From the Manners of Knowledge : Ahmad Fareed

Source:Al-Bahr-ur-Raa’iq Fee Az -Zuhdi war-Raqaa’iq- (pg. 39-43 of Daar-ul-Eemaan publishing) –
Translator:isma’eel alarcon – al-manhaj.com

The Etiquettes of a Student of Knowledge

* The student of knowledge must first know that Allaah has made it obligatory for him to worship Him, and worship cannot be attained except through knowledge. And he must know that it is not befitting for a Muslim to remain in ignorance. Thus, his search for knowledge is so that he may eradicate ignorance from himself and so that he may worship his Lord in the manner in which Allaah has commanded, not in the manner in which his desires deem appropriate. This should be his intention in his efforts for seeking knowledge, such that he has sincerity instilled in his heart, with regard to his exertion. He must not see any merit in his efforts, as belonging to himself, but rather he must see that all of the merit placed upon him, belongs to Allaah. This is because, with seeking knowledge, Allaah has granted him the means by which he may worship Him properly, by way of performing the obligations and abstaining from the prohibitions.

* He must avoid all affairs that cause him to draw his attention away from the objective (of knowledge), except for those things which he must involve himself with for needs sake. Allaah says: “Allaah has not placed two hearts in the body of a man.” [Surat-ul-Ahzaab: 3] And most importantly, whenever ones thoughts are divided, he is hindered from achieving the realization of his objectives. For this reason, it is said: “Knowledge will not give you part of itself, until you first give it all of yourself.”

* He must also begin by cleansing his soul from reprehensible manners and reprehensible characteristics. This is since knowledge is an act of worship of the heart as well as a hidden link and concealed means of drawing nearer to Allaah. Thus in the same way that prayer, which is a duty upon the visible body’s limbs, is not valid, except by performing visible purification over the filth and uncleanness, hidden acts of worship as well as rectifying the heart with knowledge is not valid, except after purifying it from filthy manners and unclean characteristics. For this reason it is said: “The heart is purified through knowledge, just as the land is purified though tilling.”

* He must not feel proud or arrogant about the knowledge he acquires. Rather, he must display humility in front of his teacher and grant him full control to direct and supervise him in all matters. He should submit himself willingly in the same way that a sick person, that is ignorant about medicine, submits himself to a concerned and proficient doctor. And if his teacher should be younger than him in age and possess little popularity and family status, then it is only by showing humility and patience with the degrading factors of knowledge, that one can truly attain the knowledge.

* Similarly, he must carefully select the person he is going to acquire knowledge from. He should not take knowledge, except from one whose qualifications are legitimately established, whose good religious qualities are evident, whose reputation is reliable and whose respectability is well known. Muhammad Ibn Sireen, Maalik Ibn Anas and many more of the Salaf have said: “Indeed, this knowledge is the Religion! So look carefully towards whom you take your Religion from.” [1]

* He must look towards his teacher with an eye of respect and reverence, for indeed this is the best way of deriving benefit from him. When some of our Salaf would go to study with their teacher, they would give something away in charity and say: “O Allaah, conceal my teacher’s defects from me and do not cause the blessing of his knowledge to be taken away from me.” Ar-Rabee’, the companion of Ash-Shaafi’ee (rahimahullaah) would say: “I never dared to drink water in the presence of Ash-Shaafi’ee, while he was looking at me, for fear of (upsetting) him.” And it is reported that some of the predecessors used to say: “From the rights that a teacher has over you is that: You should greet all the people generally with Salaam, but specify him apart from them with a particular greeting. You should sit in front facing him. You should not point toward his direction with your hand nor should you wink at him with your eye. You should not say to him: ‘Such and such person says the opposite of what you say!’ You must not backbite anyone in his presence. You should not consult your partner’s advice while in his gathering. You should not grab onto his garment if he should rise nor should you persistently bother him if he is fatigued. And you should not mind anyone that prolongs his company with him.”

* He should enter into the presence of his teacher with a clear and purified mind. Thus, his heart should be free of any matters that would prevent him from giving his full attention. He must not enter into his presence without first asking his permission, if his teacher is in a place which necessitates that his asking for permission be sought. He should greet those that attend his gathering with Salaam, when entering, and specify his teacher with a particularized greeting, apart from them. He should not step over the people with disregard, but rather he should sit where the rows of the gathering come to an end, until the teacher grants him permission to draw closer or he understands from the other students that are sitting that they prefer for him to advance. He should not cause anyone to get up from his place and if someone loves for him to sit in his place, then he should not accept, following the example of Ibn ‘Umar (raa). This is unless there is a benefit in his sitting up front, for the ones present, or the teacher orders them to do that. He should not sit in the middle of the learning circle, unless there is a necessity. He should not sit between two companions, unless he has their permission to do so. And if space is made for him in a gathering, he should sit and crouch himself in order to fit.

* He must be polite with his teacher’s companions and those that attend his learning circle, for indeed, in doing that, he will be behaving well with the teacher and preserving the well being of the gathering. He should not raise his voice to loud tones nor should he laugh or talk too much, without any need for it. He should not fiddle with his fingers nor should he turn and peer to his right or to his left, unless he has a need to do so. Rather, he must face his teacher and devote his complete and undivided attention to his words.

* He must safeguard and preserve his studies by being diligent and persisting in it during all times in which he has the ability to do so. He should not satisfy himself with a little when he has the ability to attain more. He should not over burden himself with things that he cannot handle, for fear that it will cause him to grow tired and postpone what he desires to attain (of knowledge). This matter varies according to each individual and his circumstances. He must exert himself severely in trying to make free time for himself, maintain vivacity and eagerness, develop a strong and healthy body, have observant and conscious mind and to possess few preoccupations, such as the obstacles that fall in one’s way when he becomes a leading figure or when he gets promoted to a high position. ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (raa) said: “Acquire knowledge before you become leaders. For indeed, when you become leaders, followed by the people, you will be prevented from acquiring knowledge, due to the elevation of your position and excessiveness of your preoccupations.” [Kitaab-ul-‘Ilm (The Book of Knowledge) of Abu Khaithama] This statement contains the meaning of Imaam Ash-Shaafi’ee’s words: “Acquire knowledge before you are given leadership, for when you become a leader, then there is no recourse for you, except knowledge.”

The Etiquettes of a Teacher

* The teacher must make his intention purely for the sake of Allaah when teaching. He should not use his knowledge to seek an honorable position in the society nor should he charge any fee in exchange for his knowledge. He should not prefer nearness to the rich and luxurious, whilst distancing himself away from the poor.

* He must characterize himself with the good manners mentioned in the texts of the Revelation, as well as the praiseworthy qualities and the pleasant traits that Allaah has guided towards. This includes abstaining from the worldly life, possessing little of its luxuries and not being tested by it and its inhabitants. Other characteristics include generosity, kindness, polite manners, cheerfulness in the face, forbearance and patience. He must be void of being able to grant little benefit to others. He must observe the qualities of piety, humility, tranquility, respect and humbleness. He should refrain from laughing and joking too much. He must observe the prescribed duties of the Religion, such as trimming the mustache, clipping the fingernails, combing the beard and ceasing to have a bad attitude. He must adorn his outer and inner characteristics with the Sunnah of the Prophet (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam). It has been reported on ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (raa) that he said: “Whosoever displays good characteristics to us, we will have good thoughts about him and love him. And whosoever displays bad characteristics to us, we will have bad thoughts about him and hate him.”

* He must free himself from performing any matters that have been ruled detestable (makrooh) as well as from indulging excessively in matters that have been ruled allowable (mubaah), while in the presence of his students. He should always have his students see him obeying Allaah and remembering Him much (dhikr), and he must preserve that condition. He must be cautious of all the dangers that are to be heeded, such as jealousy, showing-off, being amazed with oneself, and having contempt for others.

* The teacher must be gentle with the one who takes knowledge from him. He must welcome him graciously and be kind to him, according to that person’s state of being. He must always offer him sincere advice, for indeed, the Messenger of Allaah (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) said: “The Religion is sincerity (advising): to Allaah, His Book, His Messenger, the Muslim leaders and their common folk.” [2]

* He must be gentle and compassionate with the one that seek knowledge from him, and he must look after his needs, just as he looks after the needs of his own child or his own self. He must be humble in the presence of those that frequently go to him and learn from him.

* He must preserve his habit of teaching students, causing that to have a significant place in his necessities. And when sitting amongst his students, he must rid himself of any affairs that cause him to become preoccupied. He must give to each one of his students, according to what is befitting to them, individually. Thus he should not exceed with one that doesn’t show that he wants to go a step further nor should he undercut from one that does want to progress. He should compliment anyone that shows excellence in his studies, as long as he doesn’t fear that affliction will befall him, by his becoming amazed with himself or something other than that. And he must show strictness with whoever deserves it, so long as he doesn’t fear that it will chase him away. He should not be jealous of any of his students, if one of them begins to display proficiency in the subject matter being studied. Nor should he continuously mention the favors that Allaah has bestowed on him, in that student’s presence. For indeed, being jealous of others is forbidden, upon a strict forbiddance. So how can he be jealous, especially of the student, who holds the status of a child?

Footnotes:

[1] An authentic narration on Muhammad Ibn Sireen reported by Muslim in the introduction to his Saheeh

[2] Reported by Muslim At-Tirmidhee, An-Nasaa’ee and others. Ibn Al-Atheer (ra) said: “Naseeha (Sincerity/Advising) is a word that entails many meanings. It is the desiring of good for the one who is being advised. The meaning of sincerity to Allaah is possessing good beliefs in regards to His Oneness and sincerity of intention in His worship. Sincerity to the Book of Allaah means believing in it and acting upon what is contained within it. Sincerity to His Messenger means believing in his (Sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam) prophethood and rendering obedience to what he has commanded and what he has forbidden. Sincerity to the Muslim leaders means obeying them in matters of truth and not setting out against them in rebellion, if they should be oppressive. And sincerity to Muslim common folk means advising and directing them towards their needs and benefits.

Hoping in Allah’s Mercy – Shaykh Ahmad Farid

Source: Tazkiyatun-Nufoos (pp.103-107) of Shaykh Ahmad Fareed

RAJAA (HOPE) IN ALLAAH

Hope: it is the peaceful state of the heart which awaits what is dear to it. If the means – by which what the heart hopes for may come – are not present, then stupidity and foolishness would be a more accurate name for such a state. Similarly, if there is no doubt that what is being hoped for will definitely occur, then likewise, this state cannot be referred to as hope. For example, it would not be correct to say: I hope that the sun rises today. However, it would be correct to say: I hope that it rains today.

The Scholars who have studied matters pertaining to the heart have said: that this world is like land that is cultivated for its fruits in the Hereafter; and that the heart is like the earth; and that eemaan(faith) is like the seeds; and that acts of obedience are like ploughing and preparing the soil for planting, and digging channels in order to irrigate and bring water to it.

The heart which is in love with this world is like barren land, from which seeds cannot sprout. The Day of Judgement is like the day of harvest – and each person reaps what he sows. And no seed can sprout, except the seeds of eemaan, and eemaan very seldom benefits if the heart is corrupt and has bad qualities.

BETWEEN HOPE AND DELUSION

The example of a servants hope in Allaah’s mercy and forgiveness can be likened to the hope of a farmer: If the farmer searches for fertile soil, then sows it with good and healthy seeds, giving to the seeds what they need at the appropriate time, removing from around them the weeds and anything else that may hinder or ruin their growth, then he sits and waits for the Favour of Allaah – the Most High – with regards to Him keeping away violent storms and other harmful elements, until the seeds have fully ripened and grown – then this type of waiting and expectation can truly be described as hope. However, if the farmer sows the seeds in hard and barren soil, too high up for water to reach it, and he does nothing to care and protect the seed from harm, and then he sits and waits for a good harvest – then this waiting and expectation is not called hope, rather, such waiting is called foolishness and delusion!

So, the term hope only applies to waiting for what is dear or desired, after all the means – that will assist in realising this desire and are within the ability of the person – have been utilised. As for that which is not within the servants ability, then it is left to the favour of Allaah – the Most High – and He is the One who can prevent harmful matters, if He so wishes. So if the servant sows the seeds of eemaan, and waters them with acts of obedience to Allaah, and cleanses his heart from harmful qualities and traits, then waits for the favour of Allaah – the Most High – with regards being granted firmness upon this until death and an excellent end leading to His forgiveness – then such a wait can truly be called hope. Allaah – the Most High – said:

“Indeed those who believe and those who migrate and who make jihaad in the path of Allaah, they are the ones who have the hope of Allaah’s mercy. And indeed Allaah is Oft-Forgiving, Most-Merciful.” [Soorah al-Baqarah 2:218].

The meaning of this being that such people are truly worthy of hoping in Allaah’s mercy. And He did not intend only to particularise them with this, since others also can hope in Allaah’s mercy. However, He particularised them as being those who truly deserve to hope. So the one whose hope in Allaah’s mercy guides him to obedience and deters him from disobedience, his hope is true. And the one whose hope invites him to being immersed in sin and disobedience, is in delusion.

It is also necessary to know that truly hoping in something necessitates three things:

Firstly: Yearning for what one hopes.

Secondly: Fearing to miss gaining it.

Thirdly: Striving to achieve it.

If hope is not connected with any one of these matters, then it is mere wishful thinking, since hope is one thing, and wishful thinking something else. And every person who is hopeful, is also fearful, and whosoever traverses a path, makes haste when he fears that he may miss what he hopes for.

Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu ‘anhu relates that Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Whosoever fears being plunderered by the enemy, sets out in the early part of the night, and whosoever sets out early reaches the destination. Indeed the treasures of Allaah are precious. Indeed the treasures of Allaah is Paradise.” 2

Allaah – the One free from all defects, the Most High – said:

“Say: O My servants who have wronged their souls due to sin. Do not despair in Allaah’s mercy, for indeed Allaah forgives all sins. Indeed He is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Soorah az-Zumar 39:53].

And Allaah – the Mighty and Majestic – said:

“Indeed your Lord is full of forgiveness for mankind, inspite of their wrong-doing.” [Soorah ar-Ra’d 13:6].

‘Umar ibn al-Khattaab radiallaahu ‘anhu relates that some prisoners were brought before Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam and amongst them was a woman who was frantically searching for someone in the crowd. When she found a baby amongst the prisoners, she took it in her arms, cradled it next to her chest and suckled it. So Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Do you think that this woman would ever throw her child into the Fire?” We said: By Allaah ! Never! So he said: “Allaah is more merciful to His believing servants than that mother could ever be to her child.”3

Abu Hurayrah radiallaahu ‘anhu relates that Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “Indeed before Allaah created the creation, He decreed for Himself ‘Indeed My mercy prevails over My anger.'”4

Anas radiallanhu ‘anhu relates that he heard Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam say: “Allaah – the Most High – said O son of Aadam! As long as you call upon Me and hope in Me, I shall forgive you for what you have done and I shall not mind. O son of Aadam! If your sins were to reach the clouds of the sky and you were then to ask forgiveness of Me, I would forgive you. O son of Aadam! Were you to come to Me with sins nearly as great as the earth, and were you then to meet Me without committing any shirk (i.e. calling upon someone else, or worshipping someone else) along with Me, I would bring you forgiveness as great as it.”5

Yahyaa ibn Mu’aadh said:

“In my view, the worst kind of self-delusion is to greatly sin, yet hope for forgiveness without feeling any regret; and to hope to draw close to Allaah – the Most High – without obedience to Him; and to await the fruits of Paradise, by planting the seeds for Hell-Fire; and to seek the abode of the obedient ones, by doing acts of disobedience; and to expect a reward, without doing any worthy action; and to hope in Allaah – the Mighty and Majestic – after overstepping the bounds.”

“You hope for salvation but do not tread its path.
A ship never sails upon dry land.”
6


2. Saheeh: Related by at-Tirmidhee (10/227) and al-Haakim (4/30) who both authenticated it.
3. Related by al-Bukhaaree (10/426) and Muslim (18/80).
4. Related by al-Bukhaaree (13/384) and Muslim (17/68).
5. Saheeh: Related by at-Tirmidhee (no.2805) and Ahmad (5/172). It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.126).
6. Related by Ibn Hibbaan in Rawdatul-‘Uqalaa (p.284), from the poetry of Abul-‘Atiyyah

Source: al-Istiqaamah magazine – Issue No.3 – Rabi’ul-Awwal 1417H / August 1996

Sincerity (Ikhlaas) – Shaykh Ahmad Fareed

Source: Tazkiyatun-Nufoos (pp.7-10)
Al-Istiqaamah Magazine , Issue No.4 – Jumâdal-Awwal 1417H / November 1996

Ikhlaas (purity and sincerity of intentions): It is the stripping (i.e. the purifying) of one’s intentions in order to draw closer to Allaah – the Mighty and Majestic – in all matters. It is also said that ikhlaas is intending to single out Allaah alone with acts of obedience. It has also been said that ikhlaas is to forget about the creation by constantly looking towards the Creator.

And ikhlaas (sincerity) is a condition for Allaah to accept those righteous actions that are done in accordance with the Sunnah (guidance) of Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. So Allaah – the Most High – commanded us with His saying:

“And they have not been commanded except to worship Allaah alone, having ikhlaas (purity of intention) in their Religion and not setting-up partners with Allaah in the worship of Him.” [Soorah al-Bayyinah 38:5].

Abu Umaamah radiallaahu ‘anhu relates:
Once a man came to Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa
sallam
and said: What do you think about a person who joins us in the fighting only to seek fame and wealth? So Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alalvhi wa sallam replied: “He receives nothing!” The man repeated the question three times, each time Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “He recieves nothing!” Then he said: “Indeed Allaah does not accept an action except if it is done with ikhlaas (i.e. purely for Allaah’s sake), seeking nothing but His Face.”2

Zayd ibn Thaabit radiallaahu ‘anhu relates:
The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam said: “May Allaah brighten whosoever hears my words, memorises them and then conveys them to others. Many a carrier of knowledge does not understand it, and many a carrier of knowledge conveys it to one who has better understanding. There are three things which the heart of a Believer has no malice about: Ikhlaas for Allaah in one’s action; sincere advice to the Muslim leaders; and clinging to the Jamaa’ah.”3

The meaning of the above being that these three matters strengthen the heart. And that whosoever adopts them, then his heart will be purified from deceit, corruption and evil. And no servant can be free from Shaytaan except by having ikhlaas, as Allaah – the Mighty and Majestic -said:

“Except those of Your servants who have ikhlaas.” [Soorah Saad 38:83].

It has been related from one of the pious people that he said: “O my soul! Have ikhlaas and then you will be purified.” Thus, whenever any share of this world – in which the soul takes comfort and the heart inclines towards, either greatly or slightly – enters into our actions, then it marrs the purity and ruins the ikhlaas. For man becomes preoccupied with his portion of the world and becomes immersed in his desires; and very seldom are his action, or acts of worship, free from temporary objectives or desires of this kind. That is why it has been said: “Whosoever secures in his lifetime even a single moment of ikhlaas, seeking the Face of Allaah, he will be saved.” This is because ikhlaas is something very precious, and cleansing the heart from impurities is something difficult.

So ikhlaas is: Cleansing the heart from all impurities – whether large or small – such that the intention of drawing closer to Allaah is stripped of all other motives, except that. And this matter cannot be imagined, except from someone who truly loves Allaah; and who is so absorbed in thinking about the Aakhirah (Hereafter), that there remains no place in his heat for the love of this world to settle. The likes of such a person – even when he is eating, drinking or answering the call of nature – has ikhlaas in his actions and has correct intentions. However, whosoever is not like this, then the doors of ikhlaas will be closed to him – except in rare exceptions. Likewise, whosoever is overwhelmed with the love of Allaah and the love of the Hereafter, then the actions that he does will all be characterised with this ikhlaas. However, if the person’s soul is overwhelmed with this dunyaa (world), then the actions that he does will be characterised with this love, such that no act of worship – whether it be Pasting or Praying, or other than these – will be accepted from him, except in a few cases.

The cure for loving this world is to break these worldly desires that the soul has, curing-off the greed it has for this world and purifying it for the Hereafter. This will then become the overwhelming trait of the heart and with this state achieving ikhlaas will become much easier. For how many actions there are that a person does, thinking that they are done with true ikhlaas (sincerity), seeking only the Face of Allaah, but he is deluded, for he does not see the defects in them!

Thus it has been related about someone that he used to always pray in the first row of the mosque. One day he was delayed in coming to the Prayer, so he had to pray in the second row. Feeling embarrassed at praying in the second row, the man realised that the satisfaction and pleasure of the heart that he gained from praying in the first row was due to him seeing that the people used to admire him for it. This is a very fine and subtle point and actions are seldom safe from it. Indeed, very few are there who realise such subtleties – apart from those upon whom Allaah – the Most High – has blessed and helped. Rather, those who are negligent of such matters will see their good deeds appearing as evil ones on the Day of Resurrection, and they are the ones who are referred to in Allaah – the Most High’s – sayings:

“And there will become clear to them that which they were not expecting. For the evil of their deeds will become apparent to them.” [Soorah az-Zumr 39:47-48].

“Say: Shall We inform you about those who will lose most in respect to their actions? Those whose efforts have been wasted in the life of this world, whilst they thought that they were doing good actions.” [Soorah al- Kahf 18:103-104].

Some Sayings Concerning Ikhlaas

Ya’qoob- rahimahullaah – said:
“A mukhlis (one who truly has ikhlaas) is someone who conceals his good actions, as he conceals his bad ones.”

As-Soosee – rahimahullaah -said:
“True ikhlaas is not to see your ikhlaas. Indeed, whosoever identifies ikhlaas in his ikhlaas, then he is in need of having ikhlaas in his ikhlaas!” And what this indicates is to purify one’s actions from being amazed with oneself. Since whosoever considers his ikhlaas, being amazed with it, has fallen into great danger. For ikhlaas is to be pure and free from such dangers of being amazed with one’s own actions.

Ayyoob – rahimahullaah -said:
“Having Ikhlaas (sincerity for Allaah) in the intentions for any action, is much more harder than performing the action itself.”

One of the Salaf (Pious Predecessors) said:
To have true ikhlaas even for a short time, is to be saved. However, ikhlaas is very rare.”

Suhayl – rahimahullaah – was asked: What is the thing most difficult for the nafs (soul)? He replied: “To have ikhlaas, especially when the soul is not disposed towards it.”

Al-Fudayl ibn ‘Iyyaad – rahimahullaah – said:
“Abandoning action for the sake of people, is to seek their admiration. To do an action for the sake of people is to commit Shirk (to associate in the worship of Allaah, others along with Allaah). Indeed ikhlaas is when Allaah saves you from both of these states.”


1. Tazkiyatun-Nufoos (pp.7-10).
2. Hasan: Related by an-Nasaa’ee (6/25). It was authenticated by al-Haafidh al-‘lraaqee in Takhreejul-lhyaa (4/28).
3. Saheeh: Related by Ahmad (4/80) and Ibn Maajah (no.230). It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.404).

The Distinction between Doing an Action of Disbelief and Being a Disbeliever

Shaikhul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said: ‘A certain saying may be kufr (disbelief) and so it is declared, unrestrictedly, that the doer is a kafir (disbeliever) and it is said: ‘He who says this, then he is a kafir.’ But a particular person who says that is not judged to be a kafir until the proof – whose denier is a kafir – is established against him; and this is like the textual threat since Allah says: #”Verily, those who unjustly eat up the property of orphans, they eat up only fire into their bellies, and they will be burnt in the blazing Fire!”# [Sura An-Nisa’ 4 :10]

So this and its like from the textual threats are true, but we do not bear witness that a specific individual will receive that which has been threatened. Therefore, we do not bear witness that any person in particular from the people of the Qiblah will enter the Fire, because that threat may not be carried out on him due to the absence of one of its conditions or the presence of something to prevent it. Perhaps its forbiddance never reached him, and perhaps he will repent from it, or perhaps he has great good deeds sufficient to wipe it out, or perhaps trials befall him which expiate it, or perhaps an acceptable intercessor will intercede on his behalf (on the Day of Resurrection).

Likewise, for that who makes the utterances of kufr, it could be possible that the texts which convey the truth did not reach him, or maybe they did, but he did not regard them as authentic or did not understand them. It is also a possibility that he had a doubt for which Allah will excuse him. So if a believer strives to arrive at the truth but makes a mistake, then Allah forgives his mistake whether in matters of belief or action. This is the position of the Companions of the Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and the great majority of scholars of Islam. [Majmoo` ul-Fatawa (3/345)]

Al-Qasimi says, quoting Shaikhul-Islam: ‘What is meant is that the position of the scholars is built upon the distinction between the position of action (i.e. it being an action of kufr) and the person in particular (who does the action). Indeed there is no difference reported about this issue from Imam Ahmad or the rest of the scholars of Islam such as: Malik, Abu Hanifah and ash-Shafi`e, that they do not declare the Murji`ah as disbelievers – those who say that eman (faith) is saying without action, and their texts are replete with the fact that the Khawarij and Qadariyyah and others are not declared to be kafirun (disbelievers).

‘When Imam ash-Shafi`e spoke with Hafs al-Fard, one of the heads of the Mu`attilah (deniers of Allah’s attributes), with regard to the question of the creation or otherwise of the Qur’an, he (ash-Shafi`e) said to him: ‘You have disbelieved in Allah, the Most Great.’ – declaring him to have done kufr, but he did not judge him to be an apostate because of that. Had he regarded him as an apostate and kafir, he would have hastened to ask for his execution.

‘However, a fatwa (religious verdict) was given that the callers to innovation such as Ghulatul-Qadariyya (deniers of pre-destination), al-Ja`d ibn Dirham and Jahm ibn Safwan, the leader of the Jahmiyyah (deniers of Allah’s names and attributes), and others were to be executed, but people prayed over them and they were buried with Muslims. So their execution was like that of the brigand. This was done in order to put an end to the harm they caused, not due to apostasy, and if they were disbelievers, the Muslims would have treated them as such.’ [Mahasinut-Ta’wel 5/1313-1314]

Adapted from: “Excusing out of Ignorance” By Ahmed Fareed