Some insights on the notion of Takfeer or “declaration of Infidelity
The Root causes of Muslim Terrorism
Recent controversial comments, issued by Saudi Cleric, Sheikh Muhamad Al-’uraifi, in relation to the latest civil war in Yemen, between the Shi’as of Yemen called “al-huthiyyeen”, have outraged the Shi’a Muslims around the world. Those comments were inflammatory against the Grand Ayatullah Ali Sistani and the Shi’a faith. According to news sources, these comments were politically motivated due to the Saudi involvement in the Yemeni military conflict. According to these sources the Huthiyyeen have requested the participation of Ayatullah Sistani should there be any peace negotiations. The comments of Al-’uraifi-which I personally heard in a video clip, was in response to the peace initiatives which are being discussed between the Yemeni governments and the Shi’a of Yemen “the Huthiyyeens” This request apparently did not play well with Shiekh al’uraifi who said that “the huthiyyeen, instead of asking the participation of the great Saudi scholars who possess light in their faces and wisdom, they asked for the participation of Ali Sistani who is a kafir and heretic who lives in a remote area somewhere in Iraq.” He also said that “the shi’a faith is originally founded by the “Majoos of Persia” or “the fire worshipers of Persia.”
Now I must say that before these terrible comments of Mr. Al-’uraifi, I used to listen to his speeches sometimes through the Arabic Satellites, but after such comments he certainly lost credibility as a true speaker to reflect the true image of Islam. Unfortunately, these comments have exposed the true face behind this Sheik who once was respected in my sight. His hypocrisy fooled me when I listened to some of his defenses on “al-Musta’qla TV Station” when he was publicly accused by a caller who was a Shi’a Scholar, Shiek Ali Al-Kurani. This Shi’a scholar accused Al-’uraifi and the Saudi Establishment of pursuing a Takfeeri philosophy against other Muslims. In his defense, Al-‘uraifi adamantly denied such accusations and denounced any type of Takfeer against anyone, which included the Shi’a because the accuser was a Shi’a Muslim. I must say, at that time I believed Al-’uraifi‘s defense in denouncing the Takfeer ideology but based on his recent comments he has exposed his true hypocritical heart. I truly regret what this shaikh has committed because he could have been a great asset to all Muslims but he lost this great opportunity to guide others, and instead he chose to be enslaved by the Saudi religious establishment and allowed himself to fall into the same disease which he had once condemned. Here I am not taking any sides but I am very much against self righteous people who believes that the Truth is exclusive to them or believe in the notion of “it’s either my way or the highway”. In other words “Islam is a peaceful religion but if you disagree you are dead!!!”
It is worth noting here that Ayatollah Ali Sistani have never issued any takfeeri fatwas and has preserved the lives of thousands of Sunni Muslims in Iraq after the fall of Saddam’s regime. And his approach in respect to the religious and political bloody conflict in Iraq, was very peaceful and non confrontational. He never called for the UNHOLY of the so called “holy Jihad” as it has been declared by all Muslim scholars in respect to the conflict of Iraq. On the other hand we find the Saudi Muslim scholars, such as, the Imam of the Holy Ka’ba ‘adil al-kalbani, the Grand Mufti of Suadi Arabia Abdul-Aziz bin Abdalla aal- alshiekh , Sheikh Al-’uraifi, and others have actively issued takfeeri fatwas against the shi’a of Iraq which have caused the death of thousands of Muslims in Iraq and throughout the world.
Al-’uraifi’s comments are real reflections of the perverted aspects of our Muslim ideology of hate.
Certainly Al-’uraifi ’s comments are not isolated personal comments, but rather they reflect the perverted Muslim perception of the essence of the Islamic message. I believe that Al-’uraifi is a very good example of our Muslim negative teachings of hate and bigotry which have been taught by very few of our past Muslim scholars whose vision has become a divine guideline for many Muslims including Mr. Al-’uraifi. Therefore I sincerely believe that Mr Al-’uraifi is a victim of these terrible “holy” texts and Muslim teachings. These kinds of teachings present a serious challenge to all Muslims.
Following these comments of Mr. Al-’uraifi, the Prime minister of Iraq Nuri Al-Maliki expressed his anger and issued a formal protest to the Saudi government and the Saudi religious establishment, accusing them of pursuing a philosophy of hate and takfeer against other Muslims. Consequently this prompted a protest from the Grand Mufti, the head of the Saudi religious establishment, Mr. Abdul-Aziz bin Abdalla aal- alshiekh, against Mr Al-Maliki’s comments.
The legitimacy of “Just Cause” for Takfiri declaration against others
What is really interesting and would further expose the deviated philosophy of hate in our Muslim teachings, is when the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia who protested the allegations of Iraq’s Prime Minster Mr. Nuri Al-Maliki‘s response to Mr. Al-’uraifi’s inflammatory comments against the Honorable Ali Sistani. Mr. Al-Maliki condemned the Saudi religious establishment for their hateful approach and pursuing the “takfeer Philosophy” in their teachings, and The Grand Mufti of Saudi religious establishment responded to Mr. Al Maliki allegations by saying, “Al-Maliki ’s allegations are untrue and baseless, but the truth of the matter is that the Saudi religious establishment is NOT pursuing “Takfeer” against Muslims unless with just cause”(1)
What really caught my attention in the Saudi Grand Mufti statement above is that he did not reject the alleged approach of “Takfeer” outright as being pursuit by his religious establishment but rather he attached to it the clause “unless with just cause”. In other words, what he really said in essence and to paraphrase the Saudi Mufti statement: “the Saudi religious establishment pursue Takfeer against other Muslims with just case or in accordance to (their definition) of JUST CAUSE.”
Is the Takfiri “Just Cause” unanimous among all Muslims?
or is a “Just Cause ” within Man’s jurisdiction in respect to Takfir ideology
Now there are concerns I would like to raise for all of you out there. 1) Is the definition of a “Just Cause”, through which a Takfeer Fatwa is based, unanimous among all Muslim Scholars? The answer is absolutely not. In fact the majority of Muslim scholars seem to have many definitions of “Just Cause” or as many as there are various sects or schools of thoughts or jurisprudence, in respect to the notion of “takfir”. To be more specific, the majority of Muslim scholars find the Wahhabi Saudi school of thought, which represents the current Saudi religious Establishment, as “Kafir” – a verdict which I personally reject, not because I support this establishment but it is a principle that no one has the right of invoking takfeer, as simple as that.
The Muslim history is full of “takfeeri fatwas” against each other due to differences of opinions. Every Muslim sect or group have their own definition of “Just Cause” to arrive at the merits of issuing “takfeeri fatwas” against other Muslims.
Now, just for the sake of argument, if we were to assume that there is the notion of just cause for invoking a “takfir”, is it really possible to arrive at one unanimous definition of “Just Case” which merits the status of infidelity? Well in light of Muslim disunity and the multitudes of Muslim sects, the answer is absolutely NO.
The second concern is that “is there a Just Cause to be established for Muslim Jurist to practice the art of “declaration of infidelity-Takfeer” ? Well the answer, in my humble opinion, is ABSOLUTELY NO. My opinion was not innovated or derived from vacuum rather based on an extensive examination of the Quran and Prophetic hadiths, I came to clear conclusion that “THE RIGHT OF TAKFEER IS NOT WITHIN THE JURISDICTION OF MAN”
What is the solution to get out of this dilemma?
Then what is really the best thing for Muslims to adopt in ridding themselves from this despicable religious disease which have brought misery and bloodshed throughout history. I sincerely believe that the only way to move forward and abandon the business of Takfeer once and for all is to truly re-examine the Quran and the Prophetic hadeeths in this regards. Muslims must recognize one simple fact and that is NO MORTAL MAN has the right to exercise the “declaration of infidelity-takfeer” against others. This fact is clearly seen from the Quran and Sunna. There is nothing in the entire Quran nor in the entire Sunna to allude to the notion of “Just Cause” to be employed in declaring “takfeer” on any human being let alone a Muslim who pronounces the “Unity of God Statement-the One Shahada” and I present a challenge to all Muslim scholars of any level; part time sheiks or full time, to engage with me and present a proof from Quran and the Sunna (Shi’a and Sunni sources) to extend the notion of “Just Cause for takfeer” I firmly believe that the power of invoking takfeer is not within Man’s authority rather it is only with God alone, and anyone who testifies that “there is no god but Allah” then he is safe, at least from the percussion or condemnations in respect to this world.
I recognize that my challenge may cost me a great deal of time and consume my life and perhaps may cost me my life on the hands of these Salafi or Wahabis or the replicas of Shaikh Al-’uraifi, and perhaps some of the Shi’a Muslim scholars may also adopt such path of Takfeer. But because this issue has caused a great deal of suffering among our Muslim people and other human beings, it is a worthy cause for me to make as my mission in life with the Almighty God’s help. I could be wrong however, but I am certain that this approach shall not present any harm to my fellow Man, but the takfiri path would definitely bring misery and destruction of human life and attack the integrity of human spirit.
Unfortunately Muslims have been engaged in throwing takfeer on other Muslims and human beings for centuries. Every group has attached a category through which takfeer is justified. Sunnis have attached the term “rafidy or rawafidth; to the followers of “the house hold of the Prophet Muhammad-or Shi’as” On the other hand we find the Shi’a Muslims also attach a category to other Sunni Muslims as “Nasibi or Nawasib– which means haters of ahlulbait of the prophet of God. In addition, majority of Sunni and Shi’a seems to achieve some kind of unity of action, not to build a brighter future for our human civilization, but rather both got united to declare the Wahabi and Salif as “Kafirs”. These kinds of behaviours seems to be like an immature and irrational or “tit for tat” and not based on the true spirit of Universal Values of Islam and to say the least they do not rise to the expectations of the teachings of the Prophet of God (sAaww), his house hold (as), and the virtuous companions . And unfortunately both have crossed their jurisdiction and behaved in accordance to their hate and bigotry against each other and their fellow Man.
God’s Sacred Sanctuary is Drawn By the Al-Mighty God and His Messenger.
Now let’s examine what the Prophet of God says in his Hadeeths:
A) “Sunni source; Sahih Bukhari; Book 001, Number 0034: It Is narrated on the authority of Abu Malik: I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: He who professed that there is no god but Allah and made a denial of everything which the people worship beside Allah, his property and blood became inviolable, and their affairs rest with Allah”
B) (Shi’a source; al tawheed for al Sadoo’q, page 12 hadeeth #23: narrated from Muhammad bin Musa bin al-Mutawakil (ra) said: narrated by abul Hassan bin Muhammad bin Jafar alAssadi,…………….long chain of narrators…., narrated form Ali bin Abi Talib (kAw) who heard the messenger of Allah (sAaww) saying: I have heard Gibreel (as) who said: I have heard the Al Mighty Allah saying: “There is no god But Allah-la ilaha illal Allah” is my sacred Sanctuary, so whoever enters my Sanctuary is safe from my punishment”
There are tens of other hadeeths narrated by both major Muslim sects Sunni and Shi’a which further substantiate the notion that declaring the Takfeer against other Muslims is NOT within Man’s authority, particularly against those who utters the Unity of Allah statement “there is no god but Allah” as shown from the hadeeths above. It is worth noting here from the above hadeeths that Allah the almighty has drawn a Divine Red line for all, religious scholars or not, not to cross and this red line is the statement of “la ilaha illa Allah-there is no god but Allah” and in other words that testimony to the Unity of God is sufficient to enter God’s Sacred Sanctuary and there is no mention of the testimony of “messenger hood of Muhammad (sAaww)” Yes indeed to enter the Sanctuary of Allah is only by uttering the “Oneness of Allah according to the best creation of Allah “Muhammad Rusool Allah” Now it make you wonder why this hadeeth did not mention the second part of testimony in respect to the messenger hood of Prophet Muhammad. No one can say that the Prophet has forgotten it or the narrator had missed it. No, this is exactly as it was reported by both major sects, Sunni and Shi’as.
Some may say to me I have lost my Islamic sanity by saying this fact that uttering the one Shahada only; “there is no god but Allah” and not the two Shahada of the Muslims “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger” merits a divine sanctuary. The above hadeeth only allude to one phrase only that is “Unity of Allah” which is sufficient to be immune from the status of Kufr and any repercussions in respect to this world.
Now accordingly, what about those who utters the two Shahada “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger” well lets read this Hadeeth:
C) Sunni source, Sahih Bukhari, Book 001, Number 0045: It is narrated on the authority of Sunabihi that he went to Ubada b. Samit when he was about to die. I burst into tears. Upon this he said to me: Allow me some time (so that I may talk with you). Why do you weep? By Allah, if I am asked to bear witness, I would certainly testify for you (that you are a believer). Should I be asked to intercede, I would certainly intercede for you, and if I have the power, I would certainly do good to you, and then observed: By Allah, never did I hear anything from the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) which could have been a source of benefit to you and then not conveyed it to you except this single hadith. That I intend to narrate to you today, since I am going to breathe my last. I heard the Messenger of Allah (may peace be upon him) say: He who testifies that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah, Allah would prohibit the fire of Hell for him.
Accordingly this hadeeth C mentioned above, means that anyone who utters the two Shahada statement; “there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah” will be offered an unconditional divine sanctuary for all Muslims and will enter him or her into the fold of Islam, irrespective of how we perceive God and we worship Him. This in accordance to the pure source of knowledge, but certainly if we begin to examine the discourses of many respectful Muslim scholars then we shall get lost in the diverse opinions of these scholars at least in respect to the issue of “Takfeer” where as the hadeeth is very clear and do not allow any interpretations.
Quran and the Sacred Divine Sanctuary for those who believe in One God
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَادُواْ وَالنَّصَارَى وَالصَّابِئِينَ مَنْ آمَنَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحاً فَلَهُمْ أَجْرُهُمْ عِندَ رَبِّهِمْ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ (2:62)
2:62 Those who believed (Muslims), and those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Christians and the Sabians,- any who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and work righteousness, shall have their reward with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.
Man may not Judge people but God on the Day of Judgement
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَالَّذِينَ هَادُوا وَالصَّابِئِينَ وَالنَّصَارَى وَالْمَجُوسَ وَالَّذِينَ أَشْرَكُوا إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَفْصِلُ بَيْنَهُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ (22:17)
22:17 (Y. Ali) Those who believe (in the Qur’an), those who follow the Jewish (scriptures), and the Sabians, Christians, Magians, and Polytheists,- Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things.
In summary, I firmly believe that hadeeth A or B above, is the most extraordinary hadeeth in respect to the issue of Takfir. There are some important points which can be seen from this hadeeth. The first one is that there is only one condition which is paramount to earn divine sanctuary and this condition is the belief in One God and nothing else. It is worth noting here that the belief in the messenger hood of Prophet Muhammad is not mentioned in this particular Hadeeth. This follows that the Holy Prophet has drawn the first Divine Universal Red line for all of us, in respect to all members of Mankind irrespective of their religious denominations that is this sacred line is not to be crossed by anyone. The second point is worth noting here is that the state of affairs or the fate of such people rest with Allah and not for us to judge, as indicated in the above hadeeth A ”and their affairs rest with Allah” and as in (22:17)Allah will judge between them on the Day of Judgment: for Allah is witness of all things. This hadeeth and Verse 22:17 clearly offers a divine sanctuary for their property and lives and the hadeeth did not go into trivial details of the methodology of comprehending God or the various ways of worshiping God for these kinds of issues are subjective and will not yield to any fruitful outcome, as we have seen throughout history the terrible consequences of being judgmental and what it could bring to society’s peace and stability. The third important point that this hadeeth underlines is that uttering the “Unity of God’ statement may not necessarily enters the individual into the fold of the religion of the Muslims or to be granted the status of a “Muslim” This hadeeth draws a universal divine line not to be crossed by any individual whether it be an average person or a religious person. The defining line is the declaration of the Unity of God or believing in One deity and how it is pursuit is not addressed in this hadeeth. Therefore it is irrelevant because people are diverse in their way of expression in respect to their socio-religious practices. This hadeeth extends the umbrella of salvation to its widest to include Muslims and non Muslims and the common notion among them is the “Unity of God”
And as for hadeeth C above, is in respect to embracing the religion of the Muslims and to gain the status of being a Muslim.
It is time for all Muslims, average or scholar, to abandon the “Takfeeri” approach and stop at the Universal Divine Red Line which was drawn by the Messenger of Allah Prophet Muhammad (sAaww), “Whoever utters; there is No god but Allah” has a divine immunity from Allah the creator of all Mankind. And if we fail to acknowledge this divine Universal Red Line then we must at least stop at the second line of defense or the other divine Red line and that is whoever utters the two phrases of testimony-Shahada, “there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His messenger”, is a Muslim by necessity and whoever chooses not to utter it then he or she is not a Muslim but not necessarily a “kafir”, and leave the issue of who is a “Kafir” to the Supreme Judge Allah SW.
And Allah knows best.