Ruling on one who accidentally commited kufr due to negligence

The Details of the Question

What is the ruling of someone who rejects a ruling on something that was said to be obligatory in Islam because the explanations and evidence given by scholars were insufficient and refutable to him however he is aware that he does not possess the knowledge of the scholars in terms of knowing all the hadith books to make a certain judgment whether something is haram or halal and so on so he maintains a stance of not being sure about whether a certain act is haram or halal. However is too lazy to research further on the matter as it would require him to study as much as the scholars so he is negligent in seeking knowledge. If it turns out in the Hereafter that he was wrong in his interpretation, will he be considered to have committed kufr due to rendering the haram or halal or denying the law of Allah although he was not aware he did either of those things due to his ignorance that was caused by his negligence? I know falling short in knowledge is sinful but is he then considered to have committed kufr unknowingly as well? And also what if he was rash and believe something that was haram was halal based on his interpretation and was wrong and yet also negligent in researching further due to laziness? Is he merely just sinful for falling short in knowledge or is he also considered to have committed kufr for unknowingly denying the rules of Allah and goes out of Islam without his knowledge?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

It is definitely a big mistake, but since there is no deliberate denial, he does not become an unbeliever; he does not exit the religion of Islam but he becomes a sinner. He will be punished for his negligence and ignorance, but he will not be an unbeliever.

It is hoped that if he realizes his mistake and repents, his sin will be forgiven.

Does something that is done without knowing that it is unbelief make a person an unbeliever?

The Details of the Question  

- If a person does something that leads him to unbelief unknowingly, he becomes an unbeliever because ignorance is not an excuse (Hadith Manawi). If someone does not know that stealing is a crime and commits a crime, will the judge accept his ignorance as an excuse? The issue is expressed as follows in DURAR, one of the Aqaid (Creed) books:

“If a person does or says something that causes unbelief without a darurah (obligation, necessity) even though his heart is full of belief, he becomes an unbeliever. The belief in his heart will do him no good.” (Darurah is this; if they threaten him, what he says with his tongue will not be unbelief.) (Uyunul Basair)

“If thou dost question them, they declare (with emphasis): ‘We were only talking idly and in play.’” (at-Tawba, 9/65) If a person does something that causes unbelief near us, we should warn that person if we have enough knowledge regarding the issue and if the medium is appropriate. If it is not, we should warn him later. If we do not have enough knowledge, we should hate his unbelief and keep away from him. If we do not do them, we will also be held responsible.

- I asked a question about uttering words of unbelief and they wrote me that. Is it correct? Can a person become an unbeliever unknowingly and unintentionally?


- The resources given regarding the issue are important. They are the decrees according to the apparent meaning of shari’ah.

- It is known that some religious people were executed by the judges of shari’ah in history due to some of their words - which sounded like unbelief according to the apparent meaning. That is to say, just like in civil law, judgments are rendered according to the external (apparent) aspects of actions or words in Islamic law. From this point of view, illegitimate actions and words made or spoken are regarded as crime even if they originate from ignorance. “Ignorance of the law excuses no one”; similarly, “ignorance of the principles of the religion” is not an excuse.

Therefore, in Islamic law, ignorance is considered as an excuse only for a new Muslim who has not had enough time to learn about the issues in question. (see Nawawi, al-Majmu’, 3/14, 80)

- A person who utters a word or commits a deed of unbelief becomes an unbeliever. That person becomes an unbeliever whether he utters that word of unbelief because he believes so or as a joke / mockery or because of obstinacy - though he does not believe so. (see Ibn Hajar al-Haythami, az-Zawajir, 1/47)

We learn from verses 65 and 66 of the chapter of at-Tawba that a person who mocks the realities and decrees of Islam just for fun becomes an unbeliever - as it is mentioned in the question.

However, it is important that this statement must be about a reality (essential religious decree) that is clearly known by everyone. If it is an issue that is not known by everyone, it may be regarded as an excuse. However, a conscious believer should keep away from expressing an opinion on such theoretical and deep issues.

For example, if someone says that fornication and alcohol are not haram, or that prayer and fasting are not fard, he becomes an unbeliever because ignorance of decrees like those, which are known by everyone, is not an excuse. On the other hand, if a person says: “It is permissible to marry a woman who is in the period of iddah”, he does not become an unbeliever because this knowledge is peculiar to scholars. However, if he insists on the same idea after he is informed that it is haram, he becomes an unbeliever. (see Nawawi, ibid)

- To sum up: If a person has recently become a Muslim or lives in an environment where it is not easy to learn religious knowledge, it is acceptable for him to say, “I did not know that it was unbelief”, about a statement that causes unbelief. The ignorance of a person who does not have those two conditions is not an excuse. (see Nawawi, 12/143; 20/19)

We would like to state the following in particular:

The explanations above aim to warn people and make them be more careful. Otherwise, it is not appropriate to call those people who utter such statements unbelievers. The basic rule regarding the issue is as follows: A person who says he is a Muslim can never be called an unbeliever.

Our scholars state that it would be unbelief to utter some words that are called “alfaz-al-kufr” (words/statements of unbelief). However, they do not call the people who utter those words unbelievers. They warn them to be more careful.

In order to decide that a person has become an unbeliever, he is evaluated by a certain scholarly committee; if it is understood that he has committed unbelief, he is invited to repent. If he does not repent, it is decreed that he has become an unbeliever.

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