Question: Some people claim, "Sometimes, a statement does not make a person who has uttered it a disbeliever, even though it is a statement of disbelief (alfaz al-kufr). Maybe he has said it not out of disbelief but out of ignorance. If he has not renounced faith by heart, he does not lose his faith simply because of his statement." Is it not disbelief to utter statements of disbelief out of ignorance? Should everybody be ignorant so that he will not fall into disbelief?
Ignorance about statements of disbelief is inexcusable. Just as a disbeliever becomes a Believer by saying the Kalima at-Tawhid once, so a Believer becomes a disbeliever by uttering only one statement. A hadith-i sharif says (what means):
(Such a time will come that a person will lose his faith without even noticing it.) [Daylami]
If a Muslim purposely makes a statement or commits an act that he knows Islamic scholars unanimously define as one of the statements or acts that will cause one to become a disbeliever, he will lose his faith, even if the statement has been made or the act has been committed for jocular purpose or without really thinking of its meaning. This sort of disbelief is called kufr-i inadi (disbelief out of obstinacy). Doing so purposely causes one to become a disbeliever, even if one does not know that the statement or the act concerned causes a state of disbelief. In this case the state of disbelief lapsed into is called kufr-i jahli (disbelief out of ignorance). It is fard (obligatory) for every individual Muslim to learn those Islamic facts that they have been enjoined to know. Not to know them is not excusable. A statement of disbelief does not cause one to become a disbeliever only when it is uttered by mistake or in an interpretable way or under duress. (Bariqa, Hadiqa, Majma-ul-anhur)
Question: If a Muslim has made a statement of disbelief, can we consider him a disbeliever?
We are enjoined to have a good opinion of (husn az-zann) Muslims, so we should have a good assumption about him and think, "Maybe he uttered it by mistake. Or he said it in an interpretable way. Or maybe he repented of what he had said." We are not considered sinful because of our good thoughts about him, even if he has not made repentance for what he said.
Hadrat Imam-i Rabbani states:
If a statement or an action of a Muslim signifies 100 meanings 99 of which causing disbelief and one showing that he is a Muslim, it is necessary to take this one meaning and not to call him a disbeliever. (Vol. 3, Letter 38)
This is the case when a statement or an action signifies 100 meanings. If, however, 1 out of 100 statements or actions indicates faith while 99 of them show disbelief, such a person cannot be called a Muslim because if only one statement or action of a person openly shows disbelief, that is, if it does not have a meaning that indicates the presence of faith, he is judged to be a disbeliever. He is not protected from disbelief and is not judged to be a Muslim by his other statements or actions that show the presence of faith in him. (Advice for the Muslim)
Having a good opinion of an apostate
Question: It is written in the book Endless Bliss: "Then, it is useless to say 'Maybe he repented, gave up apostasy' about those dead people who did not believe in Islam when they were alive. Their limbs that perpetrated oppression must do favors. Their tongues must pray, and they must say their last requests in such a manner as to please the oppressed. Those apostates who have not done so will not be thought of as good." What is the use of a disbeliever's or an apostate's doing favors and supplicating?
No thawab (reward) is given in return for the good deeds of disbelievers and apostates. However, some people, when a disbeliever or an apostate has died, say, "Maybe he had made repentance and become a Muslim before he died. We should entertain a good assumption about him." This passage of the book gives an answer to those who say so. That is, it means to say, "In our religion, a person is judged by external criteria. If there are not any signs that he regretted and made repentance, we must not have a good assumption about him and not consider him a Muslim. The signs mentioned herein refer to the actions signifying the opposite of his oppression." To sum up, if we know that he made repentance, then we can have a good assumption about him. If we do not know whether he made repentance, we must not assume that he made repentance. Even if he made repentance, as we do not know anything about his penitence, there is no harm upon us for not having a good opinion of him, for sins committed publicly must be repented of publicly.