“Akhi but you have to obey the Law of the Land..”

We often hear daa’ies saying “Islam tells us to obey the law of the land”. I ask them where in the Quran and sunnah does it say that we should obey the law of the land in a kafir country?

They usually quote:

“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. And if you disagree over anything, refer it to Allah and the Messenger, if you should believe in Allah and the Last Day. That is the best [way] and best in result.” [Quran 4:59]

When Allah says “Those in authority amongst you”, who is “you”? This verse clearly starts with “O you who have believed”, the “you” refers to the believers, not the kuffar. It then tells us if we disagree, to refer it to Allah and the Messenger (ﷺ), meaning the Quran and sunnah, not to refer back to man-made legislation.

In contrast to what they say, Allah tells us:

“O you who have believed, if you obey those who disbelieve, they will turn you back on your heels, and you will [then] become losers.” [Quran 3:149]

In particular, it is completely haram for us to obey anyone, even our Muslim leaders, in anything which differs from what Allah and His Messenger (ﷺ) brought:

“There is no obedience to a created being if it is disobedience to Allah the Exalted.” [Musnad Ahmad (Authentic/Sahih)]

We can see in fact that if we take a man as our legislator and regard it as the law to be obeyed, then we are worshipping that man. This was explained after Allah revealed the ayat:

“They have taken their scholars and monks as lords besides Allah, and [also] the Messiah, the son of Mary. And they were not commanded except to worship one God; there is no deity except Him. Exalted is He above whatever they associate with Him.” [Quran 9:31]

One of the sahaba, Adi bin Hatim, who was a Christian (before becoming Muslim), went to the Prophet (ﷺ) and when he heard this ayat, he said “They did not worship them”. The Prophet (ﷺ) replied:

“Yes they did. They (the rabbis and monks) prohibited the allowed for them (Christians and Jews) and allowed the prohibited, and they obeyed them. This is how they worshipped them.” [Tafsir ibn Kathir]

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