Wall Street Opinion Journal Masood Farivar March 31, 2006
Muslims declare each other apostates–with violent results.
The international uproar over the case of Abdul Rahman, the Afghan convert to Christianity charged with apostasy, has drawn attention away from a far more common and nefarious practice infecting religious practice in Islam: the accusation of heresy leveled by Muslims against fellow Muslims, a practice known as takfir. Historically, little more than a rhetorical device, takfir has in recent years grown into a deadly weapon in the hands of Muslim extremists bent on purging Islam of just about anyone who does not subscribe to their views. Today jihadist terrorists in Iraq have begun to use takfir as a rallying cry for violence against the Shiites.
The concept of religious censure is not unique to Islam, of course, but under Islamic law the charge of apostasy may not only condemn the person to hell but require his immediate death, if he does not repent. Recognizing the danger of such charges to the peace of the community, the Prophet Muhammad went out of his way to discourage takfir. Muhammad’s recorded sayings, known as hadith, are full of admonitions against takfir. In one famous hadith, the Prophet said: “If a Muslim accuses a fellow Muslim of unbelief, the accuser himself becomes an unbeliever should the accusation prove untrue.”
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