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01/09/1428 AH [Articles of IslÁmic Faith] ÏMÀN AND KUFR ” Belief and Disbelief


Fundamentals of IslÁm
ÏmÁn (faith) is the solemn attestation of [all] the fundamentals of IslÁm. Denial of
any one fundamental is kufr (disbelief), even though one may maintain all of the
other beliefs.

The fundamentals of IslÁm are those with which the general are public are familiar,
like [the belief in]:
“ the oneness of AllÁh (tawÎÐd),
“ prophet-hood of the Prophets (nubuwwah),
“ Paradise (jannah) and Hell-Fire (jahannam),
“ the Day of Reckoning, etc.

In addition to the above, [there are other essential beliefs, such as,] the belief that the
Prophet MuÎammad Òall-AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam is the Seal of the Prophets ”
there cannot be another prophet after him (Òall-AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam).

‘General Public’ refers to those Muslims who do not constitute scholars, but,
nonetheless, they do acquire the honour of keeping company with scholars and also
have the passion for knowledge-based issues. They are not those people who dwell in
the wilderness, in forests and mountains, and who are unable to even pronounce the
Holy Word2 correctly. The lack of acquaintance of such-like people regarding the
fundamentals of IslÁm does not render those fundamentals insignificant.
Nevertheless, their being Muslim is dependant on their non-denial of the
fundamentals of IslÁm, and believe that what IslÁm comprises is the Truth.
Moreover, their belief in all IslÁmic fundamentals must be comprehensive.

Conviction in the Heart

Basically, ÐmÁn is mere attestation whereas physical actions are not a part of ÐmÁn.

This work has been translated from Bahār-e-SharīÝat (Urdu) - Shaykh Muḥammad Amjad ˓Alī
raÎimahu’LlÁh, Volume 1, Part 1, Pages 42 ” 45, published by Shaykh Ghulām ˓Ālī and Sons
Publishers, Lahore-Hyderabad-Karachi (Pakistan).
This is known as the ‘al-kalimat al-ṭayyibah’, which is spoken as a declaration of the Muslim faith. It
is pronounced, ‘lÁ ilÁha illa’LlÁhu muÎammadun rasÙlu’LlÁh (There is no deity but AllÁh, Muḥammad
 is the messenger of AllÁh)’
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01/09/1428 AH [Articles of IslÁmic Faith] ÏMÀN AND KUFR ” Belief and Disbelief

With regards to the declaration [of the attestation], the failure of one to find the
opportunity of expressing [his ÐmÁn] after testifying [to IslÁm] renders him a believer
(mu’min) with AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-taÝÁlÁ. However, upon the opportunity [of
expressing his ÐmÁn] when one is demanded thereof, one’s refusal of declaration
renders him a disbeliever (kÁfir). If one is not demanded to express, [and he does not
do so,] he shall be regarded a disbeliever in worldly affairs ” his funeral prayer shall
not be conducted and nor will he buried in the cemetery of the Muslims, even
though he does not express anything against IslÁm - but he shall be a believer with
AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-taÝÁlÁ.

Expression of Disbelief
To be Muslim, it is conditional to refrain from verbally denying any of the
fundamentals of IslÁm, even though one may acknowledge others. For example, one
may say that he only denies by tongue but does not deny by heart ” he shall thereby
have denied at will, whereas ÐmÁn is such attestation against which there is no scope.
The legal (sharÝÐ ) Muslim does not utter a word of disbelief without duress; he only
expresses according to its value in his heart.

Expression of Disbelief by Coercion

If one is coerced to utter a word of disbelief, say, if he is genuinely threatened with
life or amputation of a limb, and that he believes the coercer to be capable of
performing such an act, then in such a situation, one is offered rukhÒah (concession),
provided his contentment of ÐmÁn remains as [pure as] it was before. It would be
more noble [for him], however, that he is killed and refrains from uttering a word of

Actions of Disbelief
Although actions of limbs are not a part of ÐmÁn, some actions do oppose it. The
perpetrator of such [anti-IslÁmic] actions is labelled a disbeliever, such as
worshipping idols, the sun or the moon, murdering or insulting a Prophet [of AllÁh]
Ýalayhi’s-salÁm, insolence towards the Glorious Qur’Án or the Holy KaÝbah,
contempt of the Noble Sunnah, etc. are certainly acts of disbelief.
Similarly, some actions are signs of disbelief, such as the wearing of the cross-thread,
wearing a top-lock and marking the forehead [, like the Hindus]; Muslim legists
brand the performer of such acts a disbeliever.
When disbelief is made certain by such acts, the doer [of the act of disbelief] shall be
commanded to re-embrace IslÁm afresh, and to [also] renew his marriage with his

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Legal Commandments
It is disbelief to declare forbidden the legality of that which has been proven by
definitive textual evidence (naÒÒ qaÔÝÐ ), and to declare legitimate the prohibition of
that which is certain, when such affair relates to the fundamentals of IslÁm, or when
the rejecter is aware of this absolute ruling (Îukm qaÔÝÐ ).

Blind Imitation
TaqlÐd3 (blind imitation) in not permitted in principles of belief. The affair must be
founded upon absolute conviction, irrespective of the means of acquiring that
conviction - no method of ratiocination is required.
Nevertheless, taqlÐd is permitted in some subsidiary beliefs, due to which there are
two groups within the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-JamÁÝah:
1. the MÁturÐdiyyah (MÁturÐdÐs): who follow [the opinions of] ImÁm AbÙ
ManÒÙr al-MÁturÐdÐ ( d. 333 AH / 944 CE) raÎimahu’LlÁh, and
2. the AshÝariyyah (AshÝaris): who follow [the opinions of] ImÁm Abu ’l-Íasan
al-AshÝarÐ ( d. 324 AH / 936 CE) raÎimahu’LlÁh.

Both schools belong to the Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-JamÁÝah (People of the Prophetic Way
and the Community) and both are on the Truth. Their mutual differences fall in
only a few [subsidiary] issues4, which are like those between the ÍanafÐs and the
ShÁfiÝÐs 5, in such that both are of the Truth and none can degrade the other nor
prove it astray.

Constancy of ÏmÁn
ÏmÁn has no scope of increase or decrease, because loss and gain is found in that
which is counted or measured6 in length, width and depth.
ÏmÁn is attestation and affirmation of quality, i.e. state of belief or conviction.
There are verses [of the Noble Qur’Án] wherein [AllÁh subÎÁna-Hū wa-taÝÁlÁ]
mentions the increase in ÐmÁn, which refers to that which had been believed in and
that which had been attested [by the believers]. During the period when the Majestic
Qur’Án was being revealed, there was no [time] limit prescribed for it [to be
completed in], and laws were continuously being revealed. Whatever of that had
been revealed, ÐmÁn was bound to it, so [one cannot say that] ÐmÁn would have
increased or decreased.
However, ÐmÁn is prone to intensity and weakness due to the fact that they are
occurrences of state.
TaqlÐd: The adherance by a non-mujtahid to the juristic decisions of a mujtahid (distinguished jurist)
in matters of practical Islamic law, and without the demand for proof thereof.
These differences are of creedal nature.
These differences are of practical legal nature, i.e. on issues of fiqh. For exemplary purpose, the
author has only mentioned Ḥanafī and Shāfiʿī, whereas it includes all legal schools (madhhabs) of the
Ahl al-Sunnah wa’l-Jamāʿah.
Generally, there are three methods of measurement: i. dry measure (kayl ), ii. weight (wazn), and iii.
count, or number (Ýadad).
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The sole ÐmÁn of SayyidunÁ Abu Bakr al-ÑiddÐq raÃiy AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýanhu overwhelms
the sum total of ÐmÁns of every person from this ummah.

Dissimilarity between ÏmÁn (True Faith) and Disbelief

No correlation exists between ÐmÁn and disbelief ” one is either a Muslim or a
disbeliever, and there is no third option, in that one may neither be Muslim and nor
a disbeliever [or a concoction of both].

Hypocrisy (nifÁq), which is to verbally claim IslÁm but to deny it with the heart, is
unadulterated disbelief ” for such people is the lowest point of Hell.
During the Era of the Prophet MuÎammad Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam, there
were some people who were identified with this description. The Holy Qur’Án spoke
regarding their inward disbelief, whereas the Prophet MuÎammad Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ
Ýalayhi wa-sallam, with his vast knowledge, recognised each one and announced that
so-and-so is a hypocrite. However, nowadays, it is impossible to declare, with
certainty, anyone to be a hypocrite, in such that whoever claims to be Muslim, we
are required to accept him as Muslim, provided no act or saying negating ÐmÁn is
committed by him.
Even so, one branch of hypocrisy is to be found these days; many irreligious persons
regard themselves Muslim, but it is seen that whilst professing IslÁm, denial of the
fundamentals of IslÁm coincides.

Polytheism (shirk) means: to believe in anything other than AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-
taÝÁlÁ to be self-existent (wÁjib al-wujÙd), or worthy of being worshipped, i.e. to share
His divinity (ulÙhiyyah) with another. This is the worst form of disbelief.
Anything other than this is not, in reality, polytheism, be it of whatever intensity
with regards to disbelief. This is why the SharÐÝah has set apart the legal rulings with
respect to the Ahl al-KitÁb7 and polytheists:
“ the [meat of a] slaughtered animal (dhabÐÎah) of a kitÁbÐ 8 is lawful,
whereas that of a polytheist is (as unlawful as) carrion,
“ marriage with a kitÁbiyyah is permitted but forbidden with a female
“ jizyah 9 is to be acquired from a kitÁbÐ but not from a polytheist, according
to ImÁm al-ShÁfiÝÐ raÎimahu’LlÁh.

Those who believe in one God and a divinely inspired book, such as monotheistic Christians, Jews,
Ahl al-KitÁb male is known as kitÁbÐ, female is kitÁbiyyah.
Capitation on non-Muslims living in an IslÁmic state, in return for the protection of their lives,
property, honour, etc.
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Occasionally, the term ‘shirk ’ refers to unqualified disbelief (kufr) itself, as in the
statement in the Noble Qur’Án that ‘polytheism will not be forgiven’10, it is used in
this meaning, i.e. generally, no form of disbelief will be forgiven, whereas all other
sins are dependant upon the will of AllÁh Ýazza wa-jalla, and He may forgive
whomsoever He wills.

Major Sins
The perpetrator of Major Sins remains Muslim and is entitled admittance in
Paradise, irrespective of whether:
“ AllÁh la-Hu’l`aÛmatu wa’l-kibriyÁ’u pardons him out of His own grace,
“ after the interceding of the Prophet MuÎammad Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi
wa-sallam for him, or
“ after receiving partial punishment for his own misdeeds.
Once in Paradise, he shall not exit it.

Praying for the Salvation of a Disbeliever

One renders himself a disbeliever if:
“ he prays [to AllÁh jalla majdu-Hu] for the forgiveness of a disbeliever,
“ he calls a dead apostate ‘marÎÙm’ (upon whom be mercy) or ‘maghfÙr’
(may he be forgiven),
“ he calls a dead Hindu ‘baikunth bÁshÐ ’ (existing in the realm of the

Remembering the Dead Muslim or Disbeliever

To regard the Muslim as Muslim and a disbeliever as disbeliever is of the
fundamentals of IslÁm. That one passed away in the state of IslÁm or disbelief must
not be declared unless such state is proven by IslÁmic legal evidence.
To doubt the disbelief of an absolute disbeliever renders one himself a disbeliever.
The state of one’s belief depends on the [outcome on the] Day of Reckoning, as well
as on physical appearance, as per IslÁmic legal ruling. For instance, one disbeliever
dies as a Jew, Christian or idolater, and it cannot be ascertained as to whether he
died in the state of disbelief, the command of AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-taÝÁlÁ and of the
Prophet MuÎammad Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam [in this matter] is to regard
him a disbeliever ” his affairs in this world and after his death shall be dealt with in
accordance with those of disbelievers, such as his keeping company, marriage,
funeral prayer, shroud and burial, etc.
If someone has committed disbelief, it shall be a definite obligation to regard him a
disbeliever. We shall leave his final state in the knowledge of AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-
taÝÁlÁ. Similarly, if someone is apparently Muslim and has not committed any act [,

Qur’Án: 4:48, 4:116-117, 10:11.
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or omission,] and nor has he said anything contrary to ÐmÁn, it is a definite

obligation for us to regard him a Muslim, though we may be unaware of his final
Nowadays, some people assert that to make remembrance of AllÁh subÎÁna-Hu wa-
taÝÁlÁ, [by pronouncing His name,] is far better than to label someone a disbeliever,
and that the former attracts more reward. Our response to this is that although we
do not encourage the declaration of disbelief against anyone, but, nevertheless, one
must regard a disbeliever a disbeliever, and upon querying, label him a disbeliever
indeed, and not to conceal the disbelief of such individual.

Important Note
It is stated in a ÎadÐth:
‚My ummah will split into seventy-three sects; all of them shall be destined to
Hell but one.‛
The Companions raÃiy AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýanhum ajmaÝÐn asked, ‚Who are they11,
O’ Messenger of AllÁh Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam?‛
He (Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam ) replied, ‚That upon which I and my
Companions are (meaning, those who follow my example).‛12

In another narration, the Beloved Prophet (Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam) said:
‚They are the majority‛ whom he (Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam) named
‘al-SawÁd al-AÝÛam (the Great Mass)13’.
He (Òall AllÁhu taÝÁlÁ Ýalayhi wa-sallam) said, ‚He who falls away from them,
has fallen away into Hell.‛14, hence the name of this successful sect ‘the Ahl
al-Sunnah wa’l-JamÁÝah (Ehl-e-Sunnat-o-JamÁ’at)15’

Of the vagrant sects, many have appeared and perished, and they are not only those
that we find in India. It is futile to mention those sects when they have long gone
and so has their mischief. We shall, however, briefly mention the beliefs of those
sects currently existing in India, in order to protect our brothers from their deceit, as
it is mentioned in the ÎadÐth:
‚Stay away from them lest they should lead you astray and enter you into

Translated and annotated by: Ṭāhir Maḥmood Kiānī

The Successful Group.
related by Ibn MÁjah, TirmidhÐ, AÎmad, MishkÁt, ÍÁkim, AbÙ DÁwÙd, Ibn KathÐr, Ibn
Taymiyyah, and others.
stated in Ghunyat al-ÓÁlibÐn, al-ÝAqd al-Jayyid, al-MÐzÁn al-QubrÁ, etc.
related by Ibn MÁjah, MishkÁt, al-ÍadÐqat al-NÁdiyyah, Hashiyah al-Durr al-MukhtÁr, and others
Those who adhere to the Prophetic example and to the majority.
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