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Causes that Lead to Apostasy

by Ali Al-Timimi, Published in The Friday Report, Dar Makkah, August-September 1994

Knowing the meaning of our testimony of faith is necessary but not sufficient. One should also know the causes that may lead a person to revoke this testimony. In other words, one should know the causes that lead to apostasy from the religion of Islam. Among the more prevalent causes of apostasy in our times:

To Associate Others with Allah or “Shirk”

The first cause of apostasy is to commit shirk. Allah said (4:48): “Allah forgives not that partners should be set up with Him in worship, but He forgives anything else to whomsoever He pleases, and whoever sets up partner with Allah in worship, he has indeed forged a mighty sin.”

And He said (5:72): “Verily, whosoever associates with Allah anything, for him Allah has forbidden Paradise, and the Fire will be his abode; and the wrongdoers shall have no helpers.”

There are four types of Shirk:
Shirk through one’s prayers (See 29:65)
Shirk through one’s intent in his acts of worship (See 11:15-16)
Shirk through one’s obedience (See 9:31)
Shirk through one’s love (See 2:165)

The fourth type of shirk is explained by Allah’s statement (See 9:24): “Say (to them O Muhammad, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam): ‘If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, your possessions that you have gained, commerce you fear may slacken, and dwellings you love, if these are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger (Muhammad), and to struggle in His Way, then wait until Allah brings about His Command (Punishment). And Allah guides not the wrong-doing people.'”

To Deny the Finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad, sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam

The second cause of apostasy is denial of finality of Prophethood with the Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam. Whoever claims Prophethood or believes the claim of a false prophet has left the fold of Islam. For example, in our times, those who believe the claims of prophethood of Ghulam Ahmad, Elijah Poole, or Rashad Khalifa have left the fold of Islam.

To Deny the Binding Nature of the Sunnah

The third cause of apostasy is denial of the Sunnah. For example, those who claim that Islam is only the Qur’an have left the fold of Islam.

To Judge by Other than Sharia

The fourth cause of apostasy is to judge by other than the sharia that Allah sent down to the Prophet Muhammad, sallallaahu `alaihi wa sallam. For example those who believe that the systems and laws devised by men are better than the sharia, or that it is permissible to judge by other than the sharia even if one does not believe that judgment to be better than that of the sharia, or that Islam should be restricted to the private relationship between an individual and His Lord without entering into the other aspects of life.

To Ridicule Any Aspect of Islam

The fifth cause of apostasy is to ridicule or make fun of any aspect of Islam, its rewards or punishments.

Allah said (S9 A65-66): “And if you (O Muhammad) question them, they (the hypocrites) will say: “We were only talking idly and jesting.” Say (to them o Muhammad), “What, then were you mocking Allah and His Signs and His Messenger. Make no excuse you have disbelieved after you have believed.”

To Hate Any Aspect of Islam

The sixth cause of apostasy is to hate any aspect of Islam.

Allah said: (S47 A9): “That is because they have been averse to what Allah has sent down, so He has made their deeds to fail.”

To Perform or to be Pleased with Sorcery

The seventh cause of apostasy is to perform sorcery or to be pleased with the performance of sorcery like bringing a man and a woman to love or hate one another.

Allah said (S2 A102): “The devils disbelieved, they teach people sorcery.”

To Believe that One May Obtain Salvation by Following Other than the Sharia of the Prophet

The eighth cause of apostasy is to believe that one may obtain salvation by following other than the religion of Islam or by refusing to cal the infidels, like the Jews and Christians, infidels, or to doubt their unbelief, or to say their religion is still correct.

Allah said: “The true religion with Allah is Islam.” (S3 A19)

Whoever desires a religion other than Islam, it shall not be accepted of him and in the Hereafter he shall be among the losers.” (S33 A85)

And they say, “Be Jews or Christians then you shall be guided.” Say: “Nay, rather the religion of Abraham, a man of pure faith, and he was not of idolaters.”” (S2 A135)

The Prophet has said: “By Him in Whose Hand Muhammad’s soul is, anyone of this community, Jew or Christian, who hears of me and then dies without believing in me, will be among the inhabitants of the Hellfire.” [Muslim]

To Turn Away from Islam by Neither Learning nor Acting Upon its Teachings

The ninth cause of apostasy is to turn away from the religion of Islam by neither learning it or acting upon it.

Allah said (S32 A22): “And who does greater evil than he who is reminded of the signs of His Lord, then turns away from them? We shall take vengeance upon the criminals.”

May Allah keep us upon the testimony “There is no god (worthy of worship) but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah” in this world and reward us full for it in the Hereafter.

Allah said (S14 A27): “Allah confirms those who believe with the firm word (la ilaha ill Allah), in the present life and in the Hereafter; and Allah leads astray the evil-doers. And Allah does what He will.”

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