Legitimacy of Revolting against the authority

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Legitimacy of Revolting against the authority:


The legitimacy of revolt is deduced from some of the honorable verses, such as Allah’s saying, {And what is the matter with you that you fight not in the cause of Allah and for the oppressed among men, women, and children}(Nisaa:75).

 Allah also said, {And it was not that Allah checks the people, some by means of others, there would have been demolished monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned. And Allah will surely support those who support Him}. (Hajj:40)

Imam Ali (P) initiated the legitimacy of this confrontation to change the wrong since the first days of the perversion. He took with him the Prophet’s daughter (P) and visited the homes of the migrants and the helpers asking support for the revolt. They, however, did not respond. Previously mentioned is his saying, if I had found forty willful people of them, I would have revolted against the group.”([1])

Khawarizmi narrated in “Manaqeb saying, “Omar Ibn Khattab gave a speech saying, “If we stopped you from what you know to what you renounce, what would you do?” He said that, and they were silent. So, he said it three times. Ali (P) rose and said, “Then, we would ask you to repent. If you do, we would accept you.” Omar said, “What if I do not?” Imam Ali said, “Then, we strike your head.””([2])

They [imams] issued many narrations to mobilize the nation to this confrontation and casting the responsibility upon them. They wanted to annul the opposite culture that the preachers of the authority fabricated to flatter them. They falsified sayings of the Prophet on the need to obey the ruler even if he were licentious and forbidding revolt even if he committed sins and blasphemed in public.

Imams had sayings in this regard, including:

1-  Narration of Masaada Ibn Sadaqa citing Jaafar Ibn Mohamad (P) saying, “Imam Ali (P) said, “Allah does not torture the public with the sins of the scholars if they committed sins secretly without the public’s knowledge. If the sin were committed in public, and people did not change that, then both sides would deserve Allah’s punishment. He said, also, “The Prophet (P) said, “If a person commits a sin in private, he would only harm himself. If he did it in public and no one changed it, people are collectively harmed.” Jaafar Ibn Mohamad (P) said, ‘”He humiliates the religion of Allah, and the people against Allah take him as a model.”([3])

In simpler words, it is absolutely a must to change by all means.

2-  Tabari in his history cited Abdurrahman Ibn Abi Leila saying, “I heard Ali (P) saying, when we met the army of Levantine (Muawiyah), “Believers, who sees an adopted aggression and a sin called for, and he refuses it with his heart, then he would be safe from it. Whoever renounces it with his words receives good rewards. He is better than the first. Whoever decries it with the sword, in order for Allah’s word to prevail and the oppressor’s word to diminish, then, that is the person who is on the path of enlightenment and on the right way. He has true belief in his heart.””([4])

3-  In Nahjul Balagha, Imam Ali (P) says, “By my life, there will be no regard for anyone nor slackening from me in fighting against the one who opposes right or gropes in misguidance. O creatures of Allah, fear Allah and flee unto Allah from His wrath (seek protection in His Mercy). Tread on the path He has laid down for you and stand by what He has enjoined upon you. In that case, Ali would stand surety for your success (salvation) eventually even though you may not get it immediately (i.e. in this world).([5])

4-  Tabari in his History and Ibn Athir in Al-Kamel narrated that Imam Hussein (P) gave a speech to his companions and the opposing companions of Al-Horr.

He thanked Allah and commended on him. Then, he said:

People, the Prophet (P) said, “The people who see an unjust ruler disobeying Allah’s commandments, failing to abide by the oath pledged to Allah, violating the Sunnah of the Prophet (P), ruling by wrongdoing and aggression,and do not object to him,whether with a deed or saying, Allah would treat those people in a similar way likeHe treats the unjust ruler.

Those have committed themselves to the obedience of the devil and have left the obedience of the Merciful. They have spread corruption and abandoned divine punishments. They have taken the return and did what Allah forbade, and prevented what Allah ordered. I am the most rightful to object to them.”([6])

In my opinion, the narration explicitly says that the unjust ruler should be challenged.

5-  Tabari also narrated citing Imam Husayn (P) in a sermon at Dhi Husam, “Do you not see that right isn’t applied, whilst wrong doing is not being prevented? Every true believer shall desire the meeting of Allah. Surely, I don’t see death but martyrdom, while living with tyrants isn’t but dissatisfaction,"([7]) and in Tuhaf al-Uqul, “I see death but happiness.”

6-  In the will of Imam Husayn (P) that he wrote and left with brother Mohamad Ibn al-Hanafiah, “I have risen not to create disunion and inequity nor oppression and corruption among the Muslims, but to rectify and reform the Ummah of my grandfather the Holy Prophet (P). I want to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. I desire to revive the way of my grandfather, the Holy Prophet (P), and my father ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib.”([8])

I say that the citation is clear on revolting against unjust rulers.

7-  There is a story of Jaber citing Abi Jaafar (P) saying, “Denounce with your hearts, pronounce with your tongues, and hit with your foreheads. Fear not anyone’s blame.”([9])

Overall, hitting foreheads includes revolting against the authority.

8-  Imam Ali (P) said in Nahjul Balagha, “If people had not come to me, and supporters had not exhausted the argument, and if there had been no pledge of Allah with the learned to the effect that they should not acquiesce in the gluttony of the oppressor and the hunger of the oppressed, I would have cast the rope of Caliphate on its own shoulders.”([10])

9-  Imam Ali (P) also said, “I heard the Prophet (P) say many times, “A nation shall not be sacred when the weak person’s right would not be taken from the strong oppressor without stuttering.””([11])

Practically, the last two narrations indicate that a Muslim, notably a scholar since we mentioned they have tools and influence, may not be silent and careless about the grievance and confiscation of rights from people. In general, these texts include all means of change, including armed activity unless there another barrier existed.

10-  A documented story of Fudhail Ibn Ayyadh citing Imam Sadek (P) says, “Fudhail, by Allah, the harm of these people on this nation is more than the harm of Turks and Daylamites.”([12])

We can conclude that the Imam does not want to just compare both sides, but he wants to present the implications, including the need to defeat and fight them.

11-  There is a famous narration of the Prophet (P) saying, “Whomever hears a man calling Muslims to help and does not answer is not a Muslim.”([13])

This narration is clear on overlooking the need to support the oppressed and unprivileged and saving their rights, freedom and dignity.

There are also many narrations on the need to change by action (hand). These were mentioned in the previous part of the book on the chapter discussing the ranks of this duty.([14]) One story is the narration of Yahya (Ibn) Al-Tawil citing Abi Abdullah (P), “Allah never dictated the prevalence of words and the restriction of the hand. Both either enacted with one another,or they are both restricted together.”([15])

A practical example would be that in each aspect where ordering and forbidding are allowed by words, it may be changed by actions. This is a response to whomever allows compliance to the duty by words and restricts it by hand.

An unrestricted hand includes revolting against the authority.



([1]) Bihar Anwar: 28/313 citing the Book of Saqeefah for Jawhari and the Battle of Siffin for Nasr Ibn Muzahim, in addition to others.

([2]) Refer to my book (The role of Imams in Islamic Life); 30, 260.

([3]) Wasail Shia: Chapters of Ordering and Forbidding, Chapter: 4, Section 1.

([4]) Wasail Shia: Chapters of Ordering and Forbidding, Chapter: 3, Section: 8; Nahjul Balagha: 3/243; Hikmah (373).

([5]) Nahjul Balagha: 1/58; Sermon (24)

([6]) History of Tabari: 7/300; Al-Kamel for Ibn Athir: 4/48.

([7]) History of Tabari: 7/301.

([8]) Bihar al-Anwar: 44/329.

([9]) Wasail Shia: Chapters of Ordering and Forbidding; Chapter: 3; Section: 1.

([10]) Nahjul Balagha: 1/31; Sermon: 3.

([11]) Nahjul Balagha: 3/113; Book 53.

([12]) Wasail Shia: Chapters of Ordering and Forbidding; Chapter 37; Section 6.

([13]) Wasail Shia: Book of Jihad against the Enemy; Chapter 59; Section 1.

([14]) Refer to it in section eight of the “Encyclopedia of the Jurisprudence of Disagreement.”

([15]) Wasail Shia: Book of Jihad; Chapters of Jihad against the Enemy; Chapter 61; Section 1; Chapters of Establishing the Right and Eradicating the Wrong; Chapter 3; Section 2.