Takfir and “The Study Qur’an”

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In a scathing  review of the controversial  new work “The Study Qur’an”, Shaykh Gibril Fouad Haddad says the following:

“The translation of muslimūn mostly as “submitters” (3:52, 3:64, 3:80, 11:14…) is justifiable, the latter construing the original as a nominal form, were it not for the editors’ underlying Perennialist bias which strives to separate the historical acception of islām as “the religion revealed through the Prophet of Islam” from generic “submission to God in general.” Hence the claim that “in the Quran Abraham and Jesus are also called muslim in the sense of ‘submitter’” (p. xxix, my emphasis). In reality the religion of Islam is submission sine qua non and all prophets are called Muslim with a capital from the start—and in the sense of timeless, essential Muḥammadans, followers of the Prophet Muḥammad as explicited in verse 3:81—just as all Muslims are also submitters. In addition, submission is always understood as submission to the latest prophet of the time, not to an earlier one, and so no submission remains today except that manifested in Islam. Al-Ghazālī cited in the book of naskh of his Mustaṣfā “the consensus in the agreement of the entire Community that the sacred law of Muḥammad—upon him blessings and peace—has abrogated the laws of his predecessors” while al-Nawawī in the book of ridda of his Rawḍat al-ṭālibīn stipulated, “Someone who does not believe that whoever follows another religion than Islam is an unbeliever, like the Christians, or has doubts about declaring them to be unbelievers, or considers their way to be correct, is himself a kāfir even if with that he professes Islam and believes in it.”

See Shaykh Gibril Haddad’s full critique HERE

The above passage raised considerable objections and initiated a claim that Shaykh Haddad  has engaged in ‘takfir’ (declaring someone a ‘disbeliever) against the authors of the Study Qur’an. This leads us to two questions:

  • Does the specific quotation of Imam Nawawi in  the  above passage constitute a declaration of ‘takfir’ against the authors of the Study Qur’an?
  • What exactly is takfir?

To answer these two questions, we turned to Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali the Founding Director of the Lamppost Education Initiative and the Director of the Islamic Law program at Zaytuna College. See the video below

Abdullah bin Hamid Ali is the founder of the Lamppost Education Initiative. He also serves as a full-time faculty member specializing in Islamic Law, Legal Theory, and Hadith Science at Zaytuna College in Berkeley, CA. He is a lifelong student of the Islamic tradition. Born to Muslim parents, he began a serious study of Islam in his early teens. He attended Temple University for two years (1995-1997) prior to pursuing studies that culminated in a four-year collegiate license (ijaza ‘ulya) from the prestigious Al-Qarawiyin University of Fes, Morocco (1997-2001). He holds a BA from the Al-Karaouine/Al-Qarawiyin University’s Faculty of Islamic Law (Shariah) and an MA in Ethics & Social Theory from The Graduate Theological Union (2009-2012) of Berkeley, CA. He is also a PhD candidate in Cultural & Historical Studies at GTU.