Advising or criticizing the Leader or Government

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Advising or criticizing the Leader or Government

Post by samirisaoui on Tue Jan 07, 2014 3:47 am

In any action Muslims must be driven by good intentions, especially when dealing with advising or criticizing the leader of the state. Each Muslim has the full right to advise and criticize anyone, no matter what his position is. However it is important for the advisor to possess a comprehensive knowledge relating to the topic in which he will advise. In addition, the advice should be given in a wise suitable manner and not at an unsuitable time or in an unsuitable place or in a poor manner. There are many examples in the time of the Prophet (pbuh) and in the times of the rightly guided Caliphs where people were allowed to take their issues directly to the caliph and his governors.
Once a man came to the Caliph Haroun Al-Rashid and advised him in a very harsh way. Haroun Al-Rashid told him God, the Almighty sent a man better than you (the Prophet Moses PBUH) to a man worse than me (Pharaoh) and told him:
“And speak to him with gentle speech that perhaps he may rethink the matter (about his unjust rule and heresy) or become God-fearing”(Qur’an 20: 44).
Giving useful advice to the ruler is a critical issue. It is Abu Bakr (The elected Successor of God’s Final Messenger and greatest man after the Prophets) who said that: If I follow the right path in ruling you, assist and obey me. Otherwise, if I do wrong, correct me.
The Prophet (pbuh) said:
“The whole of Islam is about sincerity The Companions said “to whom?” He said “to God and His book, to His Prophet (pbuh), to the Leader’s, and to the general public.” (Muslim)
This Hadith gives us the order in which our sincerity is deserved. So first it is to God and His Messenger or the Qur’an and Sunnah. Next are the Leaders and Scholars of Islam, then the general public.
It is the role of the Caliph to accept the advice. Once Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the second Caliphate, gave his speech in public in which he ordered Muslims not to give a high dowry to their wives. Upon hearing this, a woman stood up and corrected him quoting the Qur’an:
“But if you want to replace one wife with another and you have given one of them a great amount [in gift], do not take [back] from it anything. Would you take it in injustice and manifest sin?(Qur’an 4:20).
Umar Ibn Al-Khattab replied: the woman was right while Umar was wrong. Since his sincerity was to God first and then the people, he realized that his decision – which was for the well-being of society in his mind- must not be correct because The All-Wise had already made the law. It should also be noted that this was a regular woman and she was allowed to speak her mind at a speech which proves that women were taking part in societal affairs. Islam is the first to offer such rights to women among mankind.
The act of advising and correcting the Caliph or Muslim leader fall under a much bigger obligation in Islam which is enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong. It is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an
“And let there be from among you a nation inviting you to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Those will be the successful (in the hereafter).”(Qur’an 3:104)
The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
“Whoever encounters evil, he should try to change it by his hand (by force), and otherwise if he isn’t able, he should change it by his tongue (by advising or making a speech), and finally if he isn’t able to do it by tongue then by his heart denying it and making a prayer against it and that is the weakest of faith”.(Bukhari)
No true believer should be afraid or shy to enjoin what’s good or forbid what’s wrong. The abovementioned Hadith emphasizes this point. Yet in many cases, a believer might find that if he tried to physically correct a problem then he might create more problems than he solved. For this reason the Hadith gives the steps of how to deal with it. The last statement “that is the weakest of faith” refers to the one who is shy to do something about the evil they encounter, yet they are able to do or say something without creating more problems. This is blameworthy shyness which is opposed to praiseworthy shyness which comes from the awareness of God Almighty and considering his All-knowing account of our lives.

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