Ruling on Rejection of 'Aqeedah

He who rejects 'aqeedah altogether, such as the communists who deny the existence of Allah, reject the Messengers and the Books, and do not believe in the Hereafter and reward and punishment, or who denies part of the 'aqeedah, is a kaafir (disbeliever) and is not a Muslim. He should be told that the Islamic 'aqeedah can never be accepted in part, because the whole is so strongly interconnected. 

Belief in Allah requires that one believe also in the angels, the Books, the Messengers and the Last Day. Belief in the Books requires that one believe in all the other basic principles of faith (ușool al-eemaan). Belief in the Messenger (ﷺ) means that one believes and accepts all that he brought... Hence Allah considers the person who believes in one principle and denies another as being a kaafir.

Allah (SWT), the All-Glorious, says:
هو إن الذينَ يَكْفُرُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ، وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يُفَرِّقُوا بَيْنَ اللَّهِ وَرُسُلِهِ وَيَقُولُونَ نُؤْمِنُ بِبَعْضٍ وَنَكْفُرُ بِبَعْضٍ وَيُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَّخِذُوا بيْنَ ذَلِكَ سَبِيلًا أُوْلَيْكَ هُمُ الْكَفِرُونَ .

Verily, those who disbelieve in Allah and His Messengers and wish to make distinction between Allah and His Messengers [by believing in Allah and disbelieving in His Messengers] saying, "We believe in some but reject others," and wish to adopt a way in between. They are in truth disbelievers...) (Qur'an 4: 150-151)
Disbelieving in some of the minor issues of 'aqeedah which have been proven definitively in the Qur'an or Sunnah is also counted as kufr (disbelief), such as denying one of the Messengers or one of the Angels.

Actions and Words Which are Counted as Kufr (Disbelief)

Kufr does not consist only of denying basic principles of 'aqeedah. There are certain actions which, if done, are also kufr. They may be summed up in one phrase: "worshipping others besides Allah." Worship is the right of Allah alone, and directing worship to anyone or anything other than Allah is shirk (polytheism), such as praying to anything other than Allah, offering sacrifice to anything other than Allah, calling upon anything or anyone other than Allah etc.

A man may become a kaafir (disbeliever) by uttering words which insult the Creator, Glorified and Exalted be He, or Islam, or the Prophet, or words which make fun of Islam, or which give preference to misguided principles such as communism or Buddhism, or deviant religions such as Judaism or Christianity over Islam, or which accuse Islam of being imperfect, backward and reactionary.

Attitude Towards the Kuffaar (Disbelievers)

The Muslim should regard the kuffaar as enemies and hate them because of their kufr, just as he hates their kufr (disbelief) itself. He should oppose this falsehood and its followers by speaking out clearly, and by calling them to the truth. He should explain to them their misguided state, and show them the truth, explaining it to them clearly and confidently. Even though we hate the disbelievers, we want them to be guided and we hope that they will be.

There are rulings concerning the kuffaar which are explained in the books of figh (Islamic jurisprudence). For example, we do not let them marry Muslim women, we do not marry any of their women except those of the People of the Book, and we do not wash their dead or pray for them...

The Kaafir before Allah

The person who hears of Islam, and knowingly rejects it is a kaafir (disbeliever) who will abide in the Hell-Fire forever, for he will have no excuse on the Day of Resurrection.

Those who do not hear of Islam for whatever reason, such as living in remote areas or because they have lost their hearing and sight, or because Islam reached them when they were too old to understand, will not be punished on the Day of Resurrection until they have been tried and tested, because the proof did not reach them. Allah, the Almighty, says:

هو ... وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا 

...And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger [to give warning]. (Qur'an 17: 15)

The evidence that they will be tested is the hadith narrated by Al- Aswad ibn Saree', who said: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 

"There are four who will be tested on the Day of Resurrection: the deaf man who could not hear anything; the imbecile; the senile old man; and the man who died during the fatarah (interval between two Prophets, when no Message reached him). The deaf man will say, "O Lord, Islam came and I did not hear anything." The imbecile will say, "O Lord, Islam came but the young boys were pelting me with camel dung." The senile old man will say, "O Lord, Islam came and I did not hear anything." The man who died during the fatarah will say, "O Lord, no Messenger came to me." Then Allah will take their pledge to obey Him, and He will send word to them to enter the fire. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, if they enter it, it will be cool and safe for them."1

Neglecting Obligatory Duties and Committing Prohibited Actions

i) The attitude of the salaf towards those who commit major sins

Undoubtedly, if a person neglects the duties that Allah has enjoined upon him, such as paying zakah, fasting, performing Hajj and honouring one's parents, or does haraam (forbidden) things such as committing adultery (zina), engaging in usury or interest (riba) or consuming orphans' property, his faith is distorted and is lacking in proportion to the duties neglected or sins committed. But is he to be regarded as a kaafir - disbeliever - simply because he has neglected those duties or committed those haraam actions, so long as he does not deny the former or claim that the latter is halaal (legal)?

The texts that we have before us teach us that the Muslim does not become a kaafir by committing sins or by neglecting obligatory duties, but this does detract from his faith and his case rests with Allah - if He wills, He will forgive him, and if He wills, He will punish him. Among the texts which state that clearly is the aayah (verse):

إنَّ اللهَ لَا يَغْفِرُ أَن يُشْرَكَ بِهِ وَيَغْفِرُ مَا دُونَ ذَلِكَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ ...

Verily, Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him [in worship], but He forgives except that [anything else] to whom He wills;... (Qur'an 4: 48)
The only sin that He will not forgive is shirk. In the case of every lesser sin, it is up to Allah: if He wills, He will forgive, and if He wills, He will punish.

There are also aḥaadeeth which clearly state the same thing that is indicated in this aayah. According to a hadith qudsi:

"O son of Adam, if you were to come to me with an earthful of sin, then you were to meet Me not associating anything in worship with Me, I would come to you with an earthful of forgiveness."3

According to another hadith qudsi:

"Whoever meets Me with an earthful of sin, but does not associate anyone in worship with Me, I will meet him with forgiveness equal to it."4

It is reported that 'Utbaan ibn Maalik stated: "The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said: 

'Allah has forbidden for the Fire all those who say Laa ilaaha illa-Allah seeking thereby the Face of Allah."5

It is reported from Jaabir that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

"Whoever dies not associating anything with Allah will enter Paradise."6

In the hadith about intercession, it is reported that Allah (ﷺ) said:

"By My Glory, My Majesty, My Pride and My Might, I
will bring forth from it (Hell) those who say Laa ilaaha illa-Allah."7

It is reported from Abu Sa'eed al-Khudri that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

"The people of Paradise will enter Paradise, and the people of Hell will enter Hell, then Allah, will say: 'Bring forth everyone in whose heart was faith the weight of a grain of mustard seed."8

Abu Sufyaan said: "I lived near Jaabir ibn 'Abdullah in Makkah for six months. A man asked him, 'Do you call any of the people of the Qiblah (i.e., Muslims) a kaafir?' He said, 'Allah forbid!' He asked, 'Do you call anybody a mushrik?' He said, "No."9

These texts led prominent scholars among the salaf of this ummah to say of the one who commits sins and neglects obligatory duties: "He is a believer because of his faith but a faasiq (sinner) because of his sin." They attributed faith to him, but it was not the perfect faith that is the rightful attribute of those who do acts of obedience and refrain from committing sin. His faith is impaired because of his wrongs (fisq) and because of the sin that he has committed.

ii) The khawaarij who denounced people as kaafir because of their sins

In contrast to these (the salaf), there was another group who accused people of kufr if they fell short in any obligatory duty, or if they committed any haraam actions. We still see many people hastening to condemn people as kaafir in a similar manner. The first group to adopt this approach was the Khawaarij, a group who emerged (kharaja) from the army of 'Ali ibn Abi Taalib after the appointed arbitrators, Abu Moosa al-Ash'ari and 'Amr ibn al-'Aaş, had failed to end the dispute that was raging among the Muslims under the leadership of 'Ali and Mu'aawiyah.

The Khawaarij claimed that appointing men as arbitrators was a mistake according to shari'ah, and they regarded it as kufr. They viewed as kuffaar all the Muslims who had agreed to that, and testified that they themselves turned to be disbelievers. [Because they had initially agreed to the arbitration Translator]. They then entered the pale of Islam afresh. They demanded that 'Ali should also accept that he committed kufr by agreeing to the arbitration (and pronounce shahadah afresh) as a precondition for their returning to the ranks of his army. 'Ali () (may Allah be pleased with him) disputed with them, and sent to them the great scholar of this ummah, Ibn 'Abbaas, who established proof against them and refuted their point of view. A few thousand of them came back (to the army and to Islam), but two thousand persisted in following their opinion and fought 'Ali, who defeated them and finished them off. But their thinking spread, and was adopted by many people after them. This idea of denouncing others as kaafir still emerges from time to time, and it has resurfaced in our own times.

The evidence quoted by the khawaarij for denouncing as kaafir those who commit major sins

The Khawaarij 10 claim that the one who commits a major sin is a kaafir and is no longer Muslim, and his blood and wealth are halaal [lawful (i.e., he may be killed and his wealth seized by the Muslims)]. They say that he will abide in Hell forever. They quote in support of their view; evidence, which they thought, proved their case, such as the following:

a) They said, "You agree with us that deeds are part of faith, because eemaan is composed of belief, words and deeds. If one part of faith, such as actions, is missing, then the whole of eemaan is absent."

b) They quoted as evidence the fact that Allah describes some sins as fisq, as in the aayah (verse):
... إن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَاءٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا ...

...If a Faasiq [liar - evil person] comes to you with any news, verify it...) (Qur'an 49: 6)

The word faasiq here is applied to a liar, which is quite obvious to anyone who looks at the context of the aayah.

The Prophet (ﷺ) said:

"For a believer to trade insults with another is fusooq (evil),"11

And they said that Allah called some sins, such as consuming orphans' wealth, zulm:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَأْكُلُونَ أَمْوَالَ الْيَتَمَى ظُلْمًا إِنَّمَا يَأْكُلُونَ فِي بُطُونِهِمْ نارا ...

(Verily, those who unjustly [zulman] eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only fire into their bellies,... (Qur'an 4: 10)

And He (), calls the one who evicts a widow from her marital home during the time of her 'iddah, a zaalim, because he transgresses the limits set by Allah (3):

 یٰۤاَیُّهَا النَّبِیُّ اِذَا طَلَّقۡتُمُ النِّسَآءَ فَطَلِّقُوۡهُنَّ لِعِدَّتِهِنَّ وَ اَحۡصُوا الۡعِدَّۃَ ۚ وَ اتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ رَبَّکُمۡ ۚ لَا تُخۡرِجُوۡهُنَّ مِنۡۢ بُیُوۡتِهِنَّ وَ لَا یَخۡرُجۡنَ اِلَّاۤ اَنۡ یَّاۡتِیۡنَ بِفَاحِشَۃٍ مُّبَیِّنَۃٍ ؕ وَ تِلۡکَ حُدُوۡدُ اللّٰهِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ یَّتَعَدَّ حُدُوۡدَ اللّٰهِ فَقَدۡ ظَلَمَ نَفۡسَهٗ ؕ لَا تَدۡرِیۡ لَعَلَّ اللّٰهَ یُحۡدِثُ بَعۡدَ ذٰلِکَ اَمۡرًا ﴿۱

(...And fear Allah your Lord [O Muslims]. And turn them not out of their [husband's] homes nor shall they [themselves] leave, except in case they are guilty of some open illegal sexual intercourse. And those are the set limits of Allah. And whosoever transgresses the set limits of Allah, then indeed he has wronged himself...(Qur'an 65: 1)

They said, these sins are fisq and zulm, and the faasiqoon and zaalimoon are kaafir as the Qur'an says:
... وَالْكَفِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ )
...And it is the disbelievers who are the Zaalimoon [wrongdoers]. (Qur'an 2: 254)
... وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَيْكَ هُمُ الْفَسِقُونَ )
...But whoever disbelieved after this, they are the Faasiqoon [rebellious, disobedient to Allah].) (Qur'an 24: 55)

And they said: the texts indicate that those who commit sins are not believers, for example, the report narrated by Muslim which says that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

"The one who commits zina is not a believer at the time when he is committing zina, and the one who steals is not a believer at the time when he is stealing, and the one who drinks wine is not a believer at the time when he is drinking, "12

And he () said:

"No one who believes in Allah and His Messenger can hate the Anşaar "13


"By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another."14

c) They said: the Messenger () disowned those who committed certain sins, such as when he said:

"Whoever bears arms against us is not one of us, and whoever deceives us is not one of us."15

And, according to another hadith:

"Whoever cheats is not one of us."16

According to a hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (RA), the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

"By Allah, he does not believe; by Allah, he does not believe; by Allah, he does not believe." They said, "Who, O' Messenger of Allah?" He said, "The one from whose annoyance his neighbour is not safe."17

d) They said: some sins were described as kufr, as when Allah (SWT), said:

و ... وَلِلَّهِ عَلَى النَّاسِ حِجُّ الْبَيْتِ مَنِ اسْتَطَاعَ إِلَيْهِ سَبِيلًا وَمَن كَفَرَ فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَنِيٌّ عَنِ الْعَالَمِينَ

...And Hajj [pilgrimage to Makkah] to the House [Ka'bah] is a duty that mankind owes to Allah, those who can afford the expenses [for one's conveyance, provision and residence]; and whoever disbelieves [i.e. denies Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah), then he is a disbeliever of Allah], then Allah stands not in need of any of the 'Aalameen [mankind, jinn and all that exist]. (Qur'an 3: 97)

And the Messenger() said:
"Do not go back to kufr after I am gone by killing one another. "18 And: "If a man denounces his brother as a kaafir, it will be the case that one of them is a kaafir."19

Refutation of the evidences quoted by the khawaarij

These are the evidences which they referred to, for their labelling as kaafir those who commit sins. We will strive to point out where they went wrong in using these texts as evidences:

a) With regard to their point that deeds are included in the components of eemaan, we do not deny this. But where they went wrong is when they counted deeds as a condition of faith. The correct view is that this is not so. If deeds are lacking, this impairs the required perfection of faith, i.e., if deeds are lacking then faith is also lacking in part, and it remains imperfect. This is like a man whose hand or foot has been cut off, or whose eye has been taken out, or his ear has been cut off. He is still a human being and is still alive. But if he is cut in two or his head is cut off, or his heart is torn out, then he is like a person whose faith is removed. If the hand, foot or eye is removed, this is like a person who neglects some obligatory duties or does some haraam (forbidden) actions. When the head or heart is removed, is like the 'aqeedah is taken away.

b) Their explanation of fisq and zulm being kufr is a mis- understanding. The meaning of fisq is to disobey Allah (3), and all acts of disobedience towar ds Allah are not on the same level. They may entail kufr, or they may not. A person who denies the angels disobeys Allah in a manner that constitutes kufr, whilst a person who drinks wine disobeys Allah in a manner that is sinful, but does not constitute kufr.

Zulm also varies in degree; it may take an extreme form that reaches the level of kufr, or it may be of a lesser degree than that.

We may picture this if we draw a large circle in the middle of which is a smaller circle. The large circle represents zulm and fisq, and the smaller circle represents kufr, so kufr is included in zulm and fisq, because they are broader in meaning than kufr, but some kinds of zulm and fisq are not kufr.

What indicates that fisq may not be kufr is the hadith of the Prophet (), in which he said:

"Slandering a Muslim is fusooq, and killing him is kufr. "20

The Messenger distinguished between the two, even though what is meant by kufr in this hadith is not the kind of kufr which puts a person beyond the pale of Islam.

The texts which they quote to support their view that faith is cancelled out by sins, or that the Messenger (ﷺ) disowned people who committed sins, or that the person who commits a certain sin is a kaafir, do not mean that faith is taken away by sins or that sin implies that a person is a kaafir. But sins do detract from the perfection and sincerity of a person's faith, which Allah described and stated was a precondition in several places in His Book.
Allah (SWT), says:

  اِنَّ اللّٰهَ اشۡتَرٰی مِنَ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ اَنۡفُسَهُمۡ وَ اَمۡوَالَهُمۡ بِاَنَّ لَهُمُ الۡجَنَّۃَ ؕ یُقَاتِلُوۡنَ فِیۡ سَبِیۡلِ اللّٰهِ فَیَقۡتُلُوۡنَ وَ یُقۡتَلُوۡنَ ۟ وَعۡدًا عَلَیۡهِ حَقًّا فِی التَّوۡرٰىۃِ وَ الۡاِنۡجِیۡلِ وَ الۡقُرۡاٰنِ ؕ وَ مَنۡ اَوۡفٰی بِعَهۡدِهٖ مِنَ اللّٰهِ فَاسۡتَبۡشِرُوۡا بِبَیۡعِکُمُ الَّذِیۡ بَایَعۡتُمۡ بِهٖ ؕ وَ ذٰلِکَ هُوَ الۡفَوۡزُ الۡعَظِیۡمُ ﴿۱۱۱  اَلتَّآئِبُوۡنَ الۡعٰبِدُوۡنَ الۡحٰمِدُوۡنَ السَّآئِحُوۡنَ الرّٰکِعُوۡنَ السّٰجِدُوۡنَ الۡاٰمِرُوۡنَ بِالۡمَعۡرُوۡفِ وَ النَّاهُوۡنَ عَنِ الۡمُنۡکَرِ وَ الۡحٰفِظُوۡنَ لِحُدُوۡدِ اللّٰهِ ؕ وَ بَشِّرِ الۡمُؤۡمِنِیۡنَ ﴿۱۱۲

Verily, Allah has purchased of the believers their lives and their properties for [the price] that theirs shall be the Paradise. They fight in Allah's Cause, so they kill [others] and are killed. It is a promise in truth which is binding on Him in the Tawraat [Torah] and the Injeel [Gospel] and the Qur'an. And who is truer to his covenant than Allah? Then rejoice in the bargain which you have concluded. That is the supreme success. [The believers whose lives Allah has purchased are] those who turn to Allah in repentance [from polytheism and hypocrisy], who worship [Him], who praise [Him], who fast [or go out in Allah's Cause], who bow down [in prayer], who prostrate themselves [in prayer], who enjoin [on people] Al-Ma 'roof and forbid [people] from Al-Munkar, and who observe the limits set by Allah. And give glad tidings to the believers." (Qur'an 9: 111-112)

 قَدۡ اَفۡلَحَ الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۱ الَّذِیۡنَ هُمۡ فِیۡ صَلَاتِهِمۡ خٰشِعُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۲  وَ الَّذِیۡنَ هُمۡ عَنِ اللَّغۡوِ مُعۡرِضُوۡنَ ﴿ۙ۳ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ هُمۡ لِلزَّکٰوۃِ فٰعِلُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۴ وَ الَّذِیۡنَ هُمۡ لِفُرُوۡجِهِمۡ حٰفِظُوۡنَ ۙ﴿۵ 

Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their salaah [prayers] with all solemnity and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from Al- Laghw [dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allah has forbidden]. And those who pay the Zakah. And those who guard their chastity [i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts]. (Qur'an 23: 1-5)

اِنَّمَا الۡمُؤۡمِنُوۡنَ الَّذِیۡنَ اِذَا ذُکِرَ اللّٰهُ وَجِلَتۡ قُلُوۡبُهُمۡ وَ اِذَا تُلِیَتۡ عَلَیۡهِمۡ اٰیٰتُهٗ زَادَتۡهُمۡ اِیۡمَانًا وَّ عَلٰی رَبِّهِمۡ یَتَوَکَّلُوۡنَ ۚ﴿ۖ۲ الَّذِیۡنَ یُقِیۡمُوۡنَ الصَّلٰوۃَ وَ مِمَّا رَزَقۡنٰهُمۡ یُنۡفِقُوۡنَ ؕ﴿۳

The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His aayaat [verses] [this Qur'an] are recited unto them, they [i.e. the Aayaat] increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord [Alone]; Who perform As-Salaah [lqaamat-as-Salaah] and spend out of that We have provided them. (Qur'an 8: 2-3) 

After quoting these aayaat, Abu 'Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam21 said: "These aayaat explain the obligations that Islam has enjoined upon its followers, and prohibited all kinds of sin." The aḥaadeeth of the Sunnah describe the features of eemaan. When sins are mixed with faith, it may be said that this is not what Allah has enjoined upon the believers, and these are not the signs by which faith is known, i.e., this is not the reality of faith. But this does not mean that there is no faith at all."

He then examines the specious arguments of those who say, how can it be said that he is not a believer but that the title of faith is not taken away from him? He explains this by pointing out that this is the way the Arabs speak: they deny that a deed has been done if it had not been done properly. The Qur'an was revealed in the language of the Arabs using the stylistic devices of their language. "In the language of the Arabs, about which we know a great deal, it is not uncommon to deny a deed if the person who did it failed to do it properly. Do you not see that if a worker does not do his job properly, they will say to him, 'You haven't done anything'? The intention here is to deny the quality, not to deny the work itself. In their view, the job is done nominally but not properly."

He explained that the Arabs may speak in an even harsher tone, such as when a son disobeys his father and annoys him to the extent that the father may say, 'He is not a son'-although they know that he is his son, born from his loins. A similar thing may be said concerning a brother, wife or slave.

Then he explained that these texts which deny faith were narrated in a similar fashion. He said: "The same applies to these sins for which faith is denied, because what cancelled out the reality of faith is not complying with the rulings which are attributes of eemaan. But a person's classification remains as it was, and he is not described as being anything other than a believer, and the rulings which apply to believers remain intact in his case."

He quoted the aayah (verse) from Soorah Aal Imraan (the third chapter of the Qur'an) which states that Allah took a covenant from those who had been given the Scripture, that they would make it [the news of the coming of Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ)] known and clear to mankind, and not to hide it, but they threw it away behind their backs, yet despite that they are still described as People of the Book in other aayaat, and it is permissible for us to eat their meat and marry their women. Then he said: "In the rulings and in name they are still described as People of the Book, although in reality they have departed from it."

And he narrated the hadith of the man who prayed badly, which was narrated by the two Shaykhs (Bukhari and Muslim), in which the Messenger(ﷺ) said:

"Go back and pray, for you have not prayed,"22

- more than once. Although the man had prayed each time, it was a nominal prayer only, and was not a prayer as it should be.

What is meant by the texts in which the Messenger of Allah (SWT) disowned those who commit sins

Abu 'Ubayd stated: "This disowning does not mean that they no longer have anything to do with the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) and his religion. But in our opinion he is not one of those who obey the Messenger or follow his example or adhere to his laws (as required)." 

What is meant by the texts which state that some sins imply kufr and shirk

"With regard to the texts which state that some sins imply kufr and shirk, the way we understand them is not that those people become kaafir (disbelievers) and mushrikeen (polythiests) in such a way that they no longer have any eemaan at all. Rather, the way in which they are to be interpreted is that these sins are akin to the characteristics and ways of the kuffaar and mushrikeen. We find a similar amount of reports of these two types as we do of reports of the first two types."

He explaines that what is meant by the sins which are called kufr and shirk is "the characteristics of the mushrikeen and their names, ways, words and rulings, etc."

In support of this view, he quoted the comment of Ibn 'Abbaas (RA) in his tafseer of the aayah,
وَ مَنۡ لَّمۡ یَحۡکُمۡ بِمَاۤ اَنۡزَلَ اللّٰهُ فَاُولٰٓئِکَ هُمُ الۡکٰفِرُوۡنَ ﴿۴۴.........

...And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the kaafiroon [i.e. disbelievers - of a lesser degree as they do not act on Allah's Laws]. (Qur'an 5: 44)

Ibn 'Abbaas (RA) said: "This is not (the kind of) kufr that puts a person beyond the pale of Islam." "Ataa' said: "It is a lesser form of kufr." Concerning the report narrated from Ibn 'Abbaas, the editor of the book said: "This is narrated by Al-Haakim in Al-Mustadrak via Taawoos, and he and Adh-Dhahabi classed it as ṣaḥeeḥ,"23

Although judging by other than that which Allah has revealed is called kufr, it does not put a person beyond the pale of Islam. Eemaan is still present in this case, even though it is mixed with this sin. What is meant is that judging by other than that which Allah has revealed is the way of the kuffaar (disbelievers). Have you not heard the words of Allah (SWT):

أَفَحُكْمَ الْجَهِلِيَّةِ يَبْغُونَ ... 
Do they then seek the judgement of [the days of] Ignorance?...) (Qur'an 5: 50)

Then he says: the way in which this was interpreted by the scholars of Tafseer is that whoever judges by other than that which Allah has revealed - and he is a Muslim - becomes thereby like the people of the Jaahiliyah, for it is to be understood that this is how the people of the Jaahiliyah used to judge. This is like the hadith:

"Three things belong to the Jaahiliyah: slandering people's lineage, wailing over the dead, and astrology." (This is) a ṣaḥeeḥ (authentic) hadith.33

Similarly there is a hadith that reads:

"The signs of the hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust."24

Abu 'Ubayd said:

"These reports are not to be interpreted as meaning that the one who commits sin is to be labelled as belonging to the people of Jaahiliyah, a kaafir (disbeliever) or a hypocrite, when he believes in Allah and the Message sent by Him, and he fulfils the obligatory duties. What these reports mean is that these sins are part of the actions of the kuffaar (disbelievers) which are forbidden in the Qur'an and Sunnah, so that the Muslims can avoid these things and steer clear of them, and not imitate the kuffaar in any of their attitudes or ways."

He quoted the hadith:

"If a woman puts on perfume then passes by people who can detect her fragrance, she is a zaaniyah (adulteress)." Is this the kind of zina which incurs the prescribed punishment (hadd)?25

Perhaps what Abu 'Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam meant when he said that "judging by other than that which Allah revealed is not kufr that puts a person beyond the pale of Islam" was when a qaadi (Muslim judge) judges a particular case according to his own whims and desires, although he usually judges in accordance with the rulings of Allah.

With regard to ruling by the laws of the disbelievers, and applying them by force to the Islamic peoples, and opposing and fighting all those who call for the application of Islam - this is nothing to do with Islam.

لله فلا وربِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ ثُمَّ لَا
يَجِدُوا فِي أَنفُسِهِمْ حَرَجًا مِّمَّا قَضَيْتَ وَيُسَلِّمُوا تَسْلِيمًا 

But no, by your Lord, they can have no Faith, until they make you [O' Muhammad] judge in all disputes between them, and find in themselves no resistance against your decisions, and accept [them] with full submission. (Qur'an 4: 65)

iii) Those who say that the person who commits major sins has perfect faith

The Khawaarij went to one extreme, by misinterpreting the texts which say that a person who commits a major sin has distorted and diminished his faith. They did not understand the texts which state that his faith, nevertheless does not disappear in totality. In contrast to the Khawaarij, there is another group36 which claimed that the faith of a person who commits a major sin is still intact. They said, "Sin does not have any harmful effect so long as a person believes." They said that eemaan was belief in the heart and words spoken by the tongue, and that actions had nothing to do with eemaan. They said that faith in the heart was something which did not differ from one person to another, and they quoted as evidence the texts which indicate that those who commit major sins are still believers and will enter Paradise.

Their view is refuted by the fact that many reports state that deeds are considered to be a part of faith, such as the hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ):

"Eemaan has seventy-odd or sixty-odd branches, the best of which is saying Laa ilaaha illa-Allaah, and the least of which is removing something harmful off the road. And modesty is a branch of faith."26

 Their view is also refuted by texts which contain warnings, such as the hadith of the Prophet (ﷺ):

"An adulterer is not a believer at the time when he is committing adultery; a thief is not a believer at the time when he is stealing; a drinker of wine is not a believer at the time when he is drinking."27

Both of the groups went astray. The first group, which denounces people as kaafir, causes people to despair of the mercy of Allah, whilst the second group encourages people to commit sins. The salaf of this ummah trod a middle path between these two extremes, stating that those who committed major sins were still believers in this world, although their faith was imperfect; as for the Hereafter, their case rests with Allah (SWT): if He wills, He will punish them and if He wills, He will forgive them.28

1. Aḥmad in his Musnad, and classed as şaheeḥ by Al-Bayhaqi. See Ibn Katheer in his tafseer of the aayah of Al-Israa' 15.
2. The inspired words of Allah conveyed by the Prophet in his words.
3. Tirmidhi in his Sunan, 4/49, hadith no. 3540. He said: this is a ghareeb hadith which we know only with this isnad. See Saḥeeḥ Sunan at-Tirmidhi by Al- Albaani, 3/175, hadith no. 2805.
4. Muslim, 4/2068, hadith no. 2687.
5. Bukhari, 1/519, hadith no. 425.
6. Muslim, 1/94, hadith no. 94.
7. Bukhari, 13/474
8. Bukhari, 1/72, hadith no. 22
9. Abu 'Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Salaam in his book Al-Eemaan, edited by Shaykh Nasiruddin al-Albaani, Pp. 98. The editor said, its isnad is ṣaḥeeḥ according to the conditions of Muslim. Abu Sufyaan, the narrator of the hadith was a Taabi'ee.
10. There is another group, the Mu'tazilah, who are the followers of Waasil ibn 'Ataa', who said that the one who commits a major sin is neither a believer nor a kaafir, but is in a position between kufr and eemaan, but in the Hereafter he will be doomed to eternity in Hell.
11. Muslim, 1/80, hadith no. 64.
12. Muslim, 1/76, hadith no. 57.
13. Ibid, 1/86.
14. Ibid, 1/74, hadith no. 54.
15 Muslim, 1/99, hadith no. 101.
16. Ibid, 1/101, hadith no. 102.
17. Mishkaat al-Maşabeeḥ, 2/607, hadith no. 4962.
18. Muslim, 1/82, hadith no. 65.
19. Ibid, 1/79, hadith no. 79.
20. Muslim, 1/80, hadith no. 64.
21. These quotations are taken from the book Al-Eemaan by Abu 'Ubayd, a collection of his four treatises edited by Shaykh Nasiruddeen al-Albaani, Pp. 90-96.
22. Bukhari, 2/277, hadith no. 793; Muslim, 1/298, hadith no. 397.
23. Kitaab al-Eemaan by Abu 'Ubayd al-Qaasim ibn Sallaam, Pp. 94. Published in the anthology of Four Desertations Arba' Rasaa'il.
23. Şaḥeeḥ al-Jaami' aş-Şagheer, 1/583, hadith no. 3039, where the wording is: "Three actions of the people of the Jaahiliyah which the people of Islam will not manage to avoid: seeking rain through the stars (astrology), slandering people's lineage, and wailing over the dead." He attributed it to Bukhari in At-Taareekh, and to At-Tabaraani in Al-Kabeer, and Aḥmad in Al-Musnad, and Ibn Hibbaan in his ṣaḥeeḥ.
24. Bukhari, 1/89, hadith no. 33; Muslim, 1/78, hadith no. 59.
25. The editor of Kitaab al-Eemaan (p. 96) said: (this is a) şaḥeeḥ hadith, narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah, Ibn Hibbaan and Al-Haakim in their Şaheeḥs, from Abu Moosa al-Ash'ari and attributed to the Prophet (), where the wording is, "Any woman who puts on perfume and passes by people so that they can smell its fragrance, is a zaaniyah, and every eye is zaaniyah." A similar report is narrated by Abu Dawood and Tirmidhi, who classed it as saḥeeḥ.
26. This group is known as Al-Murji'ah because they separated [arjaru] actions from eemaan, and regarded them as less important.
27. Bukhari, 1/51, hadith no. 9; Muslim, 1/63, hadith no. 35. This version is narrated by Muslim.
28 Bukhari and Muslim; details have been given above.

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