After having reflected on the history of takfeer up to contemporary times, we now examine the topic from the perspective of Islamic teachings.


Based on Islamic teachings, man’s life and property must be honored and respected as signified by the following verse of Surah Ma-ida: 32:

مِنْ أَجْلِ ذَلِكَ كَتَبْنَا عَلَى بَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَنَّهُ مَن قَتَلَ نَفْسًا بِغَيْرِ نَفْسٍ أَوْ فَسَادٍ فِي الأَرْضِ فَكَأَنَّمَا قَتَلَ النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا وَمَنْ أَحْيَاهَا فَكَأَنَّمَا أَحْيَا النَّاسَ جَمِيعًا

“On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person – unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land – it would be as if he slew all mankind: and if anyone saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of all mankind.”


Apart from the inviolability of a human being’s life, a believer’s life is much more respected; thus if a person murders a believer he will be punished much more severely. Surah Nisaa Verse 93 states:

“If a man kills a believer intentionally, his recompense is Hell, to abide therein (forever): And the wrath and the curse of Allah are upon him, and a dreadful penalty is prepared for him.”

Moreover, the holy Quran states that the criterion which sets apart belief from disbelief is adherence to Islamic practices and declaring oneself to be Muslim. Under such conditions no one is allowed to infringe on him. 

Surah Nisaa Verse 94 states:

ا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِذَا ضَرَبْتُمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَتَبَيَّنُواْ وَلاَ تَقُولُواْ لِمَنْ أَلْقَى إِلَيْكُمُ السَّلاَمَ لَسْتَ مُؤْمِنًا تَبْتَغُونَ عَرَضَ الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا

“O ye who believe! When you go forth in the cause of Allah, investigate carefully, and say not to anyone who acknowledges believing in Islam: “Thou art none of a believer!” Aspiring for the goods of worldly life.”

The occasion of revelation of the above mentioned verse has been said to be the story of Usama bin Zaid. After the Battle of Khaybar, Prophet Muhammad (sawa) sent Usama bin Zaid along with a few other Muslims to some Jewish villages near Fadak to invite them to Islam. When one of those Jews named Mordaas bin Nahik realised that Usama had come to the village, he took all his belongings and family members to a nearby mountain and then came to Usama and said:

“I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

However, Usama killed that man. 

When he returned to the Messenger (sawa), he recounted the story of what he had done. The Prophet (sawa) asked him: “Did you really kill a man who testified that there is no God but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah?!”

Usama replied: “O Messenger of Allah! He just verbally testified to save his life!”

The Prophet (sawa) said: “Did you cut out his heart and see what went on in there that you were so sure?!”

There are numerous narrations that have strictly forbidden Muslims from excommunicating their fellow Muslims. For instance, in the following narration, the Messenger (sawa) has set the boundaries between belief and disbelief:

“I have been given a mission (by God), to fight the people until they say “there is no God but Allah.” Therefore, once they acknowledge this and say prayers like us and toward our Qibla, and slaughter their sheep as we do, then their blood and property is inviolable.” (Bukhari: As-salaat. Chapter 28, no 392)

Furthermore, when the Prophet (sawa) appointed Imam Ali (a.s) as the commander of his army in the Battle of Khaybar and ordered him to conquer the strongholds of Khaybar, Imam Ali (a.s) asked him: “How far should I go in fighting them?” 

The Prophet (sawa) replied: “You should fight them until they confess (with their tongues) that there is no God but Allah and that I am the Messenger of Allah. Once they do this, you are no longer allowed to infringe upon their lives and property except if they do something evil in which case their punishment will be with Allah, the Almighty.” (Sahih Muslim) 

In yet another narration, the Prophet (sawa) made similar statements with regard to this issue:

“Leave those who have testified that there is no God but Allah, and do not call them kafir owing to a sin, whosoever excommunicates those who have testified that there is no God but Allah, he himself is closer to disbelief.”

Furthermore, according to Sama’ah bin Mehran, Imam Sadiq (a.s) has been narrated to have said:

“Islam is but the confession that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. Based on this belief, lives are protected, marriage relationships are established and inheritance is regulated and this is what all people believe in.”

And there are numerous more narrations in the sources of all Islamic sects which ban Muslims from excommunicating others which we have not mentioned for the sake of brevity.