Who Are “Those In Authority” Who We Are Obliged To Obey?

Allaah says:

O you who believe, obey Allaah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad) and those of you (Muslims) in authority amongst you…” [4:59]

Those in authority” are the scholars and (Muslim) rulers. When they order in accordance with what Allaah and His Messenger have ordered, it is obligatory to obey them.

Ibn Taymiyyah said:

“”Those in authority” are the leaders and those who hold power, and they are the ones who command te people. This consists of (1) those who possess authority and power and (2) those who posses knowledge. So therefore leaders are of two types: Scholars and Rulers. So if they are upright, the people will be upright. And if they are corrupt, the people will be corrupt.” [Majmoo’ Al-Fataawaa, 27/170]

Those who have stated that “those in authority” refers to the scholars include: Ibn ‘Abbaas (in one of his two narrations related by him), Jaabir Ibn ‘Abdillaah, Al-Hasan Al-Basree, Abul ‘Aaliyah, ‘Ataa’ Ib Abee Rabaah, Ad-Dahhaak, Mujaahid, and one of teh two narrations of Imaam Ahmad.

Those who have stated that “those in authority” refers to the leaders include: Aboo Hurayrah, Ibn ‘Abbaas (in the other narration), Zayd Ibn Aslam, As-Sadee, Muqaatil, and this is also the second narratoin by Imaam Ahmad.

Ibn Al-Qayyim beautifully explains this:

“The rulers are only obeyed when they order in conformity with knowledge. So obeying them is in succession to obedience to the scholars. Obeying the scholars in only to be done in goodness and fairness (i.e. so long as it is not in disobedience to Allaah) and what has been obligated y knowledge.

(So) just as obeying the scholars is in succession to obeying the Messenger, obeying the rulers is in succession to obeying the scholars.” [A’laam Al-Muwaqqi’een, 1/8-10]


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