It has been narrated on the authority of ‘Auf b. Malik that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be with him) said: The best of your rulers are those whom you love and who love you, who invoke God’s blessings upon you and you invoke His blessings upon them. And the worst of your rulers are those whom you hate and who hate you and whom you curse and who curse you. It was asked (by those present): shouldn’t we overthrow them with the help of the sword? He said: No, as long as they establish prayer among you. If you then find anything detestable in them, you should hate their administration, but do not withdraw yourselves from their obedience.
This hadith has also been narrated on the authority of ‘Auf b. Malik al-Ashja’ with the addition of the words: “Mind you! One who has a governor appointed over him and he finds that the governor’s act indulges in an act of disobedience to God, he should condemn the governor’s act, in obedience to God, but should not withdraw himself from his obedience.”
This hadith gives a clear idea for how long and to what extent should the citizens exercise patience with an unjust government. Upholding the establishing of prayer on the part of a ruler in his main qualification which he deserves obedience from the citizens in ma’ruf and which does not permit them to overthrow his government by any means.
The “upholding of prayer,” says Mohammad Asad, “has a far wider meaning than the mere holding of congregational prayer.” It denotes – as it does at the beginning of the second chapter of the Qur’an – a positive upholding of the faith.
The Holy Qur’an lays down in clear terms the main functions of the head of an Islamic State: “Muslims are those who, if We give them power in the land, establish prayer and Zakat (poor-due) and enjoin virtue and forbid evil.”
Needless to say, these are the salient features not only of Muslim rulers but of every member of the Islamic Faith.