With the #EndSARS protests ravaging mostly the Southern parts of Nigeria, as a result of alleged police brutality, citizens are divided as to whether it is right to protect or not.
Among the Muslims community some are of the view that there is nothing wrong in demanding for your rights through protests and demonstrations. Others on the other hand believes that protests against a constituted authority is not allowed in Islam as it amount to rebellion.
Below is a rejoinder to a post on social media which claim protests are allowed in Islam.
WHY PROTEST IS HARAM (FORBIDDEN) IN ISLAM: Being a refutation on the one who justifies protest in Islam with 50 points, and others like him
Written by: Abu Mar’yam Hanafi Abdulkadri
الخروج ليس بالمظاهرة!
ما هو القول الصّحيح فى هذه المسألة؟
To start with, among their major claims is: Revolution is not the same as protest. So, the Prophet (ﷺ) only prohibited revolution against the Muslim leaders under the Islamic government, he didn’t refer to protest.
But what is the truth about this matter?
1. We agree that protest or demonstration is not the same as a revolution but they are very related and connected.
2. Most cases of revolution are usually preceded by protests and demonstrations. One thing leads to another. Protest prepares the ground for revolution.
Protest often lead to rebellion against the constituted authority and disrupting the peace and security of the society.
3. Therefore, if protest is known to be a viable means to revolution or rebellion against the constituted authority, disrupting societal peace and other evils such as free-mixing, theft, vandalizing properties, roadblock, creating an atmosphere of fear, rape, murder, etc…, then from Usoolul Fiqh is a golden principle which states: “Anything that leads to Haram, it’s ruling is equally Haram.”
To elaborate on this ruling, I’ll give two examples from two Ahadith:
A. The Prophet (ﷺ) says: “No man should be in seclusion with a woman except with her mahram” [Al-Bukhari & Muslim].
Even if the man doesn’t look at or touch the woman, staying with her in a secluded place is a crime, a sin, and evil. This is because it could easily lead to a greater evil which is Zinaa.
So, the Shari’ah would always block all means to a known evil. Prohibiting what is a lesser evil to avoid what is greater of evil. Therefore, Allah says: “Do not come near Zinaa.” [Surah Al-Isra (17): 32]
B. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whatever intoxicates by taking much of it, then its little is equally Haram.” [Abu Dawood 3681, At-Tirmidhi 1973]
Therefore, taking one teaspoon of alcohol is Haram even when it may be argued that such a quantity cannot intoxicate. Yet, the Shari’ah has prohibited alcohol in totality to prevent consuming the quantity that intoxicates. I hope this is clear now.
4. Mafsadah and Maslahah (Harm and Benefit) in protest
Besides the textual evidence that command patience in resisting oppression and injustice from the leaders, the harm resulting from protest & rebellion against the government is usually more than the benefit.
Many Arab countries are perfect case studies. Compare the life of the citizens before and after the revolution in places like Iraq, Libya, Syria, Egypt, etc. They have bitter tales to tell.
The reality is, protests are sometimes sponsored by conspirators, fuelled by the hooligans, and eventually hijacked by corrupt individuals to perpetrate their evils. Most often, protest leads to anarchy even when it started peacefully.
As for those who believe it worked for the western countries including America and European Nations,
YES, it worked for them… Besides the fact that their system is more organized than that of Africa, the protest has helped them a lot, such as to legalize same-sex marriage, Riba, alcoholism, gambling, pornography, banning of Hijab and Niqab, etc., courtesy of true democracy!
Is this a legacy to emulate?
Allah says: “The Jews and the Christians would never be pleased with you until you follow their ways.” [Surah Al-Baqarah (2): 120]
5. Are we saying Muslims must keep quiet in the face of oppression and ignore the wrongs of the leaders?
No and Yes.
No, we should find means to counsel them privately if possible, write private letters to them, do general preaching against their wrongs without referring to them specifically. We can coordinate delegates to meet, dialogue, and appeal to the leaders, we can penetrate them through their allies and supporters (close associates and those they revere). Also, we should pray Allah guides them in our supplications, etc.
If these don’t work, we should remain patient. Rebelling or protesting against them (i.e the rulers) is not an alternative.
YES, we should ignore the excesses and injustices of the rulers if we don’t have the capacity and means to correct their wrongs in the manners stated above (as established in the Shari’ah). We’re commanded to keep quiet and detest their wrongs in our hearts.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “Whoever among you sees a wrong, let him change it with his hand (i.e if he has authority), if he is incapable, then let him change it with his tongue (i.e speak or preach against it), if incapable, then he should change (detest) it with his heart…” [Muslim]
He also said: “There would be favoritism/ appropriation and matters you would disapprove of.” They said: “What do you order us to do?” He [the Prophet] said: “Discharge your duty to them and ask Allah what belongs to you.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “After me, you will see rulers not giving you your right (but you should give them their right) and be patient till you meet me.” [Al-Bukhari 7057]
6. When is a revolution against the leader permissible?
The Prophet answered this question enough in the hadith of ‘Ubada Ibn As-Saamit below:
We entered upon ‘Ubada Ibn As-Samit while he was sick. We said, “May Allah make you healthy. Will you tell us a Hadith you heard from the Prophet (ﷺ) and by which Allah may make you benefit?” He said, “The Prophet (ﷺ) called us and we gave him the Pledge of allegiance for Islam, and among the conditions on which he took the Pledge from us, was that we were to listen and obey (the orders) both at the time when we were active and at the time when we were tired, and at our difficult time and at our ease and to be obedient to the ruler and give him his right even if he did not give us our right, and not to fight against him unless we noticed him having open Kufr (disbelief) for which we would have a proof with us from Allah.” [Al-Bukhari 7055]
As for the conditions attached to rebelling against the leader to oust him, the scholars have explained that the Muslims must assess their arsenal (military capacity) before attempting such. Because the removal of wrong should not lead to a greater wrong in the end. Throwing stones at armored tanks is not logical except in a situation of self-defense, otherwise, that would be disastrous. This is why Allah says concerning war:
“And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, artillery, etc.).” [Surah Al-Anfal (8): 60]
The greatest evidence on this is how the early Muslims reacted to injustice and oppression during the Makkan period. Remember, the Prophet and many other companions were bonafide sons of the soil, not refugees or second class citizens. Yet, the Prophet never resorted to protest, or demonstration, or revolution against the Makkan authorities despite the unbearable persecution, assaults, discrimination, and oppression which they suffered from the Quraish leaders. Instead, he and his companions remained patient until Allah granted them a fruitful way-out through the Hijrah (to Madinah).
Allah says in Surah Al-Baqarah (2) verse 214: “Or think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments (harms) and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, “When (will come) the Help of Allah?” Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near!”
10 years later, Allah granted them victory and occupation of Makkah without a battle. But many Muslims of today believe patience doesn’t yield quick results, and thus; subscribe to protest and rebellion as faster means of demanding their rights or justice. Whereas, to be patient regarding the oppression of unjust leaders and tyrannical rulers is the Sunnah of the prophets. Allah says in Surah Al-A’raf (7) verse128 when Fir’awn was tormenting Bani Israeel in Egypt:
“Musa said to his people (i.e Bani Israeel): ‘Seek help in Allah and be patient. Verily, the earth is Allah’s. He gives it as a heritage to whom He will of His slaves, and the (blessed) end is for the Muttaqun (pious ones).'”
7. We are under a democratic government, which allows protest in fighting for our rights, so why is it wrong?
Irrespective of where Muslims are, they are obliged to abide only by the Qur’an and Sunnah. Any provision in a man-made constitution (e.g democratic constitutions) which contradicts the Shari’ah is null and void. Democracy permits worship of deities besides Allah, Riba (Usury), Zinaa, prostitution business, trading and drinking of alcohol, same-sex marriage (in some countries), etc… will this imply a Muslim can partake in the above sins?
Allah says in Surah Yusuf (12) verse 40: “The judgment (i.e ruling) belongs to Allah alone”
Therefore, if a protest is allowed in democracy but prohibited in the Shar’iah, we must abide by the Shari’ah dictate.
8. As for his interpolation of evidence, deliberate distortion of historical records, and justifying protest by the mistakes or erroneous actions of some of the Salaf in this matter, I won’t dwell much on that… that may warrant a separate and dedicated article. On this, I will say:
A. What Allah says in Surah An-Najm (53) verse 28:
“While they have no knowledge thereof. They follow but a guess, and verily, guess is no substitute for the truth.”
“As for those who have a deviation in their hearts, they follow what is ambiguous in it (i.e the Qur’an), seeking fitnah and misinterpretation of it…” [Surah Al-‘Imran (3): 7]
B. Many scholars including sheikhul Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, Imaam An-Nawawi, and Ibn Hajar, have cited the Ijmaa’ (consensus) on the prohibition of khurooj (revolution, which include protest and demonstrations) in their books after the tribulations that occurred in the earlier period of Islam.
[See Minhaju Sunnati an-Nabawiyyah- 3/231, Sharhu Nawawi ala Sahih Muslim – 12/317-318, Fathu al-Baari of Ibn Hajar – 7/13]
And the prohibition of rebelling or revolting against the leader of the Muslims became more emphasized in the fundamentals of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah as stated in Usoolu Sunnah of Imam Ahmad bn Hanbal and others.
9. Revolution is not only in carrying weapons
To further make clear that al-khurooj (revolution/rebellion) is not restricted to carrying weapons against the government, but also entails rebellion with speeches (such as in protest and demonstration), Sheikh Sa’eed Raslaan brought a chapter in his explanation of Usoolu Sunnah of Imam Ahmad bn Hanbal titled “Revolution can be in form of speech”. Therein, he states:
“The doubt that is spread by the people of deviation and misguidance from among the misguided scholars and those who follow their path is that; revolution is only by the sword, and as for what is lesser than that, then it is not (counted as a) revolution. This is falsehood because revolution can be in form of speech just as it can be in form of a sword.
Sheikh Ibn Al-Uthaimeen said in his commentary on the book of the erudite scholar Al-Qaadee As-Shawkaaniy which is titled “Raf’i asaateen fi hukmi itt’saal bi Salaateen.” He said:
“Indeed Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: “it will emerge from the descendants of this man (i.e Dhu khuwaisrah) those whom each one of you will belittle his Salat when compared with his own…” [Al-Bukhari 3344]
He (Al-Uthaimeen) continued: “And this is the greatest evidence on the fact that revolting against the leader can be with the sword, and can be with the speech because this (Dhu khuwaisirah) didn’t carry sword against the Messenger, but he only rebelled (with statement) against the Messenger. Therefore, as for what is found in some books of Ahlus-Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah that revolution against the leader is – revolution by the sword, what they meant with that is the greater revolution that is prohibited, just as the Prophet mentioned that Zinaa (fornication) can be with the eye, it can be with the ear, it can be with the hand and it can be with the leg; but the greater Zinaa is the real Zinaa – which is Zinaa of the private part. So because of this, he (ﷺ) said “the private part will confirm that (Zinaa) or deny it” as recorded in the Saheehayn (i.e Bukhari & Muslim).”‘ End of quote
[Sharhu Usooli Sunnah by Sheikh Sa’eed Raslaan, Vol. 2, page 826 – 827]
10. The wisdom of beautiful patience in the face of tyranny and oppression from rulers
Ibn Sa’d related the story of Hasan Al-Basri (d.110H):
A group of Muslims came to Hasan Al-Basri seeking a verdict to rebel against Al-Hajjaj [the infamous tyrannical and despotic ruler]. So they said, “O Abu Sa’id! What do you say about fighting this oppressor who has unlawfully shed blood and unlawfully taken wealth and did this and that?” So Hasan said, “I hold that he should not be fought. If this is a punishment from Allah, then you will not be able to remove it with your swords. If this is a trial from Allah, then be patient until Allah’s judgment comes, and He is the best of judges.” So they left Hasan, disagreed with him, and rebelled against Al-Hajjaj – so Al-Hajjaj killed them all. Hasan used to say, “If the people had patience when they are being tested by their unjust ruler, it will not be long before Allah will give them a way out. However, they always rush for their swords, so they are left with their swords. By Allah! Not even for a single day did they bring about any good.” [Tabaqat Al-Kubra (7/163-165)]
Ibn Taymiyyah related from Hasan Al-Basri in Minhaj us-Sunnah (4/528):
Verily, Al-Hajjaj is the punishment of Allah. So do not repel the punishment of Allah with your own hands. But you must submit and show humility, for Allah the Most High stated:
“And We had gripped them with suffering [as a warning], but they did not yield to their Lord, nor did they humbly supplicate. ” [Surah Al-Mu’minun (23): 76]
Ibn al-Jawzi related from Hasan Al-Basri that he wrote:
Know – may Allah pardon you – that the tyranny of the kings is a niqmah (retribution) from among the Retributions of Allah the Most High. And Allah’s Retributions are not to be faced with the sword, but they are to be faced with taqwa (piety) and are repelled with supplication and repentance, inaabah (remorse) and abstention from sins. Verily, when the punishments of Allah are met with the sword, (they become) more severe…” [Adab of Hasan al-Basri, p. 119-120]
“And what is after the truth except for fort misguidance ” (Qur’an 10:32)
I beseech Allah to show us the truth as the truth and make it easy for us to follow, may He show us falsehood as falsehood and make it easy for us to abandon.
May Peace be upon those who follow the guidance!