Lecture by Shaykh Yasir Qadhi |  Transcript by Hayley B.

The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi's lecture “Salvific Exclusivity.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.

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Thank you very much. It's very daunting to come on stage after Tariq Ramadan, but I'll try and do what I can.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau on the social contract, on the very last pages of his work, he wrote and I quote directly “Those who distinguish between civil and theological intolerance are mistaken in my opinion. Those two types of intolerance are inseparable. It is impossible to live in peace with those one believes to be damned. To love them would be to hate the God who punishes them. It is absolutely necessary to either reclaim them or torment them. Whenever theological intolerance is allowed, it is impossible for it not to have some civil effect.” End quote.

Now one thing that these quotes prove is that the issue of salvation is not merely a theoretical one. Rather, it goes to the very core of a person's values, of how you will define and treat the other. Therefore, this topic has philosophical, theological, civil, moral and political ramifications.

However, we can't discuss all of them in any one lecture and I'm coming to the podium primarily as a theologian or a theologian in training. So I will have to approach this issue purely from the theological dimension. My talk will be divided into two sections, followed by a conclusion. In the first section, I will point out the positions of the main theological movements of our religion Islam, regarding salvation, and the primary Qur'anic evidences that they use to justify that position. In the second section, I will examine specific evidences that some modern reformists have used to argue against the classical understanding of salvific inclusivity for salvific exclusivity. In my conclusion I will offer some personal comments on the issue.

The Theological Positions of Islam on Salvific Inclusivity Versus Exclusivity:

It shall come as not great surprise to anybody familiar with the Islamic tradition that every single systematic theology that was developed in classical and medieval Islam viewed the religion of Islam as being the sole path to God. And it's not just Muslims, we are talking of a time when pretty much every religion viewed itself in a similar manner. In fact, far from allowing salvation outside of the religion, the discussion was between the sects and whether other sects would be saved or not. By and large the Mu'tazilites made takfir of the Ash'arites, the Ash'arites made takfir of the Hanbalites. All of them made takfir of Falasifa and the Batinites, so on and so forth.

But intra-Muslim politics does not concern us here. The fact of the matter is that religious communities not belonging to Islam, the true other in our vernacular, were assumed to be outside the grace of God and in need of God's guidance. As far as I have read and researched—and I have read plenty of works of theology of all of these movements that we are going to talk about—the possibility of finding salvation in another religion while consciously and knowingly rejecting Islam was simply never even seriously entertained by any theologian or any scholar of any of the established schools of theology in the pre-modern era.

The main theological issue that concerned classical and medieval theologians was not the salvific potential of other faiths -the absence of which was simply taken as a given- but rather the fate of those who had never heard of Islam or exposed to falsified teachings. With regards to those who had never heard of Islam, the common term tablīgh al risāla. Did they get tablīgh al risāla or not? The rationalists inclined Mu'tazilites along with the Mataridis. They general gave quite a lot of weight to the human intellect. Hence they believed that a person would be legally responsible “mukallaf” to reject idolatry and affirm a monotheistic vision of God, even if no revelation exists. Failure to do so warranted eternal punishment – damnation.

Because, the rational mind according to the Mu'tazilites could potentially lead to monotheism. The Ash'arites on the other hand, their typical reaction was against the Mu'tazilites and all of their doctrines, they claimed that anybody who had not heard of the message of Islam would be forgiven, even if they were pagans and idolaters. This was based on their theological premise that the human mind independent of revelation cannot judge good and evil.

The tripartite categorization of Abu Hamid al-Gazali best illustrates this point. He categorizes mankind into basically three categories.

Number one: people who have never heard of the message of Islam and who live in far away lands such as the Romans. These will be forgiven unconditionally.

Number two: people who have been exposed to a distorted understanding of Islam and have no recourse to authentic information. These too will be forgiven.

The third category are those who have heard of Islam because they live in the neighboring cities and the neighboring communities around darul Islam. And they know the reality of Islam and they have access to authentic Islamic knowledge. These, according to al-Gazali, have no hope of salvation.

The Hanbalite position manifested in the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah, was that the intellect could discern right from wrong. And thus a saying, rational mind should logically come to the conclusion that there is an all-perfect God. Monotheism is logical.

However Ibn Taymiyyah argued, in God's infinite mercy and justice, God's punishment would not be meted-out to any who had been exposed to a messenger. In other words, even if logically you come to the conclusion that there is a God, until God tells you so, he is not going to punish you if you don't.

Ibn Taymiyyah based this on many verses in the Qur'an such as Surat Al-Isra;15 “We are not going to punish until we send a messenger”. So according to Ibn Taymiyyah those who didn't receive a message or received a distorted version of the message, then neither are automatically forgiven nor automatically punished. Rather they shall be tested on judgement day with a special test. In any case, from this spectrum what we see is that the main issue is whether God might possibly forgive any who have not been exposed to the teachings of Islam.

The underlying assumption for all of these traditions is that Islam is the only path to God and anyone who consciously chooses other than Islam will simply not have it accepted on the day of judgement.

The Books of Fiqh

Pretty much the number one example that all four Sunni schools of law mention in their books of fiqh, is that if a Muslim claims that he is of another faith, or a Muslim claims that a person of another religion is morally in the acceptable regionthat it is permissible to be a Christian or a Jew—this would in fact count for grounds for apostasy.

In other words, belief in the validity of a religious system was seen quite sincerely and casually as a rejection of Islam and this is unanimous across the four Sunni schools and I'm not an expert in the Shi'a school of law but I'm pretty sure that they would also say something similar. The question arises as to why there was so much unanimity with regard to this principle. I honestly think it is unfair, and honestly not very academic to dismiss this overwhelming predominant position because of, let's say, calling it a literalist tendency. The Mu'tazilites are not literalist. Or to accuse all of these theologians of having a fear of the other. Or having selfish motives of wanting God's mercy on themselves and not wanting on others.

I honestly believe that those theologians and scholars were better individuals than we are and their motives were more pure than our own. They were brave enough to discuss many controversies, including God and the nature of God. And yet amazingly this issue of the salvific potential of other religions was unanimously agreed upon by all of them. And the reason for this appears to be that there were numerous clear and explicit Qur'anic evidences. So clear, in fact, that despite the fact that these groups couldn't agree about the nature of God, they could agree that the only path to God was this religion of Islam. Islam with a capital “I” as we are going to come to. The number of evidences that are quoted in works of theology and especially in books of tafsir.

The number of evidences are so numerous that honestly, many doctoral dissertations could be written on specific individuals. And what I've done for the sake of brevity, is to categorize these evidences under categories. Numbers of verses underneath each category and I'll emphasize the category with some examples of the verses and in fact for every category that I mention, I'll mention only four.

The First Category:

There are literally dozens if not hundreds of verses that support these categories. The first category, verses that suggest the religion of Islam is the only acceptable religion to God. We have heard such verses for the last day and a half.

And of these verses Professor Ramadan quoted them and other speakers as well, “The only religion in the eyes of God is Islam. Whoever who seeks a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him and in the hereafter he shall be of those who are lost”.

Many times we neglect two factors about these verses.

Number one: the context.

Number two: the word itself.

The context: the context of these verses, both of them occur in chapter three. And they discuss chapter three, 'Ali 'Imrān. It discusses Jews and Christians. It criticizes them for their deviations and praises them for their good. In the context of an ahlul kitāb discussion, when God is saying “I am only going to accept Islam”.

In fact, in one of the verses right after this, God says in 3:35 “innad-deena 'indaAllahil-islām” – The religion in the eyes of God is Islam and the only reason that the people of the book differed was because of jealousy. In other words right after saying the only religion is Islam, God criticizes ahlul kitāb. Similarly, in the verse before this, God mentions some of the deviations of the Jews and Christians. These verses have to be looked at the context of where they occur. Additionally, the word itself is a proper noun. The connotation that al-Islam here refers to some type of verbal submission to God actually goes against—in my humble opinion also the opinion of pretty much all of the commentaries of the Qur'an—it goes against the word form.

God is not saying that the religion in the eyes of God is submission – Islam. He is saying “al-Islam” which is alif lam “The Islam” and that only occurs in a proper noun. You cannot have alif lam before a verb. Alif lam means it's a noun. So what is being talked about is a specific, has been called a refined understanding of Islam.

Additionally, there are many other verses which don't have it as explicit, but still have a very clear-cut message, that people have to believe in the message as it exists. In Surah Baqarah:137 once again the verse is directed to Jews and Christians and then it says “So if they believe as you have believed then they shall be guided, but if they turn away they are left in confusion”.

So it's quite clear that the context of the verses has to be taken into account. You cannot cut and paste phrases of the Qur'an and ignore where these phrases occur.

The first was that Islam is the only acceptable religion, there are many verses there.

The Second Category:

The second category of verses are those that suggest a rejection of the prophethood of Muhammad is tantamount to rejection of God. The concept of prophesy is linked to belief and submission to God. One of the central tenants of the Qur'an is that belief in all the prophets of God is a fundamental precondition or at least co-condition, with believing in God.

In more than one verse, Muslims are told we don't make any distinction between the prophets. In over fifty verses, various people throughout history have been criticized because of rejecting the prophets

54:9 “kaththabat qablahum qawmu noohin” – The people of Nuh rejected the prophet. The people of so and so rejected the prophet. In over four verses God's punishment is linked to rejecting the prophet.

34:45 “fakaththaboo rusulee fakayfa kāna nakeer” -They rejected my prophet, see how my punishment was.

So in the number of verses, belief in prophethood is a key condition to accepting God and believing in Him. And yet another verse directed to the people of the book, in the context of our Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him):

In 3:81 there is a reference to a covenant that God took with all of the prophets, that you would believe in any prophet that comes after “latu'minunna bihi wa latansurunna”. So the context here is given, you must believe in every future prophet as that prophet comes.

In the fourth chapter of the Qur'an, once again within the context of ahlul kitāb, there is a verse that in my opinion is one of the most crystal clear of verses and it is not just my position. Actually, I have read over thirty tafsirs specifically regards to these verses and by and large the message is the same.

4:150 God talks about the people of the book and then he says “Those who wish to disbelieve in God and his prophets by trying to separate between God and his prophets and by saying we will believe in some prophets and reject other prophets.”

Now this is not a verse that applies to Hindus, or Buddhists or Atheists. We believe in some prophets and reject in other prophets. The Qur'an quite clearly says “ulāika humul kāfiroona haqqa” 4:151 – These are the people who have really denied.

Once again in chapter 7:155-158 within the context of discussing a very famous Jewish story of them meeting God and the seventy chosen people and those chosen people pray to God and they say “O God forgive us for our sins”. Right after that God says my mercy encompasses everything. A lot of our speakers have quoted this phrase. They kind of forget the very next phrase, therefore I shall write it – “fasa-aktubuhā”. My mercy encompasses everything but I shall write it to those who believe and who give charity and believe in our signs. Those who follow the unlettered prophet whom, they find mention in the Torah and the Injeel and their scriptures. Whoever believes in him and supports him and aids him, they are the ones who are successful.

Once again very clear-cut verse directed to the ahlul kitāb that they must believe in the chosen prophet. And we can go on and one of them is 4:115 “Whoever opposes the messenger after the guidance has been made clear to them and follows a path other than the path of the believers we shall lead him to that which he has chosen and take him to the fire of hell”.

And there are many, many other verses as well. The point being the centrality of believing in the prophet of God is a necessary pre or co-condition along with believing in God.

The Third Category:

The third category of verses: verses that suggest that a rejection of the Qur'an is a rejection of God. Again I don't want to go into so many hundreds, as there are literally hundreds of verses that you must believe in this Qur'an as a revelation from God.

In 2:23-24 God challenges those who deny that this is a book from him and he says “Whoever doesn't believe that this is a book from me produce another chapter or another Qur'an like it and if you don't do so then your punishment will be the fire of hell”. Once again these are verses that are quite clear, quite explicit, quite numerous. Belief in the books is a precondition or co-condition to ultimate faith in God.

The Fourth Category:

The fourth category of verses are verses that criticize the beliefs of other faiths. And we have mentioned quite a few of them in the last day and a half. Numerous verses in the Qur'an criticize the belief of the idolaters, of Christians and of Jews. These are the three primary religious groups that the Qur'an came into contact with. The criticism of Arab paganism is a central thesis to most Makkan revelations. The pagans are castigated not only for their social practices but also for heterodox and superstitious beliefs. It is not just orthodoxy but orthopraxy that the Qur'an wishes for it's people. The pagans are viewed as having strayed from monotheism and as having fallen into unjust social practices.

As for the ahlul kitāb, The view is quite clearly expressed that the ahlul kitāb were legitimate for their time frames. They were rightly guided people unlike the pagans. They had a book, they had a prophet. But over time they deviated and both the Jews and Christians concealed or deviated from the true teachings of the prophet. Hence, the need to reveal a final message through a universal prophet.

The criticism of key Christians doctrines is quite pronounced. Many times these doctrines are described by the verb kafara or the noun kufr which of course is the antonym of īmān. The trinity is described as kufr. Belief in Jesus as the son of God is described as kufr. Worshiping Jesus Christ is described as shirk. And therefore it is no surprise that ahlul kitāb are referenced in the Qur'an as being those who kafarū. The term kuffār or kafarū is used for ahlul kitāb in over five or six verses.

Of them is 2:105 “waddul latheena kafaroo min ahlil katābi walāl mushrikeen”, “The people who have done kufr both of the ahlul kitāb and the pagans do not wish for any good to come to you”.

Of them is 4:89 “waddoo law takfuroona kamā kafaroo”, “They wish that you become kafarū like they have become kafarū”. So the term kufr, and kuffār and kafarū is used for the pagans and it is also used for the ahlul kitāb. Simply because God calls them ahlul kitāb doesn't mean that they are rightly guided. It simply means that they are the best of those who have disbelieved. They have much in common unlike the pagans who have less in common. And this has been the standard and dominant position of Sunnis and Shi'ites and Mu'tazilites and other theological positions that the ahlul kitāb are a category of kuffār and not distinct from the kuffār. And the ahlul kitāb have certain legal privileges that the non ahlul kitāb do not have.

Therefore any interpretation of any phrases or any verses that argues for the theological acceptance of other religions, must take into account the hundreds of verses that mention key critical tenets of the religion. And before we move on I'd like to mention of course that I have completely sidelined the hadeeth literature because it is not possible to formulate a pluralistic interpretation of Islam except by rejecting and neglecting the hadeeth tradition. If you are going to accept the hadeeth tradition, then really it's a new point anyway. In addition to the Qur'anhadeeth we have ignored, there is also ijmā'.

A number of Sunni theologians have unanimously mentioned, including al-Gazali and even in our times al-Qardāwee and others, have unanimously mentioned, that those who follow another religion consciously rejecting Islam, knowing Islam and rejecting it, that's they key of course and we're going to come back to this. Cannot be considered to be guided.

In addition to this there is also a logical evidence that a number of theologians including an-Nasafi have used and it is a simple logical premise and I think the same exists in Christianity. And that is that a claim that more than one religion is simultaneously valid is simply illogical. Because each religion has tenets that would be deemed blasphemous by the other. They can't be all right at once, would be the simplest way of phrasing it.

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About The Author

Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.

40 Responses

  1. Arban Shazan

    Can Four madhabs in sunni Islam be an example of religious pluralism. There are quite contrasting fitwas found in the madhabs. For example a man giving three talaq at a time is deemed divorced in Fiqa Hanfia while in Fiqa shafia he is not divorced. Such couple living together after that would be fornicating according to Fiqa Hanafia but perfectly ok according to fiqa Shafia.It may look to a layman that they can not be correct at the same time but for sunni scholars all the four madhabs are correct. So a thing may be halal and haram at the same time ?

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      This is about tenets of faith and core beliefs. not about social or other aspects of faith.

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  2. Bilkis

    These madhabs differences is very confusing to me. The Hanafi madhab, with backup quotations from hadith and quran, allows a woman to give herself into marriage without wali. Others strongly disagree. Although I would love to go with Hanafi madhab because it does not make much sense to me for a mature adult woman not to be able to give herself away in marriage, I want to make sure I do the right thing if I find myself in such situation. Yes and No can not have the same definition. So which is which?

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    • Umm ZAKAriyya

      We do what is most correct and avoid the gray area , just to be on the safer side.

      Its possible to follow one school for one issue ( such as food ) and another school of thought for another issue ( such as marriage and divorce) .

      Its not confusing at all . When you study what lead to the opinions of different schools of thought, it all makes sense. You begin to appreciate how smart our scholars are/were.

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  3. Rida

    I can’t see the video.
    Also for a balanced presentation, why not include Tariq Ramadan’s presentation as well?

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    • Mahmud

      I haven’t listened to what Tariq Ramadan said, but ANYONE who denies the kufr of non-Muslims after Islam has reached them is HIMSELF a kaffir-and this is the CONSENSUS of the scholars!!!

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  4. Lalalande

    Salamu 3alyekoum,

    Thank you very much for this article. Since its pretty technical for me I decide to stop each time it refered to something i didnt know or understand. Then llearn about it before carrying on.

    So I need guidance please : (I know it s a lot of question so maybe point me towards a good reliable ressource website and i ll do my homework.)

    What does “By and large the Mu’tazilites made takfir of the Ash’arites, the Ash’arites made takfir of the Hanbalites. All of them made takfir of Falasifa and the Batinites, so on and so forth.” mean?
    To make takfir especially ?
    In my dialecte if we say “why takfir ?” we would mean “why are you sinning in a grave way” (like doubting what s actually written in the Coran or make in up verses -_-)

    Full disclosure: I think I don’t agree with what little i know about the bahai-ites, the allouites, the batinites, the ashwiyyaa-ite, the rafawides and allah grant me patience.the wahabite. When i do this am i am i doing something wrong in the eye of Allah ? Also I thought the Ash’arites founders were in line with the Sunnites teaching?

    And please please please! Do not propagate the foolishness of Tariq Ramadan.I am sure there other intellectually honest people out there who can provide us with a different point of view. He is doing enough damage in France. May Allah put him back on the right path.
    May Allah guide us and forgive us all.

    Thanks in advance.

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  5. Riz Khan

    It was a scholarly speech/lecture from Brother Shaykh Yasir Qadhi. It is very simple to understand that if there was salvation available in other religions then there was no need of Islam.

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    • Arban Shazan

      Then what is meant by this (from Qadhi’s speech)
      “You are following a path that will not lead you to God’s mercy, but you as a human being might have perfect qualities. You might have good in you and God might possibly reward you for that good.”
      He is accepting the possibility of salvation for non-muslims. Also the following clear verses from the Holy Quran are very clear.

      “They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer].
      They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous.” Quran 3:113-114

      I don’t think it is ambiguous. And about password; I don’t care but thanks for not changing it.

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      • p4rv3zkh4n

        Sheikh Yasir Qadhi made it very clear based upon verses of the Quran, that anyone who rejects Islam will in general be punished in the hereafter.

        Regarding the verses you quoted about the righteous amongst people of the book, then it may imply that they are those righteous people that were unaware of Islam so its possible for them to get salvation.

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      • Mahmud

        No Araban, he absolutely did not accept that. 3:85 makes it absolutely clear only Muslims can enter Paradise.

        You are taking some ayat out of context and forgetting others.

        By consensus of the scholars, accepting another religion other than Islam is kufr itself.

        So please take the Quran as a whole and not misquoting one or two ayahs.

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      • Reed

        Those who say, “take the Quran as a whole and not misquoting one or two ayahs,” often don’t take the Quran as a whole. What they do is ignore the ayahs that go against their understanding of the Quran. But the logic of going with the majority of ayahs and ignoring the few simply means that one doesn’t understand the Quran.

        If 3:185 were “absolutely clear,” then there would be no need to discuss the “concept of Islam with a small “i” or a religion of Ibrāheem, or a sense of submission.”

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      • p4rv3zkh4n

        The relevant verses used by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi, show that anyone who rejects Islam are susceptible to punishment in the hereafter.

        But other verses in discussion [Quran 3:113-114] indicate that those monotheists who were unaware of Islam; may go to Jannah.

        Anyways Allah is the only Judge.

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      • Mahmud

        “But the logic of going with the majority of ayahs and ignoring the few simply means that one doesn’t understand the Quran.”

        Muslims don’t ignore any ayat in the Quran. We believe all of them. However Perrenialist disbelievers take ayat like 2:62 out of context and disbelieve the remaining ayat of the Quran.

        The consensus of the Ummah is not something you have a right to disagree with Reed. I don’t know how many times I will have to tell you, it is absolute kufr to fail to accept that Islam is the only way to Paradise. The Quran is explicit about the kufr and shirk of the Jews and Christians and their destination in the fire and it is explicit that Islam is the only way to Paradise.,

        The fact that you are confused alongside others as to a few of the ayat does not affect this reality.

        Please do understand.

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      • Reed

        @Mahmud
        By your own words, there are “Perrenialist disbelievers.” So, there is no “consensus of the ummah.”

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      • Mahmud

        Reed-that doesn’t make an iota of sense whatsoever. There is a consensus of the Ummah just like there is a consensus that the sky is blue.

        Perrenialists come in all shapes and forms. Some identify as Muslims. They are not. Their whims do not affect that.

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      • Reed

        Mahmud: If someone disagrees, there is no consensus. All you are saying is that people who disagree with you don’t count. Well, sure, you can get a consensus if you leave out anyone who disagrees with you.

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      • Mahmud

        My dear brother in humanity Reed-someone disagreeing doesn’t make their opinion valid. Up until now the CONSENSUS(not majority-CONSENSUS) among the Muslims was that Islam is the only way to Paradise.

        Why is this consensus important? It’s important because the final Messenger of Allah (S) sent to all of humanity informed us that this Ummah does not agree upon error.

        And of course it’s foolish to think that the Sahaba RA those who followed them and the rest of the Ummah until now were misguided on this issue.

        If someone disagrees with the consensus of the Muslims n this issue, then Reed, AS Imam an-Nawawi made clear, they are NOT MUSLIMS. It’s really that simple.

        Qadi Iyad says:

        الاجماع علی کفر من لم يكفراحدا من النصاری واليهود و کل من فارق دين المسليمن او وقف فی تکفير ھم او شک ، قال القاضی ابو بکر لا ن التوقيف والا جماع اتفقاعلی کفرھم فمن وقف فی ذٰلک فقد کذب النص و التوقيف اوشک فيه، والتکذيب والشک فيه لا يقع الامن کافر

        الشفا ء بتعریف حقوق المصطفٰی 297/2

        There is consensus on the disbelief of the one who does not state disbeliever anyone from the christians or jews and all those who are aloof from the religion of Muslims, or refrains from doing takfir of them (doing takfir is calling someone kafir) or doubts their being kafir. The Qadi Abu Bakr Al-Baqillani said [it is] because explicit primary texts (Quranic verses & ahadith) and the consensus of the ummah (i.e., the sahaba and the scholars) are unanimous on their kufr. Therefore, he who refrains from calling them kafir, is denying the explicit primary texts and consensus, or doubting them. And such denial and/or doubt can only be expressed by a kafir.
        (Ash-Shifa of Qadi Iyad)

        Excerpt from Imam An-Nawawi’s Rawdat At-Taalibeen, Chapter on apostasy:

        وأنه لو قال كان النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم أسود أو توفي قبل أن يلتحي أو قال ليس هو بقرشي فهو كفر لأن وصفه بغير صفته نفي له وتكذيب به وأن من ادعى أن النبوة مكتسبة أو أنه يبلغ بصفاء القلب إلى مرتبتها أو ادعى أنه يوحى إليه وإن لم يدع النبوة أو ادعى أنه يدخل الجنة ويأكل من ثمارها ويعانق الحور فهو كافر بالإجماع قطعا وأن من دافع نص الكتاب أو السنة المقطوع بها المحمول على ظاهره فهو كافر بالإجماع وأن من لم يكفر من دان بغير الإسلام كالنصارى أو شك في تكفيرهم أو صحح مذهبهم فهو كافر وإن أظهر مع ذلك الإسلام واعتقده وكذا يقطع بتكفير كل قائل قولا يتوصل به إلى تضليل الأمة أو تكفير الصحابة وكذا من فعل فعلا أجمع المسلمون أنه لا يصدر إلا من كافر وإن كان صاحبه مصرحا بالإسلام مع فعله كالسجود للصليب أو النار والمشي إلى الكنائس مع أهلها بزيهم من الزنانير وغيرها وكذا من أنكر مكة أو البيت أو المسجد الحرام أو صفة الحج وأنه ليس على هذه الهيئة المعروفة أو قال لا أدري أن هذه المسماة بمكة هي مكة أم غيرها فكل هذا أو شبهه لا شك في تكفير قائله إن كان ممن يظن به علم ذلك ومن طالت صحبته المسلمين فإن كان قريب عهد بإسلام أو بمخالطة المسلمين عرفناه ذلك ولا يعذر بعد العريف وكذا من غير شيئا من القرآن أو قال ليس بمعجز أو قال ليس في خلق السماوات والأرض دلالة على الله تعالى أو أنكر الجنة أو النار أو البعث أو الحساب أو اعترف بذلك ولكن قال المراد بالجنة والنار والبعث أو الحساب أو اعترف بذلك ولكن قال المراد بالجنة والنار والبعث والنشور والثواب والعقاب غير معانيها أو قال الأئمة أفضل من الأنبياء

        (……….And the one who does not declare kafir the ones who profess a deen (religion) other than Islam, such as the christians, or doubts in the takfeer (declaring kafir) of such people, or authenticates [or praises] their religion, he is a kafir even if he displays Islam alongside this [filthy belief] or [claims & shows he] believes in it; and likewise takfeer certainly applies on everyone who says things that imply towards stating that the entire ummah is misguided or [a person doing] takfeer (declaring kafirs) of the sahaba……)

        Do read and reread these statements to understand that this issue is as black and white as night and day!!!

        Thank you for your time Reed.

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      • Reed

        @Mahmud “ummah (i.e., the sahaba and the scholars)”

        Since when did “ummah” equal “the sahaba and the scholars”?

        I suppose if people can change or restrict the original meaning of the word “ummah”, then they can claim “consensus,” but as I pointed out previously, there are Muslims who disagree. Consequently, all that is being said is, Those who don’t agree with my group aren’t Muslims and so their opinion doesn’t count.

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      • Mahmud

        Arban, your misinterpretation of those ayat is so egregious, you would literally be executed under a land of Islam governed by believers because what you have said is actually kufr itself. If you continued to hold on to this misinterpretation, the Sahaba themselves would have had you executed for apostasy.

        PLEASE, for the sake of your own soul, LOOK UP the tafsir of those ayat and take the Quran as a WHOLE.

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  6. Rezk

    How can the Ash’arites make takfir on the Hanbalites when you can be an Ash’ari and Hanbali at the same time? Ash’ari has to do with theology, Hanbali with law.

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    • Parvez Khan

      Hanbali was not just about fiqh law. Ahmad ibn Hanbal also preached Islamic theology and so did Ibn Taymiya and other hanbali scholars.

      If you read Sheikh Yasir Qadhi’s book – “Introduction to Sciences of the Quran” there are some pages refuting the ashari creed regarding the Speech of Allah.

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  7. Reed

    I cannot find where I read this, but Imam Al-Ghazali stated that just as the understanding of the scholars was greater than that of laymen, so, too, was the understanding of Sufis greater than that of scholars. Something similar is in his “Deliverance from Error”:

    “I learned from a sure source that the Sufis are the true pioneers on the path of God; that there is nothing more beautiful than their life, nor more praiseworthy than their rule of conduct, nor purer than their morality. The intelligence of thinkers, the wisdom of philosophers, the knowledge of the most learned doctors of the law would in vain combine their efforts in order to modify or improve their doctrine and morals; it would be impossible.”

    From Imam Ghazali’s perspective, one might say that s/he doesn’t understand how the Sufis came to their position that “anyone who had a genuine love of the divine was on the correct path regardless of a specific religion.” However, one shouldn’t dismiss their position because they don’t use one’s accepted method of reasoning.

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    • O H

      It is important to properly define what constitutes sufism and who maybe considered sufi? The belief and actions are more important than labels. It is what determines the credibility/correctness of a thing.

      Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah (may Allaah have mercy on him) said: “The words al-faqr and al-tasawwuf (i.e., Sufism) may include some things that are loved by Allaah and His Messenger, and these are things that are enjoined even if they are called faqr or tasawwuf, because the Qur’aan and Sunnah indicate that they are mustahabb and that is not altered if they called by other names. That also includes actions of the heart such as repentance and patience. And it may include things that are hated by Allaah and His Messenger, such as some kinds of belief in incarnation and pantheism, or monasticism that has been innovated in Islam, or things that go against sharee’ah and have been innovated, and so on. These things are forbidden no matter what names they are given… And it may include limiting oneself to a certain style of clothing or certain customs, ways of speaking and behaving, in such a way that anyone who goes beyond it is regarded as an outsider, although this is not something that has been stipulated in the Qur’aan or Sunnah; rather it may be something that is permissible or it may be something that is makrooh, and this is a bid’ah that is forbidden. This is not the way of the friends of Allaah (awliya’ Allaah); such things are innovations and misguidance that exists among those who claim to follow the Sufi path. Similarly, among those who claim to be servants of knowledge there are innovations that involve beliefs and words that go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah, using phrases and terminology that have no basis in sharee’ah. Many such things happen among those people.

      The wise believer agrees with all people in that in which they are in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah and obey Allaah and His Messenger, but he does not agree with that in which they go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah and disobey Allaah and His Messenger. He accepts from every group that which was taught by the Messenger… when a person seeks the truth and justice, based on knowledge, he is one of the successful friends of Allaah and His victorious party…

      Al-Fataawa, 11/280-290.

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      • Reed

        “It is important to properly define what constitutes sufism and who maybe considered sufi? The belief and actions are more important than labels. It is what determines the credibility/correctness of a thing.”

        Definitely. No doubt, many, if not most, people who claim to be Sufis aren’t. But there’s no gainsaying the status of Ibn ‘Arabi or Al-Rumi.

        And definitely this:

        “The wise believer agrees with all people in that in which they are in accordance with the Qur’aan and Sunnah and obey Allaah and His Messenger, but he does not agree with that in which they go against the Qur’aan and Sunnah and disobey Allaah and His Messenger. He accepts from every group that which was taught by the Messenger… when a person seeks the truth and justice, based on knowledge, he is one of the successful friends of Allaah and His victorious party…”

        Although I wasn’t quite sure where you were coming from with the long quotation, I tied it into Shaykh Qadhi’s dismissal of a Sufi position and note that he doesn’t give any evidence that the Sufis he mentions went against the Qur’an and Sunnah. Instead, he states that they didn’t quote the Qur’an and concludes,

        “That the truth was found beyond the Qur’an simply trumped the very usage of the Qur’an.”

        To be fair, this short lecture can’t go into great detail. Even so, it’s not clear how that conclusion follows from a lack of citing the Qur’an. One could also conclude that the Sufis interpreted the Qur’an differently from the scholars and simply didn’t want to wrangle over interpretations, as argument often undermines one’s development as a human being and drawing closer to Allah (swt).

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    • Mahmud

      Reed, any beliefs that another religion other than Islam is acceptable is kufr itself and a denial of Allah’s ayat and anyone who holds these beliefs is himself a kaffir. As a Muslim, I dismiss ALL kufri beliefs and anyone who holds them.

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      • Reed

        I haven’t seen anywhere in this conversation that someone has denied Allah’s (swt) ayats. Instead, it’s a conversation about the interpretation of the Qur’an. So, some may deny the majority position’s interpretation of the Qur’an, but that doesn’t mean that they deny the Qur’an.

        It’s a requirement of all human beings to seek truth. This conversation is about whose interpretation is closer to the truth. It’s important to continually question the interpretations we’ve encountered. Otherwise, instead of seeking truth, all we have is seeking the comfort of social conditioning.

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      • Mahmud

        Reed-it absolutely does not matter if someone claims he’s believing all of the ayat of Allah aza wa jal when he is not.

        If anyone is claiming a deen other than Islam is acceptable, he is a disbeliever because he disbelieved Allah and His ayat whether he uses some distorted interpretation of those ayat or not.

        Please understand, this kufr interpretation of ayat is not something you are anyone else has a right to. No one has a right to be a kaffir. This is not a valid difference in agreement. This is Islam and kufr.

        Islam IS the only way to paradise and anyone who fails to enter Islam after it comes to him is a disbeliever who will be in the fire of Jahannam forever. This is the explicit truth and no amount of denying it will make anyone’s kufr valid. Kufr will remain kufr.

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  8. Sarah

    Salaam… I am not a theologian nor an academic, but my understanding on this issue has improved almost 100% after reading the transcript (and then watching the video). Usually, a mental exercise on this topic leads to either complete heartbreak or a decision to bar further thought. I am fully satisfied to know that the final judgement lies with Allah, even though the Straight Path (to Salvation) has been clearly defined in the Quran and Sunnah. However, I think you can elaborate on a response to Rev. Madigan’s question – because that is the point that is still nagging me.

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    • Mahmud

      Allah judged disbelievers pretty harshly-read Surah al Ahzab. He promised them the fire of Jahannam forever.

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  9. Omar Ibrahim

    The one Jew’s question and Sheikh Yasir’s silencing response, I think, summarize all you really need to say about “salvific exclusivity”… at least for now… with out a clear paradigm for interpretation of doctrine we’re all at a loss.. during the time of the prophet (upon him be peace) there was just the one.. as time went on, however, fragmentation became the norm. In my opinion there is no way to shut out all “schools of thought”, as it were, because not a single one of them can be considered pure enough any more.. what I believe we can do, on the other hand, so to speak, is consider the two extremes we have.. call them inclusivity and exclusivity, if you like, I would call them something else.. but what is important is that interpretation from these two standpoints are all we have to work with now…

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  10. Yamaan

    JAk for the thoughtful article and wide introduction to the topic.

    I know this was a speech that was probably transcribed later, but there were probably 10+ errors in the written article, which I felt detracted slightly from the article. I hope an editor is able to take another look at it.

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  11. Chaplain Zain

    I wrote this on YQ’s FB wall because people were a little hostile towards him on that response. So forgive me if th efollowing sounds hostile. It was meant for the people on FB

    “For those of you disappointed in YQ’s response to the Rev.

    1) It was a little unfair question to ask in an academic setting. YQ was there to discuss his academic view NOT proselytize (Even though he used some proselytizing language and I really don’t like what he said about academia.)

    2) If you think YQ’s answer falls short. YOU guys try to answer it. It is a deeply PERSONAL question. A shaykh cannot just GIVE you that answer. EACH person needs to answer that question for themselves.

    3) Are your reasons for believing in the Quran ‘better’ than anyone else’s?”

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  12. Khadijah

    Ma sha’ Allah, SubhaanAllah, Alhamdulillah. Just brilliant, so clearly explained with various arguments from al-Quraan & logic. May Allah keep us on the Straight Path.

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  13. Reed

    “They simply understood that any interpretation derived from this one verse had to be in accordance with the basic message and theme and of hundreds of other verses in the Qur’an.”

    In other words, if they don’t understand how a verse or two accords with “hundreds of other verses in the Qur’an,” they don’t find it “problematic” to distort the literal meaning so that they can harmonize it according to their own biases. For my part, if Allah (swt) is beyond comparison and full comprehension, then it’s not a problem that how some verses fit with other verses is beyond full comprehension.

    On “Now the problem that I see with this understanding is that the Qur’an itself defines that submission to the will of God. And it includes a submission to key tenets that God states we must believe in. In particular, belief in monotheism, belief in the prophets, the books, the angels and the day of judgement.”

    There actually are people who believe in these tenets without belonging to capital “I” islam. There are likely some who accept Muhammad (pbuh) as a prophet. They submit to Allah (swt) but not to the scholars’ framework of roadblocks to that submission.

    I imagine that there can be others who just aren’t certain of Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) status as a prophet. This might be similar to a Muslim who accepts that prophets and messengers were sent to every nation, but if asked if a specific person (they had never heard of or knew about) sent to a particular nation was a prophet, would say, I don’t know. I suppose if you say that these Muslims are committing kufr, then the logic would be consistent.

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    • Mahmud

      2:62 Salman told the Prophet ﷺ about those Christians and what he had seen of their works, and he replied, “They did not die upon Islam.” Salman said, “The whole earth darkened around me,” and he recounted their spiritual rigors. Then this verse was revealed, so the Prophet ﷺ summoned Salman and told him, “This verse has been revealed about your companions.” Then he added, “Whoever dies upon the religion of Jesus and in submission [literally. “upon Islam”] before he hears of me is in goodly state. But whoever hears of me today and does not believe in me has perished,” (Tabari, 1.323).

      There are a number of ahadith on this, and I advice you to check it out.

      As Ibn Kathir explains:

      “`Ali bin Abi Talhah narrated from Ibn `Abbas, about,

      ﴿إِنَّ الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَـرَى وَالصَّـبِئِينَ مَنْ ءَامَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الاٌّخِرِ﴾

      (Verily, those who believe and those who are Jews and Christians, and Sabians, whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day) that Allah revealed the following Ayah afterwards,

      ﴿وَمَن يَبْتَغِ غَيْرَ الإِسْلَـمِ دِينًا فَلَن يُقْبَلَ مِنْهُ وَهُوَ فِى الاٌّخِرَةِ مِنَ الْخَـسِرِينَ ﴾

      (And whoever seeks religion other than Islam, it will never be accepted of him, and in the Hereafter he will be one of the losers) (3:85).

      This statement by Ibn `Abbas indicates that Allah does not accept any deed or work from anyone, unless it conforms to the Law of Muhammad that is, after Allah sent Muhammad . Before that, every person who followed the guidance of his own Prophet was on the correct path, following the correct guidance and was saved.”

      Therefore, as Allah and His Messenger have explained, Islam is the ONLY way to Paradise. 2:62 refers to the Jews and Christians BEFORE the final Messenger of Allah SAW.

      The capital and small letter I thing in Islam is a modern day deviation made by disbelievers. Has nothing to do with Islam. The Lord was merciful enough to us to make the plain meaning of the Quran clear so that we do not need to resort to such pathetic linguistic arm wrestling. 2:62 clearly refers to the Muslims before the final Messenger SAW-if we take the context of the ayah, it makes it clear. Man Amana billahi(whoever BELIEVED in Allah. Whoever, Jew or Christian or otherwise today fails to enter Islam, he has disbelieved Allah just like the Perrenialists who claim deens other than Islam are acceptable.

      And if anyone claims 3:85 is not clear, then they ought to be confused as to whether God exists in the first place.

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  14. Sunny Salman Jamil

    The subtitle of the article says the following:
    “The following is the video and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture “Salafivic Exclusivity.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.”

    Notice the typo saying “Salafivic” in place of “Salvific”. :-p

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  15. Mahmud

    This matter is so severe even a Bedouin was told to give glad tidings to a disbeliever of the fire when he is dead. We should follow the Sunnah of an-Nabi S and the Sahaba RA and declare disbelievers as disbelievers and also know full well that if a disbeliever dies, he is headed to the fire and will be imprisoned there forever and ever.

    Sa’d ibn Abi Waqqaas said: “A Bedouin came to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) and said, ‘My father used to uphold the ties of kinship, and so on and so forth – where is he now?’ He said, ‘In Hell.’ The Bedouin got upset and said, ‘O Messenger of Allaah, where is your father?’ He said, ‘Whenever you pass by the grave of a kaafir, give him the tidings of Hell.’ The Bedouin later became a Muslim, and he said, ‘The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) gave me a difficult commission. Whenever I pass by the grave of a kaafir, I give him the tidings of Hell.”’”
    (Narrated by al-Tabaraani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabeer, 1/191; Ibn al-Sunni in ‘Aml al-Yawm wa’l-Laylah, 588; al-Diyaa’ al-Maqdisi in al-Ahaadeeth al-Mukhtaarah, with a saheeh isnaad. Al-Haythami (1/117-118) said: it was narrated by al-Bazzaar and by al-Tabaraani in al-Kabeer, and the men of its isnaad are sound).

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  16. Salman

    Please listen to this talk given by Yasir Qadhi. The question starts at 53:35 and I will paraphrase it below. The link is – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3iQ3NUExUc

    Questioner: “The question that remains in my mind though is the circularity of authority. Every religious tradition is in this position. If you say as you do, the Qur’an says that the Qur’an is authoritative, and the prophet who was delivering the Qur’an says that you must believe in this prophet. There is no solid ground to base that on. It’s an existential decision one has to make to read this text that makes claim for himself, to choose the prophet who claims for himself. It comes down to a fundamental choice of what kind of message do you want to hear or credit as being the divine message. My question is why do you privilege this text and what does the privileging of this text entail in terms of existential decision”

    Ans by Yasir Qadhi – “ Why do I personally believe in this message? When you hear the Qur’an being recited, I just know that this is the word of God. It moves me in a way that nothing being created can move me. At the end of the day, that is my reason. At the end of the day, I have my doubts. I am theologian and my students might be shocked when I say this – of course we all have doubts, we all are humans and I will be the first to say that.

    Keeping the above answer in mind by Yasir Qadhi, think about the pastor in the church across the house. Reading Bible moves him in a way that nothing else does.
    Now how can you reconcile this while maintaining that your experience of being moved, awestruck by the Qur’an is better than the pastor’s ? What’s the benchmark used here or is there a benchmark ? Answer is that the matter is far from settled. Everyone is trying their best to secure the truth. If the truth was clear cut, then there would be only one religion.

    After citing all those evidences, Yasir Qadhi is giving a personal opinion. Why would an unbiased outsider value Yasir Qadhi’s personal opinion over the Christian, Jew etc. who is equally moved and passionate about his/her religion ? Personal opinion is just what is says, personal opinion.

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