There is no escaping from that we know firstly: Does the description of apostasy apply to them or not? And this requires knowing the evidences which indicate that this saying or action is apostasy, then applying them to an individual, and then, whether this individual has any doubts (which may excuse him) or not?
So Al-ʿAllāmah Muḥammad ibn Ṣāliḥ al-ʿUthaymīn said:
“And there is a doubt (Subḥah) with many of the youth, which has become firmly and deeply rooted in their minds and it has kindled the issue of revolting against the rulers – and it is: that those rulers replace the Sharīʿah (haa’ulā il-Hukkaam MUBADDILOON), they prescribe the (secular) laws from themselves and they do not rule by what Allāh has revealed and the rule is present – but they prescribed laws from themselves.
So (these youth) judged them with apostasy and disbelief and then they built upon this that so long as those rulers are disbeliever it is necessary to kill them, and does not matter that we are in a state of weakness. Because (not fighting) in the state of weakness was abrogated by the verses of the sword (permitting fighting), therefore there is no place for acting (as if we were) in the state of weakness – as they say – that state that the Muslims in Makkah were in!
So the answer to this doubt is that we say: “There is no escaping from that we know firstly: Does the description of apostasy apply to them or not? And this requires knowing the evidence which indicate that this saying or action is apostasy, then applying them to an
individual, and then, whether this individual has any doubts (which may excuse him) or not?
Meaning: Sometimes a text can indicate that this action is kufr and this saying is kufr, but there are preventive barriers which prevent the application of the ruling of kufr upon this specific individual… and these preventive barriers are many, amongst them dhann (speculation) which is ignorance and amongst them ghalabah (which means being overcome by something)…”
Then the shaikh gives some examples from the sunnah – so he mentions the ḥadīth of the man who asked for his body to be burned after his death and the ashes to be scattered across the earth. So the shaikh explains that the outward manifestation of his ʿaqīdah is kufr, and doubt in the power of Allāh.
And the shaikh gives the example of the one who when he finds his lost camel in the desert says: “O Allāh, you are my servant and I am your Lord”. So the shaikh says that this is a word of kufr, but the one who says it is not to be declared a disbeliever because he was overcome (i.e. had no power of it) due to the intensity of his happiness. And the Shaykh also gives the example of “the one who is compelled to kufr – so he utters a word of kufr, or does an action of kufr, but he is not to be declared a disbeliever by a text of the Qurʾān, because he does not desire it and has not made it his choice.”