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It was around the end of Rabi’ul Awwal 1427, corresponding to April 2006, when I received a personal letter from His Highness Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad, the personal envoy and special advisor to His Highness, the King of the Jordanian Hashimite Kingdom, in which he had asked me some questions regarding Takfeer (rendering a person a disbeliever) . I provided the answers to these questions in some detail which His Highness has published in a book as well as on the Internet. The questions and answers are now being published hoping to extend its benefit.
Letter of Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad
اﻠﺴﻠاﻢ ﻋﻠﻴﻜﻢ ورﺤﻤﺔ اﻠﻠﻪ وﺒرﻜاﺘﻪ
We pray to Allah Ta’ala that this letter reaches you in a state of good health and prosperity. I wish to address three questions to your eminence in this correspondence hoping that your eminence will provide conclusive answers to them:
1) We have received many questions from both Muslims and non-Muslims regarding the Islamic (theological and social) sphere and the relationships between the Islamic schools of thought. We would like to refer these questions to you for explanation and rectification: Is it correct to regard those schools of thought that are not part of the ‘Sunni Islam’ as part of the ‘actual Islam’? In other words, is it correct to regard every person who follows and adheres to one of the four Sunni schools of thought, or the Zahiri school of thought or the Ja’firi or Zaidi schools of thought or the Ibadhi school of thought as a Muslim?
2) The second question which is related to the first is: what are the perimeters in rendering a person a ‘Kaafir’ in this day and age? Is it permissible for a Muslim to render those who adhere to any of the conventional Islamic schools of thought, or any person who follows the Ash’ari theology as a ‘Kaafir’? Moreover, is it permissible to render those who tread the path of the true Sufism or those who follow the correct ‘Salafi’
1 / 11
hereunder are the answers to the questions: 2 / 11 . Best regards (Prince) Ghazi bin Muhammad Reply of Hazrat Maulana Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani ()داﻤﺖ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ اﻠﺴﻠاﻢ ﻋﻠﻴﻜﻢ ورﺤﻤﺔ اﻠﻠﻪ وﺒرﻜاﺘﻪ Please accept the purest of greetings together with the highest appreciation for the endeavors you are undertaking in the path of uniting and bringing back together the message and ranks of the Muslims. I received your noble letter requesting me to answer the three questions contained therein.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend view as ‘Kaafirs’ ? 3) Who may be regarded as a true ‘Mufti’ in Islam? What are the essential qualities that render a person fit to assume the responsibility of issuing ‘fatawa’ and guiding people to its correct understanding and towards following the Islamic Shari’ah? We greatly appreciate your giving us this opportunity to benefit from your vast knowledge and expertise. In response to your noble desire.
The truth of the matter is that Islam or Iman is an established and defined reality which needs to be proven in order to render a person Muslim. if we desire to unite the ranks of the Muslims then it is necessary to distance both 3 / 11 . This portrays Islam as if it does not possess an established reality and is merely a tattered piece of clothing which may be adorned by every false and destructive belief so long as a person claims to be a Muslim. some are very quick to render any person who does not follow their opinion in Far’ee  issues as Kaafir whereas such issues are not part of the fundamental beliefs of Deen . Thus. It is that many people have gone to extremes regarding this issue in that they either cross the bounds or they fall short (of the correct opinion). This portrays Islam as if it is a cramped courtyard and if a person steps out of it even to the extent of a fingertip he comes out of the fold of Islam. so long as he believes in the fundamentals around which Islam and Kufr revolve. On the other hand. They do not allow rendering such a person as a Kaafir under any circumstance. Similarly this reality is not lost merely by a person committing certain Far’ee errors in his action or belief. even though such person denies the fundamental beliefs of Deen which distinguish Islam from other religions.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend (Answer to) Question One Before answering this question in some detail. I would like to allude to a very remorseful phenomenon that we witness in various circles of our Muslim Homelands. This established reality accommodates many differences in Far’ee issues that Islam itself has sanctioned and thus it is not permissible to render a person as Kaafir merely on the basis of such Far’ee differences. Rather there is room for Ijtihad in them and academic difference of opinion has existed in them from the early eras of Islam. Both these points of view are baseless and have provoked turmoil and dissention amongst the Muslims. there are some people who accept the claim of every person who proclaims Islam. This is because on the one hand.
like some of the extremist Shias have falsely alleged. if they believe that prophethood continued after the Noble Prophet ﻡّوﺴﻞ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰand they believe in one of those great liars who claimed prophethood after the Seal of the Prophets ﻡّوﺴﻞ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰlike the Qadiyanis. whoever is included in this definition is a Muslim whom it is not permissible to render a Ka afir . and is not the actual Qur’an. or they believe that the Qur’an that is before us today has been interpolated. the schools of thought that claim Islam are of three types: The first type: is of those who claim to be Muslim.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend types of extremes. so too will we need to absolve ourselves from those who wish to introduce into Islam every such false belief that contradicts the centuries-old established fundamentals of Deen. For example.“ )ﺷرﺢ اﻠﻌﻘاﺌﺪ ﻟﻠﺘﻔﺘازاﻨﻰ ؒ ﺹ٩١١ وروﺢ اﻠﻤﻌاﻨﻲit with come has ﺻﻠﻰ اﻠﻠﻪ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ وﺴﻞّﻡ ١:١١۰) Thus. The definition of Islam in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah upon which there is consensus of the Muslim Ummah is: “Believing in that regarding which it is known with absolute certainty that the Messenger of Allah . It follows that we need to define this reality that is termed ‘Islam’. Therefore. but deny some aspect whose being part of D een is known with absolute certainty. so that we may be able to hold onto the moderate opinion that distances us from both types of extremes. Allah Forbid. or they believe that Divinity or some of its peculiar characteristics are found in a person like that which is attributed 4 / 11 . Based on this. just as we will need to disassociate ourselves from those who render people as Kaafir merely on the basis of Far’ee differences.
Ahlur Ra’y or Ahlul Zahir . Shafi’ee. or in the finer details for some aspects of ‘Aqidah (belief) in which there is room for Ijtihad .Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend to the ‘Alawis and others. al-Awza’ee and al-Layth bin sa’d is included in this type. like the Hanafi. Ja’far as-Saadiq. except that they differ in jurisprudential issues. Sa’eed bin al-Musayyib. Muhammad al-Baqir. Similarly all that has been narrated from the other Mujtahideen whether they are well-known as being of the Ahlul Hadith. The second type are those schools of thought that believe in everything whose being part of De en is known with absolute certainty. and none of them are false. In this type are included all the jurisprudential schools of thought in which differences existed between the Sahabah and Tabi’oon. and should not revile or be disrespectful to any of the Imams. every one of these schools of thought is on the right path as per its own Ijtihad . Also included in this category are the Ash’aris and Maturidees . Hasan al Basri. let alone being out of the fold of Islam. Maliki and Hanbali schools of thought. like Sha’bi.ﺟﻤﻴﻌﺎ ﺗﻌاﻠﻰ اﻠﻠﻪ رﺤﻤﻬﻢIt is a precondition of being included in this category that they should not render the other schools of thought as Kaafir or Faasiq (transgressors). Despite these Far’ee differences. All these people are not Muslim and it is necessary to render them Kaafirs . The truth of the matter is that the arguments that have taken place between these schools of 5 / 11 . Sa’eed bin Jubair.
Rather. This is what the scholars of these schools of thought have explicitly stated in their books. he deserves one reward. This is why it has been said that these academic differences are a mercy for the U mmah . However. This is like the disagreement between the Ahlus Sunnah and the moderate Shi’as who do not believe in the interpolation of the Noble Qur’an. The correct stance regarding each one of these schools of thought is that each follower should regard his respective school of thought as correct having the possibility of error. ‘Allamah Haskafi (ra) states in the introduction of ad-Durr al Mukhtar 1:48: “When we are asked regarding our school of thought as opposed to the school of thought of those who differ with us. and if he passes a verdict and makes (the proper) effort and then errs. although its disagreement is not tantamount to disbelief.” In the third category are included those schools of thought whose beliefs are not tantamount to disbelief as they do not deny any aspect whose being a part of Deen is known with absolute certainty. we must answer thus: “Our school of thought is correct having possibility of error. For example. Every one of these schools of thought believes that it is on the right whilst those who disagree with it are in error. their disagreement is not restricted to Ijtihadi and Far’ee issues.” This stance is actually based on this saying of the Noble Prophet : ﻡّوﺴﻞ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰ “When a Hakim passes a verdict and makes (the proper) effort subsequently passing a correct verdict. he deserves two rewards. whilst the school of thought of those who differ with us is on error having the possibility of being correct. that have led the way to evolving thought and opening up opportunities in finding solutions to the problems of life. their disagreement also involves important aspects of belief. Similar is the case of the disagreement between the 6 / 11 . whilst regarding the other school of thought as being on error but having the possibility of being correct.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend thought have been academic and Ijtihadi ones. and who do not deny any other aspect whose being part of Deen is known with absolute certainty.
However. We have also made mention of which present well-known schools of thought are included in these two categories. They do not ascribe to 7 / 11 . Thus. (Answer to) Question Two We have mentioned in the answer to the first question that it is impermissible to render any person who does not deny any aspect whose being a part of the Deen is known with absolute certainty. It is thus apparent that all these schools of thought are not on equal footing when it comes to representing the actual Islam. the verdict of disbelief and coming out of the fold of Islam will not be passed except against the first category that denies an aspect whose being part of the Deen is known with absolute certainty. it is not permissible to render those conventional Muslim schools of thought who are included in the second and third categories. as Kaafir. so long as they do not deny anything whose being part of Deen is known with absolute certainty. As far as the Sufis are concerned. Among them are those who restrict themselves to self-reformation in order to be able to follow the Shari’ah in accordance with one of the accepted jurisprudential schools of thought.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend Ahlus Sunnah and the Zaidi school of thought or the Ibbadhi school of thought. different schools of thought exist in them.
and they have innovated certain laws of the inner self that do not have any basis from the Qur’an and Sunnah. among the Salafis are also those who believe that the accepted jurisprudential schools of thought are false and they revile every person who disagrees with them. Such people are included in the third category and it is not permissible to render them Kaafir . Among them are also those who do not deny the outward Shari’ah . They are included in the third category. nor do they have any practice that contradicts the laws of Shari’ah. nor do they deny any aspect whose being part of Deen is known with absolute certainty. they deny the outward laws of Shari’ah . they concentrate on reforming and nurturing the character of a person using methods that are permissible in the Shari’ah. even though such disagreement be in Far’ee issues. However. Such people are included in the second category. so among them are those who follow the Ahl al Hadith whilst not being disrespectful to the Mujtahid Imams nor to those who follow their schools of thought. 8 / 11 . The likes of this type are included in the schools of thought of the second category.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend any belief that disagrees with the Zaahir (outward rulings) of Shari’ah. Anyhow. However. They are included in the first type. As far as the Salafis are concerned. yet they have invented certain innovations in their action or belief that disagrees with the majority of the Ummah. For example. Then there are some groups that call themselves “Sufi” but ascribe to beliefs by which they negate something whose being part of the Deen is known with absolute certainty. it is not permissible to render them as Kaafir in both instances.
ّ ﻋﺰّ وﺠﻞAllah of behalf on signs who one is He :رﺤﻤﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ every Tom. in Islam a Mufti is not one who makes the laws. Similar to a medical doctor who is not permitted to begin treating patients by merely studying the science of medicine. Thus.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend (Answer to) Question Three Islam does not recognize the Hierarchy of Priesthood that is present in Christianity and other religions. then merely studying the Islamic Sciences does not render him qualified for Issuing Fatwa. Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and ‘Aqaid (Beliefs) and the principles of these sciences at the hands of expert teachers who have inherited such knowledge generation after generation. practical experience is necessary.Thus . it is necessary for one who adopts the responsibility of Ifta to have a full understanding of the circumstances of the people of his time as well as of their norms and practices. The scholars who have written books on the principles of fatwa have really emphasized this point. Hadith. rather for this. Rather he is merely one who explains what Allah Has made as law in His Book or in the Sunnah of His Prophet وﺴﻠﻢ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰand he explains what is established in the Shari’ah over the centuries. This is because Ifta requires such religious insight and an instinctive mastery of Jurisprudence that can never be attained by merely studying books.ﻡّوﺴﻞ ﻋﻠﻴﻪ اﻠﻠﻪ ﺻﻠﻰThe ‘ Ulama do not invent laws. The method that has been passed down and upon which the Ummah has practiced over the centuries is that until a person is not trained by a Mufti upon whom the Ulama of the time have placed reliance. They merely explain that which is established from the Noble Quran and Pure Sunnah. despite negating the Hierarchy of Priesthood. as it is a great responsibility which can only be fulfilled by a person who has gained in-depth knowledge of the Islamic Sciences of Tafseer. in order to explain the laws of Shari’ah it is necessary that the person explaining possesses some qualifications that enable him to correctly understand the texts of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Dick and Harry to issue Fatwa. However. In the words of ‘Allamah ibn Qayyim al Jawziyyah for permissible not is it . (See for example 746:1 ؒﻟﻠﻨووﻰ اﻠﻔﺘوﻰ آداﺐand (1:15 ؒ رﺴاﺌﻞ اﺒﻦ ﻋاﺒدﻴﻦin ﺷرﺢ ﻋﻘوﺪ رﺴﻢ اﻠﻤﻔﺘﻲ 9 / 11 . What is necessary is that he attains practical training at the hands of an expert doctor who has broad experience in this field. Sovereignty belongs entirely to Allah and His Messenger . Similarly.
This is what I have understood in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah and the consensus of the possessors of correct knowledge from the Muslim Ummah. has no qualms in issuing fatawa. and to guide us towards that in which His pleasure lies. even though it may be contrary to what the Ummah has settled upon over the centuries. Allah Subhanahu knows best and it is only He we ask to straighten our steps and to take responsibility of our guidance and to protect us from every type of misguidance in our thought and action. and that He benefits the people and places through you. Every person whose name gains popularity as a political leader or leader of some movement.Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRend Sadly. People are deceived by his popularity and then begin regarding his fatwa as a Shar’ee ruling. واﻠﺴﻠاﻢ ﻋﻠﻴﻜﻢ ورﺤﻤﺔ اﻠﻠﻪ وﺒرﻜاﺘﻪ Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani 12/4/1427 AH 10 / 11 . despite not possessing the required competence in the Shar’ee sciences. It is necessary to cast out such anomalous fatawa which only increase dissention and disunity amongst the Muslims and which tear apart the unity of the Muslims and break their strength and strengthen the plots of their enemies (against them). I ask Allah Ta’ala to continue granting you pious ability and success. nowadays many people have ignored this point.
Here ‘Far’ee’ issues refer to issues that have been deduced from the Qur’an and Hadith and in determining whose specific meaning and application there is room for difference of opinion of scholars qualified for the same. [Translator] 11 / 11 .Declaring a Person as Disbeliever By Hazrat Mufti Muhammad Taqi Usmani(( )اﻠﻌاﻠﻴﺔ ﺑرﻜاﺘﻬﻢ داﻤﺖRen  Literally meaning ‘related to a branch’.
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