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Lecture 4  Part A:Obeying the Caliphs

imam hossein

A Theological root of the event of Ashoora


"O you who believe, obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the last day; that is best and most suitable for final determination.” (The Holy Quran 4:59)


The above Ayah is dealing with one of the most important Islamic issues, i.e. the issue of divine leadership.

In principle, leadership is the secret key for both the progress and declination of human nations. A weak and incompetent leader will mislead his nation to annihilation and destruction, whereas a strong and competent leader will lead his nation to prosperity and development.

A true leadership will pave the way for the talents to flourish, whereas a false leadership will demolish the talents.

The way people believe usually depends on the belief of their leaders. An Arabic expression says that ‘people believe what their leaders believe’.


Pious leaders will lead people naturally to piety whereas corrupted leaders will corrupt the community.

By the way, the Ayah under consideration is firstly commanding the believers to obey Allah, for He is the source of all types of obedience, hence the leadership must come from Him, the Mighty.


On the second step he orders the believers to follow and obey His Messenger, the Prophet (s.a.w.w.) who is infallible and doesn’t act according to his personal desires.


On the third and the last step He orders the believers to obey those charged with authority, those from among the Muslim community who safeguard Islam and both the material aspect of a Muslim’s life as well as his/her spiritual life.

imam hossein


Who are ‘the authorized ones’?

This is a very controversial question, to the extent that the answer of the question has divided the entire Islamic Ummah into two main branches, i.e. Sunni & Shiite.


The absolute majority of the Sunni scholars and interpreters of the Quran hold that ‘Olel-Amr’ are the rulers and the statesmen at any time. As a result, Muslims are duty-bound to obey them as their Olel-Amr, whatever their government is; just or unjust, even a barbaric regime such as the Ba’th party in Iraq.


Despite this common opinion of the Sunni scholars, there are a few contemporary thinkers and intellectuals among Sunni scholars who have rejected this traditional approach and asserted that ‘we are duty bound to obey them on the condition that they do not breach the Islamic rules and laws’. Seyyed Qotb in his commentary; Adhelal, and M. Abdo in Al-Menar are the examples of this new approach.


The justification of the traditional approach is that the Ayah under discussion is commanding us to absolutely obey Allah, His Messenger, and Olel-Amr. The reason being, that disobedience to any of the above authorities may disturb the peace and tranquillity of the Ummah.


Another justification which is the major one, is the narration of numerous Hadiths which are claimed to be quoted from the Prophet stating that rulers are to be obeyed irrespective of their conduct and qualifications.

Such fabricated Hadiths are on a large scale the products of (FHF Pty.Ltd) the Factory of Hadith Fabrication established during the reign of Moa’wia. The intention of such fabrications, of course, was nothing but the justification of their false leadership to mislead the Islamic Ummah.

imam hossein

The following are some examples of such fabrications:

1. When Othman the third Caliph saw Muslims protesting against him due to his abundant corruption, stated in an official letter to his governor Moawia that “In blasphemy are indeed people in Madina, for they disobeyed their leader (meaning himself) and breached their allegiance, so send me the fighters of Damascus to help me.”


2. Muslim in his Authority quotes from Hodayfah that the Prophet is quoted to have said: “There will be rulers after me that they may not follow my path and tradition. Among them are some whose hearts are devilish hearts in human bodies.” Hodayfah then questioned the Prophet as to what he should do? The Prophet replied: “ Listen to and follow your Amir, even though he is whipping you and seizing your property”.14


3. Muslim again from the authority of Ibn-Abbas has quoted from what the Prophet is supposed to have said: “Whoever observes something repulsive from his Amir, he should be patient, for whoever goes away one step or one span from the majority he will die the death of Jahiliah.”15


4. Muslim has quoted from Ziad Ibn Olaqah from the Prophet to have said: “There will be disasters, so whoever divides the affair of the Ummah into pieces whilst it is united, kill him by sword whoever the person is”.16

( Mind you that Ziad Ibn Olaqah was one of the enemies of Ahlul-Bait)


Based on such fabricated hadiths a Sunni scholar named Abubakr Ibn Arabi has asserted in his book Al-Awasim that: (Imam) Husain was killed by the sword of his grandfather (meaning his hadith), for he had rebelled against his Imam (Yazid!).


5. Muslim, on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Omar is quoted from the Prophet to have said: “Whoever disobeys his government, he will meet Allah in the hereafter whilst he has no proofs for what he has done, and whoever dies without having the allegiance of a government he has died a Jaheliah death (non-Muslim)”.17


Abdullah Ibn Omar has quoted this hadith after the massacre of Madina which took place three years after Ashoora.

imam hossein

Nawawy the most distinguished commentator of Muslim says in the explanation of the above mentioned Hadiths:


“ All the Sunni scholars being jurists, narrators and theologians have unanimously agreed that the Caliph will not be discharged due to his corruption and misconduct and ignoring the interest of the public. So no-one is allowed to rise up against him. The most people are allowed to do is to give him a few words of advice and frighten him from the punishment of Allah, for Hadith tells us to do so.”


Sunni scholars throughout Islamic history went astray and misled their followers as well, since they relied on the fabrications of Mo’awia’s factory. They pray behind whoever leads the prayer, they promise their loyalty to their rulers whoever they are. Shiites on the other hand are also accused of being rebels and revolutionaries, and not peaceful people.


Millions of crimes in the history of Islam are justified by such false doctrine. In the massacre of Madina hundreds of innocent Muslims were killed 700 of whom were those who knew the Quran by heart, 1000 girls were raped and their properties were usurped for three days by the army of Yazid, all under the justification of Obeying the Caliph.

Other related links:

Some Sayings of the Holy Prophet with Reference to Imam Hussein (as)

Imam Hussein (as) Blessing on us by Nazar Al Qatari

Elegies for Imam Hussein’s Martyrdom (as), Audio

Imam Hussein (as) in other Islamic Sectors

Antoine bara: The value of Imam Hussein (as)


Article Author : Sheikh Mansour Leghaei



14 Muslim 6: 21

15 Ibid

16 Muslim 2:121

17 Mulim 6:20


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