Thursday, June 19, 2014

Fr Georges Massouh: Is Takfir an Islamic Phenomenon?

Arabic original here.

Is Takfir an Islamic Phenomenon?

In his recently published book, "Takfir: Its Regulations in Islam and Its Application by Muslims", Sheikh Akram Barakat attempts to study the phenomenon of takfir in Islam, presenting this phenomenon from the beginning of Islam to our present day. This book is very timely, given the rise of takfiri movements in all Islamic countries, especially Syria and Iraq.

It is worth noting that the title of the book distinguishes between what Islam says in its foundational texts as they were understood and applied by Muslims over the course of history and how Muslims-- or some Muslims-- apply them at present. The book performs a great service for researchers in Islamic studies since it collects the most important texts about this topic from the Qur'an, prophetic tradition, ancient Islamic tradition, and modern Islamic thought. The author succeeds in eliminating many of the ambiguities relating to legal rulings caused by takfir. He says, for example, that disbelief in itself is not a justification for killing or war, nor does it permit combating the disbeliever except in the case of the disbeliever's attacking Islamic society and declaring war against it.

Sheikh Barakat calls for clear regulations for preventing extremism in Islam, the most important of which is freedom in discussion and legal interpretation, something that is in harmony with Islam's tolerance and openness. The author treats all these issues with a commitment to dogmatic and legal authenticity with regards to takfir in Islam.

Takfir is not a historic era that has passed. In fact, it constitutes the great crisis in contemporary Islamic thought and in Muslims' behavior towards one another and towards non-Muslims. Takfiris do not distinguish between Muslims and non-Muslims in their attacks, since anyone who is not with them is against them, even if they make the Islamic profession of faith, pray five times a day, give the requisite alms, fast during Ramadan, and perform the pilgrimage to Mecca.

We believe that the phenomenon of takfirism is not a religious phenomenon, but rather a worldly phenomenon in terms of its content and results. It is not a religious phenomenon because most Islamic jurists, ancient and modern, reject it. It is a worldly phenomenon because it confiscates God and monopolizes Him for itself, denying God's sovereignty over the universe and over humans, doing away with His presence in the world and witnessing against Him. It removes God from His throne and sits in His place and thus it is worldly.

The phenomenon of takfirism is worldly because it is sustained by the powers and tyrants of this world. It forgets the real enemy of all Muslims, the one that expelled the Muslims from Palestine and Jerusalem, the one that is striving to Judaize it and to destroy the al-Aqsa Mosque... It aims its forces against Muslims of various sects and against non-Muslims, committing murder, destruction and massacres... Then they want us to believe that it is an Islamic phenomenon! This takfiri thought (or really, anti-thought) can be successfully countered only through the commitment of all Muslims to not be pulled along by a phenomenon that will only lead to  a distortion of the Islamic religion, further shattering it and tearing it apart, contributing to further decline for Muslims. Likewise, there must be serious work done for bold, modern legal reasoning about the Islamic view of the system of government and the place of Islamic law in this system.

In his extensive and comprehensive book, Sheikh Akram Barakat analyzes the root of the affliction in contemporary Islamic thought with the objectivity of a scientific researcher. The treatment of this rampant epidemic, however, lies in the concerted efforts of all Muslims who are zealous for their countries and for their revival to root out this malignant tumor that is almost eliminating any glimmer of hope for a bright tomorrow.

1 comment:

The Anti-Gnostic said...

"something that is in harmony with Islam's tolerance and openness."

When has that ever been the case? Arab supremacism is practically written into it. It's a hard religion for hard men, and they conquered everything from North Africa to subcontinental Asia with it.

These apologetics by people who should know better are perennially exhorting us to acknowledge some "pure" or "true" Islam which we are assured exists but never seems actually to be practiced.