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Refuting Islamophobic Claims That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam: Part 7 On Takfirism

Takfiri Narratives of Jihadists vs. Traditional Dealing with Takfir


Main Points

Takfiri narratives of Jamat al-Takfir wal-Hijra and Other Jihadists

Takfiri Narratives Mainly Target Mainstream Muslims 

Classical Scholars and the Issue of Takfir

Ahadith That Prohibit the Takfir of Muslims

A Muslim can’t be declared a Kafir unless he himself rejects any basic beliefs 

Comparison between Takfiri Jihadists and Traditional Scholars Prove that Islamophobic claim is wrong



By New Age Islam Special Correspondent

25 Jun 2021

Islamophobes frequently claim that Jihadists represent the true version of Islam just as it is recorded in traditional interpretations of Islamic laws and sources. We have studied in the previous six parts that the Islamobhophic claim as such is not correct. Taking this subject forward, we will now focus on the takfiri narratives of Jihadists to observe the contrast between them and the classical interpretation of Islam; which would surely nullify the Islamophobic claim.    

Takfiri narratives of Jihadists

Among the Jihadists, Jamat al-Takfir wal-Hijra (ex-communication and exodus), a name given to the most extreme Takfiri group Jama’at al-Muslimin founded by Shukri Mustafa as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood is described as “a matrix of terrorist cells” – allied to Bin Laden but often more extreme than him. This group is reported to have formed “the most extreme and violent strand in the Salafist Jihadist movement which inspired “some of the tactics and methods used by Al-Qaeda and whose Takfiri and violent ideology is being embraced by a growing number of Salafist jihadists living in Europe. This group holds the view that “man-made laws” are ‘illegitimate’ and that “theft, kidnapping, forced marriages and even the assassination of anyone who does not accept their ideology are justified. The Takfiri narrative of this group is more extreme than any other Jihadist groups. The following are some Takfiri narratives of Jamat al-Takfir wal-Hijra, most of which are also embraced by other Jihadist groups: 

•        Every perpetrator of a major sin (Gunah-e-Kabirah) who insists on major sins and does not repent of them is a disbeliever (Kaafir).

•        The Muslim authorities and rulers who don’t make decisions according to what has been revealed by Allah Almighty are absolutely infidels.

•        The Ulama and scholars are Kaafir because they don’t declare the perpetrator of major sins (Kabair) and the non-practising rulers to be Kaafir.

•        Anyone who does not accept their Jihadist and Takfiri ideologies presented to him is declared a Kaafir. Even the person who accepts their ideologies but does not join their Jihadist group is considered to be a Kaafir.

•        However, a person who leaves the group after joining it is called an apostate and his blood is permissible for them. Therefore, all the religious groups to which their call has reached but they have not come to swear allegiance to their Imam are Kaafir and outside the pale of Islam.

•        Obeying anyone other than Allah and His Messenger is an act of shirk. Therefore, every person who believes in the statements of the Imams or the consensus including the consensus (ijma’) of the Companions, or whoever believes in Qiyas (the process of deductive analogy), or Masalih Mursalah (publics interests) or Istihsan (juristic discretion) and other such jurisprudential proof is a Kaafir.

•        The Islamic periods after the fourth century AH are infidel and ignorant because they (referring to mainstream Sunni-Sufi Muslims who follow any of the four jurisprudential schools) have been worshipping the 'idol of imitation (taqleed)', and which has been worshipped apart from God. Therefore, it is obligatory for a Muslim to know the rules of Shari'ah with proofs. It is not permissible for them to imitate (do taqleed) in any matters of religion.

•        The words or deeds of a Companion are not an argument, even if he is the Righteous Caliph!

•        Migration (Hijrah) is another major factor in their Jihadist thinking. By this, they mean conscious separation from the ignorant society. For the Jihadists, all the societies of today are ignorant. Isolation from these societies is compulsory; otherwise, it will lead to the acts of Kufr and Shirk.

•        These Jihadists reject the sayings of the classical scholars and Ulama who have access to research in jurisprudential matters. They don't value the books available on Tafsir and Aqaid. Most of the great classical scholars who are the authors of these books do not prove to be Muslims in their eyes.

•        They claim to believe in the authoritativeness of the Quran and Sunnah. However, it can be noticed that they first establish an opinion, then forcibly and unjustly apply the Qur'anic words to their opinion, and accept what is in accordance with their sayings in the Sunnah. When something does not suit them, they find a way either to reject it or say "this does not mean what is popularly understood"!

The most important book that explains all the secrets of their Jihadist ideology and creeds is "Zikriyyat Ma Jamaat-e-Muslimeen - Al-Takfir wal Hijra" authored by Abdul Rahman Abu Al-Khair, a member of Jamat al-Takfir wal Hijra, who later left this group.

Sayyid Qutb’s books, “Fi Zilal al-Quran” and ‘Ma’alim fi al-Tariq’ inspired the Takfiri ideology of ISIS. It is well-known that Sayyid Qutb and other Muslim Brotherhood ideologues were greatly inspired by Maulana Maududi’s concept of Hukumat-e-Ilahiyyah. Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani, one of the leading members of ISIS, got inspiration from Sayyid Qutb’s book of Tafsir “Fi Zilal al-Quran”.

Turki ibn Mubarak al-Binali says, “Adnani studied this book systematically for twenty years. During one of the lessons, he went through the Tafsir of the Quranic verse, “Whoever does not judge with what Allah has revealed; those are the infidels” (5:44). He asked one of his colleagues, what are the sources of the Syrian constitution? What is the legislative authority? What is the executive and judicial authority? When the colleague replied, Adnani then asked: so our government is an infidel? The cleric left. That was his way of debating issues”. Adnani later joined ISIS and became one of its leading spokesmen.

In his book ‘Risala al-Iman’, Salih Sirriya, a Salafi Jihadist ideologue (1933-1974), does takfir (ex-communication) of the Muslim rulers, describes common Muslims as belonging to Jahiliyyah community and declares their state ‘Dar al-Harb’. He further says, “The present governance in all Muslim countries is undoubtedly the infidel governance and the communities in all these countries belong to Jahiliyya (pre-Islamic age of ignorance in Arabia).”

Takfiri Narratives Mainly Target Mainstream Muslims 

No casual observer of Takfiri narratives of Jihadists can deny the fact that they have caused great destruction for the Muslim community throughout the world. They have led to killing Muslims in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan by declaring them “apostates”. Comparatively speaking, the Takfiri narratives are designed to harm Muslims more than non-Muslims. The Muslim civilians in the affected countries have now been wandering as homeless, orphans, widows or the ones living the life of refugees with the support of the foreign countries. Their acts of worship, which they were freely doing before getting affected by the Takfiri Jihadists have now been under disturbing circumstances or specs of doubt and suspicion.

Classical Scholars and the Issue of Takfir

     Doing takfir (ex-communication) of a Muslim individual has also been the practice of the classical and traditional scholars from among the mainstream Muslims. However, unlike the Jihadists, the classical Muslim scholars took extreme caution in the matter of Takfir. They do Takfir only when an individual publicly rejects the basic and essential beliefs (zaruriyat-e-deen), otherwise, they hold the general view that the people of Qibla are not be excommunicated.

The general view of the standard and classical scholars of Islamic law (Fiqh) is that it is prohibited to do Takfir of any believer unless he himself rejects any basic beliefs essential for a person to remain a Muslim. They apply this understanding and interpretation to the following Ahadith:

The messenger of Allah Almighty, Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: If a person says to his brother, O’ Kaafir (disbeliever)! Then surely one of them is such. (i.e.; Kaafir) (Sahih Bukhari Volume 8 Book 73 Number 125)

The same Hadith is narrated with slightly different words in Muslim Shareef:

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Any person who calls his brother: O Unbeliever, (then, the truth of this label) would return to one of them. If it is true, (then it is) as he asserted, (but if it is not true), then it returns to him (and thus the person who made the accusation is an unbeliever). [Sahih Muslim Book 001, Number 0117:]

"Whoever attributes Kufr [unbelief] to a believer, he is like his murderer". (Narrated by Tirmidhi and Bukhari)

"Withhold [your tongues] from those who say "There is no god but Allah" --- do not call them Kaafir. Whoever calls a reciter of Kalima "There is no god but Allah" as a Kaafir is nearer to being a Kaafir himself”. (Tabarani, reported from Ibn Umar)

"Three things are the basis of faith. [One is] to withhold from one who says "There is no god but Allah" --- do not call him Kaafir for any sin, nor expel him from Islam for any misconduct". (Abu Dawud)

They interpret that these Ahadith (plural of Hadith) mentioned above, formulate a legal value not to describe a believer or a Muslim as Kaafir unless he himself rejects any essential beliefs (zaruriyat-e-din). The law is so strict that if the accusation is not true, the accuser himself will be considered a Kaafir. Some excerpts from the classical and traditional books appreciated by mainstream Muslims are as follows;

“One of the doctrines of Ahl as-Sunnah (the people of Sunnah) is that none of the people of the Qibla can and should be called Kafir” (Sharh ‘Aqai’d al-Nasafiyyah by Allamah Sa'ad al-Din al-Taftazani, p.121)

“A ruling of Takfir should not be offered to a Muslim if there is a possibility of interpreting his words in a favourable manner” (Rad al-Mukhtar, Book of Jihad, Chapter on Apostasy)

Pointing out to Imam Abu Hanifa the founder of the Hanafi School of thought, It has been said, “He did not describe anyone from among the people of the Qibla as Kaafir”. (Sharh al-Mawaqif, 5th part)

Imam Azam Abu Hanafi RA said: “Nothing expels a man from faith except for the denial of what brought him in it (faith)”. (Rad al-Mukhtar, Vol 3, P.310)

Allama Mulla Ali Qari said, “It is extremely serious to drive a Muslim out of the faith” (Sharh al-Shifa, vol 2, p.500)

Allama Jalaluddin said, “Takfir of people of the Qibla is itself an act of disbelief”. (Dalail al-Masail)

“Various Imams have clearly said that if there is any ground for not enacting Takfīr, The Takfiri ruling should not be issued, even if that ground is weak”. (Raf al-Ishtiba an Ibarat al-Ishtiba, p.4)

 A widely known Sufi saint, Khwajah Mir Dard RA (1785), one of the three major poets of the Delhi School said: “We do not call the people of the Qibla Kaafir, even though they may be following false and different beliefs in most matters. This is because of the very fact that faith in the oneness of Allah Almighty, the prophet-hood of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and turning towards the Qibla do not drive them out of their faith. Thus, they would be among such Muslims who follow later inventions (evil inventions) and falsehood. The holy prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him said), “hold back in the matter of the Qibla people that you do not call them Kafir”. Ilm al-Kitab, p.75)

Besides, there are more of the great Islamic theologians and Jurists who unanimously agree that none of the people of the Qibla can and should be called a Kaafir. (al-Mawaqif, p. 600)

Comparison between Jihadists and Classical Scholars on the issue of Takfir

The Jihadists do takfir of every Muslim who does not support their Jihadist ideology whereas the classical scholars take extreme caution when excommunicating any individual. The classical Muslim scholars from the beginning till now have differentiated between Beliefs or doctrinal rulings (I’tiqadiyat) and practices or derivative rulings (Furu’i Ahkam). On the contrary to this concept, the Jihadists do not differentiate between Beliefs and derivative rulings and this is the reason that they are making a serious mistake in the matter of Takfir.

In one of his articles published on New Age Islam, a regular columnist Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi writes:

“Differentiating between Beliefs (‘Aqaid) and Practices (‘Aaamal), a mainstream classical Muslim scholar in his book “Sharh Aqaid al-Nasafi” writes,

“You should know that of Al-Ahkam Al-Sharia’ [Sharia judgments] there are some which are related to nature of practice [kayfiyat al-‘amal] and are called derived (far’iyyah) and practical (‘amaliyyah); and there are others which are related to belief [I’tiqad] and are called fundamental [asliya] and doctrinal [I’tiqadiya].” (Taftazani, Sharh Aqaid)

“Mainstream Muslim scholars unanimously agree with issues related to Beliefs while they seriously differ from one another on issues related to practical rulings or Furu’i Masail. As a result, we see that all four schools of Islamic Jurisprudence, Hanafi, Shafei, Maliki and Hanbali, unanimously agree with issues of Beliefs, while they differ from one another on numerous issues related to practices (‘aamaal). Despite differences in derivative rulings, they do not do takfir of one another, but instead, they respect one another as Muslims while sticking to their respective derivative practical rulings.”

(Read the article: Sayyid Qutb’s Concept of Jahiliyyah That Produced Islamist Extremists to Attack Mainstream Muslims)

Mixing Beliefs with Practices the Jihadists do takfir of the Muslims who do not agree with them.  For example, the Jihadists quote the following verse to excommunicate the mainstream Muslims of the present world:

“And whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers.” (5:44)

In the so-called Islamic State’s training camp textbook “Muqarrar fi al-Tawhid”, they declare as apostates all those who do not implement God’s laws. In their writings, be it ‘Dabiq’, ‘Rumiya’, or India-specific propaganda magazine ‘Voice of Hind’, they repeatedly quote the Quranic verse 5:44 and 4:65 in a bid to strengthen their ideology which explicitly opines that those who take laws other than what Allah revealed are Kaafir or disbelievers.

On the contrary to the Jihadist interpretation of this verse 5:44, the classical Muslim scholars hold a completely different interpretation widely acceptable among the mainstream Muslims. Mr Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi writes:

“The doctrine of mainstream Muslim scholars of all generations including the holy companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) is contrary to that of ISIS, Maulana Maududi, Jamaat-e-Islami, Sayyid Qutub, Al-Baghdadi, Adnani and the newly formed pro-ISIS group against India in what it calls “Wilayah of Hind” (province of India). The Muslim scholars went through a number of statements and directions in order to understand the Quranic verse (5:44). The most preferred and accepted view, accepted by mainstream Muslims, with regard to the implication of the verse is that ‘whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, denying its divinity, faith and truthfulness is indeed a Kafir. As for the Muslim who believes that this verse is true, the divine revelation and divine command but fails to implement its message, is not a Kafir.

“In his commentary book on the Quran “Al-Tafsir al-Kabir”, Imam Fakhruddin Razi writes, “Ikrimah said, the ruling of Takfir, as mentioned in the divine statement “whoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed is a Kaafir”, applies to the one who denies the truth of the revealed law of Allah in his heart and by his tongue.  As for the person who believes in the truth of the revealed law of Allah in his heart and acknowledges by his tongue that it is the revealed law of Allah, however, he acts against it, he will be regarded as the believer of what Allah revealed, but he will be known simply as a non-practising believer in this case, and therefore he will not be considered a Kafir according to this verse”. After quoting this statement, Imam Razi said, “This is the correct answer”. (Imam Razi, Al-Tafsir al-Kabir, 5:44)

“Similar answer has been given by Imam Ghazali in “Al-Mustasfa” and by Imam Abu Muhammad b. Atiyya al-Andalusi in “Al-Muharrir al-Wajiz”.

Read his article:

Central Idea Behind Takfeer of ISIS, Declaring Muslims Apostates: A Deviation from the Path of Mainstream Muslims on The Concept of God’s Hakimiyyah (Sovereignty)

Having observed the afore-mentioned comparison between the Jihadists and the classical scholars on the issue of Takfir and interpretation of the Quranic verse 5:44, It becomes clear that the Jihadists are not based on the classical and traditional interpretation of Islam. Therefore, Islamophobes have no ground to make such a claim.


Related Article:

Refuting Islamophobic Claims That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam: Part 1- On the Hakimiyyah

Refuting Islamophobic Claim That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam: Part 2 on Imperativeness of Reclaiming ‘Muslim Land’

Refuting Islamophobic Claims That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam: Part 3 on the Jihadist Narrative Inciting Treachery towards One’s Country

Refuting Islamophobic Claim That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam - Part 4 on the Jihadist Narrative Justifying Suicide Bombings or Martyrdom Operations

Refuting Islamophobic Claims That Jihadists Represent Traditional and Mainstream Interpretations of Islam: Part 5- On The Concept of Darul Islam and Darul Harb

Refuting Islamophobic Claim That Jihadists Represent Islam- Part 6 On the Killing of Mushrikin and Kuffar


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