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What is the principle of no domination over Muslims?
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What is the principle of no domination over Muslims?
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The concept of the principle of no domination over Muslims [nafy sabil] is that God, the Glorified, has legislated such rule in the Islamic Shari’ah that prevents non-Muslims from getting hegemony and control over Muslims’ fate and affairs. There is no rule in Islam to allow them to dominate Muslims. Therefore, it is not permissible under any circumstances to get control over Muslims.[1]
The principle of nafy sabil or no domination over Muslims is one of the jurisprudential rules with numerous applications in different spheres in of fiqh (jurisprudence), both ibadath (acts of worship) and mu’amelat (transactions). Such rules are obtained from it that have to do with Muslims’ domestic and inter-faith relationships in the Islamic society as well as with the religious minorities and their interaction with other nations that are out of the domains of the Islamic government. When it comes to the relationship between Muslim societies and other Muslim and non-Muslim nations, the said principle requires Muslims to always have the upper hand and to not enter a deal which would bring  about the domination of non-Muslims over Muslims or put Muslims on a par with non-Muslims.
The verse ... وَ لَنْ يَجْعَلَ اللهُ لِلْكٰافِرِينَ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ سَبِيلًا [2]“And never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way (to triumphs) over the believers” is the verse forming the basis of the Islamic rule of “Nafy-e Sabil” or no domination over Muslims.[3]
There is no doubt that the principle of no domination over Muslims refers to the position of legislation. That is to say Muslims should not adopt an approach which gives non-Muslims a way [sabil]to domination over Muslims. As for what happens in practice, we must say that what has been guaranteed is the victory of the logic of God-seekers but in the material world, things may prove to be different as non-Muslims may in practice gain the upper hand   and achieve victory over Muslims.
In this connection, there is a narration in which the word (sabil) has been interpreted as proof and logic. Imam Reza (AS) has been reported to have said: Allah means to say by saying “And never will Allah grant to the unbelievers a way (to triumphs) over the believers” that Allah has denied any domination for non-Muslims over a Muslim individual. That is to say the unbelievers cannot overpower him in his belief and ideological logic and he will have no reason through which he could get victory. However, despite this, God, the Glorified, has spoken of unbelievers who killed prophets unjustly and such a murder is not a violation of the principle of no domination because the murderers could not triumph over them from a logical perspective.[4]
Of course, this meaning is not opposed to what has been discussed in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) because proof or authority is also one of the manifestations of sabil and as was pointed out in the tradition, an unbeliever cannot overpower and achieve victory over a faithful Muslim in reasoning and logic.  In other words, given the fact that the word sabil comes after negation and it is a common noun within a negative statement giving a general sense[5], it is inferred from the verse that not only in terms of logic and reason but also from military, political, cultural and economic perspective, God has not given any rights to the unbelievers to dominate the faithful.[6]

[1] Musavi Bujnurdi, Sayyid Hasan al-Qawa’ed al-Fiqhiyyah, researcher, Mahrizi, Mahdi, Derayati, Muhammad Hasan, vol.1, p.187 -188, Qom, al-Hadi Publications, first edition, 1419 Qom.
[2] An-Nisa, 141.
[3] Al-Qawaed al-Fiqhiyyah, vol.1, p.187. 
[4] Sheikh Saduq, ‘Uyoon Akhbar al-Reza (AS), researcher, Lajvardi, Mahdi, vol.2, p.204, Tehran, Nashr Jahan, first edition, 1378 A.H.
[5] Makarem Shirazi, Naser, Tafsir Nomunah, vol.4, p.175, Tehran, Dar al-Kutub al-Islamiyyah, first edition, 1374 (Persian calendar); Also, see: Tusi, Muhammad bin Hasan, al-Tebyan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, preface, Sheikh Agha Buzurg Tehrani, research, Qusair Ameli, Ahmad, vol.3, p.364, Beirut, Dar Ihay al-Turath al-Arabi (date not mentioned).
[6] See: Tayyib, Sayyid Abdul Hussein, Atyab al-Bayan fi Tafsir al-Qur’an, vol.4, p.246, Tehran, Islam, second edition, 1378 (Persian calendar).
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