The conditions and barriers of making Takfeer (declaring one to be a disbeliever) -Shaykh ibn al-’Uthaymeen

In the name of Allah the Most Gracious the Most Merciful

The conditions and barriers of making Takfeer (declaring one to be a disbeliever)

By Shaykh Muhammad ibn Saalih al-’Uthaymeen may Allah have mercy on him

The shaykh clarified this issue in his book “Majmu al-Fataawa war-Rasaail” (3/52-55) under the topic of “Aqeedah”. He said:

Kufr (disbelief) is a legislative ruling that returns back to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). Therefore, whatever the Book and the Sunnah establishes as kufr then it is kufr, and whatever is not established (by these two sources) to be kufr then it is not kufr.

None can declare another to be a disbeliever until evidence is established from the Book and the Sunnah for their disbelief. None can make permissible what Allah prohibited or make prohibited what Allah made permissible.

Takfeer (declaring one a disbeliever) has four conditions that must be met:

1.Evidence that this statement, action, or abandoned action (ex. like abandoning prayer) is disbelief with proof from the Book or Sunnah

2.There must be certainty that a person actually fell into that act of kufr

3.The evidence must reach that individual

4.Removal of any barriers preventing Takfeer

If there is no evidence to show that this statement, action, or abandoned action is kufr, proven by the Book and Sunnah, then it is not permissible for anyone to judge and make (those deeds) as kufr. In fact, this is speaking about Allah without knowledge. Allah the Most High said,

قُلْ إِنَّمَا حَرَّمَ رَبِّيَ الْفَوَاحِشَ مَا ظَهَرَ مِنْهَا وَمَا بَطَنَ وَالْإِثْمَ وَالْبَغْيَ بِغَيْرِ الْحَقِّ وَأَنْ تُشْرِكُوا بِاللَّهِ مَا لَمْ يُنَزِّلْ بِهِ سُلْطَانًا وَأَنْ تَقُولُوا عَلَى اللَّهِ مَا لَا تَعْلَمُونَ

“Say (O Muhammad): ‘(But) indeed the things that my Lord has forbidden are al-Fawaahish (lewd, evil sins of every kind) whether committed openly or secretly, al-Ithm (sins of all kinds), ath-Thulm (unrighteous oppression), joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has sent down no authority for, and that you speak about Allah that which you have no knowledge of.’” [al-A’raaf: 33]

And He said,

وَلَا تَقْفُ مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ إِنَّ السَّمْعَ وَالْبَصَرَ وَالْفُؤَادَ كُلُّ أُولَئِكَ كَانَ عَنْهُ مَسْئُولًا

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” [Surah al-Israa: 36]

If the (second condition) is not met then it is not permissible to make takfeer simply based on ill-thoughts because Allah said,

“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge…”

Because that leads to making permissible prohibited blood without just right. In the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim) from the hadith of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

 أَيُّمَا امْرِئٍ قَالَ لِأَخِيهِ: يَا كَافِرُ، فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِهَا أَحَدُهُمَا، إِنْ كَانَ كَمَا قَالَ، وَإِلَّا رَجَعَتْ عَلَيْهِ

“Any person who called his brother: ‘O unbeliever’ (has in fact done an act by which this unbelief) would return to one of them. If it were so, as he asserted (then the unbelief of man was confirmed but if it was not true), then it returned to him (to the man who labeled it on his brother Muslim).” And this is the wording in Muslim.

Also, on the authority of Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying,

لاَ يَرْمِي رَجُلٌ رَجُلًا بِالفُسُوقِ، وَلاَ يَرْمِيهِ بِالكُفْرِ، إِلَّا ارْتَدَّتْ عَلَيْهِ، إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ صَاحِبُهُ كَذَلِكَ

“If somebody accuses another of Fusuq (by calling him ‘Fasiq’ i.e. a wicked person) or accuses him of Kufr, such an accusation will revert to him (i.e. the accuser) if his companion (the accused) is innocent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]

And if the proof has not been established upon the individual then they cannot be judged with kufr. Allah said,

وَأُوحِيَ إِلَيَّ هَذَا الْقُرْآنُ لِأُنْذِرَكُمْ بِهِ وَمَنْ بَلَغَ

“…And this Qur’an was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches…” [al-An’aam: 19]

And He said,

وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ مُهْلِكَ الْقُرَى حَتَّى يَبْعَثَ فِي أُمِّهَا رَسُولًا يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِنَا وَمَا كُنَّا مُهْلِكِي الْقُرَى إِلَّا وَأَهْلُهَا ظَالِمُونَ

“And never will your Lord destroy the towns (populations) until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And never would We destroy the towns unless the people thereof are Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, oppressors and tyrants).” [Qasas: 59]

إِنَّا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَيْكَ كَمَا أَوْحَيْنَا إِلَى نُوحٍ وَالنَّبِيِّينَ مِنْ بَعْدِهِ

“Verily, We have inspired you (O Muhammad) as We inspired Nuh and the Prophets after him…” to His statement,

رُسُلًا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنْذِرِينَ لِئَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا

“…Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” [Nisaa: 163-165]

And His statement,

وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا

“…And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” [Israa: 15]

In Sahih Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

وَالَّذِي نَفْسُ مُحَمَّدٍ بِيَدِهِ، لَا يَسْمَعُ بِي أَحَدٌ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ يَهُودِيٌّ، وَلَا نَصْرَانِيٌّ، ثُمَّ يَمُوتُ وَلَمْ يُؤْمِنْ بِالَّذِي أُرْسِلْتُ بِهِ، إِلَّا كَانَ مِنْ أَصحَابِ النَّارِ

“By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the people of Hell-Fire.”

However, if proof (of Islaam) has not reached someone and they do not act by the religion of Islam, then that individual should not be dealt with as a Muslim in the worldly life. As for the Hereafter, then the most correct speech is that, their affair is with Allah.

And if these (first) three conditions are met but there is a barrier present (the fourth condition), then Takfeer cannot be made until these barriers are removed.

The barriers of Takfeer are:

1.Compulsion. If a person is forced to make an act of kufr, while his heart is at rest with Imaan (faith), then this person cannot be deemed as a disbeliever due to the presence of this barrier. Allah said,

مَن ڪَفَرَ بِٱللَّهِ مِنۢ بَعۡدِ إِيمَـٰنِهِۦۤ إِلَّا مَنۡ أُڪۡرِهَ وَقَلۡبُهُ ۥ مُطۡمَٮِٕنُّۢ بِٱلۡإِيمَـٰنِ وَلَـٰكِن مَّن شَرَحَ بِٱلۡكُفۡرِ صَدۡرً۬ا فَعَلَيۡهِمۡ غَضَبٌ۬ مِّنَ ٱللَّهِ وَلَهُمۡ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ۬

“Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith, but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a great torment.” [Nahl: 106]

2.The act was done unintentional. This is a person who does not know what he said due to being extremely happy, sad, fearful, or any other instance similar to that. Allah the Most High said,

وَلَيۡسَ عَلَيۡڪُمۡ جُنَاحٌ۬ فِيمَآ أَخۡطَأۡتُم بِهِۦ وَلَـٰكِن مَّا تَعَمَّدَتۡ قُلُوبُكُمۡ‌ۚ وَڪَانَ ٱللَّهُ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمًا

“…And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Ahzaab: 5]

In a hadith in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Anas bin Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

لَلَّهُ أَشَدُّ فَرَحًا بِتَوْبَةِ عَبْدِهِ حِينَ يَتُوبُ إِلَيْهِ مِنْ أَحَدِكُمْ كَانَ عَلَى رَاحِلَتِهِ بِأَرْضِ فَلاَةٍ فَانْفَلَتَتْ مِنْهُ وَعَلَيْهَا طَعَامُهُ وَشَرَابُهُ فَأَيِسَ مِنْهَا فَأَتَى شَجَرَةً فَاضْطَجَعَ فِي ظِلِّهَا قَدْ أَيِسَ مِنْ رَاحِلَتِهِ فَبَيْنَا هُوَ كَذَلِكَ إِذَا هُوَ بِهَا قَائِمَةً عِنْدَهُ فَأَخَذَ بِخِطَامِهَا ثُمَّ قَالَ مِنْ شِدَّةِ الْفَرَحِ اللَّهُمَّ أَنْتَ عَبْدِي وَأَنَا رَبُّكَ ‏.‏ أَخْطَأَ مِنْ شِدَّةِ الْفَرَحِ

“Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a water-less desert carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost. He, having lost all hopes (to get that back), lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel; when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then out of boundless joy blurts out: ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rubb’. He commits this mistake out of extreme joy.”

So this man made a mistake due to his extreme happiness, and it was a mistake that takes one out of Islaam. However, because he did not intend to say that, due to his extreme happiness, he did not disbelieve. Rather, he intended to praise his Lord but because of his extreme happiness he made a statement, had he said it intentionally, it would of been kufr.

Therefore, it is obligatory to warn against applying kufr to a group of people, or a specific person, until the conditions are fully carried out and the barriers are removed.

Source 1 Source 2

Translated by: Abu Awzaa’ee AbdusSalaam

الفقير الى الله

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