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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)

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam 

4 June 2020 

The central idea of ISIS on which the rest of its concepts of Takfeer are based is the idea of God’s Hakimiyyah (Sovereignty). This is the same as South Asian scholar Maulana Abul A’la Maududi’s concept of God’s sovereignty on earth (Hukumat-e-Ilahia) on which the organisation he founded, the Jamaat-e-Islami was based. 

ISIS describes the implementation of God’s Hakimiyyah as a new article of faith and does Takfir of (declares apostate) the people who simply fail to implement it for any reason. This Takfiri ideology historically belongs to Kharijites and is not just extreme but an unjust and too easy method to declare a fellow Muslim as apostate. 

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 two Quranic verses 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. These two verses of the Quran are as follows: 

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

“But no, by oath of your Lord, they will not be believers until they appoint you a judge for the disputes between them – and then whatever you have decided, they should not find opposition to it within their hearts, and they must accept it wholeheartedly”. (4:65) 

In this write-up we will see how the leading ideologues of ISIS and Jihadism put great energy into arguing that the citizens of modern societies which do not implement Islamic laws are infidels. Then we will highlight how differently the mainstream Muslims have interpreted these Quranic verses. This write-up is a call for debating afresh the issue of God’s Hakimiyyah (sovereignty) or Hukumat-e-Ulahiya in the light of these two verses to see whether or not present-day Muslims can be called “infidels”. 

It is known that Sayyid Qutb’s books, “Fi Zilal al-Quran” and ‘Ma’alim fi al-Tariq’ inspired this 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-Ilahiya. The second leading man of ISIS, Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani took influence from Sayyid Qutb’s book of Tafsir “Fi Zilal al-Quran” which was one of his favourites. 

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 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 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).” 

The Concept of Hakimiyyah among Mainstream Muslims 

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-Islam, 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 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 truth, 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 Kafir”, 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-practicing 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”. 

Sheikh Usama Al-Azhari writes, “Having studied the explanations of mainstream jurists, we come to know that Ibn Masu’d, Ibn Abbas, Barra bin ‘Aazib, Huzaifa bin al-Yaman, Ibrahim al-Nakh’I, Al-Sudai, Al-Dahhak, Abu Salih, Abu Mujlaz, Ikrimah, Qatadah, ‘Aamir, Al-Sha’abi, ‘Ataa, Taaus and then Imam Tabari in “Jami’ al-Bayan”, Imam Ghazali in “Al-Mustasfa”, Ibn Atiyya in “Al-Muharrir al-Wajiz”, Imam Razi in “Mafatih al-Ghaib”, Qurtubi, Ibn Jazi in “Al-Tashil”, Abu Hayyan in “Al-Bahr al-Muheet”, Ibn Kathir in “Tafsir al-Quran al-Azeem”, Aalusi in “Ruh al-Ma’ani”, Tahir bin ‘Aashur in “Al-Tahrir w al-Tanwir” and Sheikh Sha’arawi in his Tafsir - all such Islamic scholars unanimously agree with the same commentary of the verse 5:44. (as mentioned above with reference to Imam Razi’s Al-Tafsir al-Kabir).” .”(Al-Haqq Al-Mubin Fi al-Radd Ala Man Tala’ab bi Al-Deen, Arabic, p.23)

ISIS ideologues don’t differentiate between faith and action and therefore declare as apostates all those who do not implement God’s laws. On the contrary, mainstream Muslim scholars separate faith and deeds and therefore do not do Takfir of those Muslims who believe in the divine laws but do not implement them for whatever reason. The ISIS view, in this manner, is identical to the early days of Kharijites whereas the mainstream Muslim scholars have been appreciated by the global Muslim community. Now I would like to call on readers to debate this subject so as to build a path of non-Takfir for the misguided ISIS supporters and youth and bring them back to mainstream Muslim community. 

A regular Columnist with, Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi Dehlvi is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar), with a Sufi-Sunni background and English-Arabic-Urdu Translator. He has also done B.A (Hons.) in Arabic, M.A. in Arabic and M.A in English from JMI, New Delhi. He is Interested in Islamic Sciences; Theology, Jurisprudence, Tafsir, Hadith and Islamic mysticism (Tasawwuf). 



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