The Correct Methodology With Regard to Advising the Rulers – Shaikh Saleh ibn Abdullah al-Fawzan

Question :

What is the correct methodology for advising, particularly with regard to advising the rulers? Is it by publicising their evil actions from their evil actions from the mimbars or by advising them in private? I would like to know what the correct methodology is concerning this matter?


Infallibility is not for anyone except Allaah’s Messenger . Rulers are humans and they make errors. So no doubt they have errors and mistakes, as they are not infallible. But do not make their errors a reason for you to publicise them and remove yourself from obeying them, even if they may be oppressive and unjust  ,and even if they may be sinful, so long as they do not commit clear disbelief. This is that the Prophet commanded us.

This is the Creed of Ahlus-Sunnah wal-Jamaa’ah with respect to the Muslim ruler. The author of Al-‘Aqeedah at-Tahaawiyyah said:“And we do not hold it permissible to rebel against our Imaams and our leaders, even if they may be oppressive. Nor do we supplicate against them or remove ourselves from obedience to them. And we hold that obeying them is part of obeying Allaah and hence an obligation so long as they do not order (us) commit sins. We supplicate to Allaah for them that He grant them rectification and pardon.”This is the same belief that the callers to truth are upon to this very day. These same words and those that bear a similar meaning to it were constantly repeated by our teacher, Shaykh ‘Abdul-‘Azeez bin ‘Abdillaah bin Baaz, may Allaah have mercy on him, in his classes and lectures.


He is referring to the hadeeth of ‘Ubaadah bin as-Saamit (radhiyAllaahu anh) in which he said:“The Prophet summoned us and so we gave him the oath of allegiance that we would hear and obey (the leader) in matters that we liked and matters that we disliked and in things that were hard upon us and things that were easy upon us, and (that we would give him) preference over ourselves. And that we would not oppose the authority of the leader unless we notice him having open disbelief, for which you would have a clear proof from Allaah against him.”(Fath-ul-Baaree: 13/5)

Ahmad added to this in his narration:

“And if you believe that you have some justification in the matter (i.e. of rebelling), do no act upon this suspicion. Rather, just hear and obey until it reaches you, without removing yourself from the obedience.”

And there is further addition in the report of Ibn Hibbaan and Ahmad:

“…even if they take your wealth and beat your back.”

(Fath-ul-Baaree: 13/8)

And if they have sins and commit oppression and injustice, then indeed having patience while obeying them  keeps the unity, maintains unification of the Muslims, and protects the lands of the Muslims. Furthermore, there are great evils that result from in opposing them and seceding from them, which are greater than the evils that (may) come from them. So there will occur greater evil –

The Shaykh, may Allaah preserve him, is referring to the hadeeth of the Ibn ‘Abbaas (radhiyAllaahu anh) in which he narrated that the Prophet said:“Whoever sees in his leader something that he dislikes, then let him be patient with it, for indeed, whoever splits away from the Jamaa’ah (unified group) even an inch, and then dies, he does not die except the death of some in the Days of Ignorance.”(Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (7054); See Fath-ul-Baaree (13/5))And he is also referring to the hadeeth of Anas bin Maalik (radhiyAllaahu anh) in which the Prophet said:“You will indeed see things after me that you will disapprove of.”So they said:“What do you order us to do with them, O Messenger of Allaah?”

He replied:“Give them (i.e. the leaders) their rights and ask Allaah for your rights.”

(Reported by Al-Bukhaaree (7052); See Fath-ul-Baaree (13/5) and Sunan At-Tirmidhee (2190))


Such as the rallies and demonstrations that have appeared in some of the neighbouring countries. These demonstrations are from the practices of the disbelievers , and not from the Muslims. And it is not part of the Religion in any way. They result in the shedding of blood, the destruction of property, and that misery gained over the Sunnah and its adherents. So won’t the callers to political instigation reflect on these consequences?

– than that which comes from them in the first place, so long as this evil (on their part) is less than disbelief (Kufr) and polytheism (Shirk). We are not saying that one should remain silent at the errors that come out from the rulers. No, rather they should be corrected. But they must be corrected in a pure way, by advising them privately, and writing to them in private. By writing to them, we don’t mean that which is written down, passed through the hands of a group of individuals and then spread amongst the people. This is not permissible. Rather, a confidential letter, should be written, in which there is advice –

(This is the methodology of the Salaf with regard to advising the rulers – that it be private and concealed so that there is no room for self-amazement (riyaa) to enter. And in these circumstances, it is much more likely that they (i.e. the leaders) will accept the advice and that Allaah will accept the (good) deed. We will mention some of the texts and narrations regarding this later.)

,and handed over to the ruler or read to him orally. As for a letter that is written, then photocopied, then distributed to the people, then this act is not permissible because it is publicising (his errors), and it is just like speaking against him from the mimbar. In fact, it is worse because it is possible for a person to forget a speech, but as for a written letter, it remains and passes through hands. So this is not from the truth. The Prophet said:

“The Religion is sincerity (advice). The Religion is sincerity (advice). The Religion is sincerity (advice).”

We said:

“To who, O Messenger of Allah?”

He said:

“To Allaah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk.”

(Reported by Muslim (55))

And in the hadeeth, it states:
“Verily Allaah is pleased with three things for you and He is displeased with three things for you. He is pleased that you (1) worship Him and not associate anything (in worship) with Him; and that (2) you hold tight onto the Rope of Allaah, all of you together, and not be divided, and that (3) you mutually advise he whom Allaah gives authority of your affairs.”

(Saheeh: An authentic hadeeth reported by Ahmad (2/367) and Maalik in Al-Muwatta (2/756) with the verification of ‘Abdul-Baaqee.)

The people most fitting and qualified to advise the rulers are the scholars, the members of legal and consultative decisions, and those responsible for making decisions and problem-solving. Allaah says:

When there comes to them some matter touching (public) safety or fear, they make it known (among the people). But if Only they had referred it to the Messenger or to those charged with authority amongst them, the proper investigators would have understood it from them (directly).And had it not been for the Grace and Mercy of Allaâh upon you, You would have followed Shaitân (Satan), except for a few (from you).(Surah an-Nisaa: 83)

So not everybody is fit to do this. And disseminating and publicising their errors is not from advising at all. Rather, it is from spreading evil and wickedness amongst those who believe. And it is not from the methodology of the Salaf As-Saalih, even if the intention of the one who does it may be good and pure, such as for the sake of forbidding an evil, according to his view. However, what he did is a greater evil than that which he is forbidding. Therefore, forbidding an evil may be evil in itself if it is done in a way other than what Allaah and His Messenger have legislated.

Shaykh-ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullaah) said:“Gentleness is a way towards commanding good and forbidding evil. This is why it is said: “Let your commanding of good be good, and your forbidding of evil not evil.”And since commanding good and forbidding evil are from the greatest of obligatory and recommended acts, the benefit derived from it must always outweigh the evil… Rather, everything that Allaah commanded us with is in fact good. Allaah has praised good and the doers of good, and He has condemned evil and the doers of evil in many places (of the Qur’aan). So in the case where commanding good and forbidding evil will only bring about greater corruption, it is something that Allaah has not commanded, even if it results in a person abandoning an obligation and committing a prohibition, since the believer is only required to fear Allaah with regard to Allaah’s servants, and it is not upon him to guide.”(Al-Amr bil-Ma’roof wan-Nahee ‘anil-Munkar (pg. 19)This is since this person has not followed the legislated way of the Prophet, which he described when he said:“Whoever amongst you sees an evil, then let him change it with his hand. But if he is not able to, then with his tongue. And if he is not able to, then with his heart, and this is the weakest of Faith.”(Reported by Muslim (49))

So Allaah’s Messenger divided people into three categories: Amongst them is he who able is able to terminate the evil with his hand, and he is the one in authority, such as the ruler and those entrusted with authority, such as committees, governors and leaders. The second type is the scholar who because he has no authority, forbids (evil) by explaining and advising with wisdom and fair admonition, and by advising those in authority in a wise manner. The third category consists of those who have no knowledge or authority. They should forbid the evil with their hearts, by hating it and by hating and withdrawing away from those who do it.

Reference: Beneficial Answers to Questions on Innovated Methodologies by Shaykh Saalih al-Fawzaan Hafithahullaah. (Beneficial footnotes by Jamaal bin Fareehan Al-Harithee). Pg. 51-55

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