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Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn’s Clarification on Takfīr of Rulers Who Institute Secular Laws (1999)

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Originally published January 2001
Filed under Miscellaneous

THE NOBLE SHAYKH, ʿAllāmah, Faqīh, Muḥammad bin Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn passed away today, 15th Shawwāl 1421H (11th January 2001CE) after the Aṣr prayer in Jeddah. May Allāh shower him with His mercy and forgiveness and grant him Paradise. He was amongst those who were foremost in speaking of the dangers of takfīr, hākimiyyah[1] and khurūj and the great danger in continuously revolving the affairs of daʿwah around the Rulers, which has become commonplace today amongst those affected by the daʿwah of Quṭbism. Many of the Takfīrīs and neo-Quṭbites held onto some of the Shaykh’s words which they thought supported their agenda and doctrine, but unfortunately, as is the habit of Ahl ul-Ahwā, they take from the words of the Scholars the general and ambiguous and leave that which is manifestly clear and decisive.

The audio recording is below the translation.

Fatwā of the Shaykh, ʿAllāmah Muḥammad bin Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn Concerning the Issue of al-Tashrīʿ al-ʿĀmm and Ruling by Secular Legislations, Dated 22/03/1420H (06/07/1999CE)


All praise is due to Allāh and prayers and peace upon the Messenger of Allāh. I bear witness that none has the right to be worshipped except Allāh alone, without any partners and I witness that Muḥammad bin ʿAbd Allāh is His Messenger.

To proceed: I present this question by way of the telephone and also by way of it being recording over the telephone to the esteemed father and Shaykh, the ʿAllāmah, Muḥammad bin Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn (حفظه الله) and may He bring about benefit through him and make him and his likes to be a replacement for the esteemed, respected Father (Ibn Bāz) may Allāh’s mercy be upon him.

And this question is concerning a matter in which disputation has increased between the students of knowledge and is also a matter in which much of the deduction of evidence has been taken from the words of the respected Father, and Shaykh, Muḥammad bin Ṣālih al-ʿUthaymīn (حفظه الله).

Firstly, I say to the Shaykh, As-Salāmu ‘Alaykum wa-Raḥmatullāhi wa-Barakātuhu, and may Allāh increase you in knowledge, and may He raise your rank in this life and the Hereafter.

Esteemed Shaykh, may Allāh protect you, there are many of the students of knowledge who continuously talk about the ruler who brings a Sharīʿah which is in opposition to the Sharīʿah of Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, and there is no doubt that he orders the people with it, makes it binding upon them, and he sometimes punishes the one who opposes this Sharīʿah, and he recompenses or rewards the one who adheres to it with goodness or a gift.

And this Sharīʿah (of his) is considered by the Book of Allāh and the Sunnah of His Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) to be in opposition to and clashing with the texts of the Book and the Sunnah.

When this ruler makes this Sharīʿah binding upon the people, while he acknowledges that the legislation of Allāh is the truth and whatever is besides it is falsehood and that the truth is what occurs in the Book and the Sunnah, however due to a doubt or misconception, or due to desire he makes the people adhere to this Sharīʿah.

Just as this occurred abundantly amongst the Banū Umayyah, Banū al-ʿAbbās and amongst the oppressive rulers, those who made binding certain matters upon the people, (matters) that are not hidden from you. When they made the people to strictly adhere to that which Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, is not pleased with, such as the affairs that were inherited (i.e. passed down from ruler to ruler), and they also set up kingship to pass on between themselves, just as the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) informed. And they also brought the most evil of people closer to themselves (in assistance) and they distanced the best of people from themselves. And they brought closer to themselves (in intimacy) whoever agreed with them in their falsehood and they would fight to the end against whoever would order them and forbid them.

So if the rulers of our times acted upon a similar type of Sharīʿah, does he become a disbeliever on account of this Sharīʿah when he makes it binding upon the people while he acknowledges that he is in opposition to the Book and the Sunnah and that the truth is in the Book and the Sunnah.

By this mere act of his alone, does he become a disbeliever or is it vital that we look at his underlying beliefs in this matter?

Such as the one, for example, who makes usury binding upon the people or the one who opens usurious banks in his country and then he takes interest-based loans from the national banks and then he tries to adapt to its economy. But if you were to ask him he will say that usury is unlawful and it is not permissible but there is an economic crisis or other such matters, he makes excuses like these. Sometimes these excuses may be acceptable and sometimes they may not be, so does he become a disbeliever by this or not.

And with the knowledge that many of the youth quote from your esteemed-self that you say that whoever does this is a disbeliever.

And we note that in all the countries of the world that this affair is present, and that it is between the one who only falls into a small part of it, or a great part of it and one who openly makes it clear and one who does not. We ask Allāh for pardon and forgiveness.

We wish for an answer to all of this from your esteemed-self and perhaps Allāh, the Most High and free from all imperfections, will bring about benefit through it amongst the students of knowledge and that Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, may bring about benefit through it amongst the callers to Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic, since it will not be hidden to you that differing has had a great effect in calling to Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic.

Alongside this, I convey to your esteemed-self the love of your sons and your students, the students of knowledge in this country (Yemen) also their eager desire for listening to your voice, your directions and your advice, regardless of whether it is over the phone or other than that. And Allāh, the Most High and free of all imperfections is the one who is asked to accept the righteous actions of everyone.

Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn’s Answer and Clarification

All praise is due to Allāh, Lord of the Worlds and I send prayers and peace upon our Prophet Muhammad, upon his family, companions and whoever follows him in goodness until the Day of Judgement.

To proceed:

This is the day of Tuesday, 22nd Rabīʿ al-Awwal, 1420H. I have heard the cassette recorded in the name of our brother... He began with the Salām so I say to you, ʿAlaika as-Salām wa-Rahmatullāhi wa-Barakātuhu.

And what he has mentioned concerning takfīr then this is a great and serious matter and it is not desirable to make a generalised or absolute saying concerning it (iṭlāq al-qawl) except with a student of knowledge who understands and knows the wordings with their meanings and who knows the end results which arise from the judgement of takfīr or its absence.

As for the general folk then their making judgements of takfīr in an absolute and generalised manner or its absence in issues like these, then many evils results from it.

And that which I hold is that the youth should not occupy themselves with the likes of this matter and whether a ruler is a disbeliever or not a disbeliever and whether it is permissible for us to rebel against him or not.

The youth must occupy themselves with the worship that Allāh has made binding upon them or has made recommendable to them, and they should abandon what He has forbade them, either due its being disliked or being prohibited. They should rush towards making agreement between themselves and to have unity and they should know that having disagreements in the affairs of the religion and knowledge occurred during the times of the Companions (رضي الله عنهم), however it did not lead to separation. Their hearts were one and their Manhaj was one.

As for what is connected to [the issue of] ruling by other than what Allāh has revealed, then it is, as occurs in the Mighty Book, divided into three types: that which is kufr (disbelief), that which is ḍhlum (oppression) and that which is fisq (sinfulness) – all in accordance with the various reasons upon which this judgement is made:

1. So if a person judges by other than what Allāh has revealed due to following his desires, alongside his knowledge that the truth lies in what Allāh has judged, then such a one does not disbelieve, however he is either a fāsiq (sinner) or a ḍhālim (oppressor).

2. Or when he legislates (yashraʿu) a general ruling (ḥukman ‘āmman) which the Ummah [adopts and] traverses upon, and he considers this to be of benefit (maṣlahah), and he is caught up in [confusion about it], then he does not disbelieve either, because many of the rulers have ignorance of the knowledge of the Sharīʿah and one who does not know the Sharīʿah ruling is often connected to them (i.e. by their side) and they (the rulers) consider such a one to be a great scholar, and opposition [to the Sharīʿah] occurs as a result of all of this.

3. And if he knows the legislation (Sharʿ) however he judges by this [legislation] or he legislates this [law] and then makes it a code of law (dustūr) to be followed by the people, believing (yaʿtaqid) that he is an oppressor (ḍhālim) in all of that and that the truth is what has come in the Book and the Sunnah, then we are not able to make takfir of this one.

4. But we make takfīr of:

  • The one who holds that a legislation other than Allāh’s is more appropriate for the people to be upon.

  • Or the one who believes that this legislation is equivalent to the legislation of Allāh, the Mighty and Majestic

It is this one who is a disbeliever because he is a mukadhdhib (denier, rejecter) of the saying of Allāh, the Blessed and Almighty, “Is not Allāh the Best of all Judges?” (95:8-) and also His saying, “Is it the judgement of Jāhiliyyah they seek. And who is a better judge than Allāh for a people of sure (faith)?” (5:50-).

Then these matters (outlined above) do not mean that when we make takfīr of someone that it is (automatically) obligatory to rebel against him, since great evils result from this rebellion—more so than (what results) from remaining silent. We are not able right now to give examples of this from what has occurred within the Ummah, the Arab and Non-Arab (part of it).

But when we have verified the correctness of rebellion against this person from the Sharīʿah perspective, then it is vital that preparations be made (in terms of physical strength) such that the strength attained is equivalent to that of the ruler or more than that. But as for the people rebelling with knives and spears while the ruler has tanks and bombs and what is similar to that, then this is but stupidity without doubt, and it is also in opposition to the Sharīʿah.

Audio Recording

This file was recorded from tape into Real Audio format (.ram) and as that is obsolete, it has been converted to MP3 format. Given that it was recorded on tape 25 years ago, it is poor quality.


It has been alleged that Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn made a slip in this statement of his in that he apparently contradicted what he was upon previously in his writings, and some accuse the Shaykh of having fallen into Irjāʾ. This slander of Irjāʾ came from the direction of the Quṭbiyyah, Surūriyyah, the followers and defenders of Sayyid Quṭb, and though they targeted Imām al-Albānī at the beginning, eventually by the end of the 1990s and early 2000s, they extended this accusation to all of these scholars, to Shaykh Ibn Bāz and Shaykh IbnʿUthaymīn, in relation to the subject matter of ruling by other than what Allāh revealed. This is because they held a position of tafṣīl (detail, distinction) in the matter with respect to legislation and secular laws. As such, those affected by the legacy of the Quṭbiyyah, Surūriyyah dismiss and reject this statement of Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn, despite it being as clear as the daylight sun.

1. Meaning, exaggeration therein, upon the way of the Quṭbiyyah, Surūriyyah whom Shaykh al-Albānī declared the “Khārijites of the Era”.
2. This question was posed by Abū al-Ḥasan Muṣtafā bin Ismāʿīl al-Sulaymānī, al-Maʾribī in the days that he was considered upright and upon Sunnah and Salafiyyah. However, after the Major Scholars of the era passed away, Shaykh Ibn Bāz, Shaykh al-Albānī, Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn and Shaykh Muqbil (around 2001) he showed his true colours and revealed the Ikhwāniyyah that he was concealing. He reformulated and rebranded many of the principles of the Ikhwān, and tried to infuse them among the Salafis. Thereafter, many of the scholars refuted his false, destructive principles aimed at undermining the Salafi methodology in great detail, and they declared him a misguided innovator.

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