The Ruling Concerning Street Demonstrations In Non-Muslim Countries ― By the Scholar, Shaikh Abdullah Al-Bukhāri.
A Question to Shaikh Abdullah Al-Bukhari
A questioner asks: O Shaikh, in these times across Europe, the Muslims gather together to carry out demonstrations. They believe that by this, they are aiding their brothers in Shām ― is it allowed to establish these protests in the non-Muslim lands?
First of all, before you ask this question, whether this is allowed in the non-Muslim lands, you should ask: “Are demonstrations allowed at all in the Sharī’ah?”
That is because the ruling itself does not differ whether it is in the Muslim countries or in non-Muslim countries ― the ruling is the same.
And we have explained many times that these protests are not from the guidance of Islam. I mean that carrying out demonstrations, sit-ins and protests and so on, have nothing to do with the Sharī’ah.
The Scholars have discussed this matter and books have been written regarding it. And our Shaikh, the ‘Allāmah, one who can distinguish between what is correct and false, the sincere advisor, Rabee’ [Ibn Hādi Al-Madkhali]― may Allah preserve him ― has written explaining the ruling of demonstrations in the Islamic Sharī’ah. And others from the people of knowledge have also spoken and written [concerning this matter].
So the issue is clear and unambiguous ― and the fact that you live in a non-Muslim country does not mean that you carry out an affair that is not permitted in the Sharī’ah. And whoever thinks that protests and demonstrations are a means of aiding [a cause] ― then how many have come out to protest over the many years and numerous times, over and over again, not returning except as ones who failed without success. They did not gain anything ― and even if they had gained something, that does not mean that this act is allowed in the Sharī’ah, ever.
So do not participate ― and it is not permissible for you to encourage others to participate. Rather, it is not permitted for you to believe that this is allowed among unbelievers in non-Muslim countries. That is because this act has nothing to do with the Sharī’ah.
And we have mentioned to you already that which some of them brought to our Shaikh, Muhammad Al-‘Uthaimīn ― may Allah’s mercy be upon him ― saying, “What if the ruler allows demonstrations?” So, he responded: This is not allowed in its origin. And even if he permitted them, then there is no obedience to the creation in disobedience to the Creator. Verily, obedience is only in that which is good. May Allah bless you.
No Proof For Protests and Demonstrations
When we ask them for evidence that allows them to send Muslim youth to protest in the streets, they respond “our sheikhs have issued a fatwa for the people to demonstrate…”― That is not proof. Show us the proof from the Quran and Sunnah or the Sahābah?
This is the way of the Muqallids and Ahlul-Bid’ah and now we see it in the politicos who claim to be people of Sunnah and Hadīth! May Allah protect the Muslims in India, and give them a way out of their trials and hardship ― and this will be achieved by the aid of Allah, which comes about by learning the correct and true Islamic ‘Aqeedah, and following the true Manhaj and pure Sunnah.
To pull out a fatwa and claim that it is a hujjah (proof) for street protests just shows the ignorance of the politicised groups of India and elsewhere (even those who claim to be people of hadīth). They use generalised hadīths of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) in a manner that the Sahābah and the Imāms of Sunnah and Hadīth did not.
Yet, each day we see the same youths chanting “my shaikh said… my scholar said… my mosque said… my group said…” ― none of this is proof, none of this is Qur’an and Sunnah.
Proof is what Allah (the Most High) said, what the Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) said, and how the Sahabah understood the Revelation.
The Revelation was sent to the whole of mankind, for every place and every age until the Day of Resurrection ― and demonstrations are a bid’ah, and every bid’ah is misguidance ― and bid’ah is not disallowed in one place of the earth (like Madinah) but allowed in another (like India or Syria or Egypt). Just as Eid Milad An-Nabiyy (celebrating the birthday of the Prophet) is a bid’ah everywhere in the world, then likewise demonstrations are a bid’ah everywhere too. Political expediency does not allow bid’ah and deviation to be legitimised.
The young men and women of Sunnah and Hadīth should not be cowered or afraid of the large numbers of opposers from the hizbies (partisans) and political activists who wear outward garbs of Hadīth and Sunnah but oppose the Truth and the Methodology of the Salaf. Nor should they be deceived by an erroneous ijtihād because the mistake of a scholar is not evidence except for the one who is ignorant and misguided.
Rectification of the Ummah is not through Bid’ah… it is only through returning to Islam as it was in the beginning. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “There will appear trials (fitan).” The Sahābah said: “What are we to do, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied: “You shall return to your affair as it was in the beginning.” So did they demonstrate at the beginning of Islam when they lived in a non-Muslim country and were surrounded by idol-worshippers who would persecute them? Did Imām Ahmad and those with him demonstrate in the streets when thousands of scholars were tortured and imprisoned (and many killed)? Did Ibn Taymiyyah and those with him demonstrate in the streets when they were oppressed and jailed? ―No, they did not because they were people of Sunnah and Hadīth in truth, and they did not engage in bid’ah for “the common good”. It is Hawa (desires), emotions, despair and fear that drives these protestors and their leaders ― not the Sunnah nor Islam.
A Question from India
Question: “A man here is saying that there is a hadith in which Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم asked a man to protest on the street because his neighbour was troubling him. Is it true and does the argument hold any water?”
This person is speaking from desires and is grasping at straws to justify the position he has already taken. Ahlus-Sunnah look at the text and then act upon it. Ahlul-Hawā act upon desires and then run around looking for proof to support what they’ve already innovated.
The hadeeth in question is reported by Abu Dawood. Abu Hurairah said: A man came to the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) complaining against his neighbour. So, he said to him: “Have patience.” He came back to him twice or three times. He then said: “Then put your belongings in the street.” So he threw his belongings in the street and the people asked him and he would tell them about his neighbour. So, the people then cursed the neighbour, “May Allah do with him such-and-such.” Then his neighbour came to him and said: “Return your belongings [into your home], you will not see from me anything which you dislike” (Hasan, Abu Dawūd, 5153).
So, now let this person bring from the Salaf, from the scholars of Ahlul-Hadith from the early centuries, or the Imāms of the early generations who used this hadeeth as proof for protesting against those in authority, even if they are kuffār.
This hadeeth is talking about a dispute between two neighbours, not civil unrest against the tyranny of the rulers. And if this hadeeth was to be understood as this person has portrayed it, then it would mean that Muslims could openly protest in any Muslim country because this event took place in Madinah, in an Islamic land where the Muslims are the rulers.
So, in fact, this proof is against them and not in their favour:
1. This hadeeth was not used by the early Muslims as evidence to protest in the streets against the authorities.
2. If Ahlul-Ahwā wish to use this hadeeth, then it would not restrict protests to non-Muslim countries because the narration is related to an event that took place in Madinah ruled by the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wassallam). Therefore, those who use this narration will also justify street demonstrations in Muslim lands.
Alhamdulillāh, the Sunnah cannot be defeated by false interpretations and distortions of the misguided people.