Question: If a person is made to say one of the statements of disbelief by force or under duress, is he considered to have fallen into disbelief?
Uttering some of the statements of disbelief under coercion (ikrah) does not cause one to fall into disbelief. Ikrah means to unjustly use pressure to force a person to do something that he does not want to do. There are four conditions that a certain act of pressure will be required to fulfill so that it may be called an act of ikrah:
1. The person using the pressure has to be capable of carrying out the threat he intimidates the other person with.
2. The person being intimidated has to know for certain that the threat he is being intimidated with shall be carried out.
3. The threat he is being intimidated with has to be something catastrophic, such as death and/or amputation of a limb.
4. The act he is being intimidated into doing has to be something that must not be done.
There are two types of ikrah: (1) an ikrah that is mulji (compelling, forcing); (2) and one that is not mulji.
A mulji ikrah is one in the full sense, a heavy one, which eliminates one's consent and option, so that it becomes a darurat (an inevitable necessity that compels one to do what one is being intimidated into doing.) And that ikrah is either of death or of amputation of a limb, or an imprisonment or beating that will cause (at least one of these two) catastrophic results. Being intimidated with the threat of destroying one's entire property also will be an ikrah that is mulji. [Hence, if one is intimidated with the threat of being prevented from earning a bare pittance of provision (nafaqa) and there is the fear that one cannot find another job to work at, the ikrah will be one that is mulji.]
Ikrah that is non-mulji will eliminate one's consent only; an example of which is to be intimidated with being kept in prison for a period longer than a day or with being vehemently beaten. [This type of ikrah, too, would constitute an ‘udhr, (i.e., an excuse, a good reason) for kufr-i hukmi (disbelief by judgment).] To scold or castigate people of knowledge and honor will mean ikrah for them. To send one‘s mahram relative to prison will mean ikrah for one. Being punished by laws mean ikrah. There are various things that one may find oneself being intimidated into doing:
1. Things that are permissible to do but (better because) it yields thawab not to do. Examples of them are to make a statement that causes disbelief as a result of an ikrah that is mulji, e.g., to speak ill of the Messenger of Allah. However, the person who is being forced to do so will have to make tawriya, i.e., he has to think of someone else with the name Muhammad (supposing he is being intimidated into speaking ill of Muhammad 'alaihis-salam, the Blessed Messenger of Allah) and he should be innerly convinced that he is prostrating himself as an act of worship toward Allahu ta‘ala (supposing he is being intimidated into prostrating himself before idols). He will be excusable if he does not remember that it is necessary to do tawriya. Other examples in this category are as follows: to force a woman to take her headscarf off or to commit fornication; to force someone not to perform salat or to destroy his own or someone else's property or to divorce his wife or to commit an act of sodomy.
2. Things that are haram to do under an ikrah that is mulji. Examples in this category are as follows: to kill a Muslim or a dhimmi (a non-Muslim living under the protection of a Muslim state) or to cut off one of their limbs; to subject them to imprisonment long enough or to battery vehement enough to cause such catastrophic results; and to force a man to commit fornication. If a person is intimidated into killing himself with the threat of death, it will not be permissible for him to kill himself. [Hence, supposing a person (under enemy attack) knows that when he falls into the hands of the enemy he will be killed after gang rapes and vehement torments; it will not be permissible for him to kill himself and his closest relatives.]
If a person knows that he will be killed if he attacks the enemy and that he will be taken captive if he does not (attack the enemy), then he should not attack the enemy. If he attacks the enemy because he knows that he will inflict some losses on them and thereafter gets killed by the enemy, his attack will have been a permissible one. It will not be permissible, however, for him to attack if doing so will be of no effect with respect to losses on the enemy.
3. Things that are halal, and even fard to do, and sinful not to do and die, for a person under an ikrah that is mulji. Examples of this case are to consume alcoholic drinks and to eat carrion or pork.
Agreements made under an ikrah, mulji and otherwise alike, will not be valid.
Interactions such as nikah (marriage performed in a manner prescribed by Islam), talaq (divorce, dissolution of nikah), a vow, and an oath will be valid also when they are performed under an ikrah that is not mulji. When the ikrah is over, the nikah and the talaq may be repudiated. Yet the vow cannot be. A person who has given something for the fulfillment of the vow made under an ikrah cannot demand it from the person who forced him by way of ikrah.
If a person is intimidated into forgiving his debtor, the outcome will not be valid.
An ikrah that is not mulji cannot be grounds for consuming carrion, blood, pork, or wine, or for annihilating a Muslim's property because an ikrah that is not mulji will not constitute a darurat. One may eat carrion or pork or drink blood or wine lest one should die. If a person dies because he does not eat carrion or pork or drink blood or wine (although it is the only available means to keep him alive), he will go to Hell.
Supposing a person is being intimidated by way of an ikrah that is mulji to drink a certain glass of wine or to sell a certain unit of property belonging to him; he will sell that property of his. It will also be permissible for him to drink the wine. If he gets killed because he has refused to drink (the wine) or to sell (the property) because he did not know that it would be permissible to do so, he will attain martyrdom. Confiscation on the part of a sultan, i.e., his demanding money or property in an unjust and cruel manner, is a case of ikrah. In that case, it will be permissible to give what is demanded. (Ibn Abidin, Durar-ul-hukkam)