Shaykh Uthaymeen said, “Kufr (disbelief) is a legislative ruling that returns back to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). Therefore, whatever the Book and the Sunnah establishes as kufr then it is kufr, and whatever is not established (by these two sources) to be kufr then it is not kufr.
None can declare another to be a disbeliever until evidence is established from the Book and the Sunnah for their disbelief. None can make permissible what Allah prohibited or make prohibited what Allah made permissible.
Takfeer (declaring one a disbeliever) has four conditions that must be met:
1. Evidence that this statement, action, or abandoned action (ex. like abandoning prayer) is disbelief with proof from the Book or Sunnah
2. There must be certainty that a person actually fell into that act of kufr.
3. The evidence must reach that individual.
4. Removal of any barriers preventing Takfeer.
If there is no evidence to show that this statement, action, or abandoned action is kufr, proven by the Book and Sunnah, then it is not permissible for anyone to judge and make (those deeds) as kufr. In fact, this is speaking about Allah without knowledge. Allah the Most High said, “Say (O Muhammad): ‘(But) indeed the things that my Lord has forbidden are al-Fawaahish (lewd, evil sins of every kind) whether committed openly or secretly, al-Ithm (sins of all kinds), ath-Thulm (unrighteous oppression), joining partners (in worship) with Allah for which He has sent down no authority for, and that you speak about Allah that which you have no knowledge of.’” [al-A’raaf: 33]
And He said, “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.” [Surah al-Israa: 36]
If the (second condition) is not met then it is not permissible to make takfeer simply based on ill-thoughts because Allah said,
“And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge…”
Because that leads to making permissible prohibited blood without just right. In the Sahihayn (Bukhari and Muslim) from the hadith of ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Any person who called his brother: ‘O unbeliever’ (has in fact done an act by which this unbelief) would return to one of them. If it were so, as he asserted (then the unbelief of man was confirmed but if it was not true), then it returned to him (to the man who labeled it on his brother Muslim).” And this is the wording in Muslim.
Also, on the authority of Abu Dharr, may Allah be pleased with him, that he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) saying, “If somebody accuses another of Fusuq (by calling him ‘Fasiq’ i.e. a wicked person) or accuses him of Kufr, such an accusation will revert to him (i.e. the accuser) if his companion (the accused) is innocent.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
And if the proof has not been established upon the individual then they cannot be judged with kufr. Allah said, “…And this Qur’an was revealed to me that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches…” [al-An’aam: 19]
And He said, “And never will your Lord destroy the towns (populations) until He sends to their mother town a Messenger reciting to them Our Verses. And never would We destroy the towns unless the people thereof are Zalimun (polytheists, wrong-doers, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah, oppressors and tyrants).” [Qasas: 59]
And His statement, “Verily, We have inspired you (O Muhammad) as We inspired Nuh and the Prophets after him…” to His statement, “…Messengers as bearers of good news as well as of warning in order that mankind should have no plea against Allah after the Messengers. And Allah is Ever All-Powerful, All-Wise.” [Nisaa: 163-165]
And His statement, “…And We never punish until We have sent a Messenger (to give warning).” [Israa: 15]
In Sahih Muslim on the authority of Abu Hurayrah, may Allah be pleased with him, that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the people of Hell-Fire.”
However, if proof (of Islaam) has not reached someone and they do not act by the religion of Islam, then that individual should not be dealt with as a Muslim in the worldly life. As for the Hereafter, then the most correct speech is that, their affair is with Allah.
And if these (first) three conditions are met but there is a barrier present (the fourth condition), then Takfeer cannot be made until these barriers are removed.
The barriers of Takfeer are:
1.Compulsion. If a person is forced to make an act of kufr, while his heart is at rest with Imaan (faith), then this person cannot be deemed as a disbeliever due to the presence of this barrier.
Allah said, “Whoever disbelieved in Allah after his belief, except him who is forced thereto and whose heart is at rest with Faith, but such as open their breasts to disbelief, on them is wrath from Allah, and theirs will be a great torment.” [Nahl: 106]
2.The act was done unintentional. This is a person who does not know what he said due to being extremely happy, sad, fearful, or any other instance similar to that.
Allah the Most High said, “…And there is no sin on you concerning that in which you made a mistake, except in regard to what your hearts deliberately intend. And Allah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.” [Ahzaab: 5]
In a hadith in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Anas bin Maalik, may Allah be pleased with him, that he said the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Verily, Allah is more pleased with the repentance of His slave than a person who has his camel in a water-less desert carrying his provision of food and drink and it is lost. He, having lost all hopes (to get that back), lies down in shade and is disappointed about his camel; when all of a sudden he finds that camel standing before him. He takes hold of its reins and then out of boundless joy blurts out: ‘O Allah, You are my slave and I am Your Rubb’. He commits this mistake out of extreme joy.”
So this man made a mistake due to his extreme happiness, and it was a mistake that takes one out of Islaam. However, because he did not intend to say that, due to his extreme happiness, he did not disbelieve. Rather, he intended to praise his Lord but because of his extreme happiness he made a statement, had he said it intentionally, it would of been kufr.
Therefore, it is obligatory to warn against applying kufr to a group of people, or a specific person, until the conditions are fully carried out and the barriers are removed.”
Ref: “Majmu al-Fataawa war-Rasaail” (3/52-55) under the topic of “Aqeedah” via Tryingtofollowthesalaf.com
In addition to Shaykh Uthaymeens words below are the words of Shaykh Mohammad Bazmool on the same topic
Shaykh Muhammad Umar Bazmool said, “And a specific individual does not become a kaafir in their view (Ahlus Sunnah) except with the fulfilment of the following matters:
1: Establishment of the proof (from Quran, Sunnah and Ijmah (consensus of the companions or mujtahid scholars of any particular era).
2: Affirmation of the [fulfilment] of the conditions are:
A) (Ilm) Acquisition of correct knowledge.
B) (Qasd) Corroboration of the wilful intent (to utter the saying or perform the action.)
3: The absence of any barriers (preventative factors of making takfir al-muayyin (takfir of an individual), which are four, and which are incompatible with (cancel out) the conditions (of ilm and qasd)
(Listed below are the four preventative factors of takfir al-muayyin of a Muslim.)
1. Ignorance that negates knowledge. (Generally if a person does an act of kufr out of pure ignorance he is not deemed to be a kafir. Although in some situations even if the person was ignorant that his action is kufr he still would be deemed a kafir an example would be making duaa to a dead person. Also if a person commits kufr out of ignorance but had the ability to seek that knowledge he may be held as a kafir due to his act of kufr although it was out of ignorance.)
2. Compulsion that negates willful intent. (Meaning: If a Muslim is forced to do an act of kufr the person is not a kafir because they didn’t do it willingly.)
3. Error (Mistake) which negates willful intent. (Meaning, if a person does an act of kufr due to an accident maybe because he was extremely happy or very angry this person wouldn’t be deemed as a kafir.)
4. Faulty interpretation that negates willful intent. (Meaning, if a Muslim misunderstands something from the Quran or Sunnah or a scholars words and thats the reason he has done an act of kufr he wouldn’t be deemed as a kafir.)
Takfir is a very serious matter so one should be very cautious about it.
Ibn Taymiyyah said in Majmoo’ al-Fataawa (3/229), “those who sit with me know this about me, I am always one of those who most emphatically forbid describing a specific person (among the Muslims) as a kaafir, faasiq or sinner, unless it is known that shariah proof has been established against him, and it has been proven whether he is a kaafir, a faasiq or a sinner.”
Ibn Abi’l-’Izz al-Hanafi stated: It is from the greatest forms of transgression to declare that a specific person (wrongly) will neither be forgiven by Allaah nor shown mercy, and that the person will remain in Hellfire eternally as this is the judgement on a disbeliever after death. Al-Iqtisaad fi’l-’I’tiqaad vol.2, p.436
Shawkaanee said, “You should know that the ruling expelling a Muslim man from the deen of Islaam and applying kufr to him is not befitting for a Muslim who believes in Allaah and the Last Day to do except with clear proof that is clearer than the sun. For it is affirmed in the authentic hadeeth via a group of Sahaabah that whoever says to his brother “O kaafir!” the statement refers to one of them. Within these ahaadeeth are the sternest threats and the major admonitions are with regards to hastiness in takfeer.” Muhammad bin ’Ali ash-Shawkaanee, Mahmood Ibraaheem (ed.), As-Sayl ul-Jaraar (Beirut: Daar ul-’Alamiyyah, 1405 AH), vol.4, p.578
Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhaab said “Generally it is obligatory for the one who advises his own self to not speak in regards to this issue except with knowledge and clear proof from Allaah, and in order to warn those who expel people from Islaam merely on account of their misunderstandings or what their minds desire. For expelling a man from Islaam, or his entry, is from the most important matters of the deen and Shaytaan has caused many people to slip in regards to this issue.” Abdullaah bin Muhammad bin Abdul Wahhaab, ad-Durur as-Saniyyah (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Islami,n.d.), vol.8, p.217
Al-Qurtubee stated, “The issue of takfeer is a dangerous matter wherein many people that have tried to establish it have fallen short and those who have withheld from it have been safe.” 2 Al-Mufhim, vol.3, p.111 and Fath ul-Baaree, vol.12, p.314
Ibn Aabideen stated, “One should not judge a Muslim with kufr especially when his words can possibly be good, or there was a difference of opinion in regards to the person’s kufr even with a weak narration. Based on this, most of the relayed terms of takfire do not justify takfire and I myself adhere to not give these rulings.” Haashiyat Ibn ’Aabideen (Daar ul-Fikr, 1399 AH, 2nd Edn.), vol.4, p.224
Ibn Hajar al-Haytamee said, “The Mufti should be as cautious as can be with regards to takfeer due to its great danger. Our Imaams (meaning from the Shaafi’ee madhdhab) have always been upon this past and present.” Tuhfat ul-Muhtaaj, vol.4, p.84
Shaykh Al-Fawzaan said, “The judgement of apostasy and expelling someone from the religion is only appropriate for the people of knowledge (scholars) who are firmly grounded in knowledge, and they are the judges in the various shariah law courts, and those who are able of giving legal verdicts. And this is just like the other matters, and it is not the right of every person, or from the right of those who are learning, or those who ascribe themselves to knowledge, but who have deficiency in understanding. It is not appropriate for them to make judgements of apostasy (upon others).
Since mischief will arise from this, and sometimes a Muslim might be judged as an apostate but he is not actually so the takfir of a Muslim who has not committed one of the nullifications of Islam contains great danger.
Whoever says to his brother “O Kaafir” or “O Faasiq”, and he is not like that, then the words will fall back upon the one who said them.
Hence, the ones who actually judge with apostasy are the legislative judges (the scholars) and those who are able and fit for giving legal verdicts. And as for those who enforce the judgements they are the leaders of the Muslims.
As for whatever is other than this, then it is mere confusion.”
Ref: Maraaji’aat fee Fiqh il-Waaqi… (comp. by Abdullaah bin Muhammad ar-Rifaa’ee)
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie