Islam Presupposes the Existence of an Islamic Community
By Imam Na’eem Abdullah
عَنْ أَبِي رُقَيَّةَ تَمِيمِ بْنِ أَوْسٍ الدَّارِيِّ أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: ((الدِّينُ النَّصِيحَةُ)). قُلْنَا: لِمَنْ؟ قَالَ ((لِلَّهِ، وَلِكِتَابِهِ، وَلِرَسُولِهِ، وَلِأَئِمَّةِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَعَامَّتِهِمْ)) . رَوَاهُ مُسْلِمٌ.
It was related on the authority of Tameem ad-Dari that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said: "Religion is sincerity". We said: "To whom?" He said: "To Allah, His Book, His Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims (li i’immatil-muslimeen), and their common folk". 
The words which make up this hadith are few but its meaning is deep and far-reaching. In fact, this is one of the main hadith which our scholars bring forth to illustrate the comprehensive speech (jawaami’i –kalam) of our beloved, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. One could go on for ages extracting benefit from this Prophetic narration. However, the scope of this discourse is limited to giving life to the concept and reality of jamaa’ah (community living) and its primary components such as imaarah (leadership) and taa’ah (obedience). With this understanding we would like to remind the reader of the words of ‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab:
إِنَّهُ لَا إِسْلَامَ إِلَّا بِجَمَاعَةٍ وَلَا جَمَاعَةَ إِلَّا بِإِمَارَةٍ وَلَا إِمَارَةَ إِلَّا بِطَاعَةٍ
“Verily there is no Islam without a Jamaa’ah (community). There is no Jamaa’ah without imaarah (leadership). And there is no leadership without taa’atan (obedience). 
Therefore, our brief commentary will not include any elaboration on the implications of sincerity to Allah, His Book or His Messenger. For those who wish to look into what these things mean we refer you to the Shifa’ of Qadi Iyad; which is where the bulk of our commentary has been extracted from.
Imam an-Nawawi said in his commentary of Sahih Muslim that, “The meaning of the hadith is that ‘an-naseehah’ is the support (‘imaad) and sustainer (qiwaam) of the deen (i.e. the religion of al-Islam). This is like his other saying (or hadith) ‘Hajj is ‘Arafat’. In other words, the [rite of standing at] ‘Arafat is the support and main part of the Hajj.”
Qadi Iyad said, “Our Imams said, “Naseehah for Allah, His Messenger, the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk is an obligation (waajibat).
Imam Abu Sulayman al-Busti said, “Naseehah is a word used to designate the desire for what is good for the one who is its object, and it is impossible to explain it with a single word which will contain it all. Linguistically, it means sincerity (al-ikhlaas) from the statement ‘I made the honey pure (nasahtu l-‘asla),’ when it is clear of wax.”
Abu Bakr ibn Abi Ishaq al-Khaffaaf said, “an-nus-hu (as in naseehah) is doing something which contains rightness and harmony. It comes from (the word) an-nisaah which is the thread with which a garment is sewn.”
Naseehah to the leaders of the Muslims(li i’immatil-muslimeen) is  to obey them when they command to the truth (al-haqq),  help them,  command them to the truth,  remind them of it in the best way,  inform them about what they have overlooked and what they do not see of the affairs of the Muslims,  not to attack them, nor  cause trouble and dissension for them with people and alienate them from the people.
Naseehah for the sake of the common Muslims is  to guide them to their best interests,  help them in the affairs of their deen (religion) and their dunya (worldly affairs) by word and action,  warning those of them who are heedless,  enlightening the ignorant,  giving to those in need,  veiling the faults,  repelling what will harm them and  bringing what will benefit them.”
This hadith is yet another proof that Islam presupposes the existence of communities (jamaa’aat); which naturally have leaders and followers. Naseehah or sincerity to the leaders and the common people are part and parcel of upholding the deen itself. The fact that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, considered sincerity to the leaders and followers part of having sincerity to the deen itself, necessitates that these two components exist! For example, we are taught that straightening the ranks in salat (prayer) brings the hearts of the community together. The support for this established fact is extracted from the Sunnah of the Prophet as evidenced by the countless hadith which mention the command and virtues of straightening the lines in the prayer. This makes it obvious that a congregational salat must exist in the first place so that its ranks can be straightened! Likewise, how can we be ordered to be sincere to our leaders and the leaders be commanded to be sincere to us if it were not obligatory to have communities and leadership in the first place?
This knowledge is important for us as we continue to move forward towards our goal of reviving the Muslim community (al-jamaa’ah). This narration gives us a brief summary of the rights which the followers owe the leaders and the rights which the leaders are obliged to give to the followers. Success is with Allah!
 This hadith was narrated by al-Imam Muslim.
 Taken from the introduction of the Sunan ad-Daarimi in the chapter of “The Dwindling of Knowledge” (dhahaab al-‘Ilm) on the authority of Tameem ad-daari.
 Shaykh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio said in his Bayan Wujub ul-Hijrah, “I say and success is from Allah: Know that the supports (arkaan) of the wilaayah (Islamic community) are the same four upon which sovereignty (mulk) is based and without which it cannot stand, just as a bed cannot stand without four legs. The first support is an upright wazir (advisor) over the wilaayah  who wakens him [the ruler] if he sleeps,  gives him sight if he cannot see and  reminds him if he forgets. The greatest catastrophe which can befall rulers and subjects is to be deprived of good wazirs and helpers…”
 In other words, do not undermine their leadership.
 Shaykh ‘Uthman Dan Fodio said in his Ihya us-Sunnah wa ikhmaad ul-Bid’a, “He whose aim is to bring shame upon people and be preoccupied with their faults, Allah will question him and reckon with him. For whoever pursues the faults of his brother, Allah will pursue his faults until he exposes him, even if he be in the recesses of his home. Believers ask for excuses while hypocrites pursue the faults of others and Allah helps a person as long as he helps his brother. It is related in the Muwatta’, “Do not examine the faults of people as if you were a Lord, but rather examine your own faults as though you were a slave.””