Shia Justice And The Sunni Predicament On The Popular Middle East Revolutions

SHAFAQNA – Recently the world has witnessed revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and the people of the middle east are still revolting against their rulers. In all of the countries (Egypt,Tunisia,Yemen,Libya,and Oman) where the revolts are taking place, all have majority Sunni countries with the exception of Sunni-led Bahrain ruled by a Sunni monarchy. The big question facing Sunni Muslims clerics and laity alike is the question of the permissibility of rising against the rulers?

Does Sunnism sanction rising against the ruler? When this question is answered you will find out that Sunnis today (from the start of the Tunisian revolution) have practically left Sunnism and are unconsciously practicing Shia Islam based on the teachings of the Quran AND FOLLOWING THE PATH OF IMAM HUSSAIN, the 3rd imam (and grandson of Prophet Muhammad). Sunnis have gone and are going against the teachings of Sunnism that were devised to victimize the masses and put them in the tight grip of their rulers. The doctrine devised to victimize the people also make a contrast between Shia and Sunni attitudes toward the rulers, and frame the Shia in a rebellious image that many would find radical.

For centuries, Sunni Islam up to this day has a fundamental belief epitomized under the “Aqeeda Tahawiyya” and supported by a number of hadiths from Sunni “sahih” hadiths compilations attributed to the Prophet Muhammad (sa) that says that it is haram (strictly forbidden) to rise up against the ruler even if the ruler be corrupt and an evil doer or one who seized power through force (coup). In other words you must obey your ruler no matter how tyrannical he and you must not oppose him or object to his rule!in terms,slavery to the rulers and the victimization of the masses.throughout the ages Sunni clerics have opposed the idea to rise up against tyrants in Muslim lands.

Below is what the Sunni Aqedah (doctrine) known as “aqeedah tahawiyya” which epitomizes the impermissibility of rising against the ruler of your land no matter how bad he is:

Imam Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Tahawi (843 or 853 to 935) (Allah have mercy on him), famous Sunni scholar, states in his famous al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya:

“We do not recognize uprising against our Imam or those in charge of our affairs even if they are unjust, nor do we wish evil on them, nor do we withdraw from following them. We hold that obedience to them is part of obedience to Allah, The Glorified, and is therefore obligatory as long as they do not order us to commit sins. We pray for their guidance and their wrongdoings to be pardoned.”  (al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya with the Sharh of al-Ghunaymi, P. 110-111).

The commentators of al-Aqida al-Tahawiyya have mentioned many evidences for this. Allama al-Ghunaymi al-Maydani and other commentators on this work elaborated on this topic by mentioning the relevant evidences.

In the above link provided,the sunni site called “Sunni path” provided a fatwa by a Sunni sheikh in the name of Muhammad ibn Adam al-Kawthari who stated the “aqeedah tahawiyya” and backed it up by numerous hadiths from Sunni compilations from “sahih bukhari” to “sahih muslim” to other sources,in response to a question dealing with Imam Hussain’s revolt against Yazeed and the Sunni view on Yazeed.

The Sunni doctrine forbidding revolt against the ruler have justified the years of rule by the Sunni caliphs without any limit and their abuse of power.this doctrine enforced by numerous hadiths in Sunni compilations of hadiths are obvious forgeries attributed to the Prophet to ensure that the masses are put in place with the fear that it is forbidden (as their hadiths suggest) to rise against the ruler and rising against the ruler would render you in hell fire!


1.) Libyan state TV showed a video clip of a cleric in a mosque who was quoting a supposedly saying of the Holy Prophet (May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him and his family). The cleric said, “The Prophet said, if you dislike your ruler, you should not raise your swords against him. Be patient. If you rise against him, you will die as an infidel (Kafir)!” Yes, he sounded quite angry.

2.) Reuters reported during the Egyptian uprising on the mufti of Saudi Arabia,Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh:

“Saudi Arabia’s top Islamic scholar condemned anti-government protests in Egypt, Tunisia and elsewhere as a plot by enemies of Islam to spread instability, Saudi newspapers said on Saturday. Hundreds of thousands of Egyptians marched peacefully in Cairo on Friday to demand an end to President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule, but no end to the confrontation was in sight as the unrest entered its 12th day”.

The above stance by two state employed Sunni muftis as was the case with their predecessors during the days of the Sunni caliphate, is simply stated to favor the ruler of the day who employed those muftis to help control the masses.but this time around the masses have not listened to this infamous and corrupt doctrine that is neither Islamic nor humane that oppresses the people and stops them from revolting against tyranny and dictators who abuse the state and the rights of the citizens.


Based on the Quran, it is absolutely acceptable to rise up against the ruler and it is the duty of the led to demand for his rights and oppose evil in all its forms. In Shia Islam,this cannot be over-emphasized in Shia Islam but can simply be stated when one looks into the annual Shia commemoration of Ashura in the holy month of Muharram, which remembers the revolt of the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and the 3rd divinely appointed successor Imam Hussain against the tyrant of his day,Yazeed Ibn Muawiya. The revolt of Imam Hussain and the reasons behind it is based on the following verse:

Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong; they are the ones to attain felicity.(Holy Quran 3:104)

Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind, enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah. If only the People of the Book had faith it were best for them; among them are some who have faith, but most of them are perverted transgressors.(Holy Quran 3:110)

“Those who follow the Messenger, the unlettered prophet, whom they find mentioned in their own (Scriptures);― in the Law and the Gospel;― for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil: he allows them as lawful what is good (and pure) and prohibits them from what is bad (and impure); He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them. So it is those who believe in him honor, him, help him, and follow the Light which is sent down with him― it is they who will prosper.”(Holy Quran 7:157)

The Believers men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.(Holy Quran 9:71)



When the Shah (king) of Iran was overly corrupt and oppressive,his main opponents were the Shia clerics mostly based in the Holy City of cut things short,after popular uprisings and under the guidance of the clerics, an Islamic revolution culminated in the replacement of the shah and the establishment of an Islamic regime by Ayatollah Khomeini (in 1979) to replace rule of monarchy.the mostly Sunni Arabs are 32 years late following in the footsteps of the Iranians who overthrew their Shah, a western puppet, just like the lazy western puppets in Arab countries regarded as rulers and kings and presidents.


The answer to the above based on the verses given is quite simple:to rise against corruption and do what is do.

In the words of Imam Hussain:

“Swear by God , I did not rise against the tyrannical rule of Bani Omayah out of selfishness or with the aim of oppression or corruption. My revolt only aimed at reviving the religion of my grandfather , the holy Mohammad and the traditions of my father Ali ibn-Abi Talib , to enjoy good and forbid evil. So, whoever accepts me by accepting the truth , surely God rewards him for supporting the truth. And whoever rejects me , I will be patient until God judges between me and these people justly. Surely , His Almighty is the Best Judge of the judges.” (Bihar al- Anwar Vol. 44 “, P 329)

“I invite you towards the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (S) because indeed Sunnah has been mutilated and hereby is revived. Whoever will accept my words, then I will guide him towards the straight path”. (Tarikhe-Tabari vol.7, pg.240)


In a letter to the people of Kufa Imam Hussain wrote this:

“By God, Imam is the one who acts on the commands of the Book, deals with Justice, followed the truth and reserves his self for the pleasure of Allah.”

These words of Imam imply that only he can be an Imam who possesses these characteristics and the one who does not possess them cannot be an Imam. Hence Yazid Bin Muawiyah has had no right to the caliphate. When he reached at ‘Baiza’, a place near Karbala and was besieged by the contingent of Hur, then he addressed his men and the army of Hur in these words:

“The one who sees a tyrant King who is making unlawful as lawful, violating the pledge (of God), opposing the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (S) ruling on the servant of Allah with sins and oppression. And by his words and actions does not oppose the King and does not strive to reform the circumstances, then it behooves Allah to hurl him into Hell along with the King.”

Then he continued about the Yazidi regime thus:

“They have shun the obedience of Allah and acted following Shaitan. They are instigating commotion and dismissing the divine laws. They are expending from the public exchequer for their selfish end and are changing the prohibited things to permissible thing.”

In the first sermon at Karbala he spoke thus:

“Can’t you see that the truth is not followed and the falsehood is not shunned.? In such circumstances a believer should desire to meet Allah. Surely I regard death as nothing but an honour and life with Oppressors as anything but disgrace.” Tarikhe-Tabari, vol.-7pg.300)




The story of Moses (Prophet Musa) and his ordeal rising up against the pharaoh of Egypt is the best example that can be obtained from the Quran. In fact the Quran has instances of Prophets standing up against the rulers of their times to enjoin good and forbid evil or in simple terms to fight against corruption and oppression.




1.) Prominent Al-Azhar Egyptian Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi who acted with the people’s revolution in his home country Egypt :

It was of great shock to Qaradawi live on a religious show aired on Aljazeera Arabic satellite channel when a Sunni from Saudi Arabia called in and asked:”but sheikh we (i.e. Sunnis) have being taught that no matter how bad the leader is,we must not rise against him”.the presenter of the show immediately took a break in what apparently was aimed to give the sheikh time to think and respond.the answer of Qaradawi:”the people of Egypt are not rising against their leaders using arms but they are rising peacefully”. (It is left for you to judge his answer,because whether you use weapons or chewing gum,rising against a leader is meant to overthrow him). After one week regarding Libya? Qaradawi gave a fatwa for anyone to kill Qaddafi,a leader of a country!!!do you see the problem?i am telling you this and i do not mean to sound sentimental or bias or a zealot ,it is of no surprise that the Sunnis in the region are rising up.their uprising is following in the footsteps of Imam Hussain and the path of Shia Islam and not Sunnism.

2.) As cited earlier the mufti of Saudi Arabia Sheikh Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheikh have openly opposed the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia.not only that,this mufti went a step further to condemn the revolution of Imam Hussain against the tyrant Yazeed and deemed allegiance to Yazeed as obligatory, since Yazeed held power.this physically and spiritually blind sheikh made an uproar and hurt the feelings of the overs of Imam Hussain when he appeared on tv and defended the tyrant Yazeed. This prompted a swift response from one of the highest and prominent Shia scholars in the holy city of Karbala, Ayatollah Sayyed Hadi al-Modarressi: see video


We have already cited that even prophets are mentioned in the Quran to have stood up against the rulers of their time and it is mandatory upon Muslims to rise up against the rulers of their time to enjoin good and forbid evil. Eventhough our rulers maybe outwardly Muslims, if they are corrupt and evil,that is no excuse for us to not stand up against them.the most popular verse cited by proponents of the Sunni “aqeedag tahawiyya” forbidding the people to rise against their rulers is:

O ye who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: that is best, and most suitable for final determination.(Holy Quran 4:59)

The first question we must ask is: Can obedience to Allah,the Just God and His Messenger who He has guided be equated to obedience to fallible men who err and can go astray? Then we must know who are “those in authority” that Allah asked us to obey. To the Shia,the answer is quite simple.after the Prophet’s demise,Allah had chosen 12 Imams to lead the Ummah and succeed the Prophet Muhammad as caliphs. To the Sunni,who based on the infamous “aqeedah tahawiya”,which many of them do not stick to (as we presently are witnessing the revolts in the middle east), it is hard for him to identify who “those in authority” are. The Sunnis refuse to admit that Abu Bakr, the first Sunni caliph, was an usurper who illegally took the right of Imam Ali Ibn Abi Talib, the man designated by the Prophet himself based on divine command to be the caliph of the Auslims after the Prophet’s demise, as declared in Hadith of the Pond of Ghadeer Khum (accepted by both Sunnis and Shias). The term “those in authority” are those men Allah,Himself have chosen and guided and must be obeyed. Fallible men that can err and go astray cannot be obeyed unconditionally nor can we forbid rising up against them if they endanger the interests of the masses. If the term “those in authority” refer to every in power or orders authority,then we must ask ourselves how could Moses have risen against the Pharoah of Egypt, a man who had authority? The Quranic evidence that shows prophets standing up against their rulers proves to us convincingly and beyond doubt that the verse to “obey those in authority” must be referring to a select group of men who Allah Himself have chosen and guided. Not to go far of,we can as well question our very own Prophet Muhammad, who rose up against the Meccans and their rulers and elders. There are many examples though in different situations and circumstances which do indicate to Muslims that Allah and the Quran do permit us to enjoin good and oppose evil at all times and in all forms.




Every year Shia Muslims commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain,the third imam and grandson of the Prophet Muhammad,in the holy Islamic month of Muharram. A few Sunnis on personal conviction and love for the Prophet and his grandson join the commemoration.Imam Hussain’s revolt against Yazeed,the tyrant of his day,is the first movement within Islam after the demise of the Prophet that stood up to the tyranny and oppression of the ruler. Even though Imam Hussain and his family members and loyal companions were brutally murdered,the legacy lives on and the lessons are too many. It was the blood of the martyr ,Hussain,that triumphed over the sword of the tyrant,Yazeed. The matyrdom of Imam Hussain teaches us how to sacrifice ourselves and interests in the path of Allah and to stop evil.

In Sunni country,where earlier stated that their scholars have deemed it forbidden to rise up against the ruler because he is in a position of authority,it is not tolerated and in so many places forbidden to commemorate the martyrdom of Imam Hussain. As we are seeing the present-day events in Sunni countries ruled by brutal dictators who control the Sunni clergy,we can now understand why they oppose remembering Imam Hussain’s martyrdom so much. They know the impact the lessons of Karbala can have on the ordinary Muslim and that will no doubt endanger their tyrannical rule.

In some places as Pakistan and Afghanistan and majority Shia Bahrain, clerical, government and doctrinal Sunni opposition to commemorating Ashura (martyrdom of Imam Hussain) have led and motivated Sunni youths to even attack Shia Ashura processions and sometimes even suicide bombers are used. It is this same spirit of dictatorship and tyranny that we are witnessing in Egypt and Libya against innocent Sunni protesters who are demanding change and freedom and are opposing tyranny and dictatorship.

Protesters peacefully demonstrating have being attacked during the Egyptian uprising and in Libya, Qaddafi used thugs and armed mercenaries and even air strikes to deter people from protesting against him and opposing tyranny. No matter the cost, it is proven that Allah’s tradition does not change and the oppressed are always victorious.we can see the instance of Moses in the Quran and the lessons from Karbala and the victory of Imam Hussain through blood over the sword of Yazeed,the tyrant. Justice will always triumph over tyranny and oppression.

Sources – Nairaland

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