The religious teachings revealed by Islam are the teachings that are written in the books of the scholars of Ahl as-Sunna [1]. A person becomes a kafir (disbeliever) if he does not believe, among the teachings of iman [2] and the Sharia [3] that have been reported by the scholars of Ahl as-Sunna, even one of the nasses (ayats [4] or hadiths [5]) with explicit meaning. If he keeps his disbelief secret, he is called a munafiq. If not only he keeps it secret but also he tries to deceive Muslims by passing himself off as a Muslim, he is called a zindiq. If he makes ta’wil (to interpret) of the nasses with explicit meaning without knowing, that is, gives wrong meaning to them and believes wrongly, he again becomes a disbeliever and is called a mulhid.

If he believes wrongly by making ta’wil of the nasses with inexplicit meaning, he does not become a disbeliever but, because he has departed from the right path of the Ahl as-Sunna, will go to Hell. Since he believes in the nasses with explicit meaning, he will not remain in Hell eternally but will be taken into Paradise. Such people are called ahl al-bid’a or heretical groups. There are seventy-two heretical groups. None of their ’ibadat (worship) is acceptable. Muslims whose faith is correct are called Ahl as-Sunnat wa ’l-Jama’a or Sunnis. In relation to ’ibadat, the Sunnis belong to four different Madhhabs [6]. Those who follow one of these madhhabs acknowledge that the followers of the other three also belong to Ahl as-Sunna, and they love one another. He who does not belong to Ahl as-Sunna is either a disbeliever or a man of bid’a.”

[1] Ahl as-Sunna (wa’l-Jama’a): the true pious Muslims who follow as-Sahabat al-kiram. These are called Sunni Muslims. A Sunni Muslim adapts himself to one of the four Madhhabs. These madhhabs are Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi’i and Hanbali.
[2] iman: faith, belief, beliefs of Islam; kalam, i’tiqad.
[3] Shari’at: (pl. of Shari’a) i) rules and commandments as a whole of the religion. ii) religion.
[4] ayat: a verse of al-Qur’an al-kerim; al-ayat al-kerima.
[5] hadith (sherif): i) a saying of the Prophet (’alaihi ’s-salam); al-Hadith ash-sherif: all the hadiths as a whole; ii) ’ilm al-hadith; iii) Books of the hadith ash-sherif. iv) Al-hadith al-qudsi, as-sahih, al-hasan: kinds of hadiths (for which, see Endless Bliss, II).
[6] Madhhab: all of what a profound ’alim of (especially) Fiqh (usually one of the four —Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, Hanbali) or iman (one of the two, namely Ash-ari, Maturidi) communicated.