Muslim intellectuals have always strongly censured the act of excommunicating other Muslims.


Many Shia scholars have, in their verdicts, announced that the act of excommunicating Muslims is prohibited. Among them are Sheikh Saduq, Sheikh Hassan Najafi, Grand Ayatullah Hakim, Grand Ayatullah Amuli and Allamah Majlisi.

With respect to this issue, Sheikh Saduq maintains:

“Islam is to utter that ‘there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’; by saying these words, a person’s life and property will not be infringed upon, thus the life and possessions of anyone who says these words will be protected.”

The Late Sayed Kadhem Yazdi, one of the great Shia scholars makes the following remarks:

“An unbeliever is a person who denies the Oneness of Allah, the Prophethood or any other essentials of faith. Of course such a denial leads to disbelief only when it is done while one is fully aware that he is in fact denying an essential and indisputable article of faith in a way such that it amounts to denial of Prophethood.”

Grand Ayatullah Khui says the following:

“What leads to realization of Islam and its respective results such as purity and the inviolability of one’s life and possessions are the following: Belief in Oneness of Allah, Prophethood and Resurrection which all Islamic sects believe in.”

Furthermore, the great intellectual Syed Abdul Hussain Sharafuddin, who has written extensively on Shia views and has authored invaluable works like “Al-Muraja-aat” and “An-Nass wal-Ijtihad”, has authored an invaluable book wherein Fitna-i Takfeer and the impermissibility of excommunication is discussed from a Shia and Sunni perspective.


Ibn Hazm has sorted out different Takfeeri beliefs into a number of separate categories in his book. Moreover he has dedicated a separate chapter to this issue under the title of “Al-Kalam Fi Man Yukaffir wa laa Yukaffir (Al-Fash Fi Al-Melal wal Ahwaa wa-Nehal,Vol 3, p 291) in which he has made the following remarks:

“There is a discrepancy in this regard among people”

1.  Some have excommunicated those whose beliefs are different from theirs in ideological issues or in fatwa;

2.  Some others have excommunicated a part of their opponents’ beliefs and some other parts as leading to impiety and have based all their judgement on their own beliefs;

3.  Yet a third group has excommunicated anyone with ideologies opposing theirs but have neither considered those who oppose them in their verdicts and religious practices as unbelievers nor an evildoers, but as “excused mujtahids” who, even if they have made mistakes, are pardoned because of their good intention;

4.  Finally the last group has accepted the beliefs of the third group in issues related to religious practices but regarding the ideological issues they have maintained that any disagreement regarding the Divine Attributes would lead to heresy while discrepant ideas in other issues would be considered as evildoing (fisq).”

Ibn Hazm has referred to the perspective of the great Sunni scholars and that of his own in this regard as follows:

“Some scholars have stated that no Muslim must be called a disbeliever or an evil doer simply because they have opposing ideological stances or decrees…..and this is also the viewpoint of Ibn Abi-Leili, Abu-Hanifah, Shafei, Sufyan Thowri, and Dawood bin Ali. It is also the view of all the Companions of the Prophet (sawa) whose perspectives are known to us and there is no one who opposes this view.”

Ibn Hazm has then gone as far as to call two narrations from Prophet Muhammad (sawa) as unreliable and da’if (weak). Based on these two narrations the Prophet called two sects i.e the “Murji’iyya” and “Qadriyyah” as Zoroastrians among the Muslims and also predicted that the Muslim Ummah would be divided into seventy three sects, only one of which would go to paradise.

Following these remarks, Ibn Hazm says the following:

“The validity of these narrations is under question because they are transmitted through defective chains of narrators, even by the standard of those who believe in the validity of a tradition with a single transmitter, let alone by the standard of those who do not believe in it.”

Zaher Sarakhsi, one of the disciples of Abul Hassan Ash’ari has said:

“Abul Hassan Ash’ari was in my house while he was on his deathbed and before he died he ordered me to gather all his disciples and companions and addressed them and said:

All of you bear witness that I do not excommunicate anyone among Muslims because of committing sins, for they worship the same God and Islam includes them all.”

Imam Shafei says:

“I would not excommunicate whimsical people because of a sin, I would not excommunicate anyone among the people of Qibla because of a sin and I would accept the testimony of all the innovators except for the Khatabiyya.”

In his book “Aqidah Tahawiyya”, Abu Ja’far Tahawi says:

“We call all the people of Qibla as believers and Muslims insofar they believe in the teachings of the great Prophet of Islam….and do not excommunicate anyone among the Muslims because of committing a sin as long as they do not believe that it is allowed.”

Qazi Ayaz, a Maleki scholar of the sixth century says:

“If some says something which is against the greatness and glory of Allah but which is not considered blasphemy and which has also been the result of one’s personal interpretations rather than an act of disbelief, then such a person is considered to be an innovator; however this is one of those issues about which there has been much disagreement among religious authorities in the past and present as to whether such a person must be treated as a disbeliever or not.”

Mulla Ali Qari, an eleventh century Hanbali scholar has similar sentiments. Moreover, in his annotation of Abu-Hanifah’s “Fiqh al-Akbar” and following a review of some of the views of the scholars regarding the issue of excommunication, he says:

“None of the people of Qibla is called disbelievers and, as the annotator of the book “Al-Aqaed” has also stated, it is very difficult to affirm the view that those who believe in things such as the createdness of the Quran, or the impossibility of seeing Allah or those who curse the Shaykhayn are unbelievers.”

When asked about the exaggerators (ghulaat), innovators, evildoers, theologians, philosophers, Taqi Al-dinn Sabki replied:

“You must know that everyone who fears God will never dare so much as to speak about excommunicating those who say ‘there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah’… one decrees as to the excommunication of others unless he violates the basic articles of faith, denies the Oneness of God and the Prophethood of His Prophet and finally exit the religion of Islam.”

Some of the Sunni scholars have also gone so far as to refrain from excommunicating the Kharijites. For example, Nawawi, who is the annotator of “Sahih Muslim” says:

“It is one of the beliefs of the Followers of the Truth that no Muslim is ever excommunicated for committing a sin and even evildoers and innovators, such as the Kharijites and the Mu’tazilites must not be excommunicated either. Only those for deny the basic articles of faith of the religion of Islam are to be excommunicated and called disbelievers.”