A Profound Word Concerning the Types and General Rules of Boycotting

Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah

Who is it obligatory to hate, or to boycott, or are both of these actions done for Allāh the Exalted? And what is stipulated from conditions upon the one who is hating or boycotting for the sake of Allāh the Exalted? Taken from the speech of Ibn Taymiyyah, with annotations by Shaykh Khālid al-Ẓufayrī.
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Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah (d.728H) – raḥimahullaah – was asked,1
“Who is it obligatory to hate, or to boycott, or are both of these actions done for Allāh the Exalted? And what is stipulated from conditions upon the one who is hating or boycotting for the sake of Allāh the Exalted? And does the abandonment of greetings (salaam) enter into the boycotting, or not? And if the one being boycotted greets the boycotter, is it obligatory upon him to respond? And does the hatred and boycotting for the sake of Allāh the Exalted continue until it is determined that the attribute due to which he is being hated and boycotted for has been removed; or is there a set time for that? So if there is a set time for that, then what is its limit? Will you give us a rewardable fatwaa?

So he – raḥimahullaah – answered,

“The Sharīʿah legislated boycotting is of two types:

  1. Firstly, with the meaning of abandoning the evils
  2. Secondly, with the meaning of punishing them (the ones being boycotted)
Shaykh al-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah

So the first is mentioned in the statement of Allāh the Exalted,

وَإِذَا رَأَيْتَ الَّذِينَ يَخُوضُونَ فِي آيَاتِنَا فَأَعْرِضْ عَنْهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ وَإِمَّا يُنسِيَنَّكَ الشَّيْطَانُ فَلَا تَقْعُدْ بَعْدَ الذِّكْرَىٰ مَعَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ ‎﴿٦٨﴾‏

“And when you see those who engage in false conversation about Our āyāt by mocking at them, then stay away from them until they turn to another topic. And if Shayṭān causes you to forget, then after the remembrance sit not you in the company of those people who are the transgressors.”
[al-Anʿām, 6:68]

And Allāh the Exalted said,

وَقَدْ نَزَّلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الْكِتَابِ أَنْ إِذَا سَمِعْتُمْ آيَاتِ اللَّهِ يُكْفَرُ بِهَا وَيُسْتَهْزَأُ بِهَا فَلَا تَقْعُدُوا مَعَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَخُوضُوا فِي حَدِيثٍ غَيْرِهِ ۚ إِنَّكُمْ إِذًا مِّثْلُهُمْ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ جَامِعُ الْمُنَافِقِينَ وَالْكَافِرِينَ فِي جَهَنَّمَ جَمِيعًا ‎﴿١٤٠﴾‏

“And it has already been revealed to you in the Book that when you hear the āyāt of Allāh being denied and mocked at, then sit not with them, until they engage in a talk other than that; certainly in that case you would be like them.”
[al-Nisāʾ, 4:140]

So it is desired by this that he does not see the evils without need, such as people who drink wine and he sits with them, or a people who invite others to a banquet where there are intoxicants and wind instruments. He must not answer the invitation from the likes of these people, contrary to those who attend so that they can oppose their evils, or those who attend against their choice. Due to this, it is said, ‘The one who is present for an evil is like the one who does it.’ And there occurs in the ḥadīth, “Whosoever believes in Allāh and the Last Day, then let him not sit at the table of those who are drinking wine.”2 So this type of boycotting is what the person does to save himself from evils, as the Prophet (ﷺ) said, “The mujāhir is the one who leaves off whatever Allāh has prohibited.”3

And it is from the angle that the migration (hijrah) from the land of disbelief and corruption to the land of Islām and īmān is established. So this is the boycotting done by the one who lives in between two disbelievers or hypocrites who do not allow him to do what Allāh has commanded. From this is the statement of Allāh the Exalted,

وَالرُّجْزَ فَاهْجُرْ ‎﴿٥﴾

“And keep away from the idols.”
[al-Muddathir, 74:5]

The second type is boycotting from the angle of discipline. This type of boycotting is for one who openly displays evils, he is to be boycotted until he repents from them. This is like when the Prophet (ﷺ) and the Muslims boycotted the three who had remained behind, until Allāh revealed their repentance, when it became apparent from them that they had left off the jihād for their enjoyment and without due excuse.4 And the one who openly displays goodness is not to be boycotted. And if he is a hypocrite, then the boycott will be a form of rebuke (taʿzīr).

And the rebuke is for the one from whom it has become apparent that he has left off the obligations and committed the unlawful deeds, such as the one who abandons the Prayer and the zakāt (obligatory alms), or he openly displays acts of transgression and obscenity. And rebuke is for the one who calls to innovations that oppose the Book and the Sunnah and the ijmāʿ (consensus) of the Salaf from which it has become apparent that these are
innovations.

So this, in reality, is the statement of one who is from the Salaf and the Scholars, he said, ‘The testimony of the callers to innovation is not accepted, nor is it permissible to pray behind them, nor is knowledge to be taken from them, nor are they to be married.’ So this is their punishment until they desist. Due to this, they would differentiate between the caller and the non-caller, because the caller openly displays evils. So therefore he is deserving of punishment, contrary to the one who conceals his innovation. So he is not more dangerous than the hypocrites whose outward appearance would be accepted by the Prophet (ﷺ), yet he would entrust their secrets to Allāh, even though he knew of many of their conditions. Due to this, there occurs in the ḥadīth, “When people see an evil, yet they do not change it, then Allāh will overtake them with a punishment from Him.”5 So it is obligatory to oppose the open and apparent evils, as opposed to the secret ones, since its punishment is specific to the one who does it.

So this type of boycotting differs in accordance to the strengths, weaknesses, scarcity and abundance of the ones doing the boycotting. So if the intended purpose is to restrain and punish the one being boycotted, and to bring  back to common-folk from the likes of his condition,6 then if the benefit in that is preponderant in terms of this boycott weakening and lightening the evil, then it becomes legislated by the Sharīʿah. And if the one being boycotted and those with him will not be prevented by that, rather they will increase in their evil, and the boycotter is weak, such that the harm will be preponderant over the benefit, then it is not prescribed by the Sharīʿah. Rather, unity is better for some of the people than boycotting.

And boycotting is more beneficial for some of the people than uniting.7 And due to this, the Prophet (ﷺ) united with some people and boycotted others. For example, the three who remained behind were better than many of those whose hearts remained united. And when they were followers in their outward signs, then the religious benefit was in uniting their hearts.8 So these ones were believers and there were many other believers besides them, so the honour of the Religion9 was in boycotting them and purifying them from their sins. This is like what is legislated concerning the enemy: to fight him sometimes, to negotiate a truce with him sometimes and to collect a jizyah (unbeliever’s tax) from him sometimes. All of that is done in accordance to the conditions and benefits.

And the answer of the Imāms, such as Ahmad and other than him in this angle is built upon this aṣl (basic principle). And due to this, there is a difference between the various places10 where the innovations are abundant, like the (innovation of) Qadr was abundant in al-Basrah and al-tajahhum (the innovation of the Jahmiyyah)11 was abundant in Khurasān and al-tashayyuʿ (the innovation of the Shīʿah)12 was abundant in al-Kūfah, and there is a
difference in places where this is not the case. And there is a difference between the Imāms who follow the Sunnah and other than them.13 So when the intended purpose of the Sharīʿah becomes known, then the shortest path to attaining it must be traversed.14

So once this has become known, then the Sharīʿah legislated boycotting is from the affairs that were commanded by Allāh and His Messenger (ﷺ). So there is no doubt that obedience is to be done sincerely for Allāh, and that is must be in conformity to His command. So it will be correct when it is done sincerely for Allāh. So whosoever boycotts due to his own desire, or he performs a boycott that he is not commanded with, then he will have gone outside of all this. And how many actions there are that the people perform due to their desires, thinking that these actions constitute obedience to Allāh?15

Fortunately for the person, boycotting is not permitted for more than three days, as occurs in the Ṣaḥīḥayn from the Prophet (ﷺ) that he said, “It is not lawful for a Muslim to boycott his brother for more than three days, such that they meet and this one turns away from that one. And the better of them is the one who initiates the greeting.”16 So this type of boycott is not permitted for more than three days, and there occurs in the Ṣaḥīḥayn from the Prophet (ﷺ) that he said, ‘The doors of Paradise are opened every Monday and Thursday. So every servant who has not committed Shirk with Allāh is forgiven, except for a man who holds a grudge against his brother. So it is said, ‘These two shall be made to wait until they reconcile.”17 So this type of boycott which violates the right of the person is unlawful (ḥarām). It is only permitted in some cases, such as the permission for the husband to boycott his wives with regards to the bed if they are disobedient, and it is permitted to boycott for three days.

So it is befitting to differentiate between the boycott for the sake of Allāh and the boycott for the sake of oneself. So the first one is commanded by Allāh, and the second one is prohibited by Allāh, because the Believers are brothers. Indeed, the Prophet (ﷺ) said in an authentic ḥadīth, “Do not cut off one another, do not despair of one another, do not become angry with one another and do not become jealous of one another, and be worshippers of Allāh and brothers. The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim.”18 And the Prophet (ﷺ) said in a ḥadīth that is related in the Sunan, “Should I not inform you of the greatest level of Prayer, fasting, charity, enjoining the good and prohibiting the evil?” They said, “Of course O Messenger of Allāh!” He said, “Reconcile the difference between you and your brother, since it is the shaver. I do not say the shaver of the hair, but the shaver of the Religion.”19 And the Prophet (ﷺ) said in an authentic ḥadīth, “The example of the Believers in their love, kindness and mercy is like one body. When one limb is affected, then all the rest of the limbs are overcome by pain and fever.”20

And this is because the boycott is from the angle of Sharīʿah legislated punishments. So it is from the types of jihād in the path of Allāh. And this is done so that the word of Allāh can be uppermost and so that all of the Religion can be for Allāh.21 And it is upon the Believer to display enmity and allegiance for Allāh. So it is upon the Believer to form an alliance even if he is oppressed. So the oppression does not cut off the alliance of īmān. Allāh the Exalted said,

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا ۖ فَإِن بَغَتْ إِحْدَاهُمَا عَلَى الْأُخْرَىٰ فَقَاتِلُوا الَّتِي تَبْغِي حَتَّىٰ تَفِيءَ إِلَىٰ أَمْرِ اللَّهِ ۚ فَإِن فَاءَتْ فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا بِالْعَدْلِ وَأَقْسِطُوا ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُقْسِطِينَ ‎﴿٩﴾

“And if two parties from the Believers fight, then make conciliation between them. So if one of them transgresses upon the other, then fight the one that has transgressed until it submits to the command of Allāh. So if it submits to the command of Allāh, then reconcile between them justly. And be equitable. Indeed, Allāh loves those who are equitable. Indeed, the Believers are brothers.”
[al-Ḥujurāt, 49:9]

So He made them brothers despite the existence of fighting and transgression, and He commanded them to reconcile amongst themselves.

So let the Believer reflect upon the difference between these two types. And how many people have confused one with the other! And let the Believer know that it is obligatory to form an alliance with a Believer, even if he oppresses you and shows enmity towards you. And it is obligatory to show enmity to the disbeliever, even if he gives you and treats you well. So Allāh the Glorified sent the Messengers and revealed the Books so that all of the Religion could be for Allāh, and so that the love would be for His awliyāʾ (close allies) and hatred for His enemies, honour for His awliyāʾ and insult for His enemies, reward for His awliyāʾ and punishment for His enemies.

And when goodness and evil, disobedience and obedience and Sunnah and innovation are combined within one man, then he is deserving of alliance and reward in accordance to what he has of goodness, and he is deserving of enmity and punishment in accordance to what he has of evil. So one individual may combine within him obligations, honour and insult, so this and that will be combined for him,22 such as a destitute person who steals. His hand will be cut off due to his theft and he will be given from the bayt al-māl (money reserve) that which fulfills his need.

So this is the basic principle which Ahl al-Sunnah have agreed upon. And the Khawārij23 and the Muʿtazilah and those who agree with them have opposed them in it. So they do not consider the people to be deserving of anything except reward only. And Ahl al-Sunnah say: Allāh punishes those who commit major sins with the Fire, then He will take them out of it due to the intercession of the one who has been permitted to intercede by His excellence and mercy, as has been confirmed in the Sunnah of the Prophet (ﷺ). And Allāh the Glorified and Exalted knows best. And may the peace and greetings of Allāh be upon Muhammad and upon his family and all of his Companions.24

Endnotes:

  1. The following is taken from the book ijmāʿ al-’Ulamāʾ ʿalā al-Hajr wa-al-Taḥdhīr min Ahl al-Ahwāʾ (p. 155-164) of Khālid Ibn Dahawī al-Ẓufayrī.
  2. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ahmad (1/20), (3/339) and al-Tirmidhī (no. 2965); it was authenticated by Imām al-Albānī in al-Irwā‘ (no. 1949)
  3. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 10), Abū Dawūd (no. 2481) and al-Nisāʾī (no. 5011)
  4. The entire story is related by al-Bukhārī (no. 3318), Muslim (no. 2769) and Abū Dawūd (no. 4600).
  5. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ahmad (1/1, 6, 4, 8), Abū Dawūd (no. 4338), al-Tirmidhī (no. 2168) and Ibn Mājah (no. 4005); and it was authenticated by Imām al-Albānī in al-Saḥīḥah (no. 1564)
  6. Likewise, from the important general rules which it is fitting to give importance to is fear for the condition of the boycotter. This is what is called hajr al-wiqāʿī (the boycott of protection). So the Muslim is commanded to remain far away from the people of innovations, doubts and desires, so he does not fall into collaboration with them and thus follow their manhaj. And that which has preceded from the statements of the people of knowledge concerning the obligation of boycotting, the heart being weak, the command to block one’s ears from listening to their speech, taking a path other than that which they have chosen, all of that serves as clear evidence for this.
  7. Many of the supporters and helpers of the people of innovation have a faulty understanding of this statement. And they apply in a way that gives into their war against Ahl al-Sunnah and their allegiance with the people of innovation. So despite the clarity of preponderance of harms over benefits with that which cannot be measured, they do not desist from their kinship with the people of innovation. This is the affair which has resulted in the loss and decay of many of the youth amidst the innovations and their people. And by Allāh, if Shaykh al-Islām had been living to see how his words were being used to deceive, he would have attacked these ones. And many of the clear people of innovation rely upon them to employ this horrid deception from the destroyed corruptions which the people of innovation themselves were unable to actualize, no matter how hard they tried and no matter how hard they plotted. So is it the weakness of the lightness of the evil, or is it the difficulty and vastness?
  8. So have these people traversed the path of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) in unity? And so have the followers of the people of innovation rushed towards the Sunnah and the truth, and have they freed themselves from their innovations just as the followers of the Messenger of Allāh (ﷺ) freed themselves from their disbelief and Shirk? Or is the affair the opposite? So we have seen Ahl al-Sunnah swarmed in large groups due to the deception of those who set traps for the youth with the words of Shaykh al-Islām and his likes, or due to their ignorance concerning the knowledge of benefits and harms, or their lack of concern about those who have deviated from the true manhaj of Allāh as we have pointed out. So these ones have not taken into consideration the condition of the one who mixes with the people of innovation and reads their books. Will this action of his be causing harm to his Religion? And if that has been mentioned – and it has in most cases – then is it obligatory upon him to remain far away from the people of innovation in order to safeguard his Religion and his ʿaqīdah, or is it permissible for him to mix with them and to increase their numbers and co-operate with them in the spreading of their evil? So the affair gives way to all of these evils.
    Indeed, the intelligent and sincere Muslim will have a firm belief in the unlawfulness of mixing with the people of innovation once he realizes what has been mentioned and enjoined in terms of resistance of fitnah (trial, tribulation) with regards to his Religion by remaining far away from them as we have mentioned previously.
  9. So it honour for the Religion attained by forming alliances with the people of innovations and making war with Ahl al-Sunnah for their sake!?
  10. So do the callers to tamyīʿ (melting, softening) make this distinction? No, then no!! Rather, they call to the absence of boycotting in places where the Sunnah has honour and strength. And do they differentiate between the callers to innovation and the non-callers from amongst them!?
  11. The Jahmiyyah are the followers of Jahm Ibn Safwaan, who unleashed upon this Ummah the horrific innovation of taʿṭīl (denial of Allāh’s Attributes) – either directly, or by twisting the meanings: such as twisting the meaning of the Hand of Allāh to mean: His Power and Generosity. They also deny that Allāh is above His creation, above His Throne, as well as holding the belief that Paradise and Hellfire are not everlasting. Refer to al-Radd ʿalā al-Jahmiyyah of Imām Ahmad and also al-Dārimī and al-Ibānah (p. 141) of Abu al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī.
  12. The Rāfiḍah (the rejectors) are an extreme sect of the Shīʿah who reject Zayd Ibn ʿAlī Ibn al-Ḥusayn due to his refusal to condemn Abū Bakr and ʿUmar (radiyAllāhu ʿanhumaa). They rapidly deteriorated in ʿaqīdah, morals and Religion – until the present day – where their beliefs are those represented by the Ithnā ʿAshariyyah Shīʿah of Iran. From their false beliefs are: declaring all but three or five of the Companions to be disbelievers, the belief that their Imāms have knowledge of the Unseen, past, present and future, considering the Imāmah to be one of the main pillars of īmān (faith) and the incompleteness of the Qurʾān. Refer to al-Maqaalaatul-Islāmiyyeen (1/65), al-Farq bayn al-Firaq (no. 21) of ʿAbdul-Qāhir al-Baghdādī and Talbīs Iblīs (p. 94-100) of Ibn al-Jawzī.
  13. And do those whom we have mentioned differentiate between the Imāms who follow the Sunnah and other than them?
  14. So do these people know the intended purpose of the Sharīʿah and do they suffice with actualizing it with truthfulness, advice and sincerity? So have the outcomes of their advice, understanding and sincerity become apparent?
  15. These are very important words, and it is obligatory to comply with the truth concerning boycotting and its absence.
  16. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 6077) and Muslim (no. 2560)
  17. Related by Muslim (no. 2565)
  18. Related by Muslim (no. 2563)
  19. Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Ahmad (6/64), Abū Dawūd (no. 4919), al-Tirmidhī (no. 2508); and it was authenticated by Imām al-Albānī as is found in Ṣaḥīḥ Sunan Abī Dawūd (no. 4111).
  20. Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 6011) and Muslim (no. 2586)
  21. By Allāh, Shaykh al-Islām has spoken truthfully, and he has stated the truth. So have the callers to fitan and alliances with the people of innovation looked into the discussion of Shaykh al-Islām and the discussion of the Salaf, or have they become a consumptive sword upon Ahl al-Sunnah and a means for defamation? And do they know that it is supposed to be a means for raising high the word of Allāh?
  22. May Allāh have mercy upon Shaykh al-Islām, since these words of his are used by some of the people of fitan as evidence for the obligation of al-muwāzināt (counterbalancing) between the good and evil qualities. And this is an affair that was not spoken of nor done by the Salaf. And from amongst them is Shaykh al-Islām by way of his refutations upon the people of innovation. Rather, he opposed what is affirmed for him, as occurs in Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (4/483) and in Mukhtasar al-Fatāwā al-Miṣriyyah (p. 210). And Imām Ahmad stated  before him about Yazīd Ibn Muʿāwiyah and his likes, ‘We do not hate him and we do not love him.’ And it opposes what has preceded from the ijmāʿ (consensus) of the Salaf.
    And it is clear from the speech of Shaykh al-Islām that is to come that he intended by it to refute the Khawārij and the Muʿtazilah who hold the view that the one who commits a major sin and persists upon it, then it becomes obligatory to exit this person from the realm of Islām and he dwells in the Fire forever. That is to say, the major sin removes īmān and righteous actions from the servant. Rather, he clarified that in another place from al-Fatāwā (28/228-229). So he said, “And whosoever has within him īmān and disobedience, he is to be given allegiance in accordance to his īmān, and hatred in accordance to his disobedience. And īmān is not removed from him in entirety due to mere sins and acts of disobedience as the Khawārij and the Muʿtazilah say.”
  23. And the manhaj of the Salaf in criticizing and al-Jarḥ wa-al-Taʿdīl is free from the extremism of the Khawārij and the Muʿtazilah. And it is free from the negligence of the people of al-muwāzināt who align themselves with those who call to tamyīʿ (softening, melting) of Islām in ʿaqīdah and manhaj. And they align themselves with those who have fallen into an extreme form of al-Irjaaʾ.
  24. The Khawārij were the first sect in Islām to split away from the way of the Prophet (ﷺ) and his Companions. They arose in the caliphate of ’Alee, making khurūj (rebellion) against him, before the arbitration between him and Mu’aawiyah (radiyAllāhu ʿanhumā). From their false ʿaqīdah (creed) is: allowing rebellion against the legitimate Muslim ruler – whether pious of wicked, and declaring a Muslim to be a kāfir (disbeliever), due to commission of a major sin. They were described by the Prophet (ﷺ) as the Dogs of the Hellfire. Refer to al-Maqaalaatul-Islāmiyyeen (1/168) of Abu al-Ḥasan al-Ashʿarī, al-Bidāyah (8/22-44) of Ibn Kathīr and Fatḥ al-Bārī (12/282-302) of Ibn Hajar.
  25. This was taken from Majmūʿ al-Fatāwā (28/203-210)

Translated by Maaz Qureshi

Published: January 21, 2022
Edited: January 21, 2022

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