Sunday, 8 December 2013

Takfir: Interpretations

Assalamu'alaikum wa rahmatullah

According to Wan Zahidi Wan Teh (1987), many scholars have taken two ways in interpreting the word "kufr" from the clauses of the Quran and the Traditions.

Kufr al-I'tiqādi

This state would make one being excluded from the faith when it is accompanied with the belief that the rules and commandments of the God are not obligatory upon him. For e.g, a person who drinks alcohol with the belief that it is legal for him though it is obviously illegal within the Scripture. In this state, jurists are in accordance that a person who by heart goes against any common terms agreed by the majority of scholars of jurisprudence as a kufr within this state. In this matter, it would return to one's conscience to establish the "Path" within himself since others could not determine one's state of heart. It is an abstract matter.

Ta'wil of Kufr

The jurists would find the terms within the Quran and the Traditions with regard to kufr and would set up the penal code for certain vices. How do we do the ta'wil of the word from Quranic verses? Ta'wil means we elaborate and explain the meaning of the verses within the Glorious Quran which consist hidden meanings. There are two kinds of verses within the Glorious Quran which are the Muḥkamāt (obvious) and the Mutashabihat (ambiguous).

The Mutashabihat verses must be interpreted with responsibility and public would have to be careful with the interpretations of these verses since they could also be falsely used by people who are trying to take advantages on others or those who try to distort the teachings. This is why I am talking about the importance of the studies such as philology, rhetoric, linguistic, history, and several other basics other than religious studies such as exegesis, creed, scriptural studies, traditions, criminology, psychology and so on. It is not as simple as listening to lectures from recorded videos, television, audio or simply attending lectures of a particular movement for a person to be a "judge" within our system. The process is just like we are studying the normal Civil and Common Law in the campus. The difference is that the law student of Shari'a system are not as popular as those who study Western law where they are respected more by people around. Those who study in Shari'a stream must be acquainted with a higher level of Arabic knowledge just like British Common Law attorneys must be proficient English speakers and several other branch of sciences.

Through this method, the word kufr is used to refer the degree of sins (al-Taġli) and to warn everyone to stay away from them as a precaution (al-Tarīb). This kind of interpretation for the particular word is necessary as to make sure that there is no conflicting of rulings within the clauses of the law. It has been convicted through the verses in existence within our scripture that a person who committed major sins (crime) is not an infidel unless if he believes that what he has committed as something which is legal for himself (el-Hodaibi; 1977; 59).

Al-Bukhari in his compilation of traditions in the first part of the book also mentioned a topic which is, "Kufr (of a Wife) to the Husband and the Kufr which is Not (Really) Kufr". Ibn al-Arabi in his explanations says that, al-Bukhari has stated through this statement that, "Obedience is known as the faith, while disobedience and vices are known as kufr. When kufr is used to refer vices, it is not used in the sense that a Muslim who committed the major sins or major crimes, being assumed as an apostate. He is still a Muslim but his crime is an act of kufr which requires him to seek forgiveness and performing penitence". 

In another chapter, al-Bukhari says, "Every vice is the practice of ignorance; while those commit it could not be judged as an infidel except with associating the God the Highest with creatures (ego)". Ibn Hajar of Ashkelon in his explanation says regarding this, "It has been explained that vices are known as kufr as a majaz (statement alluding) to the Kufr al-Ni'mah. It is not being used in reference to the state of Kufr al-I'tiqadi". As to say, al-Bukhari means that, "The word kufr which is used to denote the vices committed by a Muslim does not expel him from the Path of Islam; differently to the Kharijites of the past who penalized other Muslims who committed sins as kufr in the sense of their creed is not in accordance to the Islamic creed".

And says the God the Highest, "And He forgives sins except that (polytheism), for whoever that He wishes" (Surah al-Nisā' 4:116). 

And these are the opinions of the clerics within the traditional group of clerics with regard to the interpretation of the word kufr as according to the clauses of the "Path" upon Muslims who commit vices which does not expel him from the circle of Islam. However, the act which makes a person become an apostate for example:

a. Abusing the Scripture, which is the Glorious Quran.
b. Prostrating in veneration to idols.
c. Disobedience toward compulsory practices prescribed within the Path which has been affirmed by the councils of clerics such as:
  • The six articles of Faith.
  • The five articles of Islam.
  • Legalizing crimes which have been clearly stated as crimes within the scripture.
These matters could easily be acknowledged even by public Muslims other than the reference to the councils of the majority of clerics. They were separately discussed by our clerics within jurisprudence studies, the studies on creed and studies on vices which do not cause a Muslim being excommunicated from the society as an apostate. 

Sealed with prayers for mercy, peace and love, amin!     

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