The position of the Ibadi school on Muslims who commit major sins.

“And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are disbelievers. For them We have prepared a painful torment.” (Holy Qur’an 4:18)

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslims.” (Holy Qur’an 3:102)

First I would like to clarify that for those of us who follow ‘Ahl haqq wal istiqamah’ or also known as the Ibadi school of Islam, for us it is not important if our school is right or wrong on matter. What is important for us is that we are following the clear evidence as given by the Holy Qur’an and the agreed upon traditions of the Blessed Messenger (saw)- Al Sunnah.

The only reason the title is put as such is to make a distinction between what we believe that truth and reality to be as opposed to what our brothers from other schools believe to be true on the matter.

It is important to understand how we understand the word ‘Muslim’ and the word ‘kufr’ and what they mean based on the agreed upon sources.

There are states or conditions that we are born into that we can lose and those states or conditions that we cannot lose. For example if you are born a man or a woman for the rest of your life you will be a man or a woman. (though in this day and age some may even scoff at this reasoning!)

There is one’s ethnic group to which you belong that you are born with. If one is born an Arab they will die as an Arab.

So your gender, your ethnicity you are born as such and die as such.

Now a status can change. You could go from being single to married. You could go from being married to single. You could begin a career as an engineer and die as a pharmacologist.

So this is why it is important to understand the word ‘Muslim’ as-a state of being.

You can be Muslim and you can lose your Islam. One of the most obvious examples of this without resorting to proof text is that if a Muslim chooses to leave Islam for another religion or no religion at all. This person has went out from the milla of Islam.

“Say, My Lord has guided me to a straight path, and to an upright religion, the religion (millata) of Abraham the upright, who was not of those who associate partners with Allah.  Say. Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds; No associate has He, and this am I commanded, and I am the first of those who submit (l-muslimina)” (Holy Qur’an 6:161-163)

“And those who disbelieved said to their messengers: We will most certainly drive you forth from our land, or else you shall come back into our religion (millatina). So their Lord revealed to them: Most certainly We will destroy the unjust.: (Holy Qur’an 14:13)

“Lo! those who believe, then disbelieve and then (again) believe, then disbelieve, and then increase in disbelief, Allah will never forgive them, nor will He guide them on the way. Give tidings to the hypocrites that for them there is a painful punishment.” (Holy Qur’an 4:137-138)

These verses are very clear that one can leave the milla of Islam and that one can be upon faith and than kufr and than return to faith and then return back to kufr and than continue on in their kufr.

You want to make sure that when you die you die upon the cycle of aman (belief). Allah (swt) has mentioned several times that we are not to die accept in a state of Islam. We should die while upon belief and in a state of surrender, submission, to die as Muslims. Amin for all of us!

“And you do not take revenge on us except because we have believed in the communications of our Lord when they came to us! Our Lord: Pour out upon us patience and cause us to die in submission (muslimina) (Holy Qur’an 7:126)

“And the same did Ibrahim enjoin on his sons and (so did) Yaqoub. O my sons! surely Allah has chosen for you (this) faith, therefore die not unless you are Muslims (muslimuna). (Holy Qur’an 2:132)

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslims.” (Holy Qur’an 3:102)

So we are two points to be taken from the above text.

  1. We want to die in a state of surrender in a state of submission. For these commands to be there means it is possible for one not to die in a state of surrender and submission. We seek protection with Allah (swt) from that-for all of us!
  2. We want to die while having belief/ faith in our hearts. We make supplication that this happens for all of us!

Notice that of the three verses quoted above that it admonishes:

“Pour out upon us patience.” – In other words, grant us patience in doing what we need to do. & “be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him.”

So please understand that the word Muslim means action. It is more an adjective that describes a state of being rather than a noun -regardless of anything one says or does.

Muslim is not like our gender or ethnicity. So it is something we must be careful to guard.

So now we come to another point. In Ahl Haqq Wal Istiqamah or known to you as the Ibadi school we have two types of kafir.

  1. All mushriks (those who associate partners with Allah) are kafir
  2. However, not all kafir are mushriks.

An example of the first point. Mushrik are kafirs.

“Certainly they are ungrateful (KAFARA) who say: Surely, Allah– He is the Messiah, son of Mary. Say: Who then could control anything as against Allah when He wished to destroy the Messiah son of Mary and his mother and all those on the earth? And Allah’s is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is between them; He creates what He pleases; and Allah has power over all things,” (Holy Qur’an 5:17)

“Now, surely, sincere obedience is due to Allah (alone) and as for those who take awliyaa besides Him, saying, We do not serve them save that they may make us nearer to Allah, surely Allah will judge between them in that in which they differ; surely Allah does not guide him aright who is a liar, ungrateful(kaffarun) (Holy Qur’an 39:3)

So what or how do we understand the word kufr?

Now our brothers in the ‘Ahl Sunnah Wal Jammah’ what to make the word kafir to relate to things that bring you out of Islam or in relation to rejecting certain articles of their schools of theology. Often in their books and translations of the Holy Qur’an, you will see words like ‘infidel‘ or ‘disbeliever‘ , ‘nonbeliever‘ , ‘unbeliever‘.

However, we want to look at how Allah (swt) the lord of the worlds uses the word and it’s different forms through out the revelation that He (swt) has given to us.

“Know that this world’s life is only sport and play and gaiety and boasting among yourselves, and a vying in the multiplication of wealth and children, like the rain, whose causing the vegetation to grow, pleases the tillers (al-kuffara), then it withers away so that you will see it become yellow, then it becomes dried up and broken down; and in the hereafter is a severe chastisement and (also) forgiveness from Allah and (His) pleasure; and this world’s life is naught but means of deception.” (Holy Qur’an 57:20)

Mash’Allah this verse is very powerful. It also has a double meaning on the word kuffar. You can see that people in this life are all about hedonism and narcissism, boasting and competition. Yet these people are ungrateful. They are compared to tillers who cover the earth. They are happy with their efforts. Yet, as Allah (swt) mentions that this produce itself becomes nothing. That the life of this world is but means of deception. The produce becomes nothing, we see our youth give way to the challenges of old age. Even the wealth and children disperse. How many families fight over wealth and inheritance? How many children, in turn, are ungrateful to their parents for the sacrifices they made to give them a better lifestyle?

So much can be said about this amazing verse! Subhan’Allah.

“And when your Lord made it known: If you are grateful (shakartum), I would certainly give to you more, and if you are ungrateful (kafartum) ,  then My torment will be severe. (Holy Qur’an 14:7)

So here Allah (swt) contrasted gratefulness with kafar (ungrateful). He also again warned us that his ‘torment will be severe‘ for those who are ungrateful.

“How is it you are ungrateful (takfurūna) to Allah? You had been lifeless, then, He gave you life. again, He will cause you to die. Again, He will give you life. And, again, you are returned to Him.” (Holy Qur’an 2:28)

“So when they ride in the ships they call upon Allah, being sincerely obedient to Him, but when He brings them safely to the land, lo! they associate others (yush’rikūna) with Him; being ungrateful (liyakfuru) for what We gave them. So let them take joy for soon they will know!” (Holy Qur’an 29:65-66)

So with all these verses in mind, it should be known that in the Ibadi school we understand Kufr -as a denial of truth and ingratitude-either by one’s actions or inaction.

So the second type as mentioned above is kufr ni’mah. So this kufr-ni’mah is when any of us as Muslims commit major sins -persist in those sins and do not repent.

So those Muslims are kafir ni’mah. Ungrateful to Allah (swt) for the overwhelming and manifest blessings that He (swt) has given to them. They show this by their actions or inaction.

Our view is that any Muslim who does this and does not repent before death reaches/him or her will be in eternal hellfire.

So to be clear this is our position. In this life there are three groups.

  1. There are the Mushrik -those who associate partners with Allah (swt).
  2. There are the Mumin (those are the believers)
  3. There are those who are kafir ni’mah (nifaq).

The one in kafir ni’mah he/she shares with the Mushrik in kufr -not of associating partners with Allah(swt) but in covering up the truth and/or being ungrateful to Allah(swt).

The one in kafir ni’mah he/she shares with the Muslims Islam.

As regards the after life we believe there are two types of categories and two abodes and the inhabitants of one do not enter the abode of the other.

The two categories are:

  1. One is a destination for the kufar
  2. One is a destination for the mumin.

The two destinations are:

  1. The paradise and the believers do not come out from it.
  2. The hellfire and no one comes out from it.

The following three ahadith are something to ponder.

“Between a man and shirk and kufr there stands his neglect of the prayer.”

(Narrated by Muslim in Kitaab al-Eemaan from Jaabir ibn ‘Abd-Allaah from the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him)).

It was narrated that Buraydah ibn al-Husayb (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “I heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say: ‘The covenant that distinguishes between us and them is the prayer, and whoever neglects it has disbelieved (become a kafir).’”

The majority sect have their understanding of this and we have our understanding of it, and that is when a person willfully, abandons the prayer he/she/them are kafir ni’mah .

They are in a state of Kufr. We call it, “kufr ni’mah” ungratefulness to Allah (swt), covering or hiding the reality of what Allah (swt) has commanded and prohibited and enjoined upon us.

Muslims who do major sins and persist in this without tauba are in a state of “kufr ni’mah” -they are still part of the milla of Islam, their children inherit from them. However, if these people die in such a state, without making repentance our position is clear. That person will go to hell fire-where they will neither reprieve or escape.

And of no effect is the repentance of those who continue to do evil deeds until death faces one of them and he says: “Now I repent;” nor of those who die while they are ungrateful (kuffarun). For them, We have prepared a painful torment.” (Holy Qur’an 4:18)

This verse is very clear.

  1. Repentance is no use who continue to do evil deeds upon until death faces them (which could be at any moment) mind you.
  2. Those who die while they are in a state of ungratefulness (kuffarun).
  3. A painful punishment is prepared for such.

May Allah (swt) protect you and me and all of us from being in category 1 or 2 above! Amin!

“Surely as for those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say: We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not Allah’s earth spacious so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil destination.(Holy Qur’an 4:99)

“The repentance accepted by Allah is only for those who do wrong in ignorance or carelessness and then repent soon after. It is those to whom Allah will turn in forgiveness, and Allah is ever Knowing and Wise..” (Holy Qur’an 4:17)

So notice that it says even for people who do sins out of ignorance or carelessness that they should repent “soon after” How much more for those who do the evil sins-the major sins?

Now, this doesn’t mean if you did something out of ignorance or carelessness that you will be punished. Obviously not, as Allah (swt) does not punish until the information is sent and made clear. Allah (swt) is merciful and to punish someone for carelessness or ignorance wouldn’t be very merciful.

What this verse is stating is that when it now becomes clear to you that what you were doing out of ignorance or carelessness is now made clear that you should repent from it immediately.

“IF (but) eschew the evilest of the things which you are forbidden to do, We shall expel out of ( SaiyiatikumYOU ALL THE EVIL IN YOU, and admit you to a gate of great honor.” -(Holy Qur’an 4:31)

This verse is conditional. If we do our level best to avoid the major sins than Allah (swt) will remove from us the lesser sins. Allah (swt) forgives sins because he is al-ʿAfūw & al-Ghafūr

“It is right to hope that Allah will pardon them. For Allah is The one who Effaces, The Ever Forgiving..” (Holy Qur’an 4:99)

Even with this in mind, we should do our level best to avoid small sins. We should never despair of the Mercy of Allah (swt) nor should we take for granted the Mercy of Allah (swt). That is the point is that by taking for granted the Mercy of Allah (swt) is in and of itself ungratitude.

As regards the majority of Muslims supposedly not praying or keeping their duty to Allah (swt) that is not your problem nor mine. We love them and hope they quickly amend their ways. Our duty is to save ourselves and our family from the fire whose fuel is men and jinn, whose fuel is men and stones.

So what does taubah mean? It means to return or to turn. Return or turn to whom? Why would you need to return or turn if you are already in a state of surrender?

The matter of rather or not hell is eternal.

This is another reason why I feel the Muslim community is in the state that it is in. Think about it. The Sunni denomination is telling everyone that, “Don’t worry Allah will put you in hell for a while and then you will come out of it.” “Don’t worry you will only be in hell for 257 million years and then you can come out of it!

As if hell was a light matter! Not only that but they teach that hellfire is not eternal for the Muslim who commits major sins and does not repent! .

Now let me ask you, dear readers. What actually is a Muslim?

What do you think should be the case for the Muslim who says, “I know killing people is wrong but I’ll do it anyway.” “I know drinking alcohol is forbidden, and extramarital affairs are wrong but I’ll do them anyway

“O you who have believed, fear Allah and give up what remains of interest, if you should be believers.And if you do not, then be informed of a war against you from Allah and His Messenger. But if you repent, you may have your principal – thus you do no wrong, nor are you wronged.” (Holy Qur’an 2:278-279)

Can you imagine the condition of such a person? A person who says, “I know that usury is forbidden, and I am in a state of war with Allah and His Messenger and I know that it is wrong, but I will do it anyway.” ?!?

So simple lip service and acknowledging that its a sin and yet continuing to revel it in it the hallmark of a Muslim? What is this based on?

Then you have to wonder about the moral decay in the Muslim community. Even though we could die at any moment the person reasons, “I can do this and Allah (swt) will just forgive me. Worst-case scenario I’ll go to hell for a while be purified and than released into heaven.” Authubillah min dhalik!

But a Muslim who neglect the prayers from simple laziness or no desire, you have to ask yourself what actually is a Muslim?

What is so hard about doing taubah? Look at all the places it is mentioned in the Holy Qur’an.

I mean if you think about the major sins they are not things that are altogether to difficult to avoid.

Like do you personally find it difficult not to kill people?
Do you have some overwhelming desire to worship idols and associate partners with Allah (swt)?
Do you feel it’s absolutely necessary to cheat on your husband/wife when divorce is open to you?
The prayer takes discipline, but at the end of the day, it’s roughly 5 minutes (25 minutes) out of a 24 hour period.

You can perform it sitting down, lying on your side, you can combine prayers when traveling, shorten it during conflict and so forth.

“The day when neither wealth nor sons shall profit except for him who comes to Allah with a pure heart.” (Holy Qur’an 26:88-89)

“Nay! But on their hearts is the Ran (covering of sins and evil deeds) which they used to earn.’” (Holy Qur’an 83:14)

Can a heart that is filled with ingratitude and hypocrisy be said to be a pure heart?

Look at what the great shaykh and teacher of spirituality has quoted:

“The Messenger of Allah “Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him” said: “There are four kinds of hearts: a heart which is stripped clean in which a lamp shines and this is the believer’s heart; a heart which is black and upside down, and it is the unbeliever’s heart; a hardened heart bound n its sheath of evil, and it is the heart of the hypocrite; and a broad heart in which there is both belief and hypocrisy. It’s belief is like green herbage which pure water causes to abound, and its hypocrisy is like an ulcer which purulent matter and pus cause to spread. This heart is judged to belong to whichever of the two prevails over the other.” This heart is judged to belong to whichever of the two prevails over the other.”

Source: (Revival of Religion’s Sciences (Ihya Ulum ad-din) Volume 3 page 21)

Indeed, the hypocrites will be in the lowest depths of the Fire – and never will you find for them a helper – Except for those who repent, correct themselves, hold fast to Allah, and are sincere in their religion for Allah, for those will be with the believers. And Allah is going to give the believers a great reward. Why should Allah punish you if you are grateful and believe? And ever is Allah Appreciative and Knowing.” (Holy Qur’an 4:145-147)

Now for transparency sake I will tell you that there are scholars of Ahl Haqq Wal Istiqama or the Ibadi school that do regard other Muslim denominations guilty of “kufr ni’mah” -that is because they are regarded for covering up the truth and not being grateful to Allah (swt) on matters such as:

  1. What we have discussed in this article on the truth about dying without repentance of major sins.
  2. The truth about Ali relinquishing his Caliphate during the battle of Siffin.
  3. The truth about the punishment of hellfire being forever (not a temporary abode).
  4. The truth about not seeing Allah (swt) in the hereafter.
  5. The truth about the Holy Qur’an being created.
  6. The truth that any righteous Muslim can be a leader of the Muslims.
  7. Other issues of contention …..

Two other points of clarification on the above.

  1. Some say this term only is a reference to their scholars who withhold the truth or cover it up and not their laypeople in general.
  2. That any Muslim can be guilty of ‘kufr ni’mah’ : regardless of school. May Allah (swt) protect us all.

That being said Ibadi Muslims say that those Muslims are still part of the milla of Islam, their children inherit from them. Ibadi Muslims also marry Shia Muslims and Sunni Muslims and we do not regard them as Mushriks.

Allah does not charge a soul except with that within its capacity. It will have the consequence of what good it has gained, and it will bear the consequence of what evil it has earned. “Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us, and forgive us, and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the ungrateful (l-kafirina) people.” (Holy Qur’an 2:286)

O you who believe! be careful of (your duty to) Allah with the care which is due to Him, and do not die unless you are Muslims.” (Holy Qur’an 3:102)

Oh Muslims die in a state of a surrender to Allah (swt) and not in a state of rebellion to Allah (swt)

With Allah is success!


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7 responses to “The position of the Ibadi school on Muslims who commit major sins.

  1. Even for us Ahl al-Tawhīd wa al-`Adl (Mu`taxzilah), the term “kāfir ni`mah” (ingrate) can be used to refer to the unrepentant major sinner. No probs.

  2. 'Abdullah


    So is the Ibadhi understanding then that suicide is the single worst sin one can do? Since you can make tawbah from shirk and even killing other people, but not suicide?

    • Salaam. I don’t know if we would say it’s the single worst sin. However, I do know that we believe if you commit suicide you do go to hell.

      I hope that helps, brother.

    • Also brother Allah (swt) says,
      “Believers! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully; rather than that, let there be trading by mutual consent.You should not kill yourselves.Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you.
      And whoever does this by way of transgression and injustice him shall We surely cast into the Fire; that indeed is quite easy for Allah.(Holy Qur’an 4:29-30)

  3. Salam,

    Abdullah before I address your other points I wanted to make sure we are clear here.

    objectively which group is going to be stronger against suicide bombing and terrorism?

    Who is going to have a greater impact upon young impressionable minds?

    The group that says, “if you commit suicide if you kill these innocent men and women, you are going to hell, wherein you will not escape and there will be no reprieve for you!”

    Or the group that says, “If you commit suicide if you kill these innocent men and women we condemn you, but you will still go to heaven because you said the shahadah and the Prophet will intercede on your behalf.”

    Shirk is the greatest sin one can do -that they can still repent from. Just like any other sin. Because to despair of the mercy of Allah (swt) is also a sin.

    One is a very strong condemnation and the other a slap on the wrist.

    This is not rocket science.

    “O my sons, go and inquire about Yusuf and his brother, and do not despair of relief from Allah; surely none despairs of relief from Allah except the ungrateful people.” (Holy Qur’an 12:87)

    However, someone who has committed suicide even if they did small sins, they themselves have closed the doors to mercy and repentance. The act of committing suicide is a great sin as they have despaired of relief from Allah (swt).

    “Believers! Do not devour one another’s possessions wrongfully; rather than that, let there be trading by mutual consent. You should not kill yourselves. Surely Allah is ever Compassionate to you.
    And whoever does this by way of transgression and injustice him shall We surely cast into the Fire; that indeed is quite easy for Allah. (Holy Qur’an 4:29-30)

    “These are the Signs of Allah. We rehearse them to thee in Truth: And Allah means no injustice to any of His creatures.” (Holy Qur’an 3:108)

    So no suicide is not a greater sin than shirk, but it is a sin in which the person has closed the doors for repentance on themselves.

    If you have a verse that says: the Mumin will go to hellfire we would be very interested in you bringing that forth.
    If you have a verse that says: sinners will come out of hellfire we would be very interested in you bringing that forth.
    If you have a verse that says sinners will enter heaven please, by all means, do publish it here for everyone to see.

  4. harun

    “Some say this term only is a reference to their scholars who withhold the truth or cover it up and not their laypeople in general.”

    Is that implying that the sunni and shia scholars intentionally cover up the truth? Because I highly doubt it. They genuinely believe that and they have their arguments in support of their positions, especially in Hadith.

    • I can agree with what you said. Yet, Allah (swt) does mentioin in the Qur’an about people who cover up the truth when they know. I would agree that in good faith everyone feels they are doing their level best to represent the truth. Yet, accusations will come that this one or that one is being dishonest. I am certain there are those who feel our Ibadi ‘ulemah are not truthful.

      This is why ultimately it is Allah (swt) who is our judge and while on the Earth we can continue to have debates and differences, yet, we should work together on issues of common interest.

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