The collective boycotting, a ruler’s prerogative
All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon whom Allah sent as a mercy to the Worlds, upon his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
As a rule, it is absolutely allowed to deal with the disbelievers, whether they are Dhimmis (those who are under the Muslims rule), Musta'manîn (those to whom Muslims give protection) or Muhâribîn (those who are at war with the Muslims).
However, illicit things which are subject to dealings are excepted from that rule, like prohibited counter values; such as wine, swine flesh and dead animals, or illegal profit; such as usury benefits and things which are illicit in their selves; such as grapes intended to be wine, selling things which are illicit or rent them for a prohibited purpose.
It is also prohibited to deal with the disbelievers who are at war with Muslims as regards things which they may use to fight Muslims or establish their religion and feasts. We should not, also, sell a Mus’haf (a copy of Qur'an) to them or a Muslim slave at all.
So, except that, it is unanimously allowed to deal with them(1). The proof is the dealings established by the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and his Companions with people of Makkah before Emigration and those who used to come to it among sects of disbelievers. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم dealt, also, with the Bedouins who came to Makkah and were still polytheists. Moreover, the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, after his Emigration to Medina, dealt with the Jews who were in Medina and those who were around it and his Companions too. The Companions of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم used to deal with them with full knowledge and in the hearing of the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم. However numerous the commercial and monetary transactions and long their duration were, it was never reported that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم prohibited dealing with the disbelievers, whatever their disbelief may be; whether by obstinacy, ignorance or hypocrisy. It is rather stated in many hadiths that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم dealt with the Jews who were in Medina by buying and selling, loaning, raising mortgage and other kinds of licit commercial and monetary transactions in our religion. In fact, Al-Bukhâri named a chapter [in his Sahîh]: “concerning dealing, by selling and buying, with the polytheists and the disbelievers who are at war with Islam(2).
However, the permissibility to deal with the disbelievers is not a kind of inclination (towards them) which is forbidden to us. This is ruled out by the hadith reported by `Aicha رضي الله عنها who said “That the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم bought some food from a Jew and gave him his shield of iron as a mortgage”(3). Nevertheless, we do not understand from this hadith that it is allowed to sell weapons to disbelievers, because a shield is not an weapon, a mortgage is not a selling and the Jew in question was among Musta'manîn and was under protection and scrutiny; so it was not to be feared that he would have an influence. As for helping the enemies of Allah with weapons, it is aforementioned that it is unanimously forbidden. It is rather considered as a major treachery.
Thus, he who sticks to the principle that it is permissible to deal with the disbelievers, especially something that the Muslims need, his creed of Al-Walâ' Wal-Barâ' (alliance and amity, disavowal and enmity), which is one of the strongest bonds of Islam, is not affected at all, as long as he hates polytheism, people of disbelief and does not admit or approve it, nor take disbelievers as friends, by showing affection towards them. He should not also support or praise them, nor help them against Muslims, nor imitate them as regards their own attributes, whether in religious or worldly matters, nor take them as confidents to keep his secrets and to be in charge of his most important affairs. He should not take them as judges, nor admit their rulings or let down Allah’s and his Messenger’s rule. Also, he should not glorify a disbeliever by word or by action. He should not take part in the feasts of the disbelievers or congratulate them. He should not befriend them at all, whether outwardly or inwardly nor flatter them or show them sycophancy to the detriment of religion.
Those are some things that Al-Barâ' (disavowal and enmity) implies and to which a Muslim has to stick to, believe in and put into practice, by which opposition of the people of Fire is reached, and on which an independent and a self personality is built, following guidance and straight path. This is, in fact, far more important than boycotting the goods [of the disbelievers]; it is one of the prerequisites of Shahâda (There is no God worthy of worship but Allah جلَّ جلاله) and complements of faith. The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “If anyone loves for Allah’s sake, hates for Allah’s sake, gives for Allah’s sake and withholds for Allah’s sake, he will have perfect faith”(4).
However, the ruling of boycotting goods and products of some countries of disbelief differs according to the situation of the Islamic society; it depends on its strength and the consequences of the boycotting on it, because, as it is known, the country whose economy and industry are based on the importation of commercial and industrialized products from countries of disbelief depends on them, as it is weak. And, indeed, disbelief is of the same religion and disbelievers, when they face Muslims, are always united. So, even if some countries of disbelief are boycotted, the independence to others persists, as the [Islamic] nation is not self-sufficient, and even if these countries make concessions to those who wage boycotts, this will not benefit Islam and Muslims, because they are humiliated and weak.
This vision of ends is estimative, but if the Muslim ruler – in taking into account the interests of Muslims and the evil that may occur – makes use of his estimation, by consulting people of good opinion and pertinence, and chooses to wage a collective boycott against any country of disbelief as an appropriate solution by which he supports Islam and the Muslims and disgraces the disbelievers; his obedience in what he decides will be then obligatory, as his choice is relevant to the security and military affairs of the nation which are entrusted exclusively to the ruler, according to the following rule: “The acts of the ruler depend on the interest” because “The status of the ruler as regards the subjects is as the status of the tutor as regards the orphan” as Esh-Shâfi`i رحمه الله stated it(5).
It is on this context that we should understand the authentic hadiths stated concerning the siege that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم made to Banu An-Nadhîr, the burning of their palms and the fact that Thumâma Ibn Uthâl prevented [Mekkans] from [food] and he said: “You will never have even a wheat from Al-Yamâma until the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم allows it”(6). There are many other events which prove that is allowed to make jihad with one’s money and other kinds of jihad. In fact, these kinds of jihad rest on repelling harm and procuring benefits. So, they depend on the estimation of the ruler and his leave.
According to what is stated above, we can classify the results as follows:
Firstly, as a rule, making financial and commercial dealings with the disbelievers is absolutely allowed, if that dealing is not illicit; whether it is a thing, a counter value, a benefit or a rent. It is also prohibited to help disbelievers against the Muslims or help them in what they may use to establish their religion.
Secondly, there is no matter if someone sticks to the aforesaid principle, because it does never affect the creed of Al-Walâ' Wal-Barâ' (alliance and amity and disavowal and enmity) as long as he abides by the aforementioned things that Al-Barâ' implies and on condition that he does not let buying from Muslims absolutely and preferring the disbelievers above them without a real argument.
Thirdly: there is – also – no harm for someone who boycotts individually if he intends to weaken the economy of the disbelievers and show his disavowal and displease with them, but on condition that no corrupted or corrupting manners will emanate from him: whether by misleading the opponent, accusing him of allegiance to enemies of Allah جلَّ جلاله and cooperating with them in falsehood and spoiling money, damaging goods and products by burning and storing them, since this is a harm for the Muslim and an offense as regards his money and honor. Allah جلَّ جلاله said:
﴿وَاللهُ لاَ يُحِبُّ الفَسَادَ﴾ [البقرة: 205].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾and Allâh likes not mischief﴿ [Al-Baqara (The Cow): 205].
The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth and his honor”(7). He صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم also said: “Verily! Your blood, property and honor are sacred to one another (i.e. Muslims) like the sanctity of this day of yours in this city of yours”(8) he صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم also said: “There should be neither harming nor reciprocating harm”(9).
On the other hand, it is not permissible to injure the disbeliever in his blood, money or honor if he is not a fighter (against Muslims) in accordance with the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم saying: “Allah جلَّ جلاله says: My servants! I have made oppression unlawful for Me and unlawful for you, so do not commit oppression against one another”(10). The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم also said: “Beware, if anyone wrongs a contracting man, or diminishes his right, or forces him to work beyond his capacity, or takes from him anything without his consent, I shall plead for him on the Day of Judgment”(11). So, it is a duty to treat them with equity, and if someone of them errs, we should not hold the others responsible, in accordance with Allah’s جلَّ جلاله saying:
﴿وَلاَ تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَى﴾ [الأنعام: 164].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾…and no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another﴿ [Al-An`âm (The Cattle): 164]. He جلَّ جلاله also said:
﴿وَلاَ يَجْرِمَنَّكُمْ شَنَآنُ قَوْمٍ عَلَى أَلاَّ تَعْدِلُوا اعْدِلُوا هُوَ أَقْرَبُ لِلتَّقْوَى﴾ [المائدة: 8].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾…and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety﴿ [Al-Mâ'ida (The Table Spread with Food): 8].
If they have pacts with Muslims, or they owe Muslims debts, it is not permissible for a Muslim, who boycotts them, to nullify the pact between them or abstain from settling his debt. It is his duty to give them their dues in full, since Allah جلَّ جلاله said:
﴿يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ﴾ [المائدة: 1].
The meaning of the verse:
﴾O you who believe! Fulfill (your) obligations﴿ [Al-Mâ'ida (The Table spread with Food): 1].
Allah جلَّ جلاله also said:
﴿وَأَوْفُوا بِالْعَهْدِ إِنَّ الْعَهْدَ كَانَ مَسْئُولاً﴾ [الإسراء: 34].
The meaning of the verse:
And fulfil (every) covenant. Verily, the covenant, will be questioned about﴿ [Al-Isrâ (The Journey by Night): 34].
The Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said: “Return the trust to those who entrusted you, and do not betray even the one who broke his promise to you”(12).
Fourthly: in case the ruler chooses to forbid dealing with a country of disbelief for the benefit of Muslims, it is a duty to obey him as regards the collective boycott, as it is stipulated in the general rules (of the sharia), and the hadiths reported in this regard should be interpreted in this sense.
That is what we vow as religion to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, concerning this subject. We ask Allah جلَّ جلاله to honor His religion, to elevate His Word, to make His Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and Religion triumph, to show us the truth as truth and enable us to follow it and show us the falsehood as false and enable us to avoid it. Oh Allah! Enable this nation to stick to the belief in You, and to return to Your Religion, and to be proud of it, verily, You are Hearer, Nigh and Responsive.
Our last prayer is all praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessing be upon our Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم, his Family, his Companions and his Brothers till the Day of Resurrection.
Algiers 14th, Muharram 1427 H
February 13th, 2006
(1) See: “Al-Majmû`” of An-Nawawi (11/40).
(2) See: “Sahîh of Al-Bukhâri” (4/410) (hadith 2216).
(3) Agreed upon: reported by Al-Bukhâri (4/302) (hadith 2068) and by Muslim (11/40), from the hadith of `Aicha رضي الله عنها.
(4) Reported by Abu Dâwûd in the chapter of “Sunna” (hadith 4683) and by Ibn `Assâkir in “Târîkh Dimechq” (6/16/2, 9/396/2), from the hadith of Abu Umâma رضي الله عنه. This hadith is authenticated by Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 380) and in “Sahîh Al-Jâmi`” (hadith 5965).
(5) See “Al-Manthûr” of Az-Zarkashi (1/183).
(6) Reported by Al-Bukhâri in the chapter of “Conquests” (hadith 4372), by Muslim in the chapter of “Jihad and biographies” (hadith 4688), by Ahmad (hadith 10088) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 13215), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(7) Reported by Muslim in the chapter of “Virtue, keeping good relations with one’s kith and kin, and good manners” (hadith 6706), by Abu Dâwûd in the chapter of “Good manners” (hadith 4884) and by At-Tirmidhi in the chapter “Virtue and keeping good relations with one’s kith and kin” (hadith 2052), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه.
(8) Reported by Al-Bukhâri in the chapter of “Knowledge” (hadith 67), by Muslim in the chapter of “Oaths for establishing responsibility for murders” (hadith 4477), by Ahmad (hadith 2923), by Ad-Dârimi (hadith 1968) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 9894), from the hadith of Abi Bakra رضي الله عنه.
(9) Reported by Ibn Mâjah in the chapter of “Judgments” (hadith 2430), by Ahmad (hadith 23462) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 12224), from the hadith of `Ubâda Ibn As-Sâmit رضي الله عنه . An-Nawawi said about the hadith (32) from “Al-Arba`în An-Nawawiyya”: “This hadith has other chains of narration; each one strengthens the other”; Ibn Rajab said in “Jâmi`Al-`Ulûm Wal-Hikam” (hadith 378): “It is quite as An-Nawawi said”. Besides, Al-Albâni authenticated it in “Al-Irwâ'” (hadith 896), in « As-Silsila As-Sahîha » (hadith 250) and in « Ghâyat Al-Marâm » (hadith 254).
(10) Reported by Muslim in the chapter of “Good manners and keeping good relations with one’s kith and kin” (hadith 6737), by Ibn Hibbân (hadith 621), by Ahmad (hadith 20960), by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 11837) and by Al-Bazzâr (hadith 885), from the hadith of Abi Dhar رضي الله عنه.
(11) Reported by Abu Dâwûd in the chapter of “Land tax” (hadith 3054) and by Al-Bayhaqi (hadith 19201), from the hadith of Safwân Ibn Sulaym رضي الله عنه on the authority of many Companions رضي الله عنهم. This hadith is judged as Hassan (good) by Ibn Hajar in “Muwâfaqat Al-Khabar Al-Khabar” (2/184). As-Sakhâwi in “Al-Maqâssid Al-Hassana” (hadith 459) said: “Its chain of narration is acceptable”. Al-Albâni authenticated it in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 1/807) and in “Mishkât Al-Massâbîh” (4047).
(12) Reported by At-Tirmidhi in the chapter of “Transactions” (hadith 1264), by Abu Dâwûd in chapter of “Hiring” (hadith 3535) and by Ad-Dârimi in the chapter of “Transactions” (hadith 2652), from the hadith of Abu Hurayra رضي الله عنه. This hadith is authenticated by As-Sakhâwi in “Al-Maqâssid Al-Hassana” (hadith 51) and by Al-Albâni in “As-Silsila As-Sahîha” (hadith 424).