Anathematization in Islamic Traditions (La’an) – Part I

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Quranic & Traditional Evidence

By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi

The term anathematization means condemnation to everlasting expulsion from God’s mercy, which is used for individuals or groups, who commit horrific crimes and wrongdoings against the almighty, his messengers or humanity. This notion has been mentioned by the holy Quran on numerous occasions, which addresses the result of harming the Prophet of God and his progeny or going against God himself. However, the specific justifications and criteria for anathematizing someone is presented in Quran about the following aspects:

  • Infidel
  • Obstruction of God’s signs and evidences
  • Lier
  • Fabricators
  • Murderers
  • Diverging from a covenant
  • Impudence toward the almighty
  • People of hell
  • Hypocrites
  • Fabricating upon the almighty
  • Accuser of chaste and married men and women
  • Harmers of God’s messenger and his holy household
  • Tyrants

However, this concept has been portrayed as blasphemy and cuss according to some of the Islamic sects, as the figures glorified by them are considered as tyrants, sinners and wrongdoers. Therefore, they view the concept of anathematization as insult to their figures and divine personalities.

Shia Islam’s take on this concept as like any other topic within the Islamic ideology and principles, as they back their conduct and deeds through Quran, tradition and intellectual methods.

This article will be an introduction to further depth analysis of this concept, as it will be divided into Quranic evidences, and the second part will be traditional or narrative evidences from the Holy Prophet and his holy household.

notion of anathematization has been used by God for certain individuals, who commit certain sins and wrongdoings, which means the anathematizing is absolutely allowed in Islam. However, same as any other order and command by God, the Quran or the Holy Prophet, such notions need a criteria as who is eligible for such a statement or for example who is eligible for charity.


Quranic Verses

  • Chapter 2, Verse 159: “Indeed, those who conceal what we send down of clear proofs and guidance after we made it clear for the people in the scripture, those are cursed (anathematized) by Allah and cursed by those who curse”.
  • Chapter 3, verse 61: “Then whoever, argues with you about it, after knowledge has to come to you – say, come, let us call our sons and your sons, our women and your women, ourselves and yourselves, then supplicate earnestly (together) and invoke the curse (anathematization) of Allah upon the liars (among us)”.
  • Chapter 4, verse 46: “Among the guided ones are those who distort words from their [proper] usages and say, “We hear and disobey” and “Hear but be not heard” and “Ra’ina,” twisting their tongues and defaming the religion. And if they had said [instead], “We hear and obey” and “Wait for us [to understand],” it would have been better for them and more suitable. But Allah has cursed them for their disbelief, so they believe not, except for a few”.
  • Chapter 4, verse 93: “But whoever kills a believer intentionally – his recompense is Hell, wherein he will abide eternally, and Allah has become angry with him and has cursed him and has prepared for him a great punishment”.
  • Chapter 5, Verse 13: “So for their breaking of the covenant We cursed them and made their hearts hard. They distort words from their [proper] usages and have forgotten a portion of that of which they were reminded. And you will still observe deceit among them, except a few of them. But pardon them and overlook [their misdeeds]. Indeed, Allah loves the doers of good”.
  • Chapter 7, verse 44: “And the companions of Paradise will call out to the companions of the Fire, “We have already found what our Lord promised us to be true. Have you found what your Lord promised to be true?” They will say, “Yes.” Then an announcer will announce among them, “The curse of Allah shall be upon the wrongdoers”.
  • Chapter 9, verse 68: “Allah has promised the hypocrite men and hypocrite women and the disbelievers the fire of Hell, wherein they will abide eternally. It is sufficient for them. And Allah has cursed them, and for them is an enduring punishment”.
  • Chapter 11, verse 18: “And who is more unjust than he who invents a lie about Allah? Those will be presented before their Lord, and the witnesses will say, “These are the ones who lied against their Lord.” Unquestionably, the curse of Allah is upon the wrongdoers”.
  • Chapter 13, verse 25: “But those who break the covenant of Allah after contracting it and sever that which Allah has ordered to be joined and spread corruption on earth – for them is the curse, and they will have the worst home”.
  • Chapter 24, verse 23: “Indeed, those who [falsely] accuse chaste, unaware and believing women are cursed in this world and the Hereafter; and they will have a great punishment”.
  • Chapter 33, verse 57: “Indeed, those who abuse Allah and His Messenger – Allah has cursed them in this world and the Hereafter and prepared for them a humiliating punishment”.
  • Chapter 40, verse 52: “The Day their excuse will not benefit the wrongdoers (tyrants), and they will have the curse, and they will have the worst home”.

These Quranic verses are clear evidence and justification for believers to reject the sins and wrongdoings mentioned in the Quran, as whomever commits those actions is eligible for anathematization and God’s anger. The next part of this article will address the narrative aspect of this concept, as various narrations by Prophet Mohammad and his holy household would be presented to identify the necessities of this concept and further depth on its application.

(To be Continued) 

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