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Deeds of Disbelief by Believers

Deliberation before Condemnation – Part 3

Part 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

The purpose of this series is one: To illustrate beyond doubt the very sophisticated nature of Takfīr, hoping that it will dissuade those who have been afflicted with such boldness to reconsider their behaviour and to busy themselves with those matters that are urgently required of them, such as to memorise the book of Allāh, to perfect its recitation, to master its understanding, to the study of the Arabic language, to pursue Islamic knowledge, to call to the path of Allāh and to establish projects in preparation for their Hereafter.

As with Part 1 and 2 of this series, this purpose will be achieved through a simple model of study. We shall continue with the practice of relaying a narration which speaks of a person(s) who had seemingly engaged in matters violating the soundness of a person’s Islām and which would otherwise remove a person from the pale of Islām. Then, we will follow it up with commentary from the scholars of Islām, focusing on the words of Ibn Taymiyyah specifically, and thus determine that “This matter of Takfīr is not how we had previously imagined. It clearly is not for us.” We will then move onto the next narration where we will do the exact same.

In the previous articles of this series we explored the story of Hātib b. Abī Balta’a (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) and concluded that even in such a case of apparent treason, a Muslim cannot be deemed a Kāfir as there is much else to consider. We also illustrated the complex nature of Takfīr even in such cases wherein a believer aids the disbelieving people against the Muslims.

The fifth narration:

ʿUbaidillāh b. ʿAdi b. Khiyār narrated that,

أنَّ النَّبيَّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم بيْنَما هو جالسٌ بيْنَ ظَهرانَيِ النَّاسِ إذ جاءه رجُلٌ يستأذِنُه أنْ يُسارَّه فسارَّه في قتلِ رجُلٍ مِن المُنافِقينَ فجهَر النَّبيُّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم بكلامِه وقال : ( أليس يشهَدُ أنْ لا إلهَ إلَّا اللهُ ) ؟ قال : بلى يا رسولَ اللهِ ولا شَهادةَ له قال : ( أليس يشهَدُ أنِّي رسولُ اللهِ ) ؟ قال : بلى يا رسولَ اللهِ ولا شَهادةَ له قال : ( أليس يُصَلِّي ) ؟ قال : بلى ولا صلاةَ له فقال النَّبيُّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّم : ( أولئكَ الَّذينَ نُهِيتُ عنهم )

“Whilst the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was sat with the people, a man came to him and asked permission from him to whisper something to him. He whispered to him, asking permission from the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to kill a man from the hypocrites. So the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) loudly said, ‘Does he not testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allāh?!’ He replied, ‘Yes, O messenger of Allāh, but his testimony is not valid’. So the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) asked him, ‘Does he not testify that I am the messenger of Allāh?’ He said, ‘Yes, O messenger of Allāh, but his testimony is not valid.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) then said, ‘Does he not pray?’ He replied, ‘Yes, but his prayer is not valid.’ Upon this, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘These are the people whom I have been prohibited from.’”[1]

There is another narration which shares a similar meaning to this which the companion Abū Saʿīd narrates. He said,

بعث عليُّ بنُ أبي طالبٍ إلى رسولِ اللهِ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ ، من اليمنِ ، بذهبةٍ في أديم مقروظٍ . لم تحصلْ من ترابِها . قال : فقسمها بين أربعةِ نفرٍ : بين عُيينةَ بنِ حصنٍ ، والأقرعِ بنِ حابس ٍ، وزيدِ الخيلِ ، والرابعُ إما علقمةُ بنُ علاثةَ وإما عامرُ بنُ الطُّفيلِ . فقال رجل ٌمن أصحابِه : كنا نحنُ أحقَّ بهذا من هؤلاءِ . قال : فبلغ ذلك النبيَّ صلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ فقال : ” ألا تأمَنوني ؟ وأنا أمينُ مَن في السماءِ ، يأتيني خبرُ السماءِ صباحًا ومساءً ”

قال : فقام رجلٌ غائرُ العينَين . مشرفُ الوجنتَينِ . ناشزُ الجبهة ِ. كثُّ اللحيةِ . محلوقُ الرأسِ . مُشمَّرُ الإزارِ . فقال : يا رسولَ اللهِ ! اتَّقِ اللهَ . فقال : ” ويلك ! أو لستُ أحقَّ أهلِ الأرضِ أن يتقى اللهَ ” قال : ثم ولَّى الرجلُ . فقال خالدُ بنُ الوليدِ : يا رسولَ اللهِ ! ألا أضربُ عنقَه ؟ فقال ” لا . لعله أن يكون يصلي ” . قال خالدٌ : وكم من مُصلٍّ يقول بلسانِه ما ليس في قلبه . فقال رسولُ الله ِصلَّى اللهُ عليه وسلَّمَ : ” إني لم أُومرْ أن أنقِّبَ عن قلوبِ الناسِ . ولا أشقَّ بطونَهم ” قال : ثم نظر إليه وهو مُقفٍ فقال : ” إنه يخرج من ضِئضئِ هذا قومٌ يتلون كتابَ اللهِ . رطبًا لا يجاوزُ حناجرَهم . يمرُقون من الدِّينِ كما يمرُق السهمُ من الرَّميَّةِ ”

“ʿAlī b. Abī Ṭālib sent to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) some gold from Yemen in a leather bag that had been dyed. The gold piece was still covered with soil. He distributed it among four men. ʿUyaina b. Hisn, Al-Aqra’ b. Hābis, Zaid al-Khail, and the fourth one was either ʿAlqama b. ʿUlātha or ʿĀmir b. At-Tufail. One of the companions of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) then said, ‘We were worthier of that wealth than them’. This remark reached the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to which he said, ‘Will you not trust me, whilst I am the trustee of He Who is in the Heaven? News comes to me from the Heaven by morning and evening.’

Then there stood up a person with deep sunken eyes, prominent cheek bones, an elevated forehead, thick beard, shaven head, tucked up lower garment, and said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, fear Allāh.’

Hollow advice, artificial piety and, worse still, a subliminal accusation to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) that he had not been fair in his distribution of this piece of gold.

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) then said, ‘Woe to you! Am I not the worthiest of people to fear Allāh?’ Then that man walked away. Khālid b. Al-Walīd then said, ‘O Messenger of Allāh, should I not strike his neck?’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘No. Perhaps he prays.’ Khālid responded however, ‘How many people who say with their tongues that which is not in their hearts?’ Upon this the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘I have not been commanded to open up people’s hearts, nor to split open their bellies.’

Then, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) looked at him as he was walking away and said, ‘There will appear from the progeny of this man who would recite the Qur’ān fluently but it would not go beyond their throats;[2] they swiftly pass through the teachings of Islām just as the arrow passes through the prey.’”[3]

Indeed, this narration is remarkable. Much of the contemporary behaviour of Muslims against Muslims indicates that the sanctity of other people’s observance of Salāh is entirely overlooked. Although the scenes of Muslims engaging in brawls and accusations in Masājid amidst people who are actively praying are uncommon for us as Muslims in the West, the phenomenon of Takfīr at the hands of the unfit indicates that the precursors to such insanity are in fact present.

The sixth narration:

Ar-Rabī’ b. Muʿawidh said,

دخل علي رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم صبيحة عرسي وعندي جاريتان يتغنيتان وتندبان آبائي الذين قتلوا يوم بدر وتقولان فيما تقولان وفينا نبي يعلم مافي غد فقال أما هذا فلا تقولوه ما يعلم ما في غد إلا الله

“The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) entered upon me on the day of my wedding and two young girls were singing about their fathers who had been killed at the Battle of Badr. Part of their words included, “And among us is a Prophet who knows what will happen tomorrow.” The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: ‘Do not say this, no one knows what will happen tomorrow except Allāh.’”[4]

Allāh has informed us that knowledge of the unseen is one of the five matters that only All`a`h knows. He said,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ عِنْدَهُ عِلْمُ السَّاعَةِ وَيُنَزِّلُ الْغَيْثَ وَيَعْلَمُ مَا فِي الْأَرْحَامِ وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ مَاذَا تَكْسِبُ غَدًا وَمَا تَدْرِي نَفْسٌ بِأَيِّ أَرْضٍ تَمُوتُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ

“Indeed, Allāh [alone] has knowledge of the Hour and sends down the rain and knows what is in the wombs. And no soul perceives what it will earn tomorrow, and no soul perceives in what land it will die. Indeed, Allāh is Knowing and Acquainted.”[5]

Thus, according to some scholars, if a person claims that “such and such individual has knowledge of the unseen” then they may have uttered a statement of disbelief. Yet in the previous example of the two young girls, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) did not classify them as disbelievers but, rather, he simply guided them to the appropriate speech. Thus we ask: Who are the ones who are qualified to determine when such rulings apply and when they do not? Not you and I. Distance yourself from such knotted matters and ask Allāh to grant you relief from their burden and safety from their liability.

The seventh narration:

The following narration is similar to the one above. It pertains to the words of Mālik b. ʿAuf An-Nasri, the leader of the people of Hawāzin, during the Battle of Hunayn. The people of Hawāzin were overcome by the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his men and so they retreated to a fort based in At-Ṭāʿif. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) communicated with him as he would secretly leave the fort and would approach the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). He would then utter words in praise of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) which included major errors. Some of these couplets include,

مَا إنْ رَأَيْتُ وَلَا سَمِعْتُ بِمِثْلِهِ … فِي النَّاسِ كُلِّهِمْ بِمِثْلِ مُحَمَّدِ

أَوْفَى وَأَعْطَى لِلْجَزِيلِ إذَا اُجْتُدِيَ … وَمَتَى تَشَأْ يُخْبِرْكَ عَمَّا فِي غَدِ

“Never have I seen or heard of man like Muḥammad amidst the people. He is the most loyal and most giving of huge sums when requested. And when he wills, he is informed about what will happen tomorrow.”[6]

Despite the fact that these couplets could be construed as including statements of disbelief, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) did not request him to renew his Islām, to engage in Ghusl and repeat the Shahādah once again. He was a new Muslim and thus he was excused.

However, there may be some who will argue at this point that “the examples above were pertaining to ignorant people who had little access to knowledge. Therefore to excuse such people is perfectly understood.” Thus I relate the next example pertaining to an individual who had first-hand access to Prophetic knowledge. She is the mother of the believers ʿĀ’isha, and yet, despite this, she was not treated any differently to the cases provided above.

She said,

أَلَا أُحَدِّثُكُمْ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ وَعَنِّي، قُلْنَا: بَلَى قَالَتْ: لَمَّا كَانَتْ لَيْلَتِي الَّتِي كَانَ النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِيهَ1ا عِنْدِي، انْقَلَبَ فَوَضَعَ رِدَاءَهُ، وَخَلَعَ نَعْلَيْهِ، فَوَضَعَهُمَا عِنْدَ رِجْلَيْهِ، وَبَسَطَ طَرَفَ إِزَارِهِ عَلَى فِرَاشِهِ، فَاضْطَجَعَ، فَلَمْ يَلْبَثْ إِلَّا رَيْثَمَا ظَنَّ أَنْ قَدْ رَقَدْتُ، فَأَخَذَ رِدَاءَهُ رُوَيْدًا، وَانْتَعَلَ رُوَيْدًا، وَفَتَحَ الْبَابَ فَخَرَجَ، ثُمَّ أَجَافَهُ رُوَيْدًا، فَجَعَلْتُ دِرْعِي فِي رَأْسِي، وَاخْتَمَرْتُ، وَتَقَنَّعْتُ إِزَارِي، ثُمَّ انْطَلَقْتُ عَلَى إِثْرِهِ، حَتَّى جَاءَ الْبَقِيعَ فَقَامَ، فَأَطَالَ الْقِيَامَ، ثُمَّ رَفَعَ يَدَيْهِ ثَلَاثَ مَرَّاتٍ، ثُمَّ انْحَرَفَ فَانْحَرَفْتُ، فَأَسْرَعَ فَأَسْرَعْتُ، فَهَرْوَلَ فَهَرْوَلْتُ، فَأَحْضَرَ فَأَحْضَرْتُ، فَسَبَقْتُهُ فَدَخَلْتُ، فَلَيْسَ إِلَّا أَنِ اضْطَجَعْتُ فَدَخَلَ، فَقَالَ: «مَا لَكِ؟ يَا عَائِشُ، حَشْيَا رَابِيَةً» قَالَتْ: قُلْتُ: لَا شَيْءَ، قَالَ: «لَتُخْبِرِينِي أَوْ لَيُخْبِرَنِّي اللَّطِيفُ الْخَبِيرُ» قَالَتْ: قُلْتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، بِأَبِي أَنْتَ وَأُمِّي، فَأَخْبَرْتُهُ، قَالَ: «فَأَنْتِ السَّوَادُ الَّذِي رَأَيْتُ أَمَامِي؟» قُلْتُ: نَعَمْ، فَلَهَدَنِي فِي صَدْرِي لَهْدَةً أَوْجَعَتْنِي، ثُمَّ قَالَ: «أَظَنَنْتِ أَنْ يَحِيفَ اللهُ عَلَيْكِ وَرَسُولُهُ؟» قَالَتْ: مَهْمَا يَكْتُمِ النَّاسُ يَعْلَمْهُ اللهُ، (قال) نَعَمْ، قَالَ: ” فَإِنَّ جِبْرِيلَ أَتَانِي حِينَ رَأَيْتِ، فَنَادَانِي، فَأَخْفَاهُ مِنْكِ، فَأَجَبْتُهُ، فَأَخْفَيْتُهُ مِنْكِ، وَلَمْ يَكُنْ يَدْخُلُ عَلَيْكِ وَقَدْ وَضَعْتِ ثِيَابَكِ، وَظَنَنْتُ أَنْ قَدْ رَقَدْتِ، فَكَرِهْتُ أَنْ أُوقِظَكِ، وَخَشِيتُ أَنْ تَسْتَوْحِشِي، فَقَالَ: إِنَّ رَبَّكَ يَأْمُرُكَ أَنْ تَأْتِيَ أَهْلَ الْبَقِيعِ فَتَسْتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ “، قَالَتْ: قُلْتُ: كَيْفَ أَقُولُ لَهُمْ يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ؟ قَالَ ” قُولِي: السَّلَامُ عَلَى أَهْلِ الدِّيَارِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمِينَ، وَيَرْحَمُ اللهُ الْمُسْتَقْدِمِينَ مِنَّا وَالْمُسْتَأْخِرِينَ، وَإِنَّا إِنْ شَاءَ اللهُ بِكُمْ لَلَاحِقُونَ ”

“Should I not narrate to you about myself and about the Messenger of Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)? We said: Yes. She said: When it was my evening with the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), he turned to his side, took off his upper garment, took off his shoes and placed them near his feet, and spread the corner of his shawl on his bed and then lay down until he thought that I had gone to sleep. Then, he reached out for his upper garment slowly and put on his shoes slowly, and opened the door and went out and then closed it lightly. I covered my head, put on my veil and tightened my waist tie, and then went out following his steps until he reached Baqi’. He stood there and remained for a long time. He then lifted his hands three times, and then returned and I also returned. He then hurried in his walk and I did the same. He then started to run and so I did the same. He arrived at the house and so did I. I, however, preceded him and entered the house, and as I lay down in the bed, he walked in and said: ‘Why is it, O ʿĀ’isha, that you are out of breath?’ I said: ‘There is nothing.’ He said: ‘Tell me or the Subtle and the Aware will tell me.’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allāh, may my father and mother be ransom for you, and then I told him (the whole story)’ He said: ‘Were you that darkness that I saw in front of me?’ I said: ‘Yes.’ He prodded me on the chest which caused me pain, and then said: ‘Did you think that Allāh and His Prophet would deal unjustly with you?’ She said, ‘Does Allāh know all that what we conceal?’ He said, ‘Yes. Gabriel came to me when you saw me. He called me and he kept it quiet from you. I responded to his call, but I too kept it quiet from you. Gabriel would not enter upon me whilst you were not fully dressed. I thought that you had gone to sleep, and I did not like to awaken you, fearing that you may be frightened. Gabriel said: ‘Your Lord has commanded you to go to the inhabitants of Baqi’ and beg pardon for them.’’ I said: ‘O Messenger of Allāh, how should I pray for them?’ He said: ‘Say, Peace be upon the inhabitants of such a place from among the believers and the Muslims, and may Allāh have mercy on those who have gone ahead of us, and those who come later on, and we shall, God willing, join you.’”[7]

Focus on ʿĀ’isha’s question, “Does Allāh know all that which we conceal?” In other words, prior to this episode, she did not know that Allāh is knowing of all that which people conceal. If a person were to say that “Allāh does not know all that which we hide” or that “He is not aware of all things” then some people may claim that this individual has uttered a statement of disbelief. But, ponder over the commentary of Ibnu Taymiyyah in this regard. He says,

“فَهَذِهِ عَائِشَةُ أُمُّ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ: سَأَلَتْ النَّبِيَّ – صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ – هَلْ يَعْلَمُ اللَّهُ كُلَّ مَا يَكْتُمُ النَّاسُ؟ فَقَالَ لَهَا النَّبِيُّ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ نَعَمْ وَهَذَا يَدُلُّ عَلَى أَنَّهَا لَمْ تَكُنْ تَعْلَمُ ذَلِكَ وَلَمْ تَكُنْ قَبْلَ مَعْرِفَتِهَا بِأَنَّ اللَّهَ عَالِمٌ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ يَكْتُمُهُ النَّاسُ كَافِرَةً وَإِنْ كَانَ الْإِقْرَارُ بِذَلِكَ بَعْدَ قِيَامِ الْحُجَّةِ مِنْ أُصُولِ الْإِيمَانِ وَإِنْكَارِ عِلْمِهِ بِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ كَإِنْكَارِ قُدْرَتِهِ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ”

“So here we have ʿĀ’isha, mother of the believers, asking the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) if Allāh knows what people conceal to which he responded, ‘Yes’. This makes it clear that she did not know this previously nor was she, before learning that Allāh knows all that which people conceal, classified as a disbeliever, despite the fact that belief in such a matter, after having learnt of it, constitutes as one of the cornerstones of īmān. In fact, rejecting Allāh’s knowledge of all things is like rejecting His ability in doing all things.”[8]

Now, ʿĀ’isha is not a woman who lived on a remote mountain somewhere distant from knowledge. Rather, she was the very wife of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his student who lived in his house, nevertheless, she was unaware of such a matter which pertains to her īmān. However the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) did not classify her as a disbeliever because she was unaware of this. Thus, even in situations wherein the individuals in question have first-hand access to knowledge, the matter of Takfīr does not become any less complicated – the same rigorous process applies, best left to others rather than ourselves.

The eighth narration:

The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

أَسْرَفَ رَجُلٌ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ، فَلَمَّا حَضَرَهُ الْمَوْتُ أَوْصَى بَنِيهِ فَقَالَ: إِذَا أَنَا مُتُّ فَأَحْرِقُونِي، ثُمَّ اسْحَقُونِي، ثُمَّ اذْرُونِي فِي الرِّيحِ فِي الْبَحْرِ، فَوَاللهِ لَئِنْ قَدَرَ عَلَيَّ رَبِّي لَيُعَذِّبُنِي عَذَابًا مَا عَذَّبَهُ بِهِ أَحَدًا، قَالَ فَفَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ بِهِ، فَقَالَ لِلْأَرْضِ: أَدِّي مَا أَخَذْتِ، فَإِذَا هُوَ قَائِمٌ، فَقَالَ لَهُ: مَا حَمَلَكَ عَلَى مَا صَنَعْتَ؟ فَقَالَ: خَشْيَتُكَ، يَا رَبِّ – أَوْ قَالَ مَخَافَتُكَ – فَغَفَرَ لَهُ بِذَلِكَ ”

“A man went to extremes in committing sins.”[9] When death came to him, he left instructions to his sons, saying: ‘When I die, burn me, then grind me into powder, then scatter me in the wind and in the sea, for by Allāh, if my Lord has power over me, He will subject me to a punishment that He has never subjected anyone to.’ So they did that to him, then Allāh said to the earth: ‘Return what you have taken,’ and there he was, standing. He said to him: ‘What made you do what you have done?’ He said: ‘My fear of You, O Lord.’ So He forgave him because of that.”[10]

The fate of such a man who doubted the power of Allāh in resurrecting him is proof that he had not disbelieved in Allāh by saying what he said. This is because Allāh forgave him whilst Allāh does not forgive disbelief. Allāh said,

إِنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَنْ يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَنْ يَشَاءُ

“Indeed, Allāh does not forgive association with Him, but He forgives what is less than that for whom He wills”[11]

The fact that his sins were forgiven is evidence that what he had engaged in, according to Allāh, constituted as “less than that”. For this reason, Ibnu Taymiyya said, commenting on this Ḥadīth:

فَهَذَا الرَّجُلُ ظَنَّ أَنَّ اللَّهَ لَا يَقْدِرُ عَلَيْهِ إذَا تَفَرَّقَ هَذَا التَّفَرُّقَ فَظَنَّ أَنَّهُ لَا يُعِيدُهُ إذَا صَارَ كَذَلِكَ وَكُلُّ وَاحِدٍ مِنْ إنْكَارِ قُدْرَةِ اللَّهِ تَعَالَى وَإِنْكَارِ مَعَادِ الْأَبْدَانِ وَإِنْ تَفَرَّقَتْ كَفَرَ. لَكِنَّهُ كَانَ مَعَ إيمَانِهِ بِاَللَّهِ وَإِيمَانِهِ بِأَمْرِهِ وَخَشْيَتِهِ مِنْهُ جَاهِلًا بِذَلِكَ ضَالًّا فِي هَذَا الظَّنِّ مُخْطِئًا. فَغَفَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ ذَلِكَ.

“So this was a person who suspected that Allāh would not be able to gather him after he had been scattered in such a manner. Both the rejection of Allāh’s ability over matters and rejection of the resurrection of bodies, despite their scattering, constitutes as disbelief.

(In other words, this was a person who was guilty of both matters; Doubting Allāh’s ability over matters as well as doubting the resurrection of bodies. Ibnu Taymiyyah goes on to say.)

Despite his faith in Allāh and faith in His commands and fear of Him, he was ignorant of this matter, misguided and mistaken in this regard and thus Allāh forgave him.”[12]

So, the very least which one could say with regards to such a person is that he doubted Allāh’s ability to resurrect him yet he was not condemned to disbelief.

Ibnu Taymiyyah also, says,

فَغَايَةُ مَا فِي هَذَا أَنَّهُ كَانَ رَجُلًا لَمْ يَكُنْ عَالِمًا بِجَمِيعِ مَا يَسْتَحِقُّهُ اللَّهُ مِنْ الصِّفَاتِ وَبِتَفْصِيلِ أَنَّهُ الْقَادِرُ وَكَثِيرٌ مِنْ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ قَدْ يَجْهَلُ مِثْلَ ذَلِكَ فَلَا يَكُونُ كَافِرًا. وَمَنْ تَتَبَّعَ الْأَحَادِيثَ الصَّحِيحَةَ وَجَدَ فِيهَا مِنْ هَذَا الْجِنْسِ مَا يُوَافِقُه

“The most which one can say with regards to such a person is that he was simply unaware of all the characteristics which are befitting of Allāh. Specifically speaking, he was unaware that Allāh is “Al-Qādir” (The One who is able). Many believers may be ignorant of such matters and yet they are not disbelievers and whoever follows up the aḥādīth in this regard will find many examples which substantiate this.”[13]

Ibnu Taymiyyah also said,

ومثل هَذَا من الْمُؤمنِينَ إِن استفرغ وَسعه فِي طلب الْحق فَإِن الله يغْفر لَهُ خطأه وَإِن حصل مِنْهُ نوع تَقْصِير فَهُوَ ذَنْب لَا يجب أن يَبْلُغَ الْكفْر وَإِن كَانَ يُطلق القَوْل بِأَن هَذَا الْكَلَام كفر

“Likewise, if a person does his level best in finding the truth then Allāh will pardon his mistake. If there are some shortcomings on his behalf, then this is a sin which must not be taken to the level of disbelief, even though in the absolute sense, the speech itself can be classified as words of disbelief.”[14]

In other words, one may utter words seemingly of disbelief but they not immediately rendered a disbeliever. Similarly, one may engage in an act which is believed to bring about the curse of Allāh, for example the plucking of eyebrows, but this individual is not rendered as cursed. Thus even though there exist broad-brush rulings that are found in the Islamic sources which speak of disbelief and Allāh’s curse it does not mean that it automatically applies to every individual at hand. For example, if we see a woman who has plucked her eyebrows, can we say that she is a cursed woman? Of course not, because such a ruling depends entirely on the meeting of conditions and absence of impediments.

Ibnu Taymiyya also said,

فَمن أَخطَأ فِي بعض مسَائِل الِاعْتِقَاد من أهل الْإِيمَان بِاللَّه وبرسوله وباليوم الآخر وَالْعَمَل الصَّالح لم يكن أَسْوَأ حَالا من الرجل فَيغْفر الله خطأه أَو يعذبه إِن كَانَ مِنْهُ تَفْرِيط فِي اتِّبَاع الْحق على قدر دينه وَأما تَكْفِير شخص عُلم إيمَانه بِمُجَرَّد الْغَلَط فِي ذَلِك فعظيم

“So whoever from amongst the people, who believe in Allāh, the Prophets, the last day and are people of righteousness, makes a mistake with regards to a matter of belief is not to be considered any worse than this man (i.e. the one who doubted Allāh’s ability to resurrect him). Thus Allāh will forgive his sins or will punish him if his ignorance was due to his own shortcomings in following the truth. As for the Takfīr of a person who is known for his īmān simply due to a mistake in this regard, then this is major.”[15]

This is most certainly major, for the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

لَعْنُ المُؤْمِنِ كَقَتْلِهِ، وَمَنْ رَمَى مُؤْمِنًا بِكُفْرٍ فَهُوَ كَقَتْلِهِ

“Cursing the believer equates to killing him and whoever accuses a believer with disbelief then it is as if he had killed him.”[16]

Furthermore, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,

إِذَا قَالَ الرَّجُلُ لِأَخِيهِ يَا كَافِرُ، فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِهِ أَحَدُهُمَا

“If a person says to his brother, ‘O Kāfir’, then surely one of them is such.”[17]

The purpose of the relaying of the information above is not to eradicate the concept of Takfīr in its totality. This is not the case at all. The purpose is to establish a reality which states: Delving into such matters is not for everyone.

وَتَحْقِيق الْأَمر فِيهَا أَن الشَّخْص الْمعِين الَّذِي ثَبت إيمَانه لَا يحكم بِكُفْرِهِ إِن لم تقم عَلَيْهِ حجَّة يكفر بمخالفتها وَإِن كَانَ القَوْل كفرا فِي نفس الْأَمر [..] فقد أنكر طَائِفَة من السّلف بعض حُرُوف من الْقُرْآن لعدم علمهمْ أَنَّهَا مِنْهُ فَلم يكفروا وعَلى هَذَا حمل الْمُحَقِّقُونَ حَدِيث الَّذِي قَالَ لأَهله إِذا أَنا مت فأحرقوني فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ جَاهِلا بقدرة الله عَلَيْهِ إِذا فعل ذَلِك وَلَيْسَ كل من جهل بعض مَا أخبر بِهِ الرَّسُول صلى الله عَلَيْهِ وَسلم يكفر وَلِهَذَا قَالَ السّلف من قَالَ الْقُرْآن مخلوف فَهُوَ كَافِر وَمن قَالَ إِن الله لَا يرى فِي الْآخِرَة فَهُوَ كَافِر وَلَا يكفرون الْمعِين الَّذِي يَقُول ذَلِك لِأَن ثُبُوت حكم التَّكْفِير في حَقه مُتَوَقف على تحقق شُرُوط وَانْتِفَاء مَوَانِع

“The reality of this matter is that if an individual’s īmān is established, then such a person cannot be classified as a disbeliever so long as the proof is not established against him (the proof that will render him as a disbeliever) should he reject it even if the statement at hand is a statement of disbelief [..] For some of our predecessors have rejected some of the letters of the Qur’ān as they did not know that they were part of it but they were not rendered as disbelievers. This is how the scrupulous scholars have interpreted the Hadīth of the man who said to his family “if I die then burn me” for he was ignorant with regards to the ability of Allāh upon him. Not every person who is ignorant of some of what the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) came with becomes a disbeliever. For this reason, the predecessors said that “whoever says that the Qur’ān is created is a Kāfir” and that “Allāh will not be seen in the Hereafter is a Kāfir” but despite this, they do not classify the individuals who say this as disbelievers. This is because to establish this ruling against a person is pending on the meeting of conditions and the absence of impediments.”[18]

So it could be that one engages in a matter which in of itself is manifest Kufr but they are not classified as a Kāfir as an individual. Besides the example of the Hadīth at hand, the companion Qudāma b. Madh’ūn is yet another fine example of this. He was an individual who would consume alcohol in Bahrain and argued its permissibility. During the Khilāfah of ʿUmar, he would be asked about this, to which he would respond using the verse,

لَيْسَ عَلَى الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ جُنَاحٌ فِيمَا طَعِمُوا إِذَا مَا اتَّقَوْا وَآمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ ثُمَّ اتَّقَوْا وَآمَنُوا ثُمَّ اتَّقَوْا وَأَحْسَنُوا

“There is no blame upon those who believe and do righteousness concerning what they have eaten [in the past] if they now fear Allāh and believe and do righteous deeds, and then fear Allāh and believe, and then fear Allāh and do good.”[19]

Qudāma’s argument was that he was amongst who fear Allāh and who do good deeds, having engaged in Badr, the immigration and other good deeds, and thus – according to him – there was no blame upon him for the alcohol which he consumed. ʿUmar however explained to him how his understanding was faulty and taught him of the correct meaning of the āyah.

Despite this, the companions were unanimously agreed that Qudāma was not a disbeliever.

Imām Ibnu Taymiyyah said, commenting on Qudāma’s case,

فَفِي غَيْرِ ذَلِكَ أَوْلَى وَأَحْرَى

“And so in other cases, the matter is even worthier.”[20]

That is, if excuses were found for such a companion who deemed alcohol – a matter which is very well known in its severity – permissible, then finding excuses for people with regards to other matters that are of lesser clarity is worthier.

Source: www.islam21c.com


[1] Narrated by Ibnu Hibbaan in his ‘Sahih’

[2] The scholars have several explanations as per what this description means. Some have said that it means (1) Their good deeds are not lifted to Allāh, (2) The impact of the Qur’ān does not reach their hearts, (3) There is no understanding connected to their recitation.

[3] Narrated by Muslim

[4] Narrated by Ibnu Mājah in his ‘Sunan’

[5] Al-Qur’ān, 31:34

[6] Narrated by Al-Bayhaqi in his ‘Dalā’il An-Nubuwwa’

[7] Narrated by Muslim

[8] From his book, ‘Majmū’ Al-Fatāwah’

[9] In Sahih Al-Bukhāri, it mentions that he was a ‘Nabbaash’/ tomb robber.

[10] Narrated by Al-Bukhāri and Muslim, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[11] Al-Qur’ān, 4:48

[12] From his book, ‘Majmū’ Al-Fatāwa’

[13] Ibid.,

[14] From his book, ‘Al-Istiqāmah’

[15] Ibid.,

[16] Narrated by Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Thābit b. Adh-Dhahhāk

[17] Narrated by Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Abū Huraira

[18] From the book, ‘Mukhtasar Al-Fatāwah Al-Misriyyah’ by Badr Ad-Deen Al-Ba’li

[19] Al-Qur’ān, 5:93

[20] From his book, ‘Majmū’ Al-Fatāwa’

The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.


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About Shaikh Ali Hammuda

Shaikh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is a UK national of Palestinian origin. He gained bachelors and masters’ degrees in Architecture & Planning from the University of the West of England, before achieving a BA in Shari'ah from al-Azhar University in Egypt. He is currently based in Wales and is a visiting Imām at Al-Manar Centre in Cardiff, and also a senior researcher and lecturer for the Muslim Research & Development Foundation in London. Ustādh Ali is the author of several books including 'The Daily Revivals' and 'The Ten Lanterns", and continues to deliver sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.

One comment

  1. Wow, Allah ho Akbar. What a read!
    May Allah swt forgive all the believers who ever existed and those to come. Ameen.

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