Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,
There is a fad of sorts that has taken hold in some Muslim quarters which comes out with the expression that certain other Muslims are not Muslims. This is known as takfir al Muslim. Due to this fact and the consequences of this fact that is resulting in bloodshed and civil strife and civil war and internal instability in the Islamic realm we’re going to have to speak about this issue of takfir al Muslim li al Muslim i.e. this passing judgement by one Muslim against another Muslim or by one group of Muslim against another community of Muslims that they are Kafirs. We, (meaning yours honestly here), attempted to find whether we can trace any of this type of character or any of this type of attitude to the time of Allah’s Prophet, in other words has it ever occurred that while Allah’s Prophet was alive was there any other Muslim because of some disagreement or because of thinking about Allah and His Prophet in a different way accused another Muslim of being a Kafir. As far as our limited human knowledge goes and the effort to dig up this information goes, we didn’t come across anything like that. There were disagreements amongst Muslims at the time of Allah’s Prophet, there were different interpretations about what the Prophet said or of what the ayah quoted means but these differences of understanding and interpretations and opinion never led any one individual at the time of Allah’s Prophet to point the finger of kufr against another Muslim in Makkah, Al Madinah, Al Hejaz or in that area which became Islamic in the lifetime of Allah’s Prophet. Rather there is an incident that took place during the time of Allah’s Prophets when Allah’s Prophet dispatched Usama ibn Zayd (radi Allahu anhu) or assigned him a military operation to go to a people who were opposed to (and) who were enemies of the Muslims and this was a fighting force. We’re speaking here about a military encounter to be. So Usama ibn Zayd and those Islamic fighters with him went to this particular area and these people who heard the Muslims were coming left. They were afraid or whatever. They left so there was no military encounter between an Islamic military expedition or contingent and these others but there was a man who was still around. So when the Muslims over powered this man (and) when this Islamic force surrounded him he said ashadu an la Ilaha illa Allah. These armed people (or) these Muslims heard him say ashadu an la Ilaha illa Allah. After he said that they assaulted him and he was killed after having expressed these words ashadu an la Ilaha illa Allah. Now we don’t want to go into the details of whether he said wa ashahadu anna Muhammadan Rasulullah or whether he did not say that because you’re going to find both these in these history books. So when Usama ibn Zayd and those with him returned to the Prophet, Usama said I felt something uncomfortable in me because this happened. He looked back at everything that happened and inside of him there was something unsettling about this all. So he said to himself I’m going to go to Allah’s Prophet and tell him exactly what happened. So he approaches Allah’s Prophet said to him, after Usama explained these details, who do you have who is going to come to your support when that is needed concerning a person who went down when he said ashadu an la Ilaha illa Allah. This means that the Prophet was rebuking Usama for what happened, in other words he is saying to him why did you do that? This person said La Ilaha illa Allah. Then Usama said I responded because he said that because he feared arms and death (or) he feared our weapons and the consequences of using those weapons which is to finish him off; in other words we felt that he was saying that to protect himself. So the Prophet said to him (or) answered him, did you open his chest and know his internal feelings so that you can say what you just said that this casualty (or) this person who was killed said what he said because of the reason that you just stated, (i.e.) he feared the weapons and he feared that he was going to die so he said that? And then the Prophet repeated once again to him, who is going to support you against a person who said La Ilaha illa Allah? Who is going to come to your aid on the day of Resurrection? This is the closest that we will find in the life time of Allah’s Prophet when a Muslim with other Muslims all of them together take on one person who said La Ilaha illa Allah given these military circumstances. What the Prophet, in other words, is trying to say is you give the person who said La Ilaha illa Allah the benefit of the doubt especially when you are in power if there’s doubt here. Remember, the Muslims here are in power (and) this is a person who has no power. The Prophet wasn’t doubting the suspicions the Muslims had about this person but even though there may be this type of suspicion and even though it may be shared among everyone, you can’t kill a person after he says La Ilaha illa Allah, these being the circumstances. So this is the closest example you can have in the lifetime of Allah’s Prophet of Muslims, as credit worthy as they are around the Prophet, killing another person who said La Ilaha illa Allah which technically made him a Muslim just like that.
Please listen very closely and please understand the previous hadith and incident between Usama ibn Zayd and the Prophet with this current ayah and its meaning. There’s an ayah in Surah An Nisa’ which says (and) the general meaning of this ayah is that
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ فَتَبَيَّنُوا
O you who and divinely and securely committed to Allah: if you militarily strike out in the land then be very observant of what you do … (Surah An Nisa’ verse 94)
You have to be observant of your own force, meaning you have to understand your own capabilities, your own wherewithal, your own potentials as well as those who are in opposition to you there in this military encounter.
وَلَا تَقُولُوا لِمَنْ أَلْقَىٰ إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلَامَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا
… and don’t say to people who approach you with the character, the attitude (and) the behavior of peace “you are not a committed person”; … (Surah An Nisa’ verse 94)
Here, Allah is opening up our in-depth psychology because, (for those of you who have been in military service or have been at war fronts), there’s this over-riding charge in the psychology of this condition to obtain the spoils of war. You want to win and you want to possess what the other has. Many times, this military momentum rides roughshod over Islamic principles and over Islamic values. These Islamic principles and values get buried in the military thrust, in the military psychology and indoctrination that is part of military life. So Allah is bringing, even, these military commanders and these upper echelons back to their principles, to their Islamic foundations. Be observant (and) be cautious of what you do. So if you doo encounter a force and they may surrender. They may be in Islamic history contingents and communities of people who surrender. They may say La Ilaha illa Allah. What do you do? You kill them for what they were of you deal with them conscientiously for what they may become?
Then, if we visit another ayah in the Qur’an. This is ayah number fifteen in Surah Al Isra’. We get the feeling that we should be very reluctant to use the word kufr on people who are actually not Muslims. This ayah says
مَّنِ اهْتَدَىٰ فَإِنَّمَا يَهْتَدِي لِنَفْسِهِ ۖ وَمَن ضَلَّ فَإِنَّمَا يَضِلُّ عَلَيْهَا ۚ وَلَا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ
Whoever is guided, that guidance is the privilege of his or her own self and whoever goes wayward does it against his or her own self; one psychology (or) one self is not going to be burdened with the psychology and with the life of another self… (Surah Al Isra’ verse 15)
We’re all responsible for our ownselves. Then, the transition comes from a self (or) an individual to societies. Allah says
وَمَا كُنَّا مُعَذِّبِينَ حَتَّىٰ نَبْعَثَ رَسُولًا
… We, Divinity, Providence, the Almighty, is not going to punish until he sends a Rasul. (Surah Al Isra’ verse 15)
This brings us to a very important issue that is either overlooked or not detected by those who should know better and that is who is it? The word kufr and all its derivatives in the Qur’an is used probably hundreds of times in the Qur’an so it begs our understanding. We should be cautious in not using or not throwing it around and saying “this person is a Kafir and the other person is a Kafir.” So who is it? When do we really begin to notice that this word applies to people? Kufr is the counter effort of Iman. Listen very carefully to this brothers and sisters- if there is no Iman then there is no Kufr! Consider this hypothetical or consider this almost impossible but for purposes of understanding lets say no one in the world has Iman; then we don’t have Kafirs. These people who are not guided, who don’t have a commitment to Allah (and) who don’t have Iman- they never were presented with Iman because Iman needs a presence; it needs human beings, it needs society (and) a power culture- when that comes into existence, (and we learn this from reading the Qur’an and understanding the Prophet), what happens is when Iman becomes a social behaviour then it is always going to happen that there’s going to be a thought out opposition to that social behaviour. To have a mentally formulated counter Iman you’re going to have to understand, at least mentally, what Iman is. How is anyone- Establishments, power structures, governments, dictators, rulers- going to be counter Islamic if they don’t know what Islam is, if they don’t know what Iman is? How is that going to happen? So if you go back to the books of seerah and history and revisit the way Allah’s Prophet or the way Allah’s Prophets, (go back to the history of Prophets themselves), the way Ibrahim or Musa or Dawud or Sulayman or Muhammad (alahim as salaam) or any of them spoke to people. When they came to their societies, these societies were not Imaani societies and they were not Islamic societies but they never (and) you’ll never find- that in the first years of explaining Allah to society (and) explaining scripture to people- any Prophet saying to people that they are Kafirs. None! It didn’t exist because it couldn’t exist! You can’t have Kafirs who don’t know what Islam is (and) what the Qur’an and the Prophet are all about. It’s impossible! It’s like you won’t understand what darkness is if you don’t know what light is. That’s why when you listen to these Prophet’s who came and they spoke to their people- who were not Muslims, who were not guided, etc. etc. They were in their jahiliyyah, they were in their own materialistic types of life because we’re talking about different societies throughout different eras of history- they said Yaa Qawmi, my people. This was before things developed. At the beginning, my people. Anyone who read and understood this history never said the Prophet’s were nationalistic. When a Prophet is beginning to speak to his neighbours and his friends and his relatives and his acquaintances he says my people. These are people who are not guided yet. But he used (language) just like you’re in a family. Let’s make this simple. Some people get a little lost, let’s simplify it. Let’s say you, yourself, are in a family; you have brothers and sisters and mothers and aunts and uncles and all- this is your family and then you receive this guidance from Allah (and) you understand what this Islam is and then after you understand this you realise your brothers and sisters, your parents, your uncles, your aunts and all are not Muslims so you want to explain this Islam to them. What do you do? You char them? You shock them? You say “you Kafirs?” Does that make sense? They never heard of this Islam! What are you talking about? You come and tell them to their face “you are Kafir?” This is not the way it’s done. You say “my father, my mother, my brother, my sister- consider this (or) think about this.” You explain an ayah (or) you explain a hadith. You explain these things to them and then you give them time- a month, a year, some years- to think through this (and) to decide where are they going to stand on this issue. In the meantime this base and this reality of Iman gels, it begins to gain momentum; the counter momentum to it is called kufr, the hostile momentum against it is called kufr. You can’t have a hostile anti-Imani momentum when there is no Iman. These Prophets said Yaa Qawmi, my people and then they showed a concern for their people even if their people proved that they were going to embark now on a future decision of kufr.
إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ
My people: indeed I fear for you the consequence of a very painful day. (Surah Al Shu’ara’ verse 135)
There’s concern here. Now we make a small transition here from this body of information and we take a look at ourselves. Today in this world this takfiri mentality and propaganda is basically now, (if you are hearing this for the first time), there are people who are not like you and I; they are against you and me. They understand what is involved here. They say “take a look at these Muslims.” They take a look at us (and) they say “look, there is these Sunnis and there is these Shi’is- what we turn them against each other? What is it going to take?” So they took a look at this history that we have- all of us have this history, we may read it in different ways but they read it in a way that will cause us to hate each other. Then they used all of these channels of communication that they have a began pumping this information that can fuel this takfiri mindset. So it goes back to when the Prophet passed away. When the Prophet passed away there were two understandings of how to fill in this void. There was no longer an Islamic leader; it’s an empty seat. Who is going to fill it, (so to speak)? Some Muslims said this has to be done through the process of what may be called, (let’s facilitate the understanding here), through a social contract what they call al ikhtiyaar, wa ash shura wa al bai’ah. This is how they understood. At the beginning (or) at this time, we are talking about when the Prophet passed away, this understanding was not as a matter of selfishness, it was not a matter of nationalism or tribalism, it wasn’t a matter of scoring against someone else. It was done in good faith. This is what they understood in the depths of their hearts and in the core of their brains they understood that whoever it is who is going to fill in for Allah’s Prophet has to assume that responsibility as a matter of ikhtiyaar and shura and bai’ah which we abbreviated into what is called in political language a social contract. This is how it’s going to be done. Now mind you, these people who are plotting and planning sectarianism and takfir looked at this and then they look at the other Muslim. They said no. This they did also in a genuine, selfless approach to the issue; no nationalism or tribalism or selfishness involved in this. They said by quote or by nass the person to fill in for the Prophet after he passed away is the first Imam of the Muslims, Imam Ali. So here is where we, Muslims altogether, part company. Right now this is history so when we read and study this history we part company on a theoretical and then what has become almost a theological issue. There are people who are behind the scenes who took all of this (and) they looked at this just with their minds to begin with. They were looking here at what happened to the Muslims- something that we ourselves are incapable of doing! We, with the good intentions (and) with the affinity for our own selves, were not able just to take a very hard, objective, unbiased, mental look at the facts so we created this vacuum in which these trouble makers came in and said “look this is a serious difference here between these Muslims. This can make for a very good polarisation of opinions and from there on it could lead to one Muslim saying of the other Muslim you’re a Kafir.” And thus it was. This type of information settled in to the fanatic wings of both Sunnis and Shi’is to such a degree that the fanatics among the Sunnis say “look at the Shi’is- they believe that al wilayah…” Remember, we mentioned earlier that these Muslims who are saying this themselves haven’t given us a definition of the word al wilayah (but) still, without this definition they come say “there are these Muslims sho are Shi’is who believe that this Imamah or this walayah is usul min usul ad deen.” Generally speaking the Sunnis have settled on three usul and al Imamah is not one of them or al walayah is not one of them. They say “look they fabricated a religion for themselves.” Remember these are the fanatics speaking, the ones who come out with this takfiri attitude (that) “they fabricated this asal and therefore Muslims who do not believe, i.e. Sunnis, who do not believe in al Imamah or al walayah are Kafirs” Remember, these are the fanatics. On the other hand we have the Shi’is. The Shi’is, (depends on who you’re reading), “believe in this integral part of Islam that is called al Imamah or al walayah and some of them consider the Imams just like the Prophets- not in as much as being Prophets but in as much as fulfilling the social roles of Prophets. The Prophets were leaders and therefore these Imams are leaders in the absence of the Prophet so if you don’t believe in these Imams it’s like not believing in Prophets and then if you become selective and you believe in some Imams and don’t believe in others it’s like saying that you believe in some Prophets and you don’t believe in others.” Now this puts other Muslims in a very critical position and here is where the trouble makers come in -they say “look at you Muslims- you don’t have the same faith, you don’t have the same religion.” So some people are more frank, they say “we believe in the Shi’i religion.” They just come out and say it that way and this is what happens when we don’t do our own homework. We ask some of the Muslims who are around what do you do when this is the case (and) when there is not enough necessary and critical information in our possession to extend our hand of togetherness to the other? That’s why we say what we need in our times- we don’t need rhetoric, we don’t need propaganda- are Sunnis who are so aware and versed and confident of their Sunni character or their Sunni convictions that that confidence makes them extend a helping hand to the other Muslim; likewise in the same fashion we need Shi’is who are so confident, so aware (and) so tuned in to their Tashayyu’ or their Shi’ism that out of that confidence they extend a hand of togetherness and understanding to the other Muslim. But that’s not what the master plan is all about. The master plan is to instigate this area of misunderstanding among us that has its historical origins and flare it up by those who are in today’s world, there are fanatic Sunnis and fanatic Shi’is who take the holier than thou approach and point fingers of inferiority and also may be sub-human level to the other who doesn’t agree with how they define or how they interpret these developments that occurred in our history.
Beloved brothers and sisters…
This mentality of excluding the other of being a Muslim has its consequences. We see in today’s world how this issue is playing out in the two geographical areas that lived this issue in that first generation of Muslims who disagreed on this whole affair- al Khilafah or al Imamah in Iraq and in Syria. (It’s) as if history is back to tell them have you learnt from your own history, have you learnt from your own mistakes, have you learnt from the thousands or hundreds of thousands of lives that have gone down because of your ignorance. We’re back to it. (It’s) as if we’re back to square number one right now and where are the Muslims who think through this issue right now? We ask you where are our minds to think- put our emotions on the side for the time being. What is required now is concentrated thought on this issue or else we’re going to have what we have. Recently, in the past week or two week, a big fuss has developed concerning what is called jihad al munakaha (or) the jihad of nikah. What does this mean? This is something new. What does this mean to some people? This is what it means in our current context- this is right now an issue in Tunisia. Young Tunisian ladies in their teens and in their twenties are leaving Tunisia to go to Syria not to fight but to offer sexual satisfaction to those who they consider to be Mujahideen in Syria. Some person tried to detect where does all this come from and detected this one person in Saudi Arabia who when presented with this issue said “no I have nothing to do with it.” This is how these explosions are going off in Masajid, in Islamic congregational areas, in Syria, in Iraq (and) in all of these places. Why is this happening? If this tells you and me anything, it tells us we’ve never done our homework! We’ve never considered our own history in a way that combines and binds us. What type of history is thrown around and explained? It’s the divisive one, the chapters that will separate Muslims from each other. This is the type that is being printed in books and lectured in universities and in seminaries- divide! What is this? We don’t know if we mentioned this before. A fanatic comes out and it’s picked up by certain media to have Muslims look at each other. Astaghfirullah for what was being said but the person who pronounces the words of kufr to explain them is not a Kafir. We’re going to pronounce the words that this person said- don’t attribute that to the person who’s trying to relate to you what was said and there was a fatwa by Imam Khamenei to repel this type of attitude. This person is in front of the camera and he has some five (or) ten year old young children repeating “Aa’isha fi an naar, Aa’isha fi an naar.” He is singing this as if he is enjoying himself. Is this Islam? Is this Iman? This is the Qur’an? This is the Prophet? Are these the morals of Muslims? These are facts of life that- unfortunately when we come into contact with something like that it’s our emotions, it’s not our minds- if you listen to something like that try to think why is this person saying this? Who is this person? He says it in England and the cameras are there and then it spreads all over like fire in a barn. This is what is meant for us when we don’t think and these Masajid are part of that problem because they reinforce that emotionalism and they try as much as possible to chain our minds. They don’t want us to think- that’s a danger to them. “ Muslims thinking? Oh no! Muslims should not think. Muslims should be emotional. Muslims should not be scholars they should be fanatics.” This is how it goes and this is who complicit with it all.