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Tabarrī (Arabic: تبرّي) or baraʾa, is to dissociate oneself from the enemies of God and the enemies of religion's authorities. Tabarri is a theological term and is one of the doctrinal and practical Islamic teachings especially among the Shi'a. This term is adopted from the Qur'an and has appeared in twenty suras.


"Tabarri" is an Arabic infinitive from the root "b-r-ʾ" which means "avoiding and dissociating".[1]

In the Qur'an

The term "tabarri" is originally derived from the Qur'an. The paronyms of tabarri appear to be cited around thirty times in the Qu'ran.[2] Qur'an 9 begins with the repudiation of the polytheists[3].[4] Some of them are: the dissociation from polytheism,[5] the declaration of the Prophet (s) that he is dissociated from the actions of the polytheists (Qur'an 10:41[6], Qur'an 26:216[7]).

The general meaning of tabarri and its paronyms in the Qur'an is, basically, "avoiding and dissociating from the enemies of God".[8]

In Hadith

In many hadiths from the Prophet (s), the importance of tabarri is stated and that he considers the "hate for God" as one of the most important pillars of faith.[9] Imam al-Sadiq (a) clearly states the necessity of the separation of the enemies of the religion and their allies.[10]

In hadiths, often, tabarri is mentioned alongside with tawalli (friendship for God).

In Islamic sects

Most of the Islamic sects, by realizing the emphasis of the Qur'an and the hadiths from Prophet (s), confirm tabarri and there is no difference of opinion among them over this general Qur'anic concept and its necessity. However, there are differences in identifying the enemies of God and the criteria for apostasy in Islam. Some scholars have had radical views and considered Islamic sects like Imamiyya and Zaydiyya as infidels but not all theologians and Muslim scholars have accepted it.[11]


In many suras of the Qur'an it is indicated that dissociating polytheism and its leaders by avoiding their gods are instances of tabarri. Including the Qur'an 60 in which the tabarri of Ibrahim (a) is explained:

There are many hadiths from the Prophet (s) and Imams (a) in which the instances of tabarri could be identified:

The Prophet (s) told Imam 'Ali (a): "Indeed I am at peace with who is at peace with you, and I am at war against who is at war against you." He also said the same phrase for Ahl al-Kisa'. The Prophet (s) said: "Imams after me are twelve, rejecting any of them is the rejection of me.[12]

It should also be noted that in the opinion of Shi'as, not every non-Shi'a is an instance to tabarri. But only those people, who despite their knowledge to the rightfulness of Ahl al-Bayt (a), are their enemies.

Also there are people who consider Imam 'Ali (a) as god (Ghulat), they are also subjects to tabarri.[13]

Those who oppressed Ahl al-Bayt (a) and violated their dignity, those who changed the sunna of the Prophet (s), those who exiled the elite companions of the Prophet (s) and gave the wealth of the poor to the rich, Nakithun (those who broke their allegiance to Imam 'Ali (a), Qasitun (Mu'awiya and his army), Mariqun (Khawarij), all of those misleading scholars and cruel tyrants along with the killer of Imam 'Ali (a) and the killers of other Imams (a) are subjects to tabarri.[14]


About how to implement this principle in the community, there are differences among Muslims. With the establishment of Sunni or Shi'a governments around the world, this principle has faced increasing and sometimes decreasing level of adoption among Muslims.

The usual manner of Shi'a scholars has been to regard the unity of Muslims and proximity of Islamic sects as held by Imam 'Ali (a), The true inheritor of Prophet (s).

In the life of past scholars like, al-Shaykh al-Mufid, Sayyid al-Murtada and al-Shaykh al-Tusi and also in the manner of late scholars like Mirza Hasan Shirazi, Mirza Muhammad Husayn Na'ini, Ayatullah Husayn Burujirdi and Imam Khomeini many instances of their manner for preserving the unity of Muslims are apparent.

Also there are some hadiths which suggest avoiding any provocation and pessimism between Muslims.[15]

Some instances of contentions of some past Shi'a governments with Sunnis is reported, like in the period of Buyids, Fatimids, Safawids, Adil Shahi dynasty, Nizamshahi dynasty, and Qutbshahi dynasty.[16] On the other hand, Wahhabis attacked the cities of Najaf and Karbala and other holy shrines of Imams. They demolished the shrines of the companions of the Prophet (s) and even the birthplace of the Prophet (s) in Mecca. They have slaughtered many people of different religions on the basis of their affiliations, especially Shi'as.[17]


  1. Rāghib al-Iṣfahānī, al-Mufradāt, under “burʾ”; Ibn Manẓūr, Lisān al-ʿArab, under “burʾ”.
  2. Muṣṭafawī, al-Taḥqīq, vol. 5, p. 34.
  3. [This is] a [declaration of] repudiation by Allah and His Apostle [addressed] to the polytheists with whom you had made a treaty (Quran 9:1)
  4. Muṣṭafawī, al-Taḥqīq, vol. 5, p. 34.
  5. Say, 'What thing is greatest as witness?' Say, 'Allah! [He is] witness between me and you, and this Qurʾān has been revealed to me that I may warn thereby you and whomever it may reach.' 'Do you indeed bear witness that there are other gods besides Allah?' Say, 'I do not bear witness [to any such thing].' Say, 'Indeed He is the One God, and I indeed disown what you associate [with Him].' (Quran 6:19)
  6. If they deny you, say, 'My deeds belong to me and your deeds belong to you: you are absolved of what I do and I am absolved of what you do.'
  7. But if they disobey you, say, 'I am absolved of what you do.'
  8. Ṭabrisī, Majmaʿ al-bayān, vol. 5, p. 34.
  9. Muttaqī al-Hindī, Kanz al-ʿummāl, vol. 1, p. 267; Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 66, p. 242.
  10. Ibn Bābawayh, al-Iʿtiqādāt, p. 86.
  11. Baghdādī, al-Farq bayn al-firaq, p. 16, 278, 281.
  12. Ibn Bābawayh, al-Iʿtiqādāt, p. 78-81; Ibn Bābawayh, Faḍʾil al-Shīʿā, p. 125; Akhṭab Khwārazm, al-Manāqib, p. 61.
  13. Ibn Bābawayh, al-Iʿtiqādāt, p. 71-76; Ṭabāṭabāʾī Yazdī, al-ʿUrwat al-wuthqā, vol. 1, p. 67-68. Narāqī, Mustanad al-Shīʿa, vol. 1, p. 204.
  14. Ibn Bābawayh, al-Khiṣāl, vol. 2, p. 607-608. Majlisī, Biḥār al-anwār, vol. 10, p. 358; vol. 65, p. 263.
  15. Ibn Bābawayh, al-Iʿtiqādāt, p. 82.
  16. Hamadānī, Takmila, vol. 1, p. 183-187. Ibn al-Jawzī, al-Muntaẓam, vol. 14, p. 150-151. Ibn Athīr, al-Kāmil, vol. 8, p. 542-543. Ibn Khallikān, Wafayāt al-aʿyān, vol. 1, p. 407. Dhahabī, Tārīkh al-Islām, vol. 8, p. 248. Maqrīzī, Ittiʿāẓ al-ḥunafā, vol. 1, p. 142, 145-146. Maqrīzī, al-Mawāʿiẓ wa l-iʿtibār, vol. 2, p. 286-287, 342-341. Firishta, Tārīkh Firishta, vol. 2, p. 11, p. 109-113. ʿAzzāwī, Tārīkh al-Irāq bayn al-iḥtilālayn, vol. 3, p. 341-343. Falsafī, Zindigānī-yi Shāh ʿAbbās-i Awwal, vol. 3, p. 889, 894, 895.
  17. Āl Maḥbūba, Māḍī l-Najaf wa ḥāḍiruhā, vol. 1, p. 324-326. Amīn, Kashf al-irtīyāb, p. 13-14, 22-23. Karkūklī, Dawḥat al-wuzarāʾ, p. 212.


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