In the Islamic world, we have been witnessing for a long time that some Muslims who believe in the same God, who accept the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as His messenger and the Qur’an as the true Book point guns against one another. The Shia bombing the mosques of the Sunni, or the Sunni blowing up the mosques of the Shia, their attacking one another’s lands, workplaces, houses, and deporting the members of another sect or killing them ruthlessly have come to be usual incidents. The reason behind the disconcerting silence in the Islamic world is their acceptance of these happenings.
Yet, this mindset is neither limited to radical terror organizations, nor is it a new affliction: It is the rulings, or fatwas, issued by some so-called scholars who claim to speak on behalf of Islam on television and in mosques that mislead ignorant communities to such violence, like those Muslims being killed in Egypt only because they are Shias, or those murdered and dragged through the streets of Iraq because they are Sunnis. In the Middle East, this flawed concept of religion, based entirely on superstitions, is seen in the fierce struggle between Shia and Sunni groups within the same country. Meanwhile, they are also seen in sectarian wars between countries that are waged by means of proxy groups and organizations.
The deviant mentality at the base of this ruthless spirit of dissention and the sedition that refuses to grant the right to life for those who do not adhere to their own understanding of faith and which incessantly sheds blood in the Islamic world is “takfir.” “Takfir” means declaring a person [or a group] an “unbeliever (kafir)”, accusing him of “divorcing himself from the faith of Islam” because of “a belief, statement or act that bears an element of disbelief.” When the groups referred to as “takfiri” arrive at this verdict about an individual or a group, they also declare it obligatory for these people to be killed in line with their bigoted un-Islamic understanding. However, in the Qur’an, God does not grant any human being the right to reject or not accept one’s adherence to Islam. On the other hand, even if a Muslim swerves to irreligion, his punishment is for God alone to decide. The notion of “excommunication” in other religions has no place in Islam. In other words, no person or office is authorized to repudiate a person from the religion of Islam, or punish him with a penalty for that reason.
The rationale of “takfir” that has entered into the religion of Islam has no place in the Qur’an; there was no such practice at time of our Prophet (pbuh). The word “takfir” has never been mentioned in either the verses of the Qur’an, or the hadiths. Knowing that the hypocrites, deviators, and disbelievers existed within the people of Medina, our Prophet (pbuh) always approached them with compassion, persisted in his communicating God’s religion, made efforts to win the hearts of the people around him, and never impeached them with the accusation of irreligiosity. If we are to refer to the hadiths, it is abundantly clear how our Prophet (pbuh) enjoined the Muslims from accusing one another with disbelief:
“Cursing a believer is like murdering him, and whoever accuses a believer of disbelief, then it is as if he had killed him.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 73, Hadith 126)
“Whoever prays like us and faces our Qibla and eats our slaughtered animals is a Muslim and is under God’s and His Apostle’s protection. So do not betray God by betraying those who are in His protection.” (Sahih Bukhari, Book 8, Hadith 386)
This terrible sedition, which has been persisting amongst Muslims for centuries, first emerged at the time of Hz. Ali (ra) following the passing away of our Prophet (pbuh). It is the “takfiri” mindset that has incited the fire of this awful mischief lasting for centuries, starting with the martyrdom of Hz. Ali (ra). Ones having this deviated rationale pertain to a so-called hadith known as the “‘al-Firqat al-Najiyah” (the Saved Sect) ascribed to our Prophet (pbuh). The most widely referred to part of this fabricated hadith, one that is part of various narrations but has no foundation in the verses of the Qur’an, is as follows:
“My nation will split-up into seventy-three sects, all of them in the Fire save one: that which I and my Companions are upon.”
There have been plenty of movements and groups that have put takfir to use as a weapon and turned Muslim against Muslim. Today, the unending disintegration and ceaseless conflict in the Islamic world is the product of the strident and bigoted groups that believe only in their own commentaries and produce new lawful and unlawful commandments in accordance with their own mindset, instead of being a Muslim who follows the Qur’an just like in the time of our Prophet (pbuh). This is the almost inevitable outcome of the deviant mindset, which excommunicates all Muslims who live by Islam, which differs from their superstitions and declaring them to be divorced from the faith. However, in the Qur’an, God has forbidden any grounds for such contention:
Do not say, “You are not a believer, to someone who greets you as a Muslim, simply out of desire for the goods of this world. With God there is booty in abundance. That is the way you were before but God has been kind to you…” (Surah an-Nisa, 94)
In Surat an-Nahl, verse 125 we are informed, “Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair admonition, and argue with them in the kindest way. Your Lord knows best who is misguided from His way. And He knows best who are guided.”
The manner in which our Lord has clearly revealed the responsibility of Muslims is to call to the path of religion with fair admonition. However, this bigoted mindset, knitted together with political greed and targets, has dug a pit of death that swallows up more of the Middle East every passing day. Takfir, declaring a person or a group an unbeliever, is one of the major reasons behind the disintegration of the Islamic world, and it has done nothing but contributed to the abolishment of the bonds of unity and of Muslims confronting one another with guns.
In the Qur’an, we are informed that Muslims should be united, that they should live as brothers, that they must not separate and they must be friends and be in ranks like well-built walls and not quarrel:
(Surat al-Anfal, 46)
(Surah Ali-Imran, 105)
Muslims’ differing among themselves or being in dispute is an error that must be accounted for in the Hereafter:
“As for those who divide up their religion and form into sects, you have nothing whatsoever to do with them. Their affair will go back to God and then He will inform them about what they did.” (Surat al-Anam, 159)
Instead of contributing to the unity of Muslims, making statements of hatred to incite conflict or issuing fatwas declaring other sects to be in a state of disbelief must be ended immediately. Those who wage a so-called jihad against their fellow Muslims based upon the pronouncements of their sect leaders are in grave error, an error which they will not be able to account for in the Hereafter. It is time to leave behind the fanaticism of sectarianism based on the political disputes of centuries ago. Muslims’ pointing guns against other Muslims must be ceased. It is time for peace. It is time for love, brotherhood and unity.
Adnan Oktar's piece on Diplomacy Pakistan: