Takfir Part 2

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Safar 01, 1434 2012-12-14

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

We’re not going to give up speaking about (and) clarifying the issue that has been fabricated against us, the Muslims, of today in different parts of the world. There is warfare and there is law-fare and there is all types of strategies that point fingers of accusation against us saying that “we are…”- you know the word, the t-word- “…terrorists.”

We’ve latched onto this subject since this last September, with the event of that month, and we will continue to pursue it to dust off these accusations and claims made by those who have an abstic line or interest to secure. We’ve said (and) quoted the ayaat, and some of these ayaat we’re going to quote again. Allah says in Surah Al Baqarah

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

When it comes to the issue of settling on your convictions and your commitments pertaining of the world order that you prefer we, as far as Muslims are concerned, can’t force you into it or out of it… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 256)

So Muslims are never authorised by Allah and His Prophet to force anyone of whatever conviction they may have to change their, (in today’s language), religion. Another ayah in Surah Yunus says

أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

… do you, O Prophet, force people to become committed Muslims? (Surah Yunus verse 99)

In another understanding of this ayah, in today’s plain language it would go like this

أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

… do you mean to tell me that you want to force people to become committed Muslims?! (Surah Yunus verse 99)

Meaning the construct of the question is- that’s not within your capacity and that’s not what is expected of you. There’s no issue of using pressure of force to make him or her heartfelt convictions. These are established facts coming to us from Allah and from His Prophet. Now, if something happened along the course of history and there were Muslims who were forcing others to change their convictions, this behaviour or that policy is not Qur’anic and it’s not Prophetic- it can’t be attributed to Allah not to His Messenger. There’s nothing in what we have that tells us to do something like that. But then, we covered when there were instances when Muslims used force or went to war or were mobilised- we have a full history of that and we covered some of the chapters in this history to shed light on the dark areas in our minds where this information doesn’t enter into the thinking domain of our intellect.

All of us know that in our shared Islamic history there is what is called Hurub Al Futuhaat (or) the wars of military breakthroughs- that’s the type of literal rendition of the meaning of this word or in other flexible translations, the wars of liberation. Obviously this was a fact that goes back to those grounded years in our history- the first generation of Muslims. There were wars of liberation in areas that were controlled at that time by the Byzanytines and other areas at that time that were controlled by the Persians. In the details of these wars, we don’t find that Muslims are forcing people, (i.e.) here’s a sword or here’s a type of killing instrument over someone’s head- you either become a Muslim or you are dead. This never happened. We mentioned earlier that a-hundred years after the hijrah in the geographies and territories that Muslims were in, the number (or) the percentage of Muslims there was around twenty per cent or so. There was no one forcing others to become Muslims; so don’t let some fancy looking academic or some degreed scholar come along and make the argument. Alhamdulillah- Allah has preserved His divine writ, and when you listen closely to them, you notice that they do not refer to Allah’s Book. They don’t speak the language of the Qur’an- they may be reading it (and) they may understand it, but when it comes down to the nitty-gritty of it there’s no substance in Qur’an or in the Prophet’s verified statements that gives credibility to what they claim that becomes the propaganda and the mainstream media around. There was never a Christian or a Jew or a Zoroastrian or any other religious conviction that existed at that time that the Muslims can to and said “look- we are here and its either death or Islam!” It never existed! We spoke about Hurub Ar Ridda’ (or) the wars of regression or the wars of cessation. We hope there was enough information there to clarify that once again there was nothing there that had to do with Muslims killing others because of freedom of belief or freedom of expression or freedom of assembly (and) these other freedoms that are spoken of today.

Then, even though we have somewhat of a good record when it comes to treating the other who is not a Muslim; when it comes to clashes and conflict we have a lesser record when it comes to intra-Islamic affairs (and) issues that have to do with us, Muslims among ourselves?! This is where we have problems with our ownselves and we have to take a look at this to learn from our ownselves. We can’t miss an opportunity like this. We’ve gone through some history and it offers us a rich experience to think and to ponder when we right and when we were wrong. The first internal clash (with) Muslims against Muslims after the Prophet passed away was the revolt against the third successor to Allah’s Prophet- Uthman ibn Affan (radi Allahu anhu). That was the first time Muslims clashed with themselves, (in may be called), a violent way. This had nothing to do with the outside world. Don’t have some other person who’s not a Muslims with whatever faith and with whatever conviction they may have come to you and say “you know- you guys have problems with the Christians or the Jews or whoever they are who don’t belong to the Islamic fold.” In that area we don’t. The issue is clear but when we look at ourselves we do have a problem- a problem that we’re going to have to solve by our own selves. No one’s going to help us solve this type of problem that is germane to us. We are going to have to solve it ourselves and if we don’t take a look at it, how are we going to solve the problem?! So the first clash in which there was bloodshed in the House of Islam was when there was a revolt against Uthman ibn Affan. Once again, you can go back to your reliable history books- in this clash we never heard from whichever side you are reading about - there were two sides obviously in this case- doesn’t claim that the other side or the opposite side on this issue is a Kafir. It’s not there. There were serious differences but it wasn’t to the extent that someone could say just because he seriously disagreed all the way to a violent confrontation that the other was a Kafir. It didn’t exist! No one even said that this is a difference between two religions. There was no two religions involved in this! Everyone involved in it, to whatever degree, was a Muslim. There issue in this first clash in our history- that offers us a lesson that we should be learning from- was basically to undo an injustice. Those are the few words that can describe this clash. Some Muslims way out there in distant lands felt that something has gone wrong with our government in Al Madinah and that wrong has to be set right. There were communications and we covered this territory before. It ended up with the hard positions of both sides that became irreconcilable even though there were attempts to reconcile the two sides. This is part of our history. We, in one sense or the other, are guilty of violently going into a mode of warfare with the other. Can we just reconsider this chapter in our history with calm nerves, with clear minds, with open hearts and say “was there something wrong here? Did something go wrong? Or is it going to continue to be this grey area that everyone is right or everyone is wrong or I wasn’t there (so) you know I don’t want to have anything to do with this. Don’t get me involved!” How can this be when they are a part of an Islamic history, an Islamic continuum, an Islamic Jama’ah (and) an Islamic civilisation? All of this is within that and here you are- for what reason (do) you want to conveniently step out of this and say “wait a minute- something happened, forget about it. Something happened.” No! You can’t say that. Allah has given us enough information along with His Prophet to deal with these issues very frankly and very calmly. Now, from this revolt against the third successor to the Prophet to what can actually be called wars during the time of Imam Ali (radi Allahu anhu), when we had wars- when we can say we, Muslims, went to war against our ownselves. In this war there were two sides and these two sides were Muslim sides and here, still, until a little later, we don’t hear that some one within this Islamic domain come out and say the other side is Kafir. This is a serious (battle). The Battle of Al Jamal is a very serious internal battle. It’s warfare, it was Muslims at war with themselves and even though Muslims were at war with themselves, no one came and said the other side is a Kafir. Can we learn? We don’t care what your reference point is! We’re not trying to take sides here. We’re just trying to look at what happened and whatever way you relate yourself to whatever side in this, none of these sides said the other side is a Kafir. On one was Ali and his supporters and on the other side we had Talha ibn Ubaydillah, Az Zubayr ibn Al Awwaam and Aa’ishah, Umm Al Mu’minin (radi Allahu anhum) and their supporters and there are other prominent figures on both sides and none of them were saying the other is a Kafir. We have to break in here once again like we did in the previous khutbahs- we can’t and simply just don’t have the time to break out of this rendition of our history and come to the world today where we have Muslims disagreeing with other Muslims and now we have those Muslims who disagree with others come and say “oh- they are Kafirs.” This accusation of takfir was not there are this is a life-and-death issue. These people are going to war but no one was saying the other was a Kafir. So we go back to the ayah that was also previously mentioned

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا

If there are two camps of committed Muslims who go to war against each other, you reconcile them … (Surah Al Hujurat verse 9)

So it’s possible these things happen. They did happen. It’s not that no one is denying that this ever happened, it’s what is our position towards this? Have we thought through this? No. That’s the problem right there. Let’s be a little factual and dramatic- Immediately after the war, those who won the battle would take the victims, i.e. those who were killed in the battle from the other side and give them an Islamic burial- there would be salah al janazah. Imagine, there would be Muslims from the other side just killed and you would have salah al janazah for them and then you would bury them in, (what is called today), Islamic cemeteries and they’d ask Allah to have mercy on them and to forgive them. All of this should- if we just give it a little thought and put our emotions aside and put our passivity aside and just bring our minds into this subject- if we just take a good look at it as this is an issue between an Imam, Ali, and a transgressor, Mu’awiyah ibn Abi Sufyan; but even though this is how we categorise these two sides, no one comes and says Muawiyah ibn Abi Sufyan was not a Muslim. No one said it at the lime except a little later. A few years later after Siffin we had a new strain of Muslims called Al Khawarij. They were the first to come and say to those who were opposed to them that they are Kafirs. This should be revisited too. How come? Where did this come from? How do these who are saying that their enemies are Kafir justify this? Has anyone ever taken this strain, which incidentally is not historical- it lives on today. There are Muslims today who if you disagree with them or they disagree with you, then all of a sudden the word kufr begins to play in the internalisation of these differences. Ali said, in the middle of all of this speaking basically about his opponents and enemies, I hope that whomever is killed, whether he is one of us or one of them, with a pure heart that Allah will cause him to enter Al Jannah. You notice that this statement doesn’t have any fanaticism in it, it doesn’t have any hatred of the other in it even though the differences were so serious as to come to military blows and to frontline casualties and the flow of blood! It was that serious and beyond that seriousness there was the inclusiveness of a Muslim and an Imam who said I hope that who dies from these two sides whose heart is pristine (and) is not polluted and is not tarnished that he will enter Al Jannah. So this wasn’t a war between kufr and iman. We have some speakers today and forces today (who) in this issue of Sunni/Shi’i who are trying to move it in the direction in which one side thinks of the other as a Kafir. These blows (or) these wars that we are looking at in the formative years of our history and our Islam were between what is right and what is wrong, not between what is iman and what is kufr. You can be a Mu’min and while you are a Mu’min you can be right or you can be wrong on some issues; you can be a Kafir and you can be right on some issues and you can be wrong on some issues. So these wars were between what is right and what is wrong, not between who is a Mu’min and who is a Kafir. This statement is attributed to one of those who was close to (Allah’s Prophet). We don’t want to say the name because once again we know the sensitivities that are out there, but these internal or internecine conflicts among us was described in the words this is a conflict or a war between the people of jannah. We don’t want to be judgemental here, Allah will judge them- we’re all approaching that day, (i.e.) the final day of judgement and everything is going to be clear then, but what we want to do is we don’t want to break away from our own past and our own experiences. We want to integrate that into our minds and into our experiences so that we don’t do this again and again and again! Ali described this whole issue pertaining to the revolt against Uthman, pertaining to Al Jamal and Siffin and these other developments, our affair or our issue is one except the differences we have concerning the shedding of Uthman’s blood which we are innocent of. Ali is speaking about him and his side- he was innocent of that revolt but there was another side- an aggressive side, a baghi side that didn’t want to recognise this reality. If you read this history slowly, thoughtfully and carefully you will notice that there is one side that doesn’t want to speak to the other side. The aggressive side doesn’t want to sit down and reach an understanding and accommodation with the other side. It wants to solve this issue by resorting to the use of arms. What’s wrong? If we, Muslims, are mature, inclusive (and) in the presence of Allah, we sit down with anyone. Speak to them. But what do you do with people who don’t want to sit down with you? (Its) just like here- this is a thirty year affair and these people don’t want to talk, they don’t want to sit down, they don’t want to reason. This is the problem and this will lead to war. I mean, we’re not here advocating war in this but eventually in the course of history over many years and generations this attitude will lead to revolt, to instability (and) to pent-up feelings and social conditions that are going to implode.

Then we had this strain (of) Al Khawarij who came along. They broke from Ali’s camp and they began saying those who disagreed with them are Kafirs- Ali, Muawiyah and Amr are Kafirs. This has to be revisted. We’re not here going to go into the details of this- Allah has given you a thinking capacity and yours minds have to zero-in on this occasion and sort it out. If we don’t do that, we’re going to have neo-Khawarij, we are going to have latter day Khawarij, we are going to have end-of-time Khawarij and we’re going to have recurring Khawarij and we’re going to live the consequences of saying another Muslim is a Kafir. Ali made it clear we did not go to war with the people of Shaam because of what the Khawarij are saying. They didn’t go to war because the other side is Kafir; the other side is wrong and there had to be an adjustment to the aggression of the other side and the other side didn’t leave any option except the war front. That’s as clear as it becomes.

Then, the years and the decades go by and we had these new groupings in Islam. We had the Asha’irah or the Ash’aris, we had the Salafis, we had the Mu’tazilis. Did anyone hear about them going to war with each other? They had very real differences, very significant. The issue of khalq al Qur’an was one of the major issues in Islamic history. Was the Qur’an created or not? That divided the Muslims right down the line and there could have been a call to arms because of this but it never happened. Muslims didn’t go to war because of the way they understood the Qur’an and the Prophet and they should never go to war because of the different ways that they understand Allah and His Prophet. This is the un-learned lesson from our common history.

Then the centuries passed by and then we had these wars. There were these wars between the Safawids in Iran and the Uthmanis in Turkey. They were beyond Turkey, but that general area. Then we had the wars between the Uthmanis on one side and the Wahhabis on the other side. Can we just catch our breath for a moment and say what happened here? Why did we do this? But no one brings these issues to the fore. Concealing these issues (and) not speaking about this common history of ours condemns us to repeat these types of mistakes many times over and we simply cannot afford to do that, especially in the climate that we are in today. Once again, the ayaat that are central, pivotal and very critical in this context

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

When it comes to the issue of settling on your convictions and your commitments pertaining of the world order that you prefer we, as far as Muslims are concerned, can’t force you into it or out of it… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 256)

That’s one ayah. The other ayah in Surah Yunus

أَفَأَنتَ تُكْرِهُ النَّاسَ حَتَّىٰ يَكُونُوا مُؤْمِنِينَ

… Do you, O Prophet, force people to become committed Muslims? (Surah Yunus verse 99)

And the other ayah in Surah Al Hujurat

وَإِن طَائِفَتَانِ مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ اقْتَتَلُوا فَأَصْلِحُوا بَيْنَهُمَا

If there are two camps of committed Muslims who go to war against each other, you reconcile them … (Surah Al Hujurat verse 9)

Dear committed brothers and sisters on As Siraat Al Mustaqeem…

In today’s world there is a behind the scenes coordinated strategy to have us, the Muslims, turn against each other. This is extremely serious; it is not something that we can look askance at and make believe that it is not happening. There are lives that are lost, there is blood that is being shed (and) there are wars that are being planned in addition to what is happening. In this context, this is not a monolithic environment- the conditions in one country is somewhat different from the conditions in other countries; but generally speaking there is this push by some Muslims that uses a broad brush to tarnish other Muslims with the label of kufr. This comes from many sides and is done with many voices. To give you an example- today, this Jum’ah, this day in Egypt, as you may know, there’s preparation for voting by the individual Egyptian person on the constitution and today in some Masajid attended by thousands of prayer attendees or Musalleen, some of these preachers, Khateebs (and) Imams, because of their Islamic background and understanding they encouraged those who are attending their Jum’ah prayers and listening to their khutbah to vote for the constitution. As a result of this fights broke out inside the Masajid and in the courtyard of these Masajid. One of these Imams or preachers from the Mimbars said “whoever does not vote yes for the constitution is a Kafir.” (Do) you see what happens when we don’t study our own history, when we don’t learn from our own mistakes (and) when we don’t revisit our own tragedies? Look what happens! People were injured and some Imams were immediately taken to safe places and locked up in some of the rooms of these Masajid. This is happening as we speak- today. Why should it go to that extent? We know it’s very serious. If we were going to vote we would vote for a constitution that moves in an Islamic direction. It’s not an Islamic constitution but someone who I come and say to someone who disagrees with me ‘you’re a Kafir?!” This is not an issue of iman and kufr as much as it is an issue of what is right and what is wrong; but some Muslims cannot get it because these types of Masajid condition people every week not to think and when you don’t have thinking Muslims you have oxymorons! You have fertile populations for all the troublemakers in the world- native troublemakers and foreign troublemakers. The populations become combustible and the troublemakers light a match! That’s all it takes. Why are we guilty of becoming combustible materials for those who have the torches and who have the matches and they light up civil wars here are civil strifes there and these Masajid and these Manabir and these Mosques and these pulpits on Fridays have no message to communicate and immunise the Muslims from the diseases and from the calamities that await the consequences of their ignorance- imposed ignorance and institutionalised ignorance. What do you want us to do? Open up the chapters of what is happening in Syria? Open up the chapters of what is happening right now in Northern Africa, Mali, not to mention many other places. We can’t remain to be the victims of our own un-education. Let’s put that behind us and think for a change.

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