The Scholars as the Rulers over the People

  March 26, 2022   Read time 3 min
The Scholars as the Rulers over the People
In the Mustadrak, a tradition is quoted from the Ghurār to the following effect: “The scholars are rulers over the people.” One version reads “hukamā” (“wise men”) instead of “hukkām” (“rulers”), but this appears to be incorrect. According to the Ghurār, the form “hukkām” is correct.

The meaning of this tradition is self-evident, and if its chain of transmission is valid, it may also serve to support my thesis. There are still additional traditions that may be quoted. One of them is quoted in Tuhāf al- ‘Uqūl97 under the heading: “The Conduct of Affairs and the Enforcement of Ordinances by the Scholars.” This tradition consists of two parts. The first is a tradition transmitted by the Doyen of the Martyrs (‘a) from the Commander of the Faithful, ‘Ali (‘a), and concerns the enjoining of the good and the prohibition of the evil.

The second part is the speech of the Doyen of the Martyrs concerning the governance of the faqīh and the duties that are incumbent upon the fuqahā, such as the struggle against oppressors and tyrannical governments in order to establish an Islamic government and implement the ordinances of Islam. In the course of this celebrated speech, which he delivered at Mīnah, he set forth the reasons for his own jihād against the tyrannical Umayyad state. Two important themes may be deduced from this tradition.

The first is the principle of the governance of the faqīh, and the second is that the fuqahā, by means of jihād and enjoying the good and forbidding the evil, must expose and overthrow tyrannical rulers and rouse the people so that the universal movement of all alert Muslims can establish Islamic government in place of tyrannical regimes.

This is the tradition. The Doyen of the Martyrs (‘a) said: “O people, take heed of the counsel God gave His friends when he rebuked the rabbis by saying, ‘Why do their scholars and rabbis not forbid their sinful talk and consumption of what is forbidden [that is, such talk and consumption on the part of the Jews]? Truly what they have done is evil’ (Qur’an, 5:63). Again God says: “Cursed by the tongue of David and Jesus, son of Mary, are those among the Children of Israel who have failed to believe on account of their rebellion and transgression.
They did not prevent each other from committing vile and corrupt acts; truly what they did was abominable!” (Qur’an, 5:78). God blamed and reproached them because they saw with their own eyes the oppressors committing vile and corrupt acts but did not stop them, out of love for the income they received from them as well as fear of persecution and injury. However, God orders us to fear Him, not men, and He says: “And the believing men and women are friends and protectors of each other; they enjoin the good and forbid the evil” (Qur’an, 9:71).
“We see that this verse, in the course of enumerating the attributes of the believers, the attributes that indicate mutual affection, solitude, and desire to guide each other, God begins with enjoining the good and forbidding the evil, considering this the prime duty. For He knows that if this duty is performed and is established within society, performance of all other duties will follow, from the easiest to the most difficult. The reason for this is that enjoining the good and forbidding the evil means summoning people to Islam, which is a struggle to establish correct belief in the face of external opposition, while at the same time vindicating the rights of the oppressed; opposing and struggling against oppressors within the community; and endeavoring to ensure that public wealth and the income derived from war are distributed in accordance with the just laws of Islam, and that taxes [zakāt and all other forms of fiscal income, whether compulsory or voluntary] are collected, levied, and expended in due and proper form.

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