Throughout Islamic history, and during times of trials and tribulations, true leaders emerge to fight for what Islam stands for, while other public figures and scholars surface as true obstacles to the mission of Islam. The role of the latter, better known as scholars of the Sultan, is critical for the continuation of oppression, injustice, and heresies by giving “religious legitimacy” to these corrupt leaders and hence their actions.
Religious legitimacy is given by these tyrants’ scholars through any combination of the following:
- Highlighting the Furu’ [branches] of Islam on the expense of the Usul [roots] since comprehending the latter protects minds from being fooled by some out-of-context Furu’
- Focusing on the Islamic concept of obeying the ruler without explaining the firm conditions the ruler must adhere to before being obeyed, or taking into consideration whether the ruler is just or oppressive
- Ignoring the sound position of Islam in fighting oppressors and oppression by undermining the prophetic call to standing up against unjust rulers for it being the highest form of Jihad
- Forbidding any criticism of the ruler and any call for freedom or justice with the excuse of protecting the Ummah from Fitnah, chaos, and division
- Praising the rulers for any minor goodness and overlooking their major offenses while slandering, by questioning their faith and adab (manners), those who criticize them
- Blaming the Ummah’s downfall on our sins, and not the conflicting agenda of the rulers
To counter the attempts of corrupt scholars and preachers to idolize tyrants, one needs to keep the following in mind:
- Understanding the definition of scholar, Imam, preacher, Quran reciter, etc. is essential, not everyone that is a public speaker is automatically a scholar
- Scholars’ main responsibility is raising awareness and helping people see the truth. Their focus should be on enjoining the good and forbidding the wrong; that’s the essence of Islam. The death of fellow humans and Muslims, or the oppression practiced against them isn’t a political disagreement; it’s a call for action
- The “Scholar’s flesh is poisonous” idea is an un-Islamic paradox. Scholars and public figures are only humans who can be wrong, commit a sin, or worse, go against the teaching of Islam. Allah says: “And recite to them, [O Muhammad], the news of him to whom we gave [knowledge of] Our signs, but he detached himself from them; so Satan pursued him, and he became of the deviators.” [7:175]
- Islam nurtures free men who can think for themselves and seek knowledge and intelligence to be able to lead the world to be a better place. Islam doesn’t breed slaves who blindly follow their masters without checks and balances. Great companions, like Omar bin al-Khatab, who was promised paradise, were questioned and criticized publicly for even minor issues. Nonetheless, Some companions had different opinions with the Prophet (peace be upon him) in non-divine positions
- The ultimate objective of Islam is establishing justice on earth by preserving human dignity. Any attempt by any individual to misguide us, mislead us, or divert us from that path is a betrayal call to the mission of Islam. Allah confirms this in Surat al-Baqarah: “Indeed, those who conceal what We sent down of clear proofs and guidance after We made it clear for the people in the Scripture – those are cursed by Allah and cursed by those who curse” [2:159]
- In terms of Fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), raising awareness and speaking up against public figures who make mistakes or take shady positions is not only exempted from backbiting rulings, but is also recommended, as Allah says: “Allah does not love the public utterance of hurtful speech unless (it be) by one to whom injustice has been done; and Allah is Hearing, Knowing.” [4:148]
As our Ummah goes through the calamities of colonization, occupation, tyranny, and oppression, we must live up to the challenges ahead of us to lead it to a safe haven. Our prosperity, freedom, and independence start by nourishing inner shrewdness to be equipped to reject all idols, starting with those who use the religion of freedom to enslave people to power.