What is understood from the words of the two shaikhs (Shaikh Ibn Baz and Shaikh al-Albani) is that [the greater] kufr (disbelief) is only for the one who declares that lawful (istahalla) [as a matter of belief]. As for the one who judged by other than it knowing that it is an act of disobedience, opposing [the Book and the Sunnah] then this person is not a kaafir (disbeliever), because he did not declare his act to be lawful [as a matter of belief]. He could have done it out of fear, or being incapable [of ruling by other than what Allaah has revealed in that situation or circumstance] or what resembles these matters.
Based upon this [principle] the three verses [in Surah al-Maa'idah] have been revealed for three different situations:
1. [Regarding] the one who judged by other than what Allaah has revealed, in replacement of the Deen of Allaah. This is the major kufr which expels from the religion. This is because this individual made himself a legislator along with Allaah, the Mighty and Majestic and because he dislikes the Sharee'ah.
2. [Also regarding] the one who judged [by other than what Allaah revealed] due to a desire in his soul, or out of fear for himself and what is similar to these matters. Such a person does not become a disbeliever, but his [crime] is reduced to fisq (open sin).
3. [And regarding] the one who judged [by other than what Allaah revealed] out of oppression and injustice - and this does not occur with the secular law as a whole, but it arises in a specific ruling. For example when a person judges by other than what Allaah has revealed in the case of a particular individual in order to seek revenge against him. Such a one is called an oppressor.
Therefore, the descriptions are applied according to the nature of the situation...
...And there is a doubt (shubhah) with many of the youth, which has become firmly and deeply rooted in their minds and it has kindled the issue of revolting against the rulers - and it is: that those rulers replace the Sharee'ah (haa'ulaa il-Hukkaam MUBADDILOON), they prescribe the (secular) laws from themselves and they do not rule by what Allaah has revealed and the rule is present - but they prescribed laws from themselves. So (these youth) judged them with apostasy and disbelief and then they built upon this that so long as those rulers are disbeliever it is necessary to kill them, and does not matter that we are in a state of weakness. Because (not fighting) in the state of weakness was abrogated by the verses of the sword (permitting fighting), therefore there is no place for acting (as if we were) in the state of weakness - as they say - that state that the Muslims in Makkah were in!
So the answer to this doubt is that we say: "There is no escaping from that we know firstly: Does the description of apostasy apply to them or not? And this requires knowing the evidences which indicate that this saying or action is apostasy, then applying them to an individual, and then, whether this individual has any doubts (which may excuse him) or not? Meaning: Sometimes a text can indicate that this action is kufr and this saying is kufr, but there are preventive barriers which prevent the application of the ruling of kufr upon this specific individual.
And these preventive barriers are many, amongst them dhann (speculation) which is ignorance and amongst them ghalabah (which means being overcome by something).
So the man who said to his family, "When I die burn me and scatter my ashes in the sea because if Allaah grasps me He will punish me with a punishment that He has never inflicted upon anyone in the world". The apparent belief of this man is kufr and doubt in the power of Allaah. However, when Allaah brought him together [to his original form] and addressed Him, his reply was, "O my Lord, I feared You!" Or a wording similar to it. So he forgave him, and therefore, this act arose from this person unintentionally.
Similar to him is the person who was overcome by joy and took hold of his camel [which he had lost] and said, "O Allaah, You are my servant andI am your Lord", a statement of kufr. However, this person did not become a disbeliever on account of it, because he was overwhelmed and was overcome (by something he could not repel). On account of the severity of his joy he erred. He actually intended to say, "O Allaah, You are my Lord and I am Your servant", but he said, "O Allaah, You are my servant andI am your Lord".
The one who is compelled is compelled to kufr, so he says a statement of kufr or does an act of kufr, but he does not become a disbeliever from any textual [evidence] from the Qur'aan because he did not intend this act and did not choose it.
So we know that these rulers judge by what the Qur'aan gives evidence to - on the basis of the various differences within the madhhabs - in the personal matters such as nikah (marriage), faraa'id (inheritance) and what is similar to them. As for judging between people, then they differ...