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Takfeer: The Dreadful Doctrine of Terror

“If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you:”(Qur’an;5:48). “Let there be no compulsion in religion”(Qur’an;2:256); “Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits the sin of ascribing partners to Him and may forgive anyone else if He so pleases.”(Qur’an;4:116). “God wishes to lighten your burdens because humans have been created weak by nature” (Qur’an;4:28).

Introduction:

It is generally accepted international norm that the peaceful political struggle is the best way to get freedom and justice. However when peaceful struggle is brutally suppressed, the armed struggle against occupation forces involved in oppression is widely accepted as legitimate methodology. Many countries won their independence from colonial powers and oppressive regimes through armed struggle; it includes the countries like USA, China, Algeria, Vietnam and South Africa among many others. Still there are many people like Palestinians, Kashmiris, Chechnians, Iraqis and Afghans, still struggling to get rid of occupation forces. However the killing of innocent people or those opposed to the heretical religious doctrines through violence and terror is condemned and rejected world wide, being terrorism. It has been experienced that mostly the struggles initiated for legitimate cause with international support ultimately turned in to terror campaign once abandoned by the international community and taken over by semi-literate bigots. Taliban in Afghanistan and tribal areas of Pakistan are a case in point [their 1st generation was nourished and trained by USA as Mujahideen against former USSR in 80’s]. They use religion [Islam in this case] as a cover to recruit and motivate the youngsters to become cannon fodder [suicide bombers & foot soldiers] to kill innocent people. The regional and international powers also get involved to use such terror groups through covert means to achieve their strategic goals. The hostile media is readily available to conveniently put the blame on the religion [Islam]. Hence Islam is maligned by the irrational religious bigots as well as the international powers. When ever the international community did not abandon, the people involved in legitimate struggle, the armed struggles ended upon achieving peaceful resolution of conflict, Kosovo, Bosnia and East Timor are some recent examples. The lopsided policies and mismanagement by corrupt military or civil regimes in 3rd world countries [mostly Muslim dominated] result in economic and social injustice. This ensures availability of large number of disgruntled, illiterate, unemployed youngsters from the under privileged strata of society. The extremists are quick to exploit through religious fervor to obtain required manpower, finances, public support and sympathy.

http://youtu.be/U-KhKYLmz_8

The political, military, economic strategic and other aspects of this highly bloody oppressive non conventional warfare are deliberated at various forums. However their heretic religious doctrines, the main motivating force of the extremist Taliban is given cursory treatment only. An endeavour is being made here to critically analyze their ideology and see its relevance vis-à-vis established Islamic doctrines and practices.

Doctrine of Takfir:

The doctrine of Takfir; is being used in the modern era especially by Al Qaeda & Taliban, in sanctioning violence against leaders and simple Muslims who are deemed insufficiently religious. Takfir is a pronouncement to declare any (non practicing Muslim), to be an unbeliever (Takfir), apostate, (Murtad) hence liable to be killed. It has become a central ideology of militant groups such as those in Egypt, iraq and across the world including so called ‘Taliban’, now also in Afghanistan and adjoining tribal areas of Pakistan. According to the ‘Oxford Dictionary of Islam’, doctrine of Takfir is claimed to be derived from the ideas of Sayyid Qutab, Maududi, Ibn Tymiyyah and Ibn Kathir. Mainstream Muslims and Islamic groups reject the pseudo concept of ‘Takfir’ as a doctrinal deviation [bid’at], heresy. Leaders such as Hassan al-Hudaybi (died,1977) and Yousf al–Qaradawi reject ‘Takfir’ as un-Islamic and marked by bigotry and zealotry. Such narrow mindedness has exacerbated the evil of sectarianism and the resulting intolerance among the masses has led to a dangerous trend towards sectarian militancy. Recently Fatwa [Edict] was issued against this doctrine and terrorism, the Saudi scholars also condemned and strongly rejected the ‘Takfir doctrine.

Design of Creation:

Man as an animal has a humble origin. But he has been given the gift of certain faculties of receiving instruction (typified by Hearing) and of intellectual and spiritual insight (typified by Sight) according to Qur’an; “Verily We created Man from a drop of mingled sperm in order to try him: so We gave him (the gifts) of Hearing and Sight”(Qura’n;76:2). His life has therefore a meaning: with a certain amount of free-will, he is to be vicegerent on earth (Qur’an;2:30). But he must be trained and tried, and that is the whole problem of human life. “Verily We have created Man into toil and struggle.”(Qura’n;90:4). Allah says: “I have not created jinns [invisible beings] and mankind except to worship (serve) Me. I require no sustenance from them, nor do I ask that they should feed Me. Surely it is Allah Who is the giver of all sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Invincible.” (Qur’an;51:56-58). To understand why human beings need to worship Allah, one must first understand what is meant by  words ‘yabudun’ (worship, service) it is derived from word ‘abud’’ means ‘slave’ who surrenders to the command of his master. The English term ‘worship’ comes from the Old English “weorthscipe” meaning ‘honor.’ Consequently, worship is defined as ‘the performance of devotional acts in honor of a deity: According to this meaning, man is instructed to show gratitude to Allah by glorifying Him, In the Qur’an, Allah says; “Glorify the praises of your Lord”(Qur’an;2:185). Worshipping (serving) Allah does not mean that people spend their entire lives in constant seclusion and absolute meditation. The true service (worship) to Allah is to live in this world according to His commands, and not to run away from it. Worship (service) is to obey what He desires and refrain from what He forbids by his free moral will, a test or trial.

Thus the purpose of creation of humanity is to test the people during limited life span on earth and finally reward in hereafter. “Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35). If He wanted every one would have obeyed Him, like angels: “Have not yet the believers been satisfied that if God wanted, He would have certainly guided the whole of mankind?”(Qur’an;13:31). “if it had been His will He could indeed have guided you all.”(Qur’an;6:149).” But God want to test the man, by granting him limited free moral will to choose between right and wrong. Apart from intellect, He also provided guidance thorough prophets and scriptures. Those who obey Him by choice, due to the ‘limited free moral will’ granted by God and live according to His guidance, will be rewarded and those who disobey, will be punished in hereafter: “Say “The Truth is from your Lord”: let him who will believe and let him who will reject (it)- for the wrongdoers We have prepared a Fire..(Qur’an;18:29).“The One Who created death and life, so that He may put you to test, to find out which of you is best in deeds: He is the All-Mighty, the All-Forgiving.”(Qur’an;67:2). “Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason?”(Qur’an;10:100). “We shall surely test your steadfastness with fear and famine, with loss of property, life and produce. Give good news to those who endure with patience; who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “We belong to Allah and to Him we shall return.” Such are the people on whom there are blessings and Mercy from Allah; and they are the ones that are rightly guided.”(Qur’an;2:155-157). “And if thy Lord willed, all who are in the earth would have believed together. Wouldst thou (Muhammad) compel men until they are believers?”(Qura’n;10:99). “And what is there to keep back men from believing now that Guidance has come to them nor from praying for forgiveness from their Lord but that (they ask that) the ways of the ancients be repeated with them or the Wrath be brought to them face to face?”(Qura’n;18:55).

Man Created Weak, Not to be Over Burdened:

It is possible that some believer (Muslim) neglects a duty (prescribe through Qur’an or Sunnah). If we treat this neglect or omission on the same basis as we treat addition, we are demanding that every Muslim should be perfect, a heavy burden. Allah says: “God wishes to lighten your burdens because humans have been created weak by nature” (Qur’an;4:28). “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear”(Qur’an;2:286, 6:152, 7:42 & 23:62). This further explains that God has classified the Muslims in to three broad categories i.e. the sinners, moderates and ideal Muslims: “We have given the Book as an inheritance to those of Our servants (Muslims) whom We have chosen, among them there are some who wrong their own souls, some follow a middle course and some, by Allah’s leave, excel in good deeds; which is the supreme virtue.”(Qur’an;35:32). Further elaborated: “who are true to their trust and covenants, and who are diligent about their prayers (Salah). These are the heirs who will inherit paradise; and live therein forever.”(Qur’an;9:11). “We wrote this in The Zaboor (Psalms;37:29) after the reminder (Torah given to Moses): that as for the earth, My righteous servants shall inherit it.”(Qur’an;21:105).“So lose not heart nor fall into despair: for ye must gain mastery if ye are true in faith.”(Qur’an;3:139).

It is observed in a Muslim society that the majority of Muslims fall in to the 1st category, followed by 2nd and few in the last category of ideal pious Muslims. While we should always try to improve ourselves, perfection cannot be expected from anyone. Allah describes the believers with whom He is pleased as those who “avoid the cardinal of sins and gross indecencies, and are guilty of only small offence, surely for them your Lord will have abundant forgiveness…”(Qur’an53:32). In other words, the good believers who earn the pleasure of Allah commit minor sins. Proceeding further it may said that even a person who commits a grave sin may still earn the pleasure of Allah, if he works hard, perform good deeds and seeks  His forgiveness. Allah says: “He has chosen you (Muslims) and has not laid upon you any hardship in the observance of your faith – the faith of your father Abraham”(Qur’an;22:78). “Thus have We made of you (Muslims) a community justly balanced (middle way)”(Qur’an;2:143)

No Coercion in Matters of Faith:

Duress in the matter of faith is incompatible with Islam. Even the Prophet (peace be upon him) was clearly told: “If then they (non believers) turn away We have not sent thee as a guard over them. Thy duty (O’ messenger of God) is but to convey (the Message).”(Qur’an;42:48, similarly at 22:49, 3:20, 4:80, 7:79, 93, 24:54 and many other places). Qur’an further elaborates: “Let there be no compulsion in religion: truth stands out Clear from error: Whoever rejects evil and believes In Allah hath grasped the Most trustworthy hand-hold, that never breaks. and Allah hears and knows all things.”(Qur’an;2:256);“to you be your religion, and to me mine”. (Qur’an;109:6). Compulsion is irreconcilable with religion; because, firstly;  religion depends upon faith and will, and these would be meaningless if induced by force. Secondly,  Truth and Error have been so clearly shown up by the mercy of God that there should be no doubt in the minds of persons of goodwill as to the fundamentals of faith;. Thirdly, God’s protection is continuous and His Plan is always to lead us from the depths of darkness into the clearest light. An insight to the concept of sin, crime, repentance, mercy and punishment will help to remove some of the misconceptions.

Sin:

The concept of sin has been present in many cultures throughout history, where it was usually equated with an individual’s failure to live up to external standards of conduct or with his violation of taboos, laws, or moral codes. In ancient Greek thought, sin was looked upon as, in essence, a failure on the part of a person to achieve his true self-expression and to preserve his due relation to the rest of the universe; it was attributed mainly to ignorance. Some ancient societies also had concepts of corporate, or collective, sin affecting all human beings and dating from a mythical “fall of man” out of a state of primitive and blissful innocence.

In Christianity, ‘Original sin’; is the belief that the sin committed by Adam & Eve in disobeying the command of Lord is carried by every human, Islam does not agree to it, Adam (peace be upon him) committed the first sin, he repented and was forgiven by God (Qur’an;2:37). Allah say: “Every soul will reap the fruits of its own deeds; no bearer of burdens shall bear the burden of another.” (Qur’an;6:164). Bible also emphasizes the individual responsibility: “The soul that sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son; the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself. But if a wicked man turns away from all his sins which he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.”(Ezekiel;18:20-21).

Types of Sins:

Actual sin is subdivided, on the basis of its gravity, into ‘Mortal’ and ‘Venial’ (pardonable). This distinction is often difficult to apply but can hardly be avoided. A ‘Mortal Sin’ is a deliberate turning away from God; it is a sin in a grave matter that is committed in full knowledge and with the full consent of the sinner’s will, and until it is repented it cuts the sinner off from God’s sanctifying grace. A ‘Venial Sin’ usually involves a less important matter and is committed with less self-awareness of wrongdoing. While a ‘Venial Sin’ weakens the sinner’s closeness to God, it is not a deliberate turning from him and so does not wholly block the inflow of sanctifying grace.

Actual sin is also subdivided into ‘Formal’ and ‘Material’. Formal Sin is both wrong in itself and known by the sinner to be wrong; it therefore involves him in personal guilt. The ‘Material Sin’ consists of an act that is wrong in itself (because contrary to God’s law and human moral nature) but which the sinner does not know to be wrong and for which he is therefore not personally culpable.

Bible on Sin:

In the Old Testament, sin is directly linked to the monotheistic beliefs of the Hebrews. Sinful acts are viewed as a defiance of God’s commandments, and sin itself is regarded as an attitude of defiance or hatred of God. The New Testament accepts the Judaic concept of sin but regards humanity’s state of collective and individual sinfulness as a condition that Jesus came into the world to heal. There is emphasis on repentance (Luke;15:7,10,21-24, 11:4, Mathew:6:12). Jesus Christ preached observance of Law of Moses, he said: “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.  For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Whoever then relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches men so shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but he who does them and teaches them shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”(Mathew;5:17-20). Much later, Paul in his letter to the Romans, said: “But now we are discharged from the law, dead to that which held us captive, so that we serve not under the old written code but in the new life of the Spirit.” (Romans;7:6). Paul nailed the Law and the Commandments to the cross: “having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross.”(Colossians;2:14).

Paul contrasts ‘justification by faith’ to ‘justification by works’, the position of Jews. The point in question was on which basis man should establish himself in the just relationship to God in order to achieve salvation. In Paul’s mind the position of the Jews was this: fulfillment of the works prescribed the law, and its observance, made a man just, and thus did justified man present himself to God. The connection between justice and salvation is one of merit. Paul holds that this tenet is in conflict, the man is possessed by sins (Romans7:7-25).  Paul claimed that salvation can only be obtained through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved; for with the heart man believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”(Roman;10:9-10), “If Christ be not risen from the dead, then our preaching is vain, and your faith is also vain.”(1Corinthians;15:14). The Christians have no religious law (Shari’a) they follow the Roman Law to run the affairs of state and society. According to the doctrine of Redemption,    Christ’s blood or life, which he is believed to have surrendered for them, is the “ransom” by which the deliverance of his people from the servitude of sin and from its penal consequences is believed to be secured.

The Christian doctrine of ‘Justification by Faith’, is believed to be the judicial act of God, by which he pardons all the sins of those who believe in Christ, and accounts, accepts, and treats them as righteous in the eye of the law, i.e., as conformed to all its demands. In addition to the pardon of sin, justification declares that all the claims of the law are satisfied in respect of the justified. It is the act of a judge and not of a sovereign. The law is not relaxed or set aside, but is declared to be fulfilled in the strictest sense; and so the person justified is declared to be entitled to all the advantages and rewards arising from perfect obedience to the law (Romans;5:1-10). The sole condition on which this righteousness is imputed or credited to the believer is faith [believe in Jesus Christ as Lord].

The Christians believe to be judged by the law of liberty (James;2:12) that is, the Gospel law of love, which is not a law of external constraint, but of internal, free, instinctive inclination. The law of liberty, through God’s mercy, is believed to free Christians from the curse of the law. The Christians who do not in turn practice the law of love to their neighbor, that law of grace condemns them still more heavily than the old law.

The doctrine of salvation by grace is criticized; that it does away with the necessity of good works, and lowers the sense of their importance (Romans;6:1-23). If men are not saved by works, then works are not necessary. If the most pious man is saved in the same way as the very chief of sinners, then good works are of no use. And more than this, if the grace of God is most clearly displayed in the salvation of the vilest of men, then the worse men are the better. The gospel of salvation by grace shows that good works are necessary. It is true, unchangeably true, that without holiness no man shall see the Lord. ” Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate (homosexual, gay, lesbian), nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards” shall inherit the kingdom of God” (1Corinthians;6:9-10). “For this is the will of God, even your sanctification, that you should abstain from fornication:” (1Thessalonians;4:3).The Good works of the most sincere believers are all imperfect, yet like their persons they are accepted through Jesus Christ (Colossians;3:17), and so are rewarded; they have no merit intrinsically, but are rewarded wholly of grace. However in an other epistle Paul contradicts:

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work”.(Romans;11:6).

This saying demolishes the doctrine of all kinds and manner of works, by which the justifiers of themselves teach that works are either wholly or partly the cause of our justification.

There is something so absolutely inconsistent between the being justified by grace, and the being justified by works, that, if you suppose either, you of necessity exclude the other. For what is  given  to works  is the  payment of  a

debt; whereas grace implies an unmerited favour. So that the same benefit cannot, in the very nature of things, be derived from both.

The Gentiles (people without any law), will be judged by the law of conscience: “For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another;(Romans;2:14-15 also Luke;12:47-48). The Jews and Muslims adhere to the Law of Moses and Qur’an respectively having many commonalties.

The three Abrahamic faiths see sin as a deliberate violation of the will of God and as being attributable to human pride, self-centeredness, and disobedience. While insisting more strongly than most religions upon the gravity of sin, both in its essence and in its consequences, they emphatically rejected the Manichaean doctrine that either the created world as a whole or the material part of it is inherently evil. It is held that evil acts are the result of the misuse of their free will by created beings and tendency of their nature to get seduced by evil impulses (Satan) to turn the soul in rebellion against God. On the Day of Judgment, the sinners will be punished for evil deeds, hell will be their abode. The sinner believers (of God, His messengers and scriptures) will ultimately be taken out and rehabilitated in paradise, the non believers will however suffer in hell.

Deadly Sins:

In Christianity, the ‘Deadly sin’ (cardinal sin) is any of the sins, usually numbering seven, dating back to the early history of Christian monasticism. A sin was classified as deadly not merely because it was a serious offense morally but because “it gives rise to others, especially in the manner of a final cause” or motivation (St. Thomas Aquinas). The traditional catalog of the seven deadly sins is: (1) Vainglory, or pride; (2) Covetousness (excessively and culpably desirous of the possessions of another); (3) Lust, understood as inordinate or illicit sexual desire; (4) Envy; (5) Gluttony, which usually included drunkenness; (6) Anger; and (7) Sloth (Aversion to work or exertion; laziness; indolence). The deadly sins were a popular theme in the morality plays and art of the European Middle Ages.

Crime:

‘Sin’ is an offense against religious or moral law, while according to Merriam Webster’s Dictionary; ‘Crime’ is an act or the commission of an act that is forbidden or the omission of a duty that is commanded by a public law and that makes the offender liable to punishment by that law. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, the ‘crime’ is the intentional commission of an act usually deemed socially harmful or dangerous and specifically defined, prohibited, and punishable under criminal law. Crimes in the common-law tradition were originally defined primarily by judicial decision. Most common-law crimes are now codified. According to a generally accepted principle, nullum crimen sine lege, there can be no crime without a law. A crime generally consists of both conduct (the actus reus) and a concurrent state of mind (the mens rea). Criminal acts include arson, assault and battery (beating or pounding), burglary, bribery, child abuse, extortion, counterfeiting, embezzlement, forgery, fraud, hijacking, homicide, kidnapping, perjury, piracy, rape, sedition, smuggling, treason, theft, and usury (excessive interest) etc. To commencement of crime has to be established through fair judicial process and evidence to punish the accused. The accused is let off if the crime is not proved.

Islam on Sin:

The breach of laws and norms laid down by Din Al-Islam, is considered as sin. The sin may be of omission or commission; though any violation of religious law or ethical norm is a sin, but one is held accountable only for those committed intentionally. “If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul and then seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful. Whoever commits a sin, he commits it against his own soul. Allah is knowledgeable, Wise.”(Qur’an;4:110-111);“Surely he who will come to his Lord as a sinner shall be consigned to Hell – wherein he shall neither die nor live. While he who will come to Him as a believer and has done good deeds shall have the highest ranks”(Qur’an;20:74-75). Most of the crimes are also sin because they have adverse affects on morality and spirituality, but not all sins constitute crime. The biggest sin is to associate partners with Allah, but there is no prescribe punishment for this most heinous sin to make it crime, though such a person will suffer for ever in hell fire in hereafter. The Jews of Arabia considered Ezra to be son of God, while Christians consider Jesus Christ to be son of God, but they continued to live as subjects of Islamic State established under Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), as long as they abide by the agreements. The Jews and Christians enjoy a special status as ‘People of the Book’ in Islamic states despite their transgression.  Muslims are allowed to marry Jewish or Christians women, eat their permissible food, establish normal relations with the non believers who do not fight the Muslims due to their faith (Qur’an;60:7-9). Hence during last fourteen centuries, non Muslims had been living in Islamic states as peaceful citizens. If Islam is so considerate and tolerant about the non believers, then what about the believers who happen to be sinners?

The authorities punish the criminals after trial, but the sinners may get away unpunished: “They might be able to hide their crimes from people, but they cannot hide from Allah. He is with them even when they plot by night in words that He cannot approve. Allah encompasses all their actions.”(Qur’an;4:108). Islam accords very high priority in strictly meeting the requirement of clear evidence for execution of the fair justice, even at the cost of crime remaining unpunished: “And for those who launch a charge against their spouses, and have (in support) no evidence but their own,- their solitary evidence (can be received) if They bear witness four times (with an oath) by Allah that They are solemnly telling the truth;. And the fifth (oath) (Should be) that they solemnly invoke the curse of Allah on themselves if they tell a lie. But it would avert the punishment from the wife, if she bears witness four times (with an oath) by Allah, that (her husband) is telling a lie; and the fifth (oath) should be that she solemnly invokes the wrath of Allah on herself if (her accuser) is telling the Truth.”(Qur’an;24:6-9). Thus, the husband’s accusation is to be regarded as disproved if the wife solemnly sets her word against his, Inasmuch as this procedure, which is called li’an (“oath of condemnation”), leaves the question of guilt legally undecided, both parties are absolved of all the legal consequences otherwise attending upon adultery , an unproven accusation of adultery – the only consequence being a mandatory divorce. However the liar has to bear consequences of the sin. Such people will be punished by God in hereafter if do not rescind through sincere repentance here. Similarly for example, murder of an innocent human is a crime as well as sin. The murdered may getaway form punishment in the court of law due to lack of evidence, but he can not escape the divine justice in hereafter. In an other case: “But if anyone commits a crime and charges an innocent person with it, he indeed shall bear the guilt of slander and a flagrant sin.”(Qur’an;4:112)

Punishment and forgiveness of sins, is the sole prerogative of All Mighty Allah, any human trying to indulge in such activity is guilty of grave transgression, highly detested by Allah: “Do they not know that it is God alone who can accept the repentance of His servants and is the [true] recipient of whatever is offered for His sake – and that God alone is an acceptor of repentance, a dispenser of grace? (Qur’an;9:104). At times He partially reduces the punishment of a crime upon repentance: “Those who accuse a chaste woman of fornication and do not produce four witnesses to support their allegation, shall be flogged with eighty lashes and their testimony shall not be accepted ever after, for they are the ones who are wicked transgressors – except those who repent thereafter and mend their conduct; for Allah is surely Forgiving, Merciful”(Qur’an;24:4-5).

Islam recognizes major and minor sins. Holding some one equal to God, or to share in His divinity is considered as the most serious unpardonable sin. Strict monotheism is the cardinal point of Islam. Islam views the whole issue of disobedience and sin in a different way. Its approach is to hold the prospect of forgiveness and reward: “Yea, to Allah belongs all that is In the heavens and on earth: so that He rewards those who do evil, according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good, with what is best. Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only (falling into) small faults,- Verily Thy Lord is ample In Forgiveness. He knows you well when He brings you out of the earth, and when ye are hidden In your mothers’ wombs. Therefore justify not yourselves: He knows best who it is that guards against evil.”(Qur’an;53:31-32). A good work is rewarded ten times as against a sin (Qur’an;6:160). According to Islam, a sin is an action which constitute the violation of Islamic teachings. The action may not be more than the utterance of certain words, as in the case of backbiting or perjury. Therefore, any action or word, which involves disobedience to Allah and His messenger (peace be upon him), is a sin. The Islamic law (Shari’a) deals with the sins and crimes, some punishable here and some in hereafter if not sincerely repented upon.

Categories of Sins:

Sinful actions are of two types: the first carry mandatory punishment, which is specified either in the Qur’an, or in the Sunnah; while for others punishment, (in this world) is not specified, for example if some who can afford financially and physically but does not perform Hajj (one of five pillars of Islam), or avoids Saoum (fasting) without prescribed reasons, he is committing a cardinal sin for which is entitled for divine punishment. However such person is not charged legally as long as he believe in them and does not renounce them publicly. The first type, the cardinal sins, include four certain offences, but many scholars include two or three more, so as to make the total seven. The four are homicide, adultery, accusing chaste women of adultery and highway robbery / theft. The other three are, waging war against the Muslim states, apostasy and use of intoxicants. No other offence carries a specified punishment (hadd), except for murder which carries the capital punishment, but the immediate relatives of the victim may, if they choose, pardon the offender. According to some scholars, the cardinal sins include murder, adultery, theft, using intoxicants, gambling, perjury, slandering, withholding Zakah, neglecting prayers, etc. Some modern scholars consider the major sins being the one for which strict exemplary punishments (Hadd) have been specified in Qur’an and Sunnah. It will not be overstatement that, the universally agreed bad, evil acts, crimes also fall in to the category of sin, like, cheating, killing, adultery, backbiting etc.

The minor sins are readily forgiven when we pray Allah for forgiveness. Cardinal sins (kaba’ir) are also forgivable with the exception of the most serious of them, namely, associating partners with Allah (Qur’an;4:116). The repentance has to be sincere, so as not to repeat them again, followed by charity and performance of virtuous acts. The scholars agree that when a non believer renounce his previous faith, repents and accepts Islam, his previous sins are forgiven and he/she makes a new start: “O Prophet, tell the unbelievers that if they desist from unbelief their past shall be forgiven; but if they persist in sin, let them reflect upon the fate of their forefathers.”(Qur’an;8:30); “Those who accept the true faith and do good deeds shall be forgiven and provided honorable sustenance; but those who strive against Our revelations shall be the inmates of flaming fire.”(Qur’an;22:50). The people of book [Jews and Christians] get double reward on acceptance of Islam [Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith;1:97A, 4:255].

Repentance and Mercy:

Anyone who, at the end of any particular day in his life, examines what he/she may have said or done is bound to come to the conclusion that he has committed several sins. If the feeling of guilt lingers with us for a long while, and increases day after day, then life will acquire a very gloomy aspect. We will feel that we have no hope of salvation. Our sins can only increase and they will inevitably do away with our good deeds. But this is not how Islam views the whole issue of disobedience and sin. Its outlook constantly embrace the prospect of forgiveness and reward due to His Mercy, Allah says:

“Your Lord has decreed mercy upon Himself. If anyone among you commits evil because of ignorance and thereafter repents and mends his ways; you will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;6:54). “Surely Allah will never forgive the one who commits the sin of ascribing partners to Him and may forgive anyone else if He so pleases. Who so ascribes partners unto Allah has wandered far astray.”(Qur’an;4:116). “Say: “O my Servants (believers) who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the Mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful. Turn ye to your Lord (in repentance) and bow to His (Will) before the Penalty comes on you:” (Qur’an;39:53-54); “If anyone does evil or wrongs his own soul and then seeks Allah’s forgiveness, he will find Allah Forgiving, Merciful.”(Qur’an;4:110). “However, the one who has repented in this life, and believed, and done good deeds may hope to be among those who will achieve salvation.”(Qur’an;28:67).

Even in the case of offences that carry mandatory punishment, Islam prefers that the offender follows the alternative course, which is to repent and make amends. The Prophet [peace be upon him] says: “If you do any of these offences and are duly punished for it in this life, the punishment atones for it. If you keep it between you and God, then it is up to God to either forgive or punish you on the Day of Resurrection.” This means that repentance is the key to what one should do after committing any sin. Repentance means acknowledgement of one’s error, genuine regret for having committed it and a firm resolve not to do it again. If one truly repents of one’s sins and prays to God for forgiveness, then God accepts one’s repentance He has promised that and God’s promises always come true.

It may be added here that if the sinful actions involves something due to other people, he should restore to them what is rightfully theirs. Thus a person who commits theft should combine his repentance with returning what he has stolen. A person who slanders another in front of a group of people should contact those people and put the record straight to them, speaking well of the person whom he had slandered.

Intercession of Prophet (pbuh) for Believers:

There is also a hadith related by Abu Hurairah and recorded by Ahmad and Muslim in which the Prophet (peace be upon him) said; “Every prophet has a special supplication that is answered. Every prophet hastened to make his supplication, but I concealed mine and will use it for my nation on the Day of Resurrection. It will be granted–Allah willing–to whoever dies without associating any partners with Allah.” Al-Bukhari also recorded that Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The person who will be the happiest due to my intercession is the one who says, ‘There is no god but Allah’ sincerely from his heart.” [Extracted from Fiqah-us-Sunnah, volume.1, Number.77b].

Virtues Remove Evils:

Any good action or kind word, which we may do or say, will be credited to us. It will earn us a reward and the cumulative effect of our reward will erase at least a commensurate number of our sins. Moreover, a good is given a reward, which is equivalent to at least ten times its value. A sin or an act of disobedience is recorded at its simple value. Therefore, a small act of kindness erases a sin, which is ten times more serious. Allah says: “Indeed virtues remove evils..”(Qur’an;11:114 ); “Repel evil with good” (Qur’an;23:96, 13:22, 41:34).

Sincere Repentance:

It is again re-emphasized that Allah has left the door always open for repentance of one’s sins. For a cardinal sin to be forgiven, a resolve is needed not to indulge in it again. He has also committed Himself to turn with forgiveness to anyone who genuinely turns to Him in repentance. Therefore, when we wrong ourselves by committing a sin, we should turn to Allah and declare our repentance and pray for forgiveness. If we are sincere and genuine, then Allah will undoubtedly forgive us. The mark of genuine repentance is the resolve not to repeat the offense. Even if one yields to temptation again and does the same offense another time, his first repentance is accepted as well as his second, if on both occasions he is honest and sincere and has really regretted committing the offense: “He knows what is in the heavens and on earth: and He knows what you conceal and what you reveal: yes Allah knows well the (secrets) of (all) hearts.”(Qur’an;64:4).

Islam recognizes that human beings, being as they are, may yield to temptation and commit sins. As long as they are not so hardened in sin that they do not bother about the offense at all, forgiveness is possible. Indeed, it is likely, provided that the offense is followed by genuine regret and a clear intention to refrain from doing it again. That concept allows Muslims to have the reassurance that forgiveness is always possible. Islam does not like its followers to go about with the specter of Divine punishment always hanging over their heads. Indeed, it prefers that they always have the prospect of being forgiven. There is another element, which ensures forgiveness. Allah describes His servants with certain qualities including refraining from cardinal sins. He threatens those who indulge in them with punishment, except one who turns to Allah in repentance, believes and does something good. Allah will change the evil deeds of such people into good ones. Allah is indeed much forgiving, merciful. Allah says: “avoid the cardinal of sins and gross indecencies, and are guilty of only small offence, surely for them your Lord will have abundant forgiveness…”(Qur’an;53:32). That Qur’anic verse shows us the way to forgiveness. It is easily achieved if we follow our bad deeds with good ones. The doors of repentance remain open until a person is in the final throes of death. Pharaoh just before drowning, cried out: “I believe that there is no god but Him in Whom the Children of Israel believe” but it was not accepted and his body made as a sign for the successive generations (Qur’an;10:90-92).

Sins, Crimes and Shari’a:

Most of the sins, especially related with the dealings with other human beings fall in to the category of crimes punishable though courts established under Shari’a (Islamic law), those which remain undiscovered will be punished hereafter. In Islamic society, the term law has a wider significance than it does in the modern secular West, because Islamic law includes both legal and moral imperatives. For the same reason, not all-Islamic laws can be stated as formal legal rules or enforced by the courts. Much of it like sin of  backbiting (Qur’an;49:12) not  greeting (Qur’an;24:27) etc depends on conscience alone.

Qur’an in verses 24:30-31, while explaining the required behavior of Muslims in mixed traffic and gatherings of males and females, ordains the believing men and women to lower their gaze, guard their modesty, and to (alway) turn to God in repentance for bliss. Violation of any one of the commandments mentioned these verses constitute a sin (punisheable in hereafter), however since punishemnet has not been prescribed here so in legal terms; a Msulim man staring at women can not be punsihed in the court of law, though he is commiing a sin. Since such violations are possible due to  “man has been created weak” (Qur’an;4:28), the implication of the general call at the end of verse 24:31, to repentance is because no one is ever free of faults and temptations so much so that even the Prophet (pbuh) used to say, “Verily, I turn unto Him in repentance a hundred times every day” (Ibn Hanbal, Bukhari and Bayhaqi, all of them on the authority of ‘Abd Allah ibn ‘Umar).

While the state can not implement every aspect of Islam through force of law, in the religious matters, the scholars think that state has the responsibility of making arrangements to: 1) establish Salah (regular prayers) and 2) system of Zakah (obligatory charity), 3) enjoining right and forbidding evil, taking inference form Qur’an: “These are the people who, if We establish them (in power, authority) in the land, will establish Salah and pay Zakah, enjoin right and forbid evil; the final decision of all affairs is in the hands of Allah.”(Qur’an;22:41), “…but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;9:5). Some scholars think that implementation in all other matters, should be left to the individuals through persuasion to enjoining good and forbidding evil.

The implementation methodology of injunctions could be deduced from guidance provided by Allah: “Make due allowance for man’s nature, and enjoin the doing of what is right (amr bil a’rif); and leave alone all those who choose to remain ignorant.”(Qur’an;7:199). While explaining this verse Muhammad Asad writes: “According to Zamakhshari, khudh-al-‘awf means: ‘Accept what comes easily to thee (or ‘what is willingly accorded to thee’) of doings and the nature of men, and make things easy (for them), without causing them undue hardship (khulf); and do not demand of them efforts that may be too difficult for them.’ This interpretation – which has been adopted many other classical commentators as well–is based on the identical explanation of the phrase khudh al ‘awf by ‘Abd Allah ibn az- Zubayr and his brother ‘Urwah (Bukhari), as well as by A’ishah and, in the next generation, by Hihsam ibn ‘Urwah and Mujahid (Reference; Tibri, Baghawai and Ibn Kathir). Thus, in accordance with the Qur’anic statements that “man has been created weak”(Qur’an;4:28) and that “God does not burden any human being with more than he is well able to bear”(Qur’an;2:286, 6:152, 7:42 & 23:62), the believer is admonished to make due allowance for human nature and not to be too harsh with those who err. [May be due to this aspect forgiveness from sin and exemption from Hadd was granted by Allah according to a Hadith: Narrated by AbuUmamah (Sahih Muslim Hadith, 1292)]. This admonition is the more remarkable as it follows immediately upon a discourse on the most unforgivable of all sins- the ascribing of divine powers or qualities to any one or anything but God.” It may also be kept in view that the man is also under trial :“Every soul shall have a taste of death: and We test you by evil and by good by way of trial: to Us must ye return.”(Qura’n;21:35).

Use of force as being done by non state groups (Taliban), forcing the men to keep beard, women to cover face, not to attend schools and colleges etc is considered as deviation. It is the responsibility of the well established government in a Muslim society which is competent to execute punishments after fair trial according to Shari’a while taking care of all the requirements of justice. Similarly to the performing Hajj and many other rituals and religious obligations are left to the individual Muslims for which they is answerable to Allah. The Bible also emphasizes similar aspects: “For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1 Peter; 3:10-13)

Shari’a & Western Law:

In classical form, the Shari’a differs from Western systems of law (based on Roman Law) in two principal respects. In the first place the scope of the Shari’a is much wider, since it regulates man’s relationship not only with his neighbors and with the state, which is the limit of most other legal systems, but also with his Allah and his own conscience. Ritual practices, (ibadat) such as the daily prayers, almsgiving, fasting, and pilgrimage, are an integral part of Shari’a law and usually occupy the first chapters in the legal manuals. The Shari’a is also concerned as much with ethical standards as with legal rules, indicating not only what man is entitled or bound to do in law, but also what he (obligatory) ought, in conscience, to do (halal), something that is lawful and permitted in Islam, or refrain from doing (haram) not permissible. Accordingly, certain acts are classified as praiseworthy (mandub), which means that their performance brings divine favour and their omission divine disfavour. There is an other category not halal or haram but some thing doubtful, classified a Undesirable (makruh), it is divided into Makruh Tahrimi “that which is nearly unlawful without it being actually so,” and Makruh Tanzihi “that which approaches the lawful or undesirable yet is closer to the lawful.” For example  it is undesirable (makruh) for a person to buy back what he has given in charity (sadaqah, or zakat), or “to wish for one’s death, or pray to Allah for it, due to poverty, distress, illness, or the like. However in neither case is there any legal sanction of punishment or reward, nullity or validity

Killing: The Heinous Crime and Cardinal Sin:

The killing of innocent people is a major crime & sin in all the civilized societies and religions. According to the Bible: “He who kills a man shall be put to death.”(Leviticus; 24:17). Allah says in Qur’an: “You shall not kill anyone whom Allah has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;17:33). Offenses against the person, from homicide to assault, are punishable by retaliation (qisas), the offender being subject to precisely the same treatment as his victim. But this type of offense is regarded as a civil injury rather than a crime in the technical sense, since it is not the state but only the victim or his family who have the right to prosecute and to opt for compensation or blood money (diyah) in place of retaliation.

The punishment fixed for major crimes (also sins) is hadd Outside the hadd crimes, both the determination of offenses and the punishment therefore lies with the discretion of the executive or the courts. While the execution of punishments is strict,  highest standards of fairness, justice, evidence and clemency are applied in establishing the (hadd), but once the crimes is established the punishment is carried out without any compassion as evident from Ahadith narrated by Jabir ibn Abdullah: A woman from the tribe of Makhzum committed theft. She was brought to Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) and she sought intercession from Umm Salamah, the wife of Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him). Thereupon Allah’s Apostle (peace be upon him) said: By Allah, even if she were Fatimah [daughter of the Prophet (pbuh) ], I would have her hand cut off. And thus her hand was cut off.(Sahih Muslim Hadith.786).

Apostasy; The Kernel of Takfeeri Doctrine:

Proper understanding of ‘apostasy’, the root of Takfeeri doctrine [a much later deviation, bid’at] will highlight the heinous blunder of killing innocent Muslims [men women and even children] in mosques and public places. The Arabic word ‘Irtadad’ is translated as ‘apostasy’. According to Merriam Webster dictionary ‘Apostasy’ means; renunciation of a religious faith; abandonment of a previous loyalty. Hence ‘apostate’ (murtad) is a person who has defected his (Islamic) belief. [may be called as betrayer, deserter, recreant, renegade, tergiversator, traitor or turncoat]. Apostasy has always been considered as a capital offence in all the religions and political systems of the world, because it is considered as a high treason against the established norms of society. The Bible prescribes death by stoning for apostasy: “You shall stone him to death with stones, because he sought to draw you away from the LORD your God..”(Deutrony;13:10). The pagan Romans brutally killed the early Christians on same ground. Subsequently this practice was repeated by the Christian Church against opposing Christians, who were killed and burnt alive. Death penalty for apostasy remained in force in England for long time. It was abolished due to social and cultural developments.

Islam abhors forced conversions, the non Muslim citizens in a Muslim state have the right to freely choose to convert to Islam or keep practicing their faith. But once a person converts to Islam, he is obliged to practice his faith to be a good Muslim. In early Islam, the pagans of Makkah, and Jews of Medina used to indulge in this practice (apostasy) to gain intelligence and to demoralize the fragile expanding Muslim community of Median. Hence apostasy is considered as a cardinal sin in Islam. Whether it is punishable by Islamic law is a debatable matter among Muslim scholars. Some believe that the apostate should be punished after trial because they consider this crime as a betrayal, high treason against the community, while others opine that if someone changes his faith and does not challenge the Islamic society, it is a matter between him and Allah, Who will punish him in hereafter. However, both opinions agree that it is a major worst form of sin punishable by Allah. Non-Muslims enjoy complete freedom to preach and practice their faith among themselves.

The apostate are cursed and condemned in Qur’an, however the path of repentance remains open, but those who do not repent and die as apostate, they will be punished in hereafter. Allah says:

“How shall Allah guide those who reject Faith after they accepted it and bore witness that the Messenger was true and that Clear Signs had come unto them? But Allah guides not a people unjust. Of such the reward is that on them (rests) the curse of Allah, of His angels, and of all mankind; In that will They dwell; nor will their penalty be lightened, nor respite be (Their lot). Except for those that repent (Even) after that, and make amends; for Verily Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. But those who reject Faith after They accepted it, and then go on adding to their defiance of Faith, never will their repentance be accepted; for They are those who have (of set purpose) gone astray.”(Qur’an;3:86-90).

“As for those who accept the faith then renounce it, who again embrace it and again deny it and go on increasing in unbelief; Allah will neither forgive them nor guide them to the Right Way.”(Qur’an;4:137).

“and if any of you turn back from their Faith [yartadd] and die In Unbelief, their works will bear no fruit In This life and In the Hereafter; They will be companions of the Fire and will abide therein.”(Qur’an;2:217).

“Those who turn back as apostates [irtaddo] after Guidance was clearly shown to them the Evil One has instigated them and buoyed them up with false hopes.”(Qur’an;47:25).

“O ye who believe! if any from among you turn back from His Faith[yartadd], soon will Allah produce a people whom He will love As They will love him..”(Qur’an;5:54)

According to an other Hadith, killing of Muslim is only permissible under three conditions: Narrated by Abdullah; “Allah’s Apostle said, “The blood of a Muslim who confesses that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that I am His Apostle, cannot be shed except in three cases: In Qisas [retribution] for murder, a married person who commits illegal sexual intercourse and the one who reverts from Islam (apostate) and leaves the Muslims”[Sahih Al-Bukhari Hadith;9:17].

It may be kept in view that the authority to declare any Muslim as apostate or award of punishment is the job of Islamic courts established by the legitimate state authority. Various stateless groups if allowed to take the law in their hands will result in anarchy (fasad-fil-ardh) through killing each other by declaring opponents as apostate or nonbelievers. Waging war against Allah, His messenger and to strive for mischief through the land (fasad-fil-ardh) is a crime punishable with death, crucifixion, cutting of hand and feet from opposite sides or exile, as clearly mentioned in Qur’an;5:33.

Not Offering Prayer (Salah) & Apostasy:

To suggest that a person who does not pray for three days be sentenced to death and executed straight-away is absurd, contrary to the teachings of Islam and is based upon ignorance. Imam Abu Hanifah maintains that a person who fails to offer Salah, is not to be killed, but must be given a minor punishment and confined until he prays. They say the hadith that calls such people unbelievers refer to those who deny the prayers (salah), (disbelieve) [Fiqah-As-Sunnah;1:77b]. They say that any other interpretation is contradicted by other texts.

Some scholars argue that a person who does not pray is a non-believer. If he was a Muslim and then reached that stage, then some people argue, he became an apostate and apostasy may incur capital punishment. But this line of thinking is not much different from the one which leads to the following conclusion:

‘What is white is milk; eggs are white, so egg is milk!’

Scholars have distinguished between two types of disbelief: The first is concerned only with what a person believes in or denies while the second one, relates to action or lack of it. All scholars unanimously agree that if a person denies something, which is essentially known as an integral part of the Islamic faith, he is a disbeliever [i.e. five pillars of faith]. If we are to apply this principle to obligatory prayers [salah], we say that if a person claims to be a Muslim and denies that prayers are part of Islam, or says that it is part of it but not necessarily in the number or the manner which the Prophet (peace be upon him) taught, then he is a disbeliever. If his denial has come shortly after he had been a Muslim, then he is an apostate. In a Muslim state, an apostate is given a fair hearing before Muslim judges who may order that scholars should come and explain to him the Islamic faith and argue with him about his beliefs. If he insists on maintaining his apostasy, he is given three days to recant. If he does not, then he may incur the capital punishment.

It may be pointed out that this is not a simple case, but a very complicated one. To start with, the person concerned should have publicized his beliefs, which are contrary to Islam in a way, which is likely to undermine Islamic society. If he keeps his beliefs to himself, nobody will question him about them [no one will know it]. When he is questioned about them, every opportunity is given to make him realize his mistake. Scholars of the highest caliber are brought to argue with him. In the end, if he is so stubborn, he is sentenced, but given three days to recant. He can easily escape punishment by publicly saying that he has renounced his erroneous beliefs.

It may be kept in view that a Muslim government is not at all interested in discovering who is following the right faith and who has funny ideas. It does not follow people into their homes to discover what they actually believe in. Islam granted the basic human right of individual privacy, 1400 ago once such freedom and personal liberty was unthinkable in any society:  “O believers! Avoid immoderate suspicion (guesswork), for in some cases suspicion is a sin. Do not spy on one another, nor backbite one another (to say something about another behind ones back that if one hears it, dislikes it). Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Surely you would abhor it. Fear Allah; for Allah is the Accepter of repentance, Merciful.” (Qur’an;49:12). The implementation of these injunctions by Caliph Omar is a good example of moderation in implementation of rule of law. On night Omar, the second Caliph, during his routine night watch hear some singing sound form a house. He climbed up the wall and found a man with wine and a woman. He asked him that how he could hide such immoral violation of commands of Allah? The man replied that the Caliph has already violated three command of Allah; first by spying on a believer (Qur’an;49:12), secondly, by not entering a house through door (Qur’an;2:189), and thirdly by entering the house without permission of the owner (Qur’an;24:27-28). The Caliph had no answer and had to leave quietly however he took a promise from him not to indulge in such immoral activates in future. Not even the most civilized governments can grant such a freedom to their citizens even in this present era of civil liberties and human rights. Hence, a person may entertain the most preposterous thoughts and beliefs, without having any fear that anyone will question him about his ideas. The principle is clearly stated: “No compulsion is admissible in matters of faith.”(Qur’an;2:256). The Prophet said, “I have not been ordered to look into the hearts of people, nor to rip open their bellies.” (Abridged from al-Bukhari and Muslim).

If a person who has much deviant ideas starts to publicize them and calls on others to share his beliefs, he is actually starting a rebellion against the very fabric of Islamic society and its basic concepts. His action is likely to result in division and conflict. When this happens, Islam moves to nip such a detrimental offshoot when it is still in the bud. Its method is to give the person concerned every chance to stop his seditious action. To escape punishment, that person need not do more than to state that he withdraws his earlier statements, even if he still believes in them in his heart. What Islam achieves by this is to stop the act of sedition, which could cause public disorder. If the person still maintains his ideas but keeps them to himself, no one is going to bother about him.

The other type of disbelief is that which relates to action, or the lack of it. Certain actions of disobedience to Allah have been described by the Prophet (peace be upon him) as actions of disbelief. A person who is guilty of any of these is questioned about his actions and the Islamic position is explained to him. If he has committed an act of disobedience for which a particular punishment is prescribed by Allah and this is proven either by the testimony of the required number of witnesses or by free confession, then the punishment is carried out. No authority can stop it. In the case of a person who does not pray, there is no prescribed punishment, though he is committing a cardinal sin.

Taliban:

The term ‘Taliban’ [plural of Talib, (the seeker of religious knowledge, particularly the Islamic knowledge, a student) is generally used for the students of Madrisah (religious seminary). The term ‘Taliban’ was started to be used for the militant group of students and religious leaders who established the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in 1994-96 in order to end the lengthy civil war following the withdrawal of the Soviets from the region in 1989. Led by Mullah Omar, they promoted Islam as a moral, sable, and orderly alternative to civil war, ethnic divisions, and warring tribal chiefs. They followed strict, literal and conservative interpretations of Islam and rely on strict punishments and executions. Influenced primarily by Wahabi (Deobandi) teachers and Pashtun tribal traditions. The regime was denounced by international human rights organizations for absolute segregation of women and violation of human rights. They were initially welcomed by the people of Afghanistan for restoring peace, however could not continue their rule in Afghanistan after 9/11 due to US intervention. However they continue to resist US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to reestablish sovereignty. The situation in Pakistan, a sovereign Islamic State is totally different to Afghanistan. Some misguided local elements supported by foreign powers are being used by the enemies of Pakistan and Islam, to achieve their strategic objectives. While Muslims are being oppressed by occupation forces in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the Taliban are indiscriminately killing innocent Muslims, not even sparing women and children and worshippers at mosques through suicide bombers. Such heinous acts are being done on the name of Islam, to serve the cause of Allah. Calling these criminal and misguided, semi literate people as Taliban is a misnomer. Their Takfir doctrine is in direct conflict with the basic teachings of Islam, The are creating fasad-fil-ardh (mischief on land). This phenomena of ‘Fitnah’ is not new in the Muslim history.

Khawarji Fitnah:

Fitnah (trial, or test), which refer to heretical uprisings, especially the first major internal struggle within the Muslim community (656-661 C.E), which resulted in both civil war and religious schism. During the reign of the third caliph, ‘Uthman, certain rebellious groups accused the Caliph of nepotism and misrule, and the resulting discontent led to his assassination. The rebels then recognized the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, ‘Ali, as ruler but later deserted him and fought against him, accusing him of having committed a grave sin in submitting his claim to the caliphate to arbitration, they are called Khawarij. The word Kharaju, from which Khariji is derived, means “to withdraw” and Khawarij, believed in active dissent or rebellion against a state of affairs they considered to be gravely impious. The basic doctrine of the Khawarij was that:A person or a group who committed a grave error or sin and did not sincerely repent ceased to be Muslim”. According to them mere profession of the faith “there is no god but God; Muhammad is the prophet of God” did not make a person a Muslim unless this faith was accompanied by righteous deeds. In other words, good works were an integral part of faith and not extraneous to it. The second principle that flowed from their aggressive idealism was militancy, or Jihad, which the Khawarij considered to be among the cardinal principles, or pillars, of Islam. Contrary to the orthodox view, they interpreted the Qur’anic command about “enjoining good and forbidding evil”(Qur’an;3:104) to mean the vindication of truth through the sword. The placing of these two principles together made the Khawarij highly inflammable fanatics, intolerant of almost any established political authority. They incessantly resorted to rebellion and as a result were virtually wiped out during the first two centuries of Islam. Although till recently Chasidism has been considered essentially a story of the past, which left permanent influence on Islam, because of reaction against it. It forced the religious leadership of the community to formulate a bulwark against religious intolerance and fanaticism.

Khwarij Taliban & Violation of Qur’an:

The Takfiri doctrine is not based upon any direct clear commandment or ayah of Qur’an, it is derivative, based upon analogy (taweel), which can have more than one opinions. “The fact is that most of them follow nothing but mere conjecture and conjecture is in no way a substitute for the truth. Surely Allah is well aware of all that they do.”(Qur’an;10:36). However through their violent terrorist acts, Taliban are violating the clear verses (Ayahs) and Hadiths. No Muslim worth the name will ever dare to even think of rejecting or violating the unambiguous commandments of Allah, clearly mentioned in Qur’an and Hadith, some are:

Disregarding the Ayahs annuls good deeds:

Allah says: “Those whose all efforts in this worldly life had gone astray from the Right Way, but all along they were under the delusion that they were doing good deeds; they are the ones who are disregarding the Ayaat (revelations, verses) of their Lord and the fact that they will meet Him for accountability of their deeds in the Hereafter, so their deeds will become null and will not carry any weight on the Day of Judgment.”(Qur’an;18:104-105)

Killing a believer, major sin: “Whoever kills a believer intentionally, his punishment is hell to live therein forever. He shall incur the wrath of Allah, Who will lay His curse on him and prepare for him a woeful punishment.”(Qur’an;4:93). How far it is justifiable to kill some Muslim who believes in all the fundamentals of Islam but lack in practice. Does Qur’an or any authentic Hadith directly mention to kill such a Muslim? Is there any example where the Prophet (peace be upon him) executed such a Muslim? If the answer is not in affirmative, then how stateless groups like Taliban can justify killing such Muslims on the basis of their skeptical analogy, rejected by majority scholars including Imam Abu Hanifah.

Killing of innocent human not permitted: Allah says: “..whoever kills a person, except as a punishment for murder or mischief in the land, it will be written in his book of deeds as if he had killed all the human beings and whoever will save a life shall be regarded as if he gave life to all the human beings..”(Qur’an;5:32); Allah says: “You shall not kill anyone whom God has forbidden, except for just cause under the law. If anyone is killed unjustly, We have granted the right of retribution to his heir, but let him not carry his vengeance too far in killing the culprit through taking the law in his own hands, as he is supported by the law.”(Qur’an;17:33)

Mischief on land rejected: Allah says: “.. and do not seek mischief in the land, for Allah does not love the mischief makers.”(Al-Qasas;28:77) Allah says: “When it is said to them: “Do not make mischief on earth,” they say: “We make peace. Be aware! They are the ones who make mischief but they do not realize it.”(Al-Baqara;2:11-12 similarly also at 2:60, 206, 3:63, 7:56). “The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace In This world, and a heavy punishment is theirs In the Hereafter. Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case know that Allah is Oft-Forgiving Most Merciful.”(Qur’an;5:33-34). The double crime of treason against the State combined with treason against Allah, and His Messenger as shown by overt crimes, four alternative punishments are mentioned, any one of which is to be applied according to the crime committed. In any case sincere repentance before it was too late was recognized as a ground for mercy.

Fighting permitted in defence with in limitsNo Transgression: Allah says: “Fight in the cause of Allah with those who fight against you, but do not exceed the limits. Allah does not like transgressors.”(Qur’an;2:190).

Kindness to Non Combatants: Allah says: “As for such of the unbelievers who do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity.”(Qur’an; 60:8).

Suicide is not permissible in Islam : Allah says: “.. do not cast yourselves into destruction by your own hands…” (Al-Baqarah,2:195); Allah says: “..do not kill yourselves by adopting unlawful means….”(An-Nisa,4:29).Narrated Thabit bin Ad Dahhak: The Prophet said; “whoever commits suicide with something, will be punished with the same thing in the (Hell) fire”.(Sahih Al Bukhari Hadith Numbr:8.126). Narrated Jabir ibn Samurah: (The dead body) of a person who had killed himself with a broad-headed arrow was brought before the Apostle of Allah (peace be upon him), but he did not offer prayers for him.(Sahih Muslim Hadith. Number.486).

Killing by burning not allowed: Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Apostle said: It is none but Allah Who punishes with fire, so, if you find them (enemies), kill them (in combat).(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.259). Narrated Ikrima : Ali burnt some people and this news reached Ibn Abbas, who said, “Had I been in his place I would not have burnt them, as the Prophet said, ‘Don’t punish (anybody) with Allah’s Punishment.’…(Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.260).

Safety of mosques, worshippers and places of worship of God: Killing of Muslims or other worshipper is prohibited: “Hence, who could be more wicked than those who bar the mention of God’s name from [any of] His houses of worship and strive for their ruin, [although] they have no right to enter them save in fear [of God]? For them, in this world, there is ignominy in store; and for them, in the life to come, awesome suffering.”(Qur’an;2:114). “Had not Allah repelled some people by the might of others, the monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques in which Allah’s praise is daily celebrated, would have been utterly demolished.”(Qur’an;22:40)

Mutilation of the dead bodies is prohibited: Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prohibited to mutilate the dead bodies. (Sahih Muslim Hadith.804).

Prohibitions-of killing religious people, women, children, aged, sick people, animals and cutting trees in military expeditions: Islam forbade killing of innocents. Narrated Abdullah: During some of the ghazawat of the Prophet a woman was found killed. Allah’s Apostle disapproved and forbade the killing of women and children. (Sahih Al Bukhari, Hadith, Number.4.257,258). Abu Bakr advised Yazid, the commander of Muslim Military Expeditions to Sham (Syria): “You will find a people who claim to have totally given themselves to Allah. Leave them to what they claim to have given themselves. You will find a people who have shaved the middle of their heads, strike what they have shaved with the sword. “I advise you ten things: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place. Do not slaughter sheep or camels except for food. Do not burn bees and do not scatter them. Do not steal from the booty, and do not be cowardly.” (Al Muwata Hadith, Number;21.10).

Freedom of faith-no compulsion: The freedom of choice of faith was not enjoyed by the people as it is in present era of freedom and liberty. The rulers did not allow their people to accept any different faith, so they had to be subdued to provide freedom of choice of faith to the people. Qur’an forbids forced conversions: “There shall be no coercion in matters of faith. Distinct has now become the right way from the (way of) error: hence, he who rejects the powers of evil and believes in God has indeed taken hold of support most unfailing, which shall never give way: for God is all-hearing, all-knowing.”(Qur’an;2:256). “An so (O Prophet) exhort them, thy task is only to exhort: Thou canst not compel them to (believe). As for those who turn their backs and disbelieve, Allah will punish them with the mighty punishment.”(Qur’an;88:21-24); “.. You (O Muhammad) are not there to compel them to believe. So admonish with this Qur’an every such person who fears My warning.”(Qur’an;45;50); “to you be your religion (Din), and to me mine.”(Qur’an;109:6). Notwithstanding that no human being can ever attain to faith otherwise than by God’s leave, and (that) it is He who lays the loathsome evil (of disbelief) upon those who will not use their reason? (Qur’an;10:100). Those who used their intellect understood the true faith and freely accepted Islam, while others continued to follow their faith and lived peacefully under the Muslim rule. The example of Spain, Greece, India and southern parts of Europe with majority non Muslim populations despite Muslim rule for centuries is an undeniable fact of history. No war was fought in Far East and East Africa; Indonesia is the largest Muslim country of the World, while East Africa has predominantly Muslim population. The worst persecution and forced expulsion of Muslims of Spain is a black spot in Christian history, for which an apology from Vatican is over due. Islam is the fastest growing religion in North America and Europe, due to strength of its rationale appeal. The real message of Islam is being presented pragmatically by educated Muslims as per guidance of Qur’an;16:125. The truthfulness of Islamic faith has inherent appeal to any logical human, prepared to analyze and compare their believes with Islam. The media especially, internet is of great help.

Conclusion:

The heretic doctrine of Takfeer; being used by the blood thirsty extremists world wide, has only worked in tarnishing the image of Islam. It is also the ideology of Pakistani Taliban, to justify indiscriminate killing of innocent Muslims including women and children even in mosques through suicide bombers. They have unilaterally declared all Muslims opposed to their brand of Islam as apostate (Murtad), to justify their killing. The doctrine of Takfir is an atrocious deviation (bid’at), weakening the unity of Muslim Ummah, when it is the urgent need of the hour against onslaught of evil (taghoot). This doctrine has been condemned and rejected by the eminent scholars including the Saudi scholars. Parallels may be drawn between, Pakistani Taliban and Khwarij due to the intolerance and militancy being employed by them against fellow Muslims on the pretext of enforcing their vision of Islam. As a first step we should stop calling them ‘Taliban’, they should be called ‘Khwarij’ or ‘Khwarji of Pakistan’. Creating mischief on the land of Muslims, only serves to please the enemies of Islam.

All the efforts of reconciliation in the light of Qur’an;49:10 remain futile so far due to stubbornness of Pakistani Taliban. It is important that the intellectuals, as well as electronic and print media should take the lead to give moral and religious ascendancy to the soldiers, fighting the enemies of Islam and Pakistan. While the military operation against rebellious people is undertaken, there is need that the government should urgently undertake concrete short term and long term measures to fulfill the purpose of creation of Pakistan as envisioned by the founding fathers. State should respect the religious feelings of majority, satisfy the needs of morality, security, justice, social inequality and improve the economic conditions of people so that the unity of Pakistan and progress is not affected.

The rebellion will ultimately be suppressed militarily but the war has to be won on ideological front, which is not possible without whole hearted support from the religious scholars (Ulema) and all segments of society. It is due to the importance of acquiring deeper knowledge of Din, with a view to educate the others; that (Ulema) have been even exempted to proceed with the expedition (of war) (Qur’an;9:122). There are many authentic Hadiths to highlight the importance of learning:” Striving after knowledge is a sacred duty (faridah) for every man and woman who has surrendered himself or herself to God (muslim wa-muslimah)” (Ibn Majah); or, “The superiority (fadl) of a learned man over a (mere) worshipper (i.e., one who merely prays, fasts, etc.) is like the superiority of the full moon over all the stars” (Tirmidhi, Abu Da’ud, Ibn Majah, Ibn Hanbal, Darimi). Consequently, the obligation of the believers to “devote themselves to acquiring a deeper knowledge of the Faith” (li-yatafaqqahu fi’d-din) and to impart its results to their fellow-believers.

It is high time that Ulema should come forward in big way by dispelling the impression of their tacit sympathy for Pakistani Taliban, even as a reaction against prevalent immorality in society. The society is degenerating in spiritual and moral values at very fast pace, which can only be checked through preaching the true message of Islam by those Ulema who are selfless, men of action not mere words, possessing strong character, faith and knowledge. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the role model to be emulated, he was known as Truthful (Sadiq) and Trustworthy (Ameen) much before he started to preach. The credibility of preacher is very important, which is lost at the outset for the Ulema venturing in to the dirty field of power politics. However it does not mean to leave the field wide open to the selfish, greedy, corrupt and scrupulous elements to exploit. Acting as a strong ‘pressure group’ they can do wonders through peaceful efforts without taking the law in their hands [Lawyers movement in restoration of judges is a case in point]. Ulema can support the good politicians, political parties and educate the masses to build pressure on the rulers for fairness and justice. They have to work hard to change the moral and spiritual out look of the society so that people elect the good people. The history shows that most of the great scholars of Islam like Imam Abu Hanifa, took no direct part in court politics or power struggles, despite his obvious antipathy toward the Umayyads and ‘Abbasids, the ruling dynasties of the time. This fact partly explains why Abu Hanifah steadfastly refused to be Chief Justice and also why he suffered severe persecution under both dynasties. The history is witness to the fact that persecution and atrocities of the worst kind were inflected upon opponents once clergy of a particular sect or group acquired prevailing influence upon the rulers. Once Ulema indulge in power politics they are doing it at the cost of their main role. The declining society in dire need of ‘men of knowledge’; will be deprived of it, further hastening the decline and degeneration. This is the age of specialization, advancement in science & technology puts heavy demand upon Ulema to be also well versed with the modern knowledge and techniques. This will enable them to convince the young people (the future generation) about relevance and importance of Islam in their social, physical and spiritual lives. We must critically weigh the disadvantage against benefits to be achieved through politicizing the religious scholars, students (genuine taliban) and institutions. Damage to their ‘credibility’ is just one factor that has already caused immense damage to the cause of Islam, which the enemies of Islam could not achieve even during many centuries of colonization of Muslim lands. The fact is that the society is at the lowest ebb, every field requires reformation, and the Ulema have to abandon their original job to become economist, politician, journalist, lawyer or businessmen etc, as they can’t do justice to more than one specialty at a time. The books, internet, TV and other such means can not be substitute to the genuine scholars with ‘creditability’ to teach students in  seminaries (Madaris), write new books, articles on internet, newspapers, participate in TV talk shows, address congregations in Friday Prayers and so on. The scholars though knowledgeable but lacking credibility will be laughing stock at all these forums, as already being witness in some cases.

Ulema should solely concentrate in teaching and preaching din Al-Islam (Dawah). While calling the Muslim brothers deeply entangled in sins, we must not forget the universal principal of Dawah, Allah says: “Call thou (all mankind] unto thy Sustainer’s path with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner-for, behold, thy Sustainer knows best as to who strays from His path, and best knows He as to who are the right-guided. Hence, if you have to respond to an attack (in argument], respond only to the extent of the attack levelled against you; but to bear yourselves with patience is indeed far better for (you, since God is with] those who are patient in adversity. (Qur’an;6:125-126); “–exhort one another to the truth and exhort one another to patience”(Qur’an;3:103).

It must not be forgotten that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) met with stiff resistance in Makkah when he pointed out the way to salvation, he was rewarded with abuse and persecution during initial 13 years, not only for himself but for the Truth which he was preaching. Any one with weak heart might have been disgusted at what seemed the hopeless task of reclaiming the world from falsehood, superstition, selfishness, evil, and oppression. He was consoled by Allah: “[O Muhammad!] You probably will kill yourself in grief over them, if they do not believe in this Message (The Qur’an).That which is on earth We have made but as a glittering show for the earth in order that We may test them as to which of them are best in conduct”(Qur’an;18:6-7).“And so (O’ Prophet) exhort them; thy task is only to exhort them (non believers). Thou are not a taskmaster over them”(Qur’an;88:21-22 also emphasized at 10:108, 39:41, 42:48). The Prophet (pbuh) was sent to teach and direct people on the right way. He was not sent to force their will, or to punish them, except in so far as he may receive authority to do so. Punishment belongs to Allah alone, which is certain for non repentant and rebellious people in the Hereafter, when true values will be restored.

This is a universal advice which applies to everyone who, having become convinced of the truth of an ethical proposition, is dismayed at the apathy with which the people react, one must not get demoralised, as Alalh says:“For, never would thy Sustainer destroy a community for wrong [beliefs alone] so long as its people behave righteously [towards one another]. And had thy Sustainer so willed, He could surely have made all mankind one single community: but [He willed it otherwise, and so] they continue to hold divergent views(Qur’an;11:117-118); “—If Allah had so willed He would have made you a single people but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah; it is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which you dispute.”(Qur’an;5:48).“Now if God were to take men [immediately] to task for all the evil that they do [on earth], He would not leave a single living creature upon its face. However, He grants them respite until a term set [by Him]: but when the end of their term approaches, they can neither delay it by a single moment, nor can they hasten it.”(Qur’an; 16:62).

Islam was not spread with the power of sword, but with the power of superior pragmatic ideology based upon Truth and Justice. The empire building, rise, fall and destruction of civilizations is a historic process [see; Qur’an;35:43,10:47, 15:6, 7:34, 17:76-77, 18:55, 22:40, 2;251, 36:31, 38;3]. The basic virtues of progressive Islamic society, the peaceful coexistence, tolerance, patience, justice, social & economic harmony, acquisition of knowledge, Jihad-e-Kabira, respect of human life and values are almost extinct form our public life. Mere issuing fatwa’s against Pakistani Taliban is not enough. The common Muslims need to be educated about their doctrine and urge them to practice Din-Al-Islam to progress in this world and also save them from divine punishment in hereafter. During daily and Friday prayers, special supplication (du’a) for the victims of terror be offered.

Some quotations at the end:

We are chasing an Islamic order stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual quests and spiritual devotions…. concerned with power not with the soul, with the mobilization of people for political purposes rather than with sharing and alleviating their sufferings and aspirations.” [Eqbal Ahmad]

“I am convinced about the authenticity of my opinions, but I do consider it likely that they may turn out to be incorrect. Likewise, I am convinced about the incorrectness of the views different from mine, but I do admit the possibility that they may turn out to be correct.”[Imam Shafa’i]

“Our Lord! Do not punish us if we forget or make a mistake.”(Qur’an;2:286).

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References for Study:

The Creation by Aftab Khan, The Holy Qur’an, translation and commentary by; Abdullah Yousaf Ali, The Message of Qur’an, M.Asad, F.Malik. ‘Qur’anic Prism’, The index of subjects in Qur’an by Engineer Abudl Hakim Malik, Islamic Research Foundation Pakistan.  Alim by ISL Software Corp. USA., Our Dialogue by Abkar Karachi. Encyclopedia Britannica., The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, by John Espostto. The Bible, King James Version 1611. The Bible, Revised Standard Version by WM, Collins Sons & Co, Ltd. Great Britain, Easton’s Bible Dictionary, Nave’s Topical Bible, King James Bible Companion: by David W. Daniels, B.A., M.Div. Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia, ISBE: International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Finney’s Systematic Theology. Abbott New Testament Commentary,  John Darby’s Chapter Synopses, Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, Geneva Bible Footnotes, John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary, Wesley : John Wesley’s Notes on the Bible.  Books and articles by Aftab Khan available at:

elated Links for References and further study:

Fatwa on Terrorism is a 600-page (Urdu version), 512-page (English version). Its an Islamic decree by influential scholar Dr Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri which demonstrates from the Quran and Sunnah that terrorism and suicide bombings are so unjust and un Islamic … Click :
Edict [Fatwa] against Terrorism Urdu Full: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B3A4nhhOoqagNWQxNzA5NzItMjQxZi00MDZmLThiMTMtMDMwMGExODQyMjg1&hl=en
Edict [Fatwa] against Terrorism English: https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B3A4nhhOoqagM2Q4ZmI0NzgtZDk5Yy00ODU2LThjNGUtZDIyMmFlYzU0NWE5&hl=en
Fitna-e-Khawarij Historic Review Urdu:  https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=explorer&chrome=true&srcid=0B3A4nhhOoqagNzk2OTE1MGYtOWM4My00NzdmLTkxMmMtMTY3NzQzYzM5NTdm&hl=en
Terrorism Rejected in Islam- Religious Edict [Fatwa]: http://t.co/XEo8L2e

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Short Link: http://wp.me/PCgrB-iI

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