Sahih Muslim 1676 a says

It is not permissible to take the life of a Muslim who bears testimony (to the fact that there is no god but Allah, and I am the Messenger of Allah, but in one of the three cases: the married adulterer, a life for life, and the deserter of his Din (Islam), abandoning the community.

So in only 3 cases a Muslim can be killed. For adultery, for apostasy and for murder. However, in the case of murdering a non Muslim, a Muslim can’t be killed as said by the Prophet PBUH {source: Sunan Ibn Majah 2660} Which leaves us with the last case: A Muslim murdering a Muslim. But in that case, he would be committing kufr {source: Sahih Al-Bukhari 48}. That means he would be committing apostasy. So in that case wouldn’t murder and apostasy come under the same line? Then why are they mentioned differently?

  • 1
    Killing a Muslim is not (always) Kufr. Rather you misunderstand the hadith.
    – UmH
    Sep 10, 2021 at 14:50
  • @UmH then how is it supposed to be understood?
    – Ma148
    Sep 10, 2021 at 15:00
  • Maybe you should ask that question instead.
    – UmH
    Sep 10, 2021 at 15:01
  • there are narrations about killing the person who performs sihr and sodomy and even to kill the person who intoxicates himself for the fourth time. but all these has to be looked at in a more in-depth way to fully understand how verdicts are derived in islamic shari'a. just the mere literal translations of hadith sometimes doesn't give the exact ruling. in order to derive a ruling a lot of things are looked upon at first in many cases. only in very rare cases a ruling is taken from a single hadith. Sep 10, 2021 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


Your query is based on a misinterpretation of the hadith:

سباب المسلم فسوق، وقتاله كفر

Abusing a Muslim is Fusuq and fighting him is Kufr

The view of the Ahl as-Sunnah is that committing a sin, such as murder or fighting, is not Kufr by itself. As evidence for that, consider e.g. the verse of the Quran:

وإن طائفتان من المؤمنين اقتتلوا فأصلحوا بينهم

And if two factions among the believers should fight, then make settlement between the two.

Quran 49:9

In this verse Allah calls both parties who have fought each other as 'believers', which would be false if they had committed Kufr by fighting each other.

Similarly consider the verse:

كتب عليكم القصاص في القتلى ... فمن عفي له من أخيه شيء

Prescribed for you is legal retribution for those murdered ... But whoever overlooks from his brother anything ...

Quran 2:178

Here Allah calls the killer and the family of the victim as 'brothers'. This would be false if the killer had become a disbeliever by committing the murder. Similarly forgiving by the victim's family would not suffice to spare the life of the murderer rather it should have been contingent on him reverting to Islam.

Hence, the hadith وقتاله كفر has a meaning other than what you have inferred. It may mean either one of the following:

  • It is implicitly talking about one who commits murder while considering it lawful to do so. Such a person has committed Kufr as he has denied the teachings of Islam.

  • It means that fighting\killing a Muslim is like disbelief. Because it is a deed that is typically done by disbelievers. This is a warning about the severity of the deed, i.e. it is similar to the actions of the disbelievers.

  • Kufr has meanings other than disbelief. Here it could be used in the meaning of 'being ungrateful' to Allah.


وأما قتاله بغير حق فلا يكفر به عند أهل الحق كفرا يخرج به من الملة كما قدمناه في مواضع كثيرة إلا إذا استحله فإذا تقرر هذا فقيل في تأويل الحديث أقوال أحدها أنه في المستحل والثاني أن المراد كفر الاحسان والنعمة وأخوة الاسلام لاكفر الجحود والثالث أنه يؤول إلى الكفر بشؤمه والرابع أنه كفعل الكفار والله أعلم

Sharah Nawawi

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