Punishment of accusing Muslim of magic without proof
Fatwa No: 323014

Question

Assalaam alaykum. Is there a hadd (prescribed) punishment or taʻzeer (discretionary punishment) for the one who accuses a Muslim of magic without any proof or witnesses? Also, is this person considered a kaafir (disbeliever) for accusing a Muslim of magic, which is kufr (disbelief), based on the hadith that whoever says to his brother that he is a kaafir then it is applied to one of them? May Allaah reward you.

Answer

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah and that Muhammad, sallallaahu ʻalayhi wa sallam, is His slave and Messenger. 

Accusing a Muslim of practicing magic without evidence is a serious sin and hideous accusation. It involves thinking ill of a fellow Muslim, which is prohibited in Islam.

Allaah, The Exalted, says (what means):

- {O you who have believed, avoid much (negative) assumption. Indeed, some assumption is sin.} [Quran 49:12]

- {And those who harm believing men and believing women for (something) other than what they have earned have certainly born upon themselves a slander and manifest sin.} [Quran 33:58]

There is no hadd (corporal punishment) for this action. As for taʻzeer (discretionary punishment), such a person may be subject to taʻzeer at the Muslim judge's judgment (in a religious court).

The Kuwaiti Encyclopedia of Islamic Jurisprudence reads:

If the offensive expression does not amount to slander (qathf, i.e. false accusation of fornication/adultery) and is a mere insult or swearing, it is a sin not punishable by hadd; rather, the offender is subject to taʻzeer. For instance, when a Muslim calls his fellow Muslim a 'Christian' or 'heretic' or 'disbeliever'. The same applies to calling a Muslim an 'effeminate' or 'hypocrite' as long as the abused person is not as described. An offender should also be subject to taʻzeer for calling a Muslim a 'consumer of interest' or 'drinker of alcohol' or 'traitor' or 'thief' provided that the abused person is not known to be as such. The same applies to calling one's fellow Muslim ‘stupid,’ ‘dirty,’ ‘foolish,’ ‘one-eyed,’ or ‘crippled’ while he is not, such an offender is subject to taʻzeer in general, regardless of the type of insult because it is a sin. The act that entails subjecting the doer to taʻzeer is determined according to the social norms and common practice of the community. If the description with which the abused person is labeled is not considered hideous, shameful, and offensive, then the doer is not to be punished given the absence of offence in such a case...

The person who accuses another Muslim of practicing magic is not declared a disbeliever because the scholars held different views regarding declaring the Muslim who practices magic a disbeliever. Badr Ad-Deen Al-ʻAyni  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote:

The scholars maintained different opinions regarding the ruling on the Muslim who learns and practices magic; Abu Haneefah, Maalik, and Ahmad held that the person who learns and practices magic is declared a disbeliever. Some of the Hanafis, on the other hand, held that if he learns magic with the intention of avoiding such an evil or shielding himself against it, he is not declared a disbeliever. However, if he learns it while believing it to be lawful or beneficial, he is declared a disbeliever. The same ruling applies if someone believes that the devils can do whatever he asks them to do for him; he is declared a disbeliever. Ash-Shaafiʻi held that if a person learned magic, he should be asked to describe the magic that he has learned; if his description entails disbelief, then he is declared a disbeliever; such as the people of Babel, who worshiped the ancient seven planets and believed that they can fulfill their wishes. Also, if his description does not entail disbelief but he held that it is allowable for the Muslim to practice magic, then he is declared a disbeliever...” [ʻUmdat Al-Qaari’]

Some scholars did not interpret the ‘disbelief’ in the hadeeth in reference to indicate actual disbelief that takes the doer out of the fold of Islam. Ibn Qudaamah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “These ahaadeeth are meant to emphasize the prohibition and produce stern warnings against such sinful acts; they do not mean that their doer is actually a disbeliever.” [Al-Mughni]

Shaykh Ibn Taymiyyah  may  Allaah  have  mercy  upon  him wrote, “The hadeeth referred to the offender as his 'brother' even when accusing him of disbelief; this is interpreted to mean that were one of them to be a disbeliever, he would no longer be considered his ‘brother.’” [Al-Istiqaamah]

Allaah knows best.

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