Friday, 23 November 2018

Fitna of Takfir (Part 2)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
وصلى الله على نبينا محمد
وعلى اهل بيته الطيبين الطاهرين المظلومين
Continuing from the previous post, those such as myself who warn against adapting a careless attitude with regard to takfir are often labeled Murji’a. The Murji’a are those who believe that deeds are expelled from the reality of faith. According to them, the worst sinner who professes Islam is equal in faith to the Angels and Prophets. This is because they believe faith is indivisible, i.e., it is static. But I hold, in accordance with the orthodoxy of Ahl us-Sunna wal-Jama’a, that deeds are not excluded from faith, and that faith is something fluid which increases with good deeds and is diminished with sins. However, no Muslim can be legally termed a disbeliever on account of any major sin until and unless he declares that major sin as permissible as per the Shari’a of Islam. As for the Salat, it is the greatest external indication of Islam to such an extent that even some of the orthodox jurists held that a person becomes a disbeliever in the real and major sense simply by deliberately neglecting to offer the Salat. In my view, however, deliberately failing to offer the Salat, especially due to laziness, is not the kind of disbelief which expels someone from Islam, but it is a major sin. However, if a person never worships Allah and does not offer the Salat at all, despite professing to be a Muslim, such an individual may indeed be a disbeliever in the real sense, as the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:

إِنَّ بَيْنَ الرَّجُلِ وَبَيْنَ الشِّرْكِ وَالْكُفْرِ تَرْكَ الصَّلاَةِ
“Verily, between a man and polytheism and disbelief is the abandoning of the Salat.”
(Sahih Muslim)

According to other Hadith, the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم described one who pronounces, without justification, his brother a disbeliever is himself a disbeliever. He also said “do not revert to disbelief after me by striking each others’ necks”, and he said that whoever has intercourse with a menstruating woman, or has intercourse with her through her rear end, has disbelieved in what was revealed to Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم. Likewise, anyone who lies and claims someone else to be his father has disbelieved, a slave who runs away from his master has disbelieved and someone who swears by other than Allah has disbelieved. But these are all examples of kufr duna kufr, or a minor kufr that is kufr in a linguistic sense, not the technical and major kufr which expels a person from the Umma. These and similar Hadith are meant to convey severe warnings against various kinds of sins and evils through which a person could potentially lose all his faith. This is because while the commission of a sin does not in itself expel the doer from Islam, it may contribute to the blackening of a person’s heart and gradually lead him to reject Islam altogether. However, acts of sacrilege are to be judged as apparent major kufr and rejection of Islam, such as desecrating a copy of the Qur’an, uttering blasphemous words against Allah Most High or His Apostle Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم etc. It is impossible that such acts be committed deliberately by a believing Muslim.
Now when the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
لاَ تَرْتَدُّوا بَعْدِي كُفَّارًا، يَضْرِبُ بَعْضُكُمْ رِقَابَ بَعْضٍ ‏
“Do not apostate after me into disbelievers by striking the necks of one another.”
(Sahih al-Bukhari)

He صلى الله عليه وسلم was evidently warning, in the first place, those among his companions who would oppose the truth in the murder of sayyidina Uthman رضى الله عنه and the subsequent battles of Jamal and Siffin. However, this should not be understood as meaning that the companions who faught and killed each other had become apostates in the real sense and had disbelieved in Islam. They fell into a minor apostasy. Likewise, not all of the people who opposed the caliphate of sayyidina Abi Bakr رضى الله عنه during the Hurub ar-Ridda (Apostasy Wars) were apostates in a real sense. Indeed, many of them were, such as the followers of the false prophets Musaylima, Aswad al-Ansi, Sajah and Tulayha or those who renounced belief in Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم after the latter’s natural death. But those among them who simply refused to acknowledge the institution of Khilafa and render the Zakat to the central government of Madina, were guilty of that minor apostasy that is an apostasy in the linguistic sense, i.e., reverting to something of falsehood after previously having been upon the truth, without technically exiting the fold of Islam. Such people are legally muharibin. They have separated from the Jama’a of the Muslims, and so the Jama’a, under the leadership of its ruler, is justified in fighting them until they return to obedience. But they are not to be understood as non-Muslim disbelievers in the real sense. Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiya’s verdicts against the Mongols are to be understood in this light. He likened the warlike and aggressive Mongols who were terrorizing the Muslims to the Kharijites and rebellious tribes that waged war against the institution of Khilafa in the time of sayyidina Abi Bakr رضى الله عنه. Although the Mongols had outwardly embraced Islam, they were not, at that point, true Believers, but like the Bedouins regarding whom Allah said:
قَالَتِ الْأَعْرَابُ آمَنَّا ۖ قُل لَّمْ تُؤْمِنُوا وَلَـٰكِن قُولُوا أَسْلَمْنَا وَلَمَّا يَدْخُلِ الْإِيمَانُ فِي قُلُوبِكُمْ
The desert Arabs say: “We have believed.” Say (O Prophet): “You have not believed, but instead say we have submitted (become Muslims). And Faith has not (yet) entered your hearts.”
(Sura 49:14)

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