The one who does not rule by what Allah has revealed is not a disbeliever unless he has believed in it.

Answer to Question: The one who does not rule by what Allah has revealed is not a disbeliever unless he has believed in it.

Question:

Verily Allah (swt) has said:

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the disbelievers (Al-Maa’idah 44).

This therefore is a Hukm (judgment) from Allah of Kufr (disbelief) upon the one who has not ruled by what Allah has revealed and this does not mention Al-I’tiqaad (belief) or anything else, Rather the Hukm is Mutlaq (unrestricted) and it has not been restricted (Muqayyad). So upon what basis does the Hizb say that the one who rules by other than what Allah has revealed is a Muslim if he has not believed in Kufr and that he is not classified as a disbeliever unless he has believed in it?

Answer:

This aforementioned Aayah and the Aayah:

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the Zhaalimoon (transgressors, oppressors (Al-Maa’idah 45).

In addition to the Aayah:

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the Faasiqoon (rebelliously disobedient) (Al-Maa’idah 47).

These Ayaat were revealed in relation to the disbelievers and not in relation to the Muslims. However when the Lafzh (wording) came with ‘Man’ (whoever) in a general (‘Aamm) form which is from the general worded expressions (Alfaazh Al-‘Umoom) and then it the Aayah ended by that which establishes generality, this then indicates and guides to the Muslims being included within it and so it therefore covers and applies to them. This is not due to the Shar’a min Qablinaa (the legislation of previous nations) not being a Shar’a for us because that which is found in the Qur’aan which was for those who came before us is considered to be our Shar’a in the case where a Qareenah (indication/linkage) exists that explains that it is for us. This is even if it was revealed on the basis that it was a Sharee’ah for those who came before us. Here in this case the Ta’meem (generality of the address) is a Qareenah that it is for us, the Muslims, just as applies to those who came before us. It is therefore from our Sharee’ah and as such applies upon the Muslims just as it applies upon the disbelievers. However the one who does not rule by what Allah has revealed not being classified as a disbeliever unless he has believed in it and that if he does not believe in it he has not disbelieved, then this is due to a number of Qaraa’in (indications/linkages) indicating that belief in other than what Allah has revealed is what makes the person a Kaafir and not just the ruling.

Firstly: The three Aayaat were revealed for a single incident so the fact that He (swt) said: ‘Faasiqoon’ and ‘Zhaalimoon’ is a Qareenah indicating that His statement: ‘Kaafiroon’ intends the meaning of the one who believes in the Kufr (disbelief). The subject is therefore one subject which is the ruling by other than what Allah has revealed whilst the descriptions are a few and they are Kufr, Fisq and Zhulm (disbelief, rebellious disobedience and transgression/oppression). There is therefore no doubt that every description from these three descriptions has a condition or state that occurs within the subject and at the time of that condition, it is provided with that description. Al-‘I’tiqaad (belief) then, is a condition which when it exists in respect to the ruling by other than what Allah has revealed, the ruler would then be a disbeliever and if this condition was not present then the ruler would be a Faasiq or a Zhaalim. As such if he ruled by other than what Allah revealed without believing in it and provided the right to the one who had the right to it then he would be considered a Faasiq because he would have ruled by other than what Allah had revealed whilst not being a disbeliever or an oppressor (Zhaalim). And if he ruled by other than what Allah revealed without believing in it but he did not provided the right to the one who had the right to it he would be a Faasiq and a Zhaalim, due to him committing the sin of not ruling by what Allah had revealed and due to him oppressing the one who had the right to a right. Therefore the multiple descriptions for a single subject is a Qareenah (indication) that His statement (swt):

فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

Then they are the disbelievers

That this statement of His (swt) is indicative of the case where the ruler has believed in that (i.e. ruling by other than what Allah Ta’Aalaa has revealed). Similar to this is the statement of the Messenger of Allah (saw) in relation to the one who has left the performance of the Salaah:

وَمَنْ تَرَكَهَا فَقَدْ كَفَرَ

‘And whoever abandons it has disbelieved’

Despite this the one who abandons the Salaah is not classified as a disbeliever unless he has disbelieved in its obligation.

Secondly: The three Aayaat were revealed in relation to the disbelievers after their disbelief was described and so the generality is applied upon them and not upon all the people. This is because the principle:

العِبْرَةُ بِعُمُومِ اللَّفْظِ لَا بِخُصُوصِ السَّبَبِ

The importance (significance) is in the generality of the expressed wording and not in the specificity of the reason/cause (of revelation)’

It is because this principle is restricted to the subject that it was revealed for whilst it is not restricted in regards to the generality of what it applies upon. The subject here is the rejection of the disbelievers of what was revealed to them and their not ruling and judging by it. They therefore disbelieved due to that, as they disbelieved in that which was revealed to them and they ruled in opposition to it whilst believing in what they ruled by, thus making them become disbelievers. So whoever rules by other than what Allah has revealed due to his rejection of it then he falls under the description ‘then they are the disbelievers’. It should not be said here that the subject in this case is the ruling by other than what Allah has revealed because this opposes the incident for which the Aayah was revealed. The Aayah was revealed in regards to the rejection of the Jews to stone the married adulterer (Zaani) when they passed the judgment of lashing which was contrary to that. The subject therefore consists of two matters: The first is the rejection of what Allah had revealed to them because they viewed it as unsuitable and secondly their passing of a judgment which was contrary to what had been revealed to them. As such their rejection of what Allah had revealed was a fundamental condition in regards to considering them as disbelievers when they judged by other than what Allah revealed.

Thirdly: The ruling is an action and it is not I’tiqaad (belief). If the action contravenes what Allah (swt) has commanded then it would represent a Ma’siyah (sinful act of disobedience) and it would not be Kufr (disbelief) unless the action itself was Kufr. The action can either be contrary to what Allah (swt) has commanded in terms of Ahkaam (rulings) or it can be contrary to what Allah (swt) has commanded in terms of I’tiqaad (belief). That which is contrary to what Allah (swt) commanded in terms of Ahkaam is considered a Ma’siyah (sinful act of disobedience) unless a text which is Qat’iy Dalaalah (definite in meaning/import) and Qat’iy Thuboot (definite in transmission) came that guided to the action being Kufr (disbelief).

So we have been commanded to be obedient to our parents but the command does not include a command related to belief and as such the one who does not obey his parents would be sinful but not a disbeliever. This is different to the case of the Sujood (prostration) to Allah as He (swt) has commanded us to perform it in accordance to belief in Him. As such if a Muslim was to prostrate to a Sanam (idol) or prayed in a Church then he would have disbelieved. This is because the meaning of ‘Laa Ilaaha Illallah’ that we have been commanded to believe in, is that noting is worshipped other than Allah. Upon this basis undertaking what is contrary to that is Kufr however if an action from amongst the actions of Salaah was abandoned like the Qunoot for example, then there is nothing in that and if he was to leave the Sujood then his Salaah would not be valid.

Therefore contravening the commands of Allah would not be considered Kufr (disbelief) unless it was accompanied by belief in its unsuitability or if it was not believed in. So the Shar’a has commanded Al-I’tiqaad (belief) and it has commanded the action and the Hukm for the one who opposes the command related to belief differs from the Hukm for the one who opposes the command related to the action. Therefore, in the case where ruling by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed is contravention to the command related to an action and not in contravention to the command related to the belief, then the contravention would be a Ma’siyah (sinful act of disobedience) and it would not be Kufr. This is because the reality of the ruling by other than what Allah has revealed is not an act of Kufr and this is for two reasons: Firstly: The Shar’a has not stated that it is Kufr and as such it is not considered an act of Kufr. This is supported by the fact that Mu’aawiyah took the Bai’ah (pledge of allegiance) for Yazeed by way of compulsion in front of the eyes and ears of the Sahaabah (rah) which was ruling by other than what Allah had revealed and yet we do not know of anyone from amongst them who said that he disbelieved by doing that. Secondly: The ruling by what Allah has revealed is not a branch from the Aqeedah like the Sujood to the idol or performing Salaah alongside Christians and as such it is not an act of disbelief. It is therefore the type of contravention related to that which Allah Ta’Aalaa has commanded to be undertaken and it is not the type that has been commanded to be believed in.

So if the ruler sided with one of his relatives who was a thief and passed the judgment of imprisonment upon him and did not cut off his hand, then he would be ‘Aasin (sinful) and he would not be a Kaafir. This however is different to the case of the ruler who passed the judgment of imprisonment and not the cutting due to his rejection of the judgment of cutting whilst believing that it is wrong to cut the hand and correct to imprison, in which case he would be a disbeliever. Both of these rulers would have judged and ruled by other than what Allah has revealed but they differ in respect to one of them being disobedient and sinful whilst the other is a disbeliever. The differentiation between them is only due to the issue of belief and had the ruling by other than what Allah has revealed been an act of Kufr (disbelief) then their ruling would have been one and the same (i.e. both would be disbelievers). For this reason the ruling by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed is not considered to be an act of Kufr but rather it is an action like all the rest of the actions that are considered to be a Ma’siyah (act of disobedience). This is where the Haakim (ruler) if he was to judge by other than what Allah has revealed and did not believe in it because it is Zhanny Ath-Thuboot (indefinite in transmission) or Zhanny Ad-Dalaalah (indefinite in meaning/import), would not have disbelieved. He would only have disbelieved if that which he ruled by (other than Islaam) and that which he did not believe in was Qat’iy Ath-Thuboot and Qat’iy Ad-Dalaalah. This is an evidence indicating that the rule by other than what Allah had revealed only does not make the one who does that a disbeliever unless that was accompanied by belief and if that belief rejected that which is definite in transmission and in meaning.

The ruling by other than what Allah has revealed undertaken by the rulers of the Muslims is open to Ta’weel interpretation. So it is possible that the ruler ruled as such because he viewed that it does not contravene and oppose Islaam, a view which is present amongst the Muslim masses, or je ruled in such a way because he viewed that Islaam intends Maslahah and that what he ruled with is in the interest of the Muslims, or he ruled as such because he viewed that he is unable to remain in his position if was to rule by Islaam either out of fear from the disbelievers or fear from the Muslims due to Islaam going against their perceived interests within a capitalist society that they are living in. This could include for example such matters as the existence of Ribaa or the insurance contracts amongst other matters. So the possibility or probability does exist in relation to interpreting the action which would take it away from being an act of Kufr in which the one undertaking it becomes a disbeliever.

Therefore the meaning of the Aayah is: And whoever rules by other than what Allah has revealed in rejection to it just like the Yahood (Jews) for whom it was revealed did when they judged by other than what Allah revealed in rejection to it and not believing in its viability and suitability for them, then he is a disbeliever. The Mafhoom Al-Mukhaalafah (opposite meaning) for it is that whoever rules by other than what Allah has revealed without rejecting it is not a Kaafir.

This opinion in regards to the understanding of this Aayah is the same opinion as the major Mufassireen (Scholars of Tafseer):

At-Tabari said in his Tafseer: ‘Al-Muthannaa told me: ‘Abdullah Bin Saalih told me: Mu’aawiyah Bin Saalih related from ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talhah from Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) who said in regards to His speech (swt):

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the disbelievers (Al-Maa’idah 44).

‘Whoever Jahada (denies/disbelieves) in what Allah has revealed has disbelieved and whoever approves of it but has not judged by it then he is Zhaalim Faasiq’.
At-Tabari then states: ‘Then if someone was to say that Allah (swt) has made this general for everyone who does not judge (or rule) by what Allah has revealed so how can this be made Khaass (specific)? It is said that Allah Ta’Aalaa generalized this in regards to a people who disbelieved in the Hukm by what Allah had revealed in their book and so it was informed about them that by leaving the book in the way that they abandoned it (i.e. through denial and disbelief) they were disbelievers. The same applies to anyone who does not rule by what Allah has revealed out of disbelief in it as he would be a Kaafir as Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) mentioned. This is because by his disbelief in the Hukm of Allah after knowing that it had been revealed in his book is equal to denying the Prophethood of his Prophet after knowing that he was the Prophet’.

Abu Abdullah Muhammad Al-Qurtubi stated the following in his Tafseer ‘Al-Jaami’ Li Ahkaam il Qur’aan’ in relation to the Aayaat:

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the disbelievers (Al-Maa’idah 44).

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the Zhaalimoon (transgressors, oppressors (Al-Maa’idah 45).

وَمَنْ لَمْ يَحْكُمْ بِمَا أَنْزَلَ اللَّهُ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whosoever has not ruled by what Allah has revealed then they are the Faasiqoon (rebelliously disobedient) (Al-Maa’idah 47).

All of these Aayaat were revealed in relation to the disbelievers which has been affirmed in Saheeh Muslim in the Hadeeth of Al-Baraa’ which has been presented and the majority are upon. So as for the Muslim then he does not disbelieve and even if he has perpetrated a Kabeerah (major sin)… And whoever does not rule by what Allah has revealed in rejection to the Qur’aan and disbelieving the speech of the Messenger (saw) is a Kaafir. Ibn ‘Abbaas and Mujaahid said this. The Aayah is therefore general upon this; Ibn Mas’ood and Al-Hasan said that it is general for anyone who does not judge by what Allah has revealed including the Muslims, Yahood and Kuffaar i.e. when he believes in that and has made it Halaal for himself. As for the one who does that whilst he believes that he is undertaking a Haraam (prohibited) act then he is from the Fussaaq of the Muslims and his affair returns to Allah who will punish him if He wishes or forgive him as He wishes. And Ibn ‘Abbaas (ra) said: Whoever does not rule by what Allah has revealed has committed an act that is comparable to the actions of Kufr’.

Therefore any and every Haakim (ruler) who rules by other than what Allah has revealed is Muslim if he does not believe in the Ahkaam of Kufr and does not reject the Qur’aan. He has committed a Ma’siyah but he has not disbelieved. As for the one who rules by other than what Allah has revealed whilst rejecting the Qur’aan (i.e. the Ahkaam of Islaam) whilst believing in the Kufr, then he is a Kaafir without question.

22nd Rabee’ Ath-Thaaniy 1381
22/10/1961.

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