The Caliphate is the polity (political entity) which implements the law and spirit of Islam on Earth. Its high obligation, importance and the priority it has in Islam is something agreed upon by the ‘ulema of Islam. We’ve previously covered the Hanafi ‘ulema’s opinion on the Caliphate; in this article we present the statements of some of the scholars of the Hanbali madhhab regarding the Khilafah.

The founding Imam of the Hanbali school, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal (rh) made it clear what the absence of the Khilafah means when he said:

The fitna (mischief and tribulations) occurs when there is no Imam established over the affairs of the people. [Al Ahkam al Sultaniyyah and al-Mu’tamad of Abu Ya’la al Hanbali].

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) said:

The aim and objective of politics (siyasah) is to seek nearness to Allah. A Muslim adopts politics only to establish the Din which guarantees such a nearness by providing a suitable psychological and spiritual climate in which man achieves a spiritual perfection and, hence, Divine Nearness. That is why a political activity divorced from the guidance of the Din is a curse for humanity and entails all sorts of evil and immoralities [in his Al Siyasah al Shariyah and as quoted by Ibn al Qayim, who stated the same thing in his books al Turuq al Hukmiyah fil Siyasah al Shariyah and I’lam al Muwaqqin].

Al-Hafidh Zayn al Deen Ibn Rajab al Hanbali (rh) said:

The Prophet ﷺ instructs us that if there is a congregation of 3 people, that one of them should be appointed as an amir. By extension, if the Prophet ﷺ instructed leadership for a congregation of 3 people, then the same principal applies for the entire congregation of the Muslim Ummah. This rule is arrived at by a concept in Usool ul Fiqh known as ‘Mafhoom al Muwafaqah’, which denotes the case where an amr (order) or nahy (prohibition) in texts is extended to include broader actions [in his Jami’ al Uloom Wal Hikm, pg. 440]

Imam Ahmed (rh) was asked, “What is the meaning of the hadith ‘Whosoever dies and he does not have an Imam he dies the death of jahiliyyah?

He responded:

Do you know what an Imam is? An Imam is the one around whom all the Muslims unite. This is its meaning [Masaa’il, volume 2, page 185 of Muhammad bin Ishaq]

The Obligation of the Khilafah, its Necessity, and Priority


Sharih (explainer) of the madhab, al Imam al Shaykh Mansur al Buhuti al Hanbali (rh) said:

Appointing the greater Imam (the khalifah) upon the Muslims is an obligation of sufficiency (on the ummah)” [in his book ‘Kashshaf al-Qinaa, Volume 6, page 158].

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) said:

It is imperative to know that the office in charge of governing the people is one of the greatest obligations of the deen. Nay, there is no establishment of the deen or the dunya except by it” [in his book al-Siyasah al-Shar’iyyah, page 129].

Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) also said:

To administer the affairs of society is one of the greatest duties of the deen and without performing this duty, we cannot secure the good of this life or the next. Allah has commanded us to enjoin the good and forbid the evil and this duty cannot be rendered without power and authority. Likewise all other social duties such as Jihad, maintaining peace and order, justice, organising hajj and Id festivals, redressing abuses, helping the oppressed, enforcing the hudud and so on, cannot be carried out without political power. Hence why the hadith says, “The ruler is the shadow of Allah on Earth.” Political authority (imarah) must therefore be taken as a religious matter and sought as a means to secure Allah’s pleasure and favour. Seeking Allah’s pleasure through it by pursuing His Will and complying with the injunctions of His messengers in its exercise is one of the most rewarding acts. Every Muslim should work for this end as much as he can. To establish the religion and maintain it on the correct lines, two things are needed: 1) The Quran that guides and 2) The iron that defends. It is therefore the duty of every Muslim to bring the Qur’an and the iron together in the cause of Allah [in his Majmu’ al Fatawah, vol. 28, pg. 390 – 397].


Ibn Taymiyyah’s magnum opus Majmu’ al fatawa

The Khilafah’s legitimacy from the Ummah and its Duty to Dhimmis


Al Qadhi Abu Ya’la Ibn Farra’ al-Hanbali (rh) said:

The Khilafah is not established by merely appointing a Khalifah, rather after his [the previous Khalifah’s] demise it (i.e. for the new khalifah’s legitimacy) requires the approval of the Muslim Ummah [in his book al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, page 9].

Shihab al Deen Ibn al-Najaar al-Hanbali (rh) said:

The ruler of the Muslim community is bound to protect non-Muslims and to save them from aggression. Should they fall into captivity, the Imam must marhsal all resources to secure their release and punish the transgressors against their lives and properties even if they were the sole non-Muslims living in a remote village!” [in his book Matalib Ula an-Nuha, volume 2, page 602]

The Obligation of Ruling by Islam and obeying the Khalifah


Shams ad-Deen Ibn Muflih al-Hanbali (rh) said on the diyar (regions) of the world:

There are only two: Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Kufr. Any Dar (domain) where Islamic law is dominant is Dar al-Islam, and any domain where Kufr law is dominant is Dar al-Kufr; there are only these two camps.” [in his book ‘Al-Adaab al-Shari’ah, volume 2, page 190]

Al-Haafidh Zayn ad-Deen Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali (rh) said:

Listening to and obeying the Khulafah entails happiness in this world and they achieve the interests of the people and help them obey their Lord and support his deen. Ali Ibn Abi Taalib (ra) said, “People will not follow the straight path except with a ruler, be he guided or not” [in his book Jami’ al-Uloom al-Hikam, page 361, hadith 28]

Ibn Rajab's commentary on Imam Nawawi's 40 hadith

Ibn Rajab’s commentary on Imam Nawawi’s 40 hadith

The Verdict of the Ruler who rules by other than Islam and the Prohibition of Monarchy and Kingship


Al-Haafidh Shams ad-Deen Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah al-Hanbali (rh) said:

The correct view is that ruling according to something other than that which Allah has revealed includes both major and minor Kufr, depending on the position of the judge. If he believes that it is obligatory to rule according to what Allah has revealed in this case, but he turns away from that out of disobedience, whilst acknowledging that he is deserving of punishment, then this is lesser Kufr. But if he believes that it is not obligatory and that the choice is his even though he is certain that this is the ruling of Allah, then this is major Kufr” [in his book Madaarij as-Saaliheen, volume 1, page 336].

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah (rh) said:

In our view monarchy is essentially unlawful, and our duty is to set up a government on the pattern of prophethood (Khilafah nabuwwah). This is because the Prophet ﷺ said, “You must follow my way and the way of the rightly guided Khulafah after me. Stick to it and hold it fast. Refrain from unjustifiable innovations and remember that every innovation is an error” [in Majmua’ al-Fatawa volume 35, page 19]