On the Takfir of the Wahhabi Sect

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

The following is extracted from Imam Jamil Swiddiqi ibn Muhammad Faydhi az-Zahawi al-Kurdi’s (r.a.), al-Fajr asw-Swadiq fi ar-Radd ‘ala Munkiri at-Tawaswswul wa al-Khawariq, “The True Dawn: A Refutation of Those Denying Miracles & Intercession in Islam”.

Wahhabis have pretexts for their doctrine to in order to construct a foundation for their unwarranted innovation in religion.  One of them is to declare Muslims unbelievers.  That is because Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab was seduced by the evil promptings of his ego into attempting to create a new religion by which he could obtain political leadership.  However, when he saw that this could not be brought to pass in the land of Muslims, for, in spite of their extreme ignorance, they held fast to the faith of Islam, he created the innovation in Islam itself.  Furthermore, when he saw that the matter could not be accomplished except after declaring Muslims disbelievers by using some semblance of Qur’anic evidence, he found that the only way to declare them unbelievers was through their calling on Allah (s.w.t.) by using their Prophet (s.a.w.) as a means, tawaswswul, as well as for the sakes of other prophets, awliya’ and pious persons.  Likewise he levelled the same charge at those who vow or perform sacrifices for their sakes and perform other acts.  All these matters, he considers worship of the prophets and the saints.  And since the Qur’an is jam-packed with clearly articulated verses to the effect that one who worships something or someone other than Allah (s.w.t.) is an idolater, Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab made all monotheists idolaters because of the state of affairs just described.

Since the Wahhabis have declared disbeliever all Muslims who differ with them, they have made their country the land of warfare, bilad al-harb.  Then they have made licit the shedding their blood and seizing their property.  Yet Allah (s.w.t.) has Said:

The religion before Allah is Islam (submission to His will) ... (Surah Ali ‘Imran:19)

And the Prophet (s.a.w.) has said, “Islam consists in testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”  Also, in the hadits of ibn ‘Umar (r.a.), it is reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Islam is built upon five things: [The first being] Testifying that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the His servant and Messenger.”  There is the hadits of the delegation of ‘Abd al-Qays (r.a.), where Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “I order you to believe in Allah Alone.  Do you know what belief in Allah Alone is?  It is to bear witness that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”  All three are related by Imam al-Bukhari (r.a.) and Imam Muslim (r.a.).

Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.), commenting on the above, said, “All Muslims agree that if the disbeliever says, ‘There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,’ he enters Islam.”

To declare a Muslim an unbeliever is no small matter.  The ‘ulama, among them, Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) and Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.), have agreed that the ignorant person and the one who makes a mistake in this community, even if what is done makes its perpetrator an idolater or disbeliever, and that person pleads the excuse of ignorance or that he made a mistake until a proof is explained to him in a lucid and clear fashion, a situation like such a person's is ambiguous.  The Muslim might have joined in him disbelief, idolatry and faith.  Yet he does not disbelieve in such a way that carries him out of the religion.  That means he cannot be declared an unbeliever.  Imam az-Zahawi mentioned specifically Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) and Imam ibn al-Qayyim (r.a.) because Wahhabis consider them their highest scholarly authorities.  Yet, as he shows, they contradict them on many foundational issues, such as this one.

The Khwarij were the first to separate from the body of Muslims.  The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w.) had spoken about them and ordered them to be killed and fought: “They will pass through Islam like an arrow passes through its quarry.  Wherever you meet them, kill them!”  Both Swahih al-Bukhari and Swahih Muslim have more than one form of this hadith.

He also said, “They are the dogs of the people in Hell.”  This is a swahih hadits related through various chains by Imam ibn Majah (r.a.), and Imam Ahmad (r.a.); and was discussed in Imam ibn Khaldun’s (r.a.) al-Muqaddimah.

The Prophet (s.a.w.) also said, “They recite Qur'an and consider it in their favour but it is against them.”  These and many other ahadits have been understood by scholars to apply to the Wahhabis as well.

The Khwarij went out of Islam in the time of ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.).  They declared him and Mu’awiyah (r.a.) disbelievers and declared licit their blood and property as well as the blood and property of those with him.  They made the land of the former a land of war and declared their own land an abode of faith.  They only accepted from the Prophet’s (s.a.w.) sunnah whatever agreed with their own doctrine, deduced evidence for their doctrine from what was not perspicuous in the Qur’an, and applied the verses revealed concerning the idolaters to the people of Islam.  Yet, despite their disbelief, neither the companions nor the successors declared them disbelievers, just as Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) had transmitted.  ‘Ali (k.w.) said to them, “We do not start out killing you nor are you kept out of the mosques of Allah in which you mention His Name.  We do not rescind the rights of protection with respect to your life and property afforded you by Islam as long as your hand is with us.”  The great among the companions debated the Khwarij, like ibn ‘Abbas (r.a.), until four thousand returned to the truth.

As for the fighting of the people of the Riddah, apostates, one category among them apostatised Islam and returned to the disbelief which they were on with respect to idol worship.   Another category apostatised and followed Musaylimah and they were the Banu Hanifah and some other tribes.  Yet another group apostatised, followed and agreed with Aswad al-‘Anasi in Yemen.  Others said claims of Tulayhah al-Asadi were true; they were the Ghathafan, Fazara and other tribes.  Still others did the same with respect to Sujah.  All these denied the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.).  They refused to pay the tax on Muslims and to pray, abandoning the rest of the shari’ah as well.  One class of apostates distinguished between prayer and the tax.  They denied the obligation of conveying the latter to the imam.  In reality, those are the people of rebellion, baghi’.   The name ‘Riddah’ was attached to them only because of their entry into the throng of the apostates.

The Qadariyyah separated from the Muslims in the final period of the time of the companions.  They were composed of two sects.  The first directly denied the Divine Decree, Qadar.  They said that Allah (s.w.t.) did not foreordain His servants to commit acts of disobedience nor does He guide the one in error and foreordain the guidance.  In their view, the Muslim is one who makes himself Muslim by himself and the one who prays makes himself a prayer by himself, and so forth and so on with respect to other acts of obedience and disobedience.  This sect makes the servant the creator, khaliq, of his own deeds instead of Allah (s.w.t.).

The second sect is just the opposite of the first.  They claim that Allah (s.w.t.) compels people to act in a certain way and that disbelief and disobedience among human creatures are like the black and white color of their skins.  In their view, the creature has no part to play in doing none of this.  On the contrary, all acts of disobedience in their view are ascribable to Allah (s.w.t.).  The perpetrators of such acts are the followers of Iblis where he says:

… “Because Thou hast Thrown me Out of the Way, lo! I will lie in wait for them on Thy Straight Way.” (Surah al-A’araf:16)

Similarly, the idolaters say:

… “If Allah had Wished, we should not have given partners to Him, nor would our father; nor should we have had any taboos …” (Surah al-An’am:148)

Yet for all this disbelief and misguidance on the part of the Qadariyyah, not one of the companions nor any of the successors declared them to be disbelievers.  Rather, they stood right before them and explained to them their misguidance from the Qur’an and sunnah.  They did not make killing them an obligation incumbent on Muslims nor exact against them the judgments made against the people of apostasy.

Then, the Mu’tazila separated from the Muslims in the period of the successors.  Among their doctrines of disbelief is their claim that the Qur’an is created.  They also deny that the Prophet (s.a.w.) can intercede in the behalf of perpetrators of acts of disobedience and assert that perpetrators of disobedience will reside eternally in Hellfire and so on and so forth with respect to their teachings.  Again, not one of the ‘ulama of that time declared them unbelievers but the scholars among the successors and those who succeeded them confronted them.  They refuted them and explained to them the falsity of their doctrine.  They did not exact on them the laws against apostates.  On the contrary, on them and those before who made unwarranted innovations in the religion they carried out the Muslim laws of inheritance and marriage and buried them in Muslim ground.

Then, there was the Murji’ah who claimed that iman resided in the verbal assertion of belief and not in the deed.  Hence, in their view, one who articulates the twofold declaration bearing witness to his faith is a believer even if he does not perform a single act of prayer the whole of his life, nor fast one day of Ramadhan.  Yet despite their lingering in error and their continual dogged resistance to change even after the people of truth explained to them the error of their school of thought, no one declared them unbelievers.  Rather, they treated them and the people of unwarranted innovation before them as brethren of fixed and stable faith.

The Jahmiyyah separated from the Muslims.  They said no ‘Allah’ who is an object of worship is upon the throne nor does Allah (s.w.t.) have any speech as on earth.  They denied Allah (s.w.t.) the Attributes that He Affirms of Himself in His Clear Book and which His true and faithful Messenger (s.a.w.) affirms of Him and all the companions.  Likewise, they denied the vision of Allah (s.w.t.) in the Hereafter and so forth and so on with respect to their doctrines of disbelief.  In spite of that, the ‘ulama refuted them and demonstrated to them their misguidance until they killed some of their propagandists like Jahm ibn Swafwan and al-Ju’d ibn Dirham.  But after killing them, they ritually cleansed their bodies, prayed for them and buried them in Muslim ground.  They did not carry out the rulings for people guilty of apostasy.

Then the Rafidhah or ‘Rejecters’ separated from the Muslims.  They agreed with the Mu’tazila in their belief that they were the sole creators of their own actions.  They denied the vision of the Creator on the Day of Judgment.  They declared most of the companions to be unbelievers and they vilified the Mother of the Believers, ‘Aishah (r.a.).  Despite all this, none of the ‘ulama declared them to be unbelievers nor did they forbid the rulings of inheritance and marriage apply to them; rather they applied to them the same rulings that applied with all Muslims.

Those following the school of thought of the pious predecessors, which the Wahhabis attempt to hide behind, are distinguished by the signal absence of declaring deviant groups unbelievers as we have mentioned.  Shaykh Taqi’ ad-Din ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) said that Imam Ahmad (r.a.) did not declare the Khwarij disbelievers, nor the Murji’ah nor the Qadariyyah nor the individuals of the Jahmiyyah.  Indeed, he prayed behind the Jahmiyyah who called people to their doctrine while they punished harshly those who did not agree with them.  Shaykh ibn Taymiyyah (r.a.) also said in essence that among the blameworthy innovations is declaring a group among the Muslims to be unbelievers, making their blood and wealth licit because of rejected innovations.  For, he said, there may be in that group less unwarranted innovation than in the party carrying out the declaration of disbelief.  Even if one supposes a group to have made unwarranted innovation, it is unwarranted for the group which is on the path of the sunnah to declare them unbelievers, since, perhaps, its innovation is an outgrowth of an error, and Allah (s.w.t.) Told us to supplicate thus:

… “Our Lord! condemn us not if we forget or fall into error ...” (Surah al-Baqarah:286)

And He Says:

... But there is no blame on you if ye make a mistake therein: (what counts is) the intention of your hearts ... (Surah al-Ahzab:5)

The Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Surely, has Allah Forgiven my ummah for their errors and forgetfulness and what they were forced to do.”  Imam ibn Majah (r.a.) and Imam ath-Thabarani (r.a.) also related it through two good chains.  Imam al-Haytsami (r.a.) recorded it in his Majma’ az-Zawa’id.

The ijma’ has long since concluded that whoever confirms what the Messenger (s.a.w.) has brought, even if there be in it some trace of disbelief and idolatry, should not be declared an unbeliever until the proof is furnished.  The only proof that can be furnished is in the strength of consensus that is not speculative but decisive.  Further, the one who furnishes the proof is the leader of the Muslims or his deputy.  But disbelief only exists when one denies things necessary to the religion of Islam such as the existence of the Creator and His Unity, the rejection of the message of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.) or the rejection of the duties of Islam like the obligation of prayer.

The madzhab of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah shrinks from declaring anyone belonging to the religion of Islam an unbeliever.  This holds even to the point of suspending pronouncements of disbelief against people who introduce unwarranted innovations into Islam, despite the command to kill them out of defense against the harms they may do, not because of their disbelief.  For there may be found joined in a single individual kufr, iman, nifaq, and shirk and he is not a complete disbeliever.  Whoever confesses Islam, it is accepted from him whether he be truthful or lying.  Even if signs of hypocrisy and ignorance are manifest on him, he is excused from disbelief.  The same is true of hesitation and doubt even if this be weak.  By now the unwarranted innovation on the part of the Wahhabis should be manifest in any case, when they introduce an unwarranted innovation by declaring Muslims disbelievers and thereby contradict what Allah (s.w.t.) has brought to us in the Qur’an and by the sunnah of His Messenger (s.a.w.) as well as the statements of the a’immah of the religion and the learned mujtahidun.

The following conclusion is mine, and not that of the great Imam az-Zahawi (r.a.).  The difference we have between the Wahhabi sect and the earlier heresies is that their attack upon the foundations of Islam is unprecedented.  They have engaged in takfir on an immense scale.  But the main contention between the heresy of the Wahhabi sect and the earlier heresies, and why our ‘ulama in their majority, from the time of Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab until the present have declared them kafirun pertains to their attack upon the shahadah.

Whilst the earlier sects contended with a differing opinion of the Divine Attributes, none of them negated the Omniscience of God to the extent of making Allah (s.w.t.) an idol, as the Wahhabis have done.  Alone amongst them, they have reduced the Prophet (s.a.w.) to a mere messenger.  Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab called him ‘tarish’, a courier.  Not even the original Khwarij did that.  The only other sect that transgressed pertaining prophethood is the Qadiani, with Mirza Ghulam Ahmad claiming prophethood outright.  This sect arose in 1889, about 150 years after the Wahhabi sect.


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