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Rebellion and Legitimacy in the Hanbali School of Law
Abstract by Reem Shaikh On Session IV-29  (Ritual and Faith)

On Friday, November 3 at 11:00 am

2023 Annual Meeting

This paper analyzes the laws on rebellion in Hanbali fiqh and the objectives of the Hanbali doctrine of rebellion. Specifically, the research investigates how Hanbali fiqh defines "rebellion" and whose protection the laws are concerned with. While there is ample literature on the topic of rebellion in Islamic law, this research contributes to the body of knowledge by analyzing laws on rebellion in relation to the issue of governmental legitimacy by questioning the extent to which Hanbali jurists were concerned with establishing and protecting legitimacy of rulers. An analysis of Ibn Qudamah’s Al-Mughnī and Ibn Taymiyyah’s Majmū’ al-Fatāwā reveals that the primary concern of Hanbali jurists in developing laws on rebellion was to maintain social stability and protect the state from social unrest or conflict that could lead to the destabilization of society, a concern that was shaped by the discourse surrounding the early Muslim civil wars. The Hanbali jurists emphasized the conditions of rebellion, the treatment of rebels, and the obligation to obey authority - even a usurper - in order to ensure social stability. Hence, despite the premise of a distinction between legitimate and illegitimate rule, such that rebellion might be permissible against the latter, Ibn Qudamah and Ibn Taymiyyah effectively prohibited all rebellion. The laws against rebellion give priority to social and political stability over the ruler’s legitimate or illegitimate claims to authority. Hence, this research concludes that the laws on rebellion in Hanbali fiqh do not primarily assess the legitimacy of rulers, but to ensure order and stability in society. This research further suggests that the Hanbali focus on social stability and preserving the state may contribute to contemporary debates on governance and rebellion in the Islamic world, specifically considering that these laws are brought up in response to protests against state authority.
Religious Studies/Theology
Geographic Area
Islamic World
Sub Area