On the Position of Scholars on the Arab Spring

Answered by Sayyidi Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah protect him and benefit us by him)

What is the position of the scholars on recent events in Arab states? How should we respond to these events? Is it not true that: “He who does not concern himself with the affairs of the Muslims is not one of them?”

Concern for the affairs of the Muslims was a duty before these events, it remains so during them and continues to be so after. Whoever does not expend efforts in pleading with Allah to rectify the affairs of the Muslims every day and night has fallen short in this duty. The one who is capable of offering assistance to relatives or friends or anyone else in the country which he lives and fails to do so is lacking in his concern for the affairs of the Muslims.

The scholars offer guidance to all – to those who demand their rights and likewise to those from whom such rights are being demanded. They direct people to that which the Messenger of Allah ﷺ directed Sayyiduna Umar. He said to him1: “Request that he asks in the best way, and request that I give him what is due to him in the best way.” They emphasise to all the sanctity of people’s blood, property and honour, as the Messenger of Allah clearly emphasised this. They stress that no-one, whether they are the rulers or the ones being ruled, has the right to harm anyone else. No-one has the right to permit the spilling of another’s blood, the damage or wrongful taking of his property or for his honour to be violated under any circumstances.

Muslims should know the true station of the scholars in Islam. It is not for the rulers or the ruled to use the scholars on a whim when they feel the need to do so. The scholars are bearers of a sacred trust, bearers of the legacy of Prophethood. What they say must be respected in all situations. It is not for the rulers to constantly go against the guidance of the scholars and then to use them when they need them. Nor is it for those being ruled to live in heedlessness of them, ignorant of their station and then when they need them to ask: “Where are the scholars?” The scholars are not an item that can be chosen at a whim by either party.

There is no doubt that this a time of tribulations and that there are more tribulations to come. We have been informed about them by the Prophet. We have been warned against taking sides and contributing to these conflicts. We have taken a covenant to clarify to all what their duty is. People may then accept this advice, in which case they are then set to receive the mercy of Allah, or they may reject it. Allah will in the end call everyone to account.

In spite of all this, beyond these severe troubles, we know that Allah will bring relief and salvation to the Ummah of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. We ask Allah that the end result is good and that He rectifies the affairs of the Muslims wherever they are.

1 Concerning the man who rudely demanded that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ repay a debt the time for whose payment had not yet come.