Barriers to Takfiir

One of our readers has asked this question:

You mentioned the process of Muslims excommunicating one another as infidels. This makes me wonder those lines will be fracturing again and again (and most likely along subjective lines). This seems to be a rather suicidal situation, because I doubt that they have any way to prevent this from spinning into schisms without number, and with the violence, ever solidified by hate. This brings my question, does Islam have any barriers to prevent this?

Abu Daoud's answer:

The process of excommunication is called "takfiir" and there is a high degree of disagreement in the Muslim community about it. Some are very stringent in saying that only a few acts can qualify one for ex-communication. But now, especially among the more traditional and militant Muslims, we are seeing a great increase in the use of takfiir. In fact, the wide-spread use of takfiir to justify the killing of an enemy is one of the identifying attributes of the Islamic communities in Pakistan-Afghanistan. Two of these groups are well known: the taliban and al qaeda.

"I doubt that they have any way to prevent this from spinning into schisms without number, and with the violence, ever solidified by hate...does Islam have any barriers to prevent this?"

Well, you are right that there is no mechanism whereby the division and sub-division and further splintering of groups can be stopped. But practically speaking groups will tend to work with each-other on a temporary basis to further their own goals, just like Baptists and Methodists and Catholics will cooperate for things like disaster relief or pro-life activities. So sometimes common goals can provide a basis for unity, though it does not necessarily last very long.

That having been said though we must remember that the long-term goal of Islam is indeed to establish a peaceful and just society which lives under the sharii3a of Allah. At that time violence will be eradicated, economic equality will be a reality and poverty and injustice will be absent. But much like Communism before it, the path to such a paradise requires the use of violence for now.

Comments

canicus said…
Thanks for the answer :)

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