Shaykh Albani said while explaining the reason for the revelation of the verse “the one who does not rule by what Allah revealed…”, and that it refers to kufr (disbelief) in action not in belief.
“I say: it is not permissible to declare them [Muslim rulers] kuffaar (disbelievers) due to this and to eject them from the religion, when they are believers in Allah and His Messenger, even though they are sinning by ruling by other than what Allah revealed – this is not permissible.
Because even though they are like the Jews [at the time of the prophet Mohammed who the verse was revealed about] from the point of view of their ruling [by other than what Allah revealed], they differ from the point of view that they have faith and conviction in Allah contradicting the Jews for indeed they rejected the Messenger as indicated in their previous saying, “but if he does not then beware and do not agree to have him arbitrate.”
In addition the reason behind this is that kufr is of two types: kufr in belief and kufr in action, and the kufr in belief is linked to the heart, and the kufr in action is linked to the limbs.
So the one whose actions are kufr due to their contradicting the Shariah, and this kufr follows on from what has become established in his heart i.e. kufr in belief, then this is the kufr which Allah will not forgive and this person will reside in the Fire forever. But if (these kufr actions) contradict what is established in his heart, then he is a believer in the Rule of his Lord, but he contradicts this with his actions.
So his kufr is kufr of action only and it is not kufr in belief and he is under the Will of Allah, if He Wills He will punish him, and if He Wills He will forgive him. And it is with this (second) type (of kufr) that some of the ahaadeeth are to be understood which generalise the term kufr for a Muslim who performs a sinful action.
Also it would be good to mention some (all the hadeeth are authentic):
1. “two things if done are kufr: abusing genealogies (lineage) and wailing over the dead.” Reported by Muslim
2. “Arguing over the Quran is kufr.”
3. “Abusing a Muslim is fisq (sinful), and killing him is kufr.” Reported by Muslim
4. “Speaking about the favours of Allah is giving thanks and leaving it is kufr”
5. “do not return to being kuffaar after me by some of you hitting the necks (killing) of others.” Agreed upon.
[Another authentic hadeeth is “whoever goes into his women from behind (i.e. in her anus) has indeed done kufr”]
And many other ahaadeeth for which there is no need to go into great detail about at this time.
So any Muslim who performs any of these sinful actions, then his kufr is kufr in action i.e. he has done an action of the kuffaar. Except in the case that he sees it (the sin) to be permissible, and does not believe in it’s being a sin, so in this case he would be a kaafir (disbeliever) whose blood is lawful because now he has also shared in the belief of the kuffaar.
Plus ruling by other than the what Allah revealed is not exempted from this principle and what is narrated from the salaf supports this, and that is none other than their saying on the tafsir of this verse, “kufr less than kufr (minor kufr which does not expel a person from Islam)” as is authentically reported from the commentator of the Quran, Ibn Abbas, and then some of the Taabieen and others learnt this from him…maybe they may illuminate the path ahead of those that have been misguided in this dangerous issue, and have taken the road of the Khawarij who declared people to be a kaafir due to their committing sins even though they may pray and fast!”
Ref: Silsilah as-Saheehah vol 6. no.2552
Posted by Abdul Kareem Ibn Ozzie