Chapter 78: Obligation of Rulers to show Kindness
allah, the exalted, says:
"and be kind and humble to the believers who follow you.'' (26:215)
"verily, allah enjoins al-`adl (justice) and al-ihsan (performing duties in a perfect manner), and giving (help) to kith and kin, and forbids al-fahsha' evil deeds and al-munkar (all that is prohibited) and al-baghy (oppression). he admonishes you, that you may take heed.'' (16:90)
653. ibn `umar (may allah be pleased with them) reported: i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) saying, "all of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards. the ruler is a guardian and responsible for his subjects; the man is a guardian and responsible for his family; the woman is a guardian and is responsible for her husbands house and his offspring; and so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your wards.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: this hadith has already been mentioned in the chapter pertaining to the duties of a wife to her husband. its repetition in this chapter is meant to remind rulers that if they are negligent of the duties devolved upon their shoulders, they will be wrongdoers to allah and put to reckoning on the day of resurrection.
654. abu ya`la ma`qil bin yasar (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "any slave whom allah makes him in charge of subjects and he dies while he is not sincere to them, allah will make jannah unlawful for him.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
another narration is: allah's messenger (pbuh) said, "he who does not look after his subjects with goodwill and sincerity, will be deprived of the fragrance of jannah.''
a narration in muslim is: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "a ruler who, having control over the affairs of the muslims, does not strive diligently for their betterment and does not serve them sincerely, will not enter jannah with them.''
commentary: here the attention of rulers has been invited to their obligations. they are told that their designation is very important because they are responsible for tackling the problems and affairs of millions of people. if their single-minded devotion, determined efforts and heartfelt feelings of well-wishing will not go to solving these problems, they will be deemed guilty by allah. rulers are, therefore, warned, lest power should go to their head and make them unheedful of people's problems, rights and concerns. instead being fully conscious of their accountability to allah (swt) they are apt to make full efforts to provide justice and peace to people. by "forbid from entering jannah'' means they will not enter it with the first successful people until they get punished for their wrongdoings. if however, they were treacherous to their subjects while regarding this injustice lawful, thus disobeying allah and his commands, they will stay in hell forever because this way they have made permissible and lawful what allah has forbidden.
655. `aishah (may allah be pleased with her) reported: i heard the the messenger of allah (pbuh) supplicating in my house: "o allah! treat harshly those who rule over my ummah with harshness, and treat gently those who rule over my ummah with gentleness.''
commentary: how fortunate is a ruler who establishes his claim to the special benediction of messenger of allah (pbuh) by providing justice to people! on the other hand, how unfortunate is that ruler who incurs the prophetic imprecations by doing injustice to people! this hadith is suggestive of a rulership based on justice and lays emphasis on refraining injustice and atrocity.
656. abu hurairah (may allah be pleased with him) reported: messenger of allah (pbuh) said, "the banu isra'il were ruled by the prophets. when one prophet died, another succeeded him. there will be no prophet after me. caliphs will come after me, and they will be many.'' the companions said: "o messenger of allah, what do you command us to do?'' he said, "fulfill the pledge of allegiance to which is sworn first (then swear allegiance to the others). concede to them their due rights and ask allah that which is due to you. allah will call them to account in respect of the subjects whom he had entrusted to them.''
[al-bukhari and muslim].
commentary: the political conduct of the prophets means that rulership and government affairs were also assigned to them, that is, both religious and worldly affairs lay in their custody. there was no dichotomy between the two, they formed a single unit. this also characterized the period of the rightly-guided caliphs and the short spell that followed it in the history of islam. this explains why after the death of one prophet came another prophet and became his successor. second, the hadith also settles the issue of the finality of prophethood once for all. "no prophet will succeed me except the caliphs'', said the prophet (pbuh). in the case of many claimants to caliphate, he also gave a ruling, that is, people should primarily fulfill their allegiance pledged to the first caliph and keep away from caring for another claimant to caliphate. third, the prophet (pbuh) focused, on the lapses of rulers but without being suggestive of a rebellion and public demonstrations against them. instead he teaches us to obey them in the administrative sphere and also to turn to allah (swt) and seek his mercy and blessing as long as they rule by the law of allah.
657. `aidh bin `amr (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i visited `ubaidullah bin ziyad and said to him: "dear son, i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) saying, `the worst of rulers are those who treat their subjects harshly. beware, lest you should be one of them.'''
commentary: there is a typical, brutish sheep-herder who severely drives his flock and flogs them mercilessly. as a result of which the timid animals get upon one another. in the hadith, this word has been brought in for a tyrant ruler who subjects people to oppression and treats them unkindly. it implies a strong warning and intimidation to cruel rulers.
658. abu maryam al-azdi (may allah be pleased with him) reported: i said to mu`awiyah (bin abu sufyan) (may allah be pleased with them): i heard messenger of allah (pbuh) saying, "if allah invests to someone the affairs of the muslims and he (i.e., the ruler) ignores their rights, denies their access to him and neglects their needs, allah will not answer his prayer or realize his hopes and will act towards him with indifference on the day of resurrection.'' so mu`awiyah appointed a person to keep a vigil on the necessities of the people and to fulfill them.
[abu dawud and at-tirmidhi].
commentary: the hadith warns such a ruler who is heedless of the problems and affairs of the needy and who keeps them away from him. on the last day, allah, too, will be indifferent to him. indeed, a stern warning is given to such rulers who have no direct contact with the needy people and who keep their doors shut to them.