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Wikipedia writes:

Takfir or takfeer (Arabic: تكفير‎ takfīr) is... one Muslim declaring another Muslim as a non-believer (kafir).
Takfir, Wikipedia

I had thought this definition was clear and correct, until I asked about the third nullification of Islam: in failing to declare a disbeliever a kafir (i.e., takfir), one has disbelieved. Uma's comment on this question indicates I have a misunderstanding.

Obviously, it's undesirable for unqualified Muslims to go around accusing each other of disbelief, and Sahih Muslim 60 a (among other ahadith, and possibly even Qur'an 4:94) strongly discourages that. III-AK-III's answer to the above question says that only by "a knowledgeable body of a certain level of scholars (mujtahid levels)". This suggests takfir is something like a fatwa.

Consequently, it seems there's more to takfir than simply declaring someone a disbeliever. And hence my question:

Question: What exactly is takfir?

Perhaps there's a distinction between how it should be done, and how it's often done.

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I'd like to see evidence from the Qur'an/Sunnah that puts a condition of "only scholars are allowed to engage in Takfir" because I haven't seen any. Scholars caution people because most people don't have much knowledge and are hasty in judgement... but I don't believe only scholars can understand these topics or make fair judgements.

Definition: Takfir is a charge of disbelief made against an individual or group. It is not restricted to being against Muslims only; the Wikipedia page and your question don't contradict each other; they merely focus on different angles (on Muslims v. on non-Muslims) of the issue of Takfir.

  • Takfir against non-Muslims: Acknowledging non-Muslims as a whole to be disbelievers i.e., people who do not believe/follow Islam. On a day to day basis, it doesn't mean to walk up to someone and just say "hey, you are a kafir". But, do acknowledge in your mind/heart that they are disbelievers if they profess a religion/view other than Islam. And of course, don't forget Da'wah [inviting them to Islam].

  • Takfir against Muslims: Seeing a Muslim committing an act of Kufr doesn't mean he is a Kafir per se. Thus, condemnation cannot come before fact-checking. Proof has to be established against this individual, that he believes/said/did an act of Kufr. Then impediments of Takfir have to be considered (e.g., ignorance, misinterpretation, compulsion, being unintentional, etc). If any of the impediments exist, takfir is not allowed.-- It's a very thorough issue. Someone too ignorant of these things is to turn this over to someone knowledgeable.

In both cases, you believe this to be truth (heart testifies), if asked about it you answer this to be true (tongue testifies), and you reject any claims made otherwise.

  • "Allah's Messenger (ﷺ) said, 'If anyone says to his brother, 'O misbeliever! Then surely, one of them such." (sahih al-Bukhari) an see also on the authority of abu Hurairah sahih al-Bukhari – Medi1Saif May 8 '18 at 7:47
  • @Medi1Saif . Both Imam Muslim and Bukhari thought those hadith applied to when it is done without evidence (as you can see in the title they gave the hadith). – The Z Jun 6 '18 at 5:43
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بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم As sallamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa baraktuhu. Takfeer is from the word كفّر يكفر تكفير And it means to declare disbelief on something. Takfeer can be made upon something or someone who was a Muslim or never a Muslim example. There are many conditons to making takfeer. And takfeer is the right of allah and his rasool صلى الله عليه وسلم so therefore it has conditons found in quran and sunnah and understanding of companions its not something left to whims and desires. Takfeer is dangerous and scholars warned approaching it the wrong way but they warned also of not making takfeer. So takfeer is of two types Takfeer is of two types 1)takfeer upon the individual so you say john is a kafir for example. 2)takfeer upon the action so you say this action is major kufr or major shirk and whoever does this and the conditons of takfeer are fulfilled and preventers removed then he is a kafir But your not restricting it to a person. Major sins do not nullify ones islam unless they are nullifiers in arabic النواقض. But a person should study under a teacher about what eman is first then what is kufr because this is a very slippery topic. And to allah is the return. As sallamu alaykum

No source just notes from lessons with ustath

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