A Letter to the Governor regarding the pleasant conduct with his Subjects[1]

Al-Walid ibn Mazeed said: Al-Awzaai wrote to the Abi Balj the Governor, saying:

After which:

I ask Allah to divert away from us the leaning away from the Truth after having being informed of it, and being ignorant of that which will benefit, and following desires without Guidance from Him.

Abu ad-Dardaa used to say: You will remain upon goodness as long as you loved the righteous among you, and for as long as Truth is said between you and you acknowledged it, for the one who acknowledges the Truth is like the one acting upon it.

And before you are two matters [2]:

As for one of them [3], then the Book [of Allah] is affirming it, and the Sunnah [of the Messenger] is a witness [to it], and victory with it is granted, and the affairs of the people around it is gathered.

As for the other [4]: then it shall take you from a state of affection [with the people] to a state of hatred and spitefulness with no harmony in it, and to [a state of] greed with no trust in it, and to state of bribery and trade in the Religion rather than acting upon it, until all strength has been drained and corruption [starts to] appear within Islam [5].

I have witnessed letters which had appeared from your [side], with evil statements about excessive punishments [6] and accompanying the Muslims [during your rule] in a rough manner.

The Messenger of Allah (Blessings and Peace upon him) had advised to lower the wing (of gentleness and humility) [to the Muslims], and to show affection towards them, and to establish justice between them.

[He advised] to forgive and pardon those who err, in the matters in which forgiveness and pardoning is praiseworthy, and to punish the guilty from among them in accordance with his sin. [He advised] that their faces is not to be violated with a punishment, for it has reached us that the slap of the face on the Day of Judgment is a matter that is not forgiven, so how should [dealing with someone be] when Death is more pleasant than punishing him [unjustly]?!

He does not even turn his neck towards the boundaries of Allah and does not pause in his conduct upon His Commands. His ignorance makes it appear to him that he is free to choose whatever he wishes in all his matters [without bounds or restrictions], and make his errors [appear to him] as guidance. He is to the boundaries of Allah during his anger disregardful, and in his transgressions upon the Religion of Allah and upon the servants [of Allah] heedlessly obstinate [7].

You have [even] made your Trust over the people of the Dhimmah a feast which you consume based on your desires [8], until the wealth perished and the men were hanged, along with [punishing them with] shaving the beards and cutting the skins [9]. And the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him) said in what has reached us that: “if anyone wrongs a Mu’aahad (i.e. a man given a contract of trust), or burdens him beyond his capacity, then I shall be his opponent [on the Day of Judgement])”.

So what is a greater regret than having the Messenger of Allah (Peace and Blessings upon him) after a little –and very soon- being your opponent!!

These actions – in what has reached us – have caused among the Muslims feelings of resentment, and has caused among some of the people of intellect doubt about their Jihad alongside you, to this effect their letters come to us asking about this matter [10].

I ask Allah to move us and you towards what he commands, and to shield what has previously occurred from us and you with his Mercy.

It has reached us that a brother of Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez, from among the Ansaar, came to him and said:

“If you wish I shall advise you as Umar ibn Abdul-Azeez about matters which you would hate [to hear] today, but you would love [to have heard] tomorrow, and if you wish, I can speak to you today as Amir al-Moemineen in what you would love to hear today, but would hate [and regret not having heard] tomorrow.”

So Umar said: Rather speak to me today, about what I may dislike hearing today, and would love [having heard it] tomorrow.

May Allah make our relationship upon His obedience, and our livelihoods and our abodeupon what He Loves, Ameen.

wa as-Salam [11][12]


[1] Mawaa’iz al-Imam al-Awzaai (p. 79-83) – Sh. Salih Ahmad al-Shaami

[2] Meaning that in front of you, as the governor, are two routes in regards to the way that you will rule and deal with people: [the route of] Justice and Injustice

[3] Ruling with Justice

[4] Ruling with injustice and oppression

[5] Meaning the corruption caused by that other route of ruling established upon what was described previously from transgression and injustice.

[6] Meaning transgressing the boundaries of a just punishment to excessiveness and injustice

[7] The meaning here is that the rulings and punishments through which he treats the people are not governed by the boundaries of Allah, rather are governed by the desires of the Ruler based on his condition of anger and pleasure, and that he is during his anger controlled by ignorance and transgression, and not halting at the boundaries of Allah (the Exalted)

[8] Meaning that you made the treatment of the people of Dhimmah also a matter subject to your desires

[9] This unlawful unjust treatment was not exclusive to the people of Dhimmah, rather as was highlighted earlier in his letter the Muslims were also subjected to oppressive and unjust treatment, and as he said reminding him of the treating them with gentleness and justice: “so how should [dealing with one be] when death is more beautiful than punishing him?!”

[10] Meaning that letters used to come to Imam al-Awzaai asking about the permissibility of Jihad with these rulers, when their situation is as described.

[11] Al-Jarh wa al-Ta’deel 1/200

[12] The letter demonstrates the strength of Imam Al-Awzaai in saying the Truth, and his position in defending the rights of the people, whether they were Muslims or non-Muslims, and that he was a reference to the people [of his time], where they would write to him and their complains about the Rulers used to reach him … And for this, the governor of Sahil region stood upon his grave after he was buried, and said: “May Allah have mercy on you, O Abu Amr, for indeed by Allah, I was more fearful of you than from he who had appointed me [to this position]. Verily, whoever is treated unjustly after you, then let him be patient” (meaning that whoever is treated unjustly after the death of Imam Al-Awzaai would not find anyone who would stand up for him as Imam al-Awzaai used to stand for the rights of the oppressed and those treated unjustly).

pen letter

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