The rebellion against an Islamic state can take two
1. The rebels refuse to submit to the authority of the
state and in doing so remain peaceful and patiently bear any aggression of the
government that they may encounter as a result.
2. The rebels resort to militancy and armed warfare.
Islam imposes certain conditions on both these options.
Before these conditions are explained, it needs to be appreciated that rebelling
against Muslim rulers even when all the conditions are fulfilled never becomes
obligatory upon Muslims. They can still choose to live under their rule.
I now turn to the conditions:
If the first course outlined above is adopted then the
following three conditions are required:
First, the rulers of the Muslims are guilty of openly and
deliberately denying Islam or any of its directives.’ Ubādah Ibn Sāmit reports:
دَعَانَا رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى
اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَبَايَعْنَاهُ فَكَانَ فِيمَا أَخَذَ عَلَيْنَا أَنْ
بَايَعَنَا عَلَى السَّمْعِ وَالطَّاعَةِ فِي مَنْشَطِنَا وَمَكْرَهِنَا
وَعُسْرِنَا وَيُسْرِنَا وَأَثَرَةٍ عَلَيْنَا وَأَنْ لَا نُنَازِعَ الْأَمْرَ
أَهْلَهُ قَالَ إِلَّا أَنْ تَرَوْا كُفْرًا بَوَاحًا عِنْدَكُمْ مِنْ اللَّهِ
فِيهِ بُرْهَانٌ (مسلم: رقم
The Prophet called us to pledge allegiance to him which
we did. We had been asked to pledge to the following: ‘We shall listen and obey
whether willingly or unwillingly whether we are in difficulty or at ease, and
even when we do not receive what is your right and that we shall not contest the
authority of our rulers’. The Prophet of God said: You can only rise against
them if you witness outright Kufr in any matter from them, in which you have a
clear evidence from God. (Muslim: No. 1709)
The underlined portion of the Hadīth, which states this
condition of rebellion, is actually based on 4:59
according to which Muslims are asked to obey their ‘Muslim’ rulers. This is
indicated by the word ‘مِنْكُمْ’ (among you) which
qualifies the word ‘اولو الْأَمْرِ’ (those in
authority) in the verse. The implication being that they are required to obey
the rulers as long as they remain Muslims. However, if these Muslim rulers do
something which violates their status as Muslims, then these rulers are no
longer required to be obeyed. In other words, only rulers who deny the
requisites of being a Muslim in spite of being convinced about them are the ones
who are actually implied here. Anything less than this does not suffice for the
Muslims to rise against them.
Second, Muslims are not democratically able to change their
rulers. The basis of this condition is found in the Qur’ānic directive of ‘أَمْرُهُمْ
شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ’ (Their system is based on their consultation).
According to this directive, the rulers of Muslims should be democratically
elected to office. Consequently, if Muslims are able to change their leadership
by democratic means, resorting to rebellion and revolt is actually a violation
of this principle. It amounts to revolt against the masses and not the rulers.
This, according to the Sharī‘ah, is spreading disorder in the land and is
punishable by death in the most exemplary manner. The Prophet (sws) is reported
to have said:
مَنْ أَتَاكُمْ وَأَمْرُكُمْ جَمِيعٌ
عَلَى رَجُلٍ وَاحِدٍ يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَشُقَّ عَصَاكُمْ أَوْ يُفَرِّقَ جَمَاعَتَكُمْ
فَاقْتُلُوهُ. (مسلم: رقم
You are organized under the rule of a person and someone
tries to break your collectivity apart or disrupt your government, execute him.
(Muslim: No. 1852)
Third, those who are undertaking this uprising are in
majority and united under the leadership of one person. The basis of this
condition also exists in the verse referred to above (42:38). In fact, it is a
natural corollary of the principle stated in the verse: only the person who has
the mandate of the majority is their legitimate ruler. If the person who is
leading the uprising has the clear backing of the majority behind him, it means
that the previous one has lost his mandate to rule. The majority is now willing
to accept a new person in his place.
If the second course is adopted, then besides the above
mentioned three conditions, a fourth one must also be fulfilled: those who take
up arms in revolt must establish their government in an independent piece of
land. There is a consensus among all authorities of Islam that only an Islamic
State has the authority to wage a militant struggle. No group, party or
organization has the authority to lift arms.
It is evident from this discussion that if Muslims intend
to rise and rebel against their government they must fulfill certain conditions.
If they do not do so, they have no right whatsoever to publicly refuse
submission to their rulers. Moreover, even in the worst of circumstances,
rebellion never becomes obligatory.