Which people are classified as being Ahl-i qibla?

Question: People who are Ahl-i qibla [people of the qibla] cannot be called kâfirs [disbelievers]. Since all the seventy-two heretical groups are Ahl-i qibla; that is, they perform namâz, do people calling them disbelievers not become the ones themselves?
Yes, the Ahl-i qibla cannot be called disbelievers, but what is the term “Ahl-i qibla”? The Ahl-i qibla are not the people performing namâz. Let us elucidate the matter succinctly:
 Imâm-i A’zam and Imâm-i Shâfi’î said that a person of the qibla (the Ahl-i qibla) cannot be called a kâfir. This statement means that the person of qibla does not become a kâfir by committing sins. The seventy-two groups are Ahl-i qibla. Since they erred in the interpretation of the unclear documents in which ijtihâd is permissible, they cannot be called disbelievers. Yet, because ijtihâd is not permissible in those religious learnings that are indispensable and which have been communicated through tawâtur [consensus], those who disbelieve such learnings become kâfirs according to the consensus (of savants). For those who disbelieve them have disbelieved Rasûlullah (sall-Allahu ‘alaihi wa sallam). Îmân [belief, faith] means to believe those commonly known learnings which Rasûlullah brought from Allahu ta’âlâ. It is kufr [disbelief] to disbelieve even one of these learnings. (Translation of Milal-Nihal)

[ijtihâd: it means to work with all one’s might, to strive and to take pains. In other words, it is to strive to derive the rules to solve problems that have not been explained clearly and openly in theQur’ân or in the hadîths by likening them to matters that have been explained clearly and in detail. This can be done only by our Prophet (sall Allahu ’alaihi wa sallam), by all his Ashâb, and from among other Muslims, by those who have been promoted to the grade of ijtihâd; these exalted people are called Mujtahid.]

Though the seventy-two heretical groups perform namâz and do all acts of worship, some of them have become mulhids. Since those who deny a tenet of belief or a tenet of practice that have been communicated through consensus become disbelievers and renegades; they are not called Ahl-i qibla anymore, even if they utter the Lâ ilâha ill-Allah, do all acts of worship, and avoid all sins.(Hadîqa)

[mulhid: a person who goes out of Islam by giving wrong meanings to âyat-i-karîmas and hadîth-i-sharifs, that is whose îmân is corrupt, is called a mulhid.]

3. Those who disbelieve even one of the indispensable religious learnings or one of the tenets to be believed become disbelievers, even if they say the “Lâ ilâha ill-Allah Muhammadun Rasûlullah.” (Radd-ul-mukhtâr)

4. Not all of those who are in this one group (the Ahl as-sunnat group) will go to Hell. Of these, only those who have committed evil deeds will go to Hell. Because the seventy-two reported group of bid’at are Ahl-i qibla, they are not declared disbelievers. However, of these people, the ones who disbelieve those Islamic tenets that are indispensable to be believed become disbelievers. (Maktûbât-i Rabbânî, Second Volume, 67th Letter; Third Volume, 38th Letter)

5. Those who deny a commonly known fard [a command] become disbelievers, even if they perform namâzes. (Barîqa)

6. Not every performer of namâz is classified as being Ahl-i qibla. The purport of a hadîth-i sharîf is as follows:
(He who lies when he speaks, who breaks when he promises, and who betrays the trust when he is entrusted is a hypocrite, even if he claims he is a Muslim, performs namâz, and fasts.)[Bukhârî]

7. Those who disbelieve any of the six fundamentals of îmân are disbelievers, even if they perform namâz. (Ashi’at-ul-lama’ât)

For the phrase “with ikhlâs” in the hadîth “Abstaining from harâms, he who says Lâ ilâha ill-Allah with ikhlâs will enter Paradise,” our Master the Prophet said, (ikhlâs is) its precluding the sayer from harâms.” [Tabarânî]

For people who do not avoid prohibited acts, it gets increasingly difficult to keep their îmân. If they fail to keep it, they will dwell in Hell eternally.

Question: When we see a certain Muslim do an act that is a symptom of disbelief, can we judge such a person to be a disbeliever?
On the basis of a suspicion, we cannot attribute disbelief to people who confess openly that they are Muslims and who say the Kalima-i shahâdat.

If something done or said by a certain Muslim bears many symptoms of kufr [disbelief] and only one symptom of îmân [belief], or bears a symptom that is controversial (among savants) whether it causes disbelief or not, such a person cannot be named a disbeliever. For we are enjoined to have a good opinion about other Muslims. (Radd-ul-mukhtâr)

When it is understood clearly that that person has meant the symptom of disbelief, this one becomes a disbeliever. Our ta’wîl [interpretation] will be of no use then. (Bazzâziyya)

Question: Is it not declared in hadîth-i sharîfs and in Islamic savants’ statements that seventy-two heretical groups will go to Paradise after they stay in Hell as much as their sins and corruptness of their belief?
Yes, but who will be treated as such are heretical groups, not every person who is Ahl-i qibla. Of these heretical groups, only those who have not fallen into disbelief will be so. People who have slide into disbelief will be in eternal Hell.

Question: There have emerged people claiming, “Those who turn to the direction of the Ka’ba five times a day and who say the Kalima-i shahâdat when reciting the prayer “Attahiyyâtu” in the sitting postures in namâz will not remain in disbelief even if they fall into disbelief and do not repent and renounce the deed which caused their apostasy.” Is it not wrong?
This thought goes against the credal tenets of Ahl as-sunnat belief. Hadrat Imâm-i A’zam expresses: “To make tawba [repentance], it does not suffice to say the Kalima-i shahâdat; it is also necessary to repent and renounce the deed which has caused one’s disbelief. Unless people repent that deed, they will remain in disbelief even if they perform namâz.

Question: Basing their thought on the hadîth “He who says Lâ ilâha ill-Allah will enter Paradise,” some people say that seventy-two heretical groups, too, will not stay in Hell eternally. Is this assertion true?
It is wrong. A hypocrite can also utter the Lâ ilâha ill-Allah. Out of them, those who have died as disbelievers will not enter Paradise.

Question: Is it permissible to say “Beneath our disease of takfîr, there lies a kind of self-deification virus”?
This statement is a slander against the Prophet of Allah and Islamic savants. Were Rasûlullah and his inheritors, the Ahl as-sunnat savants, infected (Hâshâ!) with a self-deification virus as they declared those who fell into disbelief kâfirs? What an abominable slander! Heretical people holding disbelief in creed are not Ahl-i qibla; they will stay in Hell forever even if they perform namâz and do all acts of worship. In order for them to be embraced in the group termed Ahl-i qibla, they must repent and renounce the false creed that causes their disbelief. We have listed its proof-texts and documents above.

(takfîr: declaring a Muslim a kâfir [disbeliever].)