Does the belief of a person leave if he commits fornication? The following is stated in a hadith: "A person is not a believer while he is committing fornication."

The Details of the Question
Does the belief of a person leave if he commits fornication? The following is stated in a hadith: "A person is not a believer while he is committing fornication." Is he an unbeliever? Is there a difference between a believer and a Muslim?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Hz. Abu Hurayra narrates: The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"When a person commits fornication, belief departs from him and there is something like a canvas roof over his head; and when he quits that action, belief returns to him." [Abu Dawud, Sunnah 16, (4690); Tirmidhi, Iman 11, (2627).]

Tirmidhi has the following extra information:

"Abu Jafer al-Baqir Muhammed Ibn Ali said, He said, ‘like this’" and he interlocked his fingers; then, he separated his fingers and said, ‘When he repents, it returns.’ Then, he interlocked his fingers again."

In Hakim, an explanation from Abu Hurayra is included. The explanation is as follows:

"If a person commits fornication or drinks alcohol, Allah removes belief from him, just like a person taking off his sweater from his head."

The extra information in Tirmidhi brought about the following interpretation:

"Abu Ja'far separated belief from Islam and gave belief a special identity. Thus, a person remains in Islam even if he exits from belief. Ibn Hajar states that this interpretation is compatible with the statement of the majority of fiqh scholars: "What is meant by the belief in the hadith is perfect belief, not belief itself."

(Prof. Dr. İbrahim Canan, Kütüb-i Sitte)

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