The way of the Salaf (orthodox Muslims) is to change evil without resorting to violence against the rulers. Unlike the Khawarij (violent extremists), the Salaf would pray for the guidance and success of the rulers, even if they were oppressive.
Abu Sa’id Al-Khudri reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him, said:
مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الْإِيمَانِ
Whoever among you sees something wrong should change it with his hands. If he is unable to do so, then with his tongue. If he is unable to do so, then at least hate it in his heart, and that is the weakest of faith.
[Sahih Muslim, Book 1, Number 79]
Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbali (d. 795H/1392CE) writes in his commentary on this Hadith:
التغيير باليد لا يستلزم القتال وقد نص على ذلك أحمد أيضًا في رواية صالح فقال التغيير باليد ليس بالسيف والسلاح
قال أحمد لا يتعرض إلى السلطان فإن سيفه مسلول
Changing something with one’s hand does not necessarily entail fighting, and Ahmad also stated that in a version narrated from him by Salih. He said, “Changing things with one’s hand is not done with swords or weapons…”
Ahmad said, “Do not oppose the ruler, because his sword is unsheathed.”
[Ibn Rajb. The compendium of knowledge and wisdom. London: Turath Publishing., p. 554-555]
Imam Al-Barbahari (d. 329H/941CE) writes:
والأمر بالمعروف والنهي عن المنكر باليد واللسان والقلب بلا سيف
Enjoining good and forbidding evil is with the hand, the tongue, and the heart, not with the sword.
[Sharh As-Sunnah 129]
Imam Al-Barbahari also writes:
وإذا رأيت الرجل يدعو على السلطان فاعلم أنه صاحب هوى وإذا سمعت الرجل يدعو للسلطان بالصلاح فاعلم أنه صاحب سنة إن شاء الله يقول فضيل بن عياض لو كان لي دعوة مستجابة ما جعلتها الا في السلطان قيل له يا أبا علي فسر لنا هذا قال إذا جعلتها في نفسي لم تعدني وإذا جعلتها في السلطان صلح فصلح بصلاحه العباد والبلاد
فأمرنا أن ندعو لهم بالصلاح ولم نؤمر أن ندعو عليهم وإن جاروا وظلموا لأن جورهم وظلمهم على أنفسهم وصلاحهم لأنفسهم وللمسلمين
If you find a man making supplication against the ruler, know that he is a person of innovation. If you find a man making supplication for the ruler to be upright, know that he is a person of the Sunnah, if Allah wills. Fudayl ibn Iyad said, “If I had a supplication which was to be answered, I would not make it except for the ruler.” It was said to him, “O Abu Ali, explain that to us.” He replied, “If I made the supplication for myself, it would not go beyond me; whereas if I make it for the ruler and he is corrected, then through that the servants and the land are set in order.”
We are commanded to make supplications for them to be upright. We have not been ordered to make supplications against them, even if they commit tyranny and oppression, since their tyranny and oppression reflect only upon themselves but their uprightness is good for themselves and the Muslims.
[Sharh As-Sunnah 136]
Imam At-Tahawi (d.321H/935CE), the outstanding student of Abu Hanifa, stated:
ولا نرى الخروج على أئمتنا وولاة أمورنا وإن جاروا ، ولا ندعوا عليهم ولا ننزع يدا من طاعتهم ، ونرى طاعتهم من طاعة الله عز وجل فريضة ، ما لم يأمروا بمعصية ، وندعوا لهم بالصلاح والمعافاة
We do not recognize rebellion 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 therefore obligatory as long as they do not order to commit sins. We pray for their right guidance and pardon from their wrongs.
[Aqidah At-Tahawi 72]
Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (d.241H/855CE) said:
وإني لأدعو له بالتسديد ، والتوفيق ، في الليل والنهار ، والتأييد ، وأرى له ذلك واجبا علي
Verily, I supplicated for the ruler, for his success and support – night and day – and I view this as an obligation upon me.
[As-Sunnah of Abu Bakr Al-Khallal 14]
Ahmad ibn Hanbal was beaten and imprisoned by the Caliph Al-Ma’mun for saying that the Quran is the Speech of Allah. Even still, Imam Ahmad supplicated for him to be guided, and he counseled Muslims to be patient in the face of this tyranny.
Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.
(www.faithinallah.org / 18.06.2012)