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Bismillahi Al-Rahman Al-Raheem

Question & Answer: 
The Meaning of “Ruling in Islam”


1.  It was mentioned in the book, The Ruling System in Islam that “the terms ruling, kingdom and sultan have the same meaning.” So the question exists: Is this a linguistic meaning of ruling or the common meaning? Thus if it holds both meanings, would it be considered a coined terminology (lafdhm ushtarak)?

2.  The term “Al-Bay’ah” was mentioned in the hadith to mean ‘the contract between the Khaleefah and the Ummah’, so is this meaning to the term “al-Bay’ah” a linguistic or divine (Shar’ii) meaning? Is it a linguistic meaning (Haqeeqah) or a divine (Shar’ii) meaning?


Part 1:

1.   The meaning of the word “حَكَمَ” “Hakama” used by the Arabs, i.e. in the language or what is called as the linguistic fact, is “to execute”:

It is said in the mother tongue: “Al-Hukm: knowledge; Jurisprudence; judging justly; its roots is Hakama, Yahkomo… Qada (executed): Execution, Ruling

In Al-Muheet dictionary, it is mentioned: Al-Hukm: execution”.

In Mukhtar As-Sihah: Al-Hukm: Execution; and he “ruled” between them… (depending on the accent marks used in the word)

2.   However, this wording was used as a terminology in the heart of Islam to denote “governing and Sultan/authority”. The term is a common reality. (حقيقة عرفية). So the usage of the word “Hukm” during the time of Prophet Muhammad (saw),  the righteous Khulafa and the Arabs after them, it was used to mean leadership and Sultan/authority, i.e. customary reality.

3.   A word is not called a coined term (mushtarak) except if all its definitions were placed in the Usool of the language, i.e. if all the different definitions were linguistic realities, on the contrary for example that one of them is a linguistic reality and the other is a common term. Such as the word “Daabba” (cattle) is a word which Arabs established to mean all that walks on earth, then it became a common term among them that refers to animals that walk on four legs, thus excluding humans from this group. So one cannot say that the word “Daabba” is a common term that applies to all that walks on earth including animals that walk on four legs because the Arabs did not include all of these meanings to the word “Daabba” but only applied it to all that walks on earth, while customarily applicable only to the animal that walks on four… it is rather mentioned that the wording “Daabba” being all that walks on four that it is a common reality/fact.

In conclusion, common terminology refers to the word which the Arabs placed all of its definitions as a lingual reality, not that one definition is a linguistic reality and the other is a general common term/reality or a specific term as this is not considered common.

For this reason, the term “Hukm” is not a common term in the definitions “Qadaa’/execution” and “Sultaan/Authority”. But it said that Hukm is a linguistic reality when it holds the meaning of Qadaa, and is a specified common reality in the meanings of Ruling and Authority.

Part 2:

As for the term “Bayah”, it is a divine (Shar’ii) reality, and not common terminology specified common reality this is because its definition was specified by the Legislator, not by tradition. To explain this:

“Bayah” in the Arabic language is derived from selling (Al-Bay’) and buying (Al-Shiraa’)

ب ي ع (The letters): Ba ya ‘Aa: “He sold” an item; “he sells it” “selling it” ...  [Mukhtar Al-sihah]

Ba’ahu: to sell, to purchase ...[al-Qamus al-Muheet] (dictionary)

Baiy’: To sell: opposite of purchase, Selling: also to sell, that are also antonyms; to sell items, to purchase etc… [common language]

The Islamic legislation (Shar’ii) indicated a different connotation to it which is: the method (tareeqa) of appointing a Khaleefah, and this method is fixed in the Quran and Sunnah and Consensus of the Sahaba, which is done through Bayah (pledging allegiance). So the Khaleefah is appointed by the Muslims who pledge allegiance to him to rule by the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet. What is meant by Muslims are the Muslim citizens under the previous Khaleefah if the Khilafah was existent, or the Muslims of the region where Khilafah is established, if it was non-existent i.e. a Shar’ii meaning was given to the word Bayah by evidences from the Qur’an, Sunnah and Consensus of the Sahaba:

Allah (swt) said: [إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُبَايِعُونَكَ إِنَّمَا يُبَايِعُونَ اللَّهَ يَدُ اللَّهِ فَوْقَ أَيْدِيهِمْ]

“Behold, all who pledge their allegiance to thee pledge their allegiance to Allah: the hand of Allah is over their hands.”

Al-Bukhari narrated that Ubada bin Al-Samit said:

بايعْنا رسولَ الله على السمع والطاعة، في المنشط والمكره، وأن لا ننازع الأمر أهله، وأن نقوم أو نقول بالحق حيثما كنا، لا نخاف في الله لومة لائم.

“We gave the oath of allegiance to Allah’s Apostle that we would listen to and obey him both at the time when we were active and at the time when we were tired and that we would not fight against the ruler or disobey him, and would stand firm for the truth or say the truth wherever we might be, and in the Way of Allah we would not be afraid of the blame of the blamers.”

The texts are clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the method to appoint a Khaleefah is through Bayah as understood by the entire Sahabah, taking this path as it is evident in the Bayah of the Khulafaa ar-Rashideen.

Therefore, “Bayah” has become with this definition a divine (Shar’ii) reality because of its Shar’ii reality can be utilized in the Shariah as outlined above.


29 Rajab 1433 AH


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