The Meanings of Kufr, Thulm, and Fisq: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

In surah al-Maa’idah, Allah repeats a similar phrase three times:

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the kaafiroon (disbelievers) [5:44]

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the thaalimoon (wrong-doers) [5:45]

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient ones) [5:47]

Sheikh Muhammad al-Ameen al-Shinqitee devoted extensive space in his book of tafsir to discussing these and the surrounding ayaat in detail. In the last part of his discussion he condensed some of his main points, which we have translated below:

قوله تعالى : ومن لم يحكم بما أنزل الله فأولئك هم الفاسقون قد قدمنا أن هذه الآية في النصارى ، والتي قبلها في اليهود ، والتي قبل تلك في المسلمين ، كما يقتضيه ظاهر القرآن . ـ

Allah’s statement:

وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللَّـهُ فَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, then they are the faasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient ones) [5:47]

we have already mentioned that this ayah is referring to the Christians, the one before it is referring to the Jews, and the one before that is referring to the Muslims, as follows from the outward meanings of the ayaat.

وقد قدمنا أن الكفر ، والظلم ، والفسق كلها يطلق على المعصية بما دون الكفر ، وعلى الكفر المخرج من الملة نفسه ، فمن الكفر بمعنى المعصية قوله – صلى الله عليه وسلم – لما سألته المرأة عن سبب كون النساء أكثر أهل النار ، ” إن ذلك واقع بسبب كفرهن ” ، ثم فسره بأنهن يكفرن العشير ، ومن الكفر بمعنى المخرج عن الملة ، قوله تعالى : قل ياأيها الكافرون لا أعبد ما تعبدون الآية [ 109 \ 1 ، 2 ] ، ومن الظلم بمعنى الكفر ، قوله تعالى : والكافرون هم الظالمون [ 2 \ 254 ] ، وقوله : ولا تدع من دون الله ما لا ينفعك ولا يضرك فإن فعلت فإنك إذا من الظالمين [ 10 \ 106 ] ، وقوله : إن الشرك لظلم عظيم [ 31 \ 13 ] ، ومنه بمعنى المعصية قوله تعالى : فمنهم ظالم لنفسه ومنهم مقتصد الآية [ 35 \ 32 ] ، ومن الفسق بمعنى الكفر قوله : وأما الذين فسقوا فمأواهم النار كلما أرادوا أن يخرجوا منها أعيدوا فيها الآية [ 32 \ 20 ] ، ومنه بمعنى المعصية قوله في الذين قذفوا عائشة – رضي الله عنها – : ولا تقبلوا لهم شهادة أبدا وأولئك هم الفاسقون [ 24 \ 4 ] . ومعلوم أن القذف ليس بمخرج عن الملة ، ويدل له قوله تعالى : إن الذين جاءوا بالإفك عصبة منكم [ 24 \ 11 ] ، ومن الفسق بمعنى المعصية أيضا قوله في الوليد بن عقبة : ياأيها الذين آمنوا إن جاءكم فاسق بنبإ فتبينوا الآية [ 49 \ 6 ] . ـ

And we have already explained that each one of the terms kufr, thulm, and fisq can sometimes be used to refer to acts of disobedience that fall below the level of disbelief, and sometimes be used to refer to the disbelief which takes one outside the very pale of the religion.

An example of the term kufr used to mean disobedience is the Prophet’s statement when a woman asked him why women were the majority of the people of the Hell-fire and he said, “that is because due to their kufr” which he then explained to mean their ingratitude to their husbands.

And an example of the term kufr taking the meaning of that disbelief which takes one out of the religion is Allah’s statement:

قُلْ يَا أَيُّهَا الْكَافِرُونَ * لَا أَعْبُدُ مَا تَعْبُدُونَ

Say, “O you Kaafiroon * I do not worship what you worship” [109:1-2]

And an example of the term thulm used to mean disbelief is Allah’s statement:

وَالْكَافِرُونَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ

And the disbelievers – they are the thaalimoon [2:254]

as well as His statement:

وَلَا تَدْعُ مِن دُونِ اللَّـهِ مَا لَا يَنفَعُكَ وَلَا يَضُرُّكَ ۖ فَإِن فَعَلْتَ فَإِنَّكَ إِذًا مِّنَ الظَّالِمِينَ

And do not invoke besides Allah any that will neither profit you, nor hurt you. But if you did, you would certainly be among the thaalimoon. [10:106]

and also His statement:

إِنَّ الشِّرْكَ لَظُلْمٌ عَظِيمٌ

Indeed, al-shirk is the great thulm [31:13]

And as example of the term thulm being used to refer to disobedience is Allah’s statement:

فَمِنْهُمْ ظَالِمٌ لِّنَفْسِهِ وَمِنْهُم مُّقْتَصِدٌ وَمِنْهُمْ سَابِقٌ بِالْخَيْرَاتِ بِإِذْنِ اللَّـهِ

So among (the believers) are those who wrong themselves, those who are moderate, and those who excel in good by Allah’s permission. [35:32]

And an example of the term fisq being used to refer to disbelief is Allah’s statement:

وَأَمَّا الَّذِينَ فَسَقُوا فَمَأْوَاهُمُ النَّارُ ۖ كُلَّمَا أَرَادُوا أَن يَخْرُجُوا مِنْهَا أُعِيدُوا فِيهَا

And as for those who are faasiqoon, their abode will be the Fire. Every time they wish to get away therefrom, they will be put back thereto [32:20]

And an example of the term fisq being used to refer to disobedience is Allah’s statement about those who slandered ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her):

  وَلَا تَقْبَلُوا لَهُمْ شَهَادَةً أَبَدًا ۚ وَأُولَـٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ

… and do not accept their testimony, ever. These ones are the faasiqoon. [24:4]

and it is well-known that committing slander does not remove one from the fold of the religion, as is shown by Allah’s statement:

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ جَاءُوا بِالْإِفْكِ عُصْبَةٌ مِّنكُمْ

Indeed, those who brought the slander are a group among you [24:11]

And another example of the term fisq being used to refer to disobedience is Allah’s statement regarding al-Waleed ibn ‘Uqbah:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ فَتَبَيَّنُوا

O you who believe! If a faasiq comes to you with a news, verify it… [49:6]

وقد قدمنا أن العبرة بعموم الألفاظ لا بخصوص الأسباب ، فمن كان امتناعه من الحكم بما أنزل الله ، لقصد معارضته ورده ، والامتناع من التزامه فهو كافر ظالم فاسق كلها بمعناها المخرج من الملة ، ومن كان امتناعه من الحكم لهوى وهو يعتقد قبح فعله ، فكفره وظلمه وفسقه غير المخرج من الملة ، إلا إذا كان ما امتنع من الحكم به [ ص: 412 ] شرطا في صحة إيمانه ، كالامتناع من اعتقاد ما لا بد من اعتقاده ، هذا هو الظاهر في الآيات المذكورة ، كما قدمنا والعلم عند الله تعالى . ـ

And we have already explained that the point to be drawn from an ayah is derived by looking at the applicability of the wording, not just the specific circumstances behind it. So, therefore, whoever refuses to judge by what Allah has revealed due to his opposition to it and refuses to act according to it, then he is a kaafir, thaalim, faasiq – all of these words with the meaning of one who has left the fold of the religion. But whoever refuses to judge by what Allah has revealed due to his desires while knowing and believing in the reprehensibility of his actions, then his kufr, thulm, and fisq are the sort that do not exit him from the fold of the religion. That is, unless whatever form of judging by what Allah revealed that he rejected was something whose validity is a condition for the soundness of his very eemaan, such as refusing to believe in something which it is obligatory to believe in.

This is what is apparent from the ayaat we have mentioned here, as we have already explained before. And the knowledge is with Allah.

[Adhwaa’ al-Bayaan 1/412]

See also: Major Shirk and Minor Shirk: Imam al-Sa’di

See also: Does the term “al-Mushrikoon” include the Ahl al-Kitaab? – Imam al-Shinqitee

See also: Remaining eternally in the Hell-fire and its causes: Imam al-Sa’di

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One thought on “The Meanings of Kufr, Thulm, and Fisq: Tafsir al-Shinqitee

  1. Pingback: “The Disbelievers – they are the Thaalimoon”: Tafsir al-Sa’di | Tulayhah

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