Whether not ruling by Shariah is major or minor disbelief
Fatwa No: 348541

Question

Assalaamu alaykum Shaikh. I have read one of your fatwas regarding not ruling by what Allaah revealed. In that question, I read that there are two types of not ruling by what Allah revealed; major Kufr (disbelief) and minor Kufr. I then read in your fatwa that the first kind includes someone who legislates a law whereby he permits what is forbidden or forbids what is lawful, or that he is pleased with this, confirms it, or obliges the people to abide by it. I then showed that fatwa to a friend of mine, who then said that he disagrees with what is written in your fatwa and that it is wrong. He went on to explain that if a person does not judge by what Allaah revealed and if he legislates laws and forces people to abide by them, then it is only minor Kufr (“Kufr Duna Kufr”). He said that it only becomes major Kufr (“Kufr Akbar”) when the ruler makes Istihlaal. He also went on to say that Shaykh bin Baaz, Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, and Al-Fawzaan believe that not ruling by what Allaah revealed is minor Kufr (and he said that it only becomes major Kufr if he makes Istihlaal). So, please, could you provide some proof as to why you stated in one of your fatwas that the first kind includes someone who legislates a law whereby he permits what is forbidden or forbids what is lawful, or that he is pleased with this, confirms it, or obliges the people to abide by it. May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and that Muhammad  sallallaahu  `alayhi  wa  sallam ( may  Allaah exalt his mention ) is His slave and Messenger. 

There is no difference of opinion among the scholars that judging by other than what Allah has revealed is not permissible, and it revolves between major Kufr and minor Kufr. The scholars stated that it is major Kufr for a person to legislate for people a general legislation which he obliges them to abide by.

Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him was asked in Majmoo’ Al-Fataawa 2/144), “Is there a difference between the particular issue in which the judge rules by other than what Allah revealed and the issues that are considered as general legislation?”

He replied, “Yes, there is a difference. The issues that are considered as general legislation cannot be subject to the previous division; rather, they are from the first category only – meaning the Kufr that takes one out of the fold of Islam – because this legislator who legislates what is contrary to Islam did so because of believing that it is better than Islam and more beneficial for the people, as pointed out previously.

He also said, “In regard to whoever has laid down legislative laws while he knows about the Ruling of Allah and knows that these laws contradict the Ruling of Allah; he has replaced Shariah with these laws, and thus he is a disbeliever because he did not choose these laws instead of the Shariah of Allah except while he believes that they are better for the people and the country than the Shariah of Allah.

He also said:

Whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed out of disregard for what Allah has revealed, or out of contempt for it, or out of believing that other than what Allah has revealed is better and more beneficial to the creation, then he is a disbeliever, and it is Kufr that takes one out of the fold of Islam. Among them are those who set for the people laws that are contrary to Islamic laws to be a methodology for people to abide by and follow. They did not put those laws that are contrary to the Islamic laws except while believing that they are better and more beneficial to the creation; as it is known by reason and the Fitrah (natural human predisposition upon which Allah created mankind) that a man does not abandon a methodology and choose another, opposing one except that he believes in the superiority of what he has chosen and the deficiency of what he has abandoned.

Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ibraaheem  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

As for what has been described as minor Kufr, it is when one refers judgment to other than Allah while believing that he is disobedient and that the judgement of Allah is the Truth, then this is something that occurs from him once or randomly (i.e. occurs infrequently or intermittently). As for those who legislate laws and make others obey them, this constitutes kufr, even if they claim that they made a mistake, and that the laws of Allah are more just. So a distinction is made between the one who endorses, the one who affirms, and the one who believes in the preponderance of the man-made laws and makes them as reference (in judging); such is considered as the kufr that takes a person out of Islam." 

Shaykh Saalih Al-Fawzaan, may Allah protect him, said:

Judging by other than what Allah has revealed; this Kufr can sometimes be major Kufr, which takes a person out of the fold of Islam, and it can sometimes be minor Kufr, which does not take a person out of the fold of Islam. This is based upon the state and condition of the ruler. If he believes that judging by what Allah has revealed is not obligatory and that he has a choice in the matter; or if he belittles the rule of Allah and believes that the secular laws and legislative codes are better than it, or equal to it, or that they are not suitable for this age; or if he sought to please the disbelievers and the hypocrites by judging by other than what Allah has revealed, then all of this is major Kufr. And if he believed in the obligation to rule by what Allah has revealed and knew what the judgement was in this instance but he turned away from it while acknowledging that he is deserving of punishment, then he is a sinner and is labelled a disbeliever with minor Kufr. And if he was ignorant of the judgement of Allah concerning it while having striven hard and expended efforts in knowing the judgement but erred, then he will receive a reward for his Ijtihaad (personal reasoning), and his error is forgiven. This is in relation to ruling in a particular matter. As for making judgement in general matters, then this is different… (Then he quoted statements from Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah and the fatwa of Shaykh Ibraaheem, which we mentioned above, and then said:) So he  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him distinguished between the partial judgement (by other than what Allah has revealed) which does not recur and the general law which becomes a reference point in all of the rulings or most of them, and he affirmed that this Kufr expels from the religion absolutely. This is because the one who removed the Islamic Shariah and put a secular law in its place, in replacement of it, then this indicates that he considers that this [secular] law is better and more beneficial than the Shariah, and there is no doubt that this is major Kufr which takes a person out of the fold of Islam and which contradicts the Tawheed (pure monotheism).

Ash-Shinqeeti  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said in his exegesis of the verse: {…and He shares not His legislation with anyone.} [Quran 18:26] after mentioning the religious texts stating that legislation belongs to Allah alone:

From these divinely-revealed texts that we have quoted, it becomes very clear to everyone that with regard to those who follow man-made laws promulgated by Satan on the lips of his supporters which are contrary to what Allah has legislated on the lips of His Messengers (may Allah exalt their mention), there is no doubt that they are disbelievers and polytheists. This is clear to everyone except for the one whom Allah has blinded to the light of Revelation and left to go astray.

For more details on statements of scholars who differentiated between general and non-general legislation, you may refer to the book: Al-Hukm bighayr ma anzala Allah; ahwaaluhu wa ahkaamuhu (Judging by Other Than What Allah Has Revealed: Its Conditions and Rulings), authored by Dr. Abdur-Rahmaan Al-Mahmood, Chapter: The Legislation that is contradictory to the Shariah of Allah), pp. 172 to 204.

Allah knows best.

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