Extremism in Takfeer – Principle Three

Study Notes
Abu Saifillah Abdul Qadir


Kufr is of two types;

  1. Kufr in belief, that takes one out of the fold of Islam. It is also referred to as major kufr.
  2. Kufr in action, that does not take one out of the fold of Islam on its own except, if after the establishment of the proof, his actions portray manifest denial, rejection, arrogance, etc. It is also referred to as minor kufr.

So this principle necessitates the establishment, of whether the judgement by other than what Allaah has revealed, falls under the type of kufr in belief which is rejection, denial, or making it permissible or even believing that one has a choice in the matter. Or does it fall under the type of kufr in action that does not make you a kaafir. Therefore if the scholars of Islam judge that the kufr in a particular instance was kufr in action then we would have indeed lied against Allaah if we were to make them unbelievers.


If kufr was not of two types then how would we understand the hadith narrated by Abdullah ibn Mas’ood (radiyallaahu anhu) that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said:

“Abusing a Muslim is fisq (sin) and fighting him is kufr.”

[Agreed upon]

So is this fighting kufr in belief or kufr in action, bearing in mind that if it is kufr in belief, then the person who does this act becomes a disbeliever (kaafir)? The answer is clearly that it is kufr in action, the minor kufr which does not remove one from the fold of Islam, and this is established from Allaah’s statement;

“And if two parties from amongst the believers fight then make peace between them, and if one transgresses then fight you all the one which transgresses till it complies with the command of Allaah.”

[Al-Hujuraat (49):9]

So we find Allaah describing those Muslims that fight each other as believers.  Therefore fighting amongst believers is kufr in action or minor kufr and cannot be kufr in belief or major kufr. Each and every verse in the Qur’aan and the hadith that mentions kufr must be verified to find out what type of kufr it is. This is a task for the scholars alone and not the common people. Other examples of such cases can be found in the following authentic ahadeeth, where all the examples are of kufr in action or minor kufr.

“Two things if done are kufr, abusing of genealogies and wailing over the dead.”

[Saheeh Muslim]

“Arguing over the Qur’aan is kufr.”

“Speaking about Allaah’s favours is giving thanks and leaving that is kufr.”

“Do not return to being kaafir after me by some of you striking the necks of others (fighting).”


“Whoever goes into his women from behind (anus) has indeed done kufr.”

And also the statement of Allaah:

“Whoever does not judge by what Allaah has revealed such are the disbelievers.”

[Al-Maa’idah (5):44]

Like this there are many more verses and ahadeeth, like the ones mentioned in chapter one that need to be explained by tafseer or hadeeth using principles of the Shari’ah in order to arrive at the correct ruling. A work only befitting for scholars. So this is where many of the Muslims become confused and are lead astray. They try to implement the verses of Surah Al-Maa’idah and other texts, as they are, apparently, without applying the principle that the kufr mentioned in the text can be one of two types.

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