or the condemnation of a Muslim by another Muslim as a kafir
is strictly prohibited in the Quran, the Hadith, and the
writings of many eminent Muslim authorities.
THE HOLY QURAN
According to the Quran, if
a person says assalamu alaikum to us to indicate
that he is a Muslim, we cannot say to him ``you are not a
The second thing we learn
from this verse is that if, from among a non-Muslim
people, a person addresses us by assalamu alaikum,
that is sufficient proof that he is a Muslim. When such
incidents took place during the Holy Prophet's life-time,
sometimes it was suspected by some Muslims that such a
person was not sincere. But the Holy Prophet would say to
them: ``Did you tear open his heart to see what was in
Thirdly, the verse cited
above goes on to say: ``You yourselves were like this
before.'' That is, you too embraced Islam in this way, so
what was sufficient for you is sufficient for them.
``Ibn Umar related
that the Holy Prophet said: If a Muslim calls another
kafir, then if he is a kafir let it be
so; otherwise, he [the caller] is himself a kafir.''
Dawud, Book of Sunna, edition published by Quran
Mahal, Karachi, vol. iii, p. 484)
``Abu Zarr reported
that the Holy Prophet said: No man accuses another
man of being a sinner, or of being a kafir,
but it reflects back on him if the other is not as he
Book of Ethics; Book 78, ch. 44)
The teaching contained in
these hadith is meant to stop Muslims from dubbing each
other as sinners and kafirs.
tongues] from those who say `There is no god but
Allah' --- do not call them kafir. Whoever
calls a reciter of `There is no god but Allah' as a kafir,
is nearer to being a kafir himself.''
reported from Ibn Umar)
``Call not the people
of your Qibla [i.e. those who face the Ka`ba
in Makka for prayer] as kafir.''
of Ibn Athir, vol. iv, p. 187)
``Nothing expels a man
from faith except the denial of that by which he
entered into it [i.e. the Kalima].''
az-Zawa'id, vol. i, p. 43)
``Three things are the
basis of faith. [One is] to withhold from one who
says `There is no god but Allah' --- do not call him kafir
for any sin, nor expel him from Islam for any
Dawud, Book of Jihad, 15:33)
There are many other
hadith prohibiting that the ``people of the Qibla'' be
dubbed as kafir. Such a great sin is it that the
Holy Prophet issued the warning:
``Whoever attributes kufr
[unbelief] to a believer, he is like his murderer.''
ch. Iman (Faith); see Arabic-Urdu edition
cited earlier, vol. ii, p. 213. See also Bukhari,
Book of Ethics; Book 78, ch. 44)
ISLAMIC JURISTS OF
Takfir of Muslims
is also prohibited in the standard, classical works of
Islamic law (fiqh) and creed (`aqa'id)
accepted by the Ahl as-Sunna.
``And among the
doctrines of the Ahl as-Sunna is that none of
the people of the Qibla can be called kafir.''
`Aqa'id Nasfi, p. 121)
Regarding Imam Abu
Hanifa, the founder of the Hanafi system of
Islamic law, which has more followers than any other
system in Islam, it is written:
``He did not call as kafir
anyone from among the people of the Qibla.''
Mawaqif, fifth part)
He said: ``Nothing
expels a man from faith except the denial of that
which made him enter it.''
al-Mukhtar, vol. iii, p. 310)
``It is extremely
serious to expel a Muslim from the faith.''
Shifa, vol. ii, p. 500)
``A ruling of takfir
against a Muslim should not be given if it is
possible to interpret his words in a favourable
al-Mukhtar, Book of Jihad, ch. on
``As for statements of
takfir found in books of rulings (fatwa),
these are not proof if the authors are unknown and
the arguments are missing, because in matters of
faith, beliefs depend on conclusive proof, and the takfir
of a Muslim is attended with troubles of all sorts.''
Fiqh Akbar, by Mulla Ali Qari)
``The takfir of
people of the Qibla is itself an act of
Ibn Abu Hamra,
a saint, wrote:
``It has already been
stated that the rule of the Ahl Sunna is that
they do not call kafir, or consider as going
to hell eternally, anyone who is of the people of the
``The Imams have made
it clear that if there is any ground for not issuing takfir,
a ruling of takfir should not be made, even if
that ground is weak.''
al-ishtiba `an `ibarat al-ishtiba, p. 4,
published in Egypt)
persons from the Asharis call the Hanbalis as kafir,
and some Hanbalis call the Asharis as kafir.
But their calling each other kafir is not
right because the belief of the trustworthy Imams of
the Hanafis, Shafi`is, Hanbalis, and the Asharis, is
that none of the people of the Qibla can be
called a kafir.''
Dar as-Sa`ada wa Misbak as-Sayyida, vol i, p. 46)
``The generality of
the theologians and the jurists are agreed that none
of the people of the Qibla can be called a kafir.''
printed in Cairo, p. 600)
The famous eighteenth
century saint of Delhi, Khawaja Mir Dard
(d. 1785 C.E.), wrote:
``We do not call kafir
anyone of the people of the Qibla, even though
he may be following falsehood or novel beliefs in
most matters, because the acceptance of the oneness
of God, and the affirmation of the prophethood of
Muhammad, and the turning to the Qibla, do not
expel them from faith as such. So he would be of
those who follow later inventions and falsehood from
among the Muslims. The Holy Prophet said: `Withhold
in the matter of the people of the Qibla, that
you do not call them kafir'.''
al-Kitab, p. 75)
EVEN 99 REASONS FOR
`KUFR' OVERCOME BY 1 FOR ISLAM
Mulla Ali Qari in Sharh
``They say regarding
the issue of kufr that if there are
ninety-nine reasons for considering someone as kafir,
and only one reason against it, the mufti and the
judge is bound to act according to that one reason
for negating the kufr.''
Sayyid Muhammad Abidin
``If there are many
reasons in any matter for the application of kufr
[considering someone as kafir], and one reason
for its negation, the judge must incline towards the
reason which negates takfir, giving the Muslim
the benefit of the doubt.''
al-Hisan al-Hindi, p. 45)
Husain Ahmad Madani
This well-known Deobandi
theologian of this century has written in his
autobiography Naqsh-i Hayat:
``All great scholars
are unanimous in holding that if, out of hundred
ingredients of the belief of some Muslim, ninety-nine
are those of unbelief, and merely one of true Islamic
faith, it is not allowed to call him kafir,
nor does his life or property become violable. In
fact, Hazrat Gangohi [a founder of Deoband religious
school] clearly states in his Anwar al-Qulub
that the saying of the jurists about ninety-nine
grounds does not set a limit, and that if 999 out
of a thousand points in the belief of a Muslim are
unbelief (kufr) and only one is true belief,
even then he cannot be called kafir.''
Hayat, Bait-ut-Tauhid, Karachi, 1953, vol.
i. p. 126)
By the ``one reason'' out
of a hundred, or a thousand, is meant the affirmation of
the Kalima by the person concerned, while the vast
majority of his beliefs may be tantamount to kufr.
Sayyid Abul Ala
He wrote in his well-known
journal Tarjuman al-Quran:
``The aim of these
injunctions is that there should be as much caution
in calling a Muslim kafir as there is in
pronouncing a death sentence against someone. In
fact, this matter is even more serious because by
killing a person there is no risk of one becoming a kafir,
but this risk does exist if one calls a Muslim kafir
if that man is not really a kafir. Should
there even be an iota of Islamic belief in that man's
heart, the slander of kufr shall reflect back
upon the accuser. Hence, he who has fear of God in
his heart, and has some realisation of the great
danger of being involved in kufr, shall never
dare call a Muslim kafir until he has carried
out a thorough enquiry and fully ascertained that
such a person was a kafir. There is so much
caution in this regard that if there is a man whose
conduct clearly shows insincerity, and whose
condition is openly showing that he is not a Muslim
at heart, if even he recites the Kalima with
his tongue, it is not allowed to call him kafir and
treat him as a kafir.''
al-Quran, issue for month of Jumadi al-Awwal,
1355 A.H., circa 1936, vol. viii, p. 5)