Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What Islam says about public demonstrations

Abu Zaynab,09 May 2012
On the authority of Abu Sa'id al-Khudri who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings upon him) say:
When any one of you sees anything that is disapproved (of by Allah), let him change it with his hand. If he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his tongue. And if he is not able to do so, then let him change it with his heart, though that is the weakest (kind of) faith.
Allah designated for this Ummah (Muslim community) people who will protect His din (Divine Authority), and who will facilitate their affairs and make them on a level of sincerity and understanding.  Among them Allah raised the ulama, people of understanding, people trustworthy working day and night around the world, people who whenever they see fitnah (vices), they fight it, whenever they see taghut (those who fight God), they will call for jihad to fight it.

Allah established this din by the Companions and their Followers. He designated this Ummah with ulama like Sufyan Al Thawri, Sufyan Al Uyayna, Imam Bukhari, Imam Muslim, Imam Al Uza'i, Imam Abu Hanifah, Imam Malik, Imam Shafi'i, Imam Ahmad and many other later scholars.

Seeking knowledge is fard (obligatory) but seeking knowledge is of two types; one is Fard 'ayn (individual obligation) and one is Fard kifayah (collective obligation). The knowledge that is obligatory to seek is Ilm al Dharuri, the knowledge that one cannot fulfill one's obligation if not understood or studies. The other knowledge is Fard Kifayah, to understand or study it and it does not take priority over other duties.

We have to understand the foundation of the din (Religion of God). People usually ask for a particular solution to a problem, but in any topic concerning ibadah (Worship), you have to study the pillars of it, thewajibat (necessities) of it, the foundations, prohibitions, the recommendations etc.
Similarly if we want to study about Al Mudhaharah (demonstration) we have to know about its objective, its means, because it is not just a matter of saying it is 'allowed' or 'not allowed'.
If we study this topic, we find that the Shari’ah terms are very important. Nobody will dispute or disagree that to help Muslims is fard and to cooperate with Muslims is fard, that it is fard to support our Muslim Ummah.

Mudhaharah in the Arabic language is “support”, it is narrated in Sunan al-Darimi that Ali ibn Talib said: "I fought on the day of Badr and supported (dhaharah) the Muslims."

Allah asks us to have wala (loyalty) to the believers, part of that is to support them. Allah says:
Allah forbids you to have relationship with those who fight you because of your Din ... and those who support them.
When we mention demonstrations, we are speaking about support and this is one of the best forms of support for the one who is far away from us and we cannot reach them. Demonstrations are a means to support our Din (Way of Life chosen by God).

We need to understand the term Mudhaharah (demonstrations). Imam Al-Khattabi defined the term demonstration and he understood from it that the support in demonstrations must be in relation to thejihad and battlefield, Allah says:
If they seek help from you in the Din, support them,

Meaning if they ask you to fight, you must fight and the demonstration is boosting the morale of the Muslims in a time of weakness, it is a form of creating a high profile for Islam; it is a form of support. It is a noble thing not something evil.

Demonstration motivates the Muslims and it makes them aware about their Muslim brothers. The demonstration is a form of rejecting the evil, a form of commanding good and forbidding evil.

That is exactly what the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) did. Demonstration is not something Bid’ah (innovated outside Islamic Shariah) and it does have evidences and anybody who speaks about demonstrations must understand the reality of the demonstration.

Demonstrations in early Muslim history

We find it in Kitab Al Hulya Al Awliya (vol 1), Ibn Abbas narrated, he asked:

"O Messenger of God, are we not on Haq (Truth) whether we die or stay alive?" The Prophet said, "Indeed, by the one whose hand is my soul, you are on the Haq whether dead or alive". So Ibn Abbas said, "So why are we hiding? By the one who sent you with the truth, we should come out!”.
And they went out in two lines, Hamzah in one and Umar al-Khattab with the other. They came out until they went to the Ka'bah and the Quraysh looked to Hamzah and Umar and they were so depressed. The Prophet called Umar that day ‘Al Farouq’.

It is mentioned in Al Isabah that Muhammad ibn Uthman ibn Abi Shybah narrated from Ibn Abbas the story about how Umar came to Islam and that, “He went out with Hamzah in two lines with the Muslims”.

So the Prophet gave consent and went out with them in a demonstration, so is that haram? That is the danger of the one who speaks without ilm (knowledge) about the evidences.
We find further evidence in the incident when the verses on treatment of women were revealed, some men started to beat their wives and the women came out in a huge demonstration and complained that some men took advantage and beat their wives.

Moreover, Prophet Nuh (Noah) used to call the people day and night and go door to door, Muslims went to Abyssinia and they took a stand publicly in front of the King and the Prophet consented.

Moreover there was a huge gathering and demonstration in the Bay'ah (pledge of loyalty) to the Prophet under the tree. Demonstration is not a new phenomenon.

EGYPTIAN UPRISING ... Muslim women in Egypt at the forefront of the protests against Mubarak's dictatorship

Some people may complain "What is the benefit?" They should realise that the demonstration is not dispraised. So if there are people who do not like it, they should remain silent and should not attack those who do it. These people only want to cover up the fact that they are cowards. They never command good or forbid evil at all, but are afraid that they will be arrested or will be called 'terrorists'.

All Muslim scholars encourage demonstrations against evil

In fact we do not come across any scholars claiming that demonstrations are haram, rather the fatwas(decrees) for demonstrations are everywhere. Shaykh Abu Muhammad Al Maqdisi said that it is allowed and praised those who do them.

Even Salman al Awdah (Saudi Islamic scholar) said, "We find nothing wrong with it; it is a form of condemning the evil ."

As long as it is free from anything haram , the original rules for these kinds of things is that it is permissible and the incident of the Prophet and the Companions in Makkah is well documented.

Shaykh Ali Al-Khudr also said: "Demonstrations are to come out collectively in an organised way for a particular objective; the original rules are that it is permissible. The Muslims are to other Muslims like a block, they support each other, it is a form of jihad, to call for jihad, to command good and forbid evil. That gathering is a demonstration and it is the Sunnah of the Prophets.”

And he also called it the means leading to the wajib (the obligatory acts).

A PROTEST IN THE US ... Islam condones any acts to mobilise the masses for something noble

If we go to all the ulama, even those who we disagree with, they say that it is permitted. It is only some scholars of the Saudi dynasty, whom it suits them to shout "haram!" if there is a demonstration against the Saudi dynasty, and to say that it is "halal" or even fard if it is in favour of their dynasty.
Those who say it is permissible, they are all found in prison like Shaykh Sulayman Al-Alwan, who said publicly: “It is permissible by the evidence that our Imam, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, was put in prison, and the ulama and their disciples came outside and that was the biggest demonstration, it was the uprising of the Hanabilah (followers of Imam Ahmad Hanbal) to release him.”

Some people like to speak about it from the angle of benefit and interest, so they always speak about bringing benefit to the Muslim community; we can say, Allah says,
If they ask you for help, help them

And the Prophet said: "Support your Muslim brother (verbally, financially, physically) whether oppressor or oppressed"

So supporting your Muslim brothers collectively, openly and publicly is allowed and that is why ibn Taymiyyah in his time saw the people demonstrate for his release from captivity and he wrote that it reminded him of the demonstration of the Hanbali followers.

Even Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab with his students demonstrated publicly and gathered together ending with fighting, it is a form of jihad, a form carrying da’wah (spreading the word of God), a form of commanding good and forbidding evil; it is not bid’ah. It was done by the Prophet and by his Companions.

'Not haram just because non-Muslims do it'

It is not the case that “whatever the non-Muslims do, then it becomes haram in our religion”. Rather it is only the haram acts which are forbidden. For example, demonstrations involving swearing are not allowed.

UNISLAMIC ... Demonstrations using swear words are prohibited in Islam

It creates awareness about the current situation because there is no other media, it is an alternative media; it reminds them about what they should do, it motivates those people who do nothing, it boosts the morale, it has a strategic outcome, it puts pressure in order for people to interact; that support in the form of demonstrations will put pressure on the government; it is an opportunity as well for the ulama to meet the masses and the masses to meet the ulama, it is a form of demonstrating the knowledge and there is no single qualified scholar that forbade it.

We need to forget about those fake ‘salafis’, they are people who are muqallid (those who blindly imitate).

The benefit in demonstrations is a lot; the ulama on the street is different than seeing them on satellite, it will send signals to those oppressed that there is an Ummah that will not leave them, an Ummah that supports them.

* This article is an adaptation from a reply given by the author to the question "Is demonstration/protest allowed in Islam" on the forum

No comments: