|Part of the Politics series|
A Takfiri (from Arabic: تكفيري takfīrī) is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy. The accusation itself is called takfir, derived from the word kafir (infidel) and is described as when "...one who is, or claims to be, a Muslim is declared impure."
In principle the only group authorised to declare a Muslim a kafir is the ulema, and this is only done, once all the prescribed legal precautions have been taken. However a growing number of splinter Salafist groups, labeled by some scholars as Salafi-Takfiris, have split from the orthodox method of establishing takfir through the processes of the law, and have reserved the right to declare apostasy themselves.
Takfiris have been classified by some commentators as violent offshoots of the Salafi movement, yet while Salafism is seen as a form of 'fundamentalist Islam', it is not an inherently violent movement that condones terrorism. Takfiris, on the other hand, condone acts of violence as legitimate methods of achieving religious or political goals. Middle East expert Robert Baer has written that
"takfiri generally refers to a Sunni Muslim who looks at the world in black-and-white; there are true believers and then there are nonbelievers, with no shades in between. A takfiri's mission is to re-create the Caliphate according to a literal interpretation of the Koran."
Takfiris believe in Islam strictly according to their interpretation of Muhammad's and his companions' alleged actions and statements, and do not accept any deviation from their path; they reject any reform or change to the religion as it was revealed in the time of the prophet. Those who change their religion from Islam to any other way of life, or deny any of the fundamental foundations of Islam, or who worship, follow or obey anything other than Islam, become those upon whom the takfiris declare the "takfir", calling them apostates from Islam and so no longer Muslim.
According to at least one source (Trevor Stanley) the precedent "for the declaration of takfir against a leader" came from Medieval Islamic scholar Taqi al-Din Ibn Taymiyyah who issued a famous fatwa declaring jihad against invading Mongols not because they were invading but because they were apostates, apostasy from Islam being punishable by death. Though the Mongols had converted to Islam, Ibn Taymiyyah reasoned that since they followed their traditional Yassa law rather than Islamic Sharia law, they were not really Muslims and thus apostates. More recently 18th Century Islamic Revivalist Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab and 20th century Muslim authors Maulana Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, referenced Ibn Taymiyyah in condemning self-proclaimed Muslims as not really Muslims. Al-Wahhab condemned practices of Shia, Sufi and other Muslims as bid'a (innovation of the religion), and al-Wahhab's followers slew many Muslims for allegedly pagan (kufr) practices. In his influential book Milestones, Sayyid Qutb argued not that some Muslims should not be considered Muslims, but that the failure of the world Muslim community to obey Shariah law meant, "the Muslim community has been extinct for a few centuries" having fallen back into a state of pagan ignorance (Jahiliyyah)
One source (Elie Podeh) distinguishes between conservative Islamists (in Egypt al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin), "jihadi" Muslims (al-Jamaa'a al-Islamiyya, al-jihad), and takfiri groups (al-Takfir wa al-Hijra; al-tawaqquf wal-tabayyan or al-Najun min al-Nar; al-Shawqiyyun and al-Najun min al-Nasr). Like jihadis, Takfiri groups advocate armed struggle against the secular regime, invoking the concepts of jahiliyya, al-hakimiyya (God's sovereignty), and al-takfir (branding as apostate). However takfiri groups are more extreme, regarding the whole of Egyptian society as kafir, and therefore completely disengage themselves from it. Also unlike jihadis, takfiri groups (according to Podeh) make no distinction between the regime and the ordinary population when employing violence.
Takfiris also reject the traditional Muslim duty to obey one's legitimate rulers in all manners that do not contradict Sharia, as sedition is viewed as a great danger to a nation. However Takfiris consider all political authority that does not abide by their interpretation of Islam as illegitimate and apostate; a view which closely mirrors Qutb's views on jahiliyyah. As such, violence against such regimes is considered legitimate.
Takfiri views on suicide also differ significantly from that of orthodox Islam. Takfiris believe that one who deliberately kills himself whilst attempting to kill enemies is a martyr (shahid) and therefore goes straight to heaven. As such all sin is absolved when a person is martyred, allowing carte blanche for the indiscriminate killing of non-combatants, for example.
Views within Islam
Takfiris, on the other hand, exist in every Muslim sect, large or small, and often their fingers point not only to those who supposedly belong to a rival sect, but also to those within their own; one example of this is the clear enmity between the Sufis and Salafi. 'Takfir' also occurs in the enmity between some pro-Saudi Salafis and the Jihadis, with some Jihadis making takfir of the Salafis. It also comes to the fore among Shia groups, as is the case toward the followers of the major Shia Ayatollah Fadlallah of Lebanon, whose latest published opinions reviewing many beliefs deeply characteristic of Shia Islam have caused uproar and fierce opposition on the part of other Arab and Iranian clerics. Another example is Twelver Shia declaring the takfir of the small Shaykhi Shia sect found mainly in Basra, Iraq.
In mainstream media
The term Takfiri was brought to a more public prominence by the BBC investigative journalist Peter Taylor, in his 2005 BBC television series The New Al Qaeda. However the term was used frequently by proponents of Salafism before the Taylor series. In 2012, Shiite social media websites have mentioned Takfiri Deobandi organizations.
- Kepel, Gilles; Jihad: the Trail of Political Islam, London: I.B. Tauris, 2002, page 31
- Oliveti, Vincenzo; Terror's Source: the Ideology of Wahhabi-Salafism and its Consequences, Birmingham: Amadeus Books, 2002
- Oliveti, Terror's Source, (2002), page 45
- Baer, Robert (2008). The Devil We Know. New York: Crown. ISBN 978-0-307-40864-8.
- Stanley, Trevor. "Kufr - Kaffir - Takfir - Takfiri". Perpectives on World History and Current Events. Retrieved 28 Feb 2013.
- Sayyid Qutb< Milestones, p. 11
- Sayyid Qutb's Milestones
- "Egypt's Struggle against the Militant Islamic Groups" by Elie Podeh. in Religious Radicalism in the Greater Middle East, edited by Efraim Inbar, Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, Routledge, Jan 11, 2013
- Esposito, John L.; Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam, Oxford University Press 2002, page 59/60.
- Oliveti, Terror's Source, (2002), page 47/48.
- The New Al Qaeda BBC News
- AbdulHaq al-Ashanti and Abu Ameenah AbdurRahman as-Salafi, A Critical Study of the Multiple Identities and Disguises of 'al-Muhajiroun': Exposing the Antics of the Cult Followers of Omar Bakri Muhammad Fustuq, Jamiah Media, 2009
- AbdulHaq al-Ashanti and Abu Ameenah AbdurRahman as-Salafi, Abdullah El-Faisal Al-Jamayki: A Critical Study of His Statements, Errors and Extremism in Takfeer, Jamiah Media, 2011
- Jason Burke, Al Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam, Penguin, 2004
- John L. Esposito, Unholy War: Terror in the name of Islam, Oxford University Press, 2002
- Gilles Kepel, Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam, I.B. Tauris, 2003
- Vincenzo Oliveti, Terror's Source: The Ideology of Wahhabi-Salafism and its Consequences, Amadeus Books, 2002
- Salafis in Sudan:Non-Interference or Confrontation| aljazeera.net
- The Clear Proofs for Refuting the Doubts of the People of Takfeer and Bombing!
- Extremism in Takfeer
- The Ideology of Terrorism and Violence in Saudi Arabia: Origins, Reasons and Solution
- al Qaeda as Ecumenical Outreach – at Rotten.com
- PWHCE Middle East Project Definition of Takfeeri