Shariah-based View of the Coup in Egypt By Dr. Ali Al-Qaradaghi

By :



Shariah-based View of the Coup in Egypt

By Dr. Ali Al-Qaradaghi



All praise be to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon God’s messenger, and on his family, companions and followers;


The whole world was shocked to watch the turn of events in Egypt and followed with great interest the developments and new situation there which was accompanied by increased tension and friction between the protesters in streets and public squares or between them and security men leading to deaths and injuries among the dear Egyptian people or vandalism of facilities owned to and built by them, or violation of people’s sacred rights and freedoms guaranteed in religion and the law. The incidents unfolded an unconstitutional coup against the legitimate authorities, and a concurrent campaign of repression and obstruction of media activities as security personnel stormed their headquarters in a barbaric manner. Yet the most dangerous side to this campaign was the ferocious attack on Islamists who won the trust of the majority of the Egyptian people in free, transparent elections while most of their leaders were sent to prison in addition to burning their offices, killing a number of them under the eye of security and police forces and other incidents that warn endless evil unless reasonable people contain the situation. Our uttermost fear is that these people under attack will run out of patience or that enemies will utilize this situation to repeat the scenario of Algeria’s tragedy with Islamists and that Egypt would drown in a sea of blood – God forbid this and may Allah protect Egypt!


In view of this dangerous situation, and stemming from my personal sense of duty, and the duty of clarification ordained on scholars, I would like to illuminate and affirm the following:


First: the prohibition of rebellion and disobedience to the legitimate authority and the legitimate head of state to whom people have given a pledge of allegiance is one of the core, undisputed Islamic rulings. Hence, it is not permissible to rebel against that ruler as long as he hasn’t committed an evident act of apostasy or grand treason as Allah Exalted said { O you who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you.} [Quran 4:59] and Muslim in his Sahih books and others reported that Prophet Muhammad – peace and blessings be upon him – said that "One who withdraws his hand from obedience (to the appointed chief) will find no argument (in his defence) when he stands before Allah on the Day of Judgment”. The prophet also said that "One who defects from obedience (to the chief) and separateqs from the main body of the Muslims-if he died in that state-would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya (i.e. would not die as a Muslim)” [narrated by Muslim] and affirming the same meaning said that "whoever defects from obedience (to the chief) and separates from the main body of Muslims -and died in that state-would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahillyya.” [narrated by Muslim]. Al-Bukhari and Muslim also reported in their chains that Prophet Muhammad said "there will be caliphs and they will be quite large in number. His Companions said: What do you order us to do (in case we come to have more than one Caliph)? He said: The one to whom allegiance is sworn first has a supremacy over the others,” and that "One who found in his chief something which he disliked should hold his patience, for one who separates from the main body of the Muslims even to the extent of a hand-span and dies, would die the death of one belonging to the days of Jahiliyya.” About respect of authority, the prophet also said that "Whoever humiliates God’s caliph on earth, Allah humiliates him” [narrated by At-Tirmidhi] and that "He who obeys the chief, obeys me, and he who disobeys the chief, disobeys me.” [narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim]. Moreover, there are a hundred hadiths or more about the obligation of obedience and prohibition of rebellion on the president or Muslim chief.

Hence, the toppling and subversion of the legitimate, elected ruler is a major sin (Kabira), and is prohibited by the consensus of scholars of jurisprudence (Fiqh), as it entails great harms and seditions that only Allah knows the extent of their danger.

It is no secret that our Muslim nation suffers the vicious outcome of rebellion against Othman and Ali to this day.


In this regard, and after decades, or rather centuries, of oppression and dictatorship, the Egyptian people have chosen in transparent elections a president who has memorized the Quran and is sincere to his people and their security, then for the army and accomplices to come and oust him by force, it is an impermissible act as per religion and the constitution. Thus, Rebellion on the legitimate, elected president who has observed his pledge like Mohamed Morsi is viewed as the sedition, grand harm and corruption. Ousting him is not - as some have said - a toleration of the lesser of two evils, particularly that President Morsi in addition to being the legitimate president still enjoys the support of the majority of the Egyptian people not to mention that the issue of majority and minority must be decided through ballot boxes and not mere claims.


We have but regretfully seen the participation by some religious figures and some members of the Salafi movement (Al-Noor Party) in such constitutional and religious violation, standing in one front with non-Muslims, actually standing behind the Pope and alongside secularists who wish no good for Islam and reject the new Egyptian constitution because it states that Islamic Shariah as its point of reference.


Scholars of creed and Shariah – as well as Muslim intellects and wise people – are asking where the issues of Walaa and Baraa are (Loyalty and enmity, the concept of allegiance to Muslims and clearing one’s side from anything to do with non-belief), and where the obligation to obey the legitimate ruler is. Why is it that obedience to oppressive rulers was considered obligatory [in their former discourse] but obedience to a Muslim, elected president - who has memorized the Quran, and stood by Islamic and national interests in relation to others, in relation to Syria and regarding Egypt’s higher interests in Africa and other areas – is not obligatory in their view? How astonishing and what double standards that only Machiavellians can justify! For that reason the majority of Salafi leaders and scholars attacked this stance that contradicts with the principle of Walaa and Baraa, and the scholarly consensus.


Imam Ahmed said: "it is not permissible for anyone to fight against the ruler nor rebel against him. Whoever does that has innovated a way unlike the prophet’s tradition and path”. The same opinion or similar one was reported by Abi Zar`a, Ibn Abi Hatem, Ali bin Al-Maydani, Al-Tahawi, and so was the opinion of the foremost scholars including the imams of the fiqh schools, and hadith and so is the opinion of contemporaries from all traditions unless that ruler was a disbeliever, was oppressive to people, or didn’t allow the rites of religion. This stance is based on the many evidences from the Quran and Sunna, and the overall purposes of Shariah as the expulsion of the legitimate ruler leads to harms that are much greater than some of the benefits that may be imagined, not real, so much that scholars said that: in case the ruler is oppressive, it must be taken into consideration that renunciation doesn’t entail greater harm.


Besides these rulings, the experiences of rebellion against the ruler were tragic. When people rebelled against Othman – may Allah be pleased with him – the consequences were seditions as dark as black nights whose grave impacts are still standing to the present. People rebelled against Ali – may Allah be pleased with him – and hence came the greatest tragedy and strife that is still tearing our Muslim nation apart till the day as we all know.


Keeping these painful experiences in mind, we call for the return of the legitimate president, then negotiating with him to find a way out of the argued crises.


Second: At the same time, we say that among the undisputed values and rulings of this religion is the prohibition of assault on souls, people’s sacred honor, and private and public property that are as sacred as Mecca, and the holy months (A believer is in a space of his religion unless they spill a prohibited blood) [narrated by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih book 6862].


For that reason, I address my call to everyone to protect the blood, property, and sanctities and to exert patience regardless of the circumstances and conditions, and to meet harm with good actions.


Third: I see it as a religious necessity that scholars, and particularly the scholars of Shariah and the IUMS members, as well as intellects and wise people shoulder their responsibility at this critical stage by defending the truth first of all, and making serious efforts to find a suitable way out and a comprehensive reconciliation between the constituents of the Egyptian people, and a solution accepted by everyone. So I make sincere calls to them to not fail to play this role.

Fourth: at the same time, the Muslim nation is not aloof of this incident or strife, hence sincere rulers and scholars must mediate to find an honorable solution accepted by everyone.


This grave incident threatens the great Egypt whose dignity and power is a source of dignity for the whole Arab and Muslim nation and so its protection is everyone’s responsibility and its weakness is a weakness for the whole nation. All historical experience stands proof of this fact, starting from Salahuddin who achieved victory over the crusaders in Palestine and the Levant thanks to Allah and next to the army of Egypt, the Levant and Iraq. In addition, the Egyptian army stopped the advancement of the Mongols and Tatars during the days of Qutuz, defeated them and prevented them from bringing more destruction to countries and people, and rather saved the world from their evils.


Hence, Muslim and Arab leaders must – out of religious duty and consideration of higher interests – exert all efforts to bring Egypt out of this crisis that has torn its people into camps which we fear that enemies and ignorant people might employ as preludes to civil war – God forbid – at which point salvation won’t be easy as we have witnessed in Algeria.


It is not permissible either for Arab leaders to favor one camp over the other or rejoice in the humiliation of a side that doesn’t accord with their desires. Rather, they are obligated by religion and consideration of interest to stand by the truth and by a complete, comprehensive reconciliation that leads to an honorable solution for all of Egypt. So we demand them to form a supreme committee of leaders to achieve these aspired ends.

So be mindful of Allah regarding Egypt, and He is in charge of protecting it from all harm and uniting its people around all good.


{And Allah has full power over His affairs, but most among mankind know it not}