Prepared by Abu Ibrahim J. Starling
In a recent conversation, a few students of knowledge and I were discussing the important role the Muslim authorities have in their respective countries and how a good leader, who is guided by the Quran and Sunnah, is a true blessing from Allah upon the people. One of the students in the discussion mentioned the very famous quote, "Indeed Allāh deters with the ruler what He does not deter with the Qurʾān". The great Imam of Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz b. Abd Allāh b. Bāz expounded upon this quote saying;
"Indeed Allāh deters with the ruler what He does not deter with the Qurʾān. This is a very well-known and authentic quote from the third caliph ʿUthamān (raḍī Allāh ʿanhu). It is also reported that ʿUmar said, “Surely Allāh deters with the ruler what He does not deter with the Qurʾān”. It means that Allah prevents commitment of impermissible deeds with the ruler more so than with the Qurʾān. This is because some people, who are weak in faith, are not affected by the deterrents and prohibitions of the Qurʾān and therefore they commit impermissible deeds without concern. However, when they realize that there is a legal punishment carried out by the ruler they are deterred and are afraid of that punishment. Allāh has therefore deterred with the ruler, more specifically the ruler’s legal punishments, some of the criminals more than He has deterred them with the Qurʾān due to their weak faith and lack of fearing Him. They are afraid that the ruler may try, beat, fine, or banish them, which causes them to fear, and thus restrained from some evil deeds which would result in a punishment. Because their faith is weak, they lack fear, and insight they are not restrained by the prohibitions in the Qurʾān. Wa la hawla wa la quwwata illa billah."
This should lead us to appreciate the authorities who establish law and secure the lands. By doing so, we are afforded some level of stability and relative comfort and the hands of many would be criminals are stayed. One may complain that the leaders have faults and numerous mistakes and as much as this is true it should also be expected that a son of Adam, like the rest of us, is bound to drop the ball from time to time. We have to acknowledge the nature of their position and support them in righteousness, advise and council them when appropriate, and pray for their continuous guidance when they err. This is from the teachings of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) who said, “The deen (religion) is naseehah (advice, sincerity).” We said, “To whom?” He (ﷺ) said, “To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.” [Related by Muslim]
So next time you are upset or disappointed with our Muslim authority remember the words of our Prophet and offer a sincere prayer for their success. If they are granted success we will certainly reap the rewards in this life and the next. I leave you with the famous words of Imam al-Fudayl b. 'Iyad, "If I had one answered prayer, I would not make it except for the ruler. If he is rectified, ther lands and the people will be secure".