The Radical Application of the Islamist Concept of Takfir

In: Arab Law Quarterly
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  • 1 mohamed.badar@northumbria.ac.uk
  • 2 masaki.nagata@brunel.ac.uk
  • 3 tiphanie.tueni@gmail.com
  • 4 Reader in Comparative and International Criminal Law and Islamic Law, Northumbria Law School, Northumbria University, Newcastle, uk Brunel University, London, uk Legal advisor, France

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The ideology and actions of certain militant groups in the Middle East are often condemned as a perversion of Islamic precepts. In order to achieve a theologically ideal society, these groups espouse takfirism, a minority ideology that endorses violence, and in particular advocates the killing of other Muslims who are declared to be unbelievers. These groups justify their words and deeds with direct quotations from the Qur’an and the Sunna, which are the sources of Islamic law (Shari‘a), as well as by citing historical precedents such as the Khawarij movement and Ibn Taymiyya’s fatawa. This article aims to analyse how these groups (and in some cases state actors) defend their actions in legal terms and how mainstream Islamic scholars respond to what they consider to be doctrinal deviations.

  • 7

    Ismail ibn Kathir, Tafsir ibn Kathir (Vol. 4, 2nd edn, Riyadh: Darussalam, 2003), 475.

  • 10

    Ibn Kathir, supra note 7 at 477.

  • 13

    Ibn Kathir, supra note 7, vol. 2 at 611.

  • 14

    S.A. Rahman, Punishment and Apostasy in Islam (Kuala Lumpur: The Other Press, 2006), 39.

  • 16

    Ibn Kathir, supra note 7, vol. 3 at 436.

  • 22

    Wael B. Hallaq, An Introduction to Islamic Law (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009), 16.

  • 30

    See Al-Bukhari, supra note 26, vol. 4, number. 3131 at 166. See also Abu Dawud, supra note 24, vol. 3, number. 2768 at 360-361.

  • 31

    See Al-Bukhari, supra note 26, vol. 4, number. 3022 at 162-163.

  • 32

    See Abu Dawud, supra note 24, vol. 5, number. 4362 at 21.

  • 35

    See Abu Dawud, supra note 24, vol. 5 at number. 4362, 21.

  • 36

    See Al-Bukhari, supra note 26, vol. 4 at number. 3617, 492.

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  • 42

    Ibid., p. 98; see also Klein, supra note 40 at 231.

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    Al-Tabari, supra note 34, vol. 17 at 102.

  • 44

    Bernard Lewis, The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror (London: Phoenix, 2004), 123.

  • 45

    Ibid., 123.

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    W. Montgomery Watt, Islamic Political Thought (Edinburgh: The University of Edinburgh Press, 1968), 55-56.

  • 47

    Ibn Taymiyyah, The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad (Birmingham, England: Maktabah al Ansaar Publications, 2001), 8.

  • 48

    Ibid., 9.

  • 50

    Ibn Taymiyyah, supra note 47 at 9-10.

  • 51

    Ibid., 9-10.

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    Denise Aigle, Mongol Empire between Myth and Reality: Studies in Anthropological History (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 301.

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    Ibn Taymiyyah, supra note 47 at 12. See also Rachel Scott, ‘An “official” Islamic response to the Egyptian al-jihad movement’, Journal of Political Ideologies 8(1) (2003): 39-61, 44; Johannes J.G. Jansen, ‘Ibn Taymiyyah and the Thirteenth Century: A Formative Period of Modern Muslim Radicalism’, Quaderni di Studi Arabi (5/6) (1987): 391-396, 394; Denise Aigle, ‘The Mongol Invasions of Bilad al-Sham by Ghazan Khan and Ibn Taymiyah’s Three “Anti-Mongol” Fatwas’, Mamluk Studies Review 11(1) (2007): 89-120, 96 where she states, ‘…. the rules of the associationists—such as the yāsā of Chinggis Khan, king of the polytheists—is most gravely contrary to the religion of Islam’. ‘Ibn Taymiyya held that the Mongols were still following their own customary laws, known as Yasa or Yasiq, rendering their conversion to Islam effectively invalid. He argued that by not observing Shari’a law they could not be classed as Muslims and were apostate’.

  • 54

    See Jansen, supra note 53 at 395.

  • 56

    W. Montgomery Watt, Muhammad: Prophet and Statesman (London: Oxford University Press, 1961), 91, here he states, ‘The Arabic word hijrah (that still sometimes appears in the Latin form hegira) does not mean ‘fight’ but is best translated ‘emigration’. It has the connotation not of geographical transference, but of separation from one’s family and clan and attachment to others’.

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  • 63

    George S. Rentz, The Birth of the Islamic Reform Movement in Saudi Arabia; Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703/4-1792) and the Beginnings of Unitarian Empire in Arabia (London: Arabian Publishing, 2005), 19.

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  • 67

    Ibid., 27, 146.

  • 70

    Kevin McDonald, ‘Islamic State’s ‘medieval’ ideology owes a lot to revolutionary France’, The Conversation (8 September 2014), available at https://theconversation.com/islamic-states-medieval-ideology-owes-a-lot-to-revolutionary-france-31206, accessed 21 September 2016.

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  • 71

    Maududi, supra note 69 at 212.

  • 74

    Ibn Abbas, supra note 18 at 105.

  • 75

    See Martin J. McDermott, The Theology of al-Shaikh al-Mufīd (d. 413/1022), (Bayreuth: Dar el-Machreq, Librairie orientale, 1978), 247.

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  • 83

    Abdullah Saeed, ‘Ambiguities of Apostasy and the Repression of Muslim Dissent’, The Review of Faith & International Affairs 9(2) (2011): 31-38, 36. See also Asim Hussain, ‘Apostasy decree issued against Taseer’, The News International, 25 November 2010, available at www.thenews.com.pk/archive/print/610171-apostasy-decree-issued-against-taseer, accessed 21 September 2016.

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  • 86

    Hallaq, supra note 22 at 9.

  • 95

    Ibn Kathir, supra note 7, Vol., 2 at 233.

  • 96

    Kamali, supra note 89 at 29.

  • 98

    Kamali, supra note 89 at 29.

  • 100

    Kamali, supra note 89 at, 31.

  • 101

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  • 102

    George, supra note 101, 63.

  • 103

    Michael Cook, Forbidding Wrong in Islam: An Introduction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), 3-4, 11-12.

  • 105

    Sami Zubaida, Law and Power in the Islamic World (London: I.B. Tauris, 2003), 59.

  • 106

    Knut S. Vikor, Between God and the Sultan: a Historical Introduction to Islamic Law (London: Hurst, 2004), 197.

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    Ibn Khaldun, supra note 23, vol. 1 at 463.

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    Hussein Ali Agrama, Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty, and the Rule of Law in Modern Egypt (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012), 46.

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  • 114

    Cairo Court of Appeals, case no. 287 (1995) in Hussein Ali Agrama, Questioning Secularism: Islam, Sovereignty, and the Rule of Law in Modern Egypt (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2012), 49.

  • 115

    Meijer, supra note 103 at 205.

  • 116

    Ibid., p. 194.

  • 118

    Ibid., p. 205.

  • 119

    Ibid., p. 194.

  • 120

    Ibid., p. 196.

  • 122

    Hussein Solomon, Islamic State and the Coming Global Confrontation (London: Palgrave, 2016), 4.

  • 123

    Andrew F. March & Mara Revkin, ‘Caliphate of Law’, Foreign Affairs, 15 April 2015, available online at https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/syria/2015-04-15/caliphate-law, accessed 31 January 2017.

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  • 127

    Ibid., p. 12.

  • 130

    Sherman A. Jackson, On the Boundaries of Theological Tolerance in Islam (Abu Hamid al-Ghazali’s Faysal al-Tafriqa Bayna al-Islam wa al-Zandaqa) (Karachi: Oxford University Press, 2002), 132.

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  • 131

    Barbara Zollner, The Muslim Brotherhood: Hasan al-Hudaybi and Ideology (Abington: Routledge, 2008), 85.

  • 132

    Ibid., p. 85.

  • 133

    Ibid., p. 86.

  • 135

    Jackson, supra note 129, 92.

  • 136

    Ibid., 115.

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