Obey the Law of the Land?
Posted by intsm
There is a common misconception among Muslims today, that they are obliged to obey the law of the land in whatever country they reside, many advocates or supporters of this call quote Imaam Abu Hanifah (rh) as evidence, and indeed Imam Abu Hanifah (rh) did say, “Obey the law of the land” but the question is, which land? Was he living in the land of the Romans or was he living in the Islamic State? Therefore, which law was he saying we must obey?
Indeed he was asking us to obey the shari’ah i.e. the law of the land in the Islamic state (during his time); we cannot imagine that this great Imam of Ahl Sunnah wal Jamaa’ah, would ask us to contradict the command of Allah (SWT) to not obey the disbelievers and the hypocrites:
Allah (SWT) says, “O Prophet (Muhammad SAW)! Keep your duty to Allah, and obey not the disbelievers and the hypocrites. Verily! Allah is Ever All Knower.” [EMQ 33.1]
Furthermore, it must be understood that by not obeying the man-made law in a country, it does not mean that one has to go around, murdering, stealing, lying and cheating, but rather it should be clear that this Deen of Islam has been completed by Allah (SWT) and contains all the guidance, solutions and commands for every single circumstance and situation that an individual or community will ever or could ever face:
Allah (SWT) says, “This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” [EMQ 5.3] and, “And We have sent down to you the Book (the Qur’an) as an exposition of everything, a guidance, a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have submitted themselves (to Allah as Muslims).” [EMQ 16.89]
Therefore, for Muslims living in countries not ruled by the shari’ah e.g. USA, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Pakistan etc. it is essential to seek the knowledge of the Deen of Allah (SWT), not only as 5 pillars i.e. Shahadah, Salah, Zakat, Fasting and Hajj but as a whole way of life whether in matters of ruling, judging, the economy, foreign policy, the social system etc. If they do this then it will enable them to apply the correct ruling for their reality, hence making their life truly Islamic instead of obeying the law of Allah (SWT) in some matters and obeying man-made law in other matters; as an example to help explain this we find that in the current law of the land it states that when you are driving you must stop at a traffic light when it ‘turns red’, however the true practising Muslim would stop at the traffic light not because, “Elizabeth”, “David” or “Nick” said, but rather because the Messenger Muhammad said, “Do not harm yourself and do not harm others.” [Ibnu Majah Sunan 2340; Imam Malik’s Al-Muwatta; Al-Baihaqi’s Al-Sunan al-Kubra, Al-Haakim, Al-Mustadrak,: Al-Daraqutni’s Sunan]; so we stop at the traffic lights or wear the seat belt out of obedience to Allah (SWT) (not man-made law).
May Allah (SWT) guide us all to realise that obedience is only to Allah (SWT) exclusively and for His sake we obey His Messenger and the legitimate Muslim rulers who rule by the law of Allah (SWT) unlike the tyrants in Muslim lands today.
Allah (SWT) says “O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), and those of you (Muslims) who are in authority. (And) if you differ in anything amongst yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger (SAW), if you believe in Allah and in the Last Day. That is better and more suitable for final determination.” [EMQ 4.59]