The Verdict of Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn ul-Taymeeyah
Regarding Those Who Leave or Change The Laws of Islam
From his book entitled Majmoo’ al-Fataawa, Volume 28, pages 501-508
The Shaykh of Islam was asked:
“What do the scholars of the Deen have to say regarding those Mongols who invaded the Muslim lands of Sham in the year 699 Hijri, and who, as is well-known, killed many Muslims, took captive some of their children, and robbed the Muslims which they found. They violated what is inviolable and sacred in the Deen, by humiliating the Muslims and desecrating the masaajid, especially Masjid al-Aqsa, by taking from the personal wealth of the Muslims and from that of Bayt ul-Maal enormous amounts, and by taking prisoner a great number of Muslims and removing them from their countries. Then, after all this, they claimed that they adhere to the Shahaadatayn, and that it is haraam for anyone to wage war on them, because they claimed to be adherents to the foundation of Islam and because they no longer persecuted the Muslims.
Is it lawful to wage war on them, or is it obligatory? If it is either, then what is the reason for it being so? Give us your opinion – may you be rewarded.”
He (rahimahullaah) answered:
Every group which leaves, changes, or refuses to implement any agreed upon, undisputed law of Islam, whether it is these people or others, must be fought until they adhere to ALL the laws of Islam. This is the rule even if they pronounce the Shahaadatayn and adhere to some of the Islamic laws, as Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq and the Sahaabah(radiAllahu anhum) waged war on those who withheld the Zakaah.
As well, the scholars who came after the Sahaabah are in agreement about this principle. For, after the initial objection made by ‘Umar to Abu Bakr, the Sahaabah (radiAllahu anhum), agreed to wage war for the rights of Islam, and in this, they were adhering to the Qur’aan and Sunnah.
Moreover, the Prophet’s hadeeth about the Khawaarij is established by ten chains of narration, and the Prophet, (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), said that they were the worst of the people, despite him saying,
“You will look down on your prayers when you compare it with their
prayers, and your fasting when you compare it with their fasting.”
Thus, it became known that if some people simply cling to the label of Islam without adhering to its laws, then the obligation of fighting them is not cancelled.
Therefore, any group which leaves, changes, or refuses to implement some of the obligatory prayers, or fasting, or the Hajj, or violates the blood and wealth of the Muslims, or engages in consumption of intoxicants, or adultery, or fornication, or gambling, or marrying the mahaarem, or who do not wage war against the Kuffaar, or do not impose the jizyah on the Jews and Christians, or any other matter from the obligations and prohibitions of the Deen for which there is no excuse for not acting upon, then war MUST be waged against this group EVEN if they accept that the obligation or prohibition is part of the Deen. And I do not know of any disagreement amongst the scholars in this regard.
Where the scholars have disagreed is regarding the group which insists on leaving certain Sunan, such as the rakaatayn before Salaat ul-Fajr, the calling of the adhaan and iqaamah (among those who do not regard it as obligatory), and other such Islamic practices. The scholars have disagreed regarding the question: ‘Is the group which leaves these practices fought or not?’…
However, with regard to the undisputed obligations and prohibitions, which we have mentioned before, there is no difference of opinion about waging war on them.
And the group which withholds from Islam is considered by the investigating scholars to have a different status than al-Bughaat (those who rebel against the ruler, or dissent from his obedience). An example of the latter is the people of Sham who rebelled against Ameer ul-Mu’mineen Ali ibn Abi Taalib; people who refused to obey a particular leader, rebelled against him, and tried to remove him. But the first group has dissented from Islam, and has the same position as those who withheld [from paying] the Zakaah, and the same position as the Khawaarij whom Ali ibn Abi Taalib, radiAllahu anhu, fought.
And Ali fought the people of Basra and Sham differently from the people of Nahrawan; his way with the people of Basra and Sham was like that of a brother with his brother, and his way with the Khawaarij was not like that. And the proven ahadeeth of the Prophet, sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam, established the basis for the Sahaabah’s consensus on Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq’s war against the withholders’ of Zakaah and Ali’s war against the Khawaarij. And that is unlike the Fitnah with the people of Basra and Sham – the texts of Qur’aan and Ahadeeth confirm about it what they confirm, and the Sahaabah disagreed about it (i.e. the fitnah behind the Battles of Jamal and Siffeen – for it was Believers fighting against Believers).
Some scholars hold that the Ahl al-Baghi (people of rebellion) whom it is obligatory to fight are those who have rebelled against the Imaam after making a palatable misinterpretation of some text of the Qur’aan and ahadeeth to substantiate their actions, and not those who have simply refused to obey him. Others regard both groups as Bughaat. Nevertheless, there is a clear-cut distinction between the Bughaat and the Mongols, and I know of no difference of opinion regarding the obligation of waging war on those who leave, withhold from, or refuse to implement any of the undisputed laws of Islam.
Now that this principle has been established, it must be said that the army of the people about whom you have asked includes some Kuffaar from amongst the Christians and Mushrikeen, as well as others who affiliate themselves with Islam (and they form the majority). They will pronounce the Shahaadatayn if it is demanded from them, and they will extol the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), but only a minority of them prays, and more of them fast during Ramadhaan than pray. The Muslim, in their estimation, is greater than others, and they hold the righteous Believers in esteem. They have some Islam, and differ in the extent to which they adhere to it. But most of them leave aside many or most of the obligatory aspects of the Deen, and this is why they are fought.
Notably, they enjoin Islam, but they do not fight the ones who leave it; indeed, whoever fights for the Maghool state is honoured by them, and they will not challenge him even though he is the enemy of Allah and His Messenger. Likewise, if someone rebels against the Maghool state or attacks it, they will regard it as lawful to fight him, even if he is of the best of Muslims. They do not establish Jihad against the disbelievers, nor do they make Ahl al-Kitaab submissive and force them to pay the Jizyah (as commanded in al-Qur’aan, Ayah 9:29). They do not forbid any of their troops from worshipping whatever they like, be it the sun, the moon, or something else.
What is apparent from their conduct is that the Muslim has – by their reckoning – the same status which Muslims would give to the honest, righteous person, while the Kaafir, in their eyes, has the same status which the Muslims would give to a Faasiq or some Muslim who leaves the voluntary deeds of goodness (nawaafil). Furthermore, the majority of them do not regard the blood and wealth of the Muslims to be inviolable, except when their Sultaan forbids them from it. They do not leave off taking the blood and wealth of the Muslims, and if their Sultaan forbids them from it or from anything else, they will obey because he is the Sultaan, and not because of the Deen. The majority of them do not perform the obligatory duties – not the prayer, nor the Zakaah, nor the Hajj, etc. Similarly, they do not judge amongst themselves by the Laws of Allah, but rather, judge according to rules which agree with Islam on some points, and disagree on others.
And fighting this type of people is obligatory, by agreement of the Muslims; none who know this Deen of Islam and know the truth about these people will doubt this – because this path which they are on and the true Deen of Islam can never be reconciled. And if it is obligatory to fight those Kurds, Bedouins, and other inhabitants of the desert who do not adhere to the Sharee’ah of Islam, even though their disease has not spread to the cities, then how about the Mongols?…
Yes, it is OBLIGATORY to fight them in the manner enjoined by the Sharee’ah, which includes inviting them to adhere to the laws of Islam if the Da’wah to the complete Deen has not reached them, just as al-Kafir al-Harbi would have to first be invited to the Shahaadatayn if the Da’wah has not reached him.
If those who take up arms against this group completely conformed to Sharee’ah in their words, deeds, and niyyah (intention), then this is THE BEST WAY to seek Allah’s pleasure, establish His Deen, and obey His Messenger. And if those who are fighting against people like the Mongols show some immorality, or transgress against the enemy in some way not sanctioned by Sharee’ah, or have a corrupt intention due to their fighting for leadership, and the harm of not fighting the ‘withholding’ group has worse consequences for Islam than fighting alongside the corrupt people has, then it is OBLIGATORY to fight them to prevent the greater of two harms; and this is one of the Usool (principles) of Islam which must be born in mind.
It is one of the Usool of Ahl us-Sunnah wa-l-Jama’ah to join the military raids with every leader, whether righteous or immoral, because Allah sometimes aids this Deen by the faajir, or worthless and despicable people, as mentioned by the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam). It is also an Usool because to not be able to join the military raids [even] with immoral commanders or with soldiers among whom immorality is widespread could have the consequence of victory and conquest by others who are more harmful to Deen and Dunya. So joining the military expedition with the unrighteous commanders and soldiers prevents the worst of the two choices, and leads to establishing (at least) most of the Laws of Islam, if not all of them.
And this is what is obligatory in this situation, and every situation like it. Indeed, most of the military expeditions which took place after the time of the Khulafaa’ ar-Rashidun (Rightly Guided Caliphs) did not take place except in this manner.
The Prophet (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), said:
“Tied to the forelocks of the horses is the good until Yawm al-Qiyaamah
(Day of Resurrection) – the reward and the booty.”
This authentic hadeeth supports the meaning of a hadeeth narrated by Abu Dawood in his Sunan:
“Military expeditions (al-Ghazw) will persist from the time of my being sent by Allah until the last of my Ummah fights the Dajjaal. They are not annulled by the tyranny of a tyrant, nor by the justice of a just leader.”
Also, it is well-known that the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), said:
“A group of my Ummah will remain victorious on the Truth. They will not be
harmed by those who differ with them, until Yawm al-Qiyaamah.”
These ahadeeth are just some of the many texts in the Qur’aan and Sunnah which Ahl us-Sunnah wa-l-Jama’ah, alone among all groups, have agreed to adhere to, by joining the leaders, whether righteous or immoral, in Jihad against whoever deserves it; and this is unlike the Raafidhah (Rejectors: i.e. Shi’ah) or the Khawaarij, who are outside the Sunnah and the Jama’ah.
However, the Prophet, sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam, also said:
“There will be unjust, disloyal, and immoral leaders. Whoever believes in them, in spite their lies, and helps them, then he is not of me and I am not of him, and he will not reach the Hawdh (Prophet’s Fountain). And whoever does not believe in them, because of their lies, and does not help them in their injustice, then he is of me and I am of him, and he will reach the Hawdh.”
Thus, if a person knows what the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), ordered in terms of Jihad to be undertaken with the leaders until the Day of Judgement, and if he also knows that the Prophet (sallAllahu alayhee wa sallam), forbade helping the unjust in their injustice, then he will know [that] the middle way – which is the pure Deen of Islam – is to take part in the Jihad against any people who deserve it, such as these people which I have been asked about, alongside any leader and group that is closer to Islam then they are. And that is [only] if it is not possible to establish Jihad against them in any other way.
One must also avoid helping the group he is with in anything which involves disobeying Allah. He should obey them in obeying Allah, and not obey them in disobeying Allah. For it is not allowed to obey any person in disobedience to the Creator. This is the way of the best of this Ummah, in old and modern times, and this way is obligatory on every mukallaf (i.e. person who is sound of mind). This is the middle way, between the way of the Harooriyyah (Khawaarij) and their likes – who, due to their deficient knowledge, follow the path of unsound piety – and the way of the Murji’ah and their likes, who follow the path of complete obedience to the rulers, even if they are unrighteous.
We ask Allah to guide our Muslim brothers to whatever He loves and is pleased with, whether it is from words or from deeds. And Allah knows best, and may the Peace and Blessings of Allah be on our Prophet Muhammad and on his family and Companions.