Refuting the claim that the one obeying the Prophet absolutely is a Kafir

Q: I ask Allah (Exalted be He) to grant Your Eminence long life, success and safety. I am interested in presenting a very important issue that caused Fitnah (sedition) in our country, for it has been sparked by an allegedly religious scholar. He is highly respected by people on account of his good conduct and character. He is a well-known Khatib (preacher) in a large Masjid (mosque) in an important city called Alway, where Shaykh Muhyi Al-Din Alway, an ex-teacher in the Islamic University in Al-Madinah Al-Munawwarah was born. The question is that the allegedly religious scholar accused a pious man of being a Kafir (disbeliever) for claiming the obligation of absolute obedience to the Messenger (peace be upon him). `Ibadah (worship) means absolute obedience; it is the right of Allah Alone; devoting this obedience to Allah Alone (Part No. 1; Page No. 402) is Tawhid (belief in the Oneness of Allah). Absolute obedience to other than Allah (Exalted be He) is Shirk (associating others with Allah in His Divinity or worship). Some Muslims think that this scholar became a Kafir because he considered the righteous believer a Kafir. We hope Your Eminence could provide us with a precise answer that can settle the dispute. We hope that all Muslims could listen to and abide by your answer, for you are, thanks to Allah, the focus of Muslims' attention in our country. May Allah preserve you as a source of knowledge serving Islam! As-salamu `alaykum warahmatullah wabarakatuh (May Allah's Peace, Mercy, and Blessings be upon you!)

A: Obeying the Messenger (peace be upon him) should be absolute and unrestricted, for Allah (Glorified be He) has commanded such obedience in several Ayahs (Qur'anic verses) such as His Saying: Say: "Obey Allâh and obey the Messenger, but if you turn away, he (Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) is only responsible for the duty placed on him (i.e. to convey Allâh’s Message) and you for that placed on you. If you obey him, you shall be on the right guidance. The Messenger’s duty is only to convey (the message) in a clear way (i.e. to preach in a plain way)," His Saying (Glorified be He): He who obeys the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم), has indeed obeyed Allâh, and His Saying (Glorified and Exalted be He): And obey Allâh and the Messenger (Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم) that you may obtain mercy. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, Anyone who obeys me, obeys Allah, and anyone who disobeys me, disobeys Allah. (Agreed upon by Al-Bukhari and Muslim) (Part No. 1; Page No. 403) Therefore, you should know that what this scholar said is absolutely wrong and is a great sin that contradicts the Shari`ah (Islamic law-based) evidence from the Book (i.e. Qur'an), Sunnah and the Ijma` (consensus of scholars). However, he should not be considered Kafir until he is informed of his sin. If he persists upon it and does not repent, he should be considered Kafir.May Allah grant us success. May peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family, and Companions.