Muḥammad ibn Ibrāhīm was not infallible. He was a scholar from amongst the scholars; he made mistakes sometimes, and he was correct sometimes; he was not a prophet or messenger.
A General Clarification of the Issue
Imām Ibn al-Qayyim al-Jawziyyah1 said:
“As for ruling by other than what Allāh revealed, and abandoning prayer,2 then this is certainly disbelief in action. It is not possible to negate the name of disbelief from him after Allāh and His Messenger ﷺ have called him that.
So the one who rules by other than what Allāh revealed is a disbeliever, and the one who abandons prayer is a disbeliever – due to evidence from the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ. However, this is disbelief in action, not disbelief in creed. So from the impossibility of the one who rules by what Allāh revealed being called a disbeliever by Allāh the Glorified, and that the label of disbelief was not uttered upon him is…”
Then he said:
“Indeed Allāh the Glorified and Exalted labeled the one who acts upon some of His Book, and abandons acting upon other parts of it: a believer in what he acts upon, and a disbeliever in what he abandons from it.
“So do they believe in a part of the Book and disbelieve in another part…”
So they were believers in what they acted upon from the Covenant [the Book] and disbelievers in what they left off from it. So faith in action opposes disbelief in action, and faith in creed opposes disbelief in creed.”
Then he said:
“This elaboration is the statement of the Companions (raḍī Allāhu ʿʿʿanhum) who taught the Book of Allāh to the ummah, and Islām and disbelief and their inseparable attributes. So do not take these matters, except from them. So the latecomers have not understood their position. So they have divided into two factions:
A group that takes people out of the Religion due to major sins and decrees dwelling in the Fire for them.
A group that considers them to be believers who are complete in faith!
So those people exceeded the limits and these people fell short of the mark..
So Allāh guided the people of the sunnah to the exemplary path and the moderate statements like Islām as compared to the other Religions. So here it is disbelief less than disbelief, and hypocrisy less than hypocrisy, and shirk less than shirk, and disobedience less than disobedience, and oppression less than oppression.”
Then he – may Allāh have Mercy upon him – mentioned some narrations from the salaf in explanation of the statement of Allāh the Exalted:
“And whoever does not rule by what Allāh revealed, then these are the disbelievers.”
[Sūrah al-Maʾidah 5:44]
“This is explained in the Qurʾān for whoever understands it. So verily Allāh the Glorified named the one who rules by other than what Allāh revealed a disbeliever, and He named the one who rejects what He revealed upon His messenger ﷺ, a disbeliever, but the two are not disbelievers in the same manner.”
The Position of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm
Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm said:
“What came from Ibn ʿAbbās in explanation of this āyah:
“And whoever does not rule by what Allāh revealed…”
[Sūrah al-Maʾidah, 5:44]
…from the narration of Ṭāwūs and other than him shows that the one rules by other than what Allāh revealed is a disbeliever. It is either disbelief in creed which takes one out of the Religion, or it is disbelief in action which does not take one out of the Religion.” 3
Shaykh Khālid al-‘Anbaree mentions in his book ‘al-Hukmu bi Ghayri Maa AnzallAllāhu’ (p. 131), from Shaykh ʿAbdullāh Ibn Jibrīn – and he is one of the foremost students of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm – that the shaykh clearly took the position of differentiating between action and belief.
This differentiation was confirmed from the Shaykh when he spoke about the matters that cause a person to apostate. He said:
“The things which cause a person apostate are divided into three divisions:
The first division: That which the Messenger of Allāh ﷺ is known to have come with, and opposing what is known by necessity that the Messenger ﷺ came with. So this is disbelief in that, regardless of whether it is in the foundations (uṣūl) or in secondary matters (furoo’), and no excuse can be sought by what is new in Islām.
: That which the Messenger of Allāh (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) is known to have come with, and opposing what is known by necessity that the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) came with. So this is disbelief in that, regardless of whether it is in the foundations (uṣūl) or in secondary matters (furoo’), and no excuse can be sought by what is new in Islām.
The second division: Those to whom the proof is unknown. So this one does not disbelieve until the proof is established upon him, and the evidence are presented to him. After the proof has been established upon him, he only becomes a disbeliever if he has understood it. If he says: I do not understand, or he understands but contests, then the proof should be clarified to him with a sufficient explanation.
Those to whom the proof is unknown. So this one does not disbelieve until the proof is established upon him, and the evidence are presented to him. After the proof has been established upon him, he only becomes a disbeliever if he has understood it. If he says: I do not understand, or he understands but contests, then the proof should be clarified to him with a sufficient explanation.
Resisting stubbornly (‘inād) is not from the disbelief of the disbelievers, rather it is a part from its parts, and the other part or parts are not stubborn resistance, and the scholars have not entered into that judgment because it is between him and Allāh.
The third division: Things that involve inner thoughts. So this does not cause a person to apostate until the proofs have been established upon him, regardless of whether it is in the foundations (uṣūl) or secondary matters (furoo’)…
: Things that involve inner thoughts. So this does not cause a person to apostate until the proofs have been established upon him, regardless of whether it is in the foundations (uṣūl) or secondary matters (furoo’)…
…So we know from this that there is no takfīr upon anyone except after the establishment of proof upon him.
So the first division is apparent, and the second is in its place in this case, not the third.
Then there are two things here: Firstly, the ruling upon the thing that it is disbelief. Secondly, the ruling upon a person specifically is a separate matter, then there is the takfīr of a group such as the Jahmiyyah which is another thing.4
Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm said:
“…Whoever rules by it or rules by it believing in its correctness and legality, then he is a disbeliever with disbelief that expels from the Religion. However, if he does that without believing that it is permissible, then he is a disbeliever in action, which does not expel one from the Religion.”5
In the Kuwaiti magazine ‘al-Furqān’ (Issue no. 28/p. 12) there was a meeting between his Eminence, Shaykh ʿAbd al ʿAzīz Ibn Bāz – and he is one of the foremost students of shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm and a propagator of his knowledge. The questioner asked him:
“There is a fatwá of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm Āl-Shaykh, the people of takfīr use it to prove that the shaykh did not differentiate between the one who rules by other than the Law of Allāh – making it ḥalāl, and the one who is not like that, as the differentiation which is well known from the scholars.
Shaykh Ibn Bāz said:
“This matter is affirmed by the scholars – as has preceded – that whoever makes that ḥalāl then he has indeed disbelieved. As for the one who does not make that ḥalāl, such as the one who does it due to bribes or something similar, then this is disbelief less than disbelief. As for the Islamic State which possesses power, then upon them is to struggle against the one does not rule by what Allāh revealed until that is established.”
So the questioner said:
“They use this fatwá́ of Shaykh Ibn Ibrāhīm as a proof!?”
Shaykh Ibn Bāz said:
“Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm was not infallible. He was a scholar from amongst the scholars, he made mistakes sometimes and he was correct sometimes, he was not a prophet or messenger. Also like that were Shaykh al Islām Ibn Taymīyyah and Ibn al-Qayyim and Ibn Kathīr, and other than them from the scholars. All of them made mistakes sometimes and were correct sometimes. Whatever from their statements is established upon the truth is to be taken and whatever opposes the truth is to be returned to the speaker.”
 al-Ṣalāh Wa Hukmu Tārikuhā (p. 55-57).
 See the book, ‘Hukmu Taarikus Ṣalāt’ by shaykh Muḥammad Nāṣir al Dīn al-Albānī, particularly shaykh ʿAlī al-Ḥalabī’s introduction to it.
 Tahkeemul Qawaaneen (p. 15)
 Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (12/190-191) of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm.
 Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (1/80) of Shaykh Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm.