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Chapter-1: Doctrine of Takfir

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The doctrine of Takfir; is being used in the modern era especially by terrorist groups like Daesh/ ISIS, Boko Haram & Talibans, 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 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.