What does the hadith "Whoever takes up arms against us is not from us" mean? Is it a sin to frighten people with a weapon, knife, etc. as a joke?

The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

“Whoever takes up arms against us is not from us.” (Bukhari, Fitan, 7)

It is stated in the hadith above that it is a necessity of belief for the Muslims to show respect to the rights of one another. The phrase “is not from us” does not mean that such a person is an unbeliever; it aims to show that this deed is bad and is a big sin. For, the duty of a Muslim is to defend the rights of his Muslim brother, to help him and to protect him from the oppression of unbelievers and oppressors; therefore, it is a big sin to take up an arm that can wound and kill against a Muslim and to take aim at him even if with the intention of frightening him.

The phrase “is not from us” in the hadith is like the phrase in the hadith “He who deceives us is not from us.”  (Muslim, Iman 164) That is, such expressions are a severe style of reprimanding in order to make people understand the evil of the deeds that are contrary to Islam. (see Ibn Hajar, the explanation of the hadith in question)

As a matter of fact, according to what is reported from Abu Hurayra, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said,

"Whoever takes up arms against us is not from us. Whoever deceives us is not from us."( Muslim, Iman 164, Fitan 16. See also Abu Dawud, Buyu 50; Tirmidhi, Buyu 72; Ibn Majah, Tijarat 36)

Accordingly, it is understood that it is a clear sin to afflict Muslims. Even joking like that is forbidden.

It is not appropriate to take up arms or to draw out a knife against a Muslim. It might frighten or wound him. It is a sin to wound a Muslim unjustly; similarly, it is dangerous to do something that will result in wounding him. 

There are two main reasons why such a deed is wrong: The first one is frightening that person and the second one is the possibility of harming him.

We read in hadiths that it is forbidden to frighten a Muslim. The Prophet (pbuh) states the following regarding the issue:

"If a person frightens a believer, it is Allah’s right not to make him feel safe in the face of the terrible scenes of the Day of Judgment." (at-Targhib wat-Tarhib, 3:484)

It is stated in another hadith that it is forbidden "to look at a Muslim with frightening eyes":

"If a person looks at a Muslim in a frightening way unjustly, Allah will frighten him on the Day of Judgment." (ibid)

Moreover, it was forbidden to take something belonging to a Muslim in order to frighten him in some hadiths:

"Do not take something belonging to your friend with the intention of joking and frightening him." (Abu Dawud, Adab: 9)

The most dangerous way of frightening a person is to frighten him with a sharp object that could kill him. For, some people are afraid of arms and knives. If it is considered that some illnesses occur due to fear, it will be understood how dangerous it is to frighten a person like that. There are warnings of the Prophet (pbuh) regarding the issue. According to what Abu Hurayra narrates, the Prophet (pbuh) said,

"If a person points a weapon toward his brother, the angels invoke curse upon him even if he is his real brother until he abandons it." (Muslim, Birr was-Sila: 125)

"Do not point a weapon toward your brother. Satan might make it slip from your hand and hit your brother. Then, you will go to Hell because of it."  (at-Targhib wat-Tarhib, 3:484)

The reason why people say to a person who points a gun toward another person, "Stop it! Satan will fill it!" is probably the hadith above.

Yes, we all know that taking up a knife or gun against a person even if with the intention of a joke causes many injuries and murders. We hear from the people around us and read in the media about them. This is the most important reason why it is forbidden.

Therefore, Ibn Hajar lists frightening a Muslim and taking up a weapon against him among harams in his book called "az-Zawajir".

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