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Islam / Apostasy
Religious freedom

Wars on the Arabian peninsula 632-636.

Open the online Arabic language course

Islam / Ridda /
Arabic: takfīr

In Islam, the practice of declaring another individual Muslim, or a group of Muslims, disbelievers, kafir.
Although its practice runs back to the earliest stages of Islam, it largely has been defined by Shi'i theologians of Iran, especially in the 19th century. Here it often was used by mujtahids, and the Bab and Jamaladdin al-Afghani were among those declared kafir.
In modern times, it is mostly used by Sunni Islamists. It has been used by them to allow attacks on Muslims and on Muslim regimes.
There are no clear system for the takfir process. This is especially because of Shari'a, Muslim Law, which regulates that a person abandoning Islam shall be executed. By declaring somebody kafir, a death penalty is also pronounced. In peaceful societies, this means that the threshold for takfir is high, while in times of war, the threshold for takfir becomes correspondingly low.
The most extreme form of takfir was with the Kharijis, early in Muslim history, who declared that any person committing a sin was a kafir.

1970's: The Egyptian violent Islamist group, Takfir wa-l-Hijra, declares the Egyptian society kafir.
1996: The armed Islamist group of Algeria, GIA, declares the Algerian regime kafir.

By Tore Kjeilen