Shaykh Albani said, “Wallaahi, the answer [to the question about is establishing the proof required before labelling another Muslim a kafir (a disbeliever), a mubtadee (an innovator) or an open sinner (a faasiq)] differs according to the differences found in the countries [the people live in] and in the differences amongst the residents in terms of the presence of [Salafi] scholars [and Salafi students of knowledge] uphold the obligation of educating and dawah.
Let us give a clear and concise example of that: there is a very big difference between someone who is in the lands of disbelief, a group of people [there] who have newly embraced Islaam, there is no doubt, naturally, that it is not allowed to go ahead and declare such people to be disbelievers or open sinners or innovators straight away, because they live in an environment where they are new to Islaam and Islamic rulings, this is on one side.
[So there is a very big difference between such people and those on] the other side [where there] is a clear Islamic environment, an unadulterated Islamic environment which does not require the proof to be established, because the issue is [already] established by the very nature of this learned, Islamic environment. These are two totally contrastive examples.
Thus between these two situations there is no doubt that there are a great many examples, some of which will be closer to the first example and others closer to the second, and so on.
So the point of giving this example is to show that it is not allowed to make a statement, whether positive or negative, about that question, so it should not be said that, ‘[The proof] has to be established,’ and nor that, ‘It doesn’t have to be established.’ The answer differs according to the differing states of the people he [the scholar] wants to declare to be disbelievers, faasiqs or innovators.
The foundational principle here is that it is not allowed to declare Muslims to be disbelievers, and following on from that, [it is not allowed] to declare them to be faasiqs and following on from that, [it is not allowed] to declare them to be innovators except after the proof has been established, due to the well-known aayah and authentic hadeeths which have a similar meaning, the well-known aayah being, “… And never would We punish until We sent a messenger …” [Israa 17:15] “… that I may warn you thereby and whomever it reaches,” [An’aam 6:19]
Likewise is his saying which Imaam Muslim reported in his saheeh from the hadith of Abu Hurairah, may Allaah the Most High be pleased with him, who said, “Allaah’s Messenger said, ‘There is no man from this Ummah, Jew or Christian, who hears of me and then does not believe in me except that he will enter the Fire.’
So I say: the foundational principle is that the proof be established [before delivering a verdict] against these three types of people [i.e., the three types being, declaring someone to be a disbeliever, or innovator or open sinner], this is what the ruling centres around. After [understanding] the examples we have given the issue is that whoever knows or is certain that the proof has been established against such and such a person then based upon that it is permissible to declare him to be a disbeliever, or a faasiq or an innovator, and if that is not the case then it is not permissible. This is the answer.”
Ref: Al-Hudaa wan-Noor, 778.
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie