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Political Thinking of Ibn Taymiyyah

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Politics
Wordcount: 1354 words Published: 3rd Oct 2017

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“Political thinking of Ibn Taymiyyah”


This report is an analysis of the political thought of “IBN TAYMIYYA”, in full “Taqi-al-din’ Abu-al-Abbas’ Ahmed Ibn Ab-Dal-Salam’ Ibn Abd-Allah’ Ibn Muhammed Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328 CE).He was one of Islam’s most forceful theologians, great Islamic scholar, jurist and logician of his time, he also produced many works on these topics. He was also the source of Wahabbiya, a traditionalist movement of Islam. The objective of this research is to show that how Ibn Taymmiya’s political theory provided the critical framework for Sunni caliphate theory, shiaite immamaite theory and for the models provided by the different Muslim philosophers and sufists theologians.


When in 1258, the Abbasid dynasty disappeared and Baghdad was captured by the Mongols, religious legitimacy through the caliphs recognition was no longer an option for the new dynasties. In these circumstamstances, Ibn Taymiyyah attended to give a religious legitimacy to the rulers through the concept of “Governance in the name of sacred law” (siyasa alshar’iyya) 1 and principle of religious and political censorship that obliges all Muslim to “command the good and forbid evil”(hisba) 1

Meanings of Sacred law:

The term sacred law is used in the three meanings2

  • The revealed law (al-shar’ al-munnzal)
  • The interpreted law (al-shar’ al-mu’awwal)
  • The perverted law (al-shar’ al-mubaddal)

The revealed law:

What the prophet (peace be upon him) brought, one has to follow it and whoever disobeys it has to be punished.

The interpreted law:

These are the legal opinions of the jurists who bring them by their own reasoning. Nobody is entitled to impose it on people nor should all people be forbidden (to follow) it.

The perverted law:

It lies against God and Prophet (Peace be upon him), or against people through false testimony and other things, and of clear injustice.3

Importance of Government:

Ibn Taymiyyah regarded the institution of government as indispensable. Ibn Taymiyyah gives the idea that religion cannot be established without government and the duty of commanding the good and forbidding evil cannot be discharged without power and authority and this applies to all religious duties for helping those who are wronged and to be punished with the accordance of legal penalties.4

Ibn Taymiyyah emphasizes that the necessary objective of those in authority (Wilaya) is to improve the material and religious conditions of the people in preparation for life to come. 5

Leader of State:

Ibn Taymiyyah believes that for appointment to a public office the most suitable person should be chosen on grounds of relevant competence (quwwah) and integrity (amanah), the two most necessary qualities. However a person possessing both the qualities in equal measure is difficult to find, therefore a person who will be appearing as a leader should be a Best Muslim 6

Role of government:

Ibn Taymiyyah started his book with the following verses of Quran;

“Surely Allah commands you to make over trusts to those worthy of them, and that when you judge between people, you judge with justice. Surely Allah admonishes you with what is excellent. Surely Allah is ever Hearing, Seeing. O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority from among you; then if you quarrel about anything refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is best and more likely to (achieve) the end.”

Ibn Taymiyyah remarks the above Quranic verse, revealed “in connection with those in authority; they should makeover trust to those worthy of them and they should administer justice fairly.” 7

Ibn Taymiyyah gives the idea on role of government by narrating the following Ahadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him);

“Everyone of you is a shepherd, and everyone of you is responsible for his flock; the Caliph who rules the people is a shepherd and he is responsible for those whom he governs; the woman is a shepherdess in her husband’s house, and she is responsible for the household; the youngster is a shepherd in regard to his father’s wealth, and he is responsible for the money at his disposal; the slave is a shepherd as regards to his master’s possessions, and he is responsible for these possessions. Lo! Every one of you is a shepherd and every one of you is responsible for his flock”(Sahihayn Hadith).

“Any shepherd to whom Allah has entrusted his flock who dies one day, after having cheated his subjects (but without repenting of his faults), Allah will not allow him to breathe the odor of Paradise.”(Sahih Muslim).

Ibn Taymiyyah explained the ahadith as; “Creatures are the servants of Allah, and viceroys represent Allah among his servants; they are the overseers of these servants: they occupy a position similar to that of the two partners in relation to each other; they partake of the function of the viceroy and of the legal representative. When the custodian or the legal representative delegates some of his power to another man, when he could have delegated it to a man more expert in commerce or in the administration of lands and buildings, or when he sells the goods at a low price, and a purchaser willing to pay a higher price is available, then this custodian or legal representative has cheated the man who entrusted him with his affairs. More especially if there was between the custodian and the delegate a friendship or relationship. The custodian would then hate the appointed delegate and disdain him and consider that the delegate has cheated him to do a favor to a relative or friend of his.” 8

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According to Ibn Taymiyyah ruler’s duty to prepare the people spiritually for the life hereafter .The state leader should be commanding good and forbidding evil and he along with his subordinates should always be guided by the demands of Quran and Sunnah. But if government does not know how to apply the teachings of Islam to the particular problem, he must consult the advice of the Ulema.9

It is evident according to Ibn Taymiyyah, the aim of the government is to try to reform the religious life of the people, otherwise the people will be at great lossand would not benefit by what they may enjoy in this world. Also, a reformation of the worldly affairs is necessary for the establishment of the Religion.”10


According to Ibn Taymiyyah;

  • Islamic state is based on the idea of public trust
  • Islamic state meant to be run by the consultation
  • The main goal of Islamic state is to enforce shariyah
  • The Leader of the Islamic state should be the Best Muslim
  • Anarchy is preferable to authority
  1. Baber Johansen, A perfect Law in imperfect society, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008) p.261
  2. Baber Johansen, A perfect Law in imperfect society, (London: I.B. Tauris, 2008) p.264
  3. MajmÅ« {Fatāwā, 3:268; cf. Wāsi¢iyya (“Introduction”), p.29–30.
  4. Ibn Taymiyyah, al-siyassa al-shar’iyah (cairo :dar al-sha’b 1971),p.185
  5. Ibn Taimiyah, Al-Siyasah al-Shar’iyah, op. cit., p. 36
  6. Cf. Ibn Taimiyah, al-Siyasah al-Shar’iyah, op. cit., pp. 25-33
  7. Ibn taymiyya,al siyassa al sahriyah (cairo :dar al-sha’b 1971),p.12
  8. Ibn Taymiyyah, al-siyassa al-sahriyah (cairo :dar al-sha’b 1971),p.21
  9. (ibid ,p55)
  10. Ibn Taymiyyah, al-siyassa al-sahriyah (cairo :dar al-sha’b 1971),p.32


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