False Preventions of Takfeer
Takfeer is to expel a person from Islam, or declare them to be a non-Muslim. Every Muslim is obliged to perform takfeer upon an individual whom Allah (SWT) or His Messenger (SAW) deemed to be Kaafir or Murtad (apostate). However, nowadays takfeer has become a taboo subject and the enemies of Islam – orientalists, Disbelievers, secularists, modernists, Hypocrites and “moderates” (so-called Muslims) – are working relentlessly to deter Muslims away from this important obligation.
Many people lay down unnecessary conditions, and some have even gone as far as to say that it is not allowed to call any person Kaafir, even if they are Christian or Jew!
This short article endeavours to shed some light on this topic and refute the common false conditions of takfeer which are rife today.
“It is not allowed to call a person Kaafir by name (‘ayn)”
There are two types of Takfeer:
Takfeer ul-Mu’ayyan is to specify or call a person “Kaafir” by name, such as to say: “President Musharraf is a Kaafir (or Murtad, ‘apostate’).” Takfeer un-Nawa’ is to apply takfeer in general without to specify a person, like saying: “Those who do not pray are Disbelievers.” Both these forms of takfeer are valid in Islam and there are plenty of evidences which suggest that the Prophet (SAW) and his Companions (RA) did both.
In Chapter 5, Verse 54 of the Qur’aan, Allah (SWT) says:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مَنْ يَرْتَدَّ مِنْكُمْ عَنْ دِينِهِ فَسَوْفَ يَأْتِي اللَّهُ بِقَوْمٍ يُحِبُّهُمْ وَيُحِبُّونَهُ أَذِلَّةٍ عَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ أَعِزَّةٍ عَلَى الْكَافِرِينَ يُجَاهِدُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلا يَخَافُونَ لَوْمَةَ لائِمٍ ذَلِكَ فَضْلُ اللَّهِ يُؤْتِيهِ مَنْ يَشَاءُ وَاللَّهُ وَاسِعٌ عَلِيمٌ
“Oh you who believe! Whoever from among you apostatizes from his religion (Islam), Allah will bring a people whom He will love and they will love Him; humble towards the Believers, stern towards the Disbelievers, fighting in the Way of Allah, and never afraid of the blame of the blamers. That is the Grace of Allah which He bestows on whom He wills. And Allah is All-Sufficient for His creatures’ needs, All-Knower.” (Al-Maa’idah, 5:54)
This verse confirms that apostasy will occur among some Believers, as Allah (SWT) said, “Whoever from among you apostatizes from his religion…”
Moreover, the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) also said: “Whoever changes his deen (religion), kill him.”
If the Prophet (SAW) instructed his followers to kill the one who changes his religion, this person must be named and specified in order to be killed; thus, Takfeer ul-Mu’ayyan will need to be done and the person will need to be expelled from Islam before he/she is executed because it is forbidden to kill a Muslim.
Hence, looking at these two evidences from the Qur’aan and Sunnah, one cannot deny that apostasy will occur among Muslims. Another proof that substantiates this is the verse:
يَوْمَ تَبْيَضُّ وُجُوهٌ وَتَسْوَدُّ وُجُوهٌ فَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ اسْوَدَّتْ وُجُوهُهُمْ أَكَفَرْتُمْ بَعْدَ إِيمَانِكُمْ فَذُوقُوا الْعَذَابَ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَكْفُرُونَ
“On the Day (i.e. the Day of Resurrection) when some faces will become white and some faces will become black; as for those whose faces will become black (to them will be said): ‘Did you reject Faith (Imaan) after accepting it? Then taste the torment (in Hell) for rejecting Faith.’” (Aal ‘Imraan, 3:106)
Examples of Takfeer ul-Mu’ayyan
In the time of Rasoolullah (SAW) there were many individuals who hastened towards riddah (apostasy) and kufr (disbelief) – particularly during the battles of Al-Ahzaab and Tabook – and as a result they became Munaafiqeen. Allah (SWT) revealed a number of verses concerning them, some of which were:
لَئِنْ لَمْ يَنْتَهِ الْمُنَافِقُونَ وَالَّذِينَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمْ مَرَضٌ وَالْمُرْجِفُونَ فِي الْمَدِينَةِ لَنُغْرِيَنَّكَ بِهِمْ ثُمَّ لا يُجَاوِرُونَكَ فِيهَا إِلا قَلِيلا
مَلْعُونِينَ أَيْنَمَا ثُقِفُوا أُخِذُوا وَقُتِّلُوا تَقْتِيلا
“If the Hypocrites, and those in whose hearts is a disease, and those who spread false news among the people in Al-Madeenah, cease not, We shall certainly let you overpower them, then they will not be able to stay in it as your neighbours but a little while.
Accursed, wherever found, they shall be seized and killed with a (terrible) slaughter.” (Al-Ahzaab, 33:60–61)
سَتَجِدُونَ آخَرِينَ يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يَأْمَنُوكُمْ وَيَأْمَنُوا قَوْمَهُمْ كُلَّمَا رُدُّوا إِلَى الْفِتْنَةِ أُرْكِسُوا فِيهَا فَإِنْ لَمْ يَعْتَزِلُوكُمْ وَيُلْقُوا إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَمَ وَيَكُفُّوا أَيْدِيَهُمْ فَخُذُوهُمْ وَاقْتُلُوهُمْ حَيْثُ ثَقِفْتُمُوهُمْ وَأُولَئِكُمْ جَعَلْنَا لَكُمْ عَلَيْهِمْ سُلْطَانًا مُبِينًا
“You will find others that wish to have security from you and security from their people. Every time they are sent back to temptation, they yield thereto. If they withdraw not from you, nor offer you peace, nor restrain their hands, take (hold) of them and kill them wherever you find them. In their case, We have provided you with a clear warrant against them.” (An-Nisaa’, 4:91)
After these verses had been revealed, the Prophet (SAW) fulfilled Allah’s commands and consequently many of the Munaafiqeen were declared Disbelievers and executed.
Pharaoh, Abu Lahab, Abu Jahl and others were deemed Kaafir in the Qur’aan and it is therefore obligatory upon every Muslim to affirm this and believe they were Kaafireen (Disbelievers).
Sheikh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (RH) declared the likes of Ibn Fayrooz and Saalih bin Abdullah as apostates. Furthermore, in the Hadeeth Saheeh (authentic narration), the Prophet (SAW) gave a green light to his Companions to execute a man who committed apostasy by marrying the wife of his father.
There were also the Khawaarij, whom the Prophet (SAW) spoke about by name and said, in reference to them: “…If I were to ever find them I would kill them like (the way in which) the people of ‘Aad (were killed).” (Saheeh Muslim, Kitaab uz-Zakaat, Chapter 47, Hadeeth no. 1064)
Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (RA) fought those who refused to pay him Zakaat during Harbu Ahlir-Riddah (the Battle of the People of Apostasy) and declared them apostates.
There was ijmaa’ (consensus) of the Sahaabah to kill the people of Kufa when they claimed that Musaylamah (may Allah’s curse be upon him) was a prophet.
Omar bin al-Khattaab (RA) declared Haatib bin Abee Balta’ah (RA) a Munaafiq (and even Kaafir in one narration), before he was cleared by Allah and a verse was revealed about him which explained his (specific) situation.
Those who claimed that ‘Ali (RA) was god were killed and burned alive by ‘Ali himself. Ibn ‘Abbaas (RA) did not disagree with ‘Ali (RA) about calling them Kaafir, but he disagreed with his method of burning them with fire, as only Allah should punish with fire, not man.
And Jahm bin Safwaan and Ibn Dirham were called Kaafirs and subsequently executed by the Imaams of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors).
The extremist Soofi scholars, Al Hallaj and ibn Arabi were also called Kaafirs and the former was executed.
There were many incidents in Islamic history and enough evidences which prove that the rightly guided ‘ulamaa (scholars) of the past – such as Imaam Abu Haneefah, Imaam ash-Shaafi’ie, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Imaam Maalik – performed Takfeer ul-Mu’ayyan and called for the execution of particular individuals.
Hence, there is no need to prove that an individual can be called Kaafir by name on matters which are clear-cut, known from Islam by necessity and after certain conditions have been met.
“We cannot call a person Kaafir if they were given a fatwa”
This is far from a valid excuse. Any scholar that issues a fatwa (Islamic verdict) permitting what Allah (SWT) has clearly forbidden, or forbidding what Allah (SWT) has clearly made permissible (or obligatory), will become a Taaghout (false god) and a Kaafir (apostate), and those who follow him will also be guilty of shirk akbar (major apostasy) for obeying him.
In the Qur’aan, Allah informs us of those who used to blindly follow their misguided leaders, scholars and mentors, taking them as false gods besides Allah. They will call upon Allah to give double punishment to those who misled them:
حَتَّى إِذَا ادَّارَكُوا فِيهَا جَمِيعًا قَالَتْ أُخْرَاهُمْ لأولاهُمْ رَبَّنَا هَؤُلاءِ أَضَلُّونَا فَآتِهِمْ عَذَابًا ضِعْفًا مِنَ النَّارِ قَالَ لِكُلٍّ ضِعْفٌ وَلَكِنْ لا تَعْلَمُونَ
“…Until they will be gathered all together in the Fire. The last of them will say to the first of them: ‘Our Lord! These misled us, so give them a double torment of the Fire.’ He will say: ‘For each one there is double (torment), but you know not.’” (Al-A’raaf, 7:38)
The people of Hell will argue with those whom they followed and obeyed instead of Allah. The weak will say to those who were arrogant, ‘We used to follow you, will you (therefore) not take a share (of the punishment)? The arrogant leaders will say, ‘We are all in this together’:
وَإِذْ يَتَحَاجُّونَ فِي النَّارِ فَيَقُولُ الضُّعَفَاءُ لِلَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُنَّا لَكُمْ تَبَعًا فَهَلْ أَنْتُمْ مُغْنُونَ عَنَّا نَصِيبًا مِنَ النَّارِ
قَالَ الَّذِينَ اسْتَكْبَرُوا إِنَّا كُلٌّ فِيهَا إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ حَكَمَ بَيْنَ الْعِبَادِ
“And, when they will dispute in the Fire, the weak will say to those who were arrogant; ‘Verily! We followed you, can you then take from us some portion of the Fire?’
Those who were arrogant will say: ‘We are all (together) in this (Fire)! Verily Allah has judged between (His) slaves!’” (Ghaafir, 40:47–48)
In another verse, we are told that those who were followed will disown those who followed them, and those who followed will ask to be sent back to this world for a second chance:
إِذْ تَبَرَّأَ الَّذِينَ اتُّبِعُوا مِنَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا وَرَأَوُا الْعَذَابَ وَتَقَطَّعَتْ بِهِمُ الأسْبَابُ
وَقَالَ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوا لَوْ أَنَّ لَنَا كَرَّةً فَنَتَبَرَّأَ مِنْهُمْ كَمَا تَبَرَّءُوا مِنَّا كَذَلِكَ يُرِيهِمُ اللَّهُ أَعْمَالَهُمْ حَسَرَاتٍ عَلَيْهِمْ وَمَا هُمْ بِخَارِجِينَ مِنَ النَّارِ
“When those who were followed disown (declare themselves innocent of) those who followed (them), and they see the torment, then all their relations will be cut off from them.
And those who followed will say: ‘If only we had one more chance to return (to the worldly life), we would disown (declare ourselves as innocent from) them as they have disowned (declared themselves as innocent from) us.’ Thus Allah will show them their deeds as regrets for them. And they will never get out of the Fire.” (Al-Baqarah, 2:166–167)
Islam makes no distinction between the one who follows and the one who is followed (in disobedience to Allah) – both are in the same boat, both will receive the same punishment, and both are guilty of kufr (disbelief and apostasy). The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said, in a hadeeth saheeh (authentic narration): “The one who calls to misguidance will have the same sin as the one who followed him…” (Al-Jaami’ li-Ahkaam al-Qur’aan, by Imaam ul-Qurtubi)
In the time of the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) Allah revealed a verse accusing the Christians and Jews of taking their priests and rabbis as lords besides Allah:
اتَّخَذُوا أَحْبَارَهُمْ وَرُهْبَانَهُمْ أَرْبَابًا مِنْ دُونِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسِيحَ ابْنَ مَرْيَمَ وَمَا أُمِرُوا إِلا لِيَعْبُدُوا إِلَهًا وَاحِدًا لا إِلَهَ إِلا هُوَ سُبْحَانَهُ عَمَّا يُشْرِكُونَ
“They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah)…” (At-Tawbah, 9:31)
After this verse had been revealed, Uday bin Haatim, who was a Christian at the time, said to the Messenger of Allah, “They (Christians and Jews) do not worship them (their priests and rabbis).” To which, the Prophet (SAW) replied, “They certainly did! Verily, they (the rabbis and priests) used to forbid what was halaal for them (their followers), and permit what was haraam for them, and they used to obey them. That is how they (the Jews and Christians) used to worship them.”
Hence, we can see from the above evidences that Allah (SWT) has given no excuse whatsoever to blindly follow those who play the role of God by permitting what the Almighty has forbidden and vice versa. And those Muslims who blindly follow their scholars in disobedience to Allah are no different to the Jews and Christians who took their rabbis and priests as lords besides Allah.
It is possible to find “scholars for dollars” who work for their tyrannical governments and falsify the truth. They will not speak out against the evils in society for fear of being arrested or labelled as fundamentalists or extremists. Such scholars who fear men more than Allah should never be trusted or followed.
All the rulers of Muslim countries today are apostates because they arbitrate to Taaghout (United Nations), ally with the crusaders and have replaced the Sharee’ah of Allah with man-made laws.
However, there are still many ignorant individuals who continue to claim that we cannot call them Kaafir because they were given fatwas! But who issued these fatwas? The same scholars and muftis that are paid by the government, or are supportive of the regime!
If these very same scholars permit the worshipping of idols or graves, or the wearing of the Cross, one will undoubtedly see many people hastening to call them Kaafir. Yet, what is the difference between this and permitting Muslims to join the crusader alliance and forces of the Kuffaar?!
In the past there were many individuals, including scholars, judges and muftis, from among the Tartars and Faatimis that were declared apostates by the truthful scholars and followers of the Sunnah – even though they used to pray and recite the Book of Allah.
Therefore, it should be known that no excuse can be given to a person who follows and obeys an individual (such as a scholar, mufti, judge or ruler) who makes laws that contradict clear-cut Sharee’ah rules. If tomorrow a person issues a fatwa permitting ribaa (interest), khamr (alcohol), obedience to man-made laws, muwaalaat (alliance) with Disbelievers, zinaa (adultery), silk for men and so on, can we really obey such a person? And can any one of us say to Allah on the Day of Judgement, “I was following him, blame him not me!” when Allah has unequivocally made these things forbidden in explicit terms? Certainly not.
Scholarship does not make one immune to apostasy or misguidance.
“Hujjah needs to be established before one can be declared Kaafir”
The concept of establishing hujjah (proof) against an individual is often misunderstood. Many people claim that before a person is declared Kaafir (or Murtad) their actions must be explained to them, and they must understand what they have done. People also claim that if a person has not received the message of Islam, it is not appropriate to declare that person Kaafir.
The fact is, Ithbaat ul-Hujjah, or establishing the hujjah (proof), only requires one to prove that an individual committed an act of apostasy – that is all. So it is about establishing and showing proof that a person has said or committed an action which nullifies their Imaan (belief in Allah).
There is no need to prove that an individual will receive punishment in the Hereafter. Any individual who dies on shirk (while associating partners with Allah) and the message of Islam did not reach them, it is believed that the person died Kaafir. The issue of whether or not they will be punished (in the Hereafter) is not for us to decide. Some scholars say they will not be punished in the Afterlife if they did not hear or receive the message. The verse they cite as proof for this is:
وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّى نَبْعَثَ رَسُولا
“…And We never punish (a people) until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” (Al-Israa’, 17:15)
However, this matter is in the hands of Allah. In the dunyaa (worldly life) we will consider a person who died on shirk (and did not receive the message) to have been a Kaafir, but in the Aakhirah they will be judged by Allah, and it is up to Him to punish them or not.
Moreover, it is not necessary for one to understand what they have done before they are pronounced Kaafir. Allah (SWT) informs us in the Qur’aan that even though the Kuffaar and Munaafiqeen were ignorant and did not understand what they were doing, they were still Disbelievers. Allah (SWT) says:
أَمْ تَحْسَبُ أَنَّ أَكْثَرَهُمْ يَسْمَعُونَ أَوْ يَعْقِلُونَ إِنْ هُمْ إِلا كَالأنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ سَبِيلا
“Or do you think that most of them hear or understand? They are only like cattle; nay, they are even farther astray from the Path (i.e. even worst than cattle).” (Al-Furqaan, 25:44)
إِنَّا جَعَلْنَا عَلَى قُلُوبِهِمْ أَكِنَّةً أَنْ يَفْقَهُوهُ وَفِي آذَانِهِمْ وَقْرًا وَإِنْ تَدْعُهُمْ إِلَى الْهُدَى فَلَنْ يَهْتَدُوا إِذًا أَبَدًا
“…Truly, We have set veils over their hearts lest they should understand this (the Qur’aan), and in their ears, deafness. And if you call them to guidance, even then they will never be guided.” (Al-Kahf, 18:57)
And the people of Shu’aib (AS) said to him:
قَالُوا يَا شُعَيْبُ مَا نَفْقَهُ كَثِيرًا مِمَّا تَقُولُ
“Oh Shu’aib! We do not understand much of what you say…” (Hood, 11:91)
So in some matters of the Deen (religion), excuse of ignorance (al-‘udhru bil-jahl) cannot be given to a person. The people of Shu’aib pleaded ignorance, but this was not accepted by Allah as excuses cannot be given to those who associate partners with Allah or worship Taaghout (false gods).
Furthermore, the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) ordered the Believers to kill the Khawaarij if they meet them, even though they pray, fast and recite Qur’aan better than any ordinary Muslim:
يخرج فيكم قوم تحقرون صلاتكم مع صلاتهم، وصيامكم مع صيامهم، وعملكم مع عملهم، ويقرؤون القرآن لا يجاوز حناجرهم، يمرقون من الدين كما يمرق السهم من الرمية
“There will appear some people among you whose Salaat (prayer) will make you look down upon yours, and whose fasting will make you look down upon yours, and whose good deeds will make you look down upon yours. They will recite the Qur’aan but it will not exceed their throats (they will not understand or act on it), and they will go out of (the fold) Islam as an arrow goes out from the bow…” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Book 61, Chapter 36, Hadeeth no. 5058)
In another narration the Messenger Muhammad (SAW) said:
فإن قتلهم أجر لمن قتلهم يوم القيامة
“…So, wherever you find them, kill them, for there will be a reward for their killers on the Day of Resurrection.” (Saheeh al-Bukhaari, Book 61, Chapter 36, Hadeeth no. 5057)
The Khawaarij will recite the Qur’aan but it will not go past their throats; they will not comprehend it and nor will they act upon it. Despite being ignorant about the meaning of the Qur’aan, the Prophet (SAW) still instructed his followers to kill them.
However, it must be mentioned that if a person is a “new Muslim” or if they live far away from the people of Islam (i.e. Muslims), then excuses of ignorance can be granted to such a person – but not in all matters.
“Some people have been given excuse of ignorance”
Ever since Muslims were given excuses for committing kufr and shirk, people have now started to give Kuffaar excuses!
As mentioned before, excuse of ignorance cannot be given to all people, and in all circumstances.
Excuse of ignorance can only be granted to scholars in matters where they are permitted to exert ijtihaad (juristic judgement). For example, if they make mistakes in issues regarding insurance or shares, then excuses can be given because these matters (being forbidden) are not known by necessity. However, if they permit matters which have been clearly and explicitly forbidden by Sharee’ah – such as allying with non-Muslims, arbitrating to man-made law and so on – then no excuse can be given to them.
If a person says or does a thing which is kufr akbar, it is our duty to judge the apparent and not consider their intention or reason. Therefore, that person should be pronounced Kaafir and told to repent, even if they were a scholar (‘aalim). It cannot be said that scholars can be given excuse of ta’weel (interpretation) in all matters, especially if they permit what is kufr or shirk.
‘Omar bin al-Khattaab did not accept the ta’weel of Qudaamah bin Maz’oon when he permitted alcohol. He was called to repent and retract his statement, and if he had refused to do so he would have been executed by ‘Omar (RA) for legislating.
“One needs to be a scholar before they can make takfeer”
This is not the case at all. Takfeer is the hukm (ruling) of Allah and therefore it is an obligation upon every Muslim to perform takfeer. If an individual says, “Jesus is the son of God”, one cannot say, “I can’t call that person Kaafir because I’m not a scholar.”