Takfir Wa al-Hijra, al-

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Egyptian Islamic fundamentalist organization.

Al-Takfir wa al-Hijra is one of the most notorious radical Egyptian fundamentalist organizations. Its real name is the Society of Muslims (Jamaʿat alMuslimin). The group was formed in 1969 by Shukri Mustafa, who had been arrested in 1965 and served prison time with the influential Sayyid Qutb (an Egyptian who came to be considered the most radical fundamentalist thinker in the Arab world). Mustafa argued that the Egyptian society is living in a corrupt, decadent, and non-Islamic state of paganism (jahiliyya). His solution for the group was to withdraw itself from society and forge a new, purely Islamic society, in the unpopulated hinterland off the Nile River Valley. Though the group did spend some time living in caves, for most of its existence members lived in shared apartments in the poor neighborhood of Cairo. When the government arrested and detained several members in 1977, the organization responded by kidnapping, and ultimately murdering, a former minister for religious endowments. After a large-scale shootout with the police, several hundred members of the group were arrested and tried. Shukri Mustafa and four other leaders were sentenced to death, and others received prison sentences ranging from five to twenty-five years. Today, the group is considered to be part of the Arab Afghans and is led by Ahmad al-Jazaʾiri.

At the ideological level, Mustafa delineates two stages for the organization: First, the stage of weakness (istiddʿaf), during which the group builds itself; and second, the stage of action (tamkin), during which the group attacks the jahili society. Hence the group's popular names al-takfir (excommunication) and al-hijra (migration). Furthermore, the group rejects mainstream doctrines accepted by traditional scholars and moderate fundamentalists. Thus, it does not believe in the validity of consensus (ijma) or independent reasoning (ijtihad) it only believes in the literal validity of the Qurʾan and the Sunna of the Prophet, which are the basis of constructing divine governance (hakimiyya) and destroying worldly paganism. The group adheres to a militant view of jihad (holy war) and makes the whole world its enemy; thus, the United States, the United Nations, and Israel as well as the Islamic states are viewed as illegitimate systems of government that should be toppled.


Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet and Pharaoh. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985.

Moussalli, Ahmad. Historical Dictionary of Islamic Fundamentalist Movements in the Arab World, Iran, and Turkey. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 1999.

david waldner
updated by ahmad s. moussalli