An-Nisa · Juz 5 · Qur'an Tafseer

Tafseer Surah an-Nisa Ayah 59

The Necessity of Obeying the Rulers in Obedience to Allah

In Ayah 59, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala states,

“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. Then if you disagree in anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is best and more suitable for (final) determination.”

This clearly indicates that the real command and rule is from Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.  All rulers are the carriers of His command. This establishes that the supreme authority, the ultimate sovereignty belongs to none but Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala.

The offices of the government are not the rights of the residents of a country which could be distributed on the basis of the ratio of population. They are, trust obligations placed on our shoulders by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala which can be given only to those who are capable and deserving of them.

Man’s rule on this earth can be legitimate only as a deputy or trustee. While formulating the laws of the land, he will have to be bound and guided by the principles laid down by Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the Absolute Sovereign, and which have been given to man through revelation.

Al-Bukhari recorded that Ibn Abbas radhiAllahu anhu said that the ayah,

أَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ وَأُوْلِى الاٌّمْرِ مِنْكُمْ

“Obey Allah and obey the Messenger, and those in authority among you.” was revealed about Abdullah bin Hudhafah bin Qays bin Adi, who the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam sent on a military expedition.” This statement was collected by the Group, with the exception of Ibn Majah At-Tirmidhi said, “Hasan, Gharib”.

Abu Dawud recorded that Abdullah bin Umar said that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

“The Muslim is required to hear and obey in that which he likes and dislikes, unless he was commanded to sin. When he is commanded with sin, then there is no hearing or obeying.”

This Hadith is recorded in the two Saheehs.

Ubadah bin As-Samit said, “We gave our pledge to Allah’s Messenger sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam to hear and obey (our leaders), while active and otherwise, in times of ease and times of difficulty, even if we were deprived of our due shares, and to not dispute this matter (leadership) with its rightful people. The Prophet said, “Except when you witness clear Kufr about which you have clear proof from Allah.” This Hadith is recorded in the two Saheehs.

Another Hadith narrated by Anas states that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

“Hear and obey (your leaders), even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like a raisin, is made your chief.”

Al-Bukhari recorded this Hadith. Umm Al-Husayn said that she heard the Messenger of Allah giving a speech during the Farewell Hajj, in which he said, “Even if a slave was appointed over you, and he rules you with Allah’s Book, then listen to him and obey him.” Muslim recorded this Hadith. In another narration with Muslim, the Prophet said, “Even if an Ethiopian slave, whose nose was mutilated…”

In the two Saheehs, it is recorded that Abu Hurayrah radhiAllahu anhu said that the Messenger of Allah sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam said,

“Whoever obeys me, obeys Allah, and whoever disobeys me, disobeys Allah. Whoever obeys my commander, obeys me, and whoever disobeys my commander, disobeys me.”

This is why Allah said,

أَطِيعُواْ اللَّهَ

“Obey Allah”

meaning, adhere to His Book,

وَأَطِيعُواْ الرَّسُولَ

“and obey the Messenger”

meaning, adhere to his Sunnah,

وَأُوْلِى الاٌّمْرِ مِنْكُمْ

“And those of you who are in authority”

in the obedience to Allah which they command you, not what constitutes disobedience of Allah, for there is no obedience to anyone in disobedience to Allah.

The Prophet sallAllahu aalyhi wa sallam has said,

إِنَّمَا الطَّاعَةُ فِي الْمَعْرُوف

“Obedience is only in righteousness.”

The Necessity of Referring to the Qur’an and Sunnah for Judgment

Allah’s statement,

فَإِن تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِى شَىْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ

“(And) if you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger.”

Mujahid and several others among the Salaf said that the Ayah means, “(Refer) to the  Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.” This is a command from Allah that whatever areas the people dispute about, whether major or minor areas of the religion, they are required to refer to the Qur’an and Sunnah for judgment concerning these disputes. In Surah ash-Shurah Ayah 10, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said,

وَمَا اخْتَلَفْتُمْ فِيهِ مِن شَىْءٍ فَحُكْمُهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ 

“And in whatsoever you differ, the decision thereof is with Allah.”

Therefore, whatever the Book and Sunnah decide and testify to the truth of, then it, is the plain truth. This is why Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala said in ayah 59,

 إِن كُنتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ 

“….if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day….”

This also indicates that those who do not refer to the Book and Sunnah for judgment in their disputes, are not believers in Allah or the Last Day. Stating this Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala uses the following words,

 ذَلِكَ خَيْرٌ 

“..That is better…”

meaning, referring to the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger for judgment in various disputes is better,

 وَأَحْسَنُ تَأْوِيلاً  

“…and more suitable for final determination…”

meaning, “Has a better end and destination,” as As-Suddi and several others have stated while Mujahid said, “Carries a better reward.”



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