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Lesson Seventeen: Direct Obedience (Part X)
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Lesson Seventeen
Political Law: Obedience to those in Authority


   Allah (S.W.A) commands us to obey those charged with authority over us.  He speaks:

“Oh you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If you defy in anything among yourselves,  refer it to Allah and his messenger if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination (4:59).”

“We sent not a messenger but to be obeyed in accordance with the will of Allah. If they had but only, when they were unjust to themselves, come onto you and asked for Allah’s forgiveness, and the messenger had asked forgiveness for them, they would have found Allah indeed Oft-Returning, Most Merciful (4:64).”

“But know, by the Lord, they can have no (real) faith until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4:65)”   

“If we had ordered them to sacrifice their lives or to leave their homes, very few of them would have done it. But if they had done what they were actually told, It would have been best for them, and it would have gone furthest to strengthen their (faith). (4:66)”

“And we should then have given them from our presence a great reward. (4:67)”

“And we should have shown them the straight way. (4:68)”

“All who obey Allah and the messenger are in the company of those on whom is the grace of Allah – of the prophets (who teach), the sincere (lovers of truth), the witnesses (who testify), and the righteous (who do good):Ah! What a

beautiful fellowship. (4:69)”

The prophet is now gone, but his hadiths are here with us. To obey the hadiths is to obey the prophet. To contradict the hadiths is to contradict the prophet.

Our beloved prophet, Muhammad(S.A.W) counsels to strictly   obey those with authority over us even if the leader  happens to be a slave. He warns us of a great controversy that will appear in our time. We must have something to hold on to. No one can  stand wihout a head; thus, we are commanded to obey our heads. Here goes the full narration of the hadith:

Narrated by Abu-Dawud and At- Tirmidhi on the Authority of Abu Najiha al- Irabad ibn Sariya (R.A) that

“The messenger of Allah (S.W.A) gave us a sermon by which our hearts were filled with fear and tears came to our eyes. We said: ‘Oh Messenger of Allah, it is as though this is a farewell sermon, so counsel us’. He said: ‘ I counsel you to fear Allah (S.W.A) and to give absolute obedience even if a slave becomes your leader. Verily he among you who lives will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the Sunnah of the rightly guided rashidite caliphs- cling to them stubbornly. Beware of newly invented matters. For every invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is a going astray and every going astray leads to hell’ (F. H)”.

 In addition, we must obey those with authority over us in accordance to the will of Allah(S.W.A). Remember the second verse of the Qur’an at the top, Allah (S.W.A) says:


      “We sent not a messenger but to be obeyed in accordance with the will of Allah (S.W.A)… (4:64)”?

If Allah (S.W.A) sent the messenger, that is our Prophet, Muhammad(S.A.W), for us to obey him in accordance to His will, we can infer that those in positions of power, too, must only be obeyed in accordance to the will of Allah (S.W.A) as well. This simply means that believers cannot be blind followers. We must have a working knowledge of the Qur’an and the hadith and sound common sense which leads to doing right.  We must obey our sitters, our teachers, our parents; women must obey their husbands, and all citizens must obey the rule of just laws. This is for the harmonious functioning of communities and societies in general.

Those in authority are commanded to exercise their authority through consultation and with gentleness. Allah (S.W.A) promises a good and a lasting reward for such leaders.  Allah (S.W.A) speaks:

“Whatever you are given (here) is a convenience of this life: but that which is with Allah (S.W.A) is better and more lasting: (it is) for those who believe and put their trust in their Lord; (42:36)”

“Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what we bestow on them for sustenance. (42:38)”

“It is part of the mercy of Allah (S.W.A) that you do deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults) and ask for (Allah’s forgiveness) for them: and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, for Allah, loves those who put their trust (in Him) (3:159)”

Although the above later commandment is addressed to the prophet (S.A.W), it applies to everyone in a position of authority, so – the prefect should treat fellow students with respect and kindness. The boss in the office should not look at his subordinates as servants, but as helpers and brothers and sisters. Husbands should not look at their wives as money saving machines, but as ardent helpers and friends. T
he leader is confident without being arrogant and humble without being cowardly. All in all we should always remember that we are all brothers and sisters one to another. We must also remember that all human beings need respect and  compassion, as we do ourselves. 

It is difficult, really, to obey Allah (S.W.A) and to obey those He authorized to be in charge of us. Obedience is hard. However, if we push ourselves and sacrifice our egos, for  Allah(S.W.A)'s sake, and we obey, we can expect only good to come from it. Try it. I have tried it myself and I am still trying, and I am a very satisfied customer. Caution, I do not at all imply that you should obey blindly as sheep obey their shepherd. Whatever you obey must be in accordance with the Qur’an or the hadith of our Prophet, Muhammad (S.A.W). That is the obedience I am talking about. Watch out for any obedience that disobeys Allah (S.W.A). That is rebellion against our creator, and that is really bad. Hence, obey Allah (S.W.A); obey His messenger; and obey those Allah (S.W.A) authorized; and follow the Qur’an and the hadith; and everything will be all right.