Opinion

Islam says to obey your leaders

Zan Azlee

Zan Azlee is a documentary filmmaker, journalist, writer, New Media practitioner and lecturer. He runs Fat Bidin Media www.fatbidin.com

APRIL 5 — Linawati Kate Adnan is my colleague and she sits next to me at work. One Friday, as I was leaving the office for Friday prayers, she looked at me in shock.

“Zan! You actually pray?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” 

“Hahahahaha!!”

True story! 

And since we’re on the topic of Friday prayers, last week’s sermon really woke me up from my regular afternoon slumber in the mosque.

The khatib called all the Muslims who were in the prayer hall to obey and be loyal to our country’s leaders and that this is an Islamic obligation.

Apparently, based on Quranic verses and the Prophet’s hadith this is an obligation for all Muslims and that rebelling against them is a huge sin.

The sermon went on to say that the act of rebelling includes disputing a legitimate decision made by leaders who were given the powers to govern a country.

Back up right there!

Although I do agree that, as citizens, we are obligated to be loyal to the country and our leaders, I have to stress that we cannot do this blindly.

And if our leaders whom we have selected to lead us are making decisions that we, the people, are not happy with, we have a right to question it.

As citizens, the leaders have an obligation to us too, and in a democracy, they are actually subservient to the people they are governing.

When Prophet Muhammad passed away, he made it a point not to appoint a successor because he believed that the people had a right to choose.

Check your history books and you will discover that the first four Caliphs who governed the early Muslim world were chosen by the people.

Hence, I would say that democracy is a very Islamic concept and the religion has terms such as khilafat and shura that explain it all

(Yes, I have written about this before and I can’t help it but stress on this more, again and again, if no one wants to take heed!)

The concept of khilafat explains that in Islam, a state government needs to be ruled by the free choice of the people.

And the concept of shura explains that any decision taken in a society has to be based on consultation with the people who make up that society.

If last week’s Friday sermon was based on Quranic verses and the Prophet’s hadith, then my argument here is also based on verses and hadith.

Surah Al Shura states:

“Those who listen to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out what we bestow on them for sustenance, [are praised].

“The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrong doing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a penalty grievous.”

Surah A Imran states:

“So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh i heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”

The Abbasid Empire was the first to kill democracy and establish autocratic rule because they were afraid of losing power.

They went into a feudal hereditary style of rule where the leaders were succeeded by their children. And guess what? That was the cause of their downfall.

Happy 13th general election to all Malaysians!

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

 

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