Featured, Usul

Weak Hadith: “You must listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched”


It is reported in Sahih Muslim that Muawiya alias Ibn Salam narrated from Zaid bin Salam from Abu Salam (Mamthur Al-Habashi) who said that Hudaifa bin Yaman said, “I said “O Messenger of Allah!, no doubt, we had an evil time (i.e. the days of Jahiliyya or ignorance) and Allah brought us a good time (i.e. Islamic period) through which we are now living. Will there be a bad time after this good time?’ He ﷺ said: Yes. I said: ‘Will there be a good time after this bad time?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘Will there be a bad time after good time?’ He said: ‘Yes.’ I said: ‘How?’ Whereupon he ﷺ said,

«يَكُونُ بَعْدِي أَئِمَّةٌ لاَ يَهْتَدُونَ بِهُدَاىَ وَلاَ يَسْتَنُّونَ بِسُنَّتِي وَسَيَقُومُ فِيهِمْ رِجَالٌ قُلُوبُهُمْ قُلُوبُ الشَّيَاطِينِ فِي جُثْمَانِ إِنْسٍ»

“There will be leaders who will not be led by my guidance and who will not adopt my Sunnah. There will be among them men who will have the hearts of devils in the bodies of human beings.” I said: ‘What should I do. O Messenger of Allah, if I (happen) to live in that time?’ He ﷺ replied,

«تَسْمَعُ وَتُطِيعُ لِلأَمِيرِ وَإِنْ ضُرِبَ ظَهْرُكَ وَأُخِذَ مَالُكَ فَاسْمَعْ وَأَطِعْ»

“You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched, you should listen and obey.” Al-Hakim reported similar to this Hadith from Abu Salam.

The hearts of the government scholars and courtier jurists, may Allah ﷻ humiliate them, would rejoice, if this hadith were Sahih (صحيح Authentic). If the hadith were not Sahih, it would then be authenticated by force, by elusion, by deception or fabrication!

This is the hadith which they chant sitting and standing. They indicate this hadith as an escape and retreat. Whenever they indulge in discussion, they would unsheathe this hadith as a sword to cut the discussion. Often they use it as a veil to hide themselves behind, so that their ugly actions such as their attachment to the doors of despotic kings, their sitting over the tables of oppressive rulers and their endorsement of the injustice against the citizens will not be exposed.

They even almost make this hadith as half of Islam, if not its whole, so that many would think from their speech that obedience to the ruler is the aim and objective behind revelation and that obedience to Allah ﷻ is only after the consent of the oppressive ruler.

Is it thus possible that this hadith came from our Prophet ﷺ by whom Allah ﷻ smashed the banner of oppression? Did he really say it?! Is it conceivable to interpret that Islam favors the unjust in his injustice? And before that, is this narration valid from the basis?! It is also clear that the wording of this hadith constitutes a clear contradiction with the definiteness of the other divine texts, such as the hadith of Ka’b bin Ujra and the hadith of Ubada bin Samit that was graded as Sahih by Ibn Hibban.

Ubada bin Samit said, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “O Ubada”, I replied “At your service (O Messenger of Allah)” He ﷺ said:«اسمع وأطع في عسرك ويسرك، ومكرهك وأثرة عليك، وإن أكلوا مالك، وضربوا ظهرك، إلا أن تكون معصية لله بواحًا» “Listen and obey (the ruler) in prosperity and adversity, whether you are unwilling, or when someone is given undue preference over you, or when they eat your wealth, or when they lash your back, except when they order you explicitly in Ma’siyyah (معصية Disobedience) of Allah .” It means there is no obedience in Sin.

The hadith chain of narration (isnad)

Before we understand the wording, «تَسْمَعُ وَتُطِيعُ لِلأَمِيرِ وَإِنْ ضُرِبَ ظَهْرُكَ وَأُخِذَ مَالُكَ» “You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched,” let us delve into the authenticity of its chains. We find all the narrators and Jurists (Fuqaha) who have graded this addition of wordings in the hadith as weak. The most prominent scholars of them are Darul Qutni and others. Al-Hafiz Abul Hasan Darul Qutni denied this hadith by saying “According to me this hadith is Mursal (مرسل Interrupted in Chain) because Abu Salam neither heard from Hudaifa nor his peers who landed in Iraq, as Hudaifa bin Yaman died one night after the killing of Uthman (ra). And it was stated in the hadith that “قال: قال حذيفة” which means, “Abu Salam said: Hudaifa said…” which indicates that this hadith is Mursal.”

Upon scrutinizing, it is clear that Abu Salam’s name is Mamtur Al-Habashi and he was from Damascus in his heritage, whereas Hudaifa bin Yaman (ra) was in Medina, then Kufa and Iraq. The Ulema have agreed that Abu Salam did not hear from Hudaifa bin Yaman. It seems that Abu Salam had heard this hadith from Shaamy the weak (Daeef) from Hudaifa. And this wording “You will listen to the Amir and carry out his orders; even if your back is flogged,” which he mentions is Mudraj (مدرج Inserted) into the Hadith.

As for what has mentioned in Albany’s “The Authentic Chain (السلسلة الصحيحة)” taken from Tabarani’s “Awsat (الأوسط),” as narrated from Umar bin Raashid Al-Yamami from Yahya bin Abi Katheer from Zaid bin Salam from his father that is Abu Salam Mamtur, from his grandfather and also similarly what was reported by Suyuti with more completeness from the narration of Ibn Asakir, they are not beneficial as the father of Mamtur is the grandfather of Salam, whose name and status is not known. Hence his presence in the chain is the same as his absence!

Sheikh Muqbil Alwadi, researcher of the book, “Obligations and Argumentation (الإلزامات والتتبع) said “This and that in the Hadith of Hudaifa are additional and they are not in the agreed upon over the Hadith of Hudaifa. As for his saying «وَإِنْ ضُرِبَ ظَهْرُكَ وَأُخِذَ مَالُكَ» “even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched,” this is a Daeef (Weak ضعيف) addition, since it is Interrupted (منقطعة) in linkage. And Allah knows best.” [Al-Hashiya: 258]

It is reported by Bukhari that Hudaifa bin Yaman (ra) narrated, “The people used to ask Allah’s Messenger about good, but I used to ask him about evil for fear that it might overtake me. Once I said, “O Allah’s Messenger! We were in ignorance and in evil and Allah has bestowed upon us the present good; will there be any evil after this good?” He said, «نعم» “Yes.” I asked, “Will there be good after that evil?” He ﷺ said, «نعم، وفيه دخن!» “Yes, but it would be tainted with Dakhan (i.e. some evil).” I asked, “What will its Dakhan be?” He ﷺ said, «قوم يهدون بغير هديي، تعرف منهم وتنكر!» “There will be some people who will guide (people) according to other than my guidance. You will see their actions and disapprove of them.” I said, “Will there be any evil after that good?” He ﷺ said, «نعم، دعاة على أبواب جهنم، من أجابهم إليها قذفوه فيها» “Yes, there will be some people who will invite others to the doors of Hell, and whoever accepts their invitation to it will be thrown in it (by them).” I said, “O Allah’s Messenger ! Describe those people to us.” He ﷺ said, «هم من جلدتنا، ويتكلمون بألسنتنا» “They will belong to us and speak our language.” I asked, “What do you order me to do if such a thing should take place in my life?” He ﷺ said, «تلزم جماعة المسلمين، وإمامهم» “Adhere to the group of Muslims and their Imam.” I asked, “If there is neither a group (of Muslims) nor a chief (what shall I do)?.” He ﷺ said,«فاعتزل تلك الفرق كلها! ولو أن تعض بأصل شجرة حتى يدركك الموت وأنت على ذلك» “Keep away from all those different sects, even if you had to bite (i.e. eat) the root of a tree, till you meet Allah while you are still in that state.”” This is an authentic hadith whose narrators are trustworthy, confirmatory and authorized in reporting ahadith. It is the strongest hadith in the subject in terms of chain and purity of its texts. Muslim also reported this with the same text and chain. It was also narrated by at-Tabarani in “Musnad As-Shamiyeen” amongst others.

What is to be noted from the wording «يكون بعدي أئمة، لا يهتدون بهداي، ولا يستنون بسنتي» “There will be leaders after me who will not be led by my guidance and who will not adopt my Sunnah” as came in the interrupted hadith of Imam Muslim, it was not reported in other narrations of the same hadith that confirm this narration. Instead, all the narrations say «تلزم جماعة المسلمين وإمامهم» “Adhere to the group of Muslims and their Imam.” None has even a single letter describing the absence of leading by the guidance of RasulAllah ﷺ or not adopting his Sunnah or other descriptions, such as oppression and censure.

What is apparent is that the Da’eef (ضعيف Weak) narration reported by Mamtur is mixed up between the hadith of Hudaifa and the ahadeeth of Ka’b bin Ujra and others that were reported with similar wording in Authentic narrations. What is to be noted from the hadith of Ka’b bin Ujra for instance, as reported by Ahmad in his Musnad, Barraz, Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, Al-Hakim in Mustadrik about knowing the Companions (ra): As narrated by Jabir bin Abdullah (rali) that Messenger of Allah ﷺ told Ka’b bin Ujra that, «أعاذك الله يا كعب بن عجرة من إمارة السفهاء» “O Ka’b, may Allah protect you from foolish leaders (Imarathu sufaha).” He asked, “What are foolish leaders?” He ﷺ said, «أمراء يكونون بعدي لا يهدون بهديي، ولا يستنون بسنتي، فمن صدقهم بكذبهم، أو أعانهم على ظلمهم، فأولئك ليسوا مني ولست منهم، ولا يردون عليَّ حوضي، ومن لم يصدقهم على كذبهم، ولم يعنهم على ظلمهم، فأولئك مني وأنا منهم، وسيردون عليَّ حوضي. يا كعب بن عجرة، الصوم جنة، والصدقة تطفئ الخطيئة، والصلاة قربان- أو قال: برهان- يا كعب بن عجرة إنه لا يدخل الجنة لحم نبت من سحت أبدًا، النار أولى به، يا كعب بن عجرة الناس غاديان، فمبتاع نفسه فمعتقها، أو بائعها فموبقها» “Leaders who come after me, they will not lead with my guidance, they will not adopt my Sunnah. Whosoever believes in their lies and helps them in their wrongdoing is not of me, and I am not of him, and he will not come to me at the Cistern. Whoever does not believe their lies and does not help them in their wrongdoing, he is of me, and I am of him, and he will come to me at my Cistern. O Ka’b bin Ujra! Fasting is a shield, Charity extinguishes the sin, Salah (prayer) is sacrifice (قربان) -or clear evidence. O Ka’b bin Ujra! Flesh raised from the unlawful will never enter paradise and hell-fire is more appropriate for it. O Ka’b bin Ujra! People set forth in the morning and bought themselves to protect themselves (from hell-fire) or sell themselves into the peril.” Its chain is Hasan, graded as Sahih (صحيح Authentic) by Hakim and agreed upon by Dahabi.

Al-Arnooth says in his commentary of Sahih Ibn Hibban “it is Sahih based on the condition of Muslim”. Therefore, this additional wording is Da’eef (ضعيف Weak) in terms of Sanad (سند Chain of Narration) and Munkarah (منكرة Denied) in terms of Matan (متن Text). The chain of this addition is interrupted and weak and its texts are contradicting with authentic texts and what was reported by Muslim without this addition.

We also find this addition in other hadiths which says “يستنون بغير سنتي…” “who do not adopt my Sunnah”. However, these ahadeeth do not command to obey the rulers, rather they command to disobey them as in the hadith of Ka’b bin Ujra, which says, «فمن صدقهم بكذبهم، أو أعانهم على ظلمهم، فأولئك ليسوا مني ولست منهم، ولا يردون عليّ حوضي» “Whoever believes in their lies and helps them in their wrongdoing is not of me, and I am not of him, and he will not come to me at my Cistern (Houdh).”

Then, how can we understand all that came in the Sahih hadith of Muslim, asides from the addition?

This Chain of Narration was brought by Muslim pursuant to what was said by an-Nawawi (rh). However, he brought it to explain its reasoning. He stated in his first Sahih that he would mention some Ahadith to explain its reasoning and this hadith is one of those. It is inconceivable to think that Muslim missed the fact that Abu Salam did not hear from Hudaifa.

Imam Muslim stated his method in this in the introduction of his Sahih as: “As for the first category, we aspired to advance the report which is safer from defects than all others… thus when we examined reports of this description from the people, we also came across reports in whose chains were some who are not characterized with memorization and precision, such as those characterized before them… ”

Qadi Iyad and Imam Nawawi stated that Muslim adhered to this condition in his Sahih. This is regarding the explanation and clarification of the reasoning, as opposed to those who say that this was the intent he aspired to, before completing his purpose for the book. This was clarified by Imam Nawawi in his explanation of Sahih Muslim in the chapter, ‘Duration of Hajj.’ Mu’lami said in Al-Anwar ul-Kaashifa (الأنوار الكاشفة Exposed Illuminations) page 230, “…the approach of Muslim in his Sahih was that when he put forwarded agreed narrations in the sentence, he put forward the most authentic first. Sometimes there may be a summation or mistake in the latter narration, which the former narration clarifies.”

Hence, Imam Muslim mentioned this hadith, which has this addition, to explain its repudiation and deviation and not to grade it as Sahih, particularly when the hadith is interrupted in transmission. Other narrations of this hadith were also reported by other people of Sunan and Musnad, with all of its narrations classified as Da’eef (Weak). These narrations are not strengthening one another.

The text of the hadith (matn)

Dr. Khalid Al-Hayyak has explained its defects in his research that was published on a website, under the title “Complete repudiation to the Addition ‘even if your back is flogged and your wealth is snatched, you must listen. (القطع بنكارة زيادة وَإِنْ ضرِبَ ظَهْركَ أخذَ مَالكَ فَاسْمَعْ وَأَطِعْ)” This addition is deniable, since it undermines the principle of rejecting evil. This principle is what makes the Ummah as the best Ummah brought forwards to humankind. This addition also contradicts the Shari’ah of uprooting the oppression upon people. It is the Shari’ah that connects the corruption of nations with the existence of oppression. It is the Shari’ah that places the oppressed one who consent to oppression, in the same rank of the oppressor who practices it. Allah ﷻ said,

 وَإِذۡ يَتَحَآجُّونَ فِي ٱلنَّارِ فَيَقُولُ ٱلضُّعَفَٰٓؤُاْ لِلَّذِينَ ٱسۡتَكۡبَرُوٓاْ إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمۡ تَبَعٗا فَهَلۡ أَنتُم مُّغۡنُونَ عَنَّا نَصِيبٗا مِّنَ ٱلنَّارِ ٤٧ قَالَ ٱلَّذِينَ ٱسۡتَكۡبَرُوٓاْ إِنَّا كُلّٞ فِيهَآ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ قَدۡ حَكَمَ بَيۡنَ ٱلۡعِبَادِ

“And [mention] when they will argue within the Fire, and the weak will say to those who had been arrogant, “Indeed, we were [only] your followers, so will you relieve us of a share of the Fire?” Those who had been arrogant will say, “Indeed, all [of us] are in it. Indeed, Allah has judged between the servants.”” [Surah al-Ghafir, 40:47-48]

Is it rational to say that Shari’ah has allowed this, whilst RasulAllah ﷺ said, «إِنَّ النَّاسَ إِذَا رَأَوْا الظَّالِمَ فَلَمْ يَأْخُذُوا عَلَى يَدَيْهِ أَوْشَكَ أَنْ يَعُمَّهُمْ اللَّهُ بِعِقَابٍ مِنْهُ» “When the people see the wrongdoer and they do not take him by the hand, then soon Allah shall envelope you in a punishment from him.” [Tirmidhi]?!

The Understanding of the Sahaba towards obeying the ruler

There is no wonder that the Ummah has been humiliated for centuries. And where is the understanding of the best Companions and purest family of RasulAllah ﷺ who did not listen and obey the command of usurpers, as had been done by Abdullah bin Zubair and the grandson of the Prophet , Hussein (ra)! Instead, they rebelled and fought against them, an action which they drew as an ideal to defend the Revelation of Allah and His Shari’ah.

What about the saying of Abu Bakr (ra) أطيعوني ما أطعت الله فيكم، فإن عصيته فلا طاعة لي عليك “Obey me as long as I obey Allah over you. If I disobey him, then do not obey me” and the saying of Umar (ra) to the people when he was given pledge of allegiance for Khilafah where he ordered the people to straighten him if they see in him of crookedness? This is because the first generation of Islam understood the Deen in its pure form.

Salman al-Farsi (ra) stood up to confront Umar bin al-Khattab (ra), asking about the clothes he wore, “Where did you get those from? Otherwise we will not listen to you and we will not obey you.” Abu Dharr (ra) confronted Uthman (ra) several times.

Abdullah bin Amr (ra), as reported in Sahih Muslim, gathered his men, weaponry and battalion from his men to confront the Wali of Muawiya in Taif (his brother, Anbasa bin Abu Sufyan), when he came to know that Muawiya wanted to entrench in his land. Khalid bin Al-Aas came to know of the matter and travelled from Makkah to Taif. He then went to Abdullah bin Amr bin Al-Aas and started advising him to be peaceful and surrender to Anbasa, since he was a man of authority and his brother was the general Sultan, i.e. ruler of authority. Abdullah bin Amr (ra) replied, “Are you not aware that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: «مَنْ قُتِلَ دُونَ مَالِهِ فَهُوَ شَهِيدٌ» “He who died in protecting his property is a martyr.”

The usuli principle: “combining (hadith) is more appropriate than outweighing”

After all, I say that for the sake of imposing the soundness of this controversial addition, they do not understand the intent, which is the obeying of the just Muslim ruler and being patient over him. If we abide by the Usooli principles الجمع أولى من الترجيح “combining is more appropriate than outweighing” and إعمال الدليلين أولى من إهمال أحدهما  “Acting upon two evidences is more appropriate than neglecting one of them,” we can interpret this notation as follows.  It is not invalid to seize your wealth, if it is lawfully, and flog your back, if it is as a punishment, as stated by Ibn Hazam in his “al-Fasl fe al-Melal wa al-Ahwaa wa al-Nahl.”

As for what is ordered by RasulAllah ﷺ to be patient on seizing the wealth and flogging the back, there is no doubt that this is only when Imam takes it rightfully and there is no doubt that we should be patient in such a case. If he takes it unlawfully, may Allah prevent us from thinking that RasulAllah ﷺ has ordered patience in that case. This is clear from the saying of Allah ﷻ:

 وَتَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡبِرِّ وَٱلتَّقۡوَىٰۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُواْ عَلَى ٱلۡإِثۡمِ وَٱلۡعُدۡوَٰنِۚ

“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.” [Surah al-Maida 5:2]

This meaning was emphasized by the hadith of Ibn Hibban in which RasulAllah ﷺ restricts the command of being silent over flogging the back, only to the lawful and not in Ma’siyyah (معصية Disobedience). As reported by Ibn Hibban, Ubada bin Samit narrated that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said “O Ubada”, I replied “At your service (O Messenger of Allah) ” He ﷺ said, «اسمع وأطع في عسرك ويسرك، ومكرهك، وأثرة عليك، وإن أكلوا مالك، وضربوا ظهرك، إلا أن تكون معصية لله بواحًا» “Listen and obey (the ruler) in prosperity and adversity, whether you are unwilling, or when someone is given undue preference over you, or when they eat your wealth, or when they lash your back except when they order you explicitly to disobey Allah.” This means there is no obedience in sin.

The expression, «لا يستنون بسنتي» “They will not adopt my Sunnah” denotes that Fisq (Evil doing) is restricted to rulers alone and not to the system by which they rule. The wording «تسمع وتطيع للأمير، وإن ضرب ظهرك، وأخذ مالك» “You will listen and obey the leader even if he flogs your back and takes your wealth” contradicts explicitly with the understanding “if he rules you with Kufr.” A person would be patient if the ruler forbids him some of his rights and he may forgive when some actions turn out against his interest, such as when the ruler was hasty in judgment, without the person being able to forward his argument and defend himself in a good manner. In this case, we say to him to be patient and obedient. However, it is not acceptable for us to be silent when we see the ruler who suspends the Shari’ah of Allah ﷻ, allies with His ﷻ enemies and rule us by kufr systems. The wording does not include this and it does not mean that in any way.

Others interpreted it as the patience of the individual over the oppression he is afflicted by and not the patience of the Ummah as a whole.


In conclusion, the Hadith, «وإن ضرب ظهرك وأخذ مالك» “Even if he flogs your back and takes your wealth” is deniable in terms of both chain and text. It was used by the government scholars to serve the ruler, stabilize his authority and extend his term, to paralyze the citizens so they sit without reviving the Ummah or without thinking to change the current status quo. They made Shari’ah laws from the wrong interpretation of this hadith, arbitrating over the Ummah, and not its rulers, whereas the Shari’ah of Allah is for arbitration of both the Ummah and the rulers. All this is done by people of desires in a way that distorts the other clear and explicit divine texts. All matters belong to Allah ﷻ before and after.