Did a Sahabi (Amar bin Yasir) commit Kufr?

ⓘ Supported by Al Medina 313.



Islamic Text

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

In the Name of Allah Most Merciful Most Kind

Short Answer

No, the Sahabi Amar bin Yasir did not commit Kufr. He did speak words of Kufr under extreme duress. However, the Quran and Sunnah made it clear that such an action does not render one a Kafir.

Qur’an and Hadith
أَخَذَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ عَمَّارَ بْنَ يَاسِرٍ فَلَمْ يَتْرُكُوهُ حَتَّى سَبَّ النَّبِيَّ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ، وَذَكَرَ آلِهَتَهُمْ بِخَيْرٍ ثُمَّ تَرَكُوهُ، فَلَمَّا أَتَى رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ قَالَ: مَا وَرَاءَكَ؟. قَالَ: شَرٌّ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ، مَا تُرِكْتُ حَتَّى نِلْتُ مِنْكَ، وَذَكَرْتُ آلِهَتَهُمْ بِخَيْرٍ قَالَ: كَيْفَ تَجِدُ قَلْبَكَ؟ قَالَ: مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالْإِيمَانِ قَالَ: إِنْ عَادُوا فَعُدْ

The idolaters took (and tortured) Amar bin Yasir (May Allah Most High be pleased with him). They did not let him go until he insulted the Prophet ﷺ and praised their idols. When the Messenger of Allah ﷺ arrived, he said: ‘What is the matter?’ He (Amar) said, ‘Evil O Messenger of Allah ﷺ. They did not let me go until I insulted you and praised their idols.’ He ﷺ said: ‘How is your heart?’ He (Amar) said, ‘tranquil with faith.’ He ﷺ said: ‘If they return, then you return.’  (Mustadrak al-Hakim 3362, Sahih according to Imam al-Dhahabi).

As seen in the authentic narration above, Sayidina Amar bin Yasir (May Allah Most High be pleased with him) did speak words of Kufr. However, this was done whilst he was being tortured. The sacred law of Allah (Most High) excuses Kufr statements in such circumstances.

مَنْ كَفَرَ بِاللَّهِ مِنْ بَعْدِ إِيمَانِهِ إِلَّا مَنْ أُكْرِهَ وَقَلْبُهُ مُطْمَئِنٌّ بِالْإِيمَانِ وَلَكِنْ مَنْ شَرَحَ بِالْكُفْرِ صَدْرًا فَعَلَيْهِمْ غَضَبٌ مِنَ اللَّهِ وَلَهُمْ عَذَابٌ عَظِيمٌ

 Whoever disbelieves in Allah after faith, not those who are forced while their hearts are firm in faith but those who embrace disbelief wholeheartedly, they have the wrath of Allah upon them and for them is tremendous torment. (Surah al-Nahl, 106).

The blessed Prophet ﷺ reassured Sayidina Amar that he has not committed Kufr. Rather, the Prophet clarified for him that this is a dispensation, and if they (the torturers) return to what they were doing (torture) then you can repeat what you said.

Classical Scholars

In this harrowing incident, we see how the blessed Prophet ﷺ and Sahabah were patient in incredible circumstances. They did not allow anything to push them away from the truth that Allah Most High has revealed.

Based on the above evidence in the Qur’an and hadith, Hanafi scholars mentioned that one is permitted to speak words of Kufr under extreme duress as long as he retains faith in his heart. However, he has greater reward if he refuses.

This ruling does not extend to all actions. For example, one cannot take another’s life under duress:

ولو أنه أكره فقيل له: لنقتلنك أو لتكفرن بالله أو لتقتلن هذا الرجل المسلم عمداً، فإن كفر بالله وقلبه مطمئن بالإيمان فذلك يسعه عندنا ولا تبين منه امرأته، وإن أبى أن يكفر حتى يقتل فذلك أعظم لأجره إن شاء الله، ولا يحل له أن يقتل الرجل المسلم. (الأَصْلُ)

If he is coerced and it is said to him, we will certainly kill you unless you disbelieve in Allah (Most High), or you kill this Muslim deliberately. If he (ostensibly) disbelieve in Allah (Most High), whilst his heart is tranquil with faith, then it is permitted for him with us. His wife will not become separated from him.

However, if he refuses to (ostensibly) disbelieve and is thus killed, then that contains greater reward for him, by the will of Allah, it is not permitted for him to kill a Muslim man (even under extreme duress). (Imam Muhamad al-Shaybani, Kitab al-Asl). 

And Allah Most High Knows Best.

Answered by Shaykh Noorud-deen Rashid (24.07.23)