An Essential of the religion (Arabic: الضرورات الدينية, lit. al-Ḍarūrāt al-dīnīyya) refers to rulings and beliefs that are obviously and self-evidently known by all Muslims to be part of Islam. The denial of an essential of the religion implies a denial of the Prophet (s) and amounts to apostasy. Essentials of the religion include the obligations of the Prayer, fasting, hajj, and zakat.
The term, "daruri al-din," is a recent term introduced in jurisprudence after al-Muhaqqiq al-Hilli (602/1205 -676/1277). A few jurists and theologians, including al-Shaykh al-Tusi, al-Fayyad al-Lahiji, al-'Allama al-Majlisi, al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili, and Muhammad Rida Muzaffar, discussed and defined essentials of the religion in their works.
A clear-cut definition of an essential of the religion can be found in a few jurisprudential sources. In his al-Iqtisad, al-Shaykh al-Tusi defines daruri al-din as part of the religion that is as obvious as the proposition that ‘one is not greater than two’ and ‘a span is smaller than a cubit.”
Criteria offered by some jurists for what counts as an essential of the religion include obviousness, being understandable by everyone, being so self-evident that its denial amounts to takfir (or excommunication), and being what every Muslim knows.
In his Majma' al-fa'ida wa-l-burhan, al-Muqaddas al-Ardabili characterizes an essential of the religion as what is certainly part of Islam, even if it is established via reasoning or proofs.
Essentials of the Religion
In jurisprudential sources, essentials of the religion are mainly discussed under issues such as the relation between their denial and apostasy, and rarely have their instances been discussed. In different sources, the following instances are cited: obligation of the Prayer, fasting, and zakat, as well as the prohibition of sexual intercourse with a woman on her monthly period, and the prohibition of riot against the Imam.
It is almost impossible to gather or enumerate essentials of the religion. For jurists never tried to state all instances thereof. Some jurists have referred to certain cases as essentials of the religion whereas they are not agreed upon or specified by all jurists as essential: adhan and iqama, istihbab of going to the mosque, obligation of wudu', and even the validity of istishab (or the presumption of continuity).
The Denial of an Essential of the Religion
According to Shiite and Sunni scholars, the denial of an essential of the religion amounts to kufr or disbelief. There is no disagreement among jurists as to the apostasy of a person who denies an essential of the religion. However, there is a disagreement over whether the denial of an essential of the religion leads to apostasy in and of itself, or it does so in virtue of implying the denial of the Prophet (s) and his message. There are four jurisprudential views on the matter:
1. The denial of an essential of the religion is an independent ground of disbelief in and of itself. Thus, the denial of an essential of the religion is a full ground of disbelief, as is the denial of God or the prophethood of the Prophet (s), even if it is grounded in an objection or does not imply the denial of the Prophet (s). The view was attributed to al-'Allama al-Hilli.
2. The denial of an essential of the religion amounts to apostasy only if it implies the denial of the Prophet (s) and his prophethood, and is out of animosity. Thus, if one denies a ruling on the false belief that it is not part of the Sharia does not count as apostate. However, there must be evidence for the denier’s doubts or ignorance. The view is attributed to al-Sayyid al-Murtada, Mulla Hadi Sabzawari, Sayyid Bahr al-'Ulum, Ayatollah al-Khu'i, and Imam Khomeini. Allegedly, the majority of jurists who discussed the issue of denying an essential of the religion, and even some proponents of the first view, have excluded the case of denial based on doubts or objections.
3. If the denier of an essential of the religion was born in an Islamic territory and lived there until his youth, and was thus exposed to essentials of Islam, he or she will count as a disbeliever. However, if the denier has lived in faraway non-Islamic territories such that he or she might plausibly be said to be innocently ignorant of some parts of the religion, then their denial does not amount to disbelief. The view is attributed to the Author of al-Jawahir.
4. The denier of an essential of the religion is apostate only if they are culpably doubtful of that part. Otherwise, they do not count as apostates. The view is attributed to al-Shaykh al-Ansari. He specifies that if a person denies essential beliefs, then he or she will be a disbeliever without any qualification or exception. If the person denies an essential ruling of the religion as a culpable ignorant, then he or she counts as a disbeliever. However, if the person denies such a ruling as a non-culpable ignorant, then he or she does not count as a disbeliever.
- The material for this article is mainly taken from ضروری دین in Farsi WikiShia.