The Hadith: 'You will have rulers some of whom you will approve of and some you will disapprove of'


You will have rulers some of whom you will approve of and some of whom you will disapprove of. Anyone who disapproves of them will be saved, and anyone who isolates from them will be secured, but anyone who mingles with them will be ruined.1

Your Eminence, is this Hadith Sahih (authentic)? We read it in Sahih Al-Jami’ Al-Saghir Wa Zyadatih. We think that its meaning contradicts other narrations related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim, and others from many of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) on the issue of not revolting against the ruler. These narrations even reached the degree of Hadith Mutawatir (a Hadith reported by a significant number of narrators throughout the chain of narration, whose agreement upon a lie is impossible). This is also the belief of Ahl-ul-Sunnah (those adhering to the Sunnah) and scholars of Hadith as Imam Al-Tahawy said, “We do not revolt against our rulers even if they transgress.” Are we right or wrong? Please explain the truth to us. If the mentioned Hadith is Sahih, how can we reconcile both meanings?


The Hadith you mentioned is Sahih and it does not disagree with the belief of Ahl-ul-Sunnah as regards listening to the rulers and obeying them and adhering to the Muslim community and never revolting against the rulers even if they transgress as long as they do not commit Kufr (disbelief). This is because the meaning of “anyone who disapproves of them” in the Hadith refers to verbal disapproval as explained by the interpreters of Hadith.

Al-Munawy said in (Sharh Al-Jami’ 4/132), “Anyone who disapproves of them” means whoever verbally disapproves of the violations of Shari’ah (Islamic law) is saved from hypocrisy, and whoever isolates from them and disapproves of their deeds by their heart is secured from punishment for not forbidding evil, and whoever mixes with them being pleased with their immorality will be ruined; that is, they have done what makes them deserve ruin in the Hereafter.”

Sahih Muslim supports this meaning by the Hadith reported on the authority of Um Salamah (may Allah be pleased with her) that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Rulers will be appointed over you, and you will find them doing good as well as bad deeds. Anyone who hates their bad deeds is absolved from blame. Anyone who disapproves of their bad deeds is (also) safe (so far as Allah’s Wrath is concerned). But anyone who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them (is doomed). People asked, “Messenger of Allah, should not we fight against them?” He replied: No, as long as they offer Salah (Prayer).” 2

  1. Narrated from the Hadith of Ibn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him): Ibn Abu Shaybah, vol. 15, p. 243; Al-Tabarany, vol. 11, p. 33, no. 10973. 

  2. Ahmad, vol. 6, pp. 295, 302, 305, and 321; Muslim, vol. 3, pp. 1480-1481, no. 1854; Abu Dawud, vol. 5, p. 119, no. 4760; Al-Tirmidhy, vol. 4, p. 529, no. 2265.