Islamic Ruling: Peaceful protest is lawful, cannot be forbidden except…

Question : Is it lawful for the people to protest against the government?

Answer: Protest and strike are among the means used by some people to express their complaint and opposition or demand for change of governments policies.

It falls within political matters, ruling of which can only be determined by the interest and detriment thereof.

If we agree that there is feasibility for a peaceful protest devoid of using arms, blood shedding and infringement upon human’s life and property in their various forms, then such protest is lawful.

Based on the fact that the matter is of political one, it is thus worthy of note that the responsibility of adjudicating over it goes to the constituted authority.

If there is official regulation on its legality with conditions as it obtains in democratic nations, it will be incumbent upon the leader to endorse it provided it meets up with the constitutional requirements.

If the leader speculatively deems that the conditions have not been met, he has the discretion of banning it so that public Interest can be protected.

In a nutshell, peaceful protest is lawful and cannot be forbidden except if it appears -even with speculation -that the expected detriment surpasses the interest emanating there of.

The view of some respected jurists who opined that the act is Haraam by equalizing it with revolt against the government or western means of triggering change, can not be accepted.

It is on record that Zubayr, Talhat and Āishah in company of large proportion went to Basrah purposely to protest against the assassination of Uthman bn Affaan and such was neither regarded as revolt against the authority of Ali, nor as being influenced by non Muslims.

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Ibn Al -Jawzi reported that in 458AH, Muslims gathered at the palace of the Khalifah in Baghdad to protest against one of his policies; the leader later reconcilled with them. This testifies that such a peaceful assembly is never a sign of rebellion. However, the only exception to this is the protest that leads to revolution and armed struggle against the constituted authority. Allah knows best.

Source: Union of African Muslim Scholars (UAMS) is an organisation of African Muslim scholars headed by Said Bourhane, founded in 2011, and headquartered in Mali. Its vision is to be “a scientific reference point for reawakening of the Islamic community in Africa.”

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