reason for this is that the soul always sees perfection in the person who is superior to it and to whom it is subservient. It considers him perfect, either because it is impressed by the respect it has for him, or because it erroneously assumes that its own subservience to him is not due to the nature of defeat but to the perfection of the victor.”

[Ibn Khaldun, Muqaddimah, quoted in S. Sayyid, Recalling the Caliphate: Decolonization and World Order, Hurst & Company, London, 2014, p. 1]

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.