The Excuse of Ignorance (العذر بالجهل) | Shaykh Ubayd bin Abdillāh Al-Jābirī
Questioner: Regarding the one who says that one cannot be excused because of ignorance and he believes this: can he apply these rulings upon the communities where Shirk (polytheism), bida‘ (innovations) and ignorance of the narrations of the message (of Islâm) are widespread?
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: I have spoken a lot about this issue in the answers to some questions – and perhaps some of them were from you – and in my durûs (lessons). The conclusion of what has been established with us and is seen as the most correct opinion, is that a person is excused because of ignorance in issues that are hidden (i.e. not known) to those like him. And this is with regards to ‘Aqîdah (creed) and other than it. Irrespective of whether the ignorant ones are groups or individuals, even if ignorance usually spreads more in communities than it does in individuals. So the further away the people get from the environment of Ahl-us-Sunnah, the more the ignorance spreads amongst them. So many people, they grow upon [learning from] evil scholars, people of desires. So they inherit this from them, and then other generations grow up [upon this]. So they think that this is the truth and therefore they walk upon this (path). These ones are in reality excused until the Islamic proof reaches them. And Shaykh-ul-Islâm ibn Taymiyyah, may Allâh have mercy upon him, has established this in al-Fatâwâ and other than it, and Shaykh Muhammad bin Sâlih bin al-‘Uthaymîn has mentioned some parts of it, may Allâh have mercy upon all of them. Na‘am.
Questioner: May Allâh reward you with good and bless you. O Shaykh, applying the rulings – which are a result of takfîr – upon the communities where these things are widespread; applying these rulings in the affairs of marriage (i.e. declaring a marriage to be invalid because of takfîr upon one of the spouses) and other than that…
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: This is not correct, Na‘am. Rather [they should speak] generally. Ahlus-Sunnah say for example: “Whoever slaughters for other than Allâh, has committed Shirk. Whoever drinks alcohol is a fâsiq (disobedient, rebellious person).” Like this, generally. And by this they do not intend specific persons or a specific country. Na‘am.
Questioner: May Allâh bless you and be good towards you. The words of al-Lajnah ad-Dâ-imah (the Permanent Committee): “Establishing the proof is done because of excuses that he might have before applying the punishment to him, and not to call him a kâfir (disbeliever) after the bayân (clarification). For verily, he is [already] called a kâfir because of what took place from him from prostrating to other than Allâh.”
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: Now, if the Islamic proof reaches a person, he is in one of two situations: either he submits to this proof and he abandons that which he was upon from that which opposes sincere religiousness for Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic. So the ruling that was upon those like him is lifted from this person, as we have preceded in our statement: “Whoever slaughters for other than Allâh has committed Shirk. Whoever prostrates for an idol, then he is a mushrik (polytheist) and a kâfir (disbeliever).” And like this. So if the Islamic proof reaches him and he submits to it, then he is forgiven for his past, if Allâh wills. As He, the Majestic and Most High, said:
So whosoever receives an admonition from his Lord and stops, shall not be punished for the past. [2: 275]
The second category: The one who refuses, is obstinate and persists upon that which he was upon from kufr and shirk after the Islamic proof reached him. So this one is rebuked and he is judged according to that which his mukhâlafah (opposition to the Truth) necessitates from kufr, Bid’ah (innovation) or fisq (disobedience). Na‘am. Because of the Statement of Allâh, the Most High:
And Allâh will never lead a people astray after He has guided them until He makes clear to them as to what they should avoid. [9: 115]
And it has been made clear to this person. And His Statement, the Most High:
Verily, those who have turned back (have apostated) as disbelievers after the guidance has been manifested to them… [47: 25]
Look, when did they apostate? “After the guidance has been manifested to them…”
Shaitân (Satan) has beautified for them (their false hopes), and (Allâh) prolonged their term (age). [47: 25]
And that which is understood from it, is that there is nothing upon them before the guidance has been manifested to them. And His Statement, the Most High:
And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him, and follows other than the believer’s way. We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination. [4: 115]
Look at the condition [mentioned in this verse]: “And whoever contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him…” So the threat applies to the one that contradicts and opposes the Messenger after the right path has been shown clearly to him, or follows other than the believers way after the right path has been shown clearly to him. This is the one to whom the threat applies; i.e. (the threat mentioned) in His Statement, the Most High: “We shall keep him in the path he has chosen, and burn him in Hell – what an evil destination.” Na‘am.
Questioner: May Allâh reward you with good and bless you. Also the statement of Shaykh Sâlih as-Suhaymî, may Allâh preserve him: “Whoever testifies that no deity has the right to be worshipped except Allâh, and then he slaughters for the graves, takes an oath by them and seeks help from them in times of need, is he a Muslim? No, he is not a Muslim. The khilâf (difference of opinion) lies in: “Is he excused if the proof has not been established upon him? Does he have an excuse with Allâh or not?” This is where the khilâf is. As for him, then he is called a mushrik and his deed is called Shirk. But you should not initially say to him: ‘You are a mushrik!’ No, O servant of Allâh! Warn him. In fact, clarify to him Tawhîd firstly and then clarify to him that which nullifies it. And then enter upon him in an endearing way and say to him: ‘O servant of Allâh, this is an act of such and such… And I fear for you, and I am your Muslim brother who loves for you that which I love for myself.’”
Shaykh‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: Advising is something and the ruling is something [else]. The ruling upon the one who performs Shirk, kufr or fisq: generally it is said that [the one who performs this] is kâfir, fâsiq or mubtadi‘(innovator), according to what his mukhâlafah necessitates, as long as the Shar‘(Islamic Legislation) has indicated that this mukhâlafah is kufr, fisq or Bid’ah. The ruling should be general, according to that which his mukhâlafah necessitates.
As for specifying [an individual], then we look at him in two affairs:
The first affair: the proof from the Shar‘(that this is kufr, fisq or bid‘ah), as has preceded.
And the second [affair]: the wasf (description) matching the specific individual. And the wasf (description) matching the specific individual, so that he is judged according to that which his mukhâlafah necessitates, requires two affairs. One of them is ijtimâ‘ ash-shurût (fulfilment of the conditions), and the second isintifâ’ al-mawâni‘ (absence of the barriers). Na‘am.
From the shurût (conditions) is having ‘ilm (knowledge) about that which his mukhâlafah necessitates from kufr, Bid’ah or fisq, or [unclear…]. And the second (condition) is at-taklîf (being obliged to observe the precepts of religion), and this includes al-bulûgh (attainment of maturity) and al-‘aql (sanity). And the third (condition) is al-‘amd (deliberateness); and khata’ (mistake) is removed by this. The fourth (condition) is at-tadhakkur (remembrance); and nisyaan (forgetfulness) is removed by this. Na‘am.
Questioner: So specifying individuals is not understood from the speech of the Shaykh (as-Suhaymî)?
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: No, the speech of the Shaykh is from the angle of advising. So if you know that a person is mushrik – according to you – and you want to invite him to Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic, then it is a must that you make your speech soft to him and that you speak to him in a beautiful way. Na‘am. Then if he is obstinate after that, after having clarified the Islamic proof to him, then he is judged according to what which his mukhâlafah necessitates. And I have mentioned to you some of the shurût (conditions), and they can be found in al-Qawâ‘id al-Muthlâ (by Shaykh al-‘Uthaymîn) and its sharh (explanation).
Questioner: May Allâh reward you with good and bless you. Are Ahlul-Fatrah (those who died without receiving the Message brought by the Messengers) Muslims or disbelievers?
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: These are called Ahlul-Fatrah and their affair is left to Allâh, the Mighty and Majestic. So they are not called Muslims, nor are they called disbelievers. They are called Ahlul-Fatrah. And it has been authentically narrated regarding them that a piece of cloth from Hellfire will be raised for them (on the Day of Judgment). Then they will be called to enter it. So whoever enters it, then it will be cold and safe for him; he will be judged by his Eemaan (faith). And whoever refuses, will enter the Hellfire. Allâh will enter him into the Hellfire.
Questioner: May Allâh reward you with good and be good towards you.
Shaykh ‘Ubayd bin ‘Abdillâh al-Jâbirî: And you as well.
Translated by Yâsîn Abu Ibrâhîm
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