Prophet Mohammad PBUH emphasised how Allah values a just ruler when he said: “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade: a just ruler; a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah, the Mighty and Majestic; a man whose heart is attached to the mosques; two men who love each other for Allah’s sake, meeting for that and parting upon that; a man who is called by a woman of beauty and position [for illegal intercourse], but be says: ‘I fear Allaah’; a man who gives in charity and hides it, such that his left hand does not know what his right hand gives in charity; and a man who remembered Allaah in private and so his eyes shed tears.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
Allah says in the Quran (5:8): “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as witnesses to fair dealings and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just, that is next to piety. Fear Allah, indeed Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.”
We can learn a lot from looking at an incident that surrounds Amr Ibn Al Aas, who was a companion of the Prophet PBUH and also the ruler of Egypt under the rightly guided Caliph Umar Ibn al -Khattab.
A man from the Copts (Copts are Egyptian Christians) came to Umar ibn al-Khattab in Al-Madinah and said: “O Commander of the Faithful! I seek refuge in you from oppression.” Umar RA replied: “You have sought refuge where it is to be sought.” The Egyptian (Copt) said: “I was racing the son of ‘Amr ibn al-’Aas, and I defeated him. Then he (the son of Amr Ibn Al Aas) began to beat me with a whip saying: I am the Son of Nobles! (He is referring to the fact that his father is a companion of the Prophet and the ruler of Egypt).”
As a result, Umar RA (the Caliph) wrote to Amr (the ruler of Egypt) commanding him to come with his son. When they came to Umar he inquired: “Where is the Egyptian (Copt)?” And then said: “The Egyptian (Copt) has to take the whip and beat your son Amr!” Consequently, the Egyptian began actually to beat the son of Amr with the whip while, Umar RA says to him: “Beat the Son of Nobles!”
Anas said, “So he beat him. I swear by Allah, as he was beating him, we all pitied his wailing. He did not desist until we stopped him.” Then Umar told the Copt to beat Amr. He (the Copt) replied: “O Commander of the Faithful! It was his son who beat me, and I have evened the score with him.”
Caliph Umar RA’s famous quote encapsulates the essence of justice in Islam, “Since when do you enslave the people when their mothers bore them as free?”. Amr said: “O Commander of the Faithful! I was unaware of this, and he (the Copt) did not come to me (seeking justice).”
The lesson learnt here is that Islam is an egalitarian religion where Muslims and non Muslims have equal rights. The model of leadership presented by the Prophet Mohammad PBUH and the rightly guided Caliphs, exemplifies how Muslim leaders should rule with Islamic values, of justice, meritocracy, equality etc. Thus this necessitates that we hold our rulers and politicians accountable if they fail to apply these values, whether deliberately or not. Holding politicians to account and opposing their wrong doing is an important part of our Islamic duties to forbid evil. The Ummah (Muslim nation) is in such a sad state of affairs because we allowed corrupt incompetent and criminal dictators to rule us.
One of the biggest enemies of Muslims is the dictatorial tyrannical governments that are ruling Muslim countries. These tyrants are a plague on Muslims. They are an obstacle to progress and development. These corrupt regimes are obstacles to science, justice and progress.
May the Arab Spring succeed in toppling corrupt governments and shake the thrones of tyrants.