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Accusations of Unbelief in Islam: A Diachronic Perspective on Takfīr

The present volume—the first of its kind—deals with takfīr: accusing one´s opponents of unbelief ( kufr).

Originating in the first decades of Islam, this practice has been applied intermittently ever since. The nineteen studies included here deal with cases, covering different periods and parts of the Muslim world, of individuals or groups that used the instrument of takfīr to brand their opponents—either persons, groups or even institutions—as unbelievers who should be condemned, anathematized or even persecuted. Each case presented is placed in its sociopolitical and religious context. Together the contributions show the multifariousness that has always characterized Islam and the various ways in which Muslims either sought to suppress or to come to terms with this diversity.

With contributions by: Roswitha Badry, Sonja Brentjes, Brian J. Didier, Michael Ebstein, Simeon Evstatiev, Ersilia Francesca, Robert Gleave, Steven Judd, István T. Kristó-Nagy, Göran Larsson, Amalia Levanoni, Orkhan Mir-Kasimov, Hossein Modarressi, Justyna Nedza, Intisar A. Rabb, Sajjad Rizvi, Daniel de Smet, Zoltan Szombathy, Joas Wagemakers.

About the Editors

Camilla Adang is Associate Professor of Arabic and Islamic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Her fields of specialization are interreligious contacts and classical Islamic thought. She has written extensively on Ibn Ḥazm and the Ẓāhirī school.

Hassan Ansari is a member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. He focuses on the study of Islamic theology, philosophy, law, and legal theory.

Maribel Fierro is Research Professor at the Centre of Human and Social Sciences at the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC – Spain). Her research focuses on the religious and intellectual history of al-Andalus and the Islamic West, and on Islamic law.

Sabine Schmidtke is Professor of Islamic Intellectual History at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She has published extensively on Islamic and Jewish intellectual history. Her works include Theologie, Philosophie und Mystik im zwölferschiitischen Islam des 9./15. Jahrhunderts. Die Gedankenwelt des Ibn Abī Jumhūr al-Aḥsāʾī (um 838/1434-35 – nach 906/1501) (Leiden 2000), and, together with Reza Pourjavady, A Jewish Philosopher of Baghdad. ʿIzz al-Dawla Ibn Kammūna and his Writings (Leiden 2006).

Table of Contents


I. Takfīr Through Islamic History

1. The Early Period (First/Seventh-Fourth/Tenth Centuries)

Self-defining through Faith: The walāya and barāʾa Dynamics among the Early Ibāḍis
Ersilia Francesca

Were the Umayyad-Era Qadarites Kāfirs?
Steven Judd

Denouncing the Damned Zindīq! Struggle and Interaction between Monotheism and Dualism
István T. Kristó-Nagy

Kufr et takfīr dans l’ismaélisme fatimide: Le Kitāb Tanbīh al-hādī de Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirmānī
Daniel De Smet

2. The Classical and Post-Classical Period (Fifth/Eleventh-Eleventh/Eighteenth Centuries)

The Vocabulary of “Unbelief” in Three Biographical Dictionaries and Two Historical Chronicles of the 7th/13th and 8th/14th Centuries
Sonja Brentjes

Takfīr in Egypt and Syria during the Mamluk Period
Amalia Levanoni

Takfīr and Messianism: The Ḥurūfī Case
Orkhan Mir-Kasimov

The Qāḍīzādeli Movement and the Revival of takfīr in the Ottoman Age
Simeon Evstatiev

The takfīr of the Philosophers (and Sufis) in Safavid Iran
Sajjad Rizvi

3. The Modern Period

The Cost of Condemnation: Heresy and takfīr in a South Indian Community
Brian J. Didier

The Sum of its Parts: The State as Apostate in Contemporary Saudi Militant Islamism
Justyna Nedza

“The Kāfir Religion of the West”: Takfīr of Democracy and Democrats by Radical Islamists
Joas Wagemakers

On the takfīr of Arab Women Rights Advocates in Recent Times
Roswitha Badry

Apostasy in the West: A Swedish Case Study
Göran Larsson

II. Discussing Takfīr:Different Perspectives

Essential Islam: The Minimum that a Muslim is Required to Acknowledge
Hossein Modarressi

Abandoning Prayer and the Declaration of Unbelief in Imāmī Jurisprudence
Robert Gleave

Society and Propriety: The Cultural Construction of Defamation and Blasphemy as Crimes in Islamic Law
Intisar A. Rabb

Literary Works as Evidence of Unbelief
Zoltan Szombathy

“Religions, Opinions and Beliefs Are Nothing but Roads and Paths … While the Goal Is One”: Between Unity and Diversity in Islamic Mysticism
Michael Ebstein

Bibliographic Information

Title: A History of Islamic Legal Theories: An Introduction to Sunni Usul al-fiqh

Editors: Camilla Adang, Hassan Ansari, Maribel Fierro and Sabine Schmidtke

Publisher:  BRILL

 Language: English

Length: 306

ISBN:  978-0521599863

Pub. Date: October 28, 1999

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