Is resorting to man-made laws heretical?
This is an utterly fabricated misstatement on behalf of Sunnis, which arises from their ignorance or malicious intent, we ask Allah for guidance. This is a very serious matter, since sedition and bloodshed arise the moment people shamelessly accuse their rulers of heresy. Sadly, these prejudices cling even to false statements made on some forums discussing Ibn Taymiyyah’s words (or rather, some of his words taken out of context) and have been quoted erroneously merely to serve their malignant ulterior motives. One fabricated quote is as follows: ‘Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah said “And whoever regards the forbidden permissible, and the permissible forbidden, and alters Sharia is an infidel.”‘
We may respond to this intentionally misinterpreted quote as follows: Firstly, Ibn Taymiyyah’s quoted words are taken out of the context of the greater sentence and paragraph. For here is his complete statement: ‘…And whoever regards the forbidden permissible, and the permissible forbidden, and alters Sharia is an infidel and an apostate by the agreement of scholars, Allah said: “Whoever judges not by that which Allah hath revealed: such are disbelievers” [Al Maeda: 44]; meaning: “the one legitimizing and permitting the rule with other than what has been revealed by God”.’ ‘Fatwa Collections’ (3/267). Yet the deluders of truth deleted the most important sentence in this issue, which begins: ‘meaning: “the one legitimizing and permitting the rule with other than what has been revealed by Allah…’ which shows that Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy on him, necessitated legitimization to convert the heretics from small shirk to (the original) major shirk.
Secondly, the term ‘alteration’ was defined by scholars as ‘judgment with other than what God has revealed as if it is God’s supreme law’, and Ibn al-Arabi said in ‘Quran’s Verdicts’ (2/624): ‘If he rules with other than what Allah has revealed and regards it as Allah’s Sharia, then this is an alteration that contributes to heresy’. Had they mentioned Ibn Taymiyyah’s completed statement, they would have clearly comprehended it, for in the later lines his words are crystal clear: ‘Altered Sharia is lying about Allah and His Messenger, or to people with false testimony and obvious injustice, thus he who says, “this is Allah’s sharia” is a heretic without any doubt’. However, rulers haven’t altered Allah’s law with their current man-mad laws, since they never considered it divine in the first place, let alone Allah’s Sharia. They openly declare that these laws are the product of human minds, be it British or French. Thus, from the previous two aspects, Ibn Taymiyyah ‘s words have become an argument against them rather than evidence to support them.
Thirdly, there is an explicit statement by Ibn Taymiyya where he says, ‘He is without any doubt an infidel, whoever believes that ruling with Allah’s sharia is not obligatory. Thus, whoever judges between people with his own whimsical legislations without following what Allah has revealed, and permits it, is a heretic. For all nations demand justice, yet many of the so called Islamists rule with their habitual laws, such as nomadic laws (their predecessors’ habits) and they were the princes that people must pledge alliance to, and believed that this is what should be judged with, instead of Quran and sunnah. Hence, many people converted to Islam, but only ruled with their habitual laws, so if they then legitimized and permitted judgment with other than Allah’s sharia, they are then considered heretics.’ (extract from Methodology of the Prophetic Way).
Thus, Ibn Taymiyyah required made it a condition that one’s alleged legitimization of a prohibition or the like be entirely clear prior to rebuke. He said, ‘He who believes that ruling with Allah’s sharia is not obligatory is undoubtedly an infidel. Thus, whoever judges between people with his own whimsical legislations without following what Allah has revealed, and permits it, is a heretic’.
Forth, we accept the argument that Ibn Taymiyyah claimed that just ruling with other than Allah’s Sharia is major shirk (for those who openly denied that God’s law is necessary or absolute). Furthermore, the statement being misconceived by radicals does not change the fact that the apparent disagreement that is evident in the issue of judging with man-made laws is considered one of the most controversial issues among scholars.
Importantly, the ones who considered the judgment with man-made laws disbelief, didn’t accuse rulers of heresy, as there is a difference between the type (the act) and the designated (the action). Hence, we can’t regard all who fall into kufr as disbelievers, that is, not until they meet all the conditions. These conditions include the establishment of proof and removal of suspicion, for it may be that one has ignorantly fallen into heresy, and if so he then doesn’t meet the conditions to be classified as a disbeliever. The evidence for this is as follows:
There is a rigorously authenticated tradition that tells the story of a man who thought that Allah was unable to summon him after he dies and has his ashes scattered. Implicitly, this is a denial of the resurrection. Thus, although he held a belief which is considered as deviant or heretical from the Muslims’ perspective (for even Jews and Christians believe in Allah’s capability and have certainty in the resurrection), Allah forgave him. Ibn Taymiyyah –commented about this in his ‘Collection of Fatwas’ (11/409):
‘This man thought that Allah was unable to resurrect his remains if they were scattered; and thus he denied Allah’s ability to resurrect human beings, and this is heresy. Yet he nevertheless had his faith in Allah and his faith in His command and fear of it, however ignorant he may have been, and so Allah forgave him. The Hadith stressed the fact that this man hoped that Allah would not resurrect him, even though such a belief is considered heretical. (Since it is a Prophetic proof and part of doctrine of belief.) For further important commentary, see Ibn Taymiyyah (11 / 411-413) on what Aisha said to the Prophet, peace be upon him, on the story of his asking forgiveness for the people of Baqi: “Does Allah know what is concealed in the hearts of mankind?”…’