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Declaring a Muslim as Kafir

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By: Abid Ahmad Sofi

Prophet Muhammad said: “Whoever calls a man ‘Kafir’ (disbeliever) or said ‘O, the enemy of Allah’, when he is not one (The accusation) will rebound to him”. (Sahih Al- Bukhari and Muslim)

Takfir is a theological declaration that a Muslim has become apostate or one became ‘Kafir’, ‘infidel’ or ‘non-believer’ or excluded from the bounds of Islam. Engaging or indulging in Takfir is a critical matter in the light of Islam; while it is not merely confined to the world but comprehended as a great sin with the afterlife. From an Islamic perspective, Takfir has serious consequences for both the accuser and accused; it obligates the person to provide clear evidence, failing which the accuser has sinned gravely as committing apostasy.     ‘

In Islamic theology, Muslims are forbidden to declare others as apostate or ‘Kafir’ except when consensually decided by (Ijm’a) of the imams of all Islamic jurisprudence schools (Mazahib-E-Fiqh) which includes Hanafi, Sha’fai, Maliki and Hanbali schools. In Islam, there are different types and grades of ‘Kufr’ which do not always result in a Muslim being apostate or ceasing to be a Muslim. Hence, branding anyone as ‘Kafir’ based on his words and action is against the spirit of Islam as explained in the following Hadees:

Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Do not revert to Takfeer after me by cutting one another’s necks” (Sahih al-Bukhari).

Islam has a vast history with instances showing that the extremist Islamist groups declared fellow Muslims of being apostate (Murtad), impure, hypocrite (Munafiq) or unbeliever (Kafir). Organizations like ISIS, al-Qaeda have regularly used the concept in an attempt to disparage other Muslims who oppose them and their ideology. Therefore, moderate Muslims have now turned into their first targets. Radical cults debauch the global atmosphere by fostering the mentality of “us versus them” through the use of the term Al-Wala’ Wal Bara’a. This concept is being used as an apparatus by radicals to categorize people into friends and enemies. The extremist cults have taken liberties and misused the concept of Takfir by declaring different categories of Muslims as apostate like the rulers who do not rule according to the Shari’ah, and their followers, Muslims who are not members of their group (e.g. IS), all Twelver Shiites; all parties based on communism, secularism, nationalism and liberalism; proponents of democracy and those who participate in its process; all governments that do not rule by the Shari’ah and members of its military, police officers, intelligence, executive and judiciary apparatuses; all those who seek to judge by civil laws and so on.

While with the same notion usually, all the extremist groups aims to create new land for the people with similar motive and ideology, which they call Darul Islam popularly referred as ‘Islamic state’. According to those radical cults, for establishing an Islamic state it is first necessary to reestablish the Caliphate. On contrary, the classical Islamic scholars consider that the term ‘Darul Islam’ and ‘Darul Harb’ is a relative term and both don’t have a universal application or even a precise meaning. As well there is no clear evidence of establishing Darul Islam even in the Qur’an and Hadith. The concept of Takfir and Darul Islam both are in contradictory state and dangerous for the spirit of religion. The application of the Takfir is critical and applied only in certain specific circumstances by the consensual decision taken by the “Ijma” (Islamic jurisprudence) in presence of all the pieces of evidence. Therefore, the justification of spilling the blood of anyone to achieve this vague notion is opined as ‘un-lslamic’ and against the spirit of religion.

Even the Indian Ulemas never endorsed any violence and war-related concept like ‘Darul Harab’, but on contrary, they always promoted the “Dar al-Salaam”- an undivided India which was supposed to provide a peaceful environment for the Muslim natives. The well-known Sunni scholar Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani, founder of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind wrote a book in Urdu, Islam Aur Muttahida Qaumiyat (Islam and Composite Nationalism) where he bluntly opposed the concept of two-nation theory in the light of Quran and Hadith.

The aim of such Islamist gamut to create Darul Islam (Islamic State) is perilous and against the Islamic teaching, it promotes the idea of spilling the blood and killing others in the refuge of Quran and Hadith even though Islam never endorses to hurt any human being neither it gave freedom to kill or punish fellow Muslim in the name of “Takfir” which has certain specific conditions to get applied. Hence such concept of Darul Islam has no validity that came into existence in the situation when a bunch of people replace the actual clerics and declared other believers as apostate or ‘Kafir’ just because they were reluctant to be the part of their ideology or group.

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