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The Eight Conditions of Leadership

One must then look into the conditions of leadership without which one’s leadership is invalid. We found them as follows:

(1) That he be alībah [paternally-related] from Quraysh. Allāh’s Messenger informed that the leadership is among them.

(2) That he be bāligh [mature-minded], mumayyiz [able to distinguish].Allāh’s Messenger said: «The pen is lifted from three», and he mentioned the child until he matures and the insane person until he recovers.

(3) That he be male. Allāh’s Messenger said: «A people who assign their amr [authority] to a woman will not succeed».

(4) That he be Muslim. Allāh said: {Allāh will never make for the disbelievers over the believers any way}, and the Khilāfah is the greatest way. He also commanded the belittling of Ahl Al-Kitāb, the taking of the Jizyah from them, and the killing of those not of Ahl Al-Kitāb until they become Muslims.

(5) That he be knowledgeable of his duties, obedient to Allāh , not causing any corruption in the land. Allāh said: {Assist one another upon duty and piety and do not assist one another upon sin and transgression}, and whoever put forth one who did not obey Allāh and caused corruption in the land or was not trustworthy and had no knowledge of his religion, then he assisted upon sin and transgression and did not assist upon duty and piety. Allāh’s Messenger said: «Whoever did an act of our affair then it is rejected».

(6) That he not be ignorant, (7) or be weak, (8) or be incapable. The Prophet said: «Abū Dharr! You are indeed a‘īf [weak]. You must not have command over two. You must not be walī [entrusted] to the wealth of the orphan». Allāh said: {If then the one upon whom there is right is ignorant or a‘īf [weak]…} [2:282]. There is thus no doubt that one who is ignorant or a‘īf, or one who is incapable to do something, then he must have a walī [one entrusted over him], and whoever must have a walī over him is not allowed to be the walī over all Muslims [since he could not be the walī over his walī, which is contradictory].

The appointment of one who does not meet these eight conditions is invalid. It is not permissible nor is it legally binding at all.

Then: It is mustaabb [recommended, preferred] that (1) he be knowledgeable of specific matters of worship, politics, and all rulings, (2) he performs all obligations, (3) he avoids all major sins, both privately and publicly, and (4) he conceals his minor sins. It is makrūh [disliked] that a person is entrusted to the Ummah who does not comprise of these traits. But if such a person is indeed appointed, his appointment is authentic though disliked, and he must be obeyed in his obedience to Allāh and not obeyed in disobedience to Allāh.

The ideal situation is that (1) he cooperates with the people without weakness, (2) he is severe in rejecting vices without leniency, (3) he be wakeful, (4) not careless, (5) courageous, (6) not restricting wealth from its rightful owner, (7) and he does not waste anything inappropriately. All of this can be summarized to be: that he establishes the rulings of the Qur‛ān and the Sunan of Allāh’s Messenger , including every excellent trait.

There is no harm if the imām has any defect in his physical being, whether he is blind, deaf, disfigured, leprous, lacking two hands or two feet; or if he has reached old age, as long as he is in his right mind, even if he was a hundred years old; or if he had an epileptic spell and then recovered; or if he was given allegience right after reaching maturity; as long as he meets all conditions of leadership, then such leadership is permissible. There is no text from the Qur‛ān, nor Sunnah, nor Ijmā‘, nor deduction, nor any other form of evidence restricting such people. Instead, Allāh said: {Be qawwāmūn [upright, establishing maintainers] of equity}, so whoever establishes equity has complied with what he was commanded.

No one from the people of Islām [i.e. any Muslim] disagrees that inheriting the leadership is not allowed, nor that it is not permissible for one who has yet to mature, except for the Rawāfi: they permit both matters. There is no disagreement, however, that it is not permissible for a woman; and by Allāh we are empowered.


Source: [Ibn azm, Al-Fial Fi'l-Milal Wa'l-Ahwā‛ Wa'n-Nial, 4/128-129]. Translated by Abū assān.


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