Can a person be excused for their ignorance regarding the fundamentals of Tawhid (belief in the Oneness of Allah) which represent the core of Din (religion)? What is the ruling on judging specific people as being Kafirs (disbelievers) for indulging in practices of Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship) out of their ignorance?
No person can be excused for their ignorance regarding issues of Tawhid so long as they live amongst Muslims. However, whoever lives far away from Muslim areas and is ignorant of Islam, they will be judged by Allah (Glorified be He). They will be dealt with in the same way as Ahl-ul-Fatrah (people having no access to Divine Messages) on the Day of Resurrection i.e. they will be tested there and judged accordingly.
On the other hand, whoever lives amongst Muslims and hears the Word of Allah and His Messenger without adhering to them but instead worships the graves and seeks their help or insults Din, such people are Kafirs (disbelievers). Muslim authorities have to ask such people to repent and if they do not, they have to be killed for their Kufr (disbelief).
The same applies to whoever mocks the Din, considers Halal (lawful) things that Allah declares as being Haram (prohibited) such as Zina (sexual intercourse outside marriage), Khamr (intoxicant), applying positive law, judging by laws other than what Allah has revealed, or claiming that such laws are better than the laws which are set by Allah. Declaring any of the foregoing as Halal is tantamount to committing Riddah (apostasy), we seek refuge with Allah from this. It is thus Wajib (obligatory) on every Islamic government to apply Shari`ah (Islamic law), to advise whoever indulges in any of the practices which revoke their Islam to make Tawbah (repentance to Allah), and to kill them if they refuse to give up their Kufr.
Proof for this is the Hadith in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: Whoever (a Muslim) discards their Din, kill them. (Related by Al-Bukhari in his Sahih (authentic) Book of Hadiths). Moreover, it is reported in the Two Sahih Books of Hadith (i.e. Al-Bukhari and Muslim) on the authority of Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) that he ordered some rulers to kill the apostates if they do not make Tawbah. Mu`adh said: ‘This is the judgment of Allah and His Messenger’.
However, such a judgment has to be applied by the Muslim ruler and through the Shar`y (Islamic legal) courts. This is to ensure that the ruling of Allah is implemented on the basis of true knowledge and insight of Muslim authorities. May Allah set right the affairs of us all. Verily, Allah is the All Hearer, the Most Near.
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