What is personal Takfir?

If you believe someone to be a disbeliever in Islam, then you have performed Takfir on a person. Every muslim has to practise this concept of Islam. It has been practised by all prophets of Allah.

It is essential in Islam to distinguish the Muslim from the Kafir. This is an essential part of Kufr bi Taghut (disbelief in idols).

  1. Conditions of personal Takfir
  2. How to practise it?

Conditions of personal Takfir

The concept of excommunication in Islam has conditions. This form of Takfir is to be done on the observable. If someone were to commit major Shirk, then he is not to be excused for being seen as a disbeliever. The muslim judges on what he observes.

Because of our natural inclination (Fitrah), it is impossible to be ignorant of it. Allah bestowed on us basic knowledge of Tawheed and Shirk.

'Umar bin Al-Khattab reported: "People were (sometimes) judged by the revealing of a Divine Inspiration during the lifetime of Allah’s Apostle but now there is no longer any more (new revelation). Now we judge you by the deeds you practice publicly, so we will trust and favor the one who does good deeds in front of us, and we will not call him to account about what he is really doing in secret, for Allah will judge him for that; but we will not trust or believe the one who presents to us with an evil deed even if he claims that his intentions were good." (Sahih Bukhari Book 48 Hadith 809)

Not all deeds are known by the Fitrah. Issues of haram and halal are known through revelation. But Tawheed always stays the same. There are deeds inside the legislation that amount to major Kufr.

The Fitrah is also ignorant of them. Take for example the major Kufr deed of leaving the prayer. Not all major Kufr deeds get the excuse of ignorance. For example, someone cannot be ignorant to know insulting Allah or the prophet is disbelief.

Imam Shafi'i said: “Allah has Names and Attributes which are mentioned in His Book, and which His Prophet (peace be upon him) narrated his Ummah. No one who has been given clear evidence can reject that, because they are mentioned in the Quran and are mentioned in the Sahih narrations of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). So if a person goes against that after being given clear evidence, then he is a disbeliever. However, before clear evidence is presented to him, he is excused for his ignorance of it, because knowledge of such matters is not known on the basis of reasoning or on the basis of reflection. We do not consider anyone to be a disbeliever because he does not know this, except after knowledge of it reaches him.” [Tabaqat al-Hanabilah 1/283]

How to practice personal Takfir

Practising Takfir is a foundation of Islam. A Muslim does Takfir on anyone that Allah does Takfir on. A distinction must be made between infidel and Muslim.

The Muslim can pronounce Takfir, but can also just believe it without uttering it. It is therefore not necessary to call someone a Kafir to their face.

The way personal Takfir is done is how Prophet Ibrahim 'alayhi salam did it. It is done when a person commits major Shirk or major Kufr. Do you see it with your eyes when someone does this? Then you must perform Takfir.

Then We revealed to you (O Muhammad) (saying): Follow the religion of Ibrahim the Hanif, who was not an idolater.
(16:123 Quran)

Now it is important that you do not unrightfully perform personal Takfir. There must be a valid reason to declare someone as Kafir. Otherwise it will return to the accuser.

Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said: "If a man says to his brother: O Kafir (unbeliever)!" Then one of them is like that (ie a Kafir)." Sahih al-Bukhari 6103, chapter: Whoever calls his brother a Kafir without any ground

So the accusation turns to one of them. Either the one who accuses is Kafir, or the one who accuses is Kafir. Thus, personal Takfir is dangerous when practiced for no valid reason.

Abu Athari writes about basic principles within Islam. He uses his critical and well-researched way to spread knowledge of the first three Muslim generations.

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