After the annihilation of the Kharijites and until the fourth century, the Takfeeri trend was not prevalent among Muslims. Though the leaders of certain sects talked about it, its principles were never practiced in reality and no one issued any verdict on the permissibility of spilling the blood of Muslims or plundering their property.
THE FOURTH CENTURY AND THE CARNAGE OF MUSLIMS
However, in the fourth century, Fitna-i Takfeer was revived in the Islamic World by a person called Hasan bin Ali bin Khalaf Barbahari (born 233 or 252 A.H). This man who called himself a Hanbalite, excommunicated all Muslims by misusing this sect’s name.
Ibn Athir has recorded the incidents of the year 323 A.H. in his chronicles as follows:
“In that year they grew famous and gained power. On the 10th of Jamadi al-Akhir, “Badr Kharshani” who was the head of the police of Baghdad, ordered his men to announce on both sides of the Baghdad Bridge that no two companions of Barbahari were allowed to convene in one place and that they were prohibited to discuss their faith with others.
The also announced that their prayer leader had to read the phrase “In the name of Allah” out loud and clearly in the morning, evening and night prayers. However this order of the police was not only of no avail but it also caused the companions of Barbahari to embark on creating mischief.
They forced some blind people who lived in the mosque to beat all the Shafi’ites who entered the mosque to death. Further, Barbahari and his followers used to attack people’s houses under the pretext of preventing and prohibiting evil.
They spilled the wine wherever they found it and when they saw a female singer, they broke her musical instruments into pieces and beat her up. They meddled with peoples’ business and if they saw a man walking with a woman or a boy, they stopped and interrogated him and if they realized that they were not related to each other, they arrested him and testified against him. They continued doing such things until Baghdad was in chaos.
Finally the Khaliph sent Barbahari and his companions a number of letters in which he strongly threatened and criticized them for excommunicating Shi’ites and denying them pilgrimage to the tombs of their Imams.” (Ibn Athir, Al-Kamel fi Al-Tarikh Vol 7 pp 113-114)
And according to some other historical accounts, Barbahari and his followers looted and burned down people’s shops in the same year to show their objection to the arrest of some of their companions. As a result of these crimes, Barbahari was prosecuted, but he managed to escape. His companions, however, were captured and punished severely.
Although it has been said that he lived in hiding for the rest of his life, Sowli has met him in 326 A.H and talked to him. Other evidence indicates that he had been openly active during the same year (326 – 327 A.H). Later on, Sowli expressed his satisfaction over Barbahari’s death because the sedition subsided thereafter.
TAKFEER IN THE CONTEMPORARY ERA
After the mischief of the Barbaharis, the flame of the mischief of excommunication began to die down. Although some people like Ibn Taymiyyah still propagated the Takfeeri trend in the Islamic world, their attempts were restricted to the theoretical only and they did not have the opportunity to truly put their ideology into practice. Thus the Takfeeri thought did not lead to the massacre of Muslims either.
However in the twelfth century (A.H) the fire of Takfeer blazed once more with many Muslims, mostly Sunnis being killed in the flames. And today we are still witnessing that Takfeeri groups massacre Muslims based on the same beliefs which includes the slaughter of Muslims, innocent women and children.
This is all occurring while the idea of excommunicating Muslims has been categorically prohibited in Islamic teachings and great Muslim scholars have all strongly condemned it.