Ibn Taymiyyah / Islamic Themes

Ibn Taymiyya on Imputing Kufr…Reflections

“Imam Ibn Taymiyya, the Rawafida, Takfir and People of Bid`a…Reflections”

  • Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyya (Allah have mercy on him) states:

وأما مسائل العقائد فكثير من الناس كفر المخطئين فيها، وهذا القول لا يعرف عن أحد من الصحابة والتابعين لهم بإحسان ولا عن أحد من أئمة المسلمين وإنما هو في الأصل من أقوال أهل البدع الذين يبتدعون بدعة ويكفرون من خالفهم كالخوارج والمعتزلة والجهمية ووقع ذلك في كثير من أتباع الأئمة كبعض أصحاب مالك والشافعي وأحمد وغيرهم وقد يسلكون في التكفير ذلك فمنهم من يكفر أهل البدع مطلقا ثم يجعل كل من خرج عما هو عليه من أهل البدع وهذا بعينه قول الخوارج والمعتزلة الجهمية وهذا القول أيضا يوجد في طائفة من أصحاب الأئمة الأربعة وليس هو قول الأئمة الأربعة ولا غيرهم وليس فيهم من كفر كل مبتدع بل المنقولات الصريحة عنهم تناقض ذلك ولكن قد ينقل عن أحدهم أنه كفر من قال بعض الأقوال ويكون مقصوده أن هذا القول كفر ليحذر ولا يلزم إذا كان القول كفرا أن يكفر كل من قاله مع الجهل والتأويل فإن ثبوت الكفر في حق الشخص المعين كثبوت الوعيد في الآخرة في حقه وذلك له شروط وموانع

“As for doctrinal matters, many people declare takfir on those who err in it. Such a position is not known from any of the Sahaba, Tabi`un and neither is it known from any of the scholars; it is in essence from the position of the ahl al-bid`a who innovate in matters of the religion and declare takfir on anyone who opposes them like the Khawarij, Mu`tazila and the Jahmiyya. This has occurred from many who follow the Imams like some of the Companions of Malik, Shafi`i, Ahmad and others. And sometimes takfir is made on that like those who make complete takfir of the people of religious innovation (ahl al-bida`) and then make takfir on anyone who departs from their own view. This is the position of the Khawarij[1] as well as the Jahmiyya Mu`tazila.[2] It is also the position found in a group of those who follow the four Imams [s: of the madhhabs] but is not the position of the four Imams themselves nor that of many others. None of them declared takfir on every innovator (mubtadi`); in fact, clear statements have been transmitted mentioning the contrary. However it may be transmitted from one of them that he deemed a kafir the one who held some beliefs. His intent here is that this belief is kufr in order to warn [against that belief]. It does not necessarily follow that if a particular belief is kufr then every person who holds it based on ignorance or interpretation is to be deemed a kafir. Affirming kufr with respect to a particular person is like affirming punishment in the hereafter with respect to him and this has conditions and preventative factors…”[3]

Notes:

  • The act of imputing kufr to Muslims heedlessly and negligently betrays attitudes of the early khawarij.
  • The heretical groups are not generally disbelievers (kuffar) although considered errant.
  • Some of the Imams from the four madhhabs made blanket takfir on proponents of unorthodox beliefs.
  • The four Imams did not make sweeping takfir on unorthodox groups.
  • Often, proclamations of takfir were out of warning, caution and notice and not motivations for ex-communication.
  • The evidentiary bar is very high for takfir and has specific conditions and legal impediments.

فصل

وأما قوله وأن الأئمة معصومون كالأنبياء في ذلك فهذه خاصة الرافضة الإمامية التي لم يشركهم فيها أحد لا الزيدية الشيعة ولا سائر طوائف المسلمين إلا من هو شر منهم كالإسماعيلية الذين يقولون بعصمة بني عبيد المنتسبين إلى محمد بن إسماعيل بن جعفر القائلين بأن الإمامة بعد جعفر في محمد بن إسماعيل دون موسى بن جعفر وأولئك ملاحدة منافقون والإمامية الاثنا عشرية خير منهم بكثير فإن الإمامية مع فرط جهلهم وضلالهم فيهم خلق مسلمون باطنا وظاهرا ليسوا زنادقة منافقين لكنهم جهلوا وضلوا واتبعوا أهواءهم وأما أولئك فأئمتهم الكبار العارفون بحقيقة دعوتهم الباطنية زنادقة منافقون وأما عوامهم الذين لم يعرفوا باطن أمرهم فقد يكونون مسلمين

“As for the position that the Imams are infallible like the Prophets, then this is specifically held by the Rafida Imamiyya[4] and no-one held this view – neither the Zaydi Shi`a nor any group of Muslims – except the worse among them like the Batiniyya[5] who believe Banu `Ubayd are infallible claiming lineage to Muhammad b. Isma`il b. Ja`far. They argue that the Imam after Ja`far belongs to Muhammad b. Isma`il and not Musa b. Ja`far. They are disbelievers and hypocrites. The Twelver Shi`a Imamiyya are many times better than them. Despite the extreme ignorance and misguidance of the Imamiyya [s: shi`a], they have the characteristics of Muslims – inwardly and outwardly – and are not hypocritical deviants but nevertheless are still misguided, ignorant and follow their desires. As for these people, their senior scholars know the reality of their deviant batini da`wa but as for the general layperson who are not aware of it, they are considered Muslim…”[6]

Notes:

  • Orthodox Muslim doctrine does not consider an exclusive line of Imams to be the only rulers over the community.
  • Orthodox Muslim doctrine does not consider an exclusive line of Imams to be infallible. They are not on a par with Messenger and Prophets.
  • The Ismailis are considered to be heretical and not in the orthodox fold of Islam (i.e non-Muslim).
  • Twelver Shia and Zaydi Shi`a are not non-believers.
  • The general lay person from the Shi`a are not considered non-Muslim only the scholrs of that denomination.

وَسُئِلَ – رَحِمَهُ اللَّهُ تَعَالَى – :

عَنْ رَجُلٍ يُفَضِّلُ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى عَلَى الرَّافِضَةِ ؟

فَأَجَابَ :

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ، كُلُّ مَنْ كَانَ مُؤْمِنًا بِمَا جَاءَ بِهِ مُحَمَّدٌ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فَهُوَ خَيْرٌ مِنْ كُلِّ مَنْ كَفَرَ بِهِ؛ وَإِنْ كَانَ فِي الْمُؤْمِنِ بِذَلِكَ نَوْعٌ مِنْ الْبِدْعَةِ سَوَاءٌ كَانَتْ بِدْعَةَ الْخَوَارِجِ وَالشِّيعَةِ وَالْمُرْجِئَةِ وَالْقَدَرِيَّةِ أَوْ غَيْرِهِمْ ؛ فَإِنَّ الْيَهُودَ وَالنَّصَارَى كُفَّارٌ كُفْرًا مَعْلُومًا بِالِاضْطِرَارِ مِنْ دِينِ الْإِسْلَامِ . وَالْمُبْتَدِعُ إذَا كَانَ يَحْسَبُ أَنَّهُ مُوَافِقٌ لِلرَّسُولِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ لَا مُخَالِفٌ لَهُ لَمْ يَكُنْ كَافِرًا بِهِ ؛ وَلَوْ قُدِّرَ أَنَّهُ يَكْفُرُ فَلَيْسَ كُفْرُهُ مِثْلَ كُفْرِ مَنْ كَذَّبَ الرَّسُولَ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ .

عَنْ الصَّلَاةِ خَلْفَ المرازقة وَعَنْ بِدْعَتِهِمْ .

فَأَجَابَ :

يَجُوزُ لِلرَّجُلِ أَنْ يُصَلِّيَ الصَّلَوَاتِ الْخَمْسَ وَالْجُمُعَةَ وَغَيْرَ ذَلِكَ خَلْفَ مَنْ لَمْ يَعْلَمْ مِنْهُ بِدْعَةً وَلَا فِسْقًا بِاتِّفَاقِ الْأَئِمَّةِ الْأَرْبَعَةِ وَغَيْرِهِمْ مِنْ أَئِمَّةِ الْمُسْلِمِينَ . وَلَيْسَ مِنْ شَرْطِ الِائْتِمَامِ أَنْ يَعْلَمَ الْمَأْمُومُ اعْتِقَادَ إمَامِهِ وَلَا أَنْ يَمْتَحِنَهُ فَيَقُولُ : مَاذَا تَعْتَقِدُ ؟ بَلْ يُصَلِّي خَلْفَ مَسْتُورِ الْحَالِ . وَلَوْ صَلَّى خَلْفَ مَنْ يَعْلَمُ أَنَّهُ فَاسِقٌ أَوْ مُبْتَدِعٌ فَفِي صِحَّةِ صَلَاتِهِ قَوْلَانِ مَشْهُورَانِ فِي مَذْهَبِ أَحْمَد وَمَالِكٍ . وَمَذْهَبُ الشَّافِعِيِّ وَأَبِي حَنِيفَةَ الصِّحَّةُ . وَقَوْلُ الْقَائِلِ لَا أُسَلِّمُ مَالِي إلَّا لِمَنْ أَعْرِفُ . وَمُرَادُهُ لَا أُصَلِّي خَلْفَ مَنْ لَا أَعْرِفُهُ كَمَا لَا أُسَلِّمُ مَالِي إلَّا لِمَنْ أَعْرِفُهُ كَلَامُ جَاهِلٍ لَمْ يَقُلْهُ أَحَدٌ مِنْ أَئِمَّةِ الْإِسْلَامِ...

“He – Allah have mercy on him – was also asked about a person who considers Jews and Christians better than the Rafida and he replied: Every person who believers in what the Prophet Muhammad (saw) brought is better than everyone who denies it. If there are believers who have a kind of innovation (bid`a) regardless of it being that of the Khawarij, Shi`a, Murji’a[7], the Qadariyya[8] and others like them, then the Jews and the Christians are known without doubt in the religion to be non-believers. If a mubtadi` thinks he is following the Messenger of Allah (saw) and is not opposing him, then he cannot be considered a kafir because of it. And if someone reckons him to be a disbeliever, then his kufr is not like the kufr of one who actually denies the Messenger of Allah (saw) […] It is permitted to offer the five daily Prayers as well as the Jumu`a Prayer behind a person whose heresy is not known nor his depravity by agreement of all the four Imams and other scholars from this umma. It is not a condition for someone praying behind an Imam to know his creed nor to test him by asking him, ‘what do you believe?’ rather, it is permitted to pray behind a person whose condition is not known…”[9]

Notes:

  • In it not a condition to offer prayers behind a person to ask him about his creed.
  • In it not a condition to offer prayers behind a person to investigate his probity.

وَكَذَلِكَ إذَا كَانَ الْإِمَامُ قَدْ رَتَّبَهُ وُلَاةُ الْأُمُورِ وَلَمْ يَكُنْ فِي تَرْكِ الصَّلَاةِ خَلْفَهُ مَصْلَحَةٌ فَهُنَا لَيْسَ عَلَيْهِ تَرْكُ الصَّلَاةِ خَلْفَهُ بَلْ الصَّلَاةُ خَلْفَ الْإِمَامِ الْأَفْضَلِ أَفْضَلُ وَهَذَا كُلُّهُ يَكُونُ فِيمَنْ ظَهَرَ مِنْهُ فِسْقٌ أَوْ بِدْعَةٌ تَظْهَرُ مُخَالَفَتُهَا لِلْكِتَابِ وَالسُّنَّةِ كَبِدْعَةِ الرَّافِضَةِ وَالْجَهْمِيَّة وَنَحْوِهِمْ . وَمَنْ أَنْكَرَ مَذْهَبَ الرَّوَافِضِ وَهُوَ لَا يُصَلِّي الْجُمُعَةَ وَالْجَمَاعَةَ بَلْ يُكَفِّرُ الْمُسْلِمِينَ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ فِي مِثْلِ مَذْهَبِ الرَّوَافِضِ فَإِنَّ مِنْ أَعْظَمِ مَا أَنْكَرَهُ أَهْلُ السُّنَّةِ عَلَيْهِمْ تَرْكُهُمْ الْجُمُعَةَ وَالْجَمَاعَةَ وَتَكْفِيرَ الْجُمْهُورِ .

“[…]”

فَصْلٌ

وَأَمَّا ” الصَّلَاةُ خَلْفَ الْمُبْتَدِعِ ” فَهَذِهِ الْمَسْأَلَةُ فِيهَا نِزَاعٌ وَتَفْصِيلٌ . فَإِذَا لَمْ تَجِدْ إمَامًا غَيْرَهُ كَالْجُمُعَةِ الَّتِي لَا تُقَامُ إلَّا بِمَكَانِ وَاحِدٍ وَكَالْعِيدَيْنِ وَكَصَلَوَاتِ الْحَجِّ خَلْفَ إمَامِ الْمَوْسِمِ فَهَذِهِ تُفْعَلُ خَلْفَ كُلِّ بَرٍّ وَفَاجِرٍ بِاتِّفَاقِ أَهْلِ السُّنَّةِ وَالْجَمَاعَةِ وَإِنَّمَا تَدَعُ مِثْلَ هَذِهِ الصَّلَوَاتِ خَلْفَ الْأَئِمَّةِ أَهْلِ الْبِدَعِ كَالرَّافِضَةِ وَنَحْوِهِمْ مِمَّنْ لَا يَرَى الْجُمُعَةَ وَالْجَمَاعَةَ إذَا لَمْ يَكُنْ فِي الْقَرْيَةِ إلَّا مَسْجِدٌ وَاحِدٌ فَصَلَاتُهُ فِي الْجَمَاعَةِ خَلْفَ الْفَاجِرِ خَيْرٌ مِنْ صَلَاتِهِ فِي بَيْتِهِ مُنْفَرِدًوَهَذَا إنَّمَا هُوَ فِي الْبِدْعَةِ الَّتِي يُعْلَمُ أَنَّهَا تُخَالِفُ الْكِتَابَ وَالسُّنَّةَ مِثْلَ بِدَعِ الرَّافِضَةِ وَالْجَهْمِيَّة وَنَحْوِهِمْ . فَأَمَّا مَسَائِلُ الدِّينِ الَّتِي يَتَنَازَعُ فِيهَا كَثِيرٌ مِنْ النَّاسِ فِي هَذِهِ الْبِلَادِ مِثْلَ ” مَسْأَلَةِ الْحَرْفِ وَالصَّوْتِ ” وَنَحْوِهَا فَقَدْ يَكُونُ كُلٌّ مِنْ الْمُتَنَازِعَيْنِ مُبْتَدِعًا وَكِلَاهُمَا جَاهِلٌ مُتَأَوِّلٌ فَلَيْسَ امْتِنَاعُ هَذَا مِنْ الصَّلَاةِ خَلْفَ هَذَا بِأَوْلَى مِنْ الْعَكْسِ فَأَمَّا إذَا ظَهَرَتْ السُّنَّةُ وَعُلِمَتْ فَخَالَفَهَا وَاحِدٌ فَهَذَا هُوَ الَّذِي فِيهِ النِّزَاعُ وَاَللَّهُ أَعْلَمُ

“As for praying behind a mubtadi`, then this issue has dispute and details. If no other Imam is around for say the Friday Jumu`a Prayer which cannot be established except in one place like the two `Id Prayers or the Hajj Prayer behind the Imam of the Hajj season, then this can be done behind every righteous and sinful person by agreement of Ahl al-Sunna wa ’l-Jama`a. Leaving these Prayers if led by ahl al-bida` like the Rafida and sects like them by someone who does not consider Praying Jumu`a or any congregation behind them and there is no other Mosque, in the area then it is better to pray behind a sinner (fajir) than to pray by oneself in the house…this is with regards to the bid`a that is known to oppose the Kitab and the Sunna like the innovation of the Rafida, Jahmiyya and those like them. As for theological matters over which many people have disputed both in this land and others such as the ‘Controversy over whether Qur’anic Letters and Sounds [are Created or Not]’ and others like them, then all who dispute in such matters are mubtadi`in; both disputing parties are ignorant [s: for doing so] but that does not preclude praying behind them. Where there is dispute is over a person who knows the Sunna but still opposes it. And Allah knows best.”[10]

Notes:

  • If a person truly believes his beliefs accord with orthodoxy but in reality it is not, he cannot be imputed with kufr.
  • It is permitted to pray behind a sinful person which implies they are believers.
  • It is permitted to pray behind a heretic (mubtadi`) which implies they are believers.
  • Those engaged in intricate theological controversies are heretical but are still considered believers.

Reflections:

  1. Muslims should be wary of making takfir on any Muslims as it is dangerously easy on the tongue of many today.
  2. Heretical beliefs need to be investigated but should not be directly imputed with kufr.
  3. One should not insist on presenting the creed of another as some Muslim groups do today creating tension, schism and dissension amongst the community.

And with Allah is all success.

s.z.c.


[1] A literalist sectarian group and seceding faction in early Islam with ex-communicatory attitudes and ultra exclusivist theology. See H. Tamimi, Modern Intellectual Readings of the Kharijites, pp.4-24.

[2] An intellectual school with heavy leaning towards a rationalist approach to metaphysics and theology. See A. Rippin, Muslims: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices, pp.79-84.

[3] Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj al-Sunna, vol.5, p.239. Translation section courtesy of “Ibn Badr”.

[4] A pejorative word for the early Shi`a who deny the Caliphate of the first three Rashidun Caliphs. Cf. W. M. Watt/M. Marmura, Der Islam II: Politische Entwicklungen und Theologische Konzepte, pp.159-164 and passim.

[5] An ultra esoteric sect emerging from early Islamic history emphasising a secret stream of religious knowledge from God accessible to only specially selected persons. Cf. F. Mitha, Ghazali and the Ismailis: A Debate on Reason and Authority in Islam, pp.19-27 and M. S. Hodgson, s.v. “Batiniyya” in EI1, vol.1, p.1089-1100.

[6] Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj al-Sunna, vol.2, p.452.

[7] An early movement that emphasised the dissociation between external actions and utterances with the internalised profession of faith; thus a Muslim could not be ex-communicated having professed the faith internally. See M. Cook, “Activism and Quietism in Islam: The Case of the Murji’a” in Islam and Power, ed. by A. Cudsi, pp.15-23.

[8] An early Islamic sect that upheld a total libertarian notion of human free will that curtailed Divine Omnipotence in opposition to the theological determinism emerging at the time. D. Brown, A New Introduction to Islam, pp.174-

[9] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu` al-Fatawa, ol.35, p.201.

[10] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu` al-Fatawa, vol.23, p.355.

3 thoughts on “Ibn Taymiyya on Imputing Kufr…Reflections

  1. Pingback: Ibn Taymiyyah – Scholar and Statesman Part 2 | دار نيـقـوسـيــا

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