Explanation of the denotation in Ahadeeth Laisa Minna (ليس منا) "Not From Us":
This article is an attempt to explain the meaning and the ruling of the denotation Laisa Minna (Translated as: Not from us) which is used in ahadeeth. This is taken from the work of Shaykh Hatim al 'Awni (Professor of Hadeeth at Umm al Qura university, Makkah).
Note: This article is paraphrased for clear explanation and more references are added.
There are many ahadeeth which have this denotation I will quote two of them
عن أبي موسى عن النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم قال من حمل علينا السلاح فليس منا
1) The one who takes up arms against us, is "Not from us" [Saheeh Bukahri: 7071]
2) The one who cheats is "Not from me"(من غش فليس مني ) [Saheeh Muslim: 102]
Now when laymen read this hadeeth or any other which has this term might interpret that the one who does these acts does not remain Muslim. Because the apparent meaning indicate towards it, while in reality its not like that rather this was the interpretation of Khawarij (deviant group).
Shaykh ul Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah rahimahullah said:
وكذلك تفسير الخوارج والمعتزلة بأنه يخرج من الإيمان بالكلية ويستحق الخلود في النار تأويل منكر
And likewise the interpretation of Khawarij and Mu'tazila (with the denotation Laisa Minna that the one who does it) is out of faith completely and deserves to be in hell forever then this is a rejected interpretation [Majm'oo al Fatwaa 7/525]
Now the question If he remains Muslim then what does "Not From us" mean? and what is the ruling on act mentioned with it?
Meaning of Denotation (Laisa Minna)
When this denotation is used then it would mean "Not Completely over our Sunnah or our methodology or our way"
Ibn Hajr asqalani rahimahullah comments on the chapter of Saheeh Bukhari (باب ليس منا من شق الجيوب) Chapter: The one who tears his clothes is "Not from us" and says
قوله ليس منا أي من أهل سنتنا وطريقتنا وليس المراد به إخراجه عن الدين ولكن فائدة إيراده بهذا اللفظ المبالغة في الردع عن الوقوع في مثل ذلك كما يقول الرجل لولده عند معاتبته لست منك ولست مني أي ما أنت على طريقتي
Saying of Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم ) "Not From us" (then) it means "Not from our Sunnah or our way" it does not mean (that the one who does it) is expelled from religion and on the contrary the benefit of him referring this word (i.e denotation) is to intensify condemnation over occurence of such things, like (when) a person says to his son while rebuking I am not from you and you are not from me, (then) it means you are not on my way.[Fath al Baari 3/163]
Ibn al Jawzi rahimahullah while commenting on the hadeeth of Saheeh Muslim (He who learnt archery and then neglected it, is not from us, (or said) He has been guilty of disobedience) says:
قوله ليس منا أي ليس على سيرتنا وهذا لأن الرمي من آلة الجهاد فإذا تركه من علمه نسيه
His saying "Not from us" (it means) "Not on our way and this is because archery is tool of jihaad so, when the one who knows it leaves (i.e stop practicing) it forgets it. [Kashf al Mushkil min Hadeeth as Saheehayn 1/1111]
Imam Nawawi rahimahullah says regarding this denotation
ومعناه عند أهل العلم أنه ليس ممن اهتدى بهدينا واقتدى بعلمنا وعملنا وحسن طريقتنا كما يقول الرجل لولده إذا لم يرض فعله لست مني وهكذا القول في كل الأحاديث الواردة بنحو هذا القول
Meaning of denotation (laisa minna) near people of knowledge is (that the one who does that act) is not from those who are guided to our way or not from the followers of our knowledge and actions or not from those who follow the splendidness of our way, like a person to says to his son when he does not accede his action, you are not from me. This is the saying for all the ahadeeth which has come with this denoatation [ Sharah Saheeh Muslim 1/109]
Ruling on the acts mentioned with this denotation.
The denotation "Not From us" is apparently (البراءة) disavowal and absolute disavowal is only from Kufr(that's the reason khawarij deduced with it over their Takfeer) but a conditional disavowal from the one who believes in Allah and his Messenger apparently indicate towards prohibition(of the act mentioned) and a conditional disavowal over a thing which is not prohibited evince towards Makrooh Tanzeehi (dislike) or leaving a preferable act.
To rule out all the acts mentioned with this denotation to be prohibited is not correct either because it is has been used for other than prohibition too. I will quote two hadeeth
(ليس منا من لم يتغن بالقرآن)
1) The one who does not recite Qur'an in a beautiful voice is "Not From Us". [Sahih Bukhari 7527]
From Ijmaa(consensus) of Scholars reciting Qur'an in beautiful voice is preferable not obligatory. So, here this denotation is used over leaving a preferable act and not prohibition. When this denotation comes for the things which are not prohibited then it is for urging not to leave preferable acts
(من لم يأخذ شاربه فليس منا)
2) The one who does not trim his moustaches is not from us [Sunan Nasa'ee: 5047]
So, this denotation comes for the things which is prohibited as well as those which are not prohibited so a muhaqqiq(researcher) stands in need to know that this probability has come in the meaning of this denotation before he rules anything as prohibited
If it comes for those prohibition whose evil is clear or whose prohibition remains still (Likes taking up arms against muslims and likes of it) then it will be Haraam. If it is from the chapter of etiquette or from the things for which there is evidence of it being not prohibited (Like reciting Qu'ran in beautiful voice) then it is not prohibited.