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The Ahlul hali wal-aqd in the time of Harun al-Rashid

The bay’a (البيعة) is a ruling contract which governs the relationship between Muslims and the Islamic state. For those Muslims living under the authority of the Khilafah the bay’a is their citizenship contract with the state.

How is free choice and consent of millions achieved in the bay’a?

Historically in the rightly guided Khilafah of the sahaba, the senior representatives of the people would contract the bay’a to the Khaleefah. The rest of the Muslims would accept their opinion and rush to pledge their bay’a to the newly appointed Khaleefah directly in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which was the capital of the state, or indirectly through the governors in the other provinces.

Historically in the rightly guided Khilafah of the sahaba, the senior representatives of the people would contract the bay’a to the Khaleefah. The rest of the Muslims would accept their opinion and rush to pledge their bay’a to the newly appointed Khaleefah directly in the Prophet’s Mosque in Madinah, which was the capital of the state, or indirectly through the governors in the other provinces.[1] The classical scholars called this contracting group the Ahlul hali wal-aqd which literally means the ‘people who loosen and bind’.

Ahmad ibn Hanbal says: “The imamah is not effective except with its conditions […], so if testimony was given to that by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of the scholars of Islam and their trustworthy people, or the imam took that position for himself and then the Muslims were content with that, it is also effective.”[2]

Mawardi says: “Imamate comes into being in two ways: the first of these is by the election of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and the second is by the delegation of the previous Imam.”[3]

The sharia has not defined who the Ahlul hali wal-aqd or people’s representatives are. This falls under manat ul-hukm (reality the rule is applied to) and will vary through the ages. This is explained in more detail in the Bay’a in Islamic History Series.

The Ahlul hali wal-aqd in the time of Harun al-Rashid

On the annual Hajj in 802CE, the Abbasid Khaleefah Harun al-Rashid (r. 786CE – 809CE) drew up an agreement between his two sons – Al-Amīn and Al-Ma’mun – the successors to the Khilafah, to respect one another’s rights to the succession. Harun had suspected that tensions between his sons would lead to civil strife and fitna after his death, so he drew up this public agreement as a preventative measure. The ceremony took place in Makkah at the Ka’ba before an audience of ‘Banū Hāshim, the army commanders and the legal scholars’, and others, including the Qurashī ‘guardians’ of the Kaʿba. Before this audience, Al-Amīn and al-Maʾmūn both swore to respect one another’s rights to the succession.[4]

What is interesting about this incident is that we have the names of all the influential people or Ahlul hali wal-aqd present at the bay’a ceremony.[5] These people were chosen because they were representatives of their various tribes and institutions and so their consent was necessary for the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) to be valid. The witnesses to the contract are listed below.

The Abbasid Family

The first fourteen names on the list are all senior members of the Abbasid family – the ‘people of the house’, or ahl al-bayt; that is, they are all agnatic descendants of ʿAlī b. ʿAbd Allāh b. al-ʿAbbās.

Sulaymānson of the former Caliph al-Manṣūr
ʿĪsā b. Jaʿfar b. al-Manṣūrson of the former Caliph al-Manṣūr
Jaʿfar b. Jaʿfar b. al-Manṣūrson of the former Caliph al-Manṣūr
ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Mahdīson of the former Caliph al-Mahdī
Jaʿfar b. Mūsāson of the former Caliph al-Hādī
Isḥāq b. ʿĪsā b. ʿAlī 
ʿĪsā b. Mūsāson of the former Caliph al-Hādī
Isḥāq b. Mūsāson of the former Caliph al-Hādī
Aḥmad b. Ismāʿīl b. ʿAlī 
Sulaymān b. Jaʿfar b. Sulaymān 
ʿĪsā b. Ṣāliḥ b. ʿAlī 
Dāwūd b. ʿĪsā b. Mūsā 
Yaḥyā b. ʿĪsā b. Mūsā 
Dāwūd b. Sulaymān b. Jaʿfar 

The Caliph’s Administration and entourage

Next thirteen members of Hārūn al-Rashīd’s administration and entourage are listed (eleven in al-Yaʿqūbī – the last two names are missing). The Barmakids listed here were an influential Persian family of administrators who were Wazirs to the early Abbasid Caliphs.

Khuzayma b. Khāzim al-Tamīmī 
Harthama b. Aʿyān 
Yaḥyā b. Khālid b. BarmakWazir to al-Hādī
al-Faḍl b. Yaḥyā b. BarmakWazir to the Caliph
Jaʿfar b. Yaḥyā b. BarmakWazir to the Caliph
al-Faḍl b. al-Rabīʿ b. YūnusMawlā[6] of the Caliph
al-ʿAbbās b. al-Faḍl b. al-Rabīʿ b. YūnusMawlā of the Caliph
ʿAbd Allāh b. al-Rabīʿ b. YūnusMawlā of the Caliph
al-Qāsim b. al-Rabīʿ b. YūnusMawlā of the Caliph
Daqāqa b. ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. ʿAlī b. ʿAbd Allāh al-ʿAbbāsī 
Sulaymān b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Aṣamm 
al-Rabīʿ b. ʿAbd Allāh al-Ḥārithī 
ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Abī ’l-Samrāʾ al-Ghassānī 

The list ends with the local Meccan elite and some less important members of the caliphal entourage.

Muḥammad b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-MakhzūmīQāḍī (Chief Judge) of Mecca
ʿAbd al-Karīm b. Shuʿayb al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
Ibrāhīm b. ʿAbd Allāh al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
ʿAbd Allāh b. Shuʿayb al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
Muḥammad b. ʿAbd Allāh b. ʿUthmān al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
Ibrāhīm b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Nubayh al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
ʿAbd al-Wāḥid b. ʿAbd Allāh al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
Ismāʿīl b. ʿAbd al-Raḥmān b. Nubayh al-ḤajabīGuardian of the Ka’ba
AbānMawlā of the Caliph
Muḥammad b. Manṣūr b. Ziyād 
Ismāʿīl b. Ṣubayḥ al-Kātib al-HarrānīBarmakids’ Mesopotamian scribe
al-ḤārithMawlā of the Caliph
KhālidMawlā of the Caliph

The above is part of the Bay’a in Islamic History Series and is an extract from Part 3: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Abbasid Khilafah

Notes


[1] Dr Ali Muhammad As-Sallaabee, ‘The Biography of Abu Bakr As-Siddeeq’, Dar us-Salam Publishers, pp.250

[2] Ahmad, al-ʿAqīdah bi-Riwāyah al-Khallāl, 1/124

[3] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.12

[4] Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, translation of Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, State University of New York Press, Vol. XXX, pp.183

[5] Andrew Marsham, ‘Rituals of Islamic Monarchy – Accession and succession in the first Muslim empire,’ pp.225

[6] Freed slave, servant or administrator

Islamic Monetary Policy in light of Pakistan’s ban on riba (interest)

The Federal Shariat Court (FSC) of Pakistan announced on April 28th 2022 that the current interest-based banking system is against sharia, and directed the government to implement an interest (riba)-free banking system by December 2027.[1] In fact, the first petition for the abolition of the interest-based banking system was filed in the FSC on June 30, 1990 and it has taken 32 years for a final verdict to be issued![2]

It is well-established in Islam that riba is against sharia because of the numerous clear-cut verses of the Holy Quran such as, “O believers! Fear Allah, and give up outstanding interest if you are ˹true˺ believers. If you do not, then beware of a war with Allah and His Messenger!”[3] and “But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest.”[4]

While most Muslims support a ban on riba, very few understand the alternatives to the existing economic system of banking and monetary transactions. The alternatives that emerge focus on offering interest-free loans through complex financial products, where the recipient still pays more than the capital. Those with savings accounts don’t receive interest, but profit on their money by investment schemes implemented by the ‘Islamic’ banks.

Islamabad Chamber of Commerce & Industry (ICCI) President Shakeel Munir said that being a Muslim, the ruling on riba-free banking was a welcome decision for everybody, “But the fact is that Pakistan is under an IMF programme and this is not an easy decision to implement,” he said.[5]

The global banking system is based on interest and all Muslim countries deal in interest even if their constitutions say otherwise. According to article 8 of the Saudi constitution it states, “Governance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is based on justice, shura (consultation) and equality according to Islamic Sharia,”[6] yet, last year Saudi Arabia loaned Pakistan $3billion at an annual interest rate of 4%![7]

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said: “There will come a time when there will be no one left who does not consume riba, and whoever does not consume it will nevertheless be affected by its residue.”[8]

The ghubaar (dust or residue) mentioned in the hadith is because riba-based banking is one part of macroeconomics and cannot be detached from the other parts of the economy. Banning riba, but continuing with a fiat-based currency, which is also against the sharia, will lead to a dysfunctional economy. If the ruling system is not based on sharia, then this will also have an impact on the economy. This is why all systems within a state must be based on sharia, in harmony with the concepts, criteria and convictions of society, and this is what the Islamic Khilafah system provides.

What follows is an extract from the book ‘Comparative Economics – Islam’s Panacea to maladies of Capitalism,’ by Faruq ibn Qaysr which mentions six advantages of removing riba from an economy. These advantages would only apply as part of a wider Islamic monetary policy which includes implementing a gold and silver-based currency.

ISLAMIC MONETARY POLICY

It is worth recalling that in contrast to the fiat currency, a gold standard is naturally more rigid. Thus Islamic monetary policy is restricted, insofar as it would seek to influence the supply of money through a fixed number of tools. This is not to say that the state is unable to influence the economy. On the contrary, in order to alter the money supply, it would merely need to buy/sell specie, invest/divest in mining/minting industries, etc.

As for contemporary monetary policy, Islam has categorically forbidden the use of interest. In fact, it is impermissible for one to loan out money on condition that the borrower has to pay the principal and more (interest). This is supported by many textual evidences. The following verse, delineates this particular issue and the severity of dealing with usury in an Islamic economy. Allah (Most High) says in the Holy Quran:

Those who consume interest will stand ˹on Judgment Day˺ like those driven to madness by Satan’s touch. That is because they say, “Trade is no different than interest.” But Allah has permitted trading and forbidden interest. Whoever refrains—after having received warning from their Lord—may keep their previous gains, and their case is left to Allah. As for those who persist, it is they who will be the residents of the Fire. They will be there forever.[9]

This should be the starting point for the Muslim; rather than appraising the rational advantages and disadvantages of interest as an economic policy/variable, we should first appreciate what Islam has decreed. That being said, to remove interest from the equation is to remove many issues within the greater economy.

  1. Firstly, it would greatly reduce the burden on debtors, which would ultimately prevent many defaults.
  2. Secondly, replacing interest-based agreements with definitive interest-free contracts would allow agents (such as investors, consumers, producers, etc) to make improved economic decisions due to a lack of short run volatility and greater long run clarity.
  3. Thirdly, the removal of interest would chain economic profit to real growth so as to not misconstrue performance.
  4. Fourthly, it would avert the cyclical effort to stabilise interest and inflation, which tends to complicate the market with uncertainty. In fact, due to the adoption of a classical gold standard, agents needn’t worry about the interest rate nor prices, for the former is non-existent and the latter is easy to maintain at a low level due to the nature of a commodity backed currency.
  5. Fifthly, with the abolition of interest, Islam would secure both present and future with a natural rate of economic activity as opposed to accelerated consumption and production in the present.
  6. Finally, both investors and households would also have a lower propensity to save, thus allowing for a greater circular flow of income and subsequently higher levels of growth.

As for adjusting the money supply through quantitative easing, reserve requirements and the repurchase rate; these policies would not exist under Islam, as it is the bimetallic standard that restricts credit manipulation. Here, the lack of monetary policy is not indicative of a weaker economic system, rather a stronger one. Through such a currency (whose benefits have already been discussed), the associated effects of the fiat are eradicated along with the failed policies that seek to influence its supply.

To conclude, capitalist monetary policy is an ineffective tool to cure the economy in the long run. This is because it is a means to treat the symptoms of an issue as opposed to its root cause. It can therefore be said, that the laissez-faire system, through the use of monetary policy, is only capable of delaying its own demise. In contrast, Islam, unlike capitalism, is an effective and sustainable economic system that has the capacity to resolve all of the aforementioned monetary issues.[10]

Notes


[1] Dawn Newspaper, ‘The Federal Shariat Court declares interest-based banking system against Sharia,’ https://www.dawn.com/news/1687237

[2] Ibid

[3] Holy Qur’an, Chapter Al-Baqara, verse 278-279

[4] Holy Qur’an, Chapter Al-Baqara, verse 275

[5] Dawn Newspaper, ‘Businesses weigh options after court decision on Riba-free banking,’ https://www.dawn.com/news/1687334

[6] The Embassy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Washington DC, https://www.saudiembassy.net/basic-law-governance

[7] Reuters, ‘Pakistan receives $3 billion loan from Saudi Arabia,’ https://www.reuters.com/markets/rates-bonds/pakistan-receives-3-billion-loan-saudi-arabia-2021-12-04/

[8] Sunan an-Nasa’i 4455, https://sunnah.com/nasai:4455

[9] Holy Qur’an, Chapter Al-Baqara, verse 275

[10] Faruq ibn Qaysr, ‘Comparative Economics – Islam’s Panacea to maladies of Capitalism,’ pp.84

Can a time limit be placed on the Caliph’s term of office?

The question of limiting the head of state’s term to a specific number of years, was not an issue in ancient and medieval times because most heads of state were life-long monarchs. The renaissance in Europe paved the way for philosophers to develop new theories of governance based on the democratic model first developed by the ancient Greeks. After the French and American revolutions these new principles were codified in their constitutions. The republican system was developed to replace the monarchies of the past, and central to this was restricting the powers and term of office of the president who headed this system.

The American constitution restricted the president to a four-year term but allowed re-election without restriction. In 1951 the Twenty-Second Amendment was passed which restricted the US President to two terms, so they can never serve more than eight years in office. This was done to prevent a life-long monarch emerging who if corrupt, would be corrupt for life.

The dominance of the western democratic system and the shocking levels of corruption experienced at the hands of life-long presidents and kings in the Muslim world, has led to Muslim academics questioning whether bringing back a Caliph-for-life is a wise idea. Surely history shows that many Caliphs were corrupt and this corruption continued until their death. To rectify this, they propose that a future Caliphate should have a time-limit on the bay’a contract, so if the Caliph fails to fulfil his responsibilities or commits oppression then the ummah can remove him by not extending his term, and re-elect another person who is more worthy.

The evidence for imposing a time-limit on the bay’a

The opinions of those who advocate imposing a time-limit on the bay’a are as follows.

Kamal Hussein says: “Where does it say explicitly in sharia, that the role of the Khaleefah is for life. In fact, contract law, generally no contract is for life. There’s always an end, or there’s some provision for that contract to end. It’s only if there’s any other daleel which stipulates that, then you can say that it is for life. Just because it happened that way. Just because the next Khaleefah was appointed either because he died or he was assassinated does not mean that it is a hukm shari we are bound to follow.”[1]

Muhammad Asad says, “Apart from the stipulation that the prospective amir be a Muslim and the “most righteous of you” -which obviously implies that he must be mature, wise, and superior in character-the sharf’ah does not specify any further conditions for eligibility to this office, nor does it lay down any particular mode of election, or circumscribe the extent of the electorate. Consequently, these details are to be devised by the community in accordance with its best interests and the exigencies of the time.

The same applies to the question of the period during which the amir shall hold office. It is conceivable that a definite number of years may be fixed for this purpose (possibly with the right to reelection); alternatively, the amir’s tenure of office may be subject to termination when the incumbent reaches a certain age limit, provided he discharges his duties loyally and efficiently; or, as a third alternative, the tenure of office may be for life, with the same proviso as above-that is to say, the amir would have to relinquish his office only if and when it becomes evident that he does not loyally perform his duties or that he is no longer able to maintain efficiency owing to bodily ill-health or mental debility. In this wide latitude regarding the tenure of the amir’s office we see another illustration of the great flexibility inherent in the political law of Qur’an and Sunnah.”[2]

In summary there are two key evidences put forward here. One that Islamic contracts generally have a time-limit, the bay’a is an Islamic contract so they bay’a can have a time-limit. The other evidence is based on maslaha (benefit). I will deal with these in turn.

The evidence that the bay’a contract has no time-limit

While many Islamic contracts do have a time-limit imposed on them such as taking a loan, “You who believe, when you contract a debt for a stated term, put it down in writing,”[3] others such as nikah (marriage) have no time-limit because the command is mutlaq (unrestricted). “Marry the single among you and those of your male and female slaves who are fit [for marriage].”[4]

The bay’a is similar to nikah in that the commands to listen and obey are mutlaq, so there is no time-limit imposed. The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said, “Hear and obey, even if you were ruled by an Abyssinian slave, whose hair is like a raisin.”[5] In another narration, he ﷺ said, “If a slave having some limb of his missing, and having dark complexion is appointed to govern you according to the Book of Allah the Exalted, listen to him and obey him.”[6]

The bay’a given to each of the Rightly Guided Caliphs never contained a time-limit and represents an ijma as-sahaba (consensus of the companions) which is a shara’ daleel (divine evidence). When Abu Bakr was asked to nominate a successor he announced to the people, “Will you be satisfied with him whom I have left as my successor over you? For, by Allah, I do not shun the effort [to reach] the best opinion, nor have I appointed a relative. I have designated Umar ibn al-Khattab as my successor; therefore, hear him and obey.” They responded, “We hear and obey.”[7]Despite his illness, Abu Bakr did not resign and hand over power to Umar. Rather he remained in office as a Caliph until his death.

When Umar ibn Al-Khattab was asked to nominate a successor, he couldn’t find anyone he was completely satisfied with, so he named six sahaba of the ten promised jannah and left the decision with the senior sahaba in Madinah to choose the next Caliph. Again Umar did not resign and remained in office as Caliph until he died. He said, “When you put me into my grave, assemble these people in one room to choose one of their number.”[8]

Uthman bin Affan was told explicitly by the Prophet ﷺ not to resign his office. It was narrated from ‘Aishah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “O Uthman, if Allah places you in authority over this matter (as the Caliph) someday and the hypocrites want to rid you of the garment with which Allah has clothed you (i.e., the position of Caliph), do not take it off.” He said that three times. (One of the narrators) Nu’man said: “I said to ‘Aishah: ‘What kept you from telling the people that?’ She said: ‘I was made to forget it.’”[9]

Although it’s allowed for the Caliph to resign his position, the order given to Uthman shows that Islam did not want the removal of the Caliph to be taken lightly, or become easy to do when the people express dissatisfaction with his policies. If the Caliph is ruling by Islam, then he has the authority to make unpopular decisions in the pursuit of the wider objectives of Islam which benefit all of mankind. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There will be three types of people whom Allah will neither speak to on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them from sins, and they will have a painful punishment…[one of these people is] a man who gives bay’a to an Imam and gives it only for worldly benefits, if the Imam gives him what he wants, he abides by his pledge, otherwise he does not fulfill his pledge…”[10]

The sahaba also gave a mutlaq bay’a to the Umayyad Caliphs. Bukhari narrates from Abdullah bin Dinar: “I witnessed Ibn Umar when the people gathered around Abdul Malik. Ibn Umar wrote: ‘I gave the bay’a that I will listen to and obey Allah’s Slave, Abdul-Malik, Ameer of the believers according to Allah’s Laws and the Traditions of His Messenger as much as I can; and my sons too, give the same pledge.’[11]

No Caliph in Islamic history was ever given the bay’a with a time limit. Mawardi in Ahkam as-Sultaniyah which codified the rules of governance for the Abbasid Caliphate says, “So if the Imam fulfils the rights of the Ummah, as we have described above, he will have executed the claim of Allah, may He be exalted, regarding their rights and their duties: in which case they have a duty to obey and support him as long as his state does not change.”[12]

He also deals with the case where a more qualified candidate appears after the bay’a has been concluded to a Caliph. “If it seems to the electors that one of the two is the more excellent and they make the oath of allegiance to him for the Imamate but then someone more excellent than him appears then this first Imamate stands and it is not permitted to abandon it for someone who is more excellent than him.”[13]

Maslaha has no place in restricting the bay’a to a fixed time period

Someone may bring a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence) based on the principle of Al-Maslahah Al-Mursalah (public interest) that limiting the bay’a will prevent the corruption of a life-long ruler. This is one of three options Muhammad Asad proposed, “It is conceivable that a definite number of years may be fixed for this purpose (possibly with the right to reelection).”

Maslaha does not apply in the case of the bay’a because the sunnah and ijma have already established the hukm (rule) as discussed previously. This maslaha therefore becomes Al-Masaalih Al-Mulghaah (a cancelled interest). Muhammad Hussein Abdullah explains what these cancelled interests are. “These are Masaalih (interests) that have been imagined to be Masaalih whilst the Shaari’ relinquished them and they are not given regard due to the Ahkaam that He legislated, indicating that they are not to be given consideration.”[14]

Is a life-long ruler good or bad?

The premise put forward by those who advocate a time-limit on the Caliph, is that it is in the interest of the ummah because it prevents corruption. But is this necessarily the case? Some of the pros and cons of a life-long ruler are as follows.

Pros

  • If the leader is a tyrant, then his harm is limited to a short period of time
  • Regular elections will force the head of state to look after the people because if they don’t, then they won’t get re-elected.

Cons

  • Short-termism
  • Unable to execute unpopular policies which are required in the long term for the benefit of future generations.

The effect of re-electing the head of state

The debate on limiting a head of state’s term of office is not new. It was discussed by the founding fathers of America when they were laying down the foundations of the new republic, and it was discussed by the French philosophers whose ideas underpinned the American constitution.

The famous French philosopher Tocqueville wrote, “Were the legislators of the United States wrong or right to permit the reelection of the president?”

“Intrigue and corruption are vices natural to elective governments. But when the head of state can be reelected, the vices spread indefinitely and compromise the very existence of the country. When a plain candidate can succeed by intrigue, his maneuvers can only be exercised in a limited space. When, on the contrary, the head of state puts himself in the running, he borrows the force of the government for his own use.”[15]

“It is impossible to consider the ordinary course of affairs in the United States without noticing that the desire to be reelected dominates the thoughts of the president; that the whole policy of his administration tends toward that point; that his least steps are subordinated to that object; that above all as the moment of the crisis approaches, individual interest is substituted in his mind for the general interest.

The principle of reelection therefore renders the corrupting influence of elective governments more extensive and more dangerous. It tends to degrade the political morality of the people and to replace patriotism with cleverness.”[16]

He also compared the US President to the life-long monarchs of Europe. “The power of the king in France has, first, the advantage of longevity over that of the president. For longevity is one of the first elements of force. One loves and fears only what will exist for a long time.”[17]

Alexander Hamilton, one of the founding fathers of America, gave a speech at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, proposing a President-for-Life. According to James Madison’s notes, Hamilton said in regards to the executive, “The English model was the only good one on this subject. The hereditary interest of the king was so interwoven with that of the nation, and his personal emoluments so great, that he was placed above the danger of being corrupted from abroad… Let one executive be appointed for life who dares execute his powers.” He also said, “And let me observe that an executive is less dangerous to the liberties of the people when in office during life than for seven years.”[18] Some of the reasons Alexander Hamilton cited for his preference of a lifetime executive and senate were stability, permanence, protection against foreign invasion, and insulation against the uncertainties of democratic governance.[19]

A Caliph-for-life has the benefit of focusing on long-term strategic planning for the state, rather than short-termism which is undoubtably a problem in democratic republican systems. An example of enacting unpopular decisions to benefit future generations is the policy of the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik (r. 86H/705CE – 96H/715CE), when he ordered the governor of Madinah Umar bin Abdul-Aziz to expand the Prophet’s ﷺ mosque to a size of 200×200 cubits (dhira). A Hashemite cubit is equivalent to 61.6cm[20], so the expansion was to a size of 123×123 metres.

After receiving the order Umar bin Abdul-Aziz convened the Regional Assembly (Majls ul-Wiliyah) and the people of Madinah informing them of the decision. The people were not happy about this decision and exclaimed, “But these apartments have low ceilings made from palm branches, the walls are made of unburnt bricks and the doors are made from cloth, that must remain intact in their original form for the Hajj pilgrims, visitors and travellers to look at so that they might contemplate on the houses of the Prophet and be humbled by them. It is incumbent that they are not renovated except out of necessity and even in those dire circumstances they should remain as they are. These lofty buildings that al-Walid proposes are indeed like the dwellings of the Pharaoh and Khosrau in origin and, moreover, they are symbolic of their high hopes of everlasting life in this world.”[21]

Umar informed al-Walid of the outcome of his shura from the people of Madinah, but al-Walid pressed on with his decision and Umar implemented it. Majority shura in this case is not binding on the Caliph and since the Caliph is also the Imam and responsible for the salah he must do what is necessary to facilitate salah for the people. Expanding the mosque to allow more Muslims to pray took precedent in Al-Walid’s opinion over keeping the original houses of the sahaba which surrounded the mosque. This benefited future generations of Muslims.

Ideology prevents corruption not time-limits and re-elections

The Muslim world has regular elections for the head of state, but this does not prevent tyranny and corruption because the societies are not ideological societies, and the authority in many of these countries has been usurped by a ruling junta or foreign power. Sisi in Egypt attained around 97% of the vote in both the 2014 and 2018 Egyptian elections.[22] Assad won a fourth term in Syria in 2021 with 95% of the vote.[23]

The 2000 elections in Uzbekistan sum up much of the Muslim world where the President of the time Islam Karimov gained 92% of the vote, and the sole opposition candidate Abdulhasiz Jalalov admitted he only entered the race to make it seem democratic and even he voted for Karimov![24]

Without an ideology to bind the society together, where the people and institutions all believe in the basis of the system and work in harmony towards a common goal, then no amount of elections and accountability mechanisms will work.

We can see this in the west where the fundamental pillars of secular-liberalism and democracy are slowly being eroded.[25] Democracy only works if people believe in the system and accept that the opinion of the majority is correct. This pillar of democracy is unravelling in the west. The UK Brexit vote and Trump’s election and attempted re-election show that this pillar is crumbling. 70% of Republicans didn’t think the 2020 election was free and fair,[26] and only one-third of Republican voters say they trust the upcoming 2024 Presidential elections to be free and fair.[27] Another poll shows Americans don’t believe in “American Democracy”, with half of Americans saying the storming of the Capitol made them less confident in the stability of democracy in the United States.[28]

How do we deal with a corrupt Caliph-for-life?

When the sharia closes one door, we need to go back to the sharia and find another door. We don’t break down a door that sharia has shut simply based on the prevailing reality, or benefit and harm.

No matter how many checks and balances are put in place, the weakest link is always the human being, because to err is human. This is where the strength of ideology comes in, which is an essential condition for anyone taking up the post of Caliph. When Trump was departing office, he nearly sparked a constitutional crisis because the US President has the power to pardon crimes and Trump was going to use this power to pardon himself and his family.[29] This is something no US President has ever done, and something the founding fathers never envisaged.

In a future constitutional Caliphate apart from the Caliph himself, all rulers in the state – wazirs, governors and mayors – can be removed if the people’s representatives in the Regional Assembly (Majlis ul-Wiliyah) or House of Representatives (Majlis ul-Ummah) express a vote of no-confidence in them. The Caliph must then remove these officials from office. The day-to-day affairs are run by the governors and mayors in their respective provinces and districts, so they have the biggest effect on people’s day to day lives. In Islamic history, unfortunately this accountability mechanism was not adopted which led to governors at certain times committing huge oppression against their people. Al-Hajjaj bin Yusuf, who was the Umayyad governor of Iraq under Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan and Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik caused many people in his province to migrate to the Hijaz which was under the governorship of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. This is not a situation we ever want repeated again, and binding the Caliph to a constitution which empowers the people’s representatives to express dissatisfaction in these rulers will mitigate this.

But what about the Caliph himself? What happens if he is corrupt? Do we have to live with this corruption until his death?

The Caliph is not an absolute monarch or dictator, who can legislate laws from his own mind that suit his personal or family interests. Although the Caliph holds all executive powers within the Caliphate his powers are restricted by the sharia. He has no power to legislate because the Caliph is not a lawmaker. His only power in this regard is adopting a sharia rule by either deriving it himself from the Islamic texts through ijtihad, or adopting from his appointed ulema (scholars) who advise the government. In either case the rules would be scrutinised by the Mazalim judges and sharia committee of the Majlis to ensure they conform to the Caliph’s method of deducting rules (istanbat). This separation of powers was noted by some orientalists.

C.A. Nallino says, “But these universal monarchs of Islam, just like all other Muslim sovereigns, while they possessed to an unlimited degree executive power and some judicial power, are entirely lacking in legislative power; because legislation properly so called can only be the divine law itself, the shari’a, of which the ulama, or doctors, are alone the interpreters.”[30]

Thomas Arnold says, “The law being thus of divine origin demanded the obedience even of the Caliph himself, and theoretically at least the administration of the state was supposed to be brought into harmony with the dictates of the sacred law. It is true that by theory the Caliph could be a mujtahid, that is an authority on law, but the legal decisions of a mujtahid are limited to interpretation of the law in its application to such particular problems as may from time to time arise, and he is thus in no sense a creator of new legislation.”[31]

In regards to administrative laws and policies the Majlis has wide-powers in these areas, some of which are binding if the majority of the Majlis votes for them.

Noah Feldman highlights this, “In the classical Sunni constitutional balance, the shari’a existed alongside a body of administrative regulations that governed many matters in the realms of taxation and criminal law. The Ottoman Empire had long featured thousands of such regulations, called kanun, a word whose derivation from the Latin canon testified to its origins outside the shari’a.”[32]

When we look to the sharia we find that although the bay’a in origin is for life, it is an Islamic contract and as such can become fasid (defective) or batil (void).[33] If the pillars of the bay’a such as implementation of Islam and justice are contravened as we saw with the Umayyad Caliph Al-Walid II, there is provision for rectifying and even annulling the contract. The Caliph is not above the law or an absolute monarch, because he is restricted by the sharia in his executive powers, legislation and judiciary.

Unlike the other rulers of the state, the Majlis has no power in the removal of the Caliph. If the bay’a contract becomes fasid or batil then this is a judicial matter which must be dealt with by the Mahkamat ul-Mazalim (Court of Unjust Acts) which has the sole power to impeach the Caliph.

In the Umayyad period there was no independent judge in the position of Qadi ul-Mazalim, so it was left to the Ahlul hali wal-aqd (influential people) from among the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family to instigate a coup d’état against Al-Walid II.

In a future Caliphate there needs to be a formal constitutional process for impeaching the Caliph to prevent instability and fitna which occurs through coups and revolution. The draft constitution of the Caliphate states,

Article No 41: The court of the Mazalim (injustices) is the only one who can decide if the change in the situation of the Caliph, is a change which removes him from the leadership or not, and it is the only one who has the power to remove or warn him.[34]

Impeachment is a judicial function and must be performed by the Supreme Court which is the Court of Unjust Acts that acts in a similar manner to an upper house. This is the only institution within the state which has the power to remove the Caliph. The Caliph has no power to remove any judge who is investigating him, and the Caliph’s removal must be because he contradicted one or more of the seven contractual conditions of the bay’a, leading to the contract either becoming batil or fasid. If the bay’a contract is still valid, then no impeachment will take place and the Caliph will remain in office.

In the Ottoman Caliphate the Sheikh ul-Islam held the position of Qadi Mazalim, and he had the authority to issue a fatwa of removal against the Sultan and Caliph. This occurred when he issued a fatwa of removal against Selim III (r. 1789-1807).[35]

Conclusion

Without a limit on his term of office, the Caliph can focus on long term strategic planning for the state, instead of short-term planning from one election to the next as we find in the democratic-republican system. It also prevents corporate interests from hijacking the government agenda, through campaign contributions that any presidential candidate or party in the west must secure to achieve power. The 2020 US Presidential election cost a staggering $14billion[36].

Limiting the term of office for the head of state is an essential element of accountability in democracy, but not in the Caliphate. The Caliph is under constant investigation and evaluation by the Majlis and Mazalim to ensure he is abiding by his bay’a and the constitution of the state.

Since the Caliph is not a lawmaker or legislator, he is unable to pass legislation that would drastically alter the shape of the state and the rights of Muslim and non-Muslim citizens. This makes the question of who rules less of an issue in the Caliphate as opposed to democracy where different political parties can have a dramatic affect on people’s lives. The rise of authoritarian nationalist leaders in India, Hungary and Austria are examples of this.

Only the sharia defines what is a husn (good) ruling system and what is a qubh (bad) ruling system. Our minds may perceive benefit in limiting the ruler’s term of office but as discussed, this benefit is rejected because it contradicts the Islamic texts which impose no such limit. Allah (Most High) says, “It may be that you hate something when it is good for you and it may be that you love something when it is bad for you. Allah knows and you do not know.”[37]

Notes


[1] The Thinking Muslim, Episode 59, ‘Islamic Governance, Caliphates and Emirates’ with Iyad Hilal and Kamal Hussain, https://www.thinkingmuslim.com/podcast/59-caliphates-emirates, 1:05:30

[2] Muhammad Asad, ‘The Principle of State and Government in Islam,’ Islamic Book Trust Kuala Lumpur, pp.42

[3] Holy Qur’an, Chapter Baqara, verse 282

[4] Holy Qur’an, Chapter An-Nur, verse 32

[5] Sahih Bukhari 7142, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7142

[6] Sahih Muslim 1298a, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1298a

[7] Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, translation of Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, State University of New York Press, Volume XXIII, pp.147

[8] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XXIV, pp.146

[9] Ibn Majah 112, https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:112

[10] Sahih al-Bukhari 7212, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7212

[11] Sahih al-Bukhari 7203, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7203

[12] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.29

[13] Ibid, pp.15

[14] Muhammad Hussein Abdullah, ‘Al-Waadih Fee Usool ul-Fiqh,’ pp.231

[15] Alexis De Tocqueville, ‘Democracy in America,’ THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, 2002, pp.178

[16] Tocqueville, Op.cit., pp.179

[17] Alexis De Tocqueville, Op.cit., pp.169

[18] Edward J Larson; Michael P. Winship, ‘The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison,’ New York: Modern Library. pp.50–51.

[19] Fischer, S. (2018). Creole Revolution, Independence, and Militarization – The Ideology of Creole Revolution: Imperialism and Independence in American and Latin American Political Thought. By Joshua Simon. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017. pp.276.

[20] Abdul-Qadeem Zalloom, ‘Funds in The Khilafah State,’ 2nd edition, Al-Khilafah Publications, pp.52

[21] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Caliphate of Banu Umayyah,’ Darussalam, pp.414

[22] The Guardian Newspaper, Sisi wins landslide victory in Egypt election, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/apr/02/sisi-poised-to-declare-landslide-victory-in-egypt-election

[23] Reuters, Syria’s Assad wins 4th term with 95% of vote, in election the West calls fraudulent, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/syrias-president-bashar-al-assad-wins-fourth-term-office-with-951-votes-live-2021-05-27/

[24] BBC News, ‘Uzbekistan’s one horse race,’ http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/595781.stm

[25] Julian Baggini, ‘Think democracy means the people are always right? Wrong,’ https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/oct/05/democracy-politicians-populism-institutions

[26] Politico, ‘Poll: 70 percent of Republicans don’t think the election was free and fair,’

[27] The Hill, ‘Just one-third of GOP voters say they trust 2024 elections will be fair: poll,’ https://thehill.com/homenews/campaign/579377-just-one-third-of-republicans-trust-us-elections-poll

[28] GMF, ‘Poll Shows Americans Don’t Believe in “American Democracy”,’ https://www.gmfus.org/news/poll-shows-americans-dont-believe-american-democracy

[29] New York Times, ‘Trump Is Said to Have Discussed Pardoning Himself,’

[30] C.A. Nallino, Appunti sulla natura del ‘Califfato’ in genere e sul presunto ‘Califfato Otttomano’, pp.200

[31] Thomas W. Arnold, ‘The Caliphate,’ pp.53

[32] Noah Feldman, ‘The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State,’ pp.61

[33] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ a translation of ‘Muqadimatud-Dustur Aw al-Asbabul Mujibatulah,’ pp.124

[34] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ Op.cit., pp.125

[35] Dr. Yakoob Ahmed, Ottoman History Course

[36] BBC News, ‘US election 2020: How much did it cost and who paid for it?’ https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/election-us-2020-54696386

[37] Holy Qur’an, Surah Baqarah, Verse 216

Bay’a in Islamic History: The Removal of Walid II

Al-Walid’s father Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) of Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik, who nominated him as the successor after Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. Since the Umayyads only nominated two successors, this allowed Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik to create a new wiliyatul-ahd. Yazid’s brother, the famous general Maslamah ibn Abdul-Malik, persuaded him to nominate his other brother Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah, and then Yazid’s own son Al-Walid (Al-Walid II) after him.

Yazid and Hisham try to change the designated successors

Yazid regretted appointing Hisham before his son Al-Walid, but as mentioned in the section on Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik, the prevalent opinion adopted by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd was that it is forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agree to it. Yazid would say, “It is Allah who stands between me and the one who put Hisham between me and you.”[1]This shows that the sharia was adhered to by the Umayyad Khaleefahs who were not absolute monarchs.

When Hisham became Khaleefah he also wanted to change the designated successors, and remove Al-Walid as the next Khaleefah in favour of his own son Maslamah ibn Hisham. Al-Walid refused to relinquish his position and so Hisham said to al-Walid: “Give Maslamah the bay’a (to succeed) after yourself,” but this too al-Walid refused to do.[2]

Why did Hisham try and remove Al-Walid as a successor?

The reason Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik tried to remove Al-Walid from the wiliyatul-ahd was due to his growing immoral behaviour which would make him unfit to be a Khaleefah. According to Tabari, Al-Walid started keeping bad company and drinking wine. Hisham wanted to keep Al-Walid ibn Yazid away from these bad influences so he appointed him as Head of Hajj in 116H/735CE. Unfortunately, this didn’t help. Al-Walid secretly took hunting dogs with him for the trip which were hidden in trunks. One of the trunks fell and the people saw the dog, but blamed the camel driver, for which he was harshly beaten. Al-Walid also ordered a dome-like tent the size of the Ka’bah to be built for him so that it could be set up on top of the Ka’bah where he and his companions would sit. He also took along with him various wines. When he reached Makkah, his companions warned him off the idea saying, “We don’t feel safe, either on your behalf or our own, from what the people might do,” butthe pilgrims still witnessed Al-Walid behaving in a contemptuous and flippant way towards the religion, and Hisham came to hear about it. It is for this reason Hisham tried to remove Al-Walid as being unfit for the Khilafah.[3]

One of the seven contractual conditions of the bay’a is that the Khaleefah is ‘adl (just). Mawardi mentions, “Two changes in a person’s state will exclude him from the Imamate: the first of these is a lack of decency and the second is a physical deficiency.

As for a lack of decency, that is a moral deviation, it is of two kinds: the first of them resulting from lust, the second from his holding dubious opinions. As for the first it is connected to physical action: he commits forbidden acts, pursues evil, is ruled by his lust and is subject to his passions; this counts as a moral deviation which excludes him from taking up the Imamate or from carrying on with it. Thus if such behaviour befalls someone who has become the Imam, he is disqualified. If he recovers his decency he may not return to the Imamate except by way of a new contract; some of the mutakallimun, however, have said that he may return to the Imamate on his return to probity – without a renewal of his contract and without the bay’a – because of his overall authority in governance and the difficulty involved in renewing his bay’a.”[4]

Hisham prepares his son for ruling

Another contractual condition of the bay’a is capability to rule. All the Umayyad Khaleefahs had ruling experience prior to coming to power. Mostly they would be assigned as heads of the army or hajj, or given a governorship to hone their ruling skills. This continued throughout the Abbasid period until the Khaleefah became a mere figurehead from the 10th to 16th century, with the Sultans being the de facto rulers. Selim I, who was the first Ottoman Khaleefah combined the role of Sultan and Khaleefah and a new line of strong, independent Khaleefahs emerged. Unfortunately, the Ottomans adopted a ‘survival of the fittest’ approach to the next Khaleefah, leaving the succession open to which of the Sultan’s son could make it to Constantinople first and claim the authority. The new Sultan would then have his brothers executed to prevent any fitna arising from potential power rivals. In 1595CE Mehmed III went a step too far in this and executed 19 of his brothers, which led to outcry among the ulema and other officials of the state. After his successor and son Ahmet I died a new system of Kafes (cage) was adopted, where instead of executing the Sultan’s brothers who were potential rivals to the throne, they were imprisoned under house arrest in the harem. This meant they had no ruling experience if at a later date they were called upon to succeed the Khaleefah upon his death or removal. This will be discussed in more detail in Part 5: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Ottoman Khilafah.

Hisham said, “Woe to you, Walid! By Allah, I do not know whether you are for Islam or not. You commit every reprehensible action without feeling any shame or bothering to conceal it.” So al-Walid wrote to Hisham the following poem:

‘O you who ask about our religion,

we follow the religion of Abu Shakir (Maslamah ibn Hisham).

We drink it (the wine) both pure and mixed,

sometimes warmed and sometimes cooled.’

After reading this, Hisham was furious with his son Maslamah whose kunyah (nickname) was Abu Shakir and said to him: “Al-Walid is making use of you to mock me. To think I was rearing you for the Khilafah! Behave in a civilized way and attend the collective prayer.” Hisham put Maslamah in charge of the Hajj in 119H / 737CE where Maslamah devoted himself to acts of religious devotion and behaved in a steady and gentle manner, and distributed money in Makkah and Madinah.[5]

In the end Hisham could not replace Al-Walid with his son Maslamah as the next Khaleefah after him, and in 125H / 743CE Al-Walid ibn Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd of his father.

Al-Walid II makes his two young sons the delegated successors

Maturity is a condition for the post of Khaleefah. Someone who has not reached puberty cannot give bay’a or be given bay’a. Abdullah Ibn Hisham, who was a child at the time of the Prophet ﷺ, was taken by his mother Zainab bint Humair to the Messenger of Allah ﷺ where she said, “O Messenger of Allah! Take his bay’a”. The Prophet ﷺ said: “He is still a little boy”, so he stroked his head and prayed for him,[6] meaning the Prophet ﷺ did not take his bay’a as he was not mature.

Al-Walid ibn Yazid wanted the bay’a to be given to his two young sons, al-Hakam and Uthman so he consulted some of the influentials from the Ahlul hali wal-aqd on this. He consulted Said ibn Bayhas who said, “Don’t do it, for they are young boys who have not yet reached puberty. Have the bay’a given to ‘Atiq ibn Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik.” Al-Walid was furious and put Said in prison, where he died.[7]

Al-Walid approached Khalid bin Abdullah, the former governor of Iraq and Khorasan under Hisham, to give bay’ato his two sons but Khalid also refused. Some of Khalid’s family said to him: “The Ameer ul-Mu’mineen wanted you to give the bay’a to his two sons yet you refused!” Khalid retorted, “Woe to you! How can I give the bay’a to those behind whom I cannot say my prayers or whose testimony (shahadah) I cannot accept?” They replied: “What about al-Walid? You know all about his wantonness and depravity, yet you still accept his testimony!” Khalid replied: “Al-Walid’s activities are hearsay. I cannot be sure about them. It is only vulgar rumours.”[8] Al-Walid was furious with Khalid and later had him tortured and killed.

In the end Al-Walid did succeed in making his sons, al-Hakam and Uthman as the delegated successors after him.

The removal of Al-Walid ibn Yazid from office

We already mentioned Al-Walid’s immoral behaviour which was well known prior to him becoming Khaleefah. On coming to power, he persisted in this and spent more time in the pursuit of idle pleasures, hunting, drinking wine and keeping bad company.[9] He quickly made many enemies due to his policy of revenge against those who were allies of the previous Khaleefah Hisham, and other members of the Umayyad family who he saw as a threat.

The sons of the previous Khaleefahs, al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik and Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik had been badly mistreated by Al-Walid. He sentenced Sulayman ibn Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik to 100 lashes, shaving his head and beard and banishing him to ‘Amman, where he put him in prison. He also imprisoned Sulayman’s brother Yazid ibn Hisham.[10]

The tribe of Banu al-Qa’qa’ had supported the previous Khaleefah Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik when he attempted to remove Al-Walid as the delegated successor, and two of their men, al-Walid bin al-Qa’qa’ and Abdul-Malik bin al-Qa’qa’ had been made governors of Qinnasrin and Hims respectively by Hisham. When Al-Walid II came to power the Banu al-Qa’qa’ knew they would be targeted for revenge, and so al-Walid bin al-Qa’qa’ and Abdul-Malik bin al-Qa’qa’ were tortured and killed along with two other men from the tribe.[11]

All of these people and their supporters, along with the Yamani tribes who were part of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham and made up most of its soldiers, had a deep hatred for Al-Walid because of his treatment of Khalid bin Abdullah, and his ruining of the Yamani tribes in Khurasan who were its greatest army.[12] Accordingly, the Yamani went to Al-Walid’s cousin Yazid ibn al-Walid who was known for his righteousness and piety, and tried to persuade him to take the bay’a and become the Khaleefah.

Yazid ibn al-Walid consulted ‘Amr b. Yazid al-Hakami, who said: “The people will not give the bay’a to you over this matter. Consult your brother al-‘Abbas ibn al-Walid, for he is the head of the Banu Marwan. If al-‘Abbas gives you the bay’a, no one else will oppose you. If al-‘Abbas refuses, then the people will be more likely to obey him. If you insist on sticking to your opinion, then proclaim publicly that al-‘Abbas has given the bay’a to you.”[13]

As Mawardi mentions, moral deviation “excludes him [the ruler] from taking up the Imamate or from carrying on with it.”[14] Violation of the sharia rules is a red line which must never be crossed. If the Khaleefah does cross this line then his bay’a will become fasid (defective), and if it cannot be remedied through a change in his behaviour, or restitution of the rights of those he has wronged, then he must be removed from office.[15]

In origin this removal must be sanctioned by the judiciary who issue a fatwa of removal. In the Umayyad period there was no Chief Judge (Qadi ul-Qudah) or judicial court which would investigate and pass judgements on government oppression (mazlama). The Abbasids were the first to create the post of Qadi ul-Qudah and the later Sultans institutionalised the court which dealt with government oppression as a Dar Al-Adl (House of Justice). In a future Khilafah this is known as the Mahkamat ul-Mazalim (Court of Unjust Acts) or Supreme Court.

With no judge in the position of Qadi ul-Mazalim, it was left to the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from among the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family to instigate a coup d’état against Al-Walid II.

Initially Yazid ibn al-Walid’s brother Al-Abbas was on the side of Al-Walid, but later defected and gave the bay’a to his brother Yazid. Once Al-Abbas defected so did most of Al-Walid’s forces. Yazid’s other brother Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid commanded the army against Al-Walid’s forces.[16] The soldiers of Yazid ibn al-Walid carried a notice attached to a spear on which was written, “We summon you to the Book of Allah and the sunnah of His Prophet, and (we request) that the matter should be determined by shura.”[17]

After a number of skirmishes between the forces of Al-Walid and Abdul-Aziz, Al-Walid fell back and took refuge in a fortress in al-Bakhra (modern day Homs governate Syria) which was originally built by the Persians.[18] The forces of Abdul-Aziz ibn al-Walid surrounded the fortress and Al-Walid asked from behind the fortress door, “Is there anyone amongst you who is an honorable man of noble descent and who has a proper sense of shame, to whom I can speak?” Yazid bin ‘Anbasah al-Saksaki stepped forward and said, “Speak with me.” Al-Walid asked him who he was and he replied: “I am Yazid bin ‘Anbasah.” Then al-Walid exclaimed: “O brother of the Sakasik! Did I not increase your stipends? Did I not remove onerous taxes from you? Did I not make gifts to your poor and give servants to your cripples?” Yazid replied, “We don’t have any personal grudge against you. We are against you because you have violated the sacred ordinances of Allah, because you have drunk wine, because you have debauched the mothers of your father’s sons, and because you have held Allah’s command in contempt.”[19]

Abdul-Aziz’s forces scaled the walls of the fortress and the first one over the top was Yazid bin ‘Anbasah who went to Al-Walid and attempted to bring him in to custody, so they could have consultations on what should be done with him. At that point, ten soldiers from Abdul-Aziz’s army came in to the room and set upon Al-Walid killing him.[20] His head was then taken to Yazid ibn Al-Walid who was camped out in the desert and he formerly became the next Khaleefah by the bay’a of the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family.

Yazid ibn Al-Walid’s Speech after the removal of Al-Walid II

When Yazīd killed al-Walīd, he stood up and said in a khuṭba, “By Allah, I did not revolt out of insolent ingratitude and pride, nor worldly aspiration or desire for kingship. I would be a wrongdoer to myself, if it was not for the mercy of my Lord. On the contrary, I revolted in anger for the sake of Allah and His religion. I came to summon to His Book and the Sunna of His Messenger at a time when the signposts of guidance had been effaced, the light of the godfearing people had been extinguished and a tyrant had appeared, who legalised the unlawful and engaged in innovations. When I saw all this, I was afraid that, because of the large number of your sins and the hardness of your hearts, you would be covered by a darkness that would not be removed. I was afraid that he would summon many people to his way and that they would respond. Therefore, I asked Allah for guidance in my affair and summoned those of my family and the people under my authority who responded. Then Allah relieved the lands and the people from al-Walīd. Sovereignty is from Allah. There is no power or strength, except by Allah.

People! If I am given charge of your affairs, I promise that I will not place brick upon brick nor stone upon stone and that I will not transfer wealth from one region to another until I have fortified its frontiers and seen that its military posts are manned to make you secure. If there is any surplus, I will take it to the next region in order to the means of livelihood are put in order and you are all equal with respect to it. If you want to pledge allegiance to me according to what I have proposed to you, then I am yours. If I deviate, the bay’a is not binding upon you. If you see anyone more capable than me in this and prefer to pledge allegiance to him instead, then I would be the first to give him my allegiance and obey him. I ask Allah to forgive me and you.”[21]

From Yazid’s speech we can clearly see the sharia is the foundation on which the pillars of the bay’a are built. The bay’a being given with free consent and choice by the people of influence, and the Khaleefah fulfilling the conditions of the bay’a stand out here.

The Khaleefah is the state

It’s important to remember that the Khaleefah is the state. His removal is not something which should be taken lightly, or become easy to do when the people express dissatisfaction with his policies. If he is ruling by Islam then he has the authority to make unpopular decisions in the pursuit of the wider objectives of Islam which benefit all of mankind.

It was narrated from ‘Asihah that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “O ‘Uthman, if Allah places you in authority over this matter (as the Khaleefah) someday and the hypocrites want to rid you of the garment with which Allah has clothed you (i.e., the position of Khaleefah), do not take it off.” He said that three times. (One of the narrators) Nu’man said: “I said to ‘Aishah: ‘What kept you from telling the people that?’ She said: ‘I was made to forget it.’”[22]

Also benefit and harm are not a valid criterion for breaking the bay’a.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “There will be three types of people whom Allah will neither speak to on the Day of Resurrection, nor will He purify them from sins, and they will have a painful punishment. They are,

(1) a man who possessed surplus water (more than he needs) on a way and he withholds it from the travellers.

(2) a man who gives bay’a to an Imam and gives it only for worldly benefits, if the Imam gives him what he wants, he abides by his pledge, otherwise he does not fulfill his pledge

(3) and a man who sells something to another man after the `Asr prayer and swears by Allah (a false oath) that he has been offered so much for it whereupon the buyer believes him and buys it although in fact, the seller has not been offered such a price.”[23]

The removal of a Khaleefah, if not done correctly, can set off a chain of events which leads to fitna and civil war. This is what occurred after the assassination of Uthman bin Affan. Abdullah ibn Salam came upon those who were besieging Uthman ibn Affan and said, “Do not kill him, for, by Allah, any man of you who kills him will meet Allah without a hand. The sword of Allah will remain sheathed, and by Allah, if you kill him, Allah will draw it out and He will never sheathe it again. A prophet was never killed but that seventy thousand were killed because of him, nor a Khaleefah but that thirty-five thousand were killed because of him before they were again united.”[24]

The killing of Al-Walid II and then the coup against Yazid ibn al-Walid’s successor Ibrahim ibn al-Walid by Marwan II, led to internal discord within the state, and the eventual end of Umayyad rule at the hands of the Abbasids.

How would a Khaleefah be removed in a future Khilafah?

The bay’a contract has no fixed time limit similar to other Islamic contracts such as nikah (marriage). This allows the Khaleefah to focus on long term strategic interests of the state rather than short-termism which is a feature of democratically elected presidents. Tocqueville comments on the re-election of the US President in his book ‘Democracy in America’, “Intrigue and corruption are vices natural to elective governments. But when the head of state can be reelected, the vices spread indefinitely and compromise the very existence of the country. When a plain candidate can succeed by intrigue, his maneuvers can only be exercised in a limited space. When, on the contrary, the head of state puts himself in the running, he borrows the force of the government for his own use.”[25]

Although the bay’a in origin is for life, there is provision for annulling the contract if the pillars of the bay’a such as implementation of Islam and justice are contravened as we saw with Al-Walid II. The Khaleefah is not above the law or an absolute monarch, because he is restricted by the sharia in legislation and judiciary.

In the Umayyad period there was no independent judge in the position of Qadi ul-Mazalim, so it was left to the Ahlul hali wal-aqd from among the Yamani tribes and Umayyad family to instigate a coup d’état against Al-Walid II.

In a future Khilafah there needs to be a formal constitutional process for impeaching the Khaleefah to prevent instability and fitna which occurs through coups and revolution. The draft constitution of the Khilafah states,

Article No 41: The court of the mazalim (injustices) is the only one who can decide if the change in the situation of the Khalifah, is a change which removes him from the leadership or not, and it is the only one who has the power to remove or warn him.[26]

Impeachment is a judicial function and must be performed by the Supreme Court which is the Court of Unjust Acts (mazalim) that acts in a similar manner to an upper house. This is the only institution within the state which has the power to remove the Khaleefah. The Khaleefah has no power to remove any judge who is investigating him, and the Khaleefah’s removal must be because he contradicted one or more of the seven contractual conditions of the bay’a, leading to the contract either becoming void (batil) or defective (fasid). If the bay’a contract is still valid, then no impeachment will take place and the Khaleefah will remain in office.

In the Ottoman Khilafah the Sheikh ul-Islam held the position of Qadi Mazalim, and he had the authority to issue a fatwa of removal against the Sultan and Khaleefah. This occurred when he issued a fatwa of removal against Selim III (r. 1789-1807).[27]

Notes


[1] Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, translation of Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, State University of New York Press, Volume XXVI, pp.87

[2] Ibid, pp.89

[3] Ibid, pp.88

[4] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.29

[5] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.89

[6] Bukhari 7210, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7210

[7] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.128

[8] Ibid

[9] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.126

[10] Ibid, pp.127

[11] Ibid, pp.136

[12] Ibn Katheer, ‘The Khilafah of Banu Umayyah The First Phase,’ translation of Al-Bidiyah wan-Nihayah, Dar us-salam, pp.611

[13] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.137

[14] al-Mawardi, Op.cit., pp.29

[15] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ a translation of ‘Muqadimatud-Dustur Aw al-Asbabul Mujibatulah,’ pp.125

[16] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.152

[17] Ibid, pp.158

[18] Denis Genequand, ‘Al-Bakhra’ (Avatha), from the Tetrarchic Fort to the Umayyad Castle,’

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/233644468_Al-Bakhra’_Avatha_from_the_Tetrarchic_Fort_to_the_Umayyad_Castle

[19] al-Tabari, Op.cit., pp.153

[20] Ibid

[21] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ translated by T.S.Andersson, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.87

[22] Ibn Majah 112, https://sunnah.com/ibnmajah:112

[23] Sahih al-Bukhari 7212, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7212

[24] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Khalifahs who took the right way,’ translated by Abdassamad Clarke, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.177, Abd ar-Razzaq narrated in the Musannaf from Humayd ibn Hilal

[25] Alexis De Tocqueville, ‘Democracy in America,’ THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO PRESS, 2002, pp.178

[26] Hizb ut-Tahrir, ‘An Introduction to the Constitution and its obligation,’ Op.cit., pp.125

[27] Dr. Yakoob Ahmed, Ottoman History Course

A History of Islam in 10 Objects

Historical objects such as artefacts, manuscripts and buildings are one of the primary sources in the study of history. Their presence or absence in a society can offer a unique insight in to the past, especially when combined with other sources such as oral narrations. They can offer a more holistic view towards society, and easily dispel the sweeping generalisations we see among those who attempt to distort Islamic history for their own nefarious purposes.

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6. CALIPHATE CONTENTIONS: Establishing the caliphate isn’t an obligation for me personally

BY DR. REZA PANKHURST
This article has been reproduced from Prophetic Politics.

Discussion of the Personal Obligation Denial argument – or summed up as “it’s not an obligation for me because (I’m not capable/ it’s something that the scholars and people of influence have to do as an obligation of sufficiency/Allah will establish it/ it’s not actually an obligation to begin with)”

As for the last argument – that the caliphate is not obligatory to begin with, if we have to go over that again then please refer to earlier contentions here that deal with this question comprehensively (but here is one sample quote for those in a hurry:

Sa`ad al-din al-Taftazani mentions it in his Sharh al-Maqasid where he states: “‘and whoever dies without knowing his Imam, dies the death of jahiliyya’ – and this is because the obligation to obey (those in authority) and to know (the Imam) requires that Imam to be established.”

وقوله ﷺ: «من مات ولم يعرف إمامه مات ميتة جاهلية.» فإن وجوب الطاعة والمعرفة يقتضي وجوب الحصول

The focus here are the other common arguments used by those who promote the “personal obligation denial” point of view – which generally accepts that ruling by Islam and establishing the caliphate is a good thing, and concede its obligatory, but not on a personal basis.

Common Argument A

“The caliphate is not an obligation for me, because Allah will establish it” or “Allah won’t ask me about the Caliphate”

Yes, Allah will establish the caliphate. The correct way to understand this point is that Allah will not hold someone accountable for establishing the caliphate but will hold them accountable for their efforts to fulfil the obligation of establishing the caliphate. This is like how no-one is accountable for other people accepting Islam but are certainly accountable for their efforts in spreading in Islam.

Yes.

It’s that simple.

Common Argument B

“I am not capable of establishing it – and Allah tells us in the Quran that no soul is burdened with more than it can bear”

This is basically a subset of argument A – and the response is the same.

As the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him – said in one narration:

مَا نَهَيْتُكُمْ عَنْهُ فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ وَمَا أَمَرْتُكُمْ بِهِ فَافْعَلُوا مِنْهُ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ 

What I have prohibited for you, avoid it. What I have commanded you, do it as much as you can.

Accountability with Allah is linked to one’s capacity, and the effort to do as much as they can do, and this holds true in the work to establish the caliphate which is a political change requiring political effort:

مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ

Whoever among you sees evil, let him change it with his hand. If he is unable to do so, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do so, then with his heart, and that is the weakest level of faith.

The caliphate is a well-known, proven obligation – so each Muslim has to do what is within their capability to fulfil that obligation. If they have no idea or capacity to do anything – then at least to pray for it, and if they are able, to call others to it and to hold those who can establish it to account for their lack of action in doing so.

And of course, if they are in fact capable of establishing the caliphate themselves – then the actual responsibility for change falls upon their neck, and neither prayer nor talking about it would be sufficient for such a person.

So in summary – lack of capability isn’t a valid argument for lack of effort. If someone feels they are not capable due to lack of knowledge – but recognise its an obligation – then they should do what they are capable of (praying) and set about learning whatever they feel they need to know to able to propagate and discuss the issue with others (just like if someone didn’t know how to pray – the obligation doesn’t just fall from them, they have to learn how to pray while in the interim doing what they can).

Common Argument C –

“It’s an obligation of sufficiency, and the ones who are capable are the people of power and not the common person. Therefore, as a common person I’m not accountable”

This argument has some basis in that the obligation to establish the Caliphate is indeed an obligation of sufficiency – meaning that if it is established then the obligation is fulfilled for all. The converse is that – if it is not established then the obligation falls upon everyone and the sin is upon all the Muslims.

It should be noted though that some scholars such as Imam al-Mawardi stated that the obligation fell upon two groups of people – those who fulfilled the criteria to be the caliph, and those who were the people who had the influence and power to select the caliph from among the valid candidates. He then stated that if neither of those fulfilled their obligation, then the sin was upon their necks only and no one else was accountable.

However – this understanding is inaccurate. Though the obligation is more pressing upon the shoulders of those who have influence and can make the change, when any obligation of sufficiency is left unfulfilled it falls upon the totality of the Muslims aware of it, and each of them must try to the best of their ability to fulfil that obligation according to the limits of their capability. Refer to common argument B.

Conclusion: ignoring that ruling by Islam and having a united Muslim polity is an obligation upon the Muslim ummah (which is the central meaning of the caliphate) and denying one’s own responsibility to help bring that about (while considering the limits of their capability) is a mistake and incorrect understanding. Lack of capability is not a valid excuse for lack of effort, and waiting for others to fulfil the obligation on all our behalf is negligent of our responsibilities to Allah and His Messenger.

Dr. Reza Pankhurst is the author of The Inevitable Caliphate (Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Untold History of the Liberation Party (C Hurst & Co, 2016)

5. CALIPHATE CONTENTIONS: Historically, there was rarely a single unified caliphate, and therefore it is an unrealistic, utopian idea

BY DR. REZA PANKHURST
This article has been reproduced from Prophetic Politics.

Discussion of the Historical Precedence Argument –  summed up as “the practical reality was that there were several competing caliphs or sultans, and therefore it is not an obligation or realistic to have a single Imam”.

Without debating the premise of the argument (which could itself be considered historically problematic) – it is important to consider that Islam came to deal with the human condition, in all its aspects – political, social, personal. And in doing so – while laying down ideals and normative standards, it also provided Muslims with a reference for correction – hence the entire corpus on enjoining the good and forbidding the evil for example.

The fact that the Prophet – peace be upon him – made the statement that if two caliphs are appointed then the second should be killed – is evidence that disunity will occur among Muslims, and that there would be situations where authority would be contested. The direction of the Prophet to kill the second claimant to the caliphate both ascertains the seriousness of the issue – by making deliberate attempts to violate political unity a capital offence, mandating death if necessary in order to remove the conflict – as well as the clear injunction that political unity of the Muslim ummah is a general and all-encompassing rule.

It is indisputable that disunity, competing claims and alternative power bases around the caliphate reaches back to the first centuries of Islamic history. With contested opinions over ruling and authority throughout history, and the spread of Islam to as far as Spain and India, such realities were considered by all of the scholars who talked upon the subject. And the vast majority conveyed that the normative position was that despite whatever the status quo was at the time, the Islamic rule was that a single ruler was mandated – as can be read in detail here

As for what to do in the situation where there is division due to the shortcomings within the Muslim community, Sheikh ibn Taymiyya wrote that it is imperative that each leader still implements Islam in their authority.

والسنة أن يكون للمسلمين إمام واحد، والباقون نوابه، فإذا فرض أن الأمة خرجت عن ذلك لمعصية من بعضها، وعجز من الباقين، أو غير ذلك فكان لها عدة أئمة، لكان يجب على كل إمام أن يقيم الحدود، ويستوفي الحقوق

According to the sunnah, the Muslims should have a single Imam, and the other leaders are his assistants. If it was the case that the Muslim ummah were no longer united under a single ruler, due to the sinfulness of some of the Muslims (by separating from the leadership), and the inability of the rest of the Muslims to prevent that from happening, or for any other reason, and as a result there were numerous leaders – then it is obligatory upon each leader to establish the hudud and ensure that peoples’ rights are fulfilled

A brief survey of Islamic history highlights that during the period of greater disunity, greater calamities befell the Muslim ummah such as the fall of al-Andalus, the long occupation of the Crusaders across Muslim lands including al-Quds, the sacking of Baghdad, and ultimately the abolition of the caliphate itself. These are just some of the examples of the loss of authority and security which can be contrasted to the spread of Islamic authority and security during periods of relative unity and stability.

Historical precedence is not an evidence for permissibility. That it is not a source of Islamic ruling should be clear – if taken to its conclusion that would mean that we can point to the actions of some of the leaders historically to align themselves with groups hostile to the Muslims such as the crusaders or Mongols, or enforced hereditary rule, or other indiscretions of specific rulers which went unchecked, whether personal or otherwise – and suggest that they were also permitted since they took place. Such an argument is irresponsible, incorrect and contrary to Islamic thought.

This lesson is even more pertinent today, a period of greater disunity than any other, among the consequences being the attempted genocide of Muslims in places are distant as Bosnia, China, Burma and Palestine, the killing between Muslims due to nationalism and tribalism such as in Yemen, the Iraq-Iran war, Sudan, and the displacement of Muslims who do not fit into the current nation-state forms such as the Kashmiris, the Kurds, the dispossessed in Kuwait and elsewhere, along with too many other issues to be listed here.

In conclusion – Islam mandates a unitary rule for Muslims and it is obligatory to seek such a polity, and historical precedence is not an excuse for inaction or pessimism.

Dr. Reza Pankhurst is the author of The Inevitable Caliphate (Oxford University Press, 2012) and The Untold History of the Liberation Party (C Hurst & Co, 2016)

Bay’a in Islamic History: Umar bin Abdul-Aziz changes the bay’a back to shura

How Umar bin Abdul-Aziz became the Heir Apparent

When Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was Khaleefah he was advised by the righteous scholar Raja’ bin Haywah al-Kundi, to nominate his nephew and Wazir Umar bin Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah instead of his own son and brother. Sulayman did this, and knowing that Banu Umayyah would not be happy, he nominated his brother Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik as the Khaleefah after Umar.

Raja’ bin Haywah who was the provisional leader overseeing the transition process to the next Khaleefah, describes the events surrounding Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s nomination as narrated by Tabari.

Raja’ bin Haywah says: ‘On the day of Jumu’ah, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was wearing green silk robes and as he looked in mirror, he said: “By Allah! I am a young king.” He then left for prayer, led the people in the Friday congregation and he did not return except that he had fallen ill.

When he later burdened his son, Ayyub, who was just a boy at the time, with writing a book on his Khilafah, I said: “What are you doing, O Amir ul-Mu’mineen? Among the things that can preserve the Khaleefah in his grave is the appointment of a righteous successor.” Sulayman said: “I will seek Allah’s counsel on the book. Wait and see. I have not decided upon it yet.”

After one or two days, however, he had torn up the book and upon summoning me, he said: “What do you think of Dawud bin Sulayman?” I answered: “He is away in Constantinople and you do not know if he is alive or dead.” He said: “O Raja’, who do you see fit?” So I said: “It is your choice, O Amir ul-Mu’mineen. I want to see who you mention.”

He then said: “What do you think of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz?” I replied: “I know, by Allah, that he is a pious, good Muslim.” So he said: “He was certainly that while he was governor. He is not the first in line considering Abd al-Malik’s sons, and will certainly never leave him to be appointed over them unless I make one of them his successor after him. Yazeed ibn Abd al-Malik is absent this season, so I will make him his successor. This should appease Umar and keep the others satisfied.” I said: “It is your choice.” He then wrote down:

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

This is a deed from the servant of Allah, Sulayman bin ‘Abd al-Malik, Amir ul-Mu’mineen, to Umar bin Abdul-Aziz. Verily, I have handed over the Khilafah to him after me, and after him, to Yazeed ibn ‘Abd al-Malik. Therefore, hear and obey him, fear Allah and do not differ over it lest it make you avaricious.

He then sealed the deed and sent Ka’ab bin Hamid, Chief of Police, to the members of his family who he had told to gather, which they did.

Next, he sent the letter with me after giving me instructions to inform them that it was his deed, to pass it on to all of them and then to take their bay’a to the one he appointed therein. Accordingly, I went to them and when I told them that it was the deed of Sulayman, they automatically said: “We hear and we obey whoever is in it. May we enter and give our greetings to the Amir al-Mu’mineen?” I answered in the affirmative and they entered upon Sulayman who said to them: “This deed – and pointed to it for them to look at in my hands – is my covenant, so hear, obey and pledge allegiance to whoever is named therein.” He then left while the sealed deed was in my hand.

After Sulayman’s death, the provisional leader Raja’ ascended the minbar in Dabiq Masjid and opened Sulayman’s sealed deed, which Banu Umayyah had pledged upon previously, and read out its contents. Raja’ says, ‘When I reached the part that mentioned Umar’s name, Hisham exclaimed: “We will never pledge allegiance to him!” I said: “I will, by Allah, have you beheaded! Stand up and give bay’a!” So dragging his feet, he stood up. I then escorted Umar onto the Minbar where I sat him down while Umar was visibly reluctant.[1]

The provisional leader has the power to call on the police to assist him in quelling rebellion and dissent during the transition process if required. The police chief assisting Raja’ was Ka’ab bin Hamid al-‘Unsi.[2]

This is similar to what occurred when Umar ibn Al-Khattab appointed the council of six to nominate a new Khaleefah after his death. Suhaib Ar-Rumi was appointed as the Provisional Leader of the state overseeing the election process, and he was assisted by Abu Talha Al-Ansari who had 50 men with him to protect the council.[3]

This incident clearly shows that the adopted laws regarding the bay’a were adhered to by the ahlul hali wal-aqd. No one is above the law in the Khilafah, not even Hisham, a future Khaleefah who was part of the ruling family.

Why didn’t Umar bin Abdul-Aziz want to be Khaleefah?

As mentioned, Sulayman’s decision on nominating Umar bin Abdul-Aziz was sealed so no one could read it. The only one aware of its contents was the provisional leader Raja’ bin Haywah. Umar had a suspicion that Sulayman had nominated him so he went to Raja’ and asked him: “O Abi al-Miqdam! I fear that Sulayman might have attached this affair to me in some way. If Sulayman has any reverence and respect for me, or wished to put my mind at ease, I implore by Allah and my respect and esteem, that you inform me if this is the case, so I can ask him to pardon me of it now before a situation emerges in which I will have no power to do so, as I have no power on the Hour.” Raja’ replied: “No, by Allah, not even a single letter.” Umar then left angrily.

The reason for this reluctance was due to the immense responsibility on the neck of the ruler, and the taqwa of Umar bin Abdul-Aziz which is an essential attribute of any leader. Without taqwa the ruler has the propensity for severe oppression as we witness throughout the world today. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “A ruler who, having obtained control over the affairs of the Muslims, does not strive for their betterment and does not serve them sincerely shall not enter Paradise with them.”[4]

Despite this heavy responsibility and reluctance Umar accepted the position of Khaleefah and was a just Khaleefah , an Imam ‘Adil as mentioned in the hadith:

 سبعة يظلهم الله في ظله يوم لا ظل إلا ظله‏:‏ إما عادل

“Seven types of people Allah will shade them by His Shade on the Day of Resurrection when there will be no shade except His Shade. They will be, a just ruler…”[5]

He discharged his duties in an exemplary manner and so is exempt from the humiliation on the day of judgement. It has been narrated on the authority of Abu Dharr who said:

قُلْتُ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَلاَ تَسْتَعْمِلُنِي قَالَ فَضَرَبَ بِيَدِهِ عَلَى مَنْكِبِي ثُمَّ قَالَ

يَا أَبَا ذَرٍّ إِنَّكَ ضَعِيفٌ وَإِنَّهَا أَمَانَةٌ وَإِنَّهَا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ خِزْىٌ وَنَدَامَةٌ إِلاَّ مَنْ أَخَذَهَا بِحَقِّهَا وَأَدَّى الَّذِي عَلَيْهِ فِيهَا

I said to the Prophet ﷺ: “Messenger of Allah, will you not appoint me to a public office?” He stroked my shoulder with his hand and said: “Abu Dharr, you are weak and authority is a trust, and on the Day of judgment it is a cause of humiliation and repentance except for one who fulfils its obligations and (properly) discharges the duties attendant therein.”[6]

Changing the bay’a back to shura

As-Sallabi mentions the events after Umar bin Abdul-Aziz had received the bay’a. “Having now officially assumed the seat of the Khilafah, Umar ascended the Minbar (pulpit) in what would be his first encounter with the Ummah. He said: “O people! I have been burdened with the responsibilities of the Khilafah against my own will and without your consent. I thereby remove the bay’a to me that is on your necks so that you are at liberty to elect anyone whom you like.” But the audience cried out with one voice that he was the fittest person for the high office and said: “We have chosen you, O Amir al-Mu’mineen, and we are pleased that you have blessed and honoured our good affair.” At this juncture, Umar sensed that he was not going to be able to evade bearing the responsibility of the Khilafah, and so he decided to go on with determining his method and approach in dealing with the politics of the Muslim Ummah…”[7]

After Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s death, the Umayyads continued with the wiliyatul-Ahd (succession contract) and so Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik (Yazeed II) became the Khaleefah according to the contract laid down by Sulayman.

The Mujaddid (reviver) of the first century

The Prophet Muhammad ﷺ said:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَبْعَثُ لِهَذِهِ الأُمَّةِ عَلَى رَأْسِ كُلِّ مِائَةِ سَنَةٍ مَنْ يُجَدِّدُ لَهَا دِينَهَا

“At the turn of every century, Allah will send a person to rectify (tujaddidu) the religious affairs of this Ummah.”[8]

The scholars and historians unanimously agree that Umar bin Abd al-Aziz was the first Mujaddid (Reviver; Renewer) in Islam. The first person to ascribe this title to him was Imam Muhammad bin Shihab az-Zuhri, followed by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal who said: “It is narrated in the Hadith that at the turn of every century Allah will send a person to rectify the religious affairs of this Ummah. We saw that the Mujaddid of the first century was Umar bin Abdul-Aziz.”[9]

The reason he is known as a mujaddid is because he renewed the ruling principles of the rightly guided Khilafah. He started with abolishing hereditary rule, and reviving the concept of shura where the ahlul hali wal-aqd freely choose the leader. He went on to revive the principles of accountability and justice for all citizens, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, and he applied justice not just internally but externally in the state’s foreign policy. This occurred with his abolition of unjust customs duties (maks)[10], and withdrawing the army from Samarkand because it didn’t follow the sharia method of conquest.[11]

Notes


[1] al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, State University of New York Press, Volume XXIV, pp.70

[2] Dr. Ali Muhammad As-Sallabi, ‘Umar bin Abd al-Aziz,’ Darussalam, p.106

[3] al-Tabari, Op.cit., Volume XIV, p.146

[4] Sahih Muslim, https://sunnah.com/muslim:142g

[5] Al-Bukhari and Muslim, https://sunnah.com/riyadussalihin:376

[6] Sahih Muslim 1825, https://www.sunnah.com/muslim/33/19

[7] As-Sallabi, Op.cit. pp.107

[8] Sunan Abi Dawud 4291, https://sunnah.com/abudawud:4291

[9] As-Sallabi, Op.cit. pp.203

[10] Ibid, pp.154

[11] Ibid, pp.150

Bay’a in Islamic History: Al-Walid’s attempt to change the designated successors

Abdul-Aziz ibn Marwan (father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz) was designated as the next Khaleefah (wali ul-Ahd) after Abdul-Malik but he passed away before Abdul-Malik, so that allowed a new succession contract to be created. Abdul-Malik designated his son Al-Walid as the first successor and Sulayman as the successor after him.

When Abdul-Malik died, his son Al-Walid became the Khaleefah and was given the bay’a by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham. Under his rule the Khilafah reached its highpoint in terms of conquests, with Spain, Sindh and Central Asia all becoming part of the state.

Expansion of the Islamic State

In 95H/714CE[1], Al-Walid attempted to change the succession contract (wiliyat ul-ahd) his father Marwan had instituted, by removing his brother Sulayman as the next Khaleefah after him. Al-Walid wanted his son Abdul-Aziz to be the next Khaleefah instead of Sulayman. As discussed, designating two or more successors as part of the wiliyat ul-ahd, which was Marwan’s ijtihad, was considered valid by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and so represents a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence). Mawardi mentions that this was acted upon throughout the Umayyad and Abbasid periods and the ulema of the time consented to this.[2]

In terms of Al-Walid’s attempts to alter the wiliyat ul-ahd then there is ikhtilaaf (difference of opinion) among the ulema on whether this is permitted or not. Mawardi says, “If the Khaleefah dies while the three to whom he has designated succession are still alive and the Khilafah falls to the first of them and he wishes to pledge succession to someone other than the two whom the previous Khaleefah had chosen for succession, then there are some fuqaha who forbid it basing their judgement on the order of succession stipulated (by the previous Khaleefah)- except if they forgo their right to it voluntarily.

As-Safah (first Abbasid Khaleefah) pledged succession to al-Mansur, may Allah be pleased with them both, and then to Isa ibn Musa second in line after him; then al-Mansur wanted to give preference to al-Mahdi over Isa and wanted the latter to renounce his right of succession and to refrain from making any claim to it; numerous fuqaha of the time, however, did not consider he was justified in depriving him against his will of his inheritance of the succession but rather to seek to induce him with gentleness to step down of his own free will.”[3]

Al-Mansur, the second Abbasid Khaleefah succeeded in changing the wiliyat ul-ahd and replaced his nephew Isa ibn Musa with his son Al-Mahdi. Even though the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and took over the Khilafah, they continued to implement the same adopted sharia rules regarding the bay’a. Mawardi then goes on to explain the Shafi’i opinion which permits what Al-Walid was attempting.

He says, “What is most evident within the school of ash-Shafi’i, may Allah have mercy on him, and amongst the majority of the fuqaha is that it is permitted for the one who becomes Khaleefah from amongst the designated successors to designate the next successor from amongst whomever he pleases and to remove any right of succession from those following after him in line since this line of succession is restricted to those who have a claim to the Khilafah after the death of the one who has named them. Thus if the Khilafah falls to one of them, in accordance with the designated order, it is this person who is most entitled to designate succession as he pleases since overall authority for the execution of the responsibilities of this office became his when the Khilafah fell to him: thus his right is the strongest and his capacity to pledge succession takes precedence.”[4]

The Shafi’i position is that since all executive power is with the Khaleefah then he is permitted to change the designated successors. It should be noted that in Al-Walid’s time this was not the prevalent opinion, and so the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd adopted that it was forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agreed to it. This follows the laws of contract in Islam where they must be based on free choice and consent.

Initially Al-Walid tried to persuade Sulayman to allow his son Abdul-Aziz ibn Al-Walid to become the next Khaleefah, and then Sulayman would be Khaleefah after Abdul-Aziz, but Sulayman refused. Then Al-Walid offered large sums of money to Sulayman if he would renounce his place, but again Sulayman refused. Al-Walid then wrote to his governors ordering them to take the bay’a for his son Abdul-Aziz instead of Sulayman, but they all refused to obey his order except al-Hajjaj, the infamous governor of Iraq and Qutaybah ibn Muslim, the governor of Khorasan.[5] This shows that while the Khaleefah has full executive powers in Islam, he is bound by the sharia (legislative branch) and so are all his deputies. The Prophet ﷺ said, “It is a duty upon a Muslim to listen and obey (the ruler), whether he likes it or not, unless they command sinful disobedience. If they command sinful disobedience, then there is no listening or obedience to them.”[6]

Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz was one of the advisors to Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik and accounted him on his attempts to alter the wiliyat ul-ahd saying, “O Amir al-Mu’mineen! If we pledge allegiance to both of you in a single covenant, then how can we renounce him and leave you?” Al-Walid was outraged by Umar’s comments and it is said that he attempted to deal with him harshly as a means of getting him to agree to do what he wanted. It has been stated that he locked him in a room and sealed the door shut until Umm al-Banin, Umar’s sister and the wife of Al-Walid requested to enter. As a result, the door was opened after three (days or weeks) by which time Umar’s face had become withdrawn and his neck had become bent.[7]

Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz’s stance in opposing the deposition of Sulayman was mentioned by adh-Dhahabi as one of the reasons Sulayman nominated Umar as the Khaleefah after him. “Because of that, Sulayman was grateful to Umar and nominated him as his successor to the Khilafah.”[8]

All of Al-Walid’s attempts to change the next Khaleefah to his son failed. So after his death Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was given the bay’a in 96H/715CE. Since there was no third successor, this allowed Sulayman to create his own succession contract and he designated his nephew Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah, and then his brother Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik after him.

Notes


[1] Tabari places this event under 96H but al-Hajjaj died in Ramadan/Shawwal 95H, 8 months before Al-Walid died so it had to take place in 95H.

[2] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.23

[3] Ibid, pp.24

[4] Ibid, pp.25

[5] Abu Ja`far Muhammad b. Jarir al-Tabari, ‘The History of Al-Tabari’, translation of Ta’rikh al-rusul wa’l-muluk, State University of New York Press, Volume XXIII, pp.222

[6] Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 7144, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7144 ; Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1839, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1839a

[7] Siyar A ‘lam an-Nubala’ [The Lives of Noble Figures] (5/148-9); Athar al-‘Ulama’ fil-Hayat as-Siyasiyyah [The Influence of Scholars in Political Life], pp. 167

[8] Siyar A ‘lam an-Nubalii’ [The Lives of Noble Figures] (5/149)

Bay’a in Islamic History – When did Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan’s Khilafah begin?

Marwan ibn al-Hakam designated his son Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah (wali al-ahd) after his death. Marwan also designated his other son Abdul-Aziz, the father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah after Abdul-Malik. Abdul-Aziz was the governor of Egypt under Abdul-Malik, but passed away before Abdul-Malik died. This meant Abdul-Malik could change the designated successors to his two sons Al-Walid and Sulayman, according to the opinion they had adopted on the bay’a at the time.

While the Ahlul hali wal-aqd of ash-Sham did give bay’a to Abdul-Malik in 66H/685CE, this bay’a was initially invalid (batil) because Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr was the legitimate Khaleefah. It is not permitted for the bay’a to be given to two Khaleefahs at the same time. This is well-established from the sunnah where the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, “If a bay’a is taken for two Khaleefahs, kill the latter among them.”[1]

The sahaba acted upon this sunnah and when they gathered in the courtyard (saqifa) of Banu Sa’ida to elect the first Khaleefah, one of the Ansar said, “Let there be an Ameer from among us and an Ameer from among you.”[2] Abu Bakr responded, “And it is not permitted for the Muslims to have two Ameers. If that would occur it would lead to a differing in their affairs and rulings, and their community (jamaa’ah) would be divided, and there would be dispute between them. That would be discarding the sunnah, bidah would arise and fitna would spread. None of that would be goodness for anyone.”[3]

Mawardi mentions, “If two Imamates are established in two countries none of the two is valid as it is not permitted for there to be two imams at one time.”[4]

Suyuti summaries the bay’a to Abdul-Malik. “He received the bay’a according to his father’s contract during the Khilafah of Ibn az-Zubayr, but his Khilafah was not valid and he remained as the usurper (mutaghallib) of Egypt and Syria. He then seized Iraq and its provinces before Ibn az-Zubayr was killed in 73H/692CE. From that day, his Khilafah became valid and his authority firmly established.”[5]

Taqiudeen an-Nabhani explains the situation when a Usurper المتسلط (Al-Mutasalit) or Dominant Sultan السلطان المتغلب (As-Sultan Al-Mutaghalib) takes the bay’a by force. If a usurper were to seize power by force he would not become Khaleefah, even if he declared himself to be the Khaleefah of the Muslims. This is because the Muslims in this case would not have contracted the Khilafah to him. If he were to take the bay’a from the people by force and coercion he would not become Khaleefah even if the bay’a was given to him. This is because a bay’a that is taken by force and coercion is not considered valid and the Khilafah cannot be concluded by it. For it is a contract based on mutual consent and choice and cannot be concluded forcefully or by coercion. The Khilafah cannot therefore be concluded except by a bay’a of consent and choice.

However, if the usurper managed to convince the people that it would be in the interest of the Muslims to give him their bay’a and that the implementation of the Shar’a rules obliges them to give the bay’a, and they were convinced of that and accepted it and then gave him the bay’a by consent and free choice, he would become Khaleefah from the moment that the bay’a was given to him by consent and choice. This is the case, even though in the first place he seized the authority by coercion and force. The condition is giving the bay’a and that it must be by mutual consent and free choice, regardless of whether the one who was given the bay’a was the ruler or not.”[6]

Ibn Hajar says, “The jurists have unanimously agreed that it is obligatory to obey the dominant sultan and jihad with him, and that obedience to him is better than revolting against him because that (will lead to) shedding blood and pacifying the masses.”[7]

The legitimacy of the bay’a to the dominant sultan is not a license for usurping power. There are conditions which he must fulfil. Ata Abu Rashta mentions:

“As for the matter of the Dominant Sultan which was mentioned in some jurisprudence books, its meaning needs to be understood, not just repeat the terms “dominant Sultan”, without understanding when and how it is to be Islamically erected and when and how it is not Islamically erected; otherwise it will have dire consequences on its people!

The dominant Sultan would be sinful for Muslim bloodshed and dominating them through subjugation, force and coercion, and a legitimate Khilafah would not rise through him for violating the Islamic legislative method… However, some scholars see that this dominant Sultan’s ruling becomes Islamically valid if he fulfilled conditions, most notably:

a) He becomes dominant in a land that has the components of a State as per the region surrounding it, so he has a stable authority in it and has control over the internal and external security of the land towards the region surrounding him.

b) Implements Islam with justice and benevolence in that land, and sets a good repute for himself between the people, thus liking them and them liking him and being satisfied with him.

c) The people of that land give him the bay’a of contract with satisfaction and choice, not with coercion and force, and fulfilling the conditions of the legitimate bay’a including that the bay’a in origin should be from the people of that land, and not from the group of the dominant Sultan, because the legitimate Bayah is like that following the example of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the Prophet ﷺ was keen to take the initial bay’a from the Ansar of the Madinah with satisfaction and choice, not take it from his Sahabah the Muhajirun, and the second pledge of allegiance proves this.

Thus, the dominant Sultan continues to be in sin, and no legitimate base is erected except after he fulfills the above three conditions, then the ruling of the dominant Sultan becomes legitimate from the moment of that bay’a with satisfaction and choice. This is the reality of the dominant Sultan, hoping that attentive ears may retain it… and it becomes clear from it that these conditions were not fulfilled for the owners of that announcement, they however imposed themselves and their announcement was done unjustly.”[8]

This then explains the difference between the bay’a to Yazid ibn Mu’awiya and Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan who were both usurpers. The bay’a to Yazid was never legally convened because the Ahlul hali wal-aqd never gave bay’a through free choice and consent. Whereas with Abdul-Malik the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Hijaz and Iraq, finally agreed to give bay’a once Abdullah ibn az-Zubayr had been killed by Abdul-Malik’s infamous commander, Hajjaj bin Yusuf. Among those who gave bay’a to Abdul-Malik after ibn az-Zubayr’s death were Abdullah ibn Umar and his family in Madinah.

Bukhari narrates from Abdullah bin Dinar: “I witnessed Ibn Umar when the people gathered around Abdul Malik. Ibn Umar wrote: ‘I gave the bay’a that I will listen to and obey Allah’s Slave, Abdul-Malik, Ameer of the believers according to Allah’s Laws and the Traditions of His Messenger as much as I can; and my sons too, give the same pledge.’[9]

Notes


[1] Sahih Muslim 1853, https://sunnah.com/muslim:1853

[2] Sahih al-Bukhari 3667, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:3667

[3] Baihaqi from Ibn Ishaq, https://al-maktaba.org/book/6947/987

[4] Abu l-Hasan al-Mawardi, The Laws of Islamic Governance, translation of Al-Ahkam as-Sultaniyah, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.16

[5] Jalal ad-Din as-Suyuti, ‘History of the Umayyad Khaleefahs,’ translated by T.S.Andersson, Ta Ha Publishers, pp.45

[6] Taqiuddin an-Nabhani, ‘The Ruling System in Islam,’ translation of Nizam ul-Hukm fil Islam, Khilafah Publications, Fifth Edition, pp.62

[7] Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari (13/7)

[8] Ata Abu Rashta, ‘Q&A: The Legislative (Shari’) Method of Establishing the Khilafah and the Dominant Sultan,’ Khilafah.com

[9] Sahih al-Bukhari 7203, https://sunnah.com/bukhari:7203