News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Takfir Rescinded by Islamic Clerics

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Takfir Rescinded by Islamic Clerics

The Islamic concept of takfir has been used for centuries by some Moslem clerics to condemn as apostates those who are not Moslems or who preach an interpretation of Islam different from the Sunni understanding. Recently, two major representatives rescinded the concept of takfir and called for establing a pluralistic dialog between Islamic "denominations," as well as between Islam and other religions. The following link provides some background on this startling development, something not covered by the western news media.

According to Stephen Schwartz, this means

"Takfir has always been a principle of Saudi rule and Wahhabi preaching. If, as some Saudi subjects think, Abdullah is inclined to end the practice, the formal authority of the religious radicals will be instantly abolished. A movement against takfir has taken hold elsewhere in Sunni Islam, in which many clerics now appear deeply repelled by the horrific events in Iraq. In July, an international Islamic conference in Jordan produced a statement opposing the Sunni use of takfir against Shias, a practice enunciated time and again in the bloodthirsty manifestos of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, as well as condemning takfir against Sufis. The Amman declaration called for the restoration of pluralistic debate in Islam, banned in Mecca and Medina by the Wahhabis, and for the affirmation of liberty as a principle."

The statement issued by representatives from Sunni and Shia Islam reads as follows:

"In accordance with the fatwas issued by the honourable and respectable Grand Imam Sheikh Al Azhar.

The Grand Ayatollah Al Sayyid Ali Al Sistani, the honourable and respectable grand mufti of Egypt, the honourable and respectable Shiite clerics (both Jaafari and Zaydi), the honourable and respectable grand mufti of the Sultanate of Oman.

The Islamic Fiqh Academy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the grand council for Religious Affairs of Turkey.

The honourable and respectable grand mufti of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and the respectable members of its National Fatwa Committee, and the honourable and respectable Sheikh Dr Yusuf Al Qaradawi;

And in accordance with what was mentioned in the speech of His Majesty King Abdullah during the opening session of our conference;

And in accordance with our own knowledge in sincerity to Allah the Bounteous;

And in accordance with what was presented in this our conference by way of research papers and studies, and by way of the discussions that transpired in it;

We, the undersigned, hereby express our approval and affirmation of what appears below:

1) Whosoever is an adherent of one of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence (Hanafite, Malikite, Shafite and Hanbalite), the Jaafari (Shiite) school of jurisprudence, the Zaydi school of jurisprudence, the Ibadi school of jurisprudence.

Or the Thahiri school of jurisprudence is a Muslim. Declaring that person an apostate is impossible.

Verily his (or her) blood, honour and property are sacrosanct. Moreover, in accordance with what appeared in the fatwa of the honourable and respectable Sheikh Al Azhar.

It is not possible to declare whosoever subscribes to the Ashaari creed or whoever practices true Sufism an apostate.

Likewise, it is not possible to declare whosoever subscribes to true Salafi thought an apostate. Equally, it is not possible to declare as apostates any group of Muslims who believes in Allah the Mighty and Sublime and His Messenger (may Peace and Blessings be upon him) and the pillars of faith, and respects the pillars of Islam and does not deny any necessary article of religion.

2) There exists more in common between the various schools of jurisprudence than there is difference.

The adherents to the eight schools of jurisprudence are in agreement as regards the basic Islamic principles.

All believe in Allah the Mighty and Sublime, the One and the Unique; that the Noble Koran is the Revealed Word of Allah; and that our master Mohammad, may Blessings and Peace be upon him, is a Prophet and Messenger unto all mankind.

All are in agreement about the five pillars of Islam: The two testaments of faith (shahadatayn), the ritual prayer (salat), almsgiving (zakat), fasting the month of Ramadan (sawm), and the Hajj to the Sacred House of Allah."

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