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Declaring Apostasy (Takfir) on Muslims – Part II

by Ustadh Luqman al-Andalusi

Part IPart IIPart III | Part IV

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Kafir (Arabic: كافر kāfir; plural كفّار kuffār) is a term used in Islamic doctrine, usually translated as “unbeliever” or “disbeliever” or sometimes “infidel.” The term refers to a person who rejects God or who hides, denies, or “covers” the truth.

An example of a famous scholar being called Kafir

[21] Imam Ibn ‘Abidin (rh) said that this happened to Abd al-Wahhab as-Sha‘rani, against whom envious people forged calumnies of kufr by inserting into some of his works (which they published as his). Whereupon the Ulema (scholars) of the day met, and he produced his own copy of the book which had been signed by scholars [and proved to be free of the lies forged against him]. (Radd al-Muhtar)

Worrying about one’s own state of Iman (faith)

[22] “We believe in Allah, and that which has been sent down to us” (Qur’an, 2:136).

[23] Abu Hamid Al-Ghazalli (rh) said: “You may ask, ‘What then have the good, early generation meant with the saying: ‘Allah willing, I am a believer!'” A qualification implies doubt, and to entertain doubts concerning the veracity of belief amounts to unbelief. Yet allof  the early generation used to refrain from giving a definite reply concerning belief, and were extremely careful not to commit themselves.

When Sufyan ath-Thawri (rh) made this statement he was asked, “What then shall we say?” Thereupon he replied, “We believe in Allah, and that which has been sent down to us” (Qur’an, 2:136).

[24] Sufyan Ath-Thawri (rh) said, “We believe in Allah and in His Angels, Books, and Prophets. But we do not know what we are before Allah.” You may ask all this and say, “What then is the meaning of all these qualifications?”

The answer to your question is that these qualifications are correct and are put forward for four reasons, two of which arise from doubt (not of the reality of belief itself but of its end and perfection); and two do not arise from doubt at all.”

[25] And what is the difference between saying “We believe in Allah and that which has been sent down to us” and saying, “I am a believer?”
Once al-Hasan al-Basri (rh) was asked, “Are you a believer?” to which he replied, “If it is the Will of Allah.” Thereupon he was told, “O Abu-Sa’id? Why do you qualify your belief?” He answered and said, “I fear saying, ‘Yes’, and then Allah will say, `You have lied Hasan.’ Then I shall rightly merit His punishment.” He also used to say, “I fear that Allah may find that I have done something abominable to Him and He will consequently abhor me and say, ‘Go away. I accept none of your deeds.’  Then I shall be working in vain.”

[26] Ibrahim ibn Adham (rh) once said: “Whenever you are asked, `Are you a believer?’ say,
La Ilaha Illa Allah (There is no deity worthy of worship except Allah).'” At another time he said, “Say, ‘I do not doubt belief; your question to me is a (bid`a) innovation.'”

[27] The great scholar Alqamah (rh) was once asked, “Are you a believer?” to which he replied, “I hope so, Allah willing.”

[28] Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra) said, “Indeed belief will loom as a single white spot in the heart of man. If the man will do that which is good the white spot will grow and spread until the whole heart is white. Whereas hypocrisy makes it first appearance as a black blotch in the heart of a man. If the man will do that which is unlawful, the black blotch will grow and spread until the whole heart is black, and blackness becomes man’s second nature.” Allah says: “No, but what they used to do has veiled their hearts” (Qur’an 83:14).

The Sunnah is to fear hypocrisy and unbelief in oneself, not others.

[29] Ali Ibn Abi Talib (ra) said, “He is the wisest and the most knowing man who advises people not to lose hope and faith in the Mercy of Allah and not to be too sure and over-confident of immunity from His Wrath and Punishment.”

[30] Abu Sa’id al-Khudri (ra) said, “The hearts are of four kinds: a sealed heart, which is the heart of the unbeliever; a two-faced heart, which is the heart of the hypocrite; a clean heart from the midst of which a radiant lamp sheds its radiant light; and a heart which contains some belief and some hypocrisy. The belief it contains is like a vegetable which receives its nourishment from fresh waters. The hypocrisy it contains is like an ulcer which feeds on pus and blood; whichever of the two substances that prevails will determine its fate.” According to another narration, “Whichever will prevail will seal his doom.” The Prophet ﷺ also said, “The most hypocritical people of this nation are those among the reciters (of the Qur’an).” In another narration he said, “Polytheism among my people is more subtle than the creeping of an ant on a rock.”

[31] Hudhayfah (ra) said, “During the time of the Prophet ﷺ there were things which made the man who repeated them a hypocrite as long as he lived. However, now, I hear these same things repeated ten times a day (and no one seems to mind).” A learned man said, “The person closest to hypocrisy is he who deems himself free thereof.”

[32] Hudhayfah (ra) also said, “Hypocrites are more numerous today than they were at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. At that time they used to conceal their hypocrisy; now they reveal it.” Such hypocrisy militates against the reality of belief as well as against its perfectness. It is something concealed and subtle; the farthest removed from it are those who are constantly afraid of it, while those who deem themselves free of it are they who are nearest to it.

[33] Al Hasan al Basri (rh) was once told, “There is no more hypocrisy nowadays.” To which he replied, “Brother! Were the hypocrites to perish from the land you would feel lonely on the way.” Again either Al Hasan himself or someone else said, “Were tails to grow on the backs of the hypocrites and trail behind them our feet would no longer be able to touch the earth.”

[34] Ibn `Umar (ra) on hearing a man speak disparagingly of al Hajjaj (the Umayyad governor), told him, “Would you speak disparagingly of him if he were here present?” The man answered, “No.” Thereupon Ibn `Umar said, “We used to consider this hypocritical at the time of the Prophet ﷺ. The Prophet ﷺ said, `He who has a fork-tongue in this world will, in the Hereafter, be made fork-tongued by Allah'”.

[35] Al Hasan al-Basri (rh) was once told, “There are some who say that they do not fear hypocrisy.” Thereupon he answered, “By Allah, I would rather be sure that I am free of hypocrisy than have all the gold in the world.”

Al Hasan also said, “Among the different kinds of hypocrisy are the disagreements between the tongue and the heart, between the concealed and the revealed, and between the entrance and the exit.”

[36] Ibn abi Mulaykah (rh) said, “I have known one hundred and thirty of the Companions of the Prophet ﷺ, all of whom feared hypocrisy.”

[37] Sari as-Saqti (rh) once said, “If a person enters a garden containing trees of every kind and on them are birds of every kind, and then each bird calls to him in a different language saying, `Peace be upon you, O friend of Allah’, and as a result he feels very well pleased and satisfied, he becomes their captive.”

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  • Salam Alaikom,

    This is a very serious topic and a fitna between muslims. Thank you very much for adressing it in detail.

    Jazakallah Khairan,

    • Its a real serious good topic, but we are overestimating the problem here. There are a small kind that practice this takfeere thought. I name those takfiris “WannabeMuslim” they just started with practising following a select group of people or a dead sheikh. Because of the fact that we cannot ask him to reply about they’re behaving. Elhamdulileh there are just a few 0,01 percent of the Muslims that start to think this way.

      I am Social Pedagogical worker and work sometimes, with those youth and they only need a strong and wise and strict follower of the Quran and Sunnah man to guide them through some difficult issues within Islam.

      We organise evenings in Holland with those kind of youth and discuss those issues and try our utmost best to guide them to that what is the middle path of Islam.

      The problem here is not only with the youth that are little takfiri, but also with the so-called liberal free Muslim. The Challenge of us is to find a right balance between those and guide those groups to that is best. And that is the Quran and Sunnah in the understanding of our forefathers(Selaf).

      Start to talk to those groups and not those that are not knowledgeable, but only those that have a greater amount of knowledge. What is necessary is to be knowledgeable about the majority of the Mathahib and the manhadj A Selaf.

      I really think that those that have those takfiri thoughts most of them can be brought back with the Quran and the Sunnah.

      My advise is strengthen your self with knowledge and always stay in contact with those that have some bad thoughts and try your utmost best to influence them or take them to a trustworthy learned person that can influence them.

      Abu Adam, Ibrahim Dahou

  • jazhakallah, i love it. How can you declare apostasy on other people if you can’t be sure if you are deemed a believer yourself in front of Allah swt?
    Hypocrisy … I know muslims who refuse to go to a western cinema as men and women mix there, instead they download from piratebay. i mean, honour comes before stealing, I just don’t understand the reasoning?!

  • As Salamu alaykum,

    @ Kamal,

    Im am not a Daleel addict, but these are mostly from al-Isaba, Adh-Dhahabi’s Lives of the Noble Fugures, etc. Ar-Risala Qushari has many quotes also, I dont always put the Daleel for it may mess up the flow of the sentences, I usually put in on the bootom of the page, so I am sorry! In regards to hadith I usually only use Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, Riyadus Saliheen, and the Muwatta. I love my Daleel, but do not always list, if this is bad I am sorry!

    Ustadh Luqman

  • ofcourse one should look to perfect ones own actions and speach and heart but that doesnt negate that sharia has commanded to make takfir of the one who has left the deen – ofcourse AFTER this person has been given dawah etc. otherwise surely the ummah will be facing even more fitn.

    • Sufyan,

      Can you elaborate on this? Where in the Sharia is it encouraged to make takfir?

      I’ll venture to say that, on the contrary, takfir needs to be avoided all costs. The Prophet (saw) praised the person si busy with fixing his own faults that he gives no attention to the faults of others. There is a good quote that sums up my feelings on this, “You don’t know what’s in the person’s refridgerator, but you think you know what’s in his heart.”

  • Sabirah,

    Saying: “I am a believer, in-sha’ Allah,” doesn’t mean the person has doubt that he is a Muslim. He says: “In-sha’ Allah” for the reward of the statement–or that he will DIE as a Muslim. If a person doubts that he is currently a Muslim, well, then he isn’t (a Muslim). A peron must be certain about his (or her) belief in Islam. Also, it is not wrong to order the good and forbid the evil—even if the person does not practice what he preaches. The `ulamaa’ actually mentioned that the one who serves alcohol is obligated to tell the ones he serves NOT to drink. Regarding Pirate Bay, if i buy something and i wish to share it with others, Islamically i have the right to do so. Once i buy an item, it no longer belongs to the one i bought it from. Now i am not advising that you put yourself in jeopardy and violate the secular law, i am just saying that it is not an immoral thing to do.


    The person who has left the Deen becomes a kaafir immediately–whether or not he has been given da`wah.


    Understaning the concept of takfeer is ESSENTIAL, for there is great confusion nowadays over what constitutes the Islamic belief. You have many people CLAIMING to be Muslims who say all sorts of kufri things—whether it is claiming Allah is human being, a light, an object, or that Allah is literally everything and everything is Allah, etc. If people are not informed about the various things that constitute kufr/riddah (apostasy), then it will further compound the level of confusion (and ignorance) over the most essential aspect of the Deen—that is, what constitutes a valid belief in the Creator, the Prophets, and Islam. Educate the Muslims about apostasy, and they will have the tools necessary to easily distinguish disbelief from Islam—and the deviants from the genuine followers of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa-sallam).

    • @southern sunni, if you buy a DVD or a CD and you hand over money to the teller you are actually making a sales contract that’s got nothing to do with shari’a yet you are required to maintain that contract. The purchase agreement says always no to sharing, so islamically you have to honour that contract, and NO sharing with others. It’s not just hypocrisy it also makes non-muslims think that muslims don’t honour contracts with them and are thiefs. Great dawah.

  • that’s exactly my point, a kaafir is a kaafir – its like this word is almost a sware word subhnallaah.
    some things take people out of the fold of islaam and if these people arent called kafiroun or murtaddoun then its only and huge opening to fitn.

    may allah safe you and me

    • As-Salamu alaykum,

      Al-Hasan al-Basri {RH} would tell people like you two, that you should search for 99 avenues to let someone off, and even if you find that one to call him a Kaafir, then it incumbent upon the person to teach him his deen, and we know this because it is the same opinion that An-Nawawi {RH} has,

      If the person who you automatically are saying is a Murtad, etc, was

      1) Living in a remote area,

      2) Totally unaware of the issue do to his following of either a Shaykh or the Kubaraa in general, then that person cannot be declared a Kaafir, because you have know about an issue before you can be blamed, so stop being so quick to pat each other on the back, My friends, Im a tough love kinda guy, so please respect and know that the tongue is the harborer of evil at most times!

  • It is illustrative that the more knowledgeable an honest scholar is, the less likely he/she is to use certain terms because he/she understands better the gray areas around theoretically black lines, in real life.

    A human being can never really be sure he knows the difference between what he is and what he wants (or even, that there is a difference between the two) including the difference between whether he *is* a Muslim, or *wants* to be. All this is not because there is no absolute distinction between two things (such as belief and unbelief) but is due to the imperfect nature of human comprehension, sensing, and human inability to know everything about even a single thing in the same moment, and human inability to perfectly know just one change between two different moments (quantum physicists know this fact much more literally).

    A lot of people so sure about their own faith and others’ faiths confuse between the fact that concepts have definition, and the human ability to detect whether that definition is/will be fulfilled for any one person through all time. When there is a practical reason to make a judgment call (danger of widespread error, physical danger to a state, etc.), you might need to then utilise available evidence to decide about certain persons, and as we can see from historical scholarly accounts it needs to be very obvious signs, and there will always be error margins in that assessment which should always be acknowledged in all humility, because human perception cannot be perfect. For this reason, where there is NO REASON to make this judgement, it is better to refrain in case a larger error is committed, that of disowning a Muslim by mistake.

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