Military Wiki
Takfir wal-Hijra
Active 1971
Part of Muslim Brotherhood

Takfir wal-Hijra (Arabic تكفير والهجرة, English "Excommunication and Exodus", alternately "excommunication and emigration" or "anathema and exile"), was the popular name given to a radical Islamist group Jama'at al-Muslimin founded by Shukri Mustafa which emerged in Egypt in the 1960s as an offshoot of Muslim Brotherhood.[1] Although the group was crushed by Egyptian security forces after it murdered an Islamic scholar and former government minister in 1977, it is said to have "left an enduring legacy" taken up by some Islamist radicals in "subsequent years and decades."[2] Today, some believe, Takfir wal-Hijra has members or supporters in several other countries, allied to Al-Qaeda.[3] In November 2013, Russian security forces detained 14 radical Islamists suspected of belonging to Takfir wal-Hijra.[4]


Takfir wal-Hijra has been described as

  • "a matrix of terrorist cells - allied to bin Laden but often more extreme than him"[3]
  • "a group ... which inspired some of the tactics and methods used by Al Qaeda and whose ideology is being embraced by a growing number of Salafist jihadists living in Europe"[5]
  • "a movement" that "began in Egypt in 1971" and by the 1990s had a "decentralised network" of "cells"[6]
  • a name used to describe a wide variety of militant groups, that have little or no connection to each other.[7]

According to Dr. Mamoun Fandy, (an Egyptian-born professor of politics and senior fellow at the Baker Institute of Public Policy), followers are allowed to shave their beards, drink alcohol, visit topless bars and commit crimes against Westerners — all under the cloak of subterfuge. "They are the mothers and fathers of sleeping cells."[5] They believe that the ends justify any means and, that killing other Muslims can be justified in their cause and that Western society is heathen and it is their duty to destroy it.[5]

According to Paul Wilkinson, Shukri Mustafa's execution "ushered in the emergence of two wings within Al Takfir: one under the leadership of Abbud al-Zammut (considered one of the original founders) and one under the leadership of Ayman Al-Zawahiri", later second in command of al-Qaeda. Al Takfir wa'l-hijra grew substantially through the 1990s as Arab Afghans returned from Afghanistan to their homes throughout the Middle East and North Africa spread their doctrine and established a "decentralised network of believers ... throughout Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and Sudan." [6]

Little is known about the current organization or hierarchy of the group. Some news reports in which the name Takfir wal-Hijra have been mentioned include the killing of 16 Muslim worshipers in the Sudan in 1994. The slaughter of 20 people and wounding of 33 others while praying at a Sudanese mosque six years later.[5] In 2005 in Lebanon, a group calling itself Takfir Wal‐Hijra took credit for the killings of Christian civilians in the Dinnieh area of Lebanon.[8] The 2004 assassin of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh, Mohammed Bouyeri, left a note on Van Gogh's body contained references to Takfir wal-Hijra's ideology.[9] One Kassem Daher was accused of being a member of Takfir wal-Hijra when he was arrested by Lebanese authorities in 2000.[10] RPG-wielding militants identified as members of Takfir wal-Hijra carried out a 7 February 2011 attack in Rafah, Egypt, leading to a two-hour battle with Egyptian security forces and local tribesmen in which two people were reported injured.[11]

However, according to Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism, while Takfir wal-Hijra has been used to describe a wide variety of militant groups, these groups have little or no connection to each other or the original Jama'at al-Muslimin group. Regarding use of the term for local jihadists in Algeria and Sudan since the 1990s and in Lebanon, Morocco, Jordan and Somalia in the early 2000s:

... there is little or no evidence to suggest any connection between these incidents, or to indicate the existence of a national or international group operating under the name Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra, and it seems more likely that the name has become a label of convenience for governments to assign to any local jihadist group. This is underlined by the fact that, while takfir is an essential concept for militant Islamists to justify fighting fellow Muslims, the word takfiri is generally used as a derogatory description for extremists that kill Muslims without sufficient religious justification, and would seem an unlikely choice of name for any group looking to attract a broad following."[7]

Name Takfir wal-Hijra

The label Takfir wal-Hijra ("excommunication and exodus") was a derogatory one used by the official Egyptian press media when talking about Jama'at al-Muslimin (Society of Muslims). The word takfir means to judge somebody to be a kafir (non-Muslim infidel), based on their behavior resembling the behavior of infidels. So to commit Takfir is to claim that someone (in this case contemporary Muslim society) has deviated from the teachings of Islam, and therefore label it kafir. Hijra means flight or emigration or leaving, such as prophet Muhammad and his followers did to the city of Medina to avoid persecution in Mecca; thus, if a society is pronounced to be an infidel society, the members of Takfir wal-Hijra see it as their duty to separate from it until such a time as they can return in strength to conquer and Islamicize it as Muhammad did to Mecca.

The term was used instead of Jama'at al-Muslimin as few Muslim Egyptians (and no one in the government) agreed with Jama'at al-Muslimin's founder Shukri Mustafa that his was the society of Muslims, (i.e. those not in the group were not part of Muslim society and not true Muslims). The terms Takfir wal-Hijra described his ideology of regarding Egyptian Muslims as "excommunicated" (Takfir), and his group in "exodus" (Hijra). Shukri strongly objected to the phrase but it became fixed in the popular consciousness.[12]


  1. The Salafist Movement | Bruce Livesey|
  2. Islamist Terrorism and Democracy in the Middle East By Katerina Dalacoura
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The secret war," The Guardian (30 September 2001).
  4. Russian security forces detain 14 suspected radical Islamists| By Alla Eshchenko and Laura Smith-Spark| CNN| November 27, 2013
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 "Al Qaeda's New Front" Frontline PBS News, 25 January 2005
  6. 6.0 6.1 Homeland security in the UK: future preparedness for terrorist attack since 9/11 By Paul Wilkinson, p.47
  7. 7.0 7.1 Jane's World Insurgency and Terrorism
  8. National Security Implications of Al‐Takfir Wal‐Hijra| Joshua L. Gleis
  9. Murder for the sake of Allah- Blasphemy vs.Jihad in Holland, Militant Islam Monitor
  10. Canadian Security Intelligence Service, Summary of the Security Intelligence Report concerning Mahmoud Jaballah, February 22, 2008
  11. Amid Egypt Turmoil, More Clashes in Sinai, New York Times 08-02-2011
  12. Understanding Terror Networks By Marc Sageman, (University of Pennsylvania Press) p.28

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