Takfirism: Declaring Others as Infidels, or Conveying the Message of Truth?
By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan for New Age Islam
27 April, 2015
Towards the end of the period of the Righteous Caliphs, a sect emerged from among the Muslims, known as the Kharijites. They were an extremist group. They would declare people as Kafir, or infidel for every sin. This generated much discussion among Muslim scholars or Ulema. Finally, the Ulema of that period arrived at a consensus that no one who prayed in the direction of the Kaaba would be declared to be a Kafir. Explaining the position of his contemporary Ulema on this matter, Imam Abu Jafar al-Tahawi (d. 321 AH) writes, “We do not declare as infidels for a sin those who pray in the direction of the Kaaba, as long as they do not consider the sin lawful.”
A thousand years have passed following this unanimous decision of the Ulema but yet the practice of Takfeer or declaring others Kafirs has still not stopped. This un-Islamic practice of Takfeer still continues among Muslims. The reason for this is that the stand adopted by the Ulema on this issue was in itself not proper. They regarded Takfeer-e-aam (declaring people infidel for every sin they commit) as impermissible, but along with this they considered permissibleTakfeer-e-mashroot (declaring people infidel in certain conditions). This stance was, in itself, wrong. Because of this, the Ulema were not able to put an end to the practice of Takfeer among Muslims.
What the Ulema should have done, instead, was to have unanimously declared that the practice of Takfeer was actually an un-Islamic practice, and that no religious scholar or mufti had the right, according to the Shariah, to declare someone as a Kafir. The practice of declaring someone to be a Kafir was not present among the Companions of the Prophet. It emerged among Muslims at a later period. Hence, the Ulema should have unanimously declared that the practice of Takfeer was an innovation.
Believers have the responsibility of being genuine well-wishers of others. They should engage in Tabligh, or conveying God’s message to people, instead of engaging in Takfeer.
The only responsibility of the Muslim Ummah is to consider the whole of humankind as madus, people who are to be invited to God. Instead of issuing orders directed at other people’s behaviour, they should convey God’s message to them. Their actions should be based on Tabligh, not Takfeer. Takfeer is the prerogative of God. It is definitely not something for human beings to do. If a believer’s Tabligh work among people does not prove to be effective, the believer must pray to God and leave their matter to Him.