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The Excuse of Ignorance
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Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan on takfir of the Raafidah
The Shaykh was asked:
أحسن الله إليكم صاحب الفضيلة: يقول: هل الرافضة كفار، وهل يُفرق بين علمائهم وعامتهم في ذلك؟
May Allah be benevolent to possessor of excellence, he says: Are the Rafidah disbelievers and is to be distinguished between their scholars and general-folk in that regard?
The Shaykh answered:
القاعدة أن كلَّ من دعا غير الله أو ذبح لغير الله أو عمل أي عبادة لغير الله فإنه كافر سواء كان من الرافضة و غيرهم ، من الرافضة و غيرهم . مَن عَبَدَ غير الله بأي نوع من أنواع العبادة فإنه كافر و كذلك من زعم أنّ أحدًا يجب إتباعه من غير الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم فإنه كافر من الرافضة و من غيرهم. الرافضة يرون أنّ لأئمتهم منزلة أعلى مرتبة من الرسل و أن أئمتهم لا يخطئون و أنهم معصومون ، معصومون لا يخطئون ، و أن لهم الحق في أن يحللوا ما أرادوا و يحرموا ما أرادوا، أليس هذا أعظم الكفر و العياذ بالله. هذا عندهم في كتبهم ما هو بخفي، وعندهم أمور كثيرة غير ذلك
The principle is that whoever invoked those besides Allaah or sacrificed to other than Allaah or performed any action of worship for other than Allaah, then he is a disbeliever whether he is from the Raafidah or other than them, from the Raafidah or other than them. Whoever worships other than Allaah with any of the types of worship, then he is a disbeliever and likewise whoever claims that it is obligatory to follow one besides the Messenger (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), then he is a disbeliever, from amongst the Raafidah or other than them. The Raafidah consider their imaams to have a higher status than the Messenger, and that their imaams do not err, that they are infallible, they do not errr. And that they have the right to declare lawful what they wish and declare unlawful what they wish. Is this not the greatest disbelief and refuge is with Allaah. This is found with them in their books, this is not hidden, and they have many affairs besides that.
The Questioner said:
يقول: وهل يُفَرَّق بين علمائهم وعامتهم في ذلك؟
He (the questioner) says: Is to be distinguished between their scholars and general-folk in that regard?
The Shaykh replied:
علماؤهم أشد، لأنهم يعرفون أن هذا باطل وأخذوه، لا شك في كفرهم، أما عوامهم فإذا أقيمت عليهم الحجة و أصروا يكفرون، أما ما لم تقم عليهم الحجة فهؤلاء أهل ضلال و لا يكفرون .
Their scholars are more severe, because they know that this is falsehood and they adopted it, there is no doubt about their disbelief. As for their common-folk, if the proof is established against them and then they persist, they disbelieve. As for when the proof is not established, then they are people of misguidance and they do not disbelieve.
Three clear points are taken from the above fatwa: a) Not everyone who falls into kufr or shirk automatically becomes a kafir or mushrik, b) there are situations in which the one falling into kufr and shirk may be excused - from those who ascribe to Islaam - such as ignorance, blind-following, faulty interpretation (ta'weel) and the likes, c) judging upon a specific individual requires presence of conditions and absence of barriers (to takfir) and this is what is meant by "establishing the proof".
The Shaykh does have other speech that suggests the excuse of ignorance does not apply (in matters treated as "known by necessity" or "through conveyance of the Qur'an" etc.), however the intent here is to show that this view has been held by the Shaykh (and that there is differing about it between the Scholars) and this is a silencing of the Haddaadiyyah who are using this issue to ascribe Irjaa' to many of the Salafi Scholars who affirm the excuse of ignorance and they include Scholars of Tawhid from Najd in what has passed and likewise the contemporary Scholars, al-Albani, Ibn al-Uthaymin, Abdul-Muhsin al-Abbaad and so on.
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Verb Conjugation in Arabic Grammar good resource