Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Fr Georges Massouh on Takfirism

Arabic original here.

Takfirism is Unbelief

The growth of armed religious movements expresses a profound crisis in all our Arab societies, especially when these movements do not target an outside enemy but rather target a partner in the nation or aim to weaken or dominate the state. Takfirism is a means by which armed groups come to justify their violent activities. All those who do not believe what these groups believe is an unbeliever, every state that does not follow Islamic law in its constitution and legislation is an apostate state, and all who serve this state and work in it as  civil servants, judges, soldiers, and police are unbelievers…  and for them unbelief is grounds for shedding blood.

Takfiris go so far as to believe that all those who do not follow God’s laws as they interpret and follow them are unbelievers, outside the Umma, even if they make the profession of faith, perform the prayers, give alms, fast during Ramadan, and make the hajj. They rely for their rulings on Qur’anic verses that apply to unbelievers and polytheists and on prophetic hadiths that are sometimes weak.

This takfirism expresses a crisis in the understanding of the state in Islamic jurisprudence which was established at a time when the state was different than in our present time. The state was an Islamic caliphate that incorporated all or most Islamic countries. But as for us, for almost a century we have lived within the framework of a nation-state and what was good in ancient times may not necessarily be successful today.

Thus we find ourselves in need  of contemporary juridical interpretations that take changes into account. Here comes the role of juridical authorities in devising a contemporary jurisprudence that meets the requirements of the modern state that arose in the Arab world at the end of the Ottoman Empire and the Islamic Caliphate. This necessitates putting an end to numerous ambiguities with regard to concepts and terms that are used, or that may be used, in some “moderate” Islamic documents. For example, the expression “citizenship” which simply means equality of rights and responsibilities for individuals in the one state, cannot be harmonized with the constitution of a religious state because there is no equality in it.

Our words are not intended as a defense of the Arab regimes that have all failed, regardless of their various labels, since the era of independence, to lay a firm foundation on which a modern state could be based. The military republics were oppressive under the cover of secularism, Arabism, and the liberation of Palestine… Rulers came to resemble emperors of the middle ages. They acted like gods: enjoining, forbidding, and dominating every detail of public affairs. Thus we can say that over the past century we have not witnessed true civil states in our Arab world, but rather states that are not respectable.

People are in a state of servitude from which they will not be saved except through a return to reason, which all religious texts recognize them as possessing. In place of reason, ignorance and immersion in superstition are common. In place of building a future, a return to the distant past and the evocation of conflicts reign.

If religious discourse remains as it is today, inciting and inflammatory, in order to boost religions or sects, then people will increasingly lose their humanity with which God created them. There will not remain any true meaning to religions if people are not freed from worshipping them and worship is brought back to God alone who has no partner.

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