Defining Characteristics of the Takfīri
Defining Characteristics of the Extremist Takfīri Methodology
1. Failing to verify much of the evidence they use to judge governments and individuals as infidels. I do not know anyone who has proved with certainty the claims that they use in making takfīr. They might say implicitly or explicitly that the evidence is well-known or that so-and-so mentioned it. Thus, some of the evidence that they claim warrants takfīr either is not factual, has been misinterpreted, or is factual but they made mistakes in applying the principles and methodology of making takfīr on an individual.
2. Their methodology is usually based upon twisting others’ words and refusing to give them the benefit of the doubt about their actions when launching accusations.
3. They are ignorant of the principles of deduction. Some of them allow their own desires and recklessness to make them ignore the principles necessary for drawing conclusions. They rarely consider different pieces of evidence in relation to one another, they do not gauge dubious evidence with conclusive evidence, and they do not recognize the deep understanding of the early Muslim scholars nor the religious verdicts of recognized scholars (except when they can misquote them to support their extremism). Yet they know that the Ṣaḥābah, the Tābi‘ūn, and Islamic scholars up to this day understood the religious texts differently than they do.
4. Some of them are ignorant of (and others purposefully ignore) the principles of takfīr and the pre-requisites of making takfīr on an individual.
5. Due to their unbalanced emotional outbursts and their zeal which is not constrained by religious guidelines, they do not pay attention to religious or natural criterion – nor to divine constants – when considering affairs and their outcomes.
6. Due to their isolation, they do not benefit from the events, experience, or historical lessons to be learned from their predecessors, be they people of desires (such as the group that revolted against ‘Uthmān, the Khawārij, Jamā‘ah at-Takfīr wal-Hijrah, Jamā‘ah al-Jihād), the reckless groups in Algeria and elsewhere, the hasty and hazardous individuals, the mistaken – be they scholars or not, the People of Hurra, the victims of the incident of Ibn al-Ash‘ath, the various leaders from the Prophetic lineage who were tempted by various groups into revolting against Bani Umayyah and Bani al-‘Abbās, none of whom were successful in spite of the fact that they were nearly forty.
Then there was the massacre of “the Brotherhood” in Sablah when they refused to listen to the advice of scholars and elders. There was also the massacre of Juhayman’s group. We knew many of them and they were more righteous, more knowledgeable, and more intelligent than many extremists today. In spite of this, when they ignored the advice of scholars and others genuinely concerned for them, they revolted against authorities and the Muslim congregation. To my knowledge, the calamity they caused in Makkah is unrivaled in the history of Islam – aside from the Carmathian Revolution. Everyone with insight knows that the majority of the pretexts they used then are the same ones used by extremists today, namely: declaring the permissibility of usury, the presence of some laws which contradict Islamic law, international relations, participation in organizations and alliances, sin and corruption, etc., which may or may not be the case.
Some of these mistakes and sins may actually be present. However, the questions that remain to be answered are: What is the correct Islamic protocol for making accusations and ruling on them? How have our scholars and those with intelligence, wisdom, good-judgment, and experience gone about denouncing and changing the affairs which differ from the methodology of our Pious Predecessors?
7. The majority of them make judgments in major affairs, passing judgment on the nation, those concerned for its well-being, and the scholars, in spite of the fact that they are not well-grounded in knowledge and not qualified to make such judgments, nor do they ever consult those who are qualified to make them. In fact, they consider one another scholars – as is the habit of deviants – or attribute statements to real scholars who might agree with them on some points, or sympathize with them out of ignorance of their situation, or some personal agenda, or out of revenge, or other weaknesses to which humans are prone. Some of their members might actually be knowledgeable, yet affected by extremism and violence, and as a result not seek out the truth, being blinded to guidance. May Allah protect us from that!
8. Many of them are either ignorant of (or ignore) the major principles governing the religion, which the Predecessors of this Nation agreed upon. These include:
• Avoiding harm takes precedence over attaining benefit. Allah says, “Obey Allah to the best of your ability.” (1)
• Hardship brings about ease. “Whenever the Prophet (pbuh) was given a choice between two matters, he would choose the easier of the two.” (2) “Do the right thing as much as possible.”(3)
• “Beware of religious extremism; the people of old perished due to their religious extremism.”(4)
• “This religion is easy; if anyone tries to practice it harshly they will be defeated.”(5)
• “Whenever gentleness is present in something it becomes adorned; whenever it is absent from something it becomes blemished.”(6)
• “Verily, Allah is Gentle and loves gentleness. He gives due to gentleness what He gives not due to harshness or anything else.”(7)
9. Their creed, methodology, and stances are based upon ignoring and denying religious principles and constants in this country (the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). These include:
• The scholars are points of reference. Extremists do not give scholars their due respect, nor consult them as Allah the Exalted has commanded.
• The importance of congregation. Extremists do not recognize the importance Islam lends to believers congregating together.
• The rights of people of influence, including: scholars, leaders, ministers, military commanders, tribal chiefs, intellectuals, and all others who deserve consideration and respect either due to their knowledge, leadership, or social status.(8) Many extremists have no respect whatsoever for any of the aforementioned people, yet they may not say so openly out of necessity of living near such people. Not only do extremists deny this principle, but they also go so far as to disrespect such people in society and accuse them of heresy; they ridicule leaders, scholars, and others with words that no one who respects himself – let alone respecting those who deserve respect – would dare to utter. For example, they refer to the Senior Scholars as the “senior spies.”
• Muslims should obey their rulers in good times and bad times whether they like what they are being commanded with or not, as long as they are not commanded to disobey Allah. The Prophet (pbuh) advised us to do so in an authentic ḥadith, saying, “Listen and obey [your ruler] in times of hardship and times of ease, whether you like [what you are being commanded with] or not, and regardless of whether they are being selfish toward you.”(9) He also said, “The Muslim must hear and obey in that which he likes and dislikes as long as he is not ordered to commit a sin; if he is ordered to commit a sin, he must not hear and obey.”
• Allegiance toward leaders. The Messenger (pbuh) said, “Whoever dies without giving allegiance has died a death of pre-Islamic ignorance.”(10) One of Allah’s many favors upon us in this land is having placed leaders in charge to whom we give our allegiance.
• Sincerity is an important principle of Islam. The Prophet (pbuh) said thrice, “This religion is sincerity.” His Companions asked, “To whom, O Messenger of Allah?” He replied, “To Allah the Exalted, His Messenger, and Muslim leaders and laymen.” Being sincere to Muslim leaders means sincerely advising scholars, rulers, and those in positions of authority in the Islamic Nation through mutual counsel, praying for their righteousness and guidance, obeying them in all that is good, uniting around them, using wisdom in repelling whatever oppression, wrongdoing, or transgression they might commit since such things must be dealt with via Islamic means. “Fail not to obey them.”(11) Allah has commanded us to do so and His Messenger (pbuh) has advised us to do likewise, so it is the unavoidable truth, and the Muslim will find nothing more valuable or safer in this life or the afterlife than this advice from the Most Sincere and Trustworthy (pbuh). There are many examples of how early Muslim scholars – including Ibn Omar, Anas Ibn Mālik, Imam Mālik, Imam Aḥmad, Ibn Taymiyyah, and others – wisely and appropriately dealt with leaders who committed atrocities. Today’s extremists have overstepped Islam’s boundaries, opposing the Sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), the path of the believers, and the methodology of the Pious Predecessors in this – and many other – affairs.
• Patience is a necessary Islamic value with which Allah has commanded and which His Messenger (pbuh) has advised. Allah says, “By time, verily mankind is in loss, except for those who believe, do righteous deeds, advise one another in truth, and advise one another in patience.”(12) He also says, “O you who believe, be patient and perseverant, remain stationed and fear Allah so that you may be successful.”(13) As previously mentioned, the Prophet (pbuh) advised us to remain patient upon oppression, tyranny, and selfishness, especially from leaders. Doing otherwise leads to even greater worldly and religious turmoil and negative outcomes. The Prophet (pbuh) also said, “Whoever dislikes something from his leader should remain patient, for anyone who disobeys his leader in the slightest dies a death of pre-Islamic ignorance.”(14)
• Maintaining public safety. Public safety is a goal Islam values and protects because Muslims’ worldly and religious affairs cannot remain intact without it. Islam regards faith, life, lineage, wealth, and sanity as inviolable and these things can only be protected with the presence of public safety. Perhaps (and Allah knows better) this is one of the greatest reasons for the prohibition of revolting against leaders. Extremists in every era, however, have failed to understand these realities and to take into consideration the common good.
• Preventing major harm takes precedence over attaining benefit.(15) Religious extremism, takfīr, claiming the permissibility of shedding others’ blood, spreading corruption on earth, threatening public safety, terrorizing civilians, causing dissension within the congregation (especially with the scholars), revolting against leaders, and all other such affairs are extremely harmful. Falling into any of them is a grave mistake with serious worldly and religious repercussions. Extremists, however, claim that such actions are Jihād!(16) May Allah show us and them the truth and allow them to return to the right path.
• Another constant many extremists and others are ignorant of – and which yet others ignore – is the Saudi Government’s Basic System of Governance, made public in 1412H. This document established that the law of the land in Saudi Arabia is Islamic Law, based upon Islamic creed and the Sunnah.
10. Their methodology is based on gathering information, analyzing it, and then passing judgments on their dissidents based upon their astonishing incongruities and exaggerated interpretations and conclusions, which often mix fact with fiction, truth with lies, and reality with imagination.
11. Their extremism and lack of religious knowledge and common sense led them to dare to make takfīr on others, claim the permissibility of shedding their blood and seizing their wealth, and spread corruption on earth through their violent methods of bombing and murdering individuals and groups.
12. They accuse others of their own shortcomings, assume the worst possible outcomes, imagine the most difficult solutions possible, have a melancholy outlook, and are pessimistic, desperate and paranoid of conspiracies. “This religion is easy; if anyone tries to practice it harshly they will be defeated.”(17) Their condition and their actions show that they tend to be harsh, pessimistic, and desperate and that they have all but lost hope in the mercy of Allah and the righteousness and sympathy of their scholars, their government, and their society.(18) This is why they have committed these heinous crimes, claiming that they do so seeking rectification. They are ignorant of (and perhaps some of them choose to ignore) the aforementioned Islamic principles. We ask Allah to safeguard and guide us, them, and all Muslims.
1 The Qur’an, Surah at-Tabhābun :16.
2 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (3296); Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (4294).
3 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (6464); Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (2818); Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmi’ aṣ-Ṣaghīr, (3522).
4 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmi’ aṣ-Ṣaghīr, (2677).
5 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (39); Sunan an-Nasā’i, (4948).
6 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmi’ aṣ-Ṣaghīr, (5530); Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (2594) with similar wording.
7 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (4693).
8 Oncle the spoils of war from the Battle of Hunain were distributed, the tribe of Hawāzin requested that the wealth and captives be returned so Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) gave them the option of choosing either of the two. They chose the captives so Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) addressed his Companions saying, “Those brothers of yours have come to us repenting and I desire to return their captives to them. Whoever wishes to return his captives willingly may do so and whoever wishes to maintain his share until we give it back to him from that which Allah grants us may do so.” The Companions replied, “We shall do so willingly O Messenger of Allah.” He then said, “We do not know which individuals from amongst you have agreed and which have not so desist until your tribal leaders report to us.” Their leaders then spoke to them and reported back to the Prophet (pbuh) informing him that everyone willingly agreed. (See: “Qawā‘id at-Ta‘āmul ma’ al-‘Ulamā” by ‘Abdur-Raḥmān al-Luwaiḥiq, p. 123.) This is evidence that the Prophet made referring to leaders the way for knowing the views of laymen. Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (2417).
9 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (1836); Ṣaḥīḥ al-Jāmi’ aṣ-Ṣaghīr, (3927).
10 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (7144); Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (3423).
11 Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (1855).
12 The Qur’an, Surah al-‘Asr :1-3.
13 The Qur’an, Surah Āl-‘Imrān :200.
14 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (7053); Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim, (3439).
15 Preventing harm takes precedence over attaining benefit because Islam’s focus on avoiding prohibitions is greater than its focus on implementing commandments. This principle encompasses the entire religion of Islam and none of Islam’s rulings – be they related to matters of creed, the rights of Allah, or the rights of His Servants – stray from it. See: Sharḥ al-Qawā‘id wal-Uṣūl al-Jāmi‘ah by Ibn ‘Uthaimīn; al-Muwāfaqāt by ash-Shāṭibi, (2/5); and al-Aḥkām fi Maṣāliḥ al-Anām by al-‘Izz Ibn ‘Abdus-Salām, (21).
16 Every intelligent person recognizes the fact that the harm caused by methods such as bombings, bloodshed, and violating public safety can hardly be reckoned. Such actions have hindered Da’wah and philanthropy. Has any benefit whatsoever come out of such actions for Muslims in their religious or worldly affairs?! The people performing them have not aided the religion nor harmed their enemies. No evil has changed because of their actions and no good or truth has been established due to them.
17 Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhāri, (39); Sunan an-Nasā’i, (4948).
18 The government – may Allah bless it – announced that it will pardon any accused terrorist to surrender himself long enough ago for anyone who contemplates and is guided by Allah to have done so by now.