Takfir: The Islamist attitude towards Apostates and the Sources of “Moderate” Muslim Silence

David Cook, in his extremely valuable Understanding Jihad (pp. 141-2), addresses the Islamist/Jihadi attitude towards Muslims who do not measure up to their revivalist standards.

One of the great innovations of Sayyid al Qutb, the great Muslim apocalyptic thinker at the heart of much modern Jihadi theology, was to declare that there was no more “Dar al Islam” because the leaders of supposedly Muslim nations were too secular. He declared these non-observant Muslims apostates (kaffir) suffering in a state of Jahaliyya (pre-Islamic ignorance), and as such, legitimate targets of Muslim violence.

Cook here notes that the way modern Jihadis have used this attitude has shrewdly avoided direct violence against Muslims but nonetheless intimidating them. It explains why we have so few voices denouncing suicide terrorism. There may well be many Muslims out there who are, like Zuhdi Jasser, disgusted by what supposed “true believers” do in the name of Islam, but they have to take into account the factors Cook elaborates here:

One cannot understand radical Islam, let alone globalist radical Islam, until one comprehends the importance of the doctrine known as al-wala ‘wa-l-bara‘ (loyalty or fealty and disloyalty or disassociation). Basically, this is a polarizing doctrine by which radicals – and this idea is emphasized almost exclusively by radicals, so virtually any book or pamphlet on the subject will be written by radicals – maintain their control over what constitutes the definition of “Islam.” Islam is defined according to this doctrine not only by the willingness to fight, but also by the polarities of love and hatred: love for anything or anybody defined as Islam or Muslim, and hatred for their opposites or opponents. In other words, anybody who demonstrates what radicals define as “love” for what is a non- or anti-Muslim position, or associates closely (or sometimes in any way) with non-Muslims, must be a non-Muslim and is excluded, by definition, from the Muslim community.

This is a formal ideological (and apocalyptically dualist) version of the old problem in the African-American community known as the “oreo” — black on the outside, white on the inside. Any Muslim who has adopted notions of tolerance and freedom of thought is, by definition, betraying the true Islam.

It is self-evident that this doctrine is of crucial importance for radical Muslims, not only in their war with the outside world, but also in their attempts to gain spiritual prestige and power within the Muslim world. One of the principle reasons for the ineffectiveness of moderate or anti-radical Muslims is the power of the doctrine of the al- wala ‘wa-l-bara‘ over even those Muslims who do not accept the radical Muslim vision of the future. Al-wala ‘wa-l-bara‘ enables radical Muslims to assert control over the definitions of who is and who is not a Muslim and it forces those who would wish to challenge that control into silence or into being categorized as “non-Muslims.” Thus, it is not a question of whether a minority or a majority of Muslims support or oppose the actions and agenda of radical Islam or globalist radical Islam. It is impossible to know in many cases what Muslims really think or feel concerning a given operation. The crucial fact is that Muslims in the vast majority, whatever they truly believe, are unwilling to disassociate themselves publicly from radical Islam. This passivity is the work of the doctrine of al-wala ‘wa-l-bara‘.

In all of their actions, radical Muslims seek criteria to differentiate between the true and the false, and then to expose the latter. One of the most effective methods by which this is accomplished is suicide attacks or “martyrdom operations.”

Read the rest of the book.

2 Responses to Takfir: The Islamist attitude towards Apostates and the Sources of “Moderate” Muslim Silence

  1. [...] idels who have regressed to the period of ignorance preceding the Prophet’s revelations (Jahaliyya). [...]

  2. [...] ims whose practices are lax by their zealous standards; Westernized Muslims especially are denounced as ku [...]

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