The Arabic word taghut or taaghoot (ar. طاغوت, ṭāġūt, pl. ṭawāġīt) means to "cross the limits, overstep boundaries," or "to rebel." In Islamic theology, the word refers to idolatry or to the worship of anything except Allah.
Taghut also denotes one who exceed their limits. The first stage of error is fisq (i.e. disobeying God without denying that one should obey Him), the second is kufr, (i.e. rejection of the very idea that one should obey God). The last stage would be not only to rebel against God but also impose their rebellion against the will of God upon others. Those who reach this stage are taghut.
In the Qur'an
"Do you not see how those given a share of the Scripture, [evidently] now believe in idols and evil powers? (Taghut) They say of the disbelievers, 'They are more rightly guided than the believers."— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayat 51
This is taken to refer to an actual event in which a group of disbelieving Meccans went to two eminent Jewish figures for counsel on the truth of Muhammad's teachings and were told that the pagans were more rightly guided than Muslims.
"Do you [Prophet] not see those who claim to believe in what has been sent down to you, and in what was sent down before you, yet still want to turn to unjust tyrants for judgement, although they have been ordered to reject them? Satan wants to lead them far astray."
"The believers fight for God's cause, while those who reject faith fight for an unjust cause. Fight the allies of Satan: Satan's strategies are truly weak."
Again, this term taghut has been used here.
"There is no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error, so whoever rejects (taghut) false gods and believes in God has grasped the firmest hand-hold, one that will never break. God is all hearing, all knowing."
- Understanding the Islamic Scripture 2007 Mustansir Mir p.55
- Arabic Dictionary of Islamic Terms
- The Pure Islam project
- SunnahOnline. PDF
- Quran 7:51
- See Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation p.87 notes
- Quran 4:60
- See Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation of the Qur'an p.89
- Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation p.91
- Quran 4:76
- Quran 7:256