“Takfiri” is the ideology of a person (Muslim) who accuses others (Muslims) of apostasy. Such accusations serve as the base for uncountable political crimes. The accusation itself, which is in contradiction with Islamic guidelines, is called “takfir”. The word “takfir” is derived from the Arabic word “kafir” which means to “cover” and is used to refer to a non-believer (i.e., who covers the truth after seeing it). However, as will be shown with evidence below, “takfir” is used to push political agendas as it has no religious foundation.
Is “takfir” a thereat to only Muslims?
Takfir is a direct threat to Muslims. However, Muslims are members of this universe and it can not be said that the effect of “takfir” is isolated to them. To discuss “takfir” (against Muslims), it’s best to take a look on Islam’s official view towards, non-Muslims who are non-Believers (in Islam) by definition. Despite of that, the Holy Quran itself (which Muslims believe is the unaltered words of God), in several verses, refers to non-believers with great tolerance, such as in the following (translated) verses:
- “The Truth is from your Lord; so whoever decides, then let him believe, and whoever decides, then let him disbelieve.” [Quran 18:29]
- “So remind them [O Muhammad]! Surely you are only a Reminder. You are not over them a controller.” [Quran 88:21-22]
- “There shall be no compulsion in [acceptance of] the religion. The right course has become clear from the wrong.” [Quran 2:256]
- “Allah does not forbid you (as regards) the ones who have not fought you on account of the religion and have not driven you out of your residences that you should be benign to them and be equitable towards them; surely Allah loves the equitable.” [Quran 60:8]
- “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [Quran 49:13]
- “Had Allah willed, He would have made you one nation [united in religion], but [He intended] to test you in what He has given you; so race to [all that is] good. To Allah is your return all together, and He will [then] inform you concerning that over which you used to differ.” [Quran 5:48]
So if that is the official view of Islam towards non-believers (in God), so how would it view Muslims who are not following the interpretation in a same way, or who have certain disagreements. No doubt they can not be viewed in a less tolerant, merciful or compassionate way, can they?
Wars on faith?
The duty of fighting in Islam is restricted to only against those who transgress. Fighting has nothing to do with the enemy’s faith, but is confined only to self defense. One of the scholarly opinions within Islam even defines an “Islamic state” as: Any state that guarantees ‘safety’ for a Muslim person to practice his/her religion. (According to the Hanafi school of jurisprudence in Islam.). Therefore there is no such a thing as waging wars against non-believers (i.e., based on others’ faith).
A unique feature of Islam is that, almost everything in Sharia (Islamic guidelines) is a matter of scholarly (and personal) opinion. As a natural feature of human beings is that they never agree on a single opinion since they started existing in this universe. However “takfiris” will not acknowledge the human nature of difference (which is described clearly in Quranic verses above). If “takfiris” stop at the limit of verbal accusations, that might be considered as some kind of expression. However, they use some interpretation acrobatics and word bending in order to use “takfir” as a stepping stone towards their political crimes (ex., bombing voting stations in Pakistan, because “takfiris” say voting is some kind of apostasy). So it’s no more just a speech. It’s a dirty political crime. A famous example of the “takfiri” groups, that uses “takfir” to justify its crimes, is AlQaida. They can be seen justifying their killings of innocent Muslims (and non-Muslims) in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc, and lately in Syria. That is their view against their fellow Muslims, so there is no need to explain their views of originally non-Muslim (or non-believing) people.
Takfiris should not be confused with Salafis. The Salafi movement (described as conservative) is not violent. It does not condone violence against innocent people. However, a number of splinter Salafist groups, labeled by scholars as Salafi-Takfiris, have claimed to themselves the right to accuse others of apostasy, which is neither their right to do such a thing nor should such accusations be the foundation to any crimes. Takfiris, condone acts of violence against innocents as methods of achieving political goals, and they use the false religious pretext to gain support from people who are uneducated about the true religious teachings. Takfiris also consider all political authority that does not abide by “their” twisted interpretation of Islam as illegitimate and apostate. As such, violence against such regimes is considered legitimate by them.
How to counter that threat?
We are dealing with an ideology here, though an ugly one that has no foundation in Islam. So dealing with it with iron and fire only results in the rise of its cost.
In our view, the only way to counter such kind of threat is as follows:
- Illiteracy eradication. So Takfiri folks would run out of human resources to implement their agendas, and their societies would renounce such ideas. For example, 30% in Egypt and 70% in Afghanistan can’t read, and so depend on others for information. Imagine if all the years and money spent in a country such as Afghanistan by the colonial forces were funneled into a functional education system, initiated and supported by the international community, and operated by intelligent members of each society, who do exist but hardly make it to the news headlines as much as the explosive ones do.
- Dedicated scholars. Actively exposing the twisted logic of those who commit crimes in the veil of religion. Easy to follow, non stereotypical documentaries, scholarly explanation and constant dialogue by/with Muslims about the real foundations of Islam.
- Responsible media. Accurate usage of terms, in order to avoid the contribution to people’s confusion about the truth and the actual roots of trouble.
It’s the responsibility of Muslims. Although, for an accomplishment, they may need the support of their fellow human beings on the real issues, rather than the engagement in other distractions.
- Takfiri preaching & its consequences in Syria (opegypt.wordpress.com)