Thursday, May 1, 2008

Criticism of Government- Dissent

Criticizing the government is a difficult task, for not only adverse comments but reprisals and persecution is also feared. Muslims have been encouraged to speak out the truth and take a bold stand in such situations too. That is Jihad in the true sense of the word. A person about to embark upon a battle (in the cause of Allah) asked the Prophet SAW "What type of Jihad ranks highest?" The Prophet SAW responded, "Truth spoken out before an oppressive ruler".

-Mohammad Nejatullah Siddiqqi, Aspects of Islamic Economy

Something that I found through out Islamic history was this complecency toward oppressive and dictatorial rulers, and now governments. It never made sense to me but the more I read the more I understood that Islam prefers order in society so that people can perform the Sunnah without obstruction. However, it was clear to me that when one was unable to perform the Fard and the ruler/regime was at fault, then the government must be taken down.

I understood this due to the numerous hadith, some of which are listed below:

A Muslim is obliged to listen and obey whether he likes the commands or not, as long as he is not asked to sin against God. But if asked to sin he should neither listen nor obey.


Listen to your ruler and obey him as long as he leads you by the Book of Allah, even if the ruler be a disfigured black


obedience to rulers is not valid where a disobedience to Allah is involved.

That makes me think that criticism/dissent historically does not have a place in Muslim political thought? Yet its human nature to disagree. I found the quote above to be the first instance of developing an understanding on how political differences are dealt with outside the above hadith.

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