Religious Beliefs

Is there such a thing as heresy in Islamic tradition?

Muslim tradition recognizes varying degrees of deviation from pure faith or iman (eeMAAN). Certain forms of departure from strict Qur’anic teaching and practices clearly identified as deriving from the Sunna of the Prophet have been labeled “innovation” (bid’a, BID’ah). Some things once considered innovations, such as attaching minarets to mosques, have long since become widely accepted. All but today’s most traditionally minded Muslims give little consideration to this category. A daily danger for all human beings, one that Muslims seek to combat constantly, is called shirk, or associating partners with God. Any undue attention or attachment to that which is not God is thus a form of shirk, but while it is a natural tendency, it is not necessarily a permanent condition unless one chooses to make it so. A more serious problem, known technically as “deviation” (ilhad, pronounced ilHAAD), comes closer to what many understand by the term heresy. A mulhid is someone who deliberately strays from the broadly accepted tenets of the faith, introducing innovations to the extent that one can no longer readily recognize basic Islamic teachings in the new formulation . Farthest from adherence to true belief is the category of kufr, the kind of willful unbelief that leads to outright blasphemy.


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