The Ruler


Bismillah Al-Rahman Al-Raheem

The Ruler

One of the most important issues related to the rule is knowing who possesses the competency to issue the rule. This issue must be given the highest priority when outlining its reality. In other words, who is the ruler (judge), because the knowledge of the rule and its type is dependent on knowing who is the ruler. The ruler is not in this context the executive authority, but the one who enjoys the right to issue the judgement on actions and things. This is so because all that exists in terms of sensed matter is either actions performed by man or things other than man’s actions. Since man, in his quality as a living entity in this universe, is the issue of this research and since the issuing of the rule is for his benefit and related to him, it is imperative to judge man’s actions and to judge the things related to them. Who has the exclusive competency to pass judgement on this? It is Allah or man himself? In other words, is it Shari'ah or reason (Aql)? Because what informs us that this is the rule of Allah is Shari'ah and what makes man judge is reason. So who judges? Is it Shari'ah or reason?


The topic of this judgement i.e. the thing issued as a judgement on the actions is pleasantness and disagreeableness because the purpose of passing judgement is to determine man’s stance towards the action. Does he undertake it or does he abstain? Or does he have a choice between undertaking and abstaining? It is also to determine one’s stance towards the things related to his actions: does he take them or leave them? Or does he have a choice between taking and leaving. Determining his stance is dependent on his viewpoint towards the thing: is it pleasant or disagreeable? Or is it neither pleasant nor disagreeable? Hence the issue of the required judgement is that of pleasantness and disagreeableness. So is the judgement of pleasantness or disagreeableness the competency of reason or Shari'ah, for there is no third party that could pass this judgement.

The answer to this is that the judging of actions and things could either be in respect of their reality, as it is, and in respect of their compatibility with man’s nature and his natural inclinations or aversions to them, or in respect of the praise for undertaking the action and the censure for abstaining or in respect of neither praising nor censuring, i.e. in respect of reward and punishment for the actions or the non-reward and the non-punishment.  Hence, these are three sides related to the judging of things: one in respect of their reality, the second in respect of their compatibility or incompatibility with man’s nature and the third in respect of reward and punishment or praise and censure. As for the judging of things from the first aspect, which is in respect of their reality, and from the second aspect, which is in respect of their compatibility or incompatibility with man’s nature, it is without a doubt down to man himself; in other words, it is down to reason and not Shari'ah. It is Aql that judges the actions and things in these two aspects and Shari'ah does not judge in either of them, for Shari'ah has no bearing over them; this is like judging knowledge to be pleasant and ignorance to be disagreeable. Their realities reflect clearly the perfections and the deficiencies; likewise is the judging of wealth as being pleasant and poverty as being disagreeable, and so on; also, judging the act of rescuing a drowning person as being pleasant and judging the taking of one’s money unjustly as disagreeable; human nature is averse to injustice and inclines towards rescuing someone in danger; likewise, the sweet thing is pleasant and the bitter thing is disagreeable, and so on. All this is down to the reality of the thing that man senses and man’s perception using Aql, or down to the character of man and his nature; he senses it and he perceives it. Hence, it is Aql that judges the pleasantness and the disagreeableness and not Shari'ah, i.e. the passing of judgement on the actions and the things in respect of these two aspects is down to man. Hence the judge in this case is man.

As for the judging of actions and things in respect of praise and censure in this life and in respect of reward and punishment for them in the hereafter, it is without a doubt up to Allah alone and not to man. In other words, it is to Shari'ah and not to Aql. This would be like the pleasantness of Iman and the disagreeableness of Kufr, or the pleasantness of obedience and the disagreeableness of disobedience, or the pleasantness of lying during war and the disagreeableness of lying to the Kafir ruler in other than the times of war, and so on. This is so because the reality of Aql is defined as being sensation, reality, previous information and a brain. Hence, sensation is a fundamental component of Aql; if man cannot sense something, his Aql will not be able to pass judgement on it because the judgement passed by Aql is confined to the things that can be sensed. It is impossible for Aql to judge things that are impalpable. Injustice being either praiseworthy or censured is not part of what man can sense, because it is intangible, thus it cannot be perceived, i.e. Aql cannot pass judgement on it. Although praising or censuring injustice is instinctively felt by man, thus he may either incline towards it or eschew it, the feeling alone is not sufficient for Aql to pass judgement on it, rather it is imperative to have a sensation; hence, Aql cannot judge actions or things as being pleasant or disagreeable. Consequently, it is not befitting for Aql to pass judgement on actions or things by way of praise or censure, because it cannot pass this judgement and it is impossible for it to do so.

It is forbidden to allow judgement with praise and censure according to man’s instinctive inclinations because these inclinations would pass a judgement of praise on what agrees with them and a judgement of censure on what contradicts them. What agrees with such inclinations may be part of what is censured such as adultery, homosexuality and enslaving people; also, what contradicts these inclinations may be part of what is praised such as fighting the enemy, persevering in times of hardship and telling the truth in harmful situations. Hence, allowing the judgement to be according to inclinations and desires means adopting them as a criteria for praise and censure, and they are without doubt a false criteria, thus it would be wrong to allow them to pass judgement because it would yield only an erroneous judgement that contradicts reality, in addition to making the judgement by way of praise or censure according to whims and desires, not according to what it should be. Hence, it would be wrong for the natural inclinations to judge actions and things by way of praise or censure. Since Aql is not allowed to pass a judgement of praise and censure and since the instinctive inclinations cannot issue their judgement by way of praise or censure, then it would not be allowed for man to judge with praise or censure. Hence, it is Allah who passes the judgement of praise and censure and not man; i.e. it is Shari'ah and not Aql. Besides, if it were left to man to judge actions and things by way of censure or praise, the judgement would vary according to the variation of the individuals and the variation of times, and man could not judge them in a fixed manner. This is why it is Allah who passes judgement and not man; it is Shari'ah that judges and not Aql. Aql has nothing to do with this judgement in this context. The palpable reality denotes that man judges certain things to be pleasant today and then judges them tomorrow to be disagreeable, and vice versa. Hence, the judgement passed on the one thing differs and is not fixed, thus error creeps into the judgement. Therefore, it is not allowed for Aql or for man to pass judgement by way of praise or censure.

Therefore, the judge of the servant’s actions and the things related to these actions in terms of praise and censure must be Allah (swt) and not man, i.e. it must be Shari'ah and not Aql.

This is as far as the rational proof in respect of pleasantness and disagreeableness is concerned. As for the Shari'ah evidence, Shari'ah has stipulated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) must be emulated and it has abhorred the following of whims and desires. Hence, it is conclusive according to Shari'ah and in respect of praise and censure that the pleasant is what Shari'ah deems as pleasant and the disagreeable is what Shari'ah deems disagreeable.

The aim of judging actions and things by praise or censure is to determine man’s stance towards them. With regard to things, the judgement outlines whether it is allowed to take them or not; nothing else could be envisaged apart from this in respect of reality. With regard to man’s actions, it outlines whether he is requested to undertake the actions or abstain, or whether he has the choice between undertaking and abstaining. Since the judgment from this aspect can only be to Shari'ah, rules related to the actions of man and rules of things related to these actions must be down to Shari'ah and not to Aql. Hence, the rule of Shari'ah must be the sole regulator of the actions of the servants and the things related to their actions.

Furthermore, the judging of things in respect of halal and haram, and the judging of the servant’s actions in respect of being fardh, haram, mandub, makruh or mubah, or the judging of matters and contracts in respect of being either a cause (sabab) or a condition (shart) or an impediment (mani’), or soundness (sihha) or invalidity (batil) or defect (fasid) or resolve (azeema) or licence (rukhsa), all of this is not down to the compatibility or incompatibility of these with human nature, nor is it down to their reality, but rather down to the praise and censure of these actions, things and matters in this life, and to the reward and punishment they entail in the hereafter. Hence, the judging of these is down to Shari'ah alone and not to Aql. Accordingly, the effective judge of the actions and the things related to them, as well as the matters and contracts, is Shari'ah alone and Aql has no judging over this whatsoever.

Source: The Islamic Personality Volume 3