Ibn Taymiyyah / Islamic Themes

Ibn Taymiyya_the danger of takfir

The Danger of Uttering kufr_Ibn Taymiyyah

Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (Allah have mercy on him) made the following remark:

…فمن قال بلسانه كلمة الكفر من غير حاجة عامدا لها عالما بانها كلمة كفر فانه يكفر بذلك ظاهرا وباطنا ولا يجوز ان يقال انه في الباطن يجوز ان يكون مؤمنا ومن قال ذلك ذلك فقد مرق من الاسلام  .قال الله سبحانه:  )من كفر بالله من بعد ايمانه الا من اكره وقلبه مطمئن بالايمان ولكن من شرح بالكفر صدرا فعليهم غضب من الله ولهم عذاب عظيم(…[1]



            “… whoever intentionally declares by his tongue a statement of disbelief without any need and knowing that it is a statement of disbelief, then he becomes a disbeliever through that inwardly and outwardly (zahiran wa batinan). It is not permitted either to say he may remain a believer (mu’minan) internally. Whoever says that has deviated from Islam. Allah (Glorified is He!) said: (whoever disbelieves in Allah after having faithexcept those compelled but their hearts have conviction of belief).

The great hafiz of Damascus Imam Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah made this statement: 

…الإيمان قسمان قولية وفعلية وكذلك شعب الكفر نوعان قولية وفعلية ومن شعب الإيمان القولية شعبة يوجب زوالها زوال الإيمان فكذلك من شعبة الفعلية ما يوجب زوالها زوال الإيمان وكذلك شعب الكفر القولية والفعلية فكما يكفر بالأتيان بكلمة الكفر اختيارا وهي شعبة من شعب الكفر فكذلك يكفر بفعل شعبة من شعبه كالسجود للصنم والاستهانة بالمصحف فهذا اصل…[2]


            “… belief (al-iman) is of two types: that of statements and that of actions. Thus, the branches of disbelief are two: that of statements and that of actions. From the branches of faith by that of statements (al-iman al-qawliyyah) is a branch that brings about its negation – the negation of belief. Likewise, from the branches of faith by that of actions (al-iman al-qawliyyah) is a branch that brings about its negation – the negation of belief. This holds true for the branches of disbelief by that of statements and actions. Just as a person may commit disbelief with a wilful statement of disbelief – which is one of the branches of disbelief – likewise he can also commit disbelief through an action that is one of its branches such as prostrating to an idol, belittling the Mushaf. This is a principle…”


  • To deliberately out of pure hatred make a scathing and intolerable remark about something explicit in the Qur’an such as its ahkam (prescriptions/injunctions/laws = especially its penal injunctions) would land one in very shaky grounds as to the validity of his belief.
  • Any such statements would be very dangerous and would be a sign of belittling something Allah has ordained as entirely sacred – but if unintentional – then in the least it would demand further inspection.
  • Often, to intentionally imply the opposite of or make undermining public statements about matters necessarily known in the religion (ma`lum min al-din bi’l-darurah) are also dangerous grounds for allowing one’s faith to be declared void.[3]
  • It is not the domain of other Muslims to judge the heart’s real views, that is Allah’s domain, but any public show of denial and rejection is an observable phenomena and hence susceptible to the charge of disbelief.[4]
  • Words and deeds must always be checked with scrupulousness and care. Just as we ought not to brandish the ‘disbelief’ card whenever we hear or see an action, likewise, this does not give other Muslims the license to speak about the Religion as they please.
  • The whole matter is sensitive and those who intentionally make statements that would make them leave the zone of belief, then their reply is to Allah on the day when no excuses can be brought forward.
Peace and blessings upon our Mesenger,
his family,
his companions
and all who follow them.

[1] See al-Sarim al-Maslul `ala Shatim al-Rasul, p.229.

[2] See his Kitab al-Salah wa Hukm Tarikiha, pp.53-54.

[3] See Imam al-Nawawi’s Sharh Sahih Muslim, 1:150.

[4] Cf. Imam al-Nawawi’s Sharh Sahih Muslim, 2:107 as well as his al-Majmu` Sharh al-Muhadhdhab, 1:24 and Imam al-Ghazzali’s Ihya’ `Ulum al-Din,1:17.


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