On the Risaalat Li’l-Amraad Shafiyya
This book was originally a letter of advice written for the regional amirs and officials of the Sokoto Islamic Caliphate. I believe that it was composed during the first year of his rule in 1818, when many regions began to revolt from under his rule, and many of the veterans of early days of the consolidation of the kingdom were becoming disillusioned either through longing for the asceticism that was the custom of the past, or being preoccupied with the responsibilities gained from their victories.
Shaykh Abd’l-Qaadir ibn Mustafa describes the dilemma that the new Sultan found himself in, when he said what happened when he was given the oath of allegiance: “Unfortunately, the entire region of Zamfara revolted, turning away from the religion, resulting in Amir al-Mu’mineen Muhammad Bello in the month of Rajab, equipping an army against Burmi which was fought for some days.
From there he withdrew to Banaaghu, where the two armies advanced against each other and he eventually defeated and routed them. In the same year in the month of Dhu’l-Qa`ida, Abd’s-Salaam revolted and led a campaign that lasted the entire year. The Amir eventually conquered his lands in the last part of the month of Safar.”
The crisis of these events is what induced Sultan Muhammad Bello to compose this text, which he called “A Letter of Healing”, which he arranged as a form of prescription for the personal and social diseases which were afflicting the entire kingdom.
As Amir’l-Mu’mineen, he was obligated to apply to extensive knowledge of medicine, political science and religion and to develop a compound which could act as a medicinal cure for these diseases. The text delineates seven fundamental principles for the success for Muslim individuals and government.
Sultan Muhammad Bello outlined seven fundamentals as a cure for the social ills which effect Islamic society, which I will endeavor to elaborate upon in the commentary, Allah willing. In my commentary I have tried to address some of the ques tions put to me while in the UK and the USA regarding Muslim participating in the party politics in these countries.
In addressing these concerns I will rely upon the textual evidence presented by the Sultan as well as some of the legal precedence of international law and the fundamental legal standards of the US in particular.
My objective in this is to demonstrate that perpetual struggle (jihaad) for self-determination for Muslim nations and Muslim national minorities is consistent with the shari`a, and falls within the legal parameters of international law as well as the core values of the nations under which Muslims reside.
The Muslim must know that the struggle for the advancement of Islam in the world, is not only exalting the Word of Allah, but it is also an advancement of the best universal standards which humanity have agreed are rights which are just and essential to all humans.
The first medicinal principle is seeking forgiveness of Allah (istighfaar) which includes repentance (tawba). It is the first of the stations of nearness to Allah ta’ala and the key to servitude to Allah.
The second medicinal principle which heals the sicknesses of the individual as well as those of the larger society is seeking knowledge. What is meant by knowledge here is every beneficial science which assists mankind at adhering to the commands of Allah and avoiding His prohibitions.
The third medicinal principle or prescription outlined by Sultan Muhammad Bello was preserving the five prayers in congregation in the mosque. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “The prayer is the support of the deen.”
The fourth medicinal principle which cures the individual and society of ills is the respect and obedience to be accorded those who possess the authority among the Muslims. This is a key issue which has been neglected or abused by the Muslims of this age.
Umar ibn al-Khataab, may Allah be pleased with him once said;
“There is no Islam without the jama’at (community). There is no jama’at without an amir (ruler). And there is no amir without obedience.”
For this reason and for reasons firmly established in the Qur’an and the Sunna – it is obligatory for every individual Muslim and Muslim group to choose and obey an amir. Upon this principle is the whole safety of the community of Muslims preserved. No Muslim group or individual can remain free from taking the oath of allegiance from an amir.
The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“Whoever dies without having the oath of allegiance around his neck to any amir, dies the death of jahiliyya.”
The fifth and sixth medicinal principles which Sultan Muhammad Bello discussed as a cure for individual and social ills were the responsibility of the rulers over the Muslims. These responsibilities include showing compassion, giving good advice, showing tolerance and being just to those under one’s authority.
These are the key principles of good government and only Islam can offer the justice which Allah intends for mankind. The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“Where there is an oppressor among some people, who, in turn, have not prohibited him from his oppression, Allah will then send down upon them a severe punishment, which will afflict not only him but the other people as well.”
Sultan Muhammad Bello delineates the final cure or medicine for the social and individual ills of Muslim society. This cure is in the jihad. As I will clarify in the commentary, jihaad does not always mean an armed struggle, but it does NOT exclude it, as some apologists would have us believe.
The overall objective of jihaad is to exalt the Word of Allah in the earth, thus, any and all means by which this objective is fulfilled is included within the concept of jihaad (struggle).
It can include personal spiritual endeavor, which ultimately affects the larger society. It can include the organized dissemination of Islamic knowledge and invitation to non Muslims in their societies where the result is the gradual and eventual conversion of their populations to Islam.
It could include the Muslim national minorities and immigrant minorities confederating and organizing themselves and developing a social contract between themselves and the dominant culture, which is consistent with the shari`a, international law and the constitutional standards of the dominant culture.
In this manner the larger society can witness the benevolence of Islam at work in transforming individuals, families, communities and larger sectors of the society through the implementation of shari`a.
It can include a complete separation of the Muslim individual, family and communities from underneath the jurisdiction of non Muslim societies in the form of hijra.
Or it can include [The seventh medicinal principle], the emergence of an internationally recognized armed struggle when any of the above means are unachievable and all diplomacy fails.
The later understanding of jihaad has been ordained as an obligation in the shari`a, has been defined as an internationally protected right in achieving the rights of self-determination when all else fails; and in certain states, such as the USA, armed struggle has been enshrined as the final solution against systemic oppression and tyranny.
It has been related in Mushari’u’l-Ashwaq, that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“There is coming a time upon mankind when the religious scholars will say, ‘This is not a time of jihaad.’ Whoever comes upon that time, then know that the most blessed action during that time will be jihaad.”
The Companions said,
“Will someone say that, O Messenger of Allah?”
“Yes! He whom Allah. His Angels and the people all together have cursed!”
It has been related in the Risaalat wa’n-Naseeha, on the authority of an-Nisaai’, that a man came to the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and said,
“O Messenger of Allah! People are claiming that there is no fighting (qitaal) and that war (harb) and its preparation has been put downed.”
He may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said,
“They have lied! Now fighting has emerged and there will never cease to be a community from my Umma fighting for the sake of Allah until the appearance of the Hour. And they will not be harmed by those who oppose them. War and its preparation will not be put down until the appearance of Juj and Majuj.”
The seven medicinal cures prescribed by Sultan Muhammad Bello constitute the fundamental principles by which the individual, the family and the larger society can function properly, but importantly they are the key prescriptions for the rights of self determination for any Muslim national minorities seeking to realize their innate, natural and internationally recognized rights.”
They will find in this work of one of Africa’s leading statesmen – Sultan Muhammad Bello – all that he needs to cure himself and his jama’at from the spiritual and social ills which have afflicted the Umma in these times.
The cure is…
 seeking Allah’s forgiveness as a group,
 seeking beneficial knowledge as a group,
 doing the prayers in congregation,
 choosing and obeying the amirs,
 establishing compassion and tolerance in governance,
 establishing justice through Islamic governance, and
 implementing the jihaad to preserve the religion of Islam and to remove the oppression of disbelief and injustice.
Shaykh Muhammad Shareef bin Farid Tuesday, 29th Safar, 1429 A.H. (Feb 24, 2009) Zunyi, Guizhou, the People’s Republic of China