How True is it to Call People as He cannot be a believer? Or Irreligious, Unbeliever, Atheist, Depraved Through Looking at Their External Appearance?
Sentences like He cannot be a believer?, He is just an unbeliever, I would kill myself if he had the slightest belief in Allah are generally used when people are angry.
However, such sentences that are uttered when being angry incurs grievous responsibilities on man and causes big spiritual loses.
If an individual is known as a believer and is recognized as a Muslim, he is a believer and a Muslim until a word being contrary to belief and religion is heard from him. Supposing the opposite is impossible. Even if it is possible, its evidence is asked. If it cannot be proved, then this assertion puts its owner into a difficult position and makes its owner responsible.
Moreover, a person enters the palace of belief through saying There is no god but Allah by means of using his independent-will. Unless he leaves this palace of belief with his own will, nobody can expel him from the religion. Nobody holds such a right.
Therefore, a believer does not go out of religion when someone calls him unbeliever. That is to say, even if thousands of people call him as unbeliever an individual who deems himself as a believer and as a Muslim, that persons belief cannot be damaged.
The Quran demonstrates this truth as follows:
Any one who, after accepting faith in Allah, utters Unbelief,- except under compulsion, his heart remaining firm in Faith - but such as open their breast to Unbelief, on them is Wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a dreadful Chastisement. (The Bee (An-Nahl), 16:106)
Due to this fact, accusing someone of being an unbeliever and considering that he abandoned the religion and became an unbeliever jeopardizes the accusers belief.
Charging a Muslim for being irreligious is takfir. Takfir means to imply, to accuse someone to be an unbeliever and to consider him to be out of the bounds of Islam.
Imam Ghazali, a scholar of Islam, comments about this matter as follows:
Implying someone to be an unbeliever means to regard that killing him is lawful and to decree that he will be punished in Hell eternally. (Tolerance in Islam, p. 16)
Another comment of Imam Ghazali:
Calling someone an unbeliever is a religious decree that yields legal results. When someone is accused of being an unbeliever, his property is seized, shedding his blood becomes lawful and endless torments of Hell become destined for him. Like other religious decisions, this matter is known sometimes certainly and sometimes supposedly. If there are doubts about a persons religious situation, then it is required to keep silent and not to accuse him. (Tolerance in Islam, p. 46)
While the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) was counting three terms concerning belief in a Hadith he commanded us not call those who say kalima tawheed as unbelievers as follows:
Do not accuse anyone who says There is no god but Allah of being an unbeliever.
In another Hadith He (PBUH) utters:
Do not accuse people who say There is no god but Allah of being an unbeliever. Those who accuse such a person should know that they are closer to to be unbelievers than that accused person. (Isârul-Haq, p. 434-35)
When Abdullah bin Jaber (May Allah be pleased with him), one of the companions of the Prophet was asked the question Are the people of qiblah (Believers) accused of being unbelievers?, he replied I take refuge in Allah from accusing people of kiblah (Believers) of being unbelievers. (Isârul-Haq, p. 434-35)
Therefore, a believer should take refuge in Allah from accusing someone of being an unbeliever. Accusing a believer of being an unbeliever resembles nothing. Allah forbid, either the accuser or the accused could have this asserted attribute.
In the following narrative narrated by Abu Zar, the Prophet (PBUH) warns seriously the ones who commit such a mistake:
Nobody should accuse anyone of being depraved. Nobody should accuse anyone of being an unbeliever, either. If the accused person does not possess such an attribute than that accusation turns back to the accuser. (Bukhaiî, Adab 44)
Therefore, some mujtahid imams of Islamic law decreed that the one who accuses a person of being an unbeliever abandon the religion by showing those Hadiths and verses as evidence.
However, most of the imams of Sunnis say: The one, who accuses a person of being an unbeliever in different ways, does not abandon the religion if he does not believe in his accusation in his heart certainly, but he becomes a sinner. (Isarul-Haq, p. 448)
Badiuzzaman Said Nursi, a scholar of Islam, advises not to attempt immediately to accuse a Muslim of being unbeliever and informs that blaming and accusing a Muslim of being unbeliever is not a favorable thing. He continues his comment:
There is no religious command to speak ill of someone and to accuse someone of being an unbeliever, but there is a religious decree against speaking ill of someone and accusing someone of being an unbeliever.
If speaking ill of someone and accusing someone of being an unbeliever is unjust, it gives harm a lot. If it is just, there is not any merit and favor in it. There exist many people deserving to be spoken ill of and accused of being unbelievers. On the other hand, there is no religious command to speak ill of someone and to accuse someone of being an unbeliever. (Emirdag Addendum, 1:201)
Badiuzzaman, who was very careful not to label some people who tortured and tyrannized him many times as unbelievers, used the words irreligious and depraved instead for the groups working against Islam; He explained the critical issue under four items as follows:
Firstly: The ones who know me will affirm that because of the excessive mercy embedded in my nature in comparison to other scholars I avoid as much as possible accusing people of being unbelievers.
Secondly: While many points are regarded as signs of unbelieving in Hanafi School, those wrongdoings are not regarded as signs of unbelieving in Shafii School. They are named as major sins. If a self-evident unbelief is observed, then the decision is made. I would avoid making a decision if it were possible to interpret differently although I am a Shafii. It is very difficult for me to accusing someone of being an unbeliever.
Thirdly: I use the words depraved and irreligious to indicate some people of a secret society that is controlled from Europe; I do not know them in person but I know their activities that havelasted against this nation, belief and Islam for forty years. For the sake of innocent people, I forgive and will harbor no grudge for most of the people who tyrannized me. Only when I get angry, I call them as people of misguidance. That is to say, they go astray, tyrannize and become depraved in terms of their behaviors; otherwise it does not mean that they become unbelievers.
Fourthly: In order to define some unknown people or to define their evil characteristics, the following can be said One who behaves like this is a hypocrite and helps irreligiousness with his behaviors or becomes an unbeliever; it is not even regarded as backbiting. Moreover, although there are many bitter phrases directed to such unknown people, if that prosecutor supposes these phrases are directed to him and to certain people, then he accuses himself for being an unbeliever. If he tries to harm me because of it, he will do something absolutely illegal.
Thus, in order to protect our belief it is necessary not to call anyone an unbeliever, not to accuse people of belief and Muslims and to behave carefully and to avoid words that will jeopardize our belief.
Kharijites, who were members of an invalid school, indicted Hazrat Ali for being an unbeliever. When the question about whether Kharijites became unbelievers asked, Hazrat Ali replied Avoid from takfir, dont indict anyone for being unbeliever.
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