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 Khutba # 25

Spiritual and Temporal Authority in Islam


Let us all practice Taq’wa (piety and righteousness), and revere Allah and obey His divine commands.  Let us be heedful of our choices in this life and their likely consequences in the hereafter.  May Allah provide us all with the spirit of righteousness by way of His divine obedience as best assets for our salvation.  We ask Allah to protect us from evilness and falsehood and help us lay a foundation with moral values according to the rules of our Lord.


Let us ask ourselves: What is the Spiritual and Temporal Authority in Islam and how does it compare in Christianity?  The Holy Quran, Surah 2 (al-Baqarah), Ayah 116 says:


وَقَالُواْ اتَّخَذَ اللّهُ وَلَدًا سُبْحَانَهُ بَل لَّهُ مَا فِي السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ كُلٌّ لَّهُ قَانِتُونَ

“…And yet some people assert, “God has taken unto Himself a son —Limitless is He in His Glory!   Nay, but His is all that is in the heavens and on earth; all things are in worship to Him.”

From this we understand the importance of Tawhid and its effects when we compare this point between Islam and Christianity.


As understood and believed by Christians of both Roman Catholic and Protestant persuasion, Christianity means the three creeds.  Their cardinal doctrine is Trinity.  Trinity means the Divine persons in Godhead  —God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.  The Christian church recognizes the impossibility of harmonizing the belief in three Divine persons with the Oneness of God, and hence declares the doctrine of the trinity to be a mystery.


The authorities of church and state correspond (from a general point of view) to the spiritual and temporal powers in Islam.  The church is the authority for the transmission of the purely spiritual message of Jesus. While the state is an organization whose laws are not direct revelations from heaven but rather the result of human reason guided by religious principles.  Therefore, instead of applying the term church and state to Islam, it is perhaps wiser to use spiritual and temporal authorities.  These two terms are free from the implications characteristic in the Christian traditions.


Tawhid in Arabic means the Perception of Unity (Oneness).  Islam is the religion of Unity; and all Islamic functions, whether social or spiritual, are aimed toward the realization of this unity.  Based on the Quran, Islam reinstates man in a situation that both temporal and spiritual authorities were united within one body.


There is no better evidence of this unity than the claim of the Prophet (pbuh) to return to the religion of Ibrahim (a.s.).  In order to return man to his original state of wholeness, Islam reunites the spiritual and temporal powers in the person of Prophet (pbuh) and eternally in the Shari’ah, to which the Muslim community must be subservient in order to attain salvation.  Shari’ah is not a product of human intelligence.  Shari’ah is an adaptation of changing social needs and ideals of the Divine inspiration and hence it is immutable.


By submitting to the Shari’ah (which is revealed through the Quran) a Muslim becomes free of all other authorities and his social and economic functions are as much a part of his religious duties as his fasting and prayers.


The Muslim stands at the center of the Universe, in the sense that he can communicate directly with God without the aid of an intermediary body.  In Christianity, the layman occupies a reciprocal position with respect to the clergy and depends upon the church as the intermediary between him and God. The sacramental function of the church is then, completely absent from Islam.  In Islam all religious authorities belong to the Shari’ah itself; and the religious leaders (the U’lamaa) hold their authority because of their superior knowledge of the Divine Law in addition to their piety and justice.  Since the structure of the Islamic community is based upon the Shari’ah, both political and religious conduct finds sanctions within it.


In principle, in Islam there is neither a church nor a state in the Western sense.  The spiritual and temporal authorities have their function in interpreting and maintaining the Holy Law and preparing man during his short journey on earth for the return to his Maker (in the Hereafter).  The principles of Islam are completely based upon Tawhid within the cosmos and man, and therefore within man’s society. Consequently man’s allegiance is directed towards only one source; this source is Allah, whose law covers the whole of Man’s life.


Islam was born in Arabia, and as a result fell into the danger of becoming an Arab religion rather than a universal faith.  The allegiance to tribal ways and the very strong tribal bonds (which had been partially replaced during the time of the Prophet by submission to a new universal authority and the feeling of brotherhood among all Muslims) were threatened at the time of Prophet Muhammad’s death.

With the coming of the Umayya dynasty and the consolidation of the newly acquired territories of Islam into a vast empire, a new state came into being.  Mu’awiya established a kingdom in which the temporal authority acquired a certain amount of secular character, although both temporal and spiritual powers were still invested in the Shari’ah, whose protection was the duty of the Khalifa.  Once this happened, however, Shi’ism came to recognize that an inevitable decay lay within the nature of time. 


Once Mu’awiya established his version of rule, the Shi’a realized that politics had been divorced from Islam and they waited patiently to the day when al-Mahdi (a.s.) would reunite, a) the political, b) social, and c) religious functions within his authorities. 


Islam is not like any school of a moral teacher or a philosopher who can deliver to society nothing more than a few books and a few pupils.  Islam, besides being a moral and cultural school, is a social and political system; it is a new code of life and a new way of thinking.  It practically brings new arrangements into existence. The Holy Quran says in Surah 62 (al-Jumu’ah), Ayah 2:


هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الأُمِّيِّينَ  رَسُولاً مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ

“It is Allah who has raised a Messenger among the illiterates; Reciting unto them Allah’s Verses,

and purifying them, and teaching them the Book [Quran] and Wisdom.   Verily, beforehand they had gone astray”


Again the Holy Quran says in Surah 33 (al-Ahzaab), Ayah 45-46:


يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِنَّا أَرْسَلْنَاكَ شَاهِدًا وَمُبَشِّرًا وَنَذِيرًا    وَدَاعِيًا إِلَى اللَّهِ بِإِذْنِهِ وَسِرَاجًا مُّنِيرًا

“[And as for thee] O’ Prophet! Behold, We have sent thee as a Witness [to the Truth], and as a herald of glad tidings, and as a warner, and as one who summons [all men] to God, by His leave, and as a light-given beacon.”

In applying the western concepts of church and state to Islam, it becomes evident that in principle, the religious and temporal organization (which church and state represent), are united in Islam under a single authority and a Divine law.  The historical development of Islam reveals that although a “state”, in certain ways similar to the Western concept of this term, does gradually develop, there is at no time any Muslim organization which can properly be called a “Church”.


The decaying effect of time succeeded in separating the religious and political life of Islam to a certain extent.  It also succeeded in forcing it away from its original unity to an ever-greater multiplicity.


And so the Muslim, realizing the degeneration of the world, awaits the coming of Imam al-Mahdi who, in redeeming time, will once again unify the spiritual, religious, and temporal powers, thus returning to the principles of Islam freed from the corrosion of historical contingencies.


The logic of Islam tells us that we should not worry about this situation in the present age.  The Prophet has given us the promise of a time when wisdom, truth, and justice will rule and life will be wholesome and security more complete.[1]  The earth is so full of hidden resources that it can provide for many times more than five or six billion people.


The world promised by Islam holds no probability of corruption or vice to rule it.  The aid of the Unseen for a person is on a personal scale, for communities is on social scale, and the world is on a universal scale.  A single world government (global) will establish wholesale justice, security, welfare, progress, and goodness.


For the end of the 1st part of the Khutba, read Surah Al-Asr, take a short intermission, then start the 2nd part of the Khutba with a short Du’aa.


Allah (swt) admonishes us in Surah 5 (al-Maa’ida), Ayah 105 about the unique significance of the straight path.  He says:


يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ عَلَيْكُمْ أَنفُسَكُمْ لاَ يَضُرُّكُم مَّن ضَلَّ إِذَا اهْتَدَيْتُمْ إِلَى اللّهِ مَرْجِعُكُمْ جَمِيعًا فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

“O ye who believe! Guard your own souls:  If you follow the [right] guidance, no hurt can come to you from those who go astray.  Unto Allah you all must return; and it is He that will show you the Truth of all that you do.”


Let us now discuss the atrocities in the world.  The talk can be summarized in five major points:


The first point:  As it was mentioned in the first part of this Khutba it is by Divine decree, that eventually all tyrant rulers will be destroyed.  We have seen this in history as in case of Pharaohs, Nimrod, Loot, Thamud and many other tyrants (See Holy Quran in Surah 6 (al-Anaam), Ayah 47).


The second point is that the enemies of Islam are trying hard to undermine the glory and growth of Islam, mostly in Western countries.  They fabricate or try to design falsehood against Islam.  They try to identify Muslims and categorize them as terrorists, while we all know that this is not true.  We know theirs are malicious accusations, since the religion of Islam is completely against terrorism in its teachings.


However, we need to recognize the vast differences between terrorism as such versus defending the homeland, humanity, freedom, and protection of family member and properties.   In addition, it is to be emphasized that it is the sacred responsibility of every Muslim to stand against any form of injustice.  The Holy Prophet said in a Hadith:[2]


 من أصبح لا یهتم بامور المسلمین فلیس منهم ،    

ومن یسمع رجلا ینادی یا للمسلمین فلم یجبه    فلیس بمسلم

“He who starts a morning not caring about affairs of the Muslims is hardly one of the Muslims;

and a person who hears the voice of a Muslim calling for help but does not respond, is hardly a Muslim.”


The third point is that ignorant people try to stop or destroy Islam, but we are certain that they will never succeed as history has taught us.  It is true that nowadays the opponents of Islam want to put out the Light of Allah and destroy the Truth and Islam, but surely they will fail, since Allah informs us about this point in Surah 61 (al-Saff), Ayah 8:


يُرِيدُونَ لِيُطْفِؤُوا نُورَ اللَّهِ بِأَفْوَاهِهِمْ وَاللَّهُ مُتِمُّ نُورِهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْكَافِرُونَ

“They aim to extinguish the light of Allah with what they utter; but Allah has Willed to spread His light in its fullness; however averse the disbelievers may be.”


Surah 9 (al-Taubah), Ayah 33 says:


هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ

He it is, [Allah] who has sent forth His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth, that He [Allah] may make it prevail over all religions,

even though the unbelievers may detest it.


The fourth point is about the malice of the Media in some Western countries.  They are completely biased in favor of the Zionist policy, thus they distort the facts to the world especially the recent events in the Islamic world.  We believe that the future will rightly judge and the truth will prevail; as history had confirmed similar events in the past.


The fifth and final point is about the atrocity committed by the Zionist not only against Muslims but also against Christians in Palestine.


We end this Khutba with some sayings of Imam Ali (a.s.):[3]

    Surely Allah by His sovereignty has blessed His servants [humans], and Allah has made gratitude an obligation for them according to their capability.


    If the most abundant of benefits reach you, then do not drive them away by your lack of gratitude.


    If a blessing descends on you, then make it last by being grateful.


    Thank Allah for what He has guided you towards, and praise Allah for what He has tested you with.



Finally, let us read Surah Al-Nasr with a short Du’aa to close the Khutba.


[1] Al-Fusool al-Muhimma, Page 127, quoting Ibn Mas’ood.

[2] Bihaar al-Anwaar, Vol. 74, Page 339.

[3]  Nahjul Balaaghah, Imam Ali (a.s.), Section of Sayings, collected from Ibn Abi Hadid, Al-Salih, and Al-Hikmah.

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