Thank you for your reply and posting it on the website.
If I understood your reply correctly the criterion is to be setup by a Muslim Government for judging the belief of a group of people and is not applicable to individuals. For instance if an individual does not establish prayer (by this I understand is irregular in prayer or does not pray for a long period of time) he does not become a non-Muslim in the eyes of the state – however if a group of people state there is no need to pray then a government can declare them non-Muslims for the purpose of the state.
Your answer however still bothers me – for it does seem to open the door for declaring people non-Muslim. Would the Shia in Pakistan who do not pay Zaka’h to the government be under the sword of declaration of apostasy. The Aga Khanis form of prayer – would you say that they have not established prayer as the Prophet established it. And what are the right beliefs – From the Munir report, it seemed no two scholars could agree on these points.
I appreciate that your message is that individual scholars should not engage in Takfir1. This is only the right of the Government. By this Takfir would be reduced in society. But consider again the case of the Ahmadis. The government acted in response to street pressure of the religious parties in 1972. The same parties also demonstrated in 1954. From your answer, I assume you feel they had no business to do so. Yet if they had not the Ahmadis would most probably not have been declared non-Muslims. Therefore it seems that you are arguing that the wrong actions led to the right result.
If you would permit let me ask you another question. Do you think a government should really be involved in declaring people Muslim or non-Muslim? Do you not think such a government is creating fitnah in the ummah?
You are undoubtedly very busy, and I responded only because you invited my comments.
Thank you once again for your reply and posting.
I am extremely sorry for the delay in my response.
The point that I intended to make was that because declaring an individual or a group Muslim or non-Muslim relates to the collective rather than personal or individual issues of a people, therefore the right of doing so should rest with the Muslim collectivity rather than individuals. I did not imply that the Muslim collectivity must, under all circumstances declare a group, which adheres to a different set of beliefs or practices as compared to the main stream Muslims to be non-Muslims. My stress was primarily on the point that no individual, under any circumstances, can declare a group or an individual to be non-Muslim without the authority of the Muslim collectivity.
When the Muslim collectivity is to take the decision, the matter would obviously be dealt with in a comparatively more just way as compared to when any individual can declare the other to be non-Muslim. For instance, as you yourself have given the example of Shiites and the Aga Khanis, let us consider their case in a little more detail. At present, most of the scholars of the opposing view, declare these groups to be “non-Muslims” and “Kafirs“. Consequently, the adherents of both Shiite and the Sunni groups view the other as non-Muslim. This situation has been prevalent since a long time in the sub-continent and shall not cease to exist till the time the “street-power” of the sectarian scholars is curtailed through strict legislation. If, on the contrary, the matter was presented before a qualified court of law – representing the collectivity – or before a board comprising of members from the whole of the Muslim community, the matter would then have been tackled in a more civilized manner and was likely to produce a long term solution to the problem. In that case, all groups would have been given a chance of presenting their point of view. The decision, whatever it may have been, would not have been impulsive. Whatever the outcome, at least it was likely to be adhered to by the majority of Muslim states.
Nevertheless, I would like to stress once again that I do not imply that the Muslim collectivity must declare all persons adhering to views different from a certain set of standard beliefs to be non-Muslims. My stress is on the point that if ever the need of separating someone or some group from the Muslim community arises, the decision should rest with the Muslim collectivity rather than individuals.
You have asked:
Do you think a Govt. should really be involved in declaring people Muslim or Non-Muslim? Do you not think such a Govt. is creating fitnah in the [Muslim] ummah?
I am sure if the Muslim collectivity acts prudently and wisely, all kind of “fitnah” can be avoided at the ultimate level.
27th November 1999
- That is, declaring someone a kaafir. [↩]