Prerogative of Excommunication (Takfir) Is it Wrong to Call a Disbeliever a Non-Believer? A Few Principles & Answers, By Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri
Compiled By: Mufti Umar Anwar Badakhshani
A New interpretation of the tenets of Islam: Deviation from Islam
Just as Salah, Zakat, Fasting, and Hajj are the basic pillars of Islam and in the Shariah of Islam they have a special meaning and purport. Through the categorical command of the Quran, through the actions of Prophet ﷺ and the Sahabah (R.A), the true and practical meaning of the above have been clarified and accepted. This is exactly how the Ummat-e-Muhammadiyah and the research scholars among the Ulema have understood and practices upon them for the past fourteen hundred years. This continuity and practical inheritance have put the stamp of veracity upon it. Now, to move away from this chain of continuity, the continuous Islamic meaning and to establish some novel interpretations or meanings to these categorical commands is a clear cut deviation from Islam. Exactly, in the same way, the concepts of Kufr (disbelief), Nifaq (hypocrisy), Irtidad (reneging from Islam), and Fisq (sin) are all of the basic commands of Islam. All these terms have a special and definite meaning and purport. Both the Quran and the Prophet ﷺ have categorically established what they mean and what their boundaries are. To shift these terms away from their Sharee meaning is also a clear cut deviation from Islam. To now make them the basis of a new discussion and debate with regard to their meanings and implications, to resort to novel interpretations and changes and thereby move away from the meanings and implications accepted for the past fourteen hundred years is open heresy and a false profession of Islam.
The connection of “Iman” is with the conviction of the heart. There are special things that are necessary to be believed in and accepted for Iman. The act of not accept and believe in these is termed in the technical terminology of the Glorious Quran as Kufr and the person not believing as a Kafir. Just as the giving up of Salah, Zakat, Fasting, and Hajj are termed Fisq, provided the person acknowledges and believes their being incumbent but merely does not practice on them. If a person, after practicing upon these factors of Salah, Zakat, Fasting and hajj, shifts away from the famous and accepted meanings through the ages and furnishes some new meanings to these terms or resorts to interpretations which were not resorted to by any Islamic scholar for the past fourteen hundred years, this act of his in the terminology of the Quran is called Ilhad or heresy. The Quran has utilized the terms, Kufr, Nifaq, Ilhad and Irtidad and as long as the Quran remains on the surface of the earth, those words too will remain with their given meanings.
If it is wrong to call non-muslim “kafir” then it would also be wrong to call Muslim a “Muslim”?
Remember, if Iman is a specified reality then so too is Kufr. If the objective is cease using the word Kufr and not to refer to any Kafir as a Kafir, then do not even take the name of Islam, do not refer to any person or nation as Mu’min or Muslims. Without night, the day cannot be called day, without darkness, light cannot be called light. How then can Islam be called Islam without Kufr? It will also be incorrect to say this and differentiate “This government of Muslims will be a secular state, a state without Deen”. In short, after ceasing to use the term Kufr and Kafir, the claim of an “Islamic government” will be meaningless or it will merely be an attractive lie used in order to win elections.
The duty of the scholars is to reveal the truth, not to make them infidels
It is now the incumbent duty of the scholars of the Ummah to show the Ummah where their use is correct and where incorrect. In other words, to show that a person or group, after fulfilling the demands of lman are Mumin (believers) and are called Muslims (believers). So too, those people or groups who do not complete these demands are termed Kafir and out of the pale of Islam. It is also the incumbent duty of the scholars of the Ummah to establish the boundaries and limits, the details of the demands of Iman as well as the beliefs, actions, and deeds which render the commission of Kufr. To clarify that by adopting these, a Muslim is removed from Islam. This needs to be done so that no believer is labeled a disbeliever and no disbeliever can claim to be a believer. Otherwise, if the boundaries and limits of Iman and Kufr are not clarified and specified, the religion of Islam will become a childish game, and Haven (Jannah) and Hell (Jahannum) a mere story.
No matter what happens, as long as the world revolves, it is the incumbent duty of the Ulema and which will remain for them to issue rulings of Kufr on issues of Kufr. This will have to be done with complete integrity, knowledge, and research after which the label of heresy and atheism will be given to acts and beliefs of heresy and atheism. If any person or group, has shifted out of the pale of Islam in the light of the Quranic and Hadith’s categorical statement and clarification, the ruling should be issued that they are out of the fold of Islam and have no connection with the Islam, as long as the sun does not rise in the west and Qiyamah does not come. Since the issue of Kufr and Islam is extremely important and necessary along with being sensitive, for a person could in his fervor be carried with the flow and commit an error in his pronouncement of Kufr. This is why, when a sizeable group among the Ulema passes a verdict, such a verdict will definitely be based on truth and will be beyond doubt and misgivings.
Kafir (disbeliever), Fasiq (sinner), Mulhid (atheist), Munafiq (hypocrite), etc. if these terms are used in the right context then they represent shariah rules and attributes
Nonetheless, a Kafir, Fasiq, Mulhid, Murtad, etc. are based on Shariah commands and qualities, be it an individual or a group, it will depend on their beliefs, statements, and actions and not on their persons and beings. Contrary to this, those who are sworn at, it is their persons and beings which are sworn at. Therefore, if words are used in their correct context, they are Shariah commands and to refer to it as abusive language, and to refer to enforcing those commands as being abusive and insulting is either ignorance or irreligiousness. Yes, if a person, in the state of anger or on the bases of prejudice, bigotry and enmity refer to any Muslim as a “Kafir” this is definitely abusive. The person using this abusive language is himself a sinner and will deserve to be punished for this. If a person purposefully refers to a Muslim as a “Kafir”, he, in turn, will actually become a “Kafir”.
Man becomes a disbeliever by denying the truth, and not just referred by the scholars
Whenever the learned shariah scholars refer to anyone or any group as “Kafir”, they are in reality pointing out the disbelief of that person or group in order to make the Muslims aware of their position and not to make them into disbelievers. The person himself becomes a Kafir when he believes, says or does something which amounts to disbelief and does not fulfill the necessary demands of Iman. In such cases, the person or group, by his or their own choice, commit the Kufr. To say, “What else do the Moulwis know apart from labeling people as Kafirs,” is nothing but compound ignorance or irreligiousness.
Had the Ulema not protected the boundaries of Iman and Islam, the very name of Islam would have been wiped out from the pages of existence long ago. Just as it is incumbent upon a government to enforce the boundaries it has established and in order to do so they establish a military, arm themselves with weapons in preparation and do not remain negligent towards this for even a single second, so too, it is the responsibility of the Ulema-e-Haq to safeguard and protect the Deen of Islam and Iman against the onslaught of the atheists, heretics and the ignorant. Not very long ago, when India attacked Pakistan and the government of Pakistan announced “Jihad” and when the Pakistani military participated in this with vim and vigor, the people of India got the opportunity to say that “Pakistan is not run by an Islamic government” and that “this was not an Islamic Jihad” and “if it is, then India too, is Darul Islam, just like Pakistan”.
Neither are the laws of Islam enforced there nor here. Muslims live there just as they live here. Why did India get the opportunity to say this? All this is because there is no Islamic government in Pakistan nor is an Islamic society present. This is such a weakness of ours on which the enemies received the opportunity to take advantage of such a delicate time. If in this country, the claimant to Nubuwwat and those who refute the finality of Nubuwwat, Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadiani’s followers, are also Muslims, if Ghulam Ahmed Parvez and his group, the person to destroy the fourteen hundred-year-old (worship) Ibadat and Mu’amalat of Islam and who clearly refutes the existence of Heaven and Hell is also a Muslim, if the person who fashions the enjoined commands of the Quran to fit the demands of the time, who regards the Sunnah of Prophet ﷺ as a customary practice, who wants to silence the Quran with regard to interest and declare it a permissible, is not only a Muslim but also the head of an Islamic Research Academy, then remember that by merely writing the verses of the Quran in gold will not safeguard the Quran till the day of Qiyamah. This claim is indeed a laughable matter or a ploy to fool the general masses.
The open contradiction of the liberal people
Until recently these very “heretics” used to taunt the Muslims by saying, ”The Glorious Quran” was not revealed so that it could be wrapped up in silk cloth, kissed, and placed on the forehead and head. It is a code of life for the Muslims to practice upon. It has been revealed in order to implement and practice upon.” Why then is there such indifference towards it today? As far as they are concerned, when both parties are willing, adultery is not referred to as a sin. Banking interest is made permissible like a mother’s milk and the government itself is involved in both taking and giving interest. Honorable gambling takes place at the racecourse. Licenses are being issued for importing and trading in liquor. Laws of marriage, divorce, and inheritance are all being passed in clear contravention of the Quran and Sunnah. What then is there to say about crimes and their punishments? In short, the Quran has been placed upon a shelf and the “passing of laws” is now taking place. Let us not forget that the verses of the Quran are now being written in gold and preserved. These are indeed situations that require a high level of patience. What, after all, has happened to the Muslims that the understanding of clear realities has also been snatched away? “O, Allah! Guide my nation for verily they do not know.”
Source: Daur e Hazir kay Fitny aur un ka Ilaj, By Maulana Syed Muhammad Yusuf Banuri
To read this article in Urdu click on the link below: