Takfīr and Church Unity: A Lesson from an Unlikely Source

Do Christian churches use ‘takfir’, as Daesh does?
It seems they do. Saadly.

The Institute of Middle East Studies

 by Mike Kuhn

A new word keeps showing up in the news describing radical Islamic groups—takfīr.  It’s the English transliteration of an Arabic word that means “to anathematize” or “to declare someone apostate or an infidel.”

The ideology of takfīrī groups (e.g. ISIS, al-Qaeda, etc.) draws a very tight circle around what is acceptable belief and practice.  In order to belong to the group, one must repudiate moderate interpretations of the Islamic faith in order to conform to takfīrī values and behaviors which are compulsory with very little room for variance.  Any divergence is “unbelief” and carries the stiff penalty of exclusion at best or death at worst.  Takfīrīs control through power and enforce conformity.

And how is that working for these groups? 

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