Question: As-salamu ‘alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu, as for what follows…
In this era it has spread that rulers in the Islamic world, whether Arab or non-Arab, rely on ruling with man-made law instead of ruling with the law of Allah, so what is the hukm (ruling) on these rulers? We hope to see the answer being supported by textual evidences from the Book, the Sunnah, and the statements of the scholars.
Answer: All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the ‘alameen; and may the salah and salam [of Allah] be upon the most noble of prophets and messengers, our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions ajma‘een . As for what follows…
Indeed, when Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) sent His Messenger Muhammad (ﷺ) with this honorable deen, which took people out from darkness into light, people at that time were swinging in the darkness of ignorance and misguidance, sinking in the sea of myths and obsolete traditions which they inherited from their fathers and ancestors in every aspect of their lives: beliefs, worship, legal proceedings, and judgments. Their beliefs and worship were based on shirk with Allah (سبحانه وتعالى), as they associated partners and equals with Him from trees, stones, angels, shayateen, humans, and others, gaining closeness to them with various types of means which are prohibited to be given to other than Allah; means such as: slaughtering, swearing oaths, and other than them. As for legal proceedings and judgments, they are no less in misguidance and corruption in comparison with their way in worship as they used to constitute tawagheet, soothsayers, and fortune-tellers who handled those proceedings between people in every dispute they have in aspects of wealth, blood, honor, and other than that. They would establish one of these (tawagheet) in every district, and if the sentencing is issued then it was applied with no objection or review in spite of it being oppressing.
When Allah sent Muhammad (ﷺ) with this pure Sharee‘ah he abolished these traditions and eradicated them and confined worship to be for Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and confined legal proceedings and seeking judgment to the Sharee‘ah of Allah. He (تعالى) said,
... إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ ۚ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ...
...The command (or the judgement) is for none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him... [Yusuf 12:40]
And when He (تعالى) said,
إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّـهِ...
...The Hukm is for none except Allah... [Yusuf 12:40]
This restricts the Hukm to the Sharee'ah of Allah. And:
... أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ...
...He has commanded that you worship none but Him... [Yusuf 12:40]
Means to restrict worship to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) with a way of confining the worship to Him (تعالى) in the most significant and stressed way: negation and making an exception.
Thus the one who reads the Book of Allah would find many ayat that shows the obligation of seeking judgment from what Allah has sent down of the pure Sharee'ah to His Messenger (ﷺ).
1. He (سبحانه وتعالى) said,
...وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
...And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kafirun. [al-Ma'idah 5:44]
And this honorable ayah is evidence regards to the kufr of the one who turns away from the Hukm of Allah and His Messenger to another hukm. The ignorant Murji'ah today have tried to divert the meaning of this ayah regarding the kufr of the ruler who rules with other than what Allah has revealed and said,
This ayah was sent down about the Jews, so its judgment does not include us.
This highlights the extent of their ignorance on the fundamental principles that were established by the scholars of Tafseer, Hadeeth, and Usul al-Fiqh, which state that the ruling is taken from the general expression [in the text] and not from the specific reason for revelation. So if a ruling is sent down based on a specific reason, it is not just applicable only on that reason of revelation, but it goes beyond it and includes every matter that falls under that general expression. And – whoever (من) – in the ayah is a phrase of generalization; therefore, the ruling is not confined to its reason [of revelation] unless there is a text from the Legislator that limits the ruling to its reason of revelation only, like the hadeeth of the Prophet (ﷺ) when he was asked by one of his companions (رضي الله عنهم),
يا رسول الله إنه كانت لي عناق أحب إلىّ من شاة فضحيت بها فهل تجزئني؟
Oh Messenger of Allah! I had a young she-goat that is beloved to me more than a sheep and I sacrificed it, is it sufficient for me?
He (ﷺ) then said,
تجزئك ولا تجزئ أحدا بعدك
It is sufficient for you and none after you.
And they, the Murji'ah, said that it was narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas (رضي الله عنه) that he was asked about the tafseer of the ayah,
...وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
...And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Kafirun. [al-Ma'idah 5:44]
That Ibn ‘Abbas said,
كفر دون كفر
Kufr less than kufr.
And in another narration,
ليس الكفر الذي يذهبون إليه
It is not the kufr they are (i.e. the Khawarij) going towards.
The reply to that is that Hisham ibn Hujayr, the narrator of this narration from Tawus from ibn ‘Abbas, has been spoken about by the leading scholars of hadeeth such as Imam Ahmad, Yahya ibn Ma‘een and others. We have a different narration from Tawus from a man who is more trustworthy than him (i.e. Hisham ibn Hujayr) who is ‘Abdullah ibn Tawus who narrated from his father that when Ibn ‘Abbas was asked about the tafseer of this ayah he said,
هي به كفر
It is kufr.
2. He (تعالى) said:
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّىٰ يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا
But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you (O Muhammad ﷺ) judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept (them) with full submission. [an-Nisa 4:65]
This ayah is evidence for negating the iman of whoever does not rule by the law of Allah due to Allah swearing in it the negation of iman from whoever until they have three matters:
- To seek judgment from the law of Allah.
- Find within themselves no discomfort; rather, they are pleased with it.
- Submit to the Hukm of Allah and are pleased with it
And as the Murji'ah attempted to divert the meaning of the previous ayah on the kufr of the ruler who rules with other than what Allah has revealed, they have tried as well to divert the meaning of this ayah from negating the reality of iman. They said,
This negation negates the completeness of iman, not its reality.
These ignorant people do not know that the foundation in the pure Arabic language is that we do not go to the metaphorical meaning unless we have a presumption that obligates diverting the expression from the stronger possibility to the weaker possibility. Therefore, which evidence and presumption is there to divert this ayah from negating the reality of iman to negating the completeness of iman?
3. He (سبحانه وتعالى) said:
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا بِمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوا إِلَى الطَّاغُوتِ وَقَدْ أُمِرُوا أَن يَكْفُرُوا بِهِ وَيُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَن يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا ﴿٦٠﴾ وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ وَإِلَى الرَّسُولِ رَأَيْتَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يَصُدُّونَ عَنكَ صُدُودًا ﴿٦١﴾
Have you seen those (hyprocrites) who claim that they believe in that which has been sent down to you, and that which was sent down before you, and they wish to go for judgement (in their disputes) to the Taghut (false judges, etc.) while they have been ordered to reject them. But Shaytan (Satan) wishes to lead them far astray. And when it is said to them: "Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad ﷺ)," you (Muhammad ﷺ) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad ﷺ) with aversion. [an-Nisa 4:60-61]
This noble ayah is evidence that whoever seeks judgment from the taghut or rules by it that their iman has been nullified as evidenced by His (تعالى) saying, “those who claim to have believed.” Because if they were believers in truth the ayah would not have said that they claim to have believed, and when He said that they claim to have believed it indicates the absence of the reality of iman in Allah. Also, in His (تعالى) saying, “while they were commanded to disbelieve in it, and Shaytan wishes to lead them far astray,” is another proof on the absence of the reality of iman from them. And knowing the reason this ayah was revealed makes it evidently clear the kufr of whoever seeks judgment from the taghut or rules by it.
The scholars of tafseer have mentioned the reason behind the revelation of this ayah was because there was a dispute between a man from the Jews and another man. The Jew said, “Let us take our case to the Messenger of Allah.” The other man said, “No, let us take our case to Ka’b ibnul-Ashraf, the Jew.” Then this ayah was revealed. Ash-Sha’bi said:
There was a dispute between a man from the munafiqin and a man from the Jews; the Jew said, “Let us take our case to Muhammad,” as he knew that he (ﷺ) does not accept bribes, and the munafiq said, “Let us seek judgment from the Jews,” since he knew that they take bribes. So they agreed to refer to a fortune teller in Juhaynah and to seek judgment from him. Then, the ayah, “Have you not seen those who claim,” to the end of the ayah was revealed.”
And despite that this narration from ash-Sha’bi has some weakness, there are plenty of related narrations that strengthen it. And what gives support in regards to the kufr and apostasy of those mentioned in the ayah is that ‘Umar ibnul-Khattab (رضي الله عنه) killed the one who refused to prefer the ruling of the Prophet (ﷺ), and if he was not an apostate, ‘Umar would not have killed him. It was narrated from ‘Urwah ibnuz-Zubayr that he said,
اختصم إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم رجلان فقضى لأحدهما، فقال الذي قضى عليه: ردنا إلى عمر( رضي الله عنه)، فقال الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم: (نعم انطلقوا إلى عمر)، فانطلقا، فلما أتيا عمر، قال الذي قضى له: يا ابن الخطاب! إن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قضى لي، وإن هذا قال: ردنا إلى عمر فردنا إليك رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فقال عمر: أكذلك؟ - للذي قضى عليه - فقال: نعم، فقال عمر: مكانك حتى أخرج فأقضي بينكما، فخرج مشتملا على سيفه، فضرب الذي قال: ردنا إلى عمر فقتله.
Two men disputed and referred to the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), and he judged for one of them, and the one who was judged against said, “Refer us to Umar,” so the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “Ok, refer to ‘Umar,” and they went to him. When they met him the one whom the Prophet (ﷺ) judged for said, “Oh ibnul-Khattab! The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) judged for me and this man said refer us to ‘Umar, and the Prophet (ﷺ) referred us to you.” So ‘Umar said, “Is that so?” to the one who was judged against, and he said, “Yes.” So ‘Umar said, “Stay where you are until I come out and judge between you.” Then, he came out with his sword and hit the one who said “refer us to ‘Umar” and killed him.
The difference here context does not invalidate its existence because of the possibility of having many incidents that caused the ayah to be revealed, as in His (تعالى) saying,
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمْ تَعَالَوْا إِلَىٰ مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ وَإِلَى الرَّسُولِ رَأَيْتَ الْمُنَافِقِينَ يَصُدُّونَ عَنكَ صُدُودًا
And when it is said to them: "Come to what Allah has sent down and to the Messenger (Muhammad ﷺ)," you (Muhammad ﷺ) see the hypocrites turn away from you (Muhammad ﷺ) with aversion. [an-Nisa 4:61]
This indicates that whoever shuns the Hukm of Allah and His Messenger and turns away from it is a munafiq; and the munafiq is a kafir.
The one who judges by man-made laws is a kafir, as established earlier, as well the one who legislates man-made laws, because by his legislating these laws he [claims to] be a partner with Allah in legislation. He (تعالى) said,
أَمْ لَهُمْ شُرَكَاءُ شَرَعُوا لَهُم مِّنَ الدِّينِ مَا لَمْ يَأْذَن بِهِ اللَّـهُ...
...Or have they partners with Allah (false gods), who have instituted for them a religion which Allah has not allowed... [ash-Shura 42:21]
And He (تعالى) said,
...وَلَا يُشْرِكُ فِي حُكْمِهِ أَحَدًا
...And He makes none to share (shirk) in His Decision and His Rule.
And He (عز وجل) said,
اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِّن دُونِ اللَّـهِ...
They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah... [at-Tawbah 9:31]
For this reason, when ‘Adi ibn Hatim heard this ayah he said,
يا رسول الله إنا لسنا نعبدهم
Oh Messenger of Allah, we did not worship them.
The Prophet (ﷺ) said,
أليس يحرمون ما أحل الله فتحرمونه ويحلون ما حرم الله فتحلونه؟
Don’t they prohibit what Allah has permitted and you prohibit it, and they permit what Allah has prohibited and you permit it?
He said, “Yes.” He (ﷺ) said,
That is you worshipping them.
The noble ayah, based on the hadeeth of ‘Adi ibn Hatim, makes it clear that permitting, prohibiting, and legislating is from the characteristics that are specific to Him (تعالى), and whoever prohibits, permits, legislates whatever contradicts the law of Allah, then he claims to be a partner to Allah in His special qualities.
Therefore, due to the previous noble ayat and our comments on them it is clear that whoever rules by other than what Allah has revealed and turns away from the law of Allah and His Hukm – that he is a kafir in Allah al-‘Adhim and outside the fold of Islam. And like him is the one who places man-made laws for people, because if he was not pleased with them, he would not have ruled by them, as reality shows his untruthfulness. Many of these rulers have the authority to prevent these laws, change the constitution, remove them, and so on. If we say, for example, that these rulers have not set these laws and legislated them for their people, then who made it obligatory upon the people to refer to these laws and punishes whoever rejects them? Their reality and situation is not far from ijma’ of kufr narrated by ibn Taymiyyah and ibn Katheer (رحمه الله) in relation to the situation and reality of the Tatar, as the Tatar [then] did not place and legislate the Yasiq (i.e. their constitution), the one who legislated it was one of their first rulers: Genghis Khan. And the status of these [today] is like the status of that.
Thus it is clear that the ruler who rules by other than what Allah has revealed falls into kufr from [at least] one or two aspects:
- From the aspect of legislation if he legislates.
- From the aspect of ruling if he rules.
Since I have finished mentioning the evidences of the kufr of the one who judges by man-made laws from the texts (i.e. Qur'an and Sunnah), I will now mention the statements of the ‘Ulama and A'immah on the issue of the kufr of those who rule by man-made laws:
1. Shaykhul-Islam Taqiy ad-Deen ibn Taymiyyah said in al-Fatawa (3/267),
والإنسان متى حلل الحرام المجمع عليه أو حرم الحلال المجمع عليه أو بدل الشرع المجمع عليه كان كافرا باتفاق الفقهاء
And whenever a person permits what is prohibited by ijma’, or prohibits what is permitted by ijma’, or changes the legislation that is agreed upon by ijma’, then he is a kafir by the agreement of the scholars.
And he said in al-Fatawa (35/372),
ومتى ترك العالم ما علمه من كتاب الله وسنة رسوله واتبع حكم الحاكم المخالف لحكم الله ورسوله كان مرتدا كافرا، يستحق العقوبة في الدنيا والآخرة
And whenever the scholar leaves what he knows from the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger, and follows the hukm of the ruler who contradicts the Hukm of Allah and His Messenger, then he is an apostate kafir who deserves punishment in this life and the Hereafter.
2. Ibn Kathir said in Al-Bidayah wan-Nihayah (13/119),
من ترك الشرع المحكّم المنـّزل على محمد خاتم الأنبياء عليه الصلاة والسلام وتحاكم إلى غيره من الشرائع المنسوخة كفر، فكيف بمن تحاكم إلى الياسق وقدمها عليه، ومن فعل ذلك كفر بإجماع المسلمين
Whoever leaves the Wise Legislation that was revealed to Muhammad (عليه الصلاة والسلام), the seal of the prophets, and seeks a ruling from other than it from the abrogated laws has disbelieved; so what of whoever seeks judgment from the Yasiq and puts the Yasiq before it? Whoever does that has disbelieved by the agreement of the Muslimin.
3. Our shaykh, Shaykh Muhammad al-Amin ash-Shinqeeti (رحمه الله), after he mentioned the texts that showed the kufr of those who rule by man-made laws, said,
وبهذه النصوص السماوية التي ذكرنا يظهر غاية الظهور أن الذين يتبعون القوانين الوضعية التي شرعها الشيطان على ألسنة أوليائه مخالفة لما شرعه الله جل وعلا على ألسنة رسله صلى الله عليهم وسلم، أنه لا يشك في كفرهم وشركهم إلا من طمس الله بصيرته وأعماه عن نور الوحي مثلهم
And with these Heavenly texts that we have mentioned, it becomes quite clear that the ones who follow the man-made laws, which the Shaytan has legislated upon the tongues of his ‘Awliya and which oppose that Allah, jala-wa’ala has legislated upon the tongues of His Messengers (عليهم الصلاة والسلام). Nobody could doubt that they are Kafir and Mushrik except the one whom Allah has caused to have no understanding and has blinded his eyes, like theirs, to the light of revelation.
4 . Our shaykh, Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibrahim Al-ash-Shaykh in his comment on the ayah: “But no, by your Lord, they will not believe…” said,
وقد نفى الله سبحانه وتعالى الإيمان عن من لم يحكموا النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم فيما شجر بينهم، نفيا مؤكدا بتكرار أداة النفي و بالقسم
Verily, Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) negated the iman of those who do not refer to the judgments of the Prophet (ﷺ) in their disputes between them; an assured negation that is repeated by utilizing the linguistic tool of negation coupled with an oath.
That is what he (رحمه الله) has said commenting on this ayah. And since I have attended his (رحمه الله) circles for many years I have heard him more than once emphasizing this issue and stating the kufr of those who rule by other than the legislation of Allah, as he explained in his A Letter on Ruling by Man-Made Laws (رسالة تحكيم القوانين).
5 . Our shaykh, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Aziz ibn Baz (رحمه الله) in his treatise Refuting Arab Nationalism (نقد القومية العربية), p. 39, said on those who set laws that oppose the Qur'an:
وهذا هو الفساد العظيم والكفر المستبين والردة السافرة كما قال تعالى: ﴿ فلا وربك لا يؤمنون حتى يحكموك فيما شجر بينهم ثم لا يجدوا في أنفسهم حرجا مما قضيت ويسلموا تسليما ﴾ ، وقال تعالى: ﴿ أفحكم الجاهلية يبغون ومن أحسن من الله حكما لقوم يوقنون ﴾
And that is great corruption, clear kufr, and clear apostasy, as He (تعالى) said, ‘But no, by your Lord, they will not believe until they make you, [O Muhammad], judge concerning that over which they dispute among themselves and then find within themselves no discomfort from what you have judged and submit in full submission.’ And He (تعالى) said, ‘Is it the judgment of ignorance they desire? But who is better than Allah in judgment for a people who are certain [in faith].
Until the Shaykh (رحمه الله) said,
...وكل دولة لا تحكم بشرع الله ولا تنصاع لحكم الله فهي دولة جاهلية كافرة ظالمة فاسقة بنص هذه الآيات المحكمات، يجب على أهل الإسلام بغضها ومعاداتها في الله، وتحرم عليهم مودتها وموالاتها حتى تؤمن بالله وحده وتحكم شريعته
…And every state that does not rule by the law of Allah and does not submit to the ruling of Allah, then it is a jahiliyyah, kafirah, dhalimah, fasiqah state based on the evidences in these clear ayat. It is obligatory on the people of Islam to hate it and show enmity towards it, and it is prohibited for them to love and ally with them until they believe in Allah alone and rule by His law.
What I have mentioned of texts and statements from the scholars is enough to show that ruling with man-made laws is kufr and that the one who rules by it is kafir in Allah al-‘Adhim . And if I was to mention all what the scholars have said in this issue the speech would be very long, and what I have mentioned is sufficient to answer the one who asked the question.
And may the salah and salam [of Allah] be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and his companions.
Dictated by Hamud bin 'Uqla' ash-Shu'aybi
Translated by Ahlut-Tawhid Publications