Question: Esteemed Shaykh, there is one who says, “To make rejection of the rulers openly is from the manhaj of the Salaf”, and then he uses as evidence the hadeeth of Abu Saeed al-Khudree, in his rejection of Marwaan bin al-Hakam, when he gave the khutbah before prayer, on the day of Eed, and also by his (alaihis salaatu was salaam) saying, “There will be leaders (Umaraa), and so you will see both good in them and bad in them. So whoever hated (that which was bad), then he will be freed (of blame), and whoever rejected (the bad), then he will be safe”. And also by the hadeeth, “The chief of the martyrs is the one who stands in front of a tyrannical leader and then commands and forbids him, and so he (the ruler) kills him”.
So is this speech correct? And how can we combine between these authentic narrations and between his (alaihis salaatu was salaam) saying, “Whoever wishes to give advice to the one in authority, then let him not make it open…”?
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen: “This is an important question, but the answer to it is more important in reality, and there is not doubt that showing rejection to evil is obligatory upon everyone who is able to do it, due to the saying of Allaah, the Blessed and Exalted, “Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good (Islâm), enjoining Al-Ma'rûf (i.e. Islâmic Monotheism and all that Islâm orders one to do) and forbidding Al-Munkar (polytheism and disbelief and all that Islâm has forbidden). And it is they who are the successful. (Aali Imran 3:104) ”, and the “laam” in His saying, “wal-takun”, is the “laam” of command.
And the Prophet (sallallaahu alaihi wasallam) said, “You shall certainly command with good and forbid the evil, and you shall take the hand of the oppressor and you shall make him return to the truth, otherwise Allaah will strike some of you with the hearts of others, then He will curse you, as He cursed them”. Meaning, as He cursed Banee Israa’eel, about whom Allaah said, “Those among the Children of Israel who disbelieved were cursed by the tongue of Dawûd (David) and 'Iesa (Jesus), son of Maryam (Mary). That was because they disobeyed (Allâh and the Messengers) and were ever transgressing beyond bounds. They used not to forbid one another from the Munkar (wrong, evildoing, sins, polytheism, disbelief, etc.) which they committed. Vile indeed was what they used to do.” (Al-Maa’idah 5:78-79)
However, it is obligatory that we know that the Sharee’ah commands in the likes of these affairs have a place, and it is vital that wisdom is adopted. So when we see that rejection (of the evil) openly will put an end to the evil, and that goodness will arise on account of it, then we reject it openly. And when we see that open rejection does not end the evil, and that goodness does not arise on account of it, rather the hatred of the rulers for those who desire goodness and who reject the evil only increases, then the goodness is that we show rejection to this evil in private. And in this manner, are the evidences combined.
Hence, the evidences that indicate that rejection is to be shown openly, then it is only in that in which we anticipate some benefit, which is the bringing about of good and ending what is evil. And the evidences that indicate that rejection is to be shown secretly, in private, then that is when open rejection will only lead to an increase in evil, and goodness is not attained by it.
So it is obligatory that we advise the rulers, exactly as has come in the text which the questioner has mentioned [“Whoever wishes to give advice to the one in authority, then let him not make it open…”].
And we say that the texts do not falsify each other and nor do they contradict each other. Hence, the rejection is made openly, when there is benefit, and the benefit is that the evil actually ends and that goodness replaces it, and it is done privately, when open rejection does not serve a good purpose, meaning the evil will not stop by it, and nor will goodness replace it. And we know that the rulers cannot ever please all of the people, until even the Imaam of a mosque, he is not able to please all of those who pray behind him.
And so some of them will say that he makes the prayer too long, and others will say that he shortens it too much, and others prefer making the prayer earlier, and others prefer for it to be delayed slightly. So this is in reference to the Imaam of a mosque, so how then will it be for the rulers, whose authority is much greater than his (i.e. the Imaam of a mosque). So when he makes his rejection open against the rulers, then those who hate the unity of the Muslims will actually use him [i.e. to reach their goals].
Hence, is obligatory upon the youth that they look at the texts from all angles, and that they do not give precedence to anything until they look at its results, for the Prophet (alaihis salaatu was salaam) said, “Whoever believes in Allaah and the Last Day, let him speak good or remain silent”. Hence, make this the scales of balance for yourself in all of your statements, and likewise in all of your actions, and Allaah is the one who gives success.”
Questioner: O Noble Shaykh, do your previous words concerning the rejection against the rulers mean that it is not permissible to openly reject the evils that are present in the society?
Shaykh Ibn Uthaymeen: “No. But we are talking about rejection against the rulers, and not about the common evils that are present.
So for example, we have common evils amongst us, such as usury, gambling, and insurance (policies) that are found amongst us, then the majority of them amount to gambling. And it is strange that the people have adopted them with acceptance, and you will not find anyone show rejection against them, alongside the fact that Allaah has placed them with intoxicants, and al-Ansaab (idols, statues around which animal sacrifices are made), and al-Azlaam (arrows for seeking luck or a decision). However, the people do not show rejection towards the likes of these things nowadays. Hence, you will not find anyone show rejection towards the likes of these dealings, so you get insurance on your car, or your house, you submit your wealth, and then you do not know whether you will lose most of it, or only a part of it, and this is gambling.
So I say, that showing rejection to the common evils present is required and there is no harm in that. However, our words are concerning rejection against the ruler. Such as when a person stands in a mosque and says, “the state (i.e. government) is unjust”, and “the state did such and such”, and then he speaks about the rulers in this manner, openly, despite the fact that the ones about whom he is speaking are not even present in that gathering.
And there is a great difference between the ameer or the haakim about which you desire to speak out against is actually in front of you and between him being absent. Since, all of the rejections that have been reported from the Salaf, all of them took place in front of the ameer or the haakim himself. Hence, the difference is that when he is present he is able to defend himself, and explain his viewpoint, and he could actually be right and we (the ones who criticise) could actually be wrong. Hence, if you are eager for goodness, then go to him, and face him, and advise him in that which is between you and him.
(Fataawaaa Lil-Aaamireen bil-Ma’roof wan-Naaheen anil-Munkar, and also in Liqaa al-Baab al-Maftooh, 62/39).