Deliberation before Condemnation – Part 2
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 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 article 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.
The second narration:
Hadithatul Ifk or the “event of the slander” is the name given to one of the most traumatising, if not the most traumatising, moment that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and his wife ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) had ever experienced. This was when a hypocrite in Madīna invented a lie pertaining to the honour of our mother ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha) and the great companion Safwān b. Al-Mu’attal As-Sulami. They were later cleared from the sin of fornication that they had deceptively been accused of, as Allāh revealed āyāt of the Qur’ān in their defence.
Up until this point of eventual relief however, pressure was mounting as days were passing and nothing from the Qur’ān was being revealed in this regard. In the absence of revelation, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would begin consulting his companions with regards to the matter of ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha), including Barira – ʿĀ’isha’s maidservant, ʿAlī and Usāma (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhumā). Eventually, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would call for a general assembly and, for the first time since the creation of this rumour, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) would address the matter publicly. He ascended the pulpit and, after praising Allāh, he said:
يَا مَعْشَرَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ مَنْ يَعْذِرُنِي مِنْ رَجُلٍ قَدْ بَلَغَنِي عَنْهُ أَذَاهُ فِي أَهْلِي وَاللَّهِ مَا عَلِمْتُ عَلَى أَهْلِي إِلَّا خَيْرًا
“Oh gathering of believers, who will excuse me with regards to a person whose harm of me has even reached my family?”
The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) refers here to the hypocrite who invented this lie, ʿAbdullāh b. Ubay b. Salūl, and asks his companions as per who amongst them is willing to support him against those who may then blame him for dealing with this man who deserves to be dealt with.
وَلَقَدْ ذَكَرُوا رَجُلًا مَا عَلِمْتُ عَلَيْهِ إِلَّا خَيْرًا وَمَا يَدْخُلُ عَلَى أَهْلِي إِلَّا مَعِي
“And they have mentioned a man (i.e. Safwān), concerning whom I only know good of, as well. In fact, never did he ever enter my home except in my presence.”
Upon hearing this, one of the attendees in the Masjid, Saʿd b. Muʿāth, who was from the Aws tribe of Madīnah, stood up and said:
أَنَا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَعْذِرُكَ فَإِنْ كَانَ مِنْ الْأَوْسِ ضَرَبْتُ عُنُقَهُ وَإِنْ كَانَ مِنْ إِخْوَانِنَا مِنْ الْخَزْرَجِ أَمَرْتَنَا فَفَعَلْنَا أَمْرَكَ
“I will excuse you O messenger of Allāh! If this person whom you speak of is from among the Aws tribe, then I will cut his head off, and if he is from among my brethren of the Khazraj tribe, then command us and we will do your bidding.”
It so happened that the hypocrite ʿAbdullāh b. Ubay b. Salool was from the Khazraj tribe and therefore the words of Saʿd had struck a raw nerve with some of the companions. So, Saʿd b. ʿUbāda, who was also from the Khazraj, immediately stood up and said:
كَذَبْتَ لَعَمْرُ اللَّهِ لَا تَقْتُلُهُ وَلَا تَقْدِرُ عَلَى قَتْلِهِ وَلَوْ كَانَ مِنْ رَهْطِكَ مَا أَحْبَبْتَ أَنْ يُقْتَلَ
“By Allāh you tell a lie! You will not kill him nor are you able to kill him! Rather, had he been from your tribe you would not have liked that he be killed!”
ʿĀ’isha said, finding excuses for Saʿd, “Saʿd had been, before this incident, a righteous man, but the tribalism of the days of ignorance overtook him at that moment.”
This is when Usayd b. Hudair stood and said to Saʿd b. ‘Ubāda,
كَذَبْتَ لَعَمْرُ اللَّهِ لَنَقْتُلَنَّهُ فَإِنَّكَ مُنَافِقٌ تُجَادِلُ عَنْ الْمُنَافِقِين
“Rather you are the liar and we will surely kill him! You are only a hypocrite defending the hypocrites!”
Passion had been stirred in the Masjid and both the tribes of the Aws and Khazraj flared up in fury. They drew their weapons and battle was about to erupt. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was on the pulpit, desperately calming down the Muslims, urging them to desist, and shouting over them until their fury had subsided and they had parted from one another.
The narration above depicts an incident where a righteous companion actively defended a hypocrite who was known for his hypocrisy. Yet, neither the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) nor any of the companions condemned him to disbelief for having displayed allegiance to an enemy of Allāh and His messenger. One could only imagine the ramifications should a similar scene repeat itself today at the hands of the inexperienced and unlettered in the field of the Islamic sciences.
Imām Ibnu Taymiyyah says,
وَقَدْ تَحْصُلُ لِلرَّجُلِ مُوَادَّتُهُمْ لِرَحِمِ أَوْ حَاجَةٍ فَتَكُونُ ذَنْبًا يَنْقُصُ بِهِ إيمَانُهُ وَلَا يَكُونُ بِهِ كَافِرًا كَمَا حَصَلَ مِنْ حَاطِبِ بْنِ أَبِي بلتعة.. . وَكَمَا حَصَلَ لِسَعْدِ بْنِ عبادة لَمَّا انْتَصَرَ لِابْنِ أبي فِي قِصَّةِ الْإِفْكِ
“And it could be that a person expresses love towards them due to ties of kinship or a need which he has of them. Thus, such behavior constitutes as a sin which detracts from his īmān but [he] is not condemned to disbelief, as was the case in the story of Hātib […] and as was the case with Saʿd b. ʿUbāda when he defended ʿAbdullāh b. Ubay b. Salūl during the event of the slander.”
Therefore, we repeat the same principle that was established previously:
ما كل موالاة للمشركين تكون كفرا مخرجا من الملة
“Not every form of Muwālatul Mushrikīn constitutes as Kufr which causes one to part from Islam.”
One may be compelled to ask: What forms do?
The answer: Those forms which the scholars of Islām have identified, after the conditions for such a verdict of Takfīr have been met and impediments have been removed.
One may then ask: What are these conditions and/or impediments, and how are they to be applied?
The answer: This responsibility is not yours, nor is it mine. Rather it is a duty upon those whose backs have arched due to their years of scholarly pursuit. As for the rash behaviour of the ill-informed enthusiasts, such behaviour has proven only to bring disgrace to themselves, shame on their communities and pain to their families.
The biography of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) is present in its finest details, just as the biographies of his companions, the Tābiʿīn, and those who came after them from the four Imāms and their students. Yet, one will never find within such biographies the obsession with Takfīr which we see today, nor did they occupy themselves with such matters even though disbelief and hypocrisy were also present during their times.
The third narration:
Our mother ʿĀ’isha narrated that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said,
«يغْزُو جَيْشٌ الْكَعْبَةَ فإِذَا كَانُوا بِبَيْدَاءَ مِنَ الأَرضِ يُخْسَفُ بِأَوَّلِهِمْ وآخِرِهِمْ». قَالَتْ: قلتُ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ، كَيْفَ يُخْسَفُ بأوَّلِهِمْ وَآخِرِهِمْ وَفِيهمْ أسْوَاقُهُمْ (أهل أسواقهم الذين يبيعون ويشترون ولم يقصدوا الغزو) وَمَنْ لَيْسَ مِنْهُمْ؟! قَالَ: «يُخْسَفُ بِأَوَّلِهِمْ وَآخِرِهِمْ ثُمَّ يُبْعَثُونَ عَلَى نِيّاتِهمْ»
“An army will raid the Kaʿbah but when they reach a desert land, all of them will be swallowed by the earth.” I asked, “O Messenger of Allāh, how will all of them be swallowed by the earth while among them are their markets and people not belonging to them?” The Prophet said, “They will all be swallowed up but they will be resurrected for Judgement according to their intentions.”
In another narration, the same meaning is reinstated but with a different wording:
يَهْلِكُونَ مَهْلَكًا وَاحِدًا، وَيَصْدُرُونَ مَصَادِرَ شَتَّى
“They will all die together, but will be resurrected in different states.”
Clearly, the presence of such businessmen and merchants amidst the ranks of this army is indispensable to the operation of this army, for they are a source of their sustenance. This means that they are in manifest assistance of an army that is on its way to fight the Muslims at the holiest of Allāh’s lands. Despite this, however, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) made it clear that their individual situations on the Day of Judgement will not be the same but their judgement will vary from person to person. Some will be punishable whilst others may be saved, despite them all being amidst an army which was heading towards Makkah and despite them all having engaged in the identical act of buying and selling amidst such an army.
Imām Ibnu Taymiyya said, emphasising the sophisticated nature of such a judgement:
وَقَدْ يُقَاتِلُونَ وَفِيهِمْ مُؤْمِنٌ يَكْتُمُ إِيمَانَهُ، يَشْهَدُ الْقِتَالَ مَعَهُمْ وَلَا يُمْكِنُهُ الْهِجْرَةُ، وَهُوَ مُكْرَهٌ عَلَى الْقِتَالِ، وَيُبْعَثُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ عَلَى نِيَّتِهِ
“And they may fight, whilst amidst them are believers who conceal their faith and fight with them. They are unable to immigrate and are compelled to fight. Such people will be resurrected according to their intentions.”
With that being said, who are the ones who have the ability to differentiate between the Muslim and Kāfir amidst such a wretched army, for they all look exactly the same? Most certainly not the masses amongst us.
He also has similar words with regards to those who fought with the Mongols, an empire that was characterised by sheer savagery and ruthlessness. In fact, the degree of their harm was so enormous that, at first, the scholars of Islām completely withheld from writing anything with regards to this Fitnah, due to the state of shock that people were in.
Ibnu Athīr, the famous historian who lived around 900 years ago, had refrained for several years from documenting anything with regards to what was happening at the hands of the Tatār. Ibnu Athīr would later say,
“فيا ليت أمي لم تلدني، ويا ليتني مت قبل حدوثها وكنت نسيا منسيا”
“I wish that my mother had never given birth to me and I wish that I had died before this happening and was something that was entirely forgotten.”
He would also say,
فلو قال قائل إن العالم منذ خلق الله سبحانه وتعالى آدم وإلى الآن لم يبتلوا بمثلها لكان صادقا، فإن التواريخ لم تتضمن ما يقاربها ولا ما يدانيها
“If one was to claim that humanity, from the day that Allāh created Ādam until now, had never been trialled with anything like this, then his claims would be true. For history has not documented anything that even remotely resembles this.”
Furthermore, according to Ibnu Athīr, the Fitnah of the Tatār was worse than the Fitnah of the Dajjal. These were the words of Ibnu Athīr despite him not living to witness what they would do on the year 656AH at Baghdad, the capital of the Islamic Khilāfa. There the Khalīfa was killed in the most barbaric of ways and the Tatāri leader, Holako, issued a command to massacre every living creature in Baghdad for forty days. Men were literally butchered, Muslim women were taken as slaves and raped en masse, the breastfeeding children would be slain, the libraries of Baghdad were destroyed and the wealth of the state was ransacked. The end result of those 40 days was the killing of no less than 1 million Muslims.
Ibnu Athīr had also not witnessed the Tatār’s subsequent crossing over into the land of Ash-Shām and what they did there. And yet, despite this, Imām Ibnu Taymiyya would say about the Tatār:
إن التتار فيهم المكره وغير المكره ….. ومن أخرجوه معهم مكرها، فإنه يبعث على نيته
“Amidst the Tatār, there are those who are compelled to fight with them and others who are not […] And so whoever was compelled to fight with them, then he will be resurrected according to his intentions.”
Imām Ibnu Taymiyya has words to this effect when he was asked about the Muslims who were part of the Christian Cyprian army which fought the Muslims. Cyprus was conquered by the Muslims during the time of ʿUthmān (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) but would be recaptured by the Christians years later. Ibnu Taymiyyah did not classify them all as disbelievers, rather, he said some were disbelievers, others were hypocrites etc.
The purpose of relaying this is not for one moment to belittle the severity of assisting such adversaries of Islām, but to emphasise the importance of deliberation, composure and deep thought before issuing such statements of condemnation, for the matter of Takfīr is clearly not as we had initially perceived.
The fourth narration:
The companion ‘Itbān b. Mālik once asked the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) to visit him in his house and to pray inside of it. The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) responded to this invitation, prayed in his house and then, as they ate, other companions began to gather.
فقال قائلٌ منهم : أين مالكُ بن الدُّخْشُنِ ؟ فقال بعضُهم : ذلكم منافقٌ ، لا يُحِبُّ اللهَ ورسولَه. قال النبيُّ صلى الله عليه وسلم: لا تَقُلْ ، ألا تراه قال : لا إلهَ إلا اللهُ ، يريدُ بذلك وجهَ اللهِ . قال : اللهُ ورسولُه أعلم ، قال : قلنا : فإنا نرى وجهَه ونصيحتَه إلى المنافقين ، فقال: فإن اللهَ حرَّمَ على النارِ مَن قال : لا إلهَ إلا اللهُ ، يَبْتَغِي بذلك وجهَ اللهِ .
“So some of the attendees asked, ‘Where is Mālik b. Ad-Dukhshun?’ Some said, ‘That man is a hypocrite who does not love Allāh and His messenger.’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) responded, ‘Do not say that. Do you not see that he is a person who says lā ilāha illa Allāh, desiring with it the face of Allāh?’ The man said, ‘Allah and His messenger know best.’ We said, ‘But we see that he has given all his attention and advice to the hypocrites!’ The Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Anyone who says lā ilāha ila Allāh, desiring with it the face of Allāh, Allāh will make the Hellfire impermissible for him.’”
Such a narration and its like consolidates a principle which the scholars of Islām have deduced; that he whose Islām is certain cannot be condemned as a disbeliever except with similar certainty, not doubt.
Imām Ibnu Taymiyya said, commenting on this narration:
وَلِهَذَا لَمْ يَكُنْ الْمُتَّهَمُونَ بِالنِّفَاقِ نَوْعًا وَاحِدًا بَلْ فِيهِمْ الْمُنَافِقُ الْمَحْضُ؛ وَفِيهِمْ مَنْ فِيهِ إيمَانٌ وَنِفَاقٌ؛ وَفِيهِمْ مَنْ إيمَانُهُ غَالِبٌ وَفِيهِ شُعْبَةٌ مِنْ النِّفَاقِ
“For this reason, those who are accused of hypocrisy are not all of the same category. Rather, amongst them are pure hypocrites, others are those who harbour both īmān and hypocrisy, whilst others have greater īmān within them whilst possessing elements of hypocrisy.”
Words of tremendous balance, fairness, precision; words of justice. Just as Allāh said,
إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُكُمْ أَنْ تُؤَدُّوا الْأَمَانَاتِ إِلَى أَهْلِهَا وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُمْ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَنْ تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ
“Allāh commands you to restore the rights to its people and that when you judge between them you judge with justice.”
Allāh revealed nine long verses from Sūrat An-Nisā in defence of a Jewish man who was falsely accused of stealing by the Muslims, despite his belonging to a people who had caused much pain to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) and the Muslim community. Nevertheless, despite the fact that some of them would actively finance the Prophet’s adversaries, spread doubtful arguments or, in fact, make various attempts on the life of the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam), and despite the fact that those who had plotted against this Jewish man were a household from the Ansār, a people who had supported the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) with everything at their disposal, justice was upheld where it was due.
If this is the justice which Allāh demands from the Muslims towards people of other faiths, what about those who claim to be part of yours?
Indeed, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) was ordered to say,
وَأُمِرْتُ لِأَعْدِلَ بَيْنَكُمُ
“And I have been commanded to do justice between you.”
 It is well known that Saʿd b. Muʿāth had passed away before this incident during the expedition of Banū Quraidha. The mentioning of Saʿd’s name in this narration, however, does not affect the reliability of the Ḥadīth as it is found in the two Saḥīḥs. The most that can be said about this is that the mentioning of Saʿd b. Muʿāth within this narration is an error from the part of the narrator.
 Narrated by Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of ʿĀ’isha (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanha).
 Majmū’ Al-Fatāwah
 Words to this affect were mentioned by Ibn ʿĀshūr, As-Saʿdi, ʿAbdullatīf Āl Shaykh and others.
 Narrated Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
 Narrated by Muslim, on the authority of ʿĀ’isha
 Minhāj As-Sunnah
 Al-Kāmil fitārīkh
 Majmū’ Al-Fatāwa
 Narrated by Al-Bukhārī, on the authority of Mahmud b. Rabī’ Al-Ansari
 Majmūʿ Al-Fatāwah
 Al-Qur’ān, 4:58
 Al-Qur’ān, 4:105-113
 Part of which was depicted in Sūrat Al-Baqara and Sūrat Āli-Imrān
 Al-Qur’an, Surah 42, Ayah 15
Shaykh Ali Ihsan Hammuda is Islam21c’s Tarbiya Editor. 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. Shaykh Ali is the author of several books including ‘The Daily Revivals’, ‘The Ten Lanterns’ and ‘The Friday Reminder’. He delivers sermons, lectures and regular classes across the country.