The spread of takfīr ideology
All praise is due to Allah the One who says: “And thus We have made you a moderate median nation so that you may be a witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.”
And may the prayers of peace and blessings of Allah be upon the one whom Allah has sent with the moderate religion which is tolerant and strong and guides by way of it whomever He wills to the straight path. And may Allah have mercy on his noble companions who entered into it gently. They understood what Allah desired for them, and did not go to extremes or deviate. They were not negligent concerning it or excessive in it, but rather were from a moderate point between those extremes. They subsequently conveyed it [i.e. the religion of Islam] to those who came after them from the tābiʿūn (or students of the companions) who followed in their footsteps implementing a methodology based upon following and not innovating and this was also the approach of whoever followed after them until the Day of Judgment.
As to what follows:
For indeed souls are motivated by hope with regard to what we are witnessing today from the open-mindedness and the openness of the hearts toward the truth from the caravans of those who repent who were swept away by the darkness of the ideology of takfīr which drove them towards the path of deviance, ruin, destruction, ignorance, and misguidance. From the most despicable of these things is the loss of life, armed conflict with the Imāms of the Muslims and the laypeople, and the rationalization behind the sanctioning of the spilling of their blood and declaring them disbelievers. This action is further coupled with stubbornness and inflexibility along with the spread of corruption in the land and other matters that are impossible to enumerate.
And from these initiatives and retractions is the surprising announcement from one of these organizations in an Arab country on July 5th 1997 that ended a series of violence that was endured in that land for approximately twenty years. This retraction resulted in the publishing of a scholarly series that essentially corrected the affairs and rectified the issues that they had been previously misunderstood. And all praise is due to Allah who guided them to the path of truth and who likewise distinguished them.
And certainly this practice continued amongst those who were aware of the realities, that behind those gullible individuals are forces that mobilize them incite them and use them to sow the seeds of turmoil between the Muslims dividing their ranks, and busy them with someone other than their own enemies, and thus obstruct their path towards developing as a civilization. It is truly regrettable that their unaided religious zealousness was taken advantage of to focus heavy attacks upon the Muslim nation by way of its own members who are from those who remain easy prey for the groups of takfīr and bombing who mold their ideas and brainwash them with the blood of wicked enmity. They are similarly nourished by things that are disliked by everyone with a noble nature and sound intellect. And these groups incite them and give money to dangerous people for destruction, the lighting of fires, and the encouragement of suicide missions. Then no one approved of the decisions of those instigators until they suffered the illusion of victory, while it truly resulted in failure and loss. This only increases them in obvious sinfulness and disdain in the sight of the Lord of Creation and that is a sufficient description of loss. However, when the issue reaches the pinnacle of fanaticism, rigidity, staunch adherence to falsehood, and continual spilling of innocent blood without shedding a single tear out of remorse, and without fear of recourse or penalty; refusing evidence, turning away from the correct path, receiving goodness with contempt and ingratitude. So it is important for them when this is the case, that someone counters them, forcefully oppose them, in order to protect against the filth of their criminality and their excessiveness in an effort to protect lives from destruction and harm. So this type of jihād is from the most dutiful form of jihād, the most generous in terms of reward from the Lord of creation as confirmed by the various narrations from the Prophet (pbuh) that mentioned this explanation; and for this discussion we will dedicate a specific treatise –if Allah the Exalted wills-.
Truly those who seek retaliation do not understand the meaning of jihād and how it is good when used elsewhere and that it has been legislated to achieve noble goals and objectives. It guides the people towards the path of servitude to Allah the Lord of creation, and with it justice prevails, so jihād does not merely involve rushing into combat, or the burning of buildings, trees, and vegetation or women and children or spoiling property; all of this constitutes ignorance as to what is the religion of Islam and what are the goals of Islamic legislation and insufficient understanding of the scope of jihād. For indeed it is not possible under any circumstances for the language of killing to be the tongue which expresses what is Islam and its tolerance and a standard for the final message which is intended to be a global message: which seeks to ensure safety, the spread of happiness amongst all of the people and also seeks to raise them from the depths of darkness which they continue to be immersed in towards light, guidance, righteousness, and the straight path. Shaykhul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah said: “The basic principle regarding the blood of people is that it is inviolable, it should not be unrightfully spilled. And killing because of disbelief is not from the matters that the various legislations have agreed upon, nor are the times of legislation here the same as in the killing due to retaliation. So then this is an affair in which there is no disagreement in the legislations or the intellect. ” (2)
He also said: “Indeed fighting was legislated due to necessity and if the people had believed after evidence and signs reached them, there would have been no need to fight. So clarifying the signs and evidences for Islam is obligatory without restriction in a manner that is obligatory in origin. As for jihād, then it is legislated due to necessity.” (3)
And Shaykhul-Islām Ibn Taymiyyah has a priceless principle concerning the killing of disbelievers and making peace with them and the prohibition of killing them based upon their disbelief alone; this treatise is published and we advise people to refer to it particularly those who desire further details regarding this issue and the correct position concerning it.(4) And the reader might ask is there historical precedent or ideological basis for this deviant belief and misguided sect? We would respond to this statement by saying of course. Every people inherits from those who preceded them. And the predecessors from which these people grew is the Khārijites and it is an ideology that attacks the body of Islamic history with the knife represented by ʿAbdullah ibn Sabaʾ al-Yahūdī who introduced it or you might say that he was able to produce influence by it through the use of tools like troublemakers, lowlifes, and mobs against the righteous Caliph ʿUthmān ibn ʿAffān by using various fabricated claims until the affair resulted in his assassination, so the implications of his involvement in this great incident are negative and the results are catastrophic in terms of religion, politics, social ramifications are from the things that facilitate the ambitions of the enemy, jealous tribalism, then directly following this tragedy something known as “the signaling with the garment of ʿUthmān ” and the demand for retribution appeared and during this the messengers of sedition and turmoil move towards their goals and their opportunity is appropriate for them to ignite the fires of turmoil and light the fires of infighting and internal wars and darken the skies, attack the hand of unity, and rallying around the religion which is exemplified in the symbolic entity which will be preserved by the permission of Allah and which prevent the undermining of its foundations. This entity is the Sulṭān, Caliph, or Muslim leader. However, events occurred between the factions supporting ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib and Muʿāwiyyah ibn Abū Sufyān as they were planned by some rogue elements. So the voice of truth became mixed with the voice of falsehood and the two groups were forcefully prodded into fighting. The two factions fought, both of them pursued the truth and strove hard to realize it and it is unbecoming for anyone to think of them as otherwise since they are recipients of either one or two rewards [for their ijtihād interpretive jurisprudence] without any doubt or lies. However, the will of Allah must come to pass and is implemented in a way that is consistent with His wisdom and there are none that can resist his judgment. And in this His comprehensive wisdom is demonstrated. It is a type of turmoil for which Allah has restrained our swords, so let us restrain our tongues concerning it as Imām Ash-Shāfiʿī said.
And when the supporters of ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib met the supporters of Muʿāwiyyah ibn Abū Sufyān on the day of Ṣiffīn. The two parties agreed upon arbitration in the month of Ramaḍān during the year 37H. Some of those who were from the ranks of ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib rejected the issue of arbitration and were excessive in their rejection to the extent that they said: “You have sought the judgment of men regarding the Book of Allah. There is no judgment except for Allah, then they went on to accuse him of disbelief.” (5)
So those people who were described have revolted against ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib who was the Imām who was given the vow of allegiance (bayʿah) by the significant and influential people of the community (Ahl al-Ḥal wa al-ʿAqd). They accused him of disbelief and became so excessive in their position regarding arbitration that they accused ʿUthmān ibnʿAffān , the people who fought during the battle of the Jamal, Muʿāwiyyah and his supporters, and whoever was pleased with the idea of arbitration; all of them were accused of disbelief. So these angry elements were the first of this nation to openly call to the unwarranted accusation of disbelief (takfīr) until it became a symbol of theirs and a characteristic, and garment for which they were known throughout the centuries of Islam.
Then those rebellious and divisive elements after ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib returned from Ṣiffīn isolated themselves in seclusion in a region called Ḥarūrāʾ and settled there; and it is said that they were approximately 12,000 in number. This settlement was not a military option for ʿAlī in spite of what had transpired. It was the only solution to return them to their senses and return them to uprightness. So he strove to convince them through debate, presenting evidence, and eliminating excuses. Then he sent Ibn ʿAbbās who pleased them and refuted them to the extent that half of them turned away from them. And those who remained from them preyed upon the laypeople, legitimizing the spilling of their blood, murdered ʿAbdullāh ibn Khabbāb ibn Aratt, they then entered his home and killed his child and its mother. Then they set up a camp in Nahrawān and ʿAlī set out for their encampment with 4,000 of his supporters. When he got close to their encampment, he sent a message to them to hand over the one who murdered ʿAbdullāh ibn Khabbāb. They sent back the message: “Surely, all of us killed him.” Then ʿAlī fought them and killed all of them and none of them except nine survived.(6)
Here it is important to spend a moment with the baseless statement that is commonly used by orientalists and those who are influenced by them who say: That the Khārijites were examples of a democratic wing in Islam (7) claiming that they claim that the Caliphate is the right of every Muslim so long as they are competent for this. In reality, this involves ignoring history and overlooking historical events because democracy with its obvious and hidden shortcomings, rejects the principle of totalitarianism/dictatorships and the inevitability of imposing ideas through iron and fire. The Khārijites mere pursuit of the right of the Caliphate for every Muslim does not remove the disgusting image of their transgressions and excuse them and remove the scars of their indiscretions and disgraceful behavior. So it is not just the pursuit of the Caliphate in a method that results in peace and security.
Indeed, the failure of many of the Khārijites to drive away “the interpreter of the Qurʾān” “the learned man of the Muslim community” reflects for us their argumentative disposition and the divisive tendencies that are characteristic of the Khārijites. Their excessiveness got to a point where they turned on each other day after night every faction is surrounded by supporters and followers who brandish weapons and accuse any groups in opposition to them of disbelief. The books of religious beliefs and factions (al-Milal wa an-Niḥal) mention that they divided into twenty or more factions. From them are the Najadāt, the Azāriqah, the Ṣafarāt, the Buhaysiyyah, the Ibāḍiyyah, the ʿjāridah and other than them. (8)
The danger of the Khārijites and their crimes did not cease with their armed struggles against the rulers. Rather, they plotted to kill the righteous Caliph: ʿAlī ibn Abū Ṭālib by assassinating him and designated ʿAbdur-Raḥmān ibn Maljam as the one who would carry out this despicable crime and the assassination occurred through treachery and treason. For this reason they align themselves with ʿAlī’s assassin and supplicate that Allah will have mercy upon him.
After the matter stabilized during the time of Muʿāwiyyah in the year 41H, he entered into a series of wars with them which inevitably weakened their influence but they continued afterwards to expand, assemble their remaining followers, and create small independent states and political entities until the appearance of the Ibāḍiyyah who now occupy a presence in some of the regions of the Arabian peninsula and Africa. And the term for which they are known which includes all of their many factions is Khārijites. There are many other names for them like: Ḥarūriyyah, Shūrāh, and Shakākah.
In the beginning, the Khārijites used to never overstep their own principles in various issues which centered around accusing some of the companions of disbelief, legitimizing the spilling of blood, declaring the major sinner of being a disbeliever; but with the passage of time, they began to lose their way and became from the kalamist sects like other than them from the various sects and factions.(9)
This deviant ideology has become compiled in literature specific to the group and arguments related to belief all of which are focused upon the following issues: accusing entire Islamic communities of disbelief; the leaders of them and the laypeople amongst them, legitimizing the spilling of their blood, and considering their lands to be lands of war. These beliefs suggest the obligation of struggling to remove their authority through the use strength and weapons by fighting them and striving hard to remove them and respond with full force to those who prevent them from achieving their goals. These central issues are the main points of emphasis within takfīrī ideological circles and more specifically is the ideology espoused by the modern groups which advocate violence. This is further confirmed by their literature and actions as demonstrated by their struggles with ruling systems and whoever seeks their shade which ultimately evolved into what resembles guerilla warfare due to its being a confrontation that exists between two independent entities.
The historical roots for the modern takfīrī ideology do not merely tie them to the earliest Khārijites in terms of their understandings and methods alone. Rather, an individual may come close to asserting with certainty that they are the same or at least they are very similar in terms of their psychological structure, their stereotypical way of thinking That fueled their (overwhelming feelings of revenge) and bleak outlook for everyone around them which made them part of a ticking time bomb that could erupt at any moment in order to serve an misguided goal; a mirage in open space which the thirsty person perceives to be water until he realizes that there is nothing there.
In this glimpse, we are not in need of spending much time on the extensive history of the Khārijite sect or any more time than we already have here because now it is limited to a number of general issues. So everyone has heard from the various channels of the media about the Takfīr wa al-Hijra group, the Nājūn min an-Nār, Jamāʿah al-Muslimīn, at-Tawaqquf wa at-Tabayyun, and the al-Qāʿidah organizations. All of these groups merge and agree on one point in the view of those who study them. They all often repeat the methodology of the earlier Khārijites and maintain a strong connection to them in the following issues: The obligation of armed revolt against the Imāms of the Muslims, rejecting obedience and remaining non-compliant towards him, accusing them of disbelief, the illegitimacy of fighting jihād with them or performing prayer behind them, the impermissibility of supplicating for them, and some of them have gone so far as removing the description of Muslim nations from these lands and declared them nations at war which essentially legitimizes their blood, wealth, and women. O how today resembles yesterday.
All of what has preceded from the beliefs of the misguided Khārijites of the past and present are in opposition to the “victorious group” and the “saved sect” Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamāʿah. Imām ʿAbdullāh ibn al-Mubārak said: “And whoever holds that prayer is to be performed behind every righteous and wretched [leader], and that jihād is to be performed with every Caliph, and whoever doesn’t hold that armed revolt is lawful against the Muslim authority, and supplicates for him to be righteous; [this individual] has distanced himself from the past and present Khārijites.” (10)
And you might ask: How could these groups hide in the dark tunnel of takfīr and still become fuel for this grave turmoil while they exerted their intellects for the sake of killing and destruction and did not misappropriate even an hour of the day in pursuit of rectification, reconstruction, and uplifting this nation even by merely protecting it from evil by contributing to its stability and tranquility? What is truly regrettable is that religiousness has become revolting against the leaders, takfīr, destruction, the spilling of blood as an approach or method and symbol of allegiance and disassociation formulated on the basis of messages and directions capable of removing any sign of mercy, compassion or a flash from the heart, and through this, the impressionable or even the wicked are directed to what is considered despicable or rejected by the one who has the very least bit of humanity, intelligence, and conscience who would view it as a crime against the descendants of Adam and a blatant attack against them, and a disruption of society, and the confusion of ideals, and a means of busying the Muslims with themselves in spite of the sweeping dangers which threaten and lie in wait for them.
In conclusion, we are not from those who are pessimistic and say: The time we are living in will produce a lot of accidents, calamities, and surprises. But it is upon each of us to prepare ourselves for this and to be ready, and strive to penetrate the hearts of these misguided with what is better and convince them through focused discussions, strong evidences, using the most beneficial approaches to achieve that and implementing these approaches with wisdom. And we should be mindful that whomever Allah guides from amongst them, and those who have benefited from the campaigns to enlighten them, have become enabled to guide others from the same light of truth that they themselves were guided from. Our advice for young people is to remain hopeful for this promising nation, that they will benefit from the experience of others and that they distance themselves from any suspicious caller who takes advantage of their energetic enthusiasm in the name of jihād, defending against the attacker by passing his destructive plan over the bridges of their flowing enthusiasm. They can also use this enthusiasm to provide good for their Muslim nation and respective countries and obedience to whomever Allah has granted authority according to whatever is best and by growing closer to their scholars, learn from their knowledge and consult them during times of urgency. This is because they are distinguished by the superior characteristics of precedence and knowledge. This is the straightest path. With this path the greater amount of benefit can be realized and the noblest way of life can be experienced. With this path, the community can heal, gain strength, and become rid of everything that ails it. Here is where it has become your turn young people of Islamic belief. So we strongly encourage you to pursue knowledge, and to put your trust in the Lord of creation, and to seek guidance in the Sunnah of the final Messenger and the biographies of the pious predecessors and the most distinguished scholars who act according to their knowledge.
And may Allah grant everyone success in pursuing what is loved and pleasing to Allah and may the best prayers of peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muḥammad, his family, and companions until the last day.
1) Sūrah al-Baqarah 2:143.
2) Aṣ-Ṣārim al-Maslūl volume 1 page 210.
3) Al-Jawāb aṣ-Ṣaḥīḥ volume 1 page 238.
4) Qāʿidah Mukhtaṣirah fī Qitāl al-Kuffā wa Muhādanatuhum wa Taḥrīm Qatlihim li Mujarrad Kufrihim which was edited and checked by Dr. ʿAbdul-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullah az-Zayyar 1st edition 1425H/2004 C.E. This treatise was previously printed as a part of a compilation published in the year 1368H/1949C.E. by the publisher As-Sunnah Al-Muḥammad in Egypt.
5) Al-Farq bayna Al-Firaq by Al-Baghdādī pages 74-76, and Al-Bidāyah wa an-Nihāyah by Ibn Kathīr volume 10 page 577 and Majmūʿ Fatāwā by Ibn Taymiyyah volume 13 page 208.
6) Al-Farq bayna Al-Firaq by Al-Baghdādī page 73, and At-Tabṣīr fī ad-Dīn by al-Isfirāyīnī page 45.
7) As-Siyādah al-ʿArabiyyah page 69 by Van Vloten translated by Ḥasan Ibrāhīm.
8. Al-Farq bayna Al-Firaq by Al-Baghdādī page 81.
9) See: Dirāsāt fī al-Ahwāʾ wa al-Firaq wa al-Bidʿah pages 181-182 by Dr. Nāṣr al-ʿAql published by Dār Ishbīliyā in Riyadh.
10) Sharḥ as-Sunnah by Al-Barbahārī page 85.