The ruling on saying that not every non-Muslim is a kaafir
Fatwa No: 297934

Question

Assalaamu alaykum Shaykh, and may Allaah be merciful to you. I have a question about kufr (disbelief). An imam who lives in Germany said that every kaafir (disbeliever) is a non-Muslim but not every non-Muslim is a kaafir. He said that a kaafir is someone who has heard about Islam WITH its evidences , REALISED the truth, and THEN rejected it. Furthermore, he asked how we could call someone who lives in a small village in Germany and has never heard about Islam or just a little bit without the proof a kaafir (someone who rejected the truth)? At first, this statement seemed logical for me, but now I am confused. Many muslims now call him a kaafir or a munaafiq (hypocrit) because of the statement that the one who does not call the kaafir a kaafir is also a kaafir. I personally stay away from this, especially on the subject of takfir (declaring a Muslim to be a kaafir) because I have not much knowledge. So, dear scholar, what is your advise on this issue?

Answer

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

This statement that was said by that imaam has a correct meaning on the one hand and a wrong meaning on the other. The matter has to be clarified as follows:

Anyone who did not embrace Islam is ruled in this worldly life to be a kaafir (disbeliever), and the rulings of kufr (disbelief) apply to him. So anyone who is not a Muslim is a kaafir. As for the Hereafter, if the message of Islam did not reach a person, then he will be tested on the Day of Resurrection, according to the most preponderant opinion of the scholars as underlined in fatwa 82190. Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him said:

Ignorance of what renders a person a kaafir is of two types:

The first: to be someone who is following a religion other than Islam or who does not follow any religion at all, and he did not think at all that there is a religion that is inconsistent with what he is upon, so the ruling that applies to him in this worldly life is according to what appears to us from him [that he is a kaafir]; as regards the Hereafter, then his matter is to Allaah. The preponderant opinion is that he will be tested in the Hereafter with whatever Allaah wills – Allaah is all aware of what they used to do – but we know that no one will enter Hellfire except because of a sin; Allaah says (what means): {And your Lord does injustice to no one.} [Quran 18:49] But we said: we apply the apparent rulings in this worldly life, which are the rulings of Kufr, to him because he does not follow Islam, so he cannot be given the ruling to be a Muslim, but we have said that according to the preponderant opinion, he will be tested in the Hereafter as there are many ahaadeeth about this, which Ibn al-Qayyim  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him mentioned in his book “Tareeq al-Hijratayn” when he mentioned the eighth view about the children of the polytheists when he mentioned the fourteenth category..........

However, it is not permissible to rule that that imaam is a kaafir until the evidence is established against him while there are no impediments of declaring him as such and the misconception is clarified to him, as he misinterprets the matter; his statement is correct in one way and it is wrong in another, as we have already mentioned. Taking the matter of declaring someone kaafir lightly is a very serious matter. There are conditions for declaring someone kaafir that must be taken into account, and which we have already clarified in fataawa 8106 and 87963.

You may show this statement of Shaykh Ibn 'Uthaymeen  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him and the like to that imaam, and we hope that he will withdraw his opinion.

Allaah knows best.

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