the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allâh)


  1. And the (faithful) slaves of the Most Gracious (Allâh) are those who walk on the earth in humility and sedateness, and when the foolish address them (with bad words) they reply back with mild words of gentleness. (25:63)

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Wahdatul-wujood

The Official Site of Shaykh Abdul Raheem (hafizahullah)

01 Sep 2013

Wahdatul-wujood

Wahdatul-wujood.

The following article was written by shaykh Mumtazul Haq of streatham, London, UK. It was checked and edited by Abdul Raheem.

————

This is one of the most misunderstood and hence, misquoted concepts. Some people forcefully try to impose their own confused understanding of this issue upon others while labelling them with kufr and shirk.

There are many terms in daily life which people use but do not take their literal meanings, for example people say, “so and so has a runny nose “. No sane person in the world will think that to imply this, the nose must be running somewhere. No, The nose is fixed in it’s place, the liquid is running.

When we say the river is flowing, we mean that the river has banks which are stationary with a fixed route but what is flowing is the water in the river.

When people say , “I have a heartburn”. That is never understood to mean that their heart is on fire.

Similarly the term wahdatul-wujood, though literally means, “unity or oneness of existence” but it does not imply that the whole creation is one or that Allah the Almighty, Himself exists physically INSIDE everything and in all creation, as some people forcefully try to imply.

Wahdatul-wujood is also not listed amongst the Aqaaid nor is it taught as such in any institution including Deoband. Rather, it is described as the awareness of Allah in the heart of a believer as he progressese in his relationship with Allah. This has been described in a saheeh hadeeth reported by Imam Bukhari rahmatullahi alayhi:

إنَّ اللهَ قال : من عادَى لي وليًّا فقد آذنتُه بالحربِ ، وما تقرَّب إليَّ عبدي بشيءٍ أحبَّ إليَّ ممَّا افترضتُ عليه ، وما يزالُ عبدي يتقرَّبُ إليَّ بالنَّوافلِ حتَّى أُحبَّه ، فإذا أحببتُه : كنتُ سمعَه الَّذي يسمَعُ به ، وبصرَه الَّذي يُبصِرُ به ، ويدَه الَّتي يبطِشُ بها ، ورِجلَه الَّتي يمشي بها ، وإن سألني لأُعطينَّه ، ولئن استعاذبي لأُعيذنَّه ،

“Indeed Allah has said. “Whosoever has any hatred against any of my friends , I have declared war on him. And my servant does not attain more closeness to me with anything other than that which I have made obligatory upon him. And my servant continues drawing closer to me through voluntary (additional) deeds until I begin to love him. Then when I love him , I become his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he holds and his legs with which he walks. And if he asks me anything I definitely give him and if he seeeks my refuge I definitely grant him.” (Saheeh Bukhari)

In this hadeeth, inspite of the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam saying that Allah says ,
“I become his hands and legs…” nobody accepts this in the literal sense, rather it is explained to mean that all the affairs and actions of a person become subject to Allah’s will and Allah’s pleasure.

Being close to Allah also means a person loves Allah deeply as Allah says in the Quran,
والذين أمنوا أشدّ حبا لله
“And those who believe, love Allah profusely. ”

Being in a state of deep love with and close to Allah, one is then overcome with Almighty Allah’s awareness so much so that as though everything else simply seems insignificant and meaningless as though it does not matter. The only thing which is important to such a person is the pleasure and nearness of Allah. They do not even contemplate anything but Allah. This is also mentioned in the Quran,
قل ان صلاتي ونسكي ومحياي و مماتي لله رب العالمين

“Say! Indeed my prayers and my sacrifices, and my life and my death are for Allah, Lord of the worlds.”

Their prayers then also become as the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam has stated ,
ان تعبدالله كأنك تراه.
“That you worship Allah as though you are seeing him”.

In this saheeh hadeeth the prophet sallallaho alaihe wasallam described the feeling and awareness “as though you are seeing Him (Allah).” Because physical vision of Allah in this worldly life is not possible but the feeling and awareness is attainable; “as though one sees Allah”. When the believers will be blessed with the vision of Allah in jannah, the other blessings of Jannah will seem insignificant compared to the vision of Allah. If that will be the case in paradise then what value can the worthless things of dunya have in the eyes of a friend of Allah who lives and worships him “as though he sees Him.”

One who reaches this level will then obviously not feel any attraction or have any significance of anything in his heart and mind, as for him Allah is sufficient for all his affairs as Allah says in the Quran,
أليس الله بكاف عبده
“Is Allah not sufficient for his servant?.”

Everything else becomes worthless in their eyes and they “FEEL” that the only real power , authority and independent existence, is that of Allah, the Almighty. Everything else is simply a manifestation of His will and authority. In all of Allah’s creation they see his Qudrat in action. This state of awareness is termed as wahdatul- wujood . Some people like Shah Wali-Ullah Muhaddith Dehlvi and Mujaddid Alfe-Thani, Sheikh Ahmad Sirhindi rahimahumullah have instead used the term “wahdatush-shuhood ” to describe the same concept as this represents the issue more clearly as being an awareness or a state instead of a reality, as the term wahdatul – wujood appears to imply.

If the term “wahdatul-wujood” is a problem which seems to be the case for many people , then there are many other problems as well. The very term “AQEEDAH” has neither been mentioned in any place in the Quran nor any hadeeth anywhere but is used freely in all circles without any problem.

Some people confuse this issue with a belief of Hindus who believe in “HULOOL” (incarnation), whereby they believe that God actually and physically descends into his creation and resides IN them.Their belief in this concept is backed up by them worshipping different things, like cows, monkeys, snakes and other creatures, because they believe that God is actually in them. This is obviously total and utter kufr. This however, is not the belief of any muslim anywhere in the world. Had that been the case, then these people would have also worshipped things other than Allah, like the Hindus do so.

So this proves that the concept of wahdatul-wujood is not the actual or physical existence of Allah within his creation but rather an awareness and understanding of his “QUDRAT” at work in his creation in a manner that the creation seems insignificant and meaningless in comparison to the majesty and authority of Allah Rabbul ‘Aalameen.

An Arabic poet says:
ولله في كل تسبيحة
وفي كل تحميدة شاهدُ
وفي كل شيء له اٰيةٌ
تدل علي انه واحدُ
In every tasbeeh and tahmeed, there is a statement (proof) of Allah
And in everything there is a sign indicating that Allah is one.

This means that in every flower, in every beautiful bird, in every scenery of mountains & waterfalls, in the sun the moon, the stars. the universe, in every grain of crops and every brand of flakes, there is Allah i.e. A sign of the power of Allah, and of the wisdom of Allah.

May Allah bless us with His qurb, may Allah give us the understanding of our Deen and may Allah give us tawfeeq to stop accusing the friends of Allah with things they have not said or meant and may Allah protect us from having any enmity with any of His friends and May Allah save us from being at war with Allah.

  

  

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Why does the Muslim world bleed today?

POST TIME: 17 January, 2016 08:13:28 PM

Why does the Muslim world bleed today?

The political power struggle to achieve regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran may lead to serious complications in future

Shahriar Feroze

Why does the Muslim world bleed today?

Look at the Middle East today. A region mired in proxy battles, unending bloodshed, rising extremism, sectarian conflicts, collective attempts to distort the values of a great religion and mounting resentment between the countries among themselves. The region usually captures the headings of the global media industry for these reasons. Think a little deep; go back to the days of the pre-Islamic era and compare the region’s past with its present.

It may sound sarcastic to some, but it will become clear why the God Almighty found it so exceedingly indispensable to send the last Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) along with his divine revelations to the Middle East and not anywhere else.

In the pre-Islamic times, except Yemen, no part of the Arabian Peninsula had any government at any point of time, and the Arabs never acknowledged any authority other than the authority of the chiefs of their tribes. The only law of the land was lawlessness. In the event a crime was committed, the injured party took law in its own hands, and tried to administer “justice” to the offender. This system led very frequently to acts of horrendous cruelty. Observe carefully, that old tribalism and the Bedouin-like attitude to take law in own hands to tackle dissent and execute whoever has come back. Eternal peace didn’t appeal the nomads and tribes so war seemingly had become a pastime or rather a dangerous sport. The incidence of inter-tribal war dominated the Arabian landscape just like the proxy wars of today. The bigger and powerful tribes exercised a certain amount of authority in their respective areas. Till this day this feature is starkly noticeable but practised differently with the help of political and clerical patronage. They acknowledged the authority of the one person who led them into a foray but he could command their obedience only if they had an assurance of receiving a fair share of the booty, and his authority lapsed as soon as the expedition was over. This too is observed during the reigns of successive monarchic and dictatorial regimes. In today’s Middle East, the modality has only changed but the inherent old tribal characteristics are still very much active and alive.
For establishing peace and setting up an egalitarian society the Prophet Muhammad (SM) had embarked upon a relentless struggle on the basis of the revelations and teachings of the holy Qur’an. He had successfully accomplished his great mission. As a religion Islam was firmly established in the desert oasis of Middle East, but its teachings and values were hijacked and usurped by none other than its very followers. Rifts had begun to appear as soon as he died.

The bad news for the Muslims is that: there neither would be another prophet and nor another divine revelation of a holy scripture to end their 1500-year-old self-made schism. They will have to resolve the centuries old Shia-Sunni dispute by themselves and they are not realising it. Perhaps they want to deliberately ignore that fact.
This writer is particularly sceptic about the role of today’s Middle Eastern Islamic scholars, clerics and leaders of the many schools of thought, in terms of ending a schism of stupidity. Can’t they realise that this one deep-rooted conspiracy surrounding the succession of the Prophet has greatly divided the Muslim Ummah for the worse?
Browse through the innumerable Islamic websites, view the Islamic TV channels, and watch the Youtube videos and you’ll find an army of scholars relentlessly delivering speeches, interpreting Quranic verses and Hadith, holding theology group discussions, explaining the Islamic way of living and the 10 ways on how to go to paradise but not even a single show has had held dialogues and discussions about the internal crisis and traumas that’s been tearing our religion apart, branding us as global villains.   

The message is: it apparently may look like being rooted in the deep divisions among the Sunni and Shiite branches of Islam, but has as much to do with political and economic clout as anything.  It’s here where the clerics and scholars should have played a crucial role to separate religion from Middle East’s ongoing intensified sectarian conflicts.
They failed to do so because they seemingly have failed to take lessons from the Qur’an itself.
Ironically, their ignorance and failure to guide the Muslim world according to Quranic teachings reminds me of our Prophet’s authentic tradition – 
You’re living during a time when few have memorized while many have understood, and a time will come when many will have memorized while few have understood.
In today’s Arab world few actually understands while many have memorised the Qur’an from top to bottom. If the Arabs could have only stick to the teachings in the holy book and not get engaged in the brawl over succession the situation would have been different today, but the devil sneaked in to divide and destroy the Ummah.
From a personal standpoint, the more this writer learns, the more he sees the bizarre nature of Shai-Sunni discourse. The more he realises how Muslims have reached to this all time low point. Every time the sectarian rift reminds me of God’s own words in the Qur’an. He says in Chapter 23, Verses 52 & 53: 

And surely this religion is one religion and I am your Lord, therefore be careful (of your duty) to me. But they cut off their religion among themselves into sects, each part rejoicing in that which is with them…

The point however is that, it was the followers who have divided the followers of one religion under the tutelage of none other than the devil. And in today’s Muslim world the devils are pre-dominantly reigning supreme under the guise of Muslim intellectuals and the cleric class. Communal violence between Islam’s deadly sectarian attacks is actually directed by clerics or political leaders. Extremist groups, many of which are fostered by states, are the chief actors in sectarian killings today. Sadly this is unlikely to change any time soon.
Incited over the execution of the prominent Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, events in the Middle East are spiralling fast. The political power struggle to achieve regional supremacy between Saudi Arabia and Iran is fast tarnishing Islam’s global image at a time when a form of militancy otherwise known as ISIS has been terrorising the globe. Can’t the Saudis or Iranians realise it? Yes, but they don’t care.

This writer, like many, is aware of this fact but he is powerless while seeing the devil triumphing jubilantly at his success. At the time of writing this piece, at least 10 people had been reported to have been killed and some nine Sunni mosques firebombed in suspected reprisal attacks following a series of ISIL attacks on Shias in Iraq.

Finally, the breakdown in diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran signifies a dead-end for regional efforts to end the wars in Yemen and Syria but the loggerheads concern also our home.

It’s about the devil and his agents surrounding us. The legacy of years of sectarian violence that has so bitterly divided the Middle East along Sunni-Shia lines fuelling the animosity of deep distrust should not any how manipulate us. Bangladesh may not be home to a large Shia minority but it actually has recorded sectarian conflict at a smaller scale just last year – remember the bomb attacks on Hussaini Dalan in central Dhaka. It was actually intended to exploit carnage and division.

Needles to say, our scholars and Imams have their respective roles to play in countering potential sectarian threats. The Friday sermons in mosques too, should bring about the subject for preventing any upcoming unrest.  

The devil has markedly landed in our soil; therefore, locate his agents within and fight them.
    
 The writer is a freelancer

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Beard

A Great Beard Comes 

With A Great Responsibility

– Anon

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Piety

“We need to emphasise that differences of fiqh are the not the depth of religion, the depth of religion is piety.” ~ Shaykh Akram Nadwi 

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Religious Egocentrism

Religious 

Egocentrism

 

Mohamed Ghilan is a Muslim-Canadian of Yemeni and Sudanese decent and a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Victoria, British Columbia. Ghilan has formally studied Islam for the past four years and offers his own perspectives related to topics in Islam on his blog.

A disease that has taken over many Muslims nowadays is religious egocentrism—the over-obsession with one’s own religious understanding to the point of it becoming dogmatic. If this were to remain confined to one’s own life, it would not warrant much attention. But when it moves into the public sphere and people begin to enforce their beliefs upon everyone else, it becomes a problem.

Islam is a diverse religion that speaks to mankind as a whole. From the very beginning, the Prophet Muhammad PBUH approved of multiple interpretations of his own words and allowed his companions to exercise their intellect. This gave rise to multiple understandings of many Qur’anic verses and hadith narrations.

Religious scholars often cite one story in particular that illustrates this concept. The companions were commanded by the Prophet PBUH to go and siege the tribe of Bani Quraytha after they broke their treaty with the Muslims. In response, the Prophet PBUH said:

Let none of you pray Asr except at Bani Quraytha.

On their way, his companions had time to offer the Asr, or mid-afternoon prayer before arriving at their destination. They split up into two groups; one decided to pray before the designated time for prayer ended, citing a previous statement made by the Prophet PBUH encouraging a speedy arrival, while the other group held off from praying because they did not want to disobey the direct Prophetic command. The group asked the Prophet to settle the matter later on. He remained silent and didn’t rebuke either group. In the Islamic sciences, the silence of the Prophet PBUH is evidence of approval.

It is this flexibility of Islam that allows for Muslims from different contexts to be able to remain faithful and truthful to the core teachings of the religion without compromising the tradition of the Prophet PBUH. There are many other examples from the time of the companions that clearly show the Prophet’s acceptance of having differences in opinion. It should be pointed out that these differences were not based on the whims and desires of the scholars. They are based upon strict faithfulness to the various sciences one has to master before offering a ruling from the Qur’an or hadith. The most important of these sciences is the Arabic language, which takes students many years of serious study before they can feel comfortable enough to derive rulings from the Qur’an or hadith.

When one reflects on the matter, it becomes clear that in most cases, rejection of diversity of interpretations is a result of the individual’s ignorance of the matter. The scholars estimate that 97% of the Qur’an and hadith allow for multiple interpretations. Further, over 1.2 million Islamic issues have been differed upon by scholars. This is not to say that there is a difference in opinion about the impermissibility of some aspects, such as adultery or using intoxicants. These would be part of the remaining 3% of clear-cut commandments and prohibitions that every Muslim needs to know. However, beyond these clear instructions, knowledge and mastery are required before one speaks on any religious matter.

As the great predecessor Imam Sufiyan Athh’awri once said:

Verily, knowledge is to give an allowance out of certainty. As for restriction, anyone can do that.

Before one speaks on any religious matter without having the prerequisite knowledge, they should reflect on Verses 116 and 117 from Surah An-Nahl (Chapter 16), which says:

And, for what your tongues describe, do not utter the lie, (saying) This is lawful and this is unlawful, in order to forge a lie against Allah; surely those who forge the lie against Allah shall not prosper. A little enjoyment and they shall have a painful punishment.

If an all-Muslim community has a dogmatic interpretation of Islam and prevents other forms from being practiced, does this inherently make the community’s actions “un-Islamic?” How does one distinguish between diversity of interpretation and heresy? Who or what in Islam gets to decide this?

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Dangers of takfir

Dangers of takfir, declaring Muslims to be apostates

Beware killing is unbelief

By Abu Amina Elias

In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful

One of the worst crimes against Islam and the Muslim community is the practice of excommunication (takfir or takfeer) which is to declare a practicing Muslim to be an unbeliever. There is a unanimous consensus among the classical scholars that the Quran, the Sunnah, and the righteous predecessors prohibit Muslims from charging each other with unbelief.

Allah said:

وَلَا تَلْمِزُوا أَنفُسَكُمْ وَلَا تَنَابَزُوا بِالْأَلْقَابِ

Do not insult one another and do not call each other by offensive names.

Surat Al-Hujurat 49:11

Ibn Abdul Barr comments on this verse, saying:

وَقَدْ قَالَ جَمَاعَةٌ مِنْ أَهْلِ الْعِلْمِ هُوَ قَوْلُ الرَّجُلِ لِأَخِيهِ يَا كَافِرُ يَا فَاسِقُ

A group of scholars have said that offensive names are a man calling his brother an unbeliever or a wicked sinner.

Source: al-Tamhīd 17/21

In several traditions, the Prophet and his companions warned us about the severity of charging a Muslim with unbelief or apostasy.

Ibn Umar reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَيُّمَا امْرِئٍ قَالَ لِأَخِيهِ يَا كَافِرُ فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِهَا أَحَدُهُمَا إِنْ كَانَ كَمَا قَالَ وَإِلَّا رَجَعَتْ عَلَيْهِ

When a man calls his brother an unbeliever, it returns at least to one of them. Either the accused is as claimed, or the charge will return against the accuser.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5753, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِذَا قَالَ الرَّجُلُ لِأَخِيهِ يَا كَافِرُ فَقَدْ بَاءَ بِهِ أَحَدُهُمَا

When a man says to his brother: O disbeliever! Then it will return to at least one of them.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5752, Grade: Sahih

Abu Dharr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

لَا يَرْمِي رَجُلٌ رَجُلًا بِالْفُسُوقِ وَلَا يَرْمِيهِ بِالْكُفْرِ إِلَّا ارْتَدَّتْ عَلَيْهِ إِنْ لَمْ يَكُنْ صَاحِبُهُ كَذَلِكَ

A man does not accuse another man of wickedness or unbelief except that it will return against him if his companion is innocent.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 5698, Grade: Sahih

Qais reported: Ibn Mas’ud, may Allah be pleased with him, said:

إِذَا قَالَ الرَّجُلُ لِصَاحِبِهِ‏ أَنْتَ عَدُوِّي فَقَدْ خَرَجَ أَحَدُهُمَا مِنَ الإِسْلاَمِ أَوْ بَرِئ مِنْ صَاحِبِهِ‏

When a man says to his companion: You are my enemy! Then at least one of them has left Islam or his companion is innocent.

Source: al-Adab al-Mufrad 421, Grade: Sahih

Abu Sufyan reported: I said to Jabir ibn Abdullah, “Did you used to declare anyone who prays facing Mecca (qiblah) to be an unbeliever?” Jabir said:

لا

No.

I said, “Did you declare them to be idolaters?” Jabir said:

مُعَاذَ اللَّهِ

I seek refuge in Allah.

Source: al-Muʻjam al-Awsaṭ 7548

Ibn Abdul Barr comments on all of these traditions, saying:

فَالْقُرْآنُ وَالسُّنَّةُ يَنْهَيَانِ عَنْ تَفْسِيقِ الْمُسْلِمِ وَتَكْفِيرِهِ بِبَيَانٍ لَا إِشْكَالَ فِيهِ

The Quran and Sunnah both clearly prohibit a Muslim from being accused of wickedness or unbelief. There is no doubt about it.

Source: al-Tamhīd 17/21

Thus, a Muslim who wrongfully accuses another Muslim of unbelief and apostasy will himself carry the heavy burden of unbelief on the Day of Resurrection.

The issue of excommunication is not merely a theoretical or abstract matter, but rather it is used by criminals to justify violence.

It is well known that the life of a Muslim is sacred and must be safeguarded in all respects.

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

كُلُّ الْمُسْلِمِ عَلَى الْمُسْلِمِ حَرَامٌ دَمُهُ وَمَالُهُ وَعِرْضُهُ

All of the Muslim is sacred to another Muslim: his life, his wealth, and his honor.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2564, Grade: Sahih

Whoever unjustly kills a single believer on purpose will enter Hellfire and reside there forever.

Allah said:

وَمَن يَقْتُلْ مُؤْمِنًا مُّتَعَمِّدًا فَجَزَاؤُهُ جَهَنَّمُ خَالِدًا فِيهَا وَغَضِبَ اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَلَعَنَهُ وَأَعَدَّ لَهُ عَذَابًا عَظِيمًا

Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell wherein he will abide eternally and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment.

Surat An-Nisa 4:93

Similarly, the lives of all peaceful non-Muslims are protected and whoever kills one of them wrongfully will never enter Paradise.

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

مَنْ قَتَلَ نَفْسًا مُعَاهَدًا لَمْ يَرَحْ رَائِحَةَ الْجَنَّةِ وَإِنَّ رِيحَهَا يُوجَدُ مِنْ مَسِيرَةِ أَرْبَعِينَ عَامًا

Whoever kills a person protected by a treaty will never smell the fragrance of Paradise. Verily, its fragrance can be found a distance of forty years of travel.

Source: Sahih Bukhari 6516, Grade: Sahih

To bypass these clear prohibitions, the criminal excommunicators (takfirists) within the Muslim community have developed a theory and ideology of excommunication. The original heresy was innovated by the Kharijite sect and their misguidance continues today in the form of militant terrorism.

In reality, those who declare Muslims to be unbelievers and justify violence against them are closer to idolatry than the people they accuse.

Hudhaifa reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

إِنَّ مَا أَتَخَوَّفُ عَلَيْكُمْ رَجُلٌ قَرَأَ الْقُرْآنَ حَتَّى رُئِيَتْ بَهْجَتُهُ عَلَيْهِ وَكَانَ رِدْئًا لِلإِسْلامِ غَيَّرَهُ إِلَى مَا شَاءَ الِلَّهِ فَانْسَلَخَ مِنْهُ وَنَبَذَهُ وَرَاءَ ظَهْرِهِ وَسَعَى عَلَى جَارِهِ بِالسَّيْفِ وَرَمَاهُ بِالشِّرْكِ

Verily, I fear for you that a man will recite the Quran until his delight is seen and he is wicked for Islam and he changes to whatever Allah wills for him, such that it is stripped from him and he throws it behind his back, assaulting his neighbor with the sword and accusing him of idolatry.

I said, “O Prophet of Allah, which one is closer to idolatry? The accused or the accuser?”

The Prophet said:

بَلِ الرَّامِي

Rather it is the accuser.

Source: Sahih Ibn Hibban 81, Grade: Sahih

Allah knows that some Muslims will accuse others of unbelief and reject their peace offerings only because they want to plunder their wealth. Therefore, Allah has forbidden this in the strongest terms.

Ibn Abbas reported: A man passed by a group of companions of the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, and he had with him some sheep. The man greeted them with peace and they said, “He only offered peace to protect himself.” So they attacked him, killed him, and took his sheep. They went to the Prophet and Allah the Exalted revealed the verse:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَى إِلَيْكُمْ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا

O you who believe, when you go forth in the cause of Allah, do not say to whoever greets you with peace that you are not a believer. (4:94)

Source: Sunan At-Tirmidhi 3030, Grade: Sahih

The excommunicators merely use the charge of unbelief as an excuse to murder and plunder their innocent victims. Rather, the truth in Islam is that the killing of a single Muslim believer is a greater evil than the freeing of a thousand apostates.

Al-Ghazali said:

فَإِنَّ اسْتِبَاحَةَ دِمَاءِ الْمُصَلِّينَ الْمُقِرِّينَ بِالتَّوْحِيدِ خَطَأٌ وَالْخَطَأُ فِي تَرْكِ أَلْفِ كَافِرٍ فِي الْحَيَاةِ أَهْوَنُ مِنَ الْخَطَإِ فِي سَفْكِ دَمٍ لِمُسْلِمٍ وَاحِدٍ

Verily, to permit the killing of someone worshiping upon monotheism is a serious mistake. The mistake of leaving a thousand unbelievers to go free is lesser than shedding the blood of a single Muslim.

Source: Fath ul-Bari 12/314

This is the case of the wrongful killing of a single Muslim believer accused of apostasy. How much greater, then, is the case of those who declare whole cities, countries, and societies full of Muslims to be unbelievers? Indeed, it is an incredibly disturbing phenomena we are witnessing that an entire country and all of its Muslim citizens are declared to be apostates and heinous violence is justified against them.

The caution we must have in this matter becomes all the more clear when we understand the important distinction between acts of unbeliefand unbelievers themselves. A Muslim might commit an outward act of unbelief due to ignorance or misinterpretation, yet Allah considers them to be believers. This is proven in the following tradition:

Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:

أَسْرَفَ رَجُلٌ عَلَى نَفْسِهِ فَلَمَّا حَضَرَهُ الْمَوْتُ أَوْصَى بَنِيهِ فَقَالَ إِذَا أَنَا مُتُّ فَأَحْرِقُونِي ثُمَّ اسْحَقُونِي ثُمَّ اذْرُونِي فِي الرِّيحِ فِي الْبَحْرِ فَوَاللَّهِ لَئِنْ قَدَرَ عَلَىَّ رَبِّي لَيُعَذِّبُنِي عَذَابًا مَا عَذَّبَهُ بِهِ أَحَدًا قَالَ فَفَعَلُوا ذَلِكَ بِهِ فَقَالَ لِلأَرْضِ 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 had indulged himself in sin, so when death approached he enjoined his sons saying: If I die, then burn me, pulverize me, and scatter me to the winds over the sea, for by Allah, if He is able He will punish me in a way he has not punished anyone else. So they did that to him, and when he stood before his Lord, He said to him: What made you do that? The man said: Fear and awe of You, O Lord. So Allah forgave him because of that.

Source: Sahih Muslim 2756, Grade: Sahih

This man did not believe that Allah had the power to resurrect and judge him, a clear act of unbelief according to the consensus of Muslim scholars. Yet, Allah pardoned this act of unbelief due to man’s honest ignorance. The man’s righteous fear of Allah, based upon his faith, outweighed his act of unbelief.

Ibn Taymiyyah comments on this tradition, saying:

فَغَفَرَ لَهُ فَهَذَا رَجُلٌ شَكَّ فِي قُدْرَةِ اللَّهِ وَفِي إعَادَتِهِ إذَا ذُرِّيَ بَلْ اعْتَقَدَ أَنَّهُ لَا يُعَادُ وَهَذَا كُفْرٌ بِاتِّفَاقِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ لَكِنْ كَانَ جَاهِلًا لَا يَعْلَمُ ذَلِكَ وَكَانَ مُؤْمِنًا يَخَافُ اللَّهَ أَنْ يُعَاقِبَهُ فَغَفَرَ لَهُ بِذَلِكَ

So Allah forgave him. This man doubted the ability of Allah to resurrect him when he was turned to dust. Rather, he believed Allah could not resurrect him and this is unbelief by the consensus of the Muslims but he was ignorant. He did not know that and he was a believer who feared that Allah would punish Him and so Allah forgave him for that.

Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 3/231

Likewise, Ibn Al-Qayyim writes:

وَأَمَّا جَحْدُ ذَلِكَ جَهْلًا أَوْ تَأْوِيلًا يُعْذَرُ فِيهِ صَاحِبُهُ فَلَا يُكَفَّرُ صَاحِبُهُ بِهِ كَحَدِيثِ الَّذِي جَحَدَ قُدْرَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ وَأَمَرَ أَهْلَهُ أَنْ يَحْرِقُوهُ وَيَذْرُوهُ فِي الرِّيحِ وَمَعَ هَذَا فَقَدْ غَفَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ وَرَحِمَهُ لِجَهْلِهِ إِذْ كَانَ ذَلِكَ الَّذِي فَعَلَهُ مَبْلَغَ عِلْمِهِ وَلَمْ يَجْحَدْ قُدْرَةَ اللَّهِ عَلَى إِعَادَتِهِ عِنَادًا أَوْ تَكْذِيبًا

If one of these matters of faith is denied out of ignorance or misinterpretation, then he is excused and the one who did so does not become an unbeliever, as in the narration in which the man denied the power of Allah and he commanded his people to burn him and scatter his ashes in the wind. Despite this error, Allah forgave the man and had mercy upon him because of his ignorance. The knowledge about the power of Allah that had reached him was not denied out of stubbornness or an intention to lie.

Source: Madarij As-Salikeen 1/347

Hence, we must not declare an individual Muslim to be an unbeliever due to an act of unbelief, let alone an entire Muslim society. A Muslim can only be considered an unbeliever when they declare themselves to be such. Their declarations of faith should be taken at face value and their lives protected by due process of law.

At-Tahawi writes in his important work on Sunni creed:

وَلَا يَخْرُجُ الْعَبْدُ مِنَ الْإِيمَانِ إِلَّا بِجُحُودِ مَا أَدْخَلَهُ فِيهِ

A person does not leave faith except by disavowing what brought him into it.

Source: Aqeedah At-Tahawi

Furthermore, Ash-Shawkani writes:

اعلم أن الحكم على الرجل المسلم بخروجه من دين الإسلام ودخوله في الكفر لا ينبغي لمسلم يؤمن بالله واليوم الآخر أن يقدم عليه إلا ببرهان أوضح من شمس النهار

Know that with regard to the ruling upon a Muslim man for leaving Islam and entering into unbelief, it is not befitting for a Muslim who believes in Allah and the Last Day to apply it unless with a proof that is clearer than the light of day.

Source: Sayl Al-Jirar 1/978

As such, it was the practice of the righteous predecessors (salaf as-salih) to refrain from excommunicating the heretics who opposed them, as it is the right of Allah alone to determine that a Muslim has become an unbeliever.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes:

فلهذا كان أهل العلم والسنة لا يكفرون من خالفهم وإن كان ذلك المخالف يكفرهم لأن الكفر حكم شرعي فليس للإنسان أن يعاقب بمثله كمن كذب عليك وزنى بأهلك ليس لك أن تكذب عليه وتزني بأهله لأن الكذب والزنا حرام لحق الله تعالى وكذلك التكفير حق لله فلا يكفر إلا من كفره الله ورسوله

The scholars and people of the Sunnah would not excommunicate those who opposed them even if their opponents declared them to be unbelievers, for the matter of unbelief is a legal judgment and a person may not punish with the like of it, such as if someone lies against you or commits adultery with your family it would not be permissible for you to lie against him or commit adultery with his family. Fornication and falsehood are unlawful by the right of Allah. Likewise, excommunication is the right of Allah, so we do not excommunicate anyone except those whom Allah and His Messenger have declared to be unbelievers.

Source: Ar-Radd ‘ala Al-Bakri 1/381

Perhaps our greatest example in this respect is the distinguished Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal who stood strong against the persecution of the Mu’tazilites. The extremist Mu’tazilite sect fabricated their doctrine of the “creation of the Quran” and they were charging with unbelief and oppressing anyone who publicly disagreed with them. Imam Ahmad was taken prisoner by them and brutally flogged, yet he refrained from excommunicating them, cursing them, or calling for violent rebellion. Instead, Imam Ahmad understood that they were confused by misinterpretations and he prayed for Allah to forgive them.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes:

فَالْإِمَامُ أَحْمَد رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى تَرَحَّمَ عَلَيْهِمْ وَاسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمْ لِعِلْمِهِ بِأَنَّهُمْ لِمَنْ يُبَيِّنُ لَهُمْ أَنَّهُمْ مُكَذِّبُونَ لِلرَّسُولِ وَلَا جَاحِدُونَ لِمَا جَاءَ بِهِ وَلَكِنْ تَأَوَّلُوا فَأَخْطَئُوا وَقَلَّدُوا مَنْ قَالَ لَهُمْ ذَلِكَ

Imam Ahmad, may Allah be pleased with him, prayed for mercy and forgiveness for his persecutors because he knew it was not clear to them that they were denying the Messenger and disputing what he had brought. Rather, they had a misinterpretation and they were mistaken and imitated those who told them that.

Source: Majmu’ Al-Fatawa 23/349

Such is the excellent example of the patience, forbearance, and mercy of Imam Ahmad in stark contrast to the violent rebels and excommunicators.

Following in the footsteps of Imam Ahmad was Ibn Taymiyyah who also took a strong stance against excommunication.

Ibn Taymiyyah writes:

هَذَا مَعَ أَنِّي دَائِمًا وَمَنْ جَالَسَنِي يَعْلَمُ ذَلِكَ مِنِّي أَنِّي مِنْ أَعْظَمِ النَّاسِ نَهْيًا عَنْ أَنْ يُنْسَبَ مُعَيَّنٌ إلَى تَكْفِيرٍ وَتَفْسِيقٍ وَمَعْصِيَةٍ إلَّا إذَا عُلِمَ أَنَّهُ قَدْ قَامَتْ عَلَيْهِ الْحُجَّةُ الرسالية الَّتِي مَنْ خَالَفَهَا كَانَ كَافِرًا تَارَةً وَفَاسِقًا أُخْرَى وَعَاصِيًا أُخْرَى وَإِنِّي أُقَرِّرُ أَنَّ اللَّهَ قَدْ غَفَرَ لِهَذِهِ الْأُمَّةِ خَطَأَهَا وَذَلِكَ يَعُمُّ الْخَطَأَ فِي الْمَسَائِلِ الْخَبَرِيَّةِ الْقَوْلِيَّةِ وَالْمَسَائِلِ الْعَمَلِيَّةِ وَمَا زَالَ السَّلَفُ يَتَنَازَعُونَ فِي كَثِيرٍ مِنْ هَذِهِ الْمَسَائِلِ وَلَمْ يَشْهَدْ أَحَدٌ مِنْهُمْ عَلَى أَحَدٍ لَا بِكُفْرِ وَلَا بِفِسْقِ وَلَا مَعْصِيَةٍ

Those who always sit with me know that I am the strongest of the people to forbid declaring an individual to be an unbeliever or a sinner, unless it is known that the legal proof has been established against him that he is an unbeliever or a sinner. I affirm that Allah will forgive this nation for its mistakes, whether it is mistakes in narrating or practice. The righteous predecessors continued to debate many of these matters and none of them testified that another among them was an unbeliever or a sinner.

Source: Majmu’ al-Fatawa 3/229

Indeed, despite the persecution he endured at the hands of opposing scholars, Ibn Taymiyyah vowed never to excommunicate a single Muslim.

Adh-Dhahabi reported:

كَانَ شَيْخُنَا ابْنُ تَيْمِيَّةَ فِي أَوَاخِرِ أَيَّامِهِ يَقُولُ أَنَا لَا أُكَفِّرُ أَحَدًا مِنَ الْأُمَّةِ

Our Sheikh, Ibn Taymiyyah, said near the end of his life: I will not declare anyone from this nation to be an unbeliever.

Source: Siyar Aʻlām al-Nubalāʼ 15/88

In the same manner, we must take a principled stance against excommunication and those who use illegitimate violence against the Muslim community. We must be clear that declarations of faith and the offering of peace by anyone must be taken at face value and that such peace offerings immediately invalidate violent action.

Success comes from Allah, and Allah knows best.

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