Q: Recently a Shaikh who studied in Madinah was here from overseas. In several of his lectures he referred to the Saudi Arabian government as ‘kaafier’ (non-Muslim), as well as those Muslims who do not govern according to Quran. He quoted verse 44 of Surah 5 (Al-Maaidah) wherein Allah states that whosever does not rule according to what Allah revealed is kaafier. Is this view correct, and can one listen to such lectures?
A: The view espoused by this Shaikh is totally incorrect and erroneous. All the classical and authentic tafseers such as Ibni Katheer, Qurtubi, Tabari, etc. refute such a concept. These tafseers mention quite clearly that the meaning of verse 44 of Surah Maa-idah is that those who reject and refute the Law of Allah (in belief) and consequently rule in conflict with this Law are out of the fold of Islam. However, Muslim rulers who adopt western and un-Islamic democracies while still believing in the Law of Allah are faasiq and open sinners, but they are not kaafier. They have abandoned the Law of Allah in practice, but not in belief.
Today some Muslims neglect salaah or fasting, but they still believe these are faraa-idh of Islam. We call such people ‘faasiq’ (rebellious sinners) but they remain Muslims. The only time iemaan leaves the Believer is when he or she mocks at Islam or openly rejects Islamic Law. The belief and view articulated by this Shaikh is typical of radical Salafis, who maintain very rigid views on tauheed and shirk. They are quick to brand people as kaafier, without understanding the reality of pure tauheed. People should not listen to such talks, for clearly these are highly misleading. Rasoolullah (sallallahu alayhi wasallam) took the pledge of allegiance from Sahaaba with the condition inter alia that they will obey the rules and not rebel against them, but added: “except if you see clear kufr;” (Bukhari, Muslim) This hadith proves that rulers who do not apply Shar’ee Law are sinners but not kaafier, for in belief they have not rejected the Law of Allah. It is a serious sin to brand such people kaafier and even call for their blood.