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Title: Assessing apostasy, blasphemy and excommunication (takfir) in Islam and their modern application by states and non-state actors
Author: Nagata, Masaki
ISNI:       0000 0004 6348 6116
Awarding Body: Brunel University London
Current Institution: Brunel University
Date of Award: 2016
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In certain contemporary Muslim majority states apostasy and blasphemy are not merely religious sins; they are acts which potentially have legal, or extra-legal, consequences. Although apostasy has not been criminalised in many such states, extrajudicial killings of apostates are carried out by some extremist groups and individuals. Such groups always justify these murders of fellow Muslims and non-Muslims on the grounds of apostasy and blasphemy. The concept and use of takfir (excommunication) is also a serious issue in Muslim majority states. Groups such as Daesh (also known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) rely on takfir to attack fellow Muslims, despite there being no legal basis in Shari’a for the use of takfir or for criminalising apostasy. Although the concept was developed by people, not God, takfir are now being used to bypass rational human judgement. Their use plays a major role in many of the religious issues confronting Muslim majority states, such as the criminalisation of apostasy and blasphemy. This thesis analyses the central issues of apostasy, blasphemy and takfir collectively, as their history and their contemporary use and misuse by extremist groups are inextricably entwined. The key finding is that the right to punish apostasy and blasphemy and to issue declarations of excommunication (takfir), all originally reserved in Islam for God only, have been appropriated by man. Through developments in the understandings of these concepts, all three have come to be seen by some scholars and ordinary believers as a ‘right of man’. This evolution in interpretation and in application is inconsistent with Shari’a law.
Supervisor: Badar, M. E. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Islamic law ; Religious freedom ; Human rights