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The Manhaj of the Khārijites: 02. Shayh Ibn ʿUthaymīn on Those Who Reject the Tafsīr of Ibn ʿAbbās and His Students and the Consensus of the Ummah

Posted by Abu Iyaad
Originally published July 2001
Filed under Khārijites

In the first part of this series we broadly presented the explanation (tafsīr) of the Companions and the Salaf of the verses pertaining to judgement (ḥukm, taḥkīm) in which there is detail (tafṣīl), contrasting it with what the Khārijite extremists fell into of absolution, generalisation (iṭlaq) in which they misinterpret and misapply the verses to provide justification for their activities of revolt and what they claim to be jihād. That is to say, they seek to engineer a judgement of takfīr (upon other than Sharīʿah principles) to enable them to engage in sedition, revolt and seizing power.

The Khārijites start off with their assumption that the act of not ruling by what Allāh revealed, in its foundation, for a Muslim, is major disbelief absolutely. Upon this, they then reverse engineer their position through some or all of following:

  • Abolish the tafsīr of Ibn ‘Abbās and his students and the consensus of the ummah and claim that the narrations to him are weak and therefore unacceptable.
  • Claim that the verse, in and of itself, from the linguistic viewpoint, refers only to major kufr, claiming, wrongly, that when disbelief (kufr) is mentioned with the definite article, only ever refers to major diselief.
  • Claim that the reasons for revelation also indicate that the aṣl (basis) of the verse is that it is major disbelief for everyone, including Muslims.
  • Claim that the only exception to the application of this verse (i.e. that it is major disbelief) is when the ruler or judge judges incorrectly in personal disputes between people, in which case it reduces to minor disbelief. Pay careful attention to this, the base and foundation to them is that this verse is major disbelief, absolutely, and then they say that there are some exceptional actions which make this disbelief fall to the minor disbelief.[1]
  • Claim that rejection with the heart (juḥūd), or making the unlawful lawful (istḥlāl), or considering other than Allāh's law to be better, is an action of the limb, unrestrictedly,[2] and then built upon this, to claim the mere act or not ruling by what Allāh revealed (in all its forms and manifestations) is major disbelief in itself.

The reality is that the verses in Sūrah al-Māʾidah are, in their foundation, referring to the Jews, whose disbelief was due to juḥūd (rejection of Allāh’s judgement upon knowledge). But as for this ummah, then this action, when it is not on the basis of juḥūd and istiḥlāl, then it is minor disbelief. However, not all forms of judging by other than what Allāh revealed are minor disbelief. There are some forms which are major disbelief, and we have mentioned them in the first part of this series. Thus, the way of Ahl al-Sunnah in this topic is to speak with tafṣīl (detail) and not iṭlāq (generalisation, absolution).

In this article, we want to document the statements which are authentic from Ibn ʿAbbās (رضي الله عنه) in explanation of these verses in Sūrah al-Māʾidah.

The Speech of Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn

Shaykh Ibn ʿUthaymīn (رحمه الله) said:[3]

Shaykh al-Albānī has used this report (athar) of Ibn ʿAbbās (رضي الله عنه) as proof, and likewise other scholars have taken this report with acceptance, even there is in its chain of narration what there is.[4]

Nevertheless, they have taken it with acceptance, due to its truthfulness in its reality, as indicated in many texts. For the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: “Reviling a Muslim is sinfulness (fusūq) and fighting him (to kill him) is disbleif (kufr).” Yet despite this, fighting against [another Muslim] does not expel a person from the religion, for the Most High has said, “And if two parties from amongst the Believers fight each other, then reconcile between them…” (49:9-) up until he said, “Verily the Believers are brothers, so reconcile between your two (sets of) brothers…” (49:10-).

However, when this did not please those who have been put to trial (maftooneen) with takfīr, they began to say, “This narration is not acceptable! It is not authentically related from Ibn ʿAbbās!”

So it is said to them, how can it not be authentic when it has been accepted and adopted by those who are greater than you and more knowledgeable of you of ḥadīth?! And you say, “We shall not accept it.”

If we were to accept that the matter was as you said (i.e. that we should not accept this athar), that it is not authentic from Ibn ʿAbbās! Then we have many other texts that indicate that kufr can be applied to something without the kufr that expels from the religion being intended by that, such as what occurs in the verse mentioned before and also as occurs in his (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: “There are affairs in my Ummah which are kufr: reviling the geneology and wailing of the dead.” And we do not expel these from the Ummah.

However, the affair is as it has been said, A paucity in knowledge, and paucity in understanding the general principles (qawāʿid) of the Sharīʿah—as Shaykh al-Albānī has said, may Allāh grant him success, in the beginning of his words—is what brings about this misguidance. And then there is another matter and this is the evil intent which often brings about this evil understanding, because when a person desires something, it will lead his understanding to that which he actually desires, and then he will make taḥrīf (distort) the texts based upon that.

And from the well known principles of the scholars, is that they say: “Seek evidence then believe, but do not believe (first) and then seek evidence (to support that belief), and as a result, go astray”.

Hence the causes are three a) paucity of Sharīʿah knowledge b) paucity of understanding of the Sharīʿah principles c) an evil understanding that is based upon an evil intent.

As for the report (of Ibn ʿAbbās) itself, which has been mentioned previously, then it is sufficient for us that the most learned and skilled of the scholars like Shaykh ul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim, and others, then all of them have taken it with acceptance, and they speak by it, and they quote it, hence the narration is authentic.

Summary of the Authentic Statements

The following statements regarding the verses of al-Māʿidah...

  • It is a trait of kufr in him.”
  • It is a trait of kufr in him. And it is not kufr in Allāh, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers.”
  • When he does that, then it is disbelief only in that, and it is not like the one who disbelieves in Allāh, and the Last Day and such a such thing.”
  • It is not the kufr that they tend towards.”

... are all authentically related from Ibn ʿAbbās (رضي الله عنه), being either ṣaḥīḥ or ḥasan due to witnesses. In addition to that there are many authentic narrations to Ṭāwūs, ʿAṭā, the associates of Ibn ʿAbbās, corroborating the meaning afforded in the above narrations, namely that as it relates to this ummah, it is the lesser kufr or what does not reach the level of major kufr.

The Muslim ummah took this explanation with acceptance thereafter, and it was opposed by the Khārijites.

The details are elaborated upon below:

Details of the Narrations Authentic to Ibn ‘Abbās

The following reports are authentic to Ibn ‘Abbās (رضي الله عنه):[5]

01  [Maʿmar ⬅ Ibn Ṭāwūs ⬅ Ṭāwūs] who said, “Ibn ʿAbbās was asked about his saying, “And whoever does not judge...” (5:44-). He said: (هي به كفر) “It is a trait of kufr in him.”

This athar is ṣaḥīḥ.

Reported by ʿAbd al-Razzāq al-Ṣanʿānī in his “Tafsīr” and also Ibn Kathīr (2/97). It is also reported (in muʿallaq form) by Abū ʿUbayd al-Qāsim bin Sallām in “al-Īmān” (p. 94) and al-Baghawī in “Māʿālim al-Tanzīl” (2/260). Ibn Naṣr al-Marwazī reported it also from two of his Shaykhs from ʿAbd al-Razzāq.

And al-Ṭabarī also reported it in “al-Jāmiʿ al-Bayān” (6/256) by way of ʿAbd al-Razzāq. All of them also add the following, “And Ibn Ṭāwūs said, ‘And it is not like the one who disbelieves in Allāh, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers.’” This phrase is also reported from Ibn ʿAbbās himself.

02  What is reported by al-Ṭabarī (رحمه الله):

[Hanād (Ibn al-Sariy) ⬅ Wakīʿ (Ibn al-Jarrāḥ) ⬅ Sufyān ⬅ Maʿmar ⬅ Ibn Ṭāwūs ⬅ Ṭāwūs] and also [Sufyān Ibn Wakīʿ[6] ⬅ Wakīʿ (bin al-Jarrāḥ) ⬅ Sufyān ⬅ Maʿmar ⬅ Ibn Ṭāwūs ⬅ Ṭāwūs] who narrates from Ibn ʿAbbās (رضي الله عنه) concerning the verse “And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed they are the Disbelievers.” (5:44-) He said: “It is a trait of kufr in him. And it is not kufr in Allāh, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers.”

This athar is ṣaḥīḥ.

Ibn Naṣr al-Marwazī also reported it in his “Taʿḍhīm Qadr al-Ṣalāt” (no. 571) saying: “Ishāq narrated to us: Wakīʿ informed us…” and then mentioned the above. And Ishāq is Ishāq bin Rāhuyah (رحمه الله).

Ibn Naṣr also narrated it (no. 572) but added at the beginning the following saying of Tāwūs: “I said to Ibn ‘Abbās, “The one who does not judge by what Allāh has revealed, is he a kāfir?”. He said “It is a trait of kufr in him. And it is not kufr in Allāh, His Angels, His Books and His Messengers.” and then he quoted the rest of it.

This is ṣaḥīḥ.

And al-Ṭabarī reports with the following isnād: [Al-Ḥasan[7] ⬅ Abū Usāmah[8] ⬅ Sufyān ⬅ Maʿmar ⬅ Ibn Ṭāwūs ⬅ Ṭāwūs] that a man said to Ibn ʿAbbās, concerning these verses, “And whoever does not judge by what Allāh revealed…” (5:44-) and asked “So whoever does that, has he disbelieved?” Ibn ‘Abbās said: “When he does that, it is a trait of kufr in him, and it is not like the one who disbelieves in Allāh, and the Last Day and such a such thing.”

The sanad (chain) is ḥasan.

03  What is reported by Al-Ḥāfiḍh Ibn Naṣr al-Marwazī in “Taʾḍhīm Qadr al-Ṣalāt” (no. 573):

[Muḥammad bin Yahyā ⬅ ʿAbd al-Razzāq (al-Ṣanʿānī) ⬅ Sufyān ⬅ An unnamed man ⬅ Ṭāwūs] that Ibn ʿAbbās said, “It is not the kufr that expels from the religion.”

Muhammad bin Yahyā is Ṣadūq (very truthful). But the sanad is ḍaʿīf due to the unnammed man, There is ibhām (obscurity) in the sanad.

However Ibn Naṣr also reports this (no. 574) as does al-Ṭabarī (2/256) with the following:

[Wakīʿ ⬅ Sufyān ⬅ Saʿīd al-Makkī] that Ṭāwūs said, “It is not the kufr that expels from the religion.”

Saʿīd is Ibn Ḥassān al-Makhzūmī, declared thiqah by Ibn Maʿīn, al-Fasawī, Ibn Saʿd and Ibn Ḥibbān.

The isnād in this manner is ṣaḥīḥ to Ṭāwūs.

04  What is reported by Imām Abū Ḥātim in his tafsīr (as occurs in Tafsīr Ibn Kathīr (2/97):

[Muhammad bin ʿAbd Allāh bin Yazīd al-Muqriʾ ⬅ Sufyān bin ʿUyainah ⬅ Hishām bin Hujayr ⬅ Ṭāwūs] who narrates from Ibn ʿAbbās concerning the saying of Allāh the Most High, “And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed, they are the Disbelievers.” (5:44-), that he said: (ليس بالكفر الذي تذهبون إليه) “It is not the kufr that they tend towards.”

This is also narrated by Ibn Naṣr al-Marwazi in his “Taʿḍhīm Qadr al-Ṣalāt” (no. 569), and Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr in “at-Tamhīd” (4:237) by way of Sufyān.

Ibn Abī Hātim said about Muḥammad bin ʿAbd Allāh, “Ṣadūq Thiqah”. And Abū Ḥātim said, “Ṣadūq”. Al-Khalīlī said, “Thiqah, agreed upon”. An-Nasāʾī also made him thiqah, as did Ibn Ḥibbān, and Maslamah bin al-Qāsim.

As for Sufyān bin ʿUyainah, then the likes of him are not even asked about.

As for Hishām bin Hujayr, then what has been narrated from the people of knowledge concerning him varies, even though the majority of what is said about him is jarh (criticism). For this reason, al-Hāfiḍh Ibn Ḥajar said in at-Taqrīb (7288), “Ṣadūq, he has errors”. He also narrated him in the ninth section of his book “Hadī as-Sārī” (p.448), in listing the names of those who had been criticised from the narrators of Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī, saying, “Al-‘Ijlī and Ibn Saʿd declared him thiqah, but Yaḥyā al-Qaṭṭān, and Yaḥyā bin Maʿīn declared him ḍaʿif…”. When Ibn Abī Ḥātim wrote the biography of Hishām in “al-Jarh wat-Taʿdīl” (9/53-54), narrating the words of those who declared him ḍaʿif, he ended that with his saying, “He is Makkī (in origin) and his ḥadīths are to be written down”. Hence, Hishām’s weakness is due to memory, and his narrations are not accepted except in written form, subject to evaluation.

This athar has also been narrated by al-Ḥākim in “al-Mustadrak” (2/313), and then from him by al-Bayḥaqī in “al-Sunan al-Kubrā” (8/20), by way of ʿAlī bin Ḥarb, from Sufyān from Hishām… with the wording: “It is not the disbelief that you tend towards, it is the kufr that does not expel from the religion, ‘And whoever does not judge by what Allāh has revealed, they are the disbelievers’ (5:44-), it is kufr less than kufr.”

This is reported also by Saʿīd bin Manṣūr, al-Firyābī, Ibn al-Mundhir, Ibn Abī Ḥātim and some of them added to it, “…and ḍhulm less than ḍhulm, and fisq less than fisq.” This is also what is related in “al-Durr al-Manthūr” (3/87) of al-Ṣuyūṭī. And al-Ḥākim said, after mentioning the sources of the ḥadīth, “This ḥadīth is ṣaḥīḥ in its isnād, but they (al-Bukhārī and Muslim) did not relate it”, and al-Ḍhahabī agreed with him, and this also occurs in Ibn Kathīr (2/97).

Though the sanad has this defect (in relation to Hishām Ibn Hujayr), it is ḥasan li-ghayrihi, since it is the same in meaning as the narrations that have preceded that are ṣaḥīḥ to Ibn ‘Abbās.


When the Khāriites are unable to reject these authentic reports, they then resort to distortion and misinterpretation of these statements. Hence, they mistranslate the saying of Ibn ʿAbbās (هي به كفر) to mean “It is sufficient for his kufr”, instead of “It is a trait of kufr in him.” We see in ḥadīth of the Messenger (صلى الله عليه وسلم) when he said:[9]

There are two (traits) amongst the people which are kufr (هما بهم كفر), reviling one’s ancestors and wailing over the dead.

This is clearly in relation to acts which are minor disbelief, not major disbelief, and they have been given the label of disbelief because they resemble the actions of the disbelievers.

Other actions which have been given the label of disbelief in the texts but which are not disbelief include: fighting a muslim, striking the necks of one another (i.e. Muslims fighting each other), calling a Muslim a kāfir, entering a woman through a forbidden avenue, ingratitude on behalf of women towards their husbands.

1. The truth is that verse is in relation to the people of disbelief who do not judge by what Allāh revealed in the matter of Tawḥīd and Īmān and the Sharīʿah, meaning in the foundations of the religion. But as for Muslims, then its foundation is that it is the minor disbelief, unless the act is accompanied with juḥūd, istiḥlāl, or it falls into one of those types which scholars have declared major disbelief.
2. Meaning, that external actions are real indicators of what is in the heart of belief, and to state this absolutely, without detail (tafṣīl) will lead to declaring people disbelievers on account of major sins. Thus, it can be said that a habitual drinker, or thief is a disbeliever because his action is proof that he has made these sins to be lawful. But this does not follow, and this is what the Khārijites fell into, doing the same with the issue of not ruling by what Allāh revealed.
3. This is translated from a transcript of a well-known famous cassette recording from the 1990s in which the Shaykh comments on the speech of Shaykh al-Albānī on the subect matter of not ruling by what Allāh revealed, and the cassette is titled “Taʿlīq ʿalā Fitnah al-Takfīr”.
4. There is some weakness in one of the reports, involving Hishām bin Hujayr, but overall the reports are proven authentic, with no grounds for rejecting them.
5. Taken from “al-Qawl al-Maʾmūn fī Takhrīj mā Warada ʿan Ibn ‘Abbās fī Tafsīr wa man lam Yaḥkum Bimā Anzalallāhu Faʾulāʾika humul-Kāfirūn”, published in 1989 by Dar al-Hijrah, Dammām.
6. Ibn Ḥajar said about Sufyān bin Wakīʿ: “He was very truthful (Ṣadūq), save that he was put to trial with his scrolls, and entered into them that which was not from his own ḥadīth. He was advised about this, but did not heed it, and so his ḥadīths fell (i.e. abandoned).” However, this does not affect the grading, since in the other sanad, there is Hanād, who is thiqah (trustworthy).
7. Al-Hasan is Ibn Yahyā al-ʿAbdī, declared Ṣadūq (very truthful) by Abū Ḥātim and Thiqah by Ibn Ḥibbān, and Ibn Ḥajar chose to declare him Sadūq.
8. Abū Usāmah is Ḥammād bin Usāmah, who is thiqah but was accused with tadlīs, but al-Ḍhahabi rejected it and declared it a false saying. So after calling him “One of the firmly established (thabt)”, he said at the end, “Abu Usāmah, nothing has been reported about him, but let it be known that this saying is falsehood”, and he intends to refute the one who accused him of stealing hadīth (i.e. tadlīs). And al-Hāfiḍh [Ibn Ḥajar] said concerning him, “One of the Scholars, firmly established. They are united upon his trustworthiness”.
9. Related by Muslim.

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