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Letter to a Bahri Sultan
In the name of Allah, the Merciful, the Extremely Merciful.
From Ahmad bn Taymiyah to the Sultan of the Muslims, the Wali (Protector) of the affairs of the believers, the ummah Deputy of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh), and the establisher of the obligatory acts of the Deen and his sunnah. May Allah be with him.
He purifies for him and the Muslims the affairs of the dunya and the next life. He establishes by him all hidden and apparent affairs so that he may be an example of the statement of Allah, the Exalted, (22:41 “Those (Muslim rulers) who, if We give them power in the land establish the salah, pay the zakah, enjoin what is good, and forbid what is bad. Belongs to Allâh the end of all matters.” May he also be an example of his (pbuh) statement: “There are seven whom Allah shades with His shade on a day when there is no shade except His shade: a just imam” to the end of the hadith. May he also be an example of his (pbuh) statement: “Whoever invites to guidance there is for him a reward like the rewards of those who follow it without a lessoning of their rewards in the least.” Allah certainly answers the du’ah concerning the Sultan. So Allah has put in him goodness which the hearts of the ummah witness. Its amount is greater than in other than him.
Allah is responsible for aiding him. He is certainly the neediest creation of Allah in need of the support of Allah and His permanence. (24:55) “Allâh has promised those among you who believe and do good deeds, that He will certainly grant them succession in the land, as He granted it to those before them. Also, that He will grant them the authority to practice their religion, which He has chosen for them. In addition, He will surely give them in exchange safety after their fear. They must worship Me and do not associate anything with Me.”
The rightness of the command of the Sultan is only connected to following the Book of Allah, the sunnah of His Messenger and His Prophet. He wins over people based on that. Indeed He, glory to Him, has placed the welfare of the people with authority in four things: establishing the prayer, paying the zakah, demanding what’s good, and prohibiting what’s bad. When he establishes the congregational salah in its proper times--he and his servants and people who obey him--he commands with that all of his flock. He is a protector of whoever is considered of little importance in regards to the penalties which Allah has legislated. Then he has certainly completed this basic rule.
Then he is certainly in need of Allah the Exalted. When he confides in his Lord in morning and he seeks His help, he says: “Oh Living God, oh Eternal God, there is no god except You. Your mercy I seek. I obey Allah as much as possible which no one knows except Allah.” Allah, the Exalted, has said (4:66): “. . . but if they had done what they were told, it would have been better for them, and would have strengthened their (Faith); (66) And indeed We should then have bestowed upon them a great reward from Ourselves (67) And indeed We should have guided them to a straight way (68).”
Then every benefit and good He extends it to the creation. It is from the category of zakah. What is the greatest acts of worship is blocking poverty, fulfilling needs, helping the oppressed, getting rid of anxiety and commanding what is good. He is the Commander of what Allah and His Messenger has ordered related to justice and doing good. The matter of the deputies of the land and ministers of affairs is following the ruling of the Book and the Sunnah, their avoiding what Allah forbade, and forbidding the bad. He forbids what Allah and His Messenger forbade.
When the Sultan proceeds—may Allah support him—with that in most of the land of Islam there was in him the welfare of the dunya and the hereafter. For him and the Muslims is what no one knows except Allah. May Allah give him success in what He loves and what pleases him.
Translated by Dr. Antar Ibn-Stanford
This letter is found in Majmu’ Fatawa Shakh l-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, Volume 28, Pages 241-243.
I find it very interesting in that it describes how the Qur’an and the sunnah were used after the time of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It also demonstrates a way of communicating with Muslim rulers, then and now.