In these oppressive times, we witness the Ummah under great difficulty. Oppressive rulers are subjugating it and implementing such systems upon the Ummah that solely emanate from Kufr. In these times, it is natural for the Ummah to feel unsettled and upset, seeking to change this situation. In order to achieve this objective, we witness several voices that have given opinions regarding the method to remove these rulers and systems upon the Ummah, such as collaborating with this system and bringing change from within, purifying one’s self only or initiating a material armed struggle against the rulers in order to remove them. One of these opinions is Khurooj.
Throughout the history of the Ummah, Khurooj has been a topic of much legislative debate and discussion among the scholars. The literal meaning of Khurooj is to “take out”, “remove” or to “excrete”. The Shar’i meaning of Khurooj is to remove a ruler from ruling who implements open Kufr or “Kufr buwwah” through an armed rebellion.
In religious circles nowadays, although there is much discussion on this topic but its actual reality and relevance in today’s times is understood by very few. The following are few of the opinions regarding Khurooj which are prevalent in the society:
Opinion of the revivalist groups who focus upon correcting oneself to change the society
Opinion of the Saudi Ulama (scholars)
Opinion of modernist scholars
Opinion of Maulana Maudoodi
Opinion of the classical scholars
The opinion of the revivalist groups who focus upon correcting oneself to change society
These Ulama take the meaning of Khurooj in two respects:
To remove the rulers from their rule
To get out of homes for the sake of propagating the Deen or tableegh
The first opinion is narrated form the book “Sharh al Aqaid an Nafsiyyah”, in which Allama Sa’ad ud din Taftazani (died 893 H) gives the opinion that it is encouraged not to do Khurooj against a ruler that is oppressive and who commits haram openly. Imam Muhammad in his book “As Siyar al Kabeer” elaborates the same opinion that “if a ruler gives a ruling for which there is no doubt that it is devastating, or if he orders a haram, then it is not obligatory for the people to follow him. It is obligatory for the people to bear his oppression and not commit Khurooj; as it narrated from Ibn Abbas that Prophet ﷺ said:
«مَنْ رَأَى مِنْ أَمِيرِهِ شَيْئًا يَكْرَهُهُ فَلْيَصْبِرْ عَلَيْهِ فَإِنَّهُ مَنْ فَارَقَ الجَمَاعَةَ شِبْرًا فَمَاتَ، إِلَّا مَاتَ مِيتَةً جَاهِلِيَّةً»
“Whosoever witnesses an ill of his ruler should bear it, as whosoever separates from the jama’a even by an inch and dies in this condition, he dies the death of jahilliyah.” [Bukhari]
The second opinion that is taken regarding Khurooj is for the propagators of the Deen to get out of their homes so that the understanding and the ways of the Deen could be taught to the believers. For evidence the following ayah of the Quran is narrated:
وَمَا كَانَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ لِيَنْفِرُوا كَافَّةً فَلَوْلَا نَفَرَ مِنْ كُلِّ فِرْقَةٍ مِنْهُمْ طَائِفَةٌ لِيَتَفَقَّهُوا فِي الدِّينِ وَلِيُنْذِرُوا قَوْمَهُمْ إِذَا رَجَعُوا إِلَيْهِمْ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَحْذَرُونَ
“It is not for every believer to go out, so why is it not so that a group from them arises, so that they may acquire the understanding of the deen, and that they may teach, when they return to their people so that they may refrain.” (Surah at-Tauba: 122
Instances from the life of the Prophet ﷺ are also quoted in support about that Prophet ﷺ sent Sahaba for the propagation of the deen to different places: It is narrated from Sa’ad bin Abu Barda who heard it from his father who heard it from his father that “Prophet ﷺ gave advice to Muadh bin Jabal before sending him to Yemen, to be kind and compassionate to the people of Yemen and not to be harsh with them, and to give them glad tidings, and to rule among them without bias.”
It is narrated by Aasim bin Umar that a delegation from Aql and Qur’aa, who were the branches of the Jadeelah tribe, came to the Prophet ﷺ after Uhud and said to him ﷺ “Islam has come to our land, please send a few of your Sahaba along with us so that we may obtain the understanding of the deen.” For this the Prophet ﷺ sent six Sahaba among them under Marsad ibn Abu Marsad.
In this perspective a question has begun arising from within the circles of revivalist scholars, namely, is Khurooj only for men, or can the women also come out of their homes for the propagation of the deen?
The Takfeeri Opinion
The opinion that emanates from the Takfeeri (Salafi Jihadi) understanding of the matter is that every ruler who implements Kufr instead of Islam has become a Kaffir. Hence, jihad is obligatory against him. This action is synonymous to Khurooj in their opinion. The evidence of rulers becoming Kuffar is presented from the following Ayah of the Quran:
وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
“…and whosoever does not rule from what Allah سبحانه وتعالى has revealed, they are the kaafiroon.” (al-Maida: 44)
For these rulers who have become Kaffir and who implement Kufr, the following hadith gives a verdict for the course of action to be taken against them, in which the Prophet ﷺ said:
»خِيَارُ أَئِمَّتِكُمُ الَّذِينَ تُحِبُّونَهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَكُمْ، وَيُصَلُّونَ عَلَيْكُمْ وَتُصَلُّونَ عَلَيْهِمْ، وَشِرَارُ أَئِمَّتِكُمُ الَّذِينَ تُبْغِضُونَهُمْ وَيُبْغِضُونَكُمْ، وَتَلْعَنُونَهُمْ وَيَلْعَنُونَكُمْ» ، قِيلَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، أَفَلَا نُنَابِذُهُمْ بِالسَّيْفِ؟ فَقَالَ: «لَا، مَا أَقَامُوا فِيكُمُ الصَّلَاةَ، وَإِذَا رَأَيْتُمْ مِنْ وُلَاتِكُمْ شَيْئًا تَكْرَهُونَهُ، فَاكْرَهُوا عَمَلَهُ، وَلَا تَنْزِعُوا يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَةٍ«
“The best of your Imams (leaders) are those whom you love and they love you, who pray for you and you pray for them; and the worst of your Imams are those whom you hate and they hate you and you curse them and they curse you. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was asked, ‘Should we not face them with the swords?’ He said: ‘No, not as long as they establish salat (meaning Islam) among you.’” [Muslim]
The fatwa by Ibn Taymiyyah gives the same opinion in which he declares: “This is evident from the Deen and from ijma (consensus) that any person who allows the following of a Deen and laws other than the Shariah of the Prophet ﷺ, he is a kaafir.” The similar opinion by Ibn Kathir is, “The Shariah revealed by Allah سبحانه وتعالى which is the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ; it is not allowed for the creation to forsake it, except for a kaafir.”
The takfeeri opinion demands that each and every ruler who implements Kufr should be removed through armed rebellion. This is also their method for the reestablishment of the Khilafah
Opinion of the state scholars of Saudi Arabia
The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars, which comprises of 21 senior scholars. Their fatawa usually do not concern politics or state matters, but whenever the government requires their verdict on a matter, they give a fatwa that is in line with regime policy. For instance, in a fatwa issued on the 3rd of October, 2011, it was prohibited to hold protests against the Saudi government, as it causes sedition and rebellion against the ruling authority of Saudi Arabia, which according to them is implementing Quran and Sunnah. The following evidences were presented:
وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِحَبْلِ اللَّهِ
“…and hold steadfast to the rope of Allah”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنْكُمْ
“O you who have believed, Obey Allah and his messenger and those from you who hold authority” (al-Nisa: 59)
«مَنْ خَلَعَ يَدًا مِنْ طَاعَةٍ، لَقِيَ اللهَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ لَا حُجَّةَ لَهُ»
“Whosoever relinquishes his bayah would meet Allah in the hereafter in a condition that he will have no excuse for it…” [Muslim]
The same texts are used by the Saudi Ulama to claim that Khurooj is prohibited generally against any Muslim ruler, but especially against the Saudi ruling family.
Opinion of modernist scholars
Their opinion is very plain regarding Khurooj. According to them, there is no mention of Khurooj in the Quran or hadith. Although whether a ruler can be removed or not is discussed in ahadith, but a well-defined method isn’t present. However, for some rules which are vaguely present in the Quran and Sunnah, solid proof needs to be given against the ruler so that any agitation can ever take place. Some of the prerequisites of Khurooj include:
The ruler is an oppressive dictator
He implements Kufr, e.g. prevents people offering salah (prayer)
The person initiating Khurooj should make a party, so that he can rule afterwards
The one who initiates Khurooj, the earth and the skies and whatever is in between them should acknowledge the person to be on truth i.e. the majority of the people should follow him
According to one such scholar of Pakistan, the only person ever to fall into this criteria and accomplished Khurooj successfully was M.A Jinnah.
Opinion of Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi
Syed Abul Aala Maudoodi has elaborated a detailed discussion regarding Khurooj in his book “Khilafat aur Malookiat”. According to him, there has always been a difference of opinion regarding Khurooj among the classical scholars. According to him, Imam Abu Hanifa emphasized a great level of scrutiny whenever giving an opinion of Khurooj. For example:
Clear evidence of open Kufr
The party which intends on partaking in Khurooj needs to have the resources and power to change rule with the least amount of blood spilled
This is why Imam Abu Hanifa gave a religious edict in favor of Zaid bin Ali, when he declared Khurooj against the Abbasids, but did not help him financially, as he was of the opinion that Zaid bin Ali’s followers would leave him half way and that rest would not be sufficient for Khurooj. Afterwards he again morally sided with Muhammad bin Abdullah (Nafs Zakiyyah) in his Khurooj against the Abbasids, due to which Abu Hanifa had to face severe torture from Abbasids, but he remained steadfast on his legal opinion.
In the same era, the response of Imam Malik was also similar when he was asked that people have given bayah to the Caliph Mansoor, then how can they support a second claimant? To which he responded that the bayah of the Abbasids is forced, and hence invalid, just like a forced nikah is invalid. After which, the governor of Madinah, Ja’far publicly whipped Imam Malik, due to which his arms were paralyzed.
Maudoodi also states the example of Imam Hussain r.a. According to him, most of the Sahaba who were alive at the time of Yazid, asked Imam Hussain r.a to relinquish his struggle against the rule of Yazid, not because the effort was haram in their opinion, but because of the fact that they believed that the people of Iraq were not trustworthy, and would leave the side of Imam Hussain as the situation would toughen up. Hence the prohibition by the other Sahaba was due to difference in opinion regarding the strategy, and not the action in itself being impermissible.
It is within this discussion that Maudoodi presents his own opinion, that the system at the time of Yazid and afterwards, was kingship and therefore haram, and hence it was permissible to take up arms against them. It was allowed due to the fact that, “..because Yazid, Hijaj bin Yousuf and other oppressive rulers of Banu Abbas did not allow a way to bring about change through peaceful democratic means”۔
Hence according to his opinion, Khurooj would have been allowed even nowadays, if there were no peaceful democratic means to bring about an Islamic change. As there can be an Islamic change brought through those means, hence there is no justification of Khurooj in today’s times.
Assessment of opinions
As far as the first opinion is concerned, it is according to the opinion of the classical scholars and it would be discussed in detail later.
The second opinion (of some revivalist groups) is due to the misinterpretation of the meaning of the word “kharaja” in the ayah of the Aal e Imran. Although it is the root word for “Khurooj”, but the actual word Khurooj is not used in its literal meaning which is “moving out”, but is to be used as a terminology which is to remove the rulers from their rule for implementing Kufr. So taking kharaja and applying its meaning to Khurooj is correct from a literal point of view, but its shara’i meaning isn’t just to get out of homes for 3 days or 40 days, but rather it is an action to remove the rulers from rule. This is similar to the difference that we see in the literal and shara’i meaning of siyaam, salah and zakah.
As far as those events are concerned in which the Prophet ﷺ sent delegations of the sahaba into different lands; these actions were taken by the prophet ﷺ in his capacity as a head of a state, and not just as a head of a party or organization.
Similar is the reality of Muadh bin Jabal r.a who was sent to Yemen. After vanquishing of the influence of Persia from the South Eastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula, the ruling faction “Abna” sought help from the Muslims in understanding the Deen and to make judgments from it. For this purpose, the Prophet ﷺ sent Muadh bin Jabal r.a to Yemen for the implementation of “Ahkam as Salah” and “Ahkam az Zakah”.
Hence, the actions taken by the Prophet ﷺ in his capacity as a head of state should not be equated with the actions of an organization or a preaching group. The matter of Khurooj is regarding the removal of ruler and not of getting out of homes to preach religion.
Reality of the Takfeeri Opinion
One grave mistake that the takfeeri opinion makes is that it takes the opinion of the classical scholars regarding Khurooj, and applies it to today’s reality. This is a weak understanding of the matter, as in this opinion, the same ruling is being applied on two dissimilar realities. One reality is of an Islamic state, in which a ruler starts to implement Kufr in one or more rulings and he is not ready to take these rules back. In this situation, he would be removed by sword. While the other reality is of a state whose basis is Kufr, and the source of laws well as the structure is of Kufr as well, and the Kufr being implemented has gained sufficient strength and traction there. Here what is required is to form a new state on the basis of Islam, for which those actions of Prophet ﷺ would be emulated which he ﷺ took in Makkah, i.e. forming a group, intellectual and political struggle in the society and establishing a state with the help of the people of Nussrah.
Reality of the Opinion of the Saudi Ulama
The declaration of the Saudi Ulama that the Saudi state is based on Quran and Sunnah is totally incorrect. As the basis, laws and the structure of the Saudi state does not meet the necessary prerequisites of making it an Islamic state. The Ayah and the Ahadith that the Saudi Ulama quote are actually related to the submission in front of the ruler of an Islamic state which implements rules from the revelation of Allah and not for any Kufr state like the Saudi regime. Therefore in this context, prohibiting Khurooj against the rulers is incorrect from the viewpoint of the classical fuqaha as well.
Reality of Modernist’s Opinion
According to the modernist scholars, a state isn’t Kufr even if it abrogates hudood, implements riba, and rules through democracy, rather it is only Kufr if it stops the people from offering salah. If for instance, this opinion is taken as correct, then the US and ‘Israel’ are not Kufr states either as Muslims are allowed a degree of freedom to offer salah in those states as well. Such a conclusion is evidently preposterous. Therefore, this opinion on Khurooj is completely misplaced as it has understood the reality of the matter from a modernist perspective and not from an Islamic one.
Reality of Maudoodi’s Opinion
Maudoodi has elaborated in detail the opinion of the Sahaba and the classical scholars regarding Khurooj in his book “Khilafat o Malookiat”. But when the discussion arises regarding the removal of the ruler who implements Kufr al-buwah in modern times, he rejects the method. It was due to the fact that according to him in the medieval times, there was no system to allow the change of the ruler through “peaceful democratic means” as it is available now, and hence we do not require Khurooj.
This is an incorrect approach because in order to reject the hukm of Khurooj and adopt democracy as a means to bring about an Islamic change, we need evidence from the Quran and Sunnah. It is not allowed for us to declare a shar’i method invalid just by assuming a reason for a reality, the reason which Maududi has assumed in this case is: at that time no peaceful democratic means were available. This is why Maudoodi’s opinion regarding the rejection of Khurooj and adoption of democracy as a means to bring about an Islamic change has no basis from Islam.
Reality of the Opinion of the Classical Scholars
The opinion of the classical scholars is for the reality of an Islamic state in which a ruler starts to implement Kufr in one or more rulings. This is not today’s reality, in which we do not find even a single Islamic state. All the states in the world have their basis from Kufr, and the source of their laws well as their structures are from Kufr. Hence we cannot take the opinions of the classical scholars, which was correct for their reality, and apply it on a different reality today.
For the purpose of changing the ruler and the Kufr systems, we need a new ruling which is extracted from the Quran and Sunnah through the process of Ijtihaad. In this regard, the first Ameer of Hizb ut Tahrir, Sheikh Taquiddin an-Nabhani has presented a complete method to bring about change and is elaborated in the book, The Method of Hizb ut Tahrir to Bring About Change.
Hizb ut Tahrir is of the opinion that in order to bring change in today’s reality, Khurooj is not the correct method, as the nature of the society nowadays is similar to the Makkan era of the Prophet ﷺ. At that time also, Kufr was being implemented and which the Prophet ﷺ changed through an intellectual and political struggle. This is the correct method to bring about real change nowadays.
Shehryar Najam, Pakistan