Mr Doval and Mr Wang will meet on Saturday in the picturesque Dujiangyan. City (File)

Chief of Bureau
New Delhi

During his recent visit to Tehran, India’s National Security Adviser Ajit Doval stressed the importance of Iran and India working together to promote stability in Afghanistan and end Takfiri terrorism in the country and elsewhere. The delegation-level talks took place ahead of the of meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the SCO in Goa and encompassed a broad range of topics, including economic, political, and security ties, as well as key regional and global developments.

Doval also met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian. Pointing that NSA Doval visit was crucial, Shah Faesal, a Fulbright Scholar, and an Edward S Mason Fellow from Harvard University says that Takfir is an accusation of unbelief or a declaration of apostasy which leads to the ex-communication of another Muslim. It is the practice of one Muslim declaring another Muslim as an infidel, which some extremist groups use to prescribe the death penalty for apostates.

Faesal notes that the concept of takfir, which led to the treatment of apostasy and blasphemy as serious offenses, originated with the Khawarij sect in the 7th century CE. The Khawarij were the first to declare takfir against fellow Muslims, appropriating the right to do so and introducing extrajudicial killings of fellow Muslims. This marked the beginning of Islamic extremism. Over time, the notion of takfir was further developed by multiple scholars and theologians.

Driven by this ideology, Daesh has been targeting Muslims as its primary victims since 2014 in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. Its definition of kufr (unbelief, infidelity) goes beyond non-Muslims to include Muslims, who are considered incidental disbelievers.

Daesh has a strong presence in Eastern and Northern Afghanistan, particularly in Nangarhar, which is regarded as its base in the war-torn country. notes Faesal who is also a serving officer of the India Administrative Service cadre

However, there have also been voices from across the Muslim world that have condemned the practice of Takfir. In July 2005 King Abdullah II of Jordan led an international Islamic conference of the world’s top most Islamic scholars to deliberate on the issue of Takfir. The outcome of this conference became known as Three Points of the Amman Message which included recognizing the validity of all 8 mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shia, and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash’arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and true Salafi thought. It was also decided that ignorant and extreme fatwas issued on such contentious subjects should be stopped.

Faesal pinpoints against this backdrop that Ajit Doval’s flagging the issue of Takfiri terrorism during the recent Iran visit becomes important. India and Iran share common security interests in Afghanistan. Both India and Iran are concerned about the threat of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan, particularly from groups such as ISIS, which have targeted both countries in the past.

India has the second largest population of Muslims in the world and around 13% of Indian Muslims identify with the Shia sect. Pakistan has witnessed extremely high levels of violence including suicide bombings against minority Muslim sects that have been declared to be heretical, Shias being the main victims of such violence. This cannot be allowed to happen in India.

It is in this direction Faesal says India’s leadership in fighting takfiri extremism in Afghanistan in partnership with Iran will thus not only ensure sectarian bonhomie within our borders but is also bound to generate a lot of goodwill across the Islamic world that has been devastated by takfiri jihad in recent years.

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