Words and Actions That Cause Disbelief
The following are some words and actions that cause a Muslim to fall into kufr (disbelief, apostasy). We have quoted them from Zawajir by Hadrat Ibn Hajar al-Makki, Hadiqa, Bariqa, Birghiwi, Miftah-ul Janna, Maktubat-i Rabbani, Endless Bliss, and Ibn ‘Abidin.
1. Attributing Allahu ta’ala with a non-befitting attribute causes disbelief. For example, it is disbelief to say “Allah knows that I did not do it” to refer to something one did or to say “Allah knows that I did it” to refer to something one did not do, if there is no extreme necessity to say so. Uttering such a statement means imputing ignorance to Allahu ta’ala.
2. Saying “Allah is wise, conscious, and thinks well” means likening Him to His creation, which is disbelief.
3. Making derogatory remarks about prophets or making fun of them causes disbelief. Examples of this category of disbelief are as follows: saying “The first human was wild” to refer to Hadrat Adam or considering a wali higher than a prophet or saying “If what the Prophet said is true, we have attained salvation.”
Such statements, too, cause disbelief: “Only the Qur’an” or “I do not accept any sources except the Qur’an” or “There is no need for any sources other than the Qur’an” or “The Prophet is a postman. His mission is over.”
4. It is disbelief to claim that a prophet will succeed our Master the Prophet. (‘Isa ‘alaihis-salam will come but not as a prophet.)
5. Making disparaging remarks about angels is disbelief. For example, such statements are included in this category: “In my opinion, your look is like Azrail” or “I would not believe it even if Jibrael said it” or “If you do not discipline your children well, they will be Zabanis.”
6. Insulting the words of, the fiqh books of, and the fatwas of Islamic scholars instead of respecting them causes disbelief. Examples of disbelief of this kind include: to claim, for instance, that the qiyas performed by Imam-i A’zam is not valid or to fling a fatwa on the ground or to hurl the books of hadith and tafsir on the ground.
7. It is an act of disbelief to make mockery of the events that will take place in the Hereafter. To say, for instance, “I do not want Paradise. I want Hell because all prostitutes will be there.”
8. It causes disbelief not to believe, not to like, or not to attach importance to any of Allahu ta’ala’s commandments and prohibitions, that is, any of the Islamic facts that have been communicated clearly by the Qur’an al-karim and hadith-i sharifs and have spread everywhere by means of the books of Islamic scholars and thus must be believed in indispensably. To say, for instance, “I do not believe in genies and evil eye because I do not see them” causes disbelief.
9. It is an act of disbelief to say the Basmala while eating or drinking something that is definitely known to be haram. To say the Basmala, for instance, while drinking wine or eating pork causes disbelief. However, it does not cause disbelief to say the Basmala while eating something that has been obtained by way of theft because what is haram in this case is not that which is eaten but theft itself.
10. It is an act of disbelief to do or use the things that are symptoms of disbelief, symptoms of denying and disbelieving Islam. It is wajib on us to debase them. Also, he who does or uses one of them that is commonly known without knowing or as a joke or to make people laugh becomes a disbeliever. For example, it causes disbelief to wear the robe-like girdle called zunnar, which is worn by priests. One’s using them to make others laugh causes disbelief too, even if one might have correct faith. (Bariqa)
11. It is disbelief to say that the earth exists without a beginning and an end, as did the Greek philosophers.
12. Using such expressions as “Islamic thought” or “Islamic theory” or “Islamic view” to mean the Islamic religion causes disbelief. [A thought means a solution that is considered to deal with a situation or means a compared result. A view means a thought, too. A theory means an idea based on mental and intellectual principles. Islamic scholars state that attributing Allah with man’s created attributes, such as mind, consciousness, memory, and thought, causes disbelief.]
13. It is an act of disbelief to call Allahu ta’ala’s commandments and prohibitions “divine thoughts” or “divine views” or “divine theories” or “divine consciousness.” The case is the same with calling the rules in the Qur’an al-karim “Qur’anic views.”
14. It is disbelief to like the religious rites or religious festivals of disbelievers, to congratulate them on Christmas if there is no extreme necessity to do so, or to attend services at church.
15. Saying “Those Jews and Christians who believe in Allah will go to Paradise” causes disbelief.
16. It is disbelief to deny mu’jizah and karamah.
17. It causes disbelief to consider halal that which is commonly known as haram or to consider haram that which is commonly known as halal, e.g., to consider lard halal and vinegar haram.
18. It is an act of disbelief to throw a piece of paper on which is written a Qur’anic verse, the Basmala, the name of an angel or a prophet in the toilet, on filth. Also, cursing the mouth a Muslim with the words of defecation and urination is an act of disbelief.
19. If someone says to a Muslim, “O, you, disbeliever,” it causes disbelief to say “Yes” by accepting it.
20. To say “A slice of bread is better than Islamic knowledge” causes disbelief because one holds Islamic knowledge in contempt with this statement.
21. It is disbelief to think, “I will become a Christian sometime later.” A Muslim woman becomes a disbeliever (an apostate) at the moment she makes up her mind to marry a Christian man. Similarly, a Muslim man becomes a disbeliever at the moment he makes up his mind to marry an atheistic woman.
22. If one is afflicted by a severe illness and supplicates, “O my Allah, take my soul, as a disbeliever if You like,” it causes disbelief.
23. It is disbelief to say, “O my Allah, You have taken my child. Now do whatever You are able to.”
24. When someone with long nails is told, “It is sunnat to cut nails,” if he answers “So what?” he becomes a disbeliever. It causes disbelief not because he does not cut his nails but because he treats a sunnat as unimportant.
25. To say “Uttering ‘insha-Allah’ or ‘masha-Allah’ or performing salat does not fill one’s stomach. Things do not take place by saying ‘insha-Allah’ or ‘masha-Allah'” is disbelief. One dislikes and mocks the order of our religion by uttering such statements. Insha-Allah means “by the permission of Allah.” Nothing takes places except by His permission. Therefore, it is necessary to believe that good and evil are from Allah. It is disbelief to reject the fact that evil, like good, is from Allah. Man wills an action, and Allahu ta’ala creates it.
26. It is disbelief to say to someone one loves, “You are dearer to me than Allah and the Prophet are.”
27. Approval of kufr (disbelief) causes kufr. An example of it is that one does not feel sad that one’s children have become disbelievers, e.g., to consent to the marriage of one’s daughter to a non-Muslim man.
28. When a disbeliever wants to become a Muslim and needs you, it causes disbelief to delay his becoming a Muslim on a plea of some work.
29. It is disbelief to say, “The boorish hand of ajal.” (The reason is that ajal [one’s appointed time of death] comes by Allah’s command. It is disbelief to describe the command of Allah and the duty of Azrail ‘alaihis-salam as cruelty.)
30. To respect a disbeliever, e.g., to kiss the hand of a priest out of respect, causes disbelief.
31. It is an act of disbelief to call any of the As-hab-i Kiram a disbeliever (kafir). (The reason for it is that the Qur’an al-karim declares that all of them will go to Paradise. If one calls any of them a disbeliever, then one has not believed what the Qur’an says.)
32. To say, “The disbelievers who suffer oppression will go to Paradise,” causes disbelief.
33. It is disbelief to expect thawab from money that is haram. For example, if a woman sacrifices an animal with the money that she earned through prostitution and expects thawab in return for this act of hers, she will fall into disbelief. If she does it without expecting any thawab, it will not be disbelief.
34. To consider Allahu ta’ala as being with place, e.g., to say, like Christians, “Allah sits in the sky” or to say “Some sound has come from the sky” by meaning that that sound has come from Allahu ta’ala or to say “Allah is looking at us from the sky” causes disbelief because such statements mean ascribing a place to Allahu ta’ala. The earth, planets, Paradise, and Hell are not without a beginning. They were created afterwards and are creatures. Allahu ta’ala had existed when the earth and the heavens did not exist. Islamic scholars state that it is permissible to use the statement “Allah is present and overlooking all the time and everywhere eternally.” However, since Allahu ta’ala is not with time or with place, this statement is not as it seems to be, but it is a metaphor. That is, it is permissible to say, “Allah is not with time or with place. He is present [exists] and overlooking [sees] without Him being at any place.” Otherwise, Allahu ta’ala would be considered to be with time or with place, which is kufr. It is written in the book Miftah-ul Janna: “If one says, ‘There is no space that is not filled by Allah” or “Allah is my witness in the sky,” one becomes a disbeliever, for he has attributed a place to Him. However, Allah is clear of occupying spaces'” (The Chapter About Kufr).
35. To say, “I do not perform salat, but look at my heart. My heart is pure,” is disbelief. (The reason for it is that one treats salat as unimportant by saying so, and considering it unimportant is disbelief. A person’s not performing salat means he is committing haram all the time. A committer of haram cannot have a pure heart.)
36. When one says to a person, “Your parents are dark-skinned. How do you have fair skin?” it is disbelief to answer, “I am a faulty design.” This statement means to suggest that the Creator has done a faulty deed.
37. To perform acts of worship or to sing nasheeds in a way accompanied by music causes disbelief because nasheeds are ibadah. And mixing something haram into ibadah causes disbelief. Similarly, saying the Basmala while drinking alcohol is disbelief, too.
38. To say about a Muslim, “So-and-so is like a Jew in my eyes,” is disbelief.
39. If a Muslim says, for a jocular purpose, about an Islamic book widely acknowledged as reliable that it is old wives’ tale or if he says mockingly “May it be halal!” to someone who is committing haram or who is making someone commit haram, he becomes an apostate.
40. A person will lose his faith if he says, “How beautifully you recited!” to a hafiz who recited the Qur’an by tuning it up to musical notes. (Durr-ul-muntaqa)
41. When a person listens to a singer or sees any haram action, he will lose his faith as soon as he says, “How nice!” to refer to that haram. (Maktubat-i Rabbani, Vol. 1, Letter 266)
42. It causes disbelief to use deliberately, not for any other reason—such as from sheer force of habit—such expressions for a human: “He created it” or “He is creative” or “I created it” or “I am the creator.” No one, except Allah, is called a creator. The Creator is Allahu ta’ala alone. Such expressions should not be used metaphorically either in the meaning of “making or producing something.” Nevertheless, those who use them metaphorically or without malice should not be called disbelievers.
43. He who disbelieves the Islamic knowledge that is indispensable and has been communicated through consensus becomes a disbeliever. Every word, every action signifying disbelief, even if it is done in a jocular manner or unwillingly, is disbelief. (Kitab al–Milal wa al-Nihal)
44. It is disbelief to insult Islamic knowledge and scholars of the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah.
45. When someone looking at non-mahram women is advised that it is haram to do so, if he says, ‘It is thawab to look at what is beautiful,” it is disbelief. With this statement, he does not accept haram and says that it is thawab, as if it were an act of worship. Looking at non-mahram women weakens eyes and darkens heart. It is thawab to like what is lawful and beautiful and to observe Allah’s power.
46. It is disbelief to curse the religion and the creed of a Muslim.
Showing reverence to the picture of a wali
Question: Is it shirk to show reverence to the picture of a wali?
Shirk means to attribute partners to Allahu ta’ala and ascribe divine attributes to others. A person who does the attributing is called a polytheist (mushrik), and the thing that is attributed is called a partner (sharik). To believe that someone possesses one of the attributes of divinity means to make him a partner. The attributes possessed exclusively by Allahu ta’ala are called attributes of divinity. Some divine attributes are the following: existing eternally, creating, all-knowing, and healing the sick. To believe that a human being or the sun or a cow or any other creature possesses a divine attribute, and thus to respect or beg that being or creature, is called to worship them. Those things become an idol. To say words or to do actions that would come to mean a reverence before such people assumed to be possessing divine attributes or before pictures of disbelievers means to worship them, and therefore, it is polytheism.
If one believes that a person does not possess a divine attribute but instead he is a person loved by Allah, paying respect to his pictures is not polytheism or disbelief. Nevertheless, since paying respect to any person’s picture is forbidden, a Muslim doing so becomes a sinner (fasiq). If he slights the fact that it is forbidden (haram), he will become an apostate (murtad), and so will those who flout a forbidden action.
Respect and disrespect
Question: Does showing disrespect toward a religiously sacred thing cause disbelief?
Not every disrespect is disbelief. Let us give two examples to illustrate the subject:
1. It is an act of disrespect to the Ka’ba to stretch one’s legs toward it without a good excuse. However, it is not disbelief, but makruh tahrimi. If one does it deliberately, that is, if one does it because the Ka’ba is in that direction and to take it lightly or to make fun of it, it causes disbelief.
2. Not to perform salat is an act of irreverence to the order of Allahu ta’ala, but it is not disbelief. What is disbelief is to reject the fact that salat is fard or to take this fard lightly or to consider it unimportant.
Deeds that cause disbelief
Question: Since deeds are not part of faith according to the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah, does a person fall into disbelief only in a matter pertaining to belief? Does he fall into disbelief when he does something pertaining to practice?
All the commandments and prohibitions that our Master the Prophet informed us about are related to belief. That is, to believe all the commandments and prohibitions he communicated and to like all of them is a matter pertaining to belief. This is the sensitive point in faith. To perform or not to perform them is related to punishment and reward. Kufr (disbelief) is to disbelieve, to dislike, or to disrespect any Islamic fact that must be believed in and liked, or to believe in, to like, or to respect any matter that Islam ordered us not to believe in and like. Let us give some examples:
1. It is disbelief to throw a copy of the Qur’an al-karim on the ground. It is only an act, but it is disbelief because it is desecration of Allah’s Word.
2. One who consumes alcoholic drinks or pork does not become a kafir (disbeliever). However, if one says the Basmala while drinking alcohol or eating pork or if one says “How nice it is!” to mean alcohol or pork, one becomes a disbeliever. With this act, one has showed respect to a forbidden thing and disbelieved that it is forbidden.
3. To wear a necklace with a cross pendant is disbelief. Wearing a necklace with a cross pendant is only an act, but it causes disbelief because one has put it at a place that is a token of esteem and has liked the sign of disbelief.
What should we do?
Question: If we notice something that is a sign of disbelief in the words or writing of a person who says that he is a Muslim, can we call him a disbeliever?
A person who claims to be a Muslim and who has been seen performing salat in congregation must be regarded as a Muslim. If, later on, in his speech, writing, or behavior something is seen that disagrees with the knowledge of faith conveyed by the scholars of Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah and is a sign of disbelief, he should be told that this is disbelief or heresy. He should be told to cease from it and repent. If he does not cease from it, it will be understood that he is a heretic or disbeliever. Even if he continues performing salat, performs hajj, and does all kinds of acts of worship and good deeds, he will not escape this disaster. He cannot be a Muslim unless he gives up the things that cause disbelief and unless he repents. By learning well the things that cause disbelief, each Muslim should protect himself from becoming an apostate and should know well the disbelievers and those liars who pretend to be Muslims and keep away from their harm.
Pretending to be a Christian
Question: We live in Europe. The Muslims converting to Christianity are provided with money and other benefits. If we, purely and simply for the sake of obtaining those benefits, lie to them that we have embraced Christianity, is there anything wrong with it? Similarly, is there anything wrong with pretending to be an atheist among atheists or a Mason among Masons?
There is a lot of harm in it because you are not forced to do so by an extreme necessity. It is written in Islamic books, “If one says, ‘I am a disbeliever’ or ‘I am a Christian’ for a jocular purpose, one becomes a disbeliever.” That is, one cannot even say it jokingly. Moreover, if one says, “Being a Christian is better than being a Jew,” one becomes a disbeliever. Therefore, you must not pretend to be a Christian or a Mason even for a jocular purpose or for worldly benefits. The followers of the Saba’iyya practice such hypocrisy, but there is no place for it in the Ahl as-Sunnah wa’l-Jama’ah.
Disbelievers who suffer oppression
Question: Is it true to say, “Those disbelievers who are killed with oppression will go to Paradise, too”?
It is false because this statement contradicts what Allahu ta’ala says. It is declared in the Qur’an al-karim that all kinds of disbelievers will remain in Hell eternally. Those who have suffered oppression and cruelty are not exempted from the blanket rule. A Qur’anic verse says (what means):
(All disbelievers, be they from among the Ahl-i Kitab [Jews and Christians] or from among polytheists, will be in Hell. They will abide therein eternally. They are the worst of creatures.) [Al-Bayyinah 6]
There is no statement reading that the disbelievers who experience oppression will go to Paradise.
No joking matter
Question: Is it disbelief to call evil people “Hadrat blessed cuckold” to make others laugh?
Yes, it is disbelief. He who does or uses one of the commonly known words or actions of disbelief without knowing or as a joke or to make people laugh becomes a disbeliever. (Birghiwi’s Wasiyyat-nama)
Actions, too, are created by Allah
Question: Why does it cause disbelief to say, “Sustenance comes from Allah and man’s action is necessary”?
It causes disbelief because action, too, is created by Allah. (Birghiwi’s Wasiyyat-nama)
Man’s (limited will power called) irada al-juz’iyya is not the sole factor effective in the materialization of his action. In other words, not everything that man wishes comes into being. Nor is it a customary method of Allahu ta’ala to create only as He wills. Human beings use their will power for something they want to do. If Allahu ta’ala also wills it, that action materializes. (Bariqa)
There is a difference between the movements of the lifeless substances and the optional, voluntary actions of humans and animals: when a human or an animal opts, prefers and wills an action and if He wills, too, He makes him or it act, and He creates his or its action. Man’s action is not in man’s power. (I’tiqadnama)
Question: Do the following statements cause disbelief: “So-and-so has despaired of getting married” or “So-and-so has despaired of getting taller” or “That team has despaired of championship”? Is the person who says so considered to have despaired of Allah?
What causes disbelief is to despair of Allah’s mercy. To say, “I will enter Hell. Allah never puts me into His Paradise” causes disbelief. Similarly, it is disbelief too to feel safe from the torment of Allah. That is, it is an act of disbelief to say, “It is certain that Allah will put me into His Paradise.” However, it is not disbelief to despair of other things. If one does not cling to causes and means of something that one wants to take place, it will not take place. It does not cause disbelief to give hope of an event. What causes disbelief is to despair of Allah or to think that Allah cannot do a certain thing.