Reflecting on the Fundamentals – Takfīr in the words of the Shi’i Ulema’ | Sayyid Kamāl al-Ḥaydari | Lesson 7

مواقف في الصميم (7) – التكفير في كلمات علماء مدرسة اهل البيت (ع) ق6

We mentioned that from among the sicknesses and afflictions that have affected not only the Islamic nation but also the Christian and Jewish nations is the issue of takfīr and condemnation of one another. The notion that the entirety of Truth is with me, and if you don’t agree with me then you are a disbeliever, apostate, misguided deviant and so forth. This is not an issue exclusive to one group but rather a generic one which all belief systems have succumbed to at one point or another.

We discussed in the previous episode how in addition to causing strife between different schools, this plague has now transferred internally within each school causing Sunnis to do takfīr of other Sunnis and similar for the Shi’i.  You can see for yourselves the takfīr being done right now on certain Shi’i satellite channels belonging to particular marāji’ and how they do not tolerate differences of opinion. For example, (they say) either you accept and agree with me in what I designate as mourning symbols for Imam Hussayn (sha’ā’ira hussayniya) or else you are anti-Imam Hussayn, anti-Shi’i, and you are being funded by the West and you wish to destroy our school and Islam. I say that all these practices are innovated baseless superstitions which have no Islamic basis. This dichotomic reasoning of theirs is completely illiterate and ignorant, and they have shown to have no idea how to reason based on knowledge or base an argument on respectable rational axioms.

We saw this logic with the Wahabis in the previous talk where they dismissed large numbers of people from their school as polytheists. Even when it comes to the Sufis we see this same logic from them accusing them of polytheism. As the verse of the Qur’an says: “Surely Allah does not forgive that anything should be associated with Him, and He forgives what is besides this to whom He pleases” [1]. On this basis they will enter Hell eternally and not be included in God’s mercy, neither will they receive any form of intercession. Now someone could ask is this takfīr and condemnation only from Sunni scholars or have there been Shi’i scholars who have said similar things? The response is the thinking (between Sunni and Shi’i scholars) is the same, the methodology is the same, the only difference is the arena and sphere in which it is used, (with takfīr done to) either to a sect, a school or an entire society.

This reasoning and way of thinking can be found explicitly in some of the views of the biggest Shi’i scholars and I will mention an example to make this crystal clear. As you know this series is quite concise, so I will suffice with two examples, one from an Usūli scholar and one from an Akhbāri scholar. Allāmah Majlisī in his work Bihar al-Anwar says the following:

واعلم أن جمعا من علماء الامامية حكموا بكفر أهل الخلاف

Know that all the Shi’ī scholars have ruled on the disbelief of our opponents.[2]

Who is he talking about, everyone who opposes what? Opposes Twelver Shi’ism. In this case even Zaydis and Isma’ilis would fall into this category let alone Sunnis. As they have been declared to be disbelievers, a question should be asked, are they (the opponents) then considered Muslims externally (dhāhiran) or not? The answer is yes (according to Majlisī). In this world they are to be treated as Muslims and possessing an apparent Islam but in the Hereafter, they shall be resurrected as disbelievers. If only they were considered to be disbelievers, once again we see this notion of considering them to be polytheists, why is that? Because polytheists will not receive any mercy from God whereas those who disbelieved still have hope of being forgiven on the Day of Judgement. He then goes on to say:

 وفي الآخرة يدخلون النار ماكثين فيها أبدا مع الكفار

And in the Hereafter they shall enter the Hellfire for eternity alongside the disbelievers.[3]

So, will our opponents find any salvation in the Hereafter? Nope, none at all. As a last example, Allāmah says the following:

اعلم أن إطلاق لفظ الشرك والكفر على من لم يعتقد إمامة أمير ـ المؤمنين والائمة من ولده وفضل عليهم غيرهم يدل على أنهم كفار مخلدون في النار

Know that the absolute application of the words disbelief and polytheism for the one who does not believe in the Imamate of Ali and his superiority over others proves that they are disbelievers who shall reside in Hell forever.[4]

This is what has been said by a top Akhbāri scholar, now someone may object and say we no longer consider the opinions of the Akhbāris, well let me show you that this is exactly the same view held irrespective of being an Akhbāri or an Usūli. This is from the book Jawāhir al-Kalām by Shaykh Mohammad Hassan al-Najafī, which is one of the biggest sources in jurisprudence for the Usūliyūn:

فالظاهر إلحاق المخالفين بالمشركين

What is apparent is the grouping of the mukhālifin (opponents) with the polytheist[5]

Why is there this insistence to group them with polytheists? So that they can spend an eternity where? In Hell. I do not want to add anything to this now as it has been made quite clear that a number of Shi’i scholars hold this view of takfīr as we have seen with other schools. From here we can see the biggest benefit of the permissibility in worshiping according to different schools and religions, and this is something I have been questioned on. If we don’t accept this permissibility then we will be stuck in this quagmire of takfīr, accusations of polytheism and wishing people to stay in Hell for eternity. However, if we accept the permissibility of worship based on the terms and conditions we previously stipulated then we will open the doors to mutual co-operation and peaceful co-existence, there will be no need to condemn one another and they too will reach salvation in the next world just as we will.


1 – Qur’ān , Surah 4, Verse 116

2 – Bihār al-Anwār, Allāmah Majlisī, v.8, p. 368

3 – ibid, v.8, p. 369

4 – ibid, v. 23, p. 390

5 – Jawāhir al-Kalām, Shaykh Mohammad Hassan al-Najafī, v. 22, p. 62

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