Justice: Delegating Authority To Those Under The Caliph

This is the last article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.7 (Mawardi:) The authority delegated to a minister of state may be of two kinds, full or limitary.

(1) Full ministerial authority is when the caliph appoints as minister an individual who is entrusted with independently managing matters through his own judgement and implementing them according to his own personal reasoning (ijtihad).

Appointing such an individual is not legally invalid, for Allah Most High says, quoting His prophet Moses (Allah bless him and give him peace), family,

Aaron my brother; fortify me through him and have him share my task” (Koran 20:29-32),

and if valid respecting the task of prophethood, it is valid a fortiori regarding the function of the caliphate. Another reason is that the direction of the Islamic Community (Umma), which is the caliph’s duty, cannot be fully conducted alone without delegating responsibility; for him to appoint a minister to participate therein is sounder than attempting to manage everything himself, a minister to help keep him from following mere personal caprice, that he may thus be further from error and safer from mistakes.

The conditions necessary for such a minister are the same as those for a caliph. Excepting lineage alone (dis: 025.3(e)), for the minister must implement his views and execute his judgements, and must accordingly be capable of expert legal reasoning (ijtihad). He must also possess an additional qualification to those required for the caliphate, namely, by being specially qualified to perform the function he is appointed to.

(2) Limitary ministerial authority is a lesser responsibility and has fewer conditions, since the role of personal judgement therein is confined to the views of the caliph and their implementation, this minister being, as it were, an intermediary between the caliph, his subjects, and their appointed rulers; delivering orders, performing directives, implementing judgements, informing of official appointments, mustering armies, and informing the caliph in turn of important events, that the minister may deal with them as the caliph orders. He is an assistant in carrying out matters and is not appointed to command them or have authority over them. Such a ministry does not require an appointment but only the caliph’s permission.

025.8 When the caliph appoints a ruler over a region or city, the ruler’s authority may be of two kinds, general or specific. The general may in turn be of two types, authority in view of merit, which is invested voluntarily; and authority in view of seizure of power, invested out of necessity.

025.9 Authority in view of merit is that which is freely invested by the caliph through his own choice, and entails delegating a given limitary function and the use of judgement within a range of familiar alternatives. This investiture consists of the caliph appointing an individual to independently govern a city or region with authority over all its inhabitants and discretion in familiar affairs for all matters of government, including seven functions:

(1) raising and deploying armies on the frontiers and fixing their salaries, if the caliph has not already done so;

(2) reviewing laws and appointing judges and magistrates;

(3) collecting the annual rate (khiraj) from those allowed to remain on land taken by Islamic conquests, gathering zakat from those obliged to pay, appointing workers to handle it, and distributing it to eligible recipients;

(4) protecting the religion and the sacrosanct, preserving the religion from alteration and substitution;

(5) enforcing the prescribed legal measures connected with the rights of Allah and men;

(6) leading Muslims at group and Friday prayers, whether personally or by representative;

(7) facilitating travel to the hajj for both pilgrims from the region itself and those passing through from elsewhere, that they may proceed to the pilgrimage with all necessary help;

(8) and if the area has a border adjacent to enemy lands, an eighth duty arises, namely to undertake jihad against enemies, dividing the spoils of battle among combatants, and setting aside a fifth (def: 010.3) for deserving recipients.

025.10 Authority in view of seizure of power,

invested out of necessity, is when a leader forcibly takes power in an area over which the caliph subsequently confirms his authority and invests him with its management and rule. Such a leader attains political authority and management by takeover, while the caliph, by giving him authorization, is enabled to enforce the rules of the religion so that the matter may be brought from invalidity to validity and from unlawfulness to legitimacy. And if this process is beyond what is normally recognized as true investiture of authority with its conditions and rules, it yet preserves the ordinances of the Sacred Law and rules of the religion that may not be left vitiated and compromised (al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa al-wi/ayat aldiniyya (y87) , 25-39).


Justice: The Invalidity Of A Plurality Of Caliphs

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.6 (K: It is not permissible for two or more individuals to be invested with the caliphate (H: at one time), even when they are in different regions, or remote from one another, because of the disunity of purpose and political dissolution it entails. If two are simultaneously invested as caliph, neither’s caliphate is valid. If invested serially, the caliphate of the first of them is legally valid and the second is disciplined (def: 017) for ommitting an unlawful act, together with those who swear fealty to him, if they are aware of the first’s investiture as caliph) (Mughni al-muhtaj ila ma’rifa ma’ani alfaz al-Minhaj (y73), 4.132, and Hawashi al-Shaykh ‘Abd aI-Hamid aI-Sharwani wa al-Shaykh Ahmad ibn Qasim al-‘Abbadi ‘ala Tuhfa al-muhtaj bisharh al-Minhaj (y2), 9.77-78).

Justice: The Obligatory Character Of Obedience To The Caliph

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.5 (K: It is obligatory to obey the commands and interdictions of the caliph (N: or his representative (def: 025.7-10)) in everything that is lawful (A: meaning it is obligatory to obey him in everything that is not unlawful, offensive, or merely in his own personal interests), even if he is unjust, because of the hadith,

“Hear and obey, even if the ruler placed over you is an Ethiopian slave with amputated extremities,”

and because the purpose of his authority is Islamic unity, which could not be realized if obeying him were not obligatory. It is also obligatory for him to give sincere counsel to those under him to the extent that it is possible.)

Justice: The Three Ways A Caliph May Be Invested With Office

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.4 The caliphate may legally be effected (K: through three means, the first of which is):

(1) by an oath of fealty (H: like the one sworn by the prophetic Companions to Abu Bakr (Allah be well pleased with the)) which, according to the soundest position, is (H: legally binding if it is) the oath of those with discretionary power to enact or dissolve a pact (ahl ai-hail wa al-‘aqd) of the scholars, leaders, and notables able to attend (K: since the matter is accomplished through them, and all the people follow them. It is not a condition that all those with discretionary power to enact or dissolve a pact be present from every remote region, or that there be a particular number present, as the author’s words seem to imply, but rather, if discretionary power to enact or dissolve a pact exists in a single individual who is obeyed, his oath of fealty is sufficient.) (H: As for an oath of fealty from common people without discretionary power to enact or dissolve a pact, it is of no consequence) and they (H: those pledging fealty) must possess the qualifications necessary to be a witness (K: such as uprightness and so forth (def: 024.)) (Mughni al-muhtaj ila ma’rifa ma’ani alfaz al-Minhaj (y73) , 4.129-31, and Hawashi alShaykh ‘AM aI-Hamid al-Sharwani wa al-Shaykh Ahmad ibn Qasim al-‘Abbadi ‘ala Tuhfa al-muhtaj bi sharh al-Minhaj (y2), 9.74-76).

(Mawardi:) When those with power to enact or dissolve a pact meet to select the caliph, they examine the state of the available qualified candidates, giving precedence to the best of them and most fully qualified, whose leadership the public will readily accept and whose investiture people will not hesitate to recognise. When there is only one person whom the examiners’ reasoning leads them to select, they offer him the position. If he accepts, they swear an oath of fealty to him and the supreme leadership is thereby invested in him, the entire Islamic Community (Umma) being compelled to acknowledge fealty to him and submit in obedience to him. But if he refuses the caliphal office, not responding to their offer, he is not forced to comply-as investiture comes of acceptance and free choice, not compulsion and constraint-and they turn to another qualified candidate (al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa al-wilayat al-diniyya (y87), 7-8);

(2) (Nawawi:) and (H: the second means (K: through which it may be effected is)) by the caliph appointing a successor (H: meaning someone after him, even if it be his descendant or ancestor, for Abu Bakr appointed ‘Umar (Allah be well pleased with them) as his successor, and scholarly consensus (def: b7) was effected in recognizing its legal validity. This type of investiture consists of the caliph appointing a successor while still alive, to succeed him after death. Though actually his successor during his life, the successor’s disposal of affairs is suspended until the caliph dies). If the caliph appoints a group to select a successor from among themselves, it is as if he had appointed a successor (K: though the successor is not yet identified) (H: resembling an appointment in it being legally binding and obligatory to accept the outcome of their choice) and they choose one of their number (K: after the caliph’s death, investing the person they select with the caliphate) (H: because ‘Umar appointed a committee of six to choose his successor from among themselves:

‘Ali, ‘Uthman, Zubayr, ‘Abd ai-Rahman ibn ‘AwL Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqas. and Talha, and after his death they agreed upon ‘Uthman, (Allah be well pleased with them));

(3) and (H: the third means is) through seizure of power by an individual possessing the qualifications of a caliph (H: meaning by force, since the interests of the whole might be realized through such a takeover, this being if the caliph has died, or has himself obtained office through seizure of power, i.e. when he lacks some of the necessary qualifications.) (S: As for when the office is wrested from a living caliph, then if he himself became caliph through seizure of power, the caliphate of his deposer is legally valid. But if he became caliph through an oath’ of fealty (def: 025.4(1)) or having been appointed as the previous caliph’s successor (def: 025.4(2)), then the deposer’s caliphate is not legally valid). A takeover is also legally valid, according to the soundest position, by someone lacking moral rectitude (dis: o25.3(i)) or knowledge of Sacred Law (025.3(f)) (K: meaning the caliphate of a person lacking either condition is legally valid when the other conditions exist) (H: as is the takeover of someone lacking other qualifications, even if he does not possess any of them (S: besides Islam, for if a non-Muslim seizes the caliphate, it is not legally binding, and so too, according to most scholars, with someone who makes reprehensible innovations, as previously mentioned (dis: 025.3(a))). The caliphate of someone who seizes power is considered valid, even though his act of usurpation is disobedience, in view of the danger from the anarchy and strife that would otherwise ensue).

Justice: The Qualifications Of A Caliph

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


025.3 (Nawawi:) Among the qualifications of the caliph are that he be:

(a) Muslim (H: so that he may see to the best interests of Islam and the Muslims (K: it being invalid to appoint a non-Muslim (kafir) to authority even to rule non-Muslims.) (S: Qadi ‘lyad states that there is scholarly consensus (def: b7) that it is not legally valid to invest a non-Muslim as caliph. and that if a caliph becomes a non-Muslim (dis: 08.7) he is no longer caliph, as also when he does not maintain the prescribed prayers (A: meaning to both perform them himself and order Muslims to) and summon the people to them, and likewise (according to the majority of scholars) if he makes reprehensible innovations (bid’a, def: w29.3) (A: by imposing an innovation on people that is offensive or unlawful). If the caliph becomes a non-Muslim, alters the Sacred Law (N: such alteration being of two types, one of which consists of his changing the Law by legislating something which contravenes it while believing in the validity of the provisions of the Sacred Law, this being an injustice that does not permit rebellion against him, while the other consists of imposing rules that contravene the provisions of the religion while believing in the validity of the rules he has imposed, this being unbelief (kufr) (A: it is questionable whether anyone would impose such rules without believing in their validity)) or imposes reprehensible innovations while in office, then he loses his authority and need no longer be obeyed, and it is obligatory for Muslims to rise against him if possible, remove him from office, and install an upright leader in his place. If only some are able, they are obliged to rise up and remove the unbeliever (A: whether they believe they will succeed or fail), though it is not obligatory to try to remove a leader who imposes reprehensible innovations unless they believe it possible. If they are certain that they are unable to (A: remove an innovator), they are not obliged to rise against him. Rather, a Muslim in such a case should emigrate from his country (N: if he can find a better one), fleeing with his religion (A: which is obligatory if he is prevented in his home country from openly performing acts of worship»);

(b) possessed of legal responsibility (def: cS.l) (K: so as to command the people, it being invalid for a child or insane person to lead);

(c) free (K: so that others may consider him competent and worthy of respect);

(d) male (K: to be able to devote himself fulltime to the task, and to mix with men, the leadership of a woman being invalid because of the rigorously authenticated (sahih) hadith,

“A people that leaves its leadership to a woman will never succeed”);

(e) of the Quraysh tribe (K: because of the (H: well-authenticated (hasan)) hadith related by Nasa’i,

“The Imams are of the Qura ysh, a hadith adhered to by the Companions of the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) and those after them, this qualification being obligatory when there is a member of Quraysh available who meets the other conditions) (H: though when there is not, then the next most eligible is a qualified member of the Kinana tribe, then of the Arabs, then of the non-Arabs);

(f) capable of expert legal reasoning (ijtihad) (H: as a judge must be (def: 022.1(d)) and with even greater need (K: so as to know the rulings of Sacred Law, teach people, and not need to seek the legal opinion of others concerning uprecedented events), scholarly consensus (def: b7) having been related concerning this condition, which is not contradicted by the statement of the Qadi (A: ‘Iyad) that “an ignorant upright person is fitter than a knowledgeable corrupt one,” since the former would be able to refer matters requiring expert legal reasoning to qualified scholars, and moreover the remark applies to when the available leaders are not capable of legal reasoning (S: while possessing the other qualifications for leadership»;

(g) courageous (K: meaning undaunted by danger, that he may stand alone, direct troops, and vanquish foes);

(h) possessed of discernment (H: in order to lead followers and see to their best interests, religious or this-worldly, discernment meaning at minimum to know the various capacities of·people), sound hearing and eyesight, and the faculty of speech (K: so as to decisively arbitrate matters);

(i) (H: and be upright (def: 024.4) as a judge must be, and with even greater need. But it is valid, if forced to, to resort to the leadership of a corrupt person, which is why Ibn ‘Abd ai-Salam says, “If there are no upright leaders or rulers available, then the least corrupt is given precedence”).

Hadith: Obligation of Jihad 13

The Hadith series is based on Bill Warner’s book The Political Traditions of Mohammed – The Hadith for Unbelievers. It is a compilation of all the Hadith (Traditions) related to non-Muslims. The Political Traditions of Mohammed contains both sets of Islamic ethics – one for the Muslim and one for the unbelievers.

Chapter 2 Jihad

Here is Allah’s contract with all Islam: to die in jihad is the sure way to go to Paradise. If the jihadist does not die, then he can keep what wealth he takes with violence from the enemy, the Kafir.

B4,52,46 Mohammed: “A Muslim holy warrior, fighting for Allah’s cause is like a person who does nothing but fast and pray. Allah promises that anyone killed while fighting for His cause will be admitted without question into Paradise. If such a holy warrior survives the battles, he can return home with the captured property and possessions of the defeated.”

Justice: The Obligatory Character Of The Caliphate

This is another article in the chapter Justice from the classical manual on Sharia called Reliance of the Traveller. The articles are posted one by one in the order they are given in the book.


en: This section has been added here by the translator because the caliphate is both obligatory in itself and the necessary precondition for hundreds of rulings (books k through 0) established by Allah Most High to govern and guide Islamic community life. What follows has been edited from al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa alwilayat al-diniyya by Imam Abul Hasan Mawardi, together with three principal commentaries on Imam Nawawi’s Minhaj al-talibin, extracts from which are indicated by parentheses and the initial of the commentator, Ibn Hajar Haytami (H:), Muhammad Shirbini Khatib (K:), or ‘Abd ai-Hamid Sharwani (S:).)



025.1 (Mawardi:) The reason the office of supreme leadership has been established in Sacred Law is to fulfill the caliphal successorship to prophethood in preserving the religion and managing this-worldly affairs. The investiture of someone from the Islamic Community (Umma) able to fulfill the duties of the caliphate is obligatory by scholarly consensus (def: b7), though scholars differ as to whether its obligatory character is established through reason or through Revealed Law. Some say that it is obligatory by human reason, because of the agreement of rational individuals to have a leader to prevent them from wronging one another and to come between them when conflict and arguments arise. Without authorities, there would be a chaos of neglected people and a disorderly mob. Others hold that it is obligatory not through reason, but rather through Sacred Law, for the caliph performs functions that human reason might not otherwise deem ethically imperative, and which are not entailed by reason alone, for reason merely requires that rational beings refrain from reciprocal oppression and strife, such that each individual conform with the demands of fairness in behaving towards others with justice and social cohesion, each evaluating their course with their own mind, not anyone else ‘s, whereas Sacred Law stipulates that human concerns be consigned to the person religiously responsible for them. Allah Mighty and Majestic says,

“You who believe, obey Allah and obey the Prophet and those of authority among you” (Koran 4:59),

thereby obliging us to obey those in command, namely the leader with authority over us. Abu Hurayra relates that the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said.

“Leaders shall rule you after me, the godfearing of them ruling you with godfearingness and the profligate ruling you with wickedness. So listen to them and obey them in everything that is right; for if they do well, it will count for you and for them, and if they do badly, it will count for you and against them.”

(al-Ahkam al-sultaniyya wa al-wilayat al-diniyya (y87),5-6)

025.2 (H: The caliphate is a communal obligation (def: d.2) just as the judgeship is (S: because the Islamic community needs a ruler to uphold the religion, defend the sunna, succor the oppressed from oppressors, fulfill rights, and restore them to whom they belong).)