On February 2nd 2017 a congress entitled ‘Uniting the Muslim Scholars against Takfīrī Threats’ was held in the al-Ghadīr auditorium in the Iranian city of Bīrjand. Numerous Shia and Sunni scholars participated in this congress along with the head of the permanent secretariat of the ‘World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements’ and the representative of Iran’s supreme leader in the South Khorāsān province.
The message of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi to the congress of ‘Uniting the Muslim Scholars against Takfīrī Threats’ [February 2nd 2017, Bīrjand, South Khorāsān province]:
In the Name of Allah the Beneficent the Merciful
الْحَمْدُ لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعالَمِين وَ الصَّلَاةُ وَ السَّلَامُ عَلَى خَيْرِ خَلْقِهِ مُحَمَّدٍ وَ آلِهِ الطَّاهِرِینَ وَ أَصْحَابِهِ الْمُنْتَجَبِينَ وَ لاحَوْلَ وَ لا قُوَّةَ اِلاّ بِاللَّهِ الْعَلِىِّ الْعَظيمِ
First of all I would like to thank all of the participants who have gathered in the city of Bīrjand to participate in this congress held with the purpose of uniting the Muslim scholars against the threats posed by the issue of Takfīr. I would also like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to those who have worked hard to organize this congress.
You must all know that taking part in such gatherings is among the acts of worship which are favored by Allah the Almighty, for which He will reward you with the best of rewards.
I would like to point out a number of issues which clarify the importance of holding such congresses.
Firstly, we all know that Islam has gone through countless ups and downs throughout history but perhaps the greatest challenge which the religion is faced with in our era is the problem of Takfīr. The Takfīrī currents have caused a variety of disasters to the Muslim world, two of which are of greatest negative impact. First is that they have created civil wars within the Muslim countries, playing off the Muslims against one another in order to achieve their goals through the chaos which is the result of such conflicts.
Based on authentic documents, which are available to the dear participants to study, the Takfīrīs believe that all Muslims, both Shias and Sunnis, are disbelievers with the sole exception of the Wahhabis. Needless to say, that they also consider all non-Muslims to be infidels and disbelievers. Moreover, when they have ruled someone as an infidel, they consider their lives, wealth, and their women to be forfeit and theirs to take.
Clearly, then, this evil ideology is a great peril which threatens not only the Muslim countries, but the entire world. Today, the followers of this ideology, including Deash, have devastated Iraq and Syria and have committed countless unspeakable atrocities in these countries. However, all this is just one of the dangers posed by these groups.
The other danger is that, by committing such heinous crimes in the name of Islam, these Takfīrīs are tarnishing the image of Islam in the world. Thus, since the people of the world do not know that in reality, these terrorists have nothing to do with Islam whatsoever, they think that what they do is a part of the religion of Islam. This will in turn fan the flames of Islamophobia in the world, the more recent results of which are the restrictions imposed on the immigration of Muslims to America and Europe.
This is clearly due to the fact that the people of the world believe all Muslims to be dangerous and so they feel threatened by all Muslims. Under such circumstances, we must join hands and announce to the whole world that the Takfīrī terrorists are not Muslims and have nothing to do with Islam. We must tell the world that Islam is a religion of compassion, brotherhood, and peaceful coexistence.
The holy Quran has mentioned in Surah al-Mumtahinah that if non-Muslims do not threaten or fight you, then you should also treat them kindly. Thus, we must show the world that the warmongers who call everyone except themselves infidels have nothing to do with Islam or us, Muslims.
Secondly, we need to find the roots and the origins of the Takfīr ideology. A critical examination of this wicked ideology reveals that it stems from the Wahhabi creed and the teachings of Muhammad ibn ʿAbdulwahhāb which are cherished, followed, and promoted in certain Arab countries. We need to prove this to the world by means of irrefutable evidence.
We have edited a book entitled ‘The Birthplace of Terrorism’ which holds more than 80 documents about the origin and the birthplace of the extremist ideology of Takfīr. God willing, we will make this book available to you so that you can also study the documents in it. When we discover the origins and the roots of this phenomenon, then it will be very easy to stop its further growth and spread.
Another point which is worth noting here is that there are various military campaigns going on against Takfīrīs in Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. God willing, the Iraqi army will soon liberate the city of Mosul from the clasp of Daesh and peace will also be restored to Syria. However, as we all know, military campaign alone is not enough to effectively exterminate this problem.
There needs to be intellectual and cultural campaigns in order to enlighten the youth and prevent them from joining various Takfīrī and extremist groups. This way we will finally be able to uproot this evil ideology. This, however, is a responsibility which rests with you, the Muslim scholars; you need to make it clear for everyone that Islam is a religion of compassion and brotherhood, and that it is strictly against war, bloodshed, Takfīr, and the killing of one’s fellow Muslim brothers.
We should make it known to all Muslims that anyone who prays in the direction of the Qiblah, regardless of what school of Islam they follow, is a Muslim. We all follow the same Prophet and we have the same Quran; so there is no reason to fight each other and be divided amongst ourselves.
Therefore, in addition to the political efforts and military campaigns which are going on to eradicate this issue, there needs to be some cultural and intellectual efforts to completely do away with this problem which threatens Islam itself.
There is a famous tradition from the Prophet (ṣ), which all of us have come across several times, where he has mentioned:
مَن اَصبَحَ وَ لَم یَهتَمَّ بِاُمورِ المُسلِمینَ فَلَیسَ بِمُسلِم
‘Anyone who lives through a day without caring for the problems of the Muslims is not a Muslim himself’.
These words by the Prophet (ṣ) mean that we must not busy ourselves only with the elimination of our own problems; we must also care for our fellow Muslims and their problems, whether they are in Iraq, Syrian, or elsewhere. Thus, we cannot evade our responsibility with regard to this serious problem which Islam and the Muslim world are faced with.
Today you, dear scholars and participants, should pay attention to the youth more than ever. It is our youth who fall for the deceptive words of the Takfīrīs, who are busy covering up their evil intentions with beautiful words. These Takfīrīs claim that they intend to establish a true Islamic government, like the one established and run by the Prophet (ṣ)!
However, these claims are truly outrageous, since the Prophet (ṣ) would never behead people like cattle, burn people alive, or strap bombs to minor children and send them to blow themselves up in mosques full of innocent people!!
We must warn our youth and open their eyes so as to prevent them from falling for the words and propaganda of the Takfīrīs. I pray for you all and hope that this congress will have favorable results for you. I also hope that you can all join hands and enlighten the people in your regions with regard to the danger of Takfīrīsm. We should also do our best to guide those, who have fallen for the Takfīrīs, from the dangerous path which they have chosen, and we should do it by using kind and respectful words.
Once again, I thank you all, both the participants and the organizers of the congress.
May Allah bless you all and his blessing be upon you
Hujjatoleslam Kāzim Lutfiyān, the Director General of the Islamic Propagation Organization of South Khorasan
Hujjatoleslam Kāzim Lutfiyān said: ‘after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the powers of the east and the west also crumble. Thus, in order to monopolize power and gain dominance over the entire world as the single superpower, the United States devised a new plan for some rearrangements within various civilizations’.
Stating that all of the conflicts which occurred in those years were the results of the attempts of the United States to execute this plan, the Director General of the Islamic Propagation Organization of South Khorasan noted: ‘after pressing ahead with this plan for nearly two decades, in 2006 the United States changed its strategy’.
Hujjatoleslam Lutfiyān further stated: ‘Based on this new strategy, the Americans have sparked conflicts and wars within the major three civilizations, rather than to enter conflicts and wars with them themselves’. He then continued: ‘The Takfīrī current was created by the United States within the Muslim Ummah as a part of this same strategy’.
Stating that currently the Muslim Ummah is harrowed by a movement which perpetrates atrocities and crimes in the name of Islam and the Prophet (ṣ), Hujjatoleslam Lutfiyān asserted: ‘In this juncture, all Muslim scholars and intellectuals are obligated to be vigilant and to enlighten the people concerning this evil current. They should further make every attempt to prevent the Iranian youth from being deceived and recruited by the Takfīrī groups’.
The other speakers included Hujjatoleslam Muhammad Hassan Zamānī, the head of the secretariat of the congress, Hujjatoleslam Ibādi, the representative of Iran’s supreme leader in South Khorasan, Hujjatoleslam Rizāī Birjandī, the Friday Prayer Leader of Birjand, as well as a number of Sunni scholars who delivered their speeches on the theme of the congress.
Moreover different workshops were offered on the sidelines of the congress for both Shia and Sunni seminary students.
It is noteworthy that building a consensus among the Muslim scholars to unanimously condemn the extremist and Takfīrī currents, public enlightenment concerning this issue, and fighting Islamophobia are among the most important goals and objectives of this congress.
Hujjatoleslam Muhammad Hassan Zamānī, the head of the secretariat of the World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements
Hujjatoleslam Muhammad Hassan Zamānī stated: ‘It seems that, in order to create unity among Shias and Sunnis, one can use more powerful and convincing arguments. This is because, based on this argument, if we are not threatened by a common enemy then there will be no need for the unity and proximity of Shias and Sunnis’.
To Create Unity One Needs to Have the Courage to Withstand those who Hold Dogmatic Religious Beliefs
The head of the secretariat of the World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements further noted: ‘We seek unity and proximity between the two schools, not merely as a means to eliminate the threats posed by a common enemy, but because Allah has ordered us to be a united people. Thus, if we truly believe in Allah, and that he is the One and only God, we must obey all his commands, including this one’.
Hujjatoleslam Zamānī continued: ‘According to the Quran, striving for unity of Muslims is an instance of worship and a good indication of piety. Thus, a Muslim scholar who strives toward creating unity among the Muslims has achieved a higher level of piety compared to others. Thus, this stance rejects the idea of those who believe that higher levels of piety can only be reached through performing prayers and other acts of worship.’
He further added: ‘Of course striving towards creating unity among the Muslim Ummah needs considerable courage. This is because those scholars, whether Shia or Sunni, who work for the proximity of Islamic schools and their followers are subjected to an abundance of slanders and accusations by the unlearned and the bigots’.
The Services Provided to the Needy Sunni Families by the Islamic Republic Government
The head of the secretariat of the World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements, then, referred to the services provided by the Islamic Republic Government to the needy Sunni families. He stated in this regard: ‘Based on the available statistics, around 3300 Sunni families [around 559000 Sunni citizens] in the entire country use the services provided by the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation.
According to the same statistics, a total amount of one billion five hundred million Rials have been paid by the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation to the needy Sunni citizens of South Khorasan as pension in the past ten months. This shows that the Iranian government does not discriminate against anyone in its attempts to eliminate poverty and deprivation, and that it cares for its Shia and Sunni citizens in the same way’.
Zamāni further noted: ‘in yet another instance, the government allocated five hundred million tomans to more than 210 needy families in Darmian county, south Khorasan province, who needed to buy household goods for their daughters’ dowries. These are the reasons why we claim that Iran has practically tried to create amity between various Islamic schools’.
The head of the secretariat of the World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements then stated: ‘Today, we are faced with three distinct enemies: the ideological Takfīrism, the political Takfīrism, and the global imperialism. The ideological Takfīrism is the core of the Wahhabi school of thought’.
The Evil Ideology of Takfīr Has Taken its Toll more on the Sunnis than the Shias
Stating that the Takfīrī ideology has taken a much heavier toll on the Sunni community than the Shia community, Hujjatoleslam Zamāni continued: ‘In Iraq, for instance, 75 percent of the people killed at the hands of the Takfīrīs have been Sunnis and only 25 percent have been Shias. Similarly, the victims of Boko Haram, which is a Takfīrī terrorist group and an offshoot of the Wahhabi movement in Africa, have mostly been Sunni Muslims’.
He then noted: ‘The Takfīrī movements have also committed similar atrocities against the Sunni community; for instance, they assassinated Mawlawi Shaykh al-Islām and Mawlawi Burhān Āli merely because of their attempts to restore unity to the Muslim Ummah’.
Mawlawi Sayyid Ahmad Abdullahi, the Sunni Prayer Leader of Darmian County
Mawlawi Sayyid Ahmad Abdullahi began his speech by stating: ‘This congress, which has brought the Muslim scholars together, can pave the way for all Muslim scholars to join hands and consult one another in order to find an effective way to do away with this great danger’.
Emphasizing the fact that Islam is a religion of moderation and that the Muslim Ummah is a clement and moderate people, Mawlawi Sayyid Ahmad Abdullahi said: ‘If a person or a faction within the Muslim Ummah decides to leave the boundaries of moderation, they will fall into extremism and extremism is the root of countless problems for the extremist themselves as well as the whole society’.
Stating that Takfīr is not without precedent in the history of Islam, the Sunni Friday Prayer Leader of Asadiyyeh noted: ‘A historical instance of the rise of the ideology of Takfīr in the past is the Kharijites movement; today also, the Muslim world is being threatened by this great danger’.
Mawlawi Abdullahi then referred to the enormous damage caused by the Takfīrī movement to Islam as well as the unity and the greatness of the Muslim Ummah and stated: ‘The atrocities that these Takfīrī movements commit are in sharp contrast with the spirit of Islam and the moral values taught and practiced by the Prophet (ṣ)’.
Hxse then continued: ‘The Takfīrī ideology has even created doubts in the minds of the Muslim people concerning the religion of Islam and this is another great danger posed by this ideology and its followers’. Stating that the Quran has instructed the Muslims to always act with moderation, he further noted: ‘Our criterion is Islam and we act within the framework of its teachings, not based on the assertions and words of different individuals or factions’.
The Sunni Friday Prayer Leader of Asadiyyeh added: ‘This means that any word or act which runs counter to the spirit of Islam and the moral teachings of the Prophet (ṣ) are considered to be invalid and unlawful’.
Mawlawi Abdullahi then referred to the duty of the Muslims, based on the Islamic teachings, to stand up against non-Muslim disbelievers and said: ‘Today the Takfīrī groups have grown soft in their relationship with the non-Muslim disbelievers, yet they are hard on Muslims’.
Ayatollah Sayyid Alireza Ibādi, the Representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader in South Khorasan Province
Ayatollah Sayyid Alireza Ibādi began his speech by saying: ‘When we neglect our duty to stand up against the unwise actions of the unlearned and the ignorant among ourselves, then the non-Muslim enemies will seize the opportunity to meddle with the Muslims’ affairs and carry out their sinister plans. We must be careful today not to let such a thing happen’.
The Representative of Iran’s Supreme Leader in South Khorasan continued: ‘The Takfīrīs’ understanding of the concepts of monotheism [Tawhīd] and disbelief [Kufr] is an incorrect one; this is why we are obligated to disseminate the correct and genuine meaning of these concepts’.
Stating that monotheism is made up of three ideological components and one practical component, Ayatollah Ibādi added: ‘we should not take the practical components of monotheism, i.e. prayers, fasting, Dhikr, and other acts of worship, as the only manifestations of monotheism. Rather, all our words and deeds should be in line with the commands of Allah’.
He further asserted: ‘Contrary to what the Takfīrīs do in order to find out whether someone is truly a monotheist and a believer or not, we believe that inquisition is not allowed. This is something which is also corroborated by the teachings of the Prophet of Islam (ṣ) as he would never resort to inquisition to find out whether individuals truly believed in Islam or not’.
Ayatollah Ibādi stated: ‘Islam has ordered us to accept as a fellow Muslim anyone who claims to be a Muslim and acts like one. However, the Takfīrīs refuse to abide by these important instructions of Islam’.
He then noted: ‘Today Takfīrīs have set fire to the world under the pretexts of disbelief and monotheism. Their goal is to challenge and undermine the Islamic awakening which has occurred throughout the Muslim world. It is, thus, a duty upon the Muslim scholars to do what they can to foil their plots’.
Mawlawi Mustafā Husseini, the Sunni Friday Prayer Leader of Zirkūh
Mawlawi Husseini stated: ‘Whenever the Sunni and Shia Muslims join hands in unity and they discuss the problems of the Muslim Ummah in order to find a way out of them, they will in fact be presenting the greatest of services before Allah the Almighty, for which He will grant them the greatest of rewards.’
Stating that those who do not care for the resolution of the problems of the Muslims are not Muslims, Mawlawi Husseini continued: ‘Many individuals have disrespected the Prophet (ṣ) in the Muslim world, and today the non-Muslim enemies are trying to undermine Islam through creating discord between Sunnis and Shias’.
The Sunni Friday Prayer Leader of Zirkūh emphasized the fact that the threat to the Muslim world is a serious one and said: ‘We should not bury our heads in the sand and unwisely assume that no one threatens us’.
Mawlawi Husseini then continued: ‘The enemy does not target individuals, but our very religion, Qibla, and the One God that we worship; they are operating at their full capacity to undermine Islam and tarnish its divine face’.
Stating that the Islamic Republic of Iran is the flag-bearer of Islam, he asserted: ‘the enemy seeks to lead our youth astray through spreading satanic insinuations in the Muslim society’.
The Friday Prayer Leader of Zirkūh called neglecting the threats posed to Islam by the enemies ‘an unforgivable sin’ and added: ‘indifference towards the threats of the enemies is of more adverse consequences to Islam than abandoning the prayers’.
Mawlawi Husseini then stated that the enemy is seeking to spread its deviant ideas in the Muslim world through creating anti-religious TV channels. He further stated the following in this regard: ‘TV channels such as Fadak and Wisāl are among such anti-religious channels; these channels seek only to spread discord among the Muslims and they do not make any attempt towards solving any of the problems of the Shia or Sunni communities’.
He also emphasized the necessity of awakening the Muslim Ummah so that they can assume their responsibilities concerning their religion and noted: ‘We must all be vigilant and alert and to target and destroy the enemy plots at the right time’.
It is worth noting that this congress was held as part of a series of gatherings held by the secretariat of the ‘World Congress on Combatting Extremist and Takfīrī Movements’. It was held under the supervision of Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi and in collaboration with the Islamic Propagation Organization of South Khorasan in the Al-Qadir auditorium of Birjand.