Fatwa no. 21436
Q: Praise be to Allah Alone and peace and blessings be upon the Last Prophet. To continue,
The Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’ had read the letter received by his Eminence, the Grand Mufty (Islamic scholar qualified to issue legal opinions) from a number of inquirers whose names are registered at the Secretariat General of the Council of Senior Scholars nos.(5411) ,(1026), (1016),(1395), (1650), (1893), (2106) dated 7/11/1420, 7/2/1421, 7/2/1421, 3/8/1421, 17/3/1421, 25/3/1421, 7/4/1421 A.H., successively.
The inquirers asked many questions to the following effect: Lately, the idea of Irja‘ (a deviant conviction claiming that Faith is restricted to belief not deeds) has dreadfully spread. Many writers have been propagating it, depending on some incomplete quotations from the Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah’s writings, something which leads many people to confusion with respect to the definition of Iman (faith). They try to exclude the element of deeds from the definition of Iman. They claim that anyone who abandons all deeds will still be saved (from Hellfire). This definitely facilitates the committing of sins, acts of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) and Riddah (apostasy) for people attain Iman in light of this conviction, even if they do not abide by religious obligations, avoid prohibitions, or act in accordance with Shari`ah (Islamic law). There is no doubt that this conviction has a severe effect on Islamic societies, issues of `Aqidah (creed) and worship. Therefore, I hope Your Eminence will reveal the reality of this conviction and its bad effects, and the truth that is based on the Qur’an and Sunnah (whatever is reported from the Prophet). I hope you will also verify the writings reported from Shaykh-ul-Islam so that all Muslims can be sure about and have knowledge of their religion.
A: After the Committee studied the inquiry, it answered as follows:
The mentioned sayings are attributed to Al-Murji’ah (a deviant Islamic sect claiming that Faith is restricted to belief not deeds) who exclude deeds from the definition of Iman. They claim that Iman is achieved by belief with the heart and utterance with the tongue, whereas the deeds, according to their view, are a condition for attaining perfection but are not considered a prerequisite for it. Thus, according to their conviction, anyone who believes with their heart and utters with their tongue will be a perfect Mu’min (believer), even if they abandon obligations and violate prohibitions, they will also be entitled to enter Jannah (Paradise) without observing any good deeds.
This has led to many null ideas, including the restriction of Kufr (disbelief) to denial of faith and Al-Istihlal (deeming what is Haram (prohibited) to be lawful) by heart. In fact, all these sayings are false, deviant and contradict the Qur’an, Sunnah and the way of Ahl-ul-Sunnah wal-Jama`ah (adherents to the Sunnah and the Muslim mainstream); the predecessors and successors.
However this opens the door to the people of evil and mischief to deviate away from their religion and be free from Allah’s (Glorified be He) commands, prohibitions, fear and reverence.
This also deactivates the concept of Jihad (struggling in the cause of Allah), enjoining good and forbidding evil.
Furthermore, this also equates between good and bad, obedient and disobedient people, a person who abides by Allah’s Shari`ah and the Fasiq (someone flagrantly violating Islamic law) who abandons His Commands and Prohibitions since deeds do not violate Iman as they claim.
This is why Imams of Islam concentrated on clarifying the falseness of this conviction and replying to its supporters in the past and the present. They also allocated a chapter for this issue in the books of `Aqidah and compiled complete books in this regard, such as the Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be merciful to him) and others.
Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be merciful to him) mentioned in Al-`Aqidah Al-Wasitiyyah:
“Among the fundamentals of Ahl-ul-Sunnah w-Al-Jama`ah is that Din (religion of Islam) and Iman are attained by words and actions and that Iman increases by acts of obedience and decreases by acts of disobedience.”
He also mentioned in his book Al-Iman:
“In this chapter, we find several sayings of the Salaf (righteous predecessors) and the Senior Scholars of Sunnah in explaining Iman. Sometimes they say: It is utterance and action and some others say: utterance, action and intention. Others say: Iman is utterance with the tongue, belief with the heart, and acts with organs. All these definitions are true.”
Moreover, he (may Allah be merciful to him) added:
“The Salaf strictly censured Al-Murji’ah for excluding actions from Iman. However, their claim that all people have the same degree of Iman is absolutely fraudulent. Belief, love, fear of Allah, knowledge, etc., of people vary from one person to another.”
“Regarding this basic origin, Al-Murji’ah deviated from what was clarified in the Qur’an, Sunnah, opinions of the Sahabah (Companions of the Prophet) and the Tabi`un (Followers, the generation after the Companions of the Prophet), rather they founded their opinion on their own understanding and linguistic interpretation [of texts]; this is certainly the manner of people of Bid`ahs (innovations in religion).”
Among the proofs that indicate that deeds are included in Iman and that they affect it positively or negatively is Allah’s saying,
The believers are only those who, when Allâh is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Qur’ân) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone); Who perform As-Salât (Iqâmat-as-Salât) and spend out of that We have provided them. It is they who are the believers in truth. (Qur’an – Surah Al-Anfaal Verses: 2-4)
Successful indeed are the believers. Those who offer their Salât (prayers) with all solemnity and full submissiveness. And those who turn away from Al-Laghw (dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and all that Allâh has forbidden). And those who pay the Zakât. And those who guard their chastity (i.e. private parts, from illegal sexual acts) Except from their wives or (the slaves) that their right hands possess, – for then, they are free from blame; But whoever seeks beyond that, then those are the transgressors; Those who are faithfully true to their Amanât (all the duties which Allâh has ordained, honesty, moral responsibility and trusts) and to their covenants; And those who strictly guard their (five compulsory congregational) Salawât (prayers) (at their fixed stated hours). (Qur’an – Surah Al-Muminoon Verses: 1-9)
In addition, the Messenger (peace be upon him) said,
Iman (Faith) has over seventy branches, the most superior of which is the declaration that there is no deity except Allah, and the lowest of which is the removal of (anything) harmful from the street, and modesty is a branch of Iman.
Shaykh-ul-Islam (may Allah be merciful to him) also mentioned inhis book Al-Iman:
“The origin of Iman is in the heart, including utterance and action. It is recognition of belief, love and submissiveness. Whatever rests in the heart should be manifest in action. If a person does not act in accordance to it, this indicates absence or weakness of Iman. This is why the visible deeds are a reflection of the Iman of heart and a confirmation to what exists in it. They constitute evidence of it and they are a branch and part of full Iman.”
He also says,
“Thinking of what Al-Khawarij and Al-Murji’ah say with respect to the meaning of Iman reveals that this includes disobedience of the Messenger. Obeying Allah (Exalted be He) and His Messenger (peace be upon him) denotes the perfection of Iman, and that Allah (Exalted be He) would never render a sinner to be a Kafir. Suppose that some people went to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told him: ‘We believe in what you have brought us by our hearts and bear witness (that there is no deity except Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah) with our tongues, but we do not abide by your commands and prohibitions; as we do not offer prayers, fast, perform Hajj or believe what is told to us; we do not return trusts, fulfill our promises, maintain the ties of kinship or observe any good acts which you ordained us; we drink intoxicants and commit incest and adultery; we kill as many people as we can of your Companions and Ummah (nation) and take their money; we may even kill you too and fight with your enemies against you.’ Can any rational person imagine that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would answer them by saying: ‘You are the perfect Mu’minun (believers) and you are the ones entitled to my intercession on the Day of Resurrection, and it is expected that none of you would enter Hellfire?’ On the contrary, every Muslim indisputably knows that the Prophet (peace be upon him) would have told them: ‘You are the most disbelieving people ever to what I came with’ and that he would have executed them if they had not repented.”
Ibn Taymiyyah also said:
“When the word of Iman is generally mentioned in the Qur’an and Sunnah, it is meant with dutifulness, piety, and religion as previously mentioned, for the Prophet (peace be upon him) declared that Iman has over than seventy branches, the best of which is to witness that there is no Deity but Allah, and the least is to remove harm from the road. Therefore, whatever pleases Allah falls under the meaning of Iman. All this is also included in the meaning of dutifulness when generally mentioned, and so are the Taqwa (fear/wariness of offending Allah) and the Din (religion of Islam). It was also narrated that when people asked about Iman, Allah revealed the following Ayah: It is not Al-Birr (piety, righteousness, and each and every act of obedience to Allâh, etc.) that you turn your faces .What is meant here is that Iman, which is accompanied by action, is praised, other than that which is devoid of it.”
This is what Shaykh-ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said about Iman; anyone who reports other than this on his authority will be inventing lies against him.
Whereas what was mentioned in the Hadith concerning the entrance of some people into Jannah despite that they had never done any good is not absolute to anyone who abandons deeds while being capable of doing them. Rather it is restricted to those who have excuses for abandoning deeds or for any other reason that is consistent with the objectives of Shari`ah.
After clarifying this issue, the Permanent Committee warns against arguing over the fundamentals of `Aqidah, because of the serious consequences resulting from this. It recommends resorting to the books of the Righteous Salaf and leading Muslim scholars which are based on the Qur’an, Sunnah and accounts of the Salaf.
It also warns against referring to any books that carry views opposing the original references, or modern books that are issued by authors who have not acquired knowledge through scholars or from original sources. Those people are intruders to this one great fundamental of `Aqidah. They adopt the views of Al-Murji’ah and falsely attribute them to Ahl-ul-Sunnah W-al-Jama`ah, causing confusion to people. They also wrongly ascribe these views to the Shaykh of Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah be merciful to him) and other Imams of the Salaf through incomplete quotations. We advise them to fear Allah and to return to the Right Path, and not break the unity (of Muslims) by promoting this deviant belief. The Committee also warns Muslims against being tempted and falling into the trap of those opposing Ahl-ul-Sunnah W-al-Jama`ah. May Allah guide everyone to useful knowledge, righteous deeds and good understanding of the religion.
May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.
Permanent Committee for Scholarly Research and Ifta’
Member – Member – Member – Chairman
Bakr Abu Zayd – Salih Al-Fawzan – `Abdullah ibn Ghudayyan – `Abdul-`Aziz ibn `Abdullah Al Al-Shaykh
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Fatwas of the Permanent Committee > Group 2 > Volume 2: `Aqidah > The Sects