In the published article titled “Advice to the Mujahidin: Listen and Obey”, the ISIS vaguely converses the Islamic perspective on leadership and obedience, and instead, focused on warning our fellow Muslims on following treacherous apostate rulers. However, they have failed to mention and discuss the so-called Muslim leaders who advocate for hate and violence, which are clearly and ultimately un-Islamic.


At Mustaqim, we believe in educating our fellow Muslims on importance matters such as the concept of leadership in Islam.


Leadership in Islam is considered as a part of worship that must be held with responsibility and trust. It is an important instrument that has been used to disseminate the Islamic teaching for the realization of an ideal society which is based on justice and compassion. The goal is to serve the Muslim community at large. That is, directing and guiding people to what is good in this world and the Hereafter. The main tasks of leaders are to do good deeds and to work toward the establishment of way of living ordained by Allah.


Allah said: We also made them leaders, guiding by our command, and inspired them to do good deeds, establish prayer, and pay alms-tax. And they were devoted to Our worship[1].


Leaders must enforce and promote justice continuously as it is been instructed in Surah An-Nisa 58 “Indeed Allah commands you to deliver the trusts to their [rightful] owners, and, when you judge between people, to judge with fairness. Excellent indeed is what Allah advises you. Indeed Allah is all-hearing, all-seeing.”


However, some of the so-called Muslim leaders encourage Muslims to be violent and extreme, purely for their own personal interests. They abuse the Islamic contexts relating to obedience that Allah ordained Muslims to obey the Amir whether he is good or not. The Prophet said “Hear and obey your leaders, even if an Ethiopian slave whose head is like raisin, is made you chief”.


Terrorists and violent extremists tend to neglect how the Prophet and the Khulafa Ar-Rashidun practiced leadership theories that is based on the Islamic perspective who governed countries and territories for almost 50 years. All people were protected, served, guided, represented and inspired by their leaders. They are the best examples of Islamic leadership derived from Quran and Hadith. It is important to note that they ordained commands that are always based on the Holy Quran and Hadith.


Umm Al-Husayn said that she heard the Messenger of Allah giving 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”[2]


Blind following is not encouraged in Islam. The rule of Allah should always be the basis and not the rule of violent leaders. Killing innocent people, instilling fear in the society and suicide bombing are all prohibited and haram. Whoever ordered to do these violent activities should stop and think if he is following a right leader.


Hudhayfah reported: “The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Do not be blind followers, saying that if our people are good we will be good, and if they are unjust we will be unjust. Rather, decide for yourselves. If the people are good, be good. If they are evil, do not be unjust.”[3]


Imam Ahmad recorded that Ali said: “The Messenger of Allah sent a troop under the command of a man from Al-Ansar. When they left, he became angry with them for some reason an said o them, ‘Has not the Messenger of Allah commanded you to obey me’ They said, ‘Yes.” He said, ‘Collect some wood’ and then he started a fire with the wood, saying, ‘I command you to enter the fire.’ The people almost entered the fire, but a young man among them said, ‘You only ran away from the Fire to Allah’s Messenger. Therefore, do not rush until you go back to Allah’s Messenger, and if he commands you to enter it then enter it.’ When they went back to Allah’s Messenger, they told him what happened, and the Messenger said: “Had you entered it, you would never have departed from it. Obedience is only in righteousness.”


It is clear in this is hadith that Muslims should only obey their leaders in righteousness. Muslims should not be a blind follower, he should also need to filter all the orders he will receive whether is it Halal or Haram. We all know that killing innocent people and exploding oneself is a major sin in Islam, thus, it is Haram to obey a leader who order someone to commit major sins…


Ibn Taymiyyah said, “If a person makes a vow in obedience to Allah, he must fulfill it. If he makes a vow in disobedience to Allah, he must not fulfill it, as what is forbidden is not permissible to fulfill. But if he cannot fulfill his lawful vow, he must perform the expiation for breaking his oath, according to the majority of the predecessors.”[4]

In another narration, Ibn Umar reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “It is a duty upon a Muslim man to listen and obey authorities, whether he likes it or not, unless they command sinful disobedience. If they command sinful disobedience, then there is no listening or obedience to them.”[5]


Several narrations support this narrative including Aisha’s report: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Whoever vows to obey Allah, let him obey Him. Whoever vows to disobey Allah, he must not disobey Him.”[6]


Ali reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “There is no obedience to anyone if it is disobedience to Allah. Verily, obedience is only in good conduct.”[7]


Thus, Muslims, especially the Mujahidun must always be critical and logical all of the time when it comes to its religion. Muslims should think whether he is doing right or wrong.


“Indeed the worst living creature in the sight of Allah are the deaf and dumb who do not use reason”[8]


[1] Surah Al-Anbiya 73
[2] Recorded by Muslim
[3] Sunan al-Tirmidhi
[4] Majmu al-Fatawa 33/49
[5] Sahih al-Bukhari 7144, Sahih Muslim 1839
[6] Sahih al-Bukhari 6700
[7] Sahih al-Bukhari 6830, Sahih Muslim 1840
[8] Surah Al-Anfal 22