Authenticity of the Hadith 'Whoever says: 'I am a believer' is in fact a Kafir'

Q: A Hadith was mentioned in the book entitled “Al-Kaba’ir” (Major Sins) by Shaykh Ibn ‘Abdul-Wahhab which reads: “Whoever says, ‘I am a believer’ is in fact a Kafir (disbeliever). Whoever says, ‘I will be in Paradise’ will be in Hellfire” or something to that meaning, without Takhrij (referencing) or Ta‘lil (logical and methodical reasoning). Please advise regarding the authenticity and explanation of this Hadith.

A: This was not authentically confirmed to be a Hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), but was narrated as an Athar (narration from the Companions) attributed to `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him). Ibn Kathir mentioned it in his interpretation of the Ayah saying (what means): Have you not seen those (Jews and Christians) who claim sanctity for themselves. Nay, but Allâh sanctifies whom He wills, and they will not be dealt with injustice even equal to the extent of a scalish thread in the long slit of a date-stone. (Surah Al-Nisa’, 4: 49) He said, “Imam Ahmad reported on the authority of Al-Mu‘tamir, from his father, from Nu‘aym ibn Abu Hind, from `Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) that he said: ‘Whoever says, ‘I am a believer’, is in fact a Kafir. Whoever says, ‘I am knowledgeable’, is in fact ignorant. Whoever says, ‘I will be in Paradise’, will be (end up) in Hellfire.’” (Part No. 1; Page No. 740) Its narrators are trustworthy; it was narrated also by Ibn Mardawayh, from Musa ibn ‘Ubaydah, from Talhah Ibn ‘Ubaydullah ibn Kurayz, from `Umar that he said, "The thing I fear most for you is self-opinion; whoever says, ‘I am a believer’, is in fact a Kafir; whoever says, ‘I am knowledgeable’, is in fact ignorant; whoever says, ‘I will be in Paradise’, will be (end up) in Hellfire.’" Nevertheless, its chain of narration includes Musa ibn `Ubaydah ibn Nashit Al-Rabadhy, who is a weak narrator; Imam Ahmad said about him, “Reporting on his authority is unacceptable.” He also said, “Hadiths reported by him are Munkar (rejected for being reported by a weak narrator whose narration conflicts with an authentic Hadith).” Yahya ibn Ma`in and Ibn Al-Madiny ranked him as weak. This concludes Ibn Kathir’s commentary. Moreover, the mentioned narration of Ahmad has a missing narrator in its chain of transmission, because Nu‘aym did not directly hear from `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him). However, the mentioned Athar, if it is true, refers to whoever says so by way of self-praise and overweening estimate of one’s own deeds; and the falsity and infringement on the knowledge of Ghayb (the Unseen) in stating, “I will be in Paradise” although Allah the Exalted says (what means): Say: “None in the heavens and the earth knows the Ghaib (Unseen) except Allâh” (Surah Al-Naml, 27: 65) He also states: "(He Alone is) the All-Knower of the Ghaib (Unseen), and He reveals to none His Ghaib (Unseen)." Except to a Messenger (from mankind) whom He has chosen (He informs him of unseen as much as He likes), and then He makes a band of watching guards (angels) to march before him and behind him. (Surah Al-Jinn, 72: 26-27) (Part No. 1; Page No. 741) We recommend that you refer to the second volume of the book entitled “Kashf Al-Khafa’ wa Muzil Al-Ilbas ‘amma Ishtahara min Al-Ahadith ‘ala Alsinat Al-Nas” by Al-‘Ajluny, so that you learn more about this issue.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.