Taghut (Arabic: طاغوت, ṭāġūt; pl. ṭawāġīt (طواغيت); broadly: "to go beyond the measure") is Islamic terminology denoting a focus of worship other than God. In traditional theology, the term often connotes idols or demons drawn to blood of pagan sacrifices.[1] In modern times, the term is also applied to earthly tyrannical power, as implied in surah An-Nisa verse 60.[2] The modern Islamic philosopher Abul A'la Maududi defines taghut in his Quranic commentary as a creature who not only rebels against God but transgresses his will.[3] Due to these associations, in recent times the term may refer to any person or group accused of being anti-Islamic and an agent of Western cultural imperialism. The term was introduced to modern political discourse since the usage surrounding Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini during the 1979 Iranian Revolution, through accusations made both by and against Khomeini.[2]


The Arabic word ṭāġūt is commonly seen as derived from the three-letter verbal root of ط-غ-ت ṭ-ġ-y, which means to "cross the limits, overstep boundaries," or "to rebel."[4] From this, Taghut denotes one who exceeds their limits.

Taghut is used together with جِبْت jibt in surah al-Nisa 4:51). Wahib Atallah says that these words are of Egyptian origins and explains these words as Hejazi pronunciations of Copt and Thoth.[5]

In the Quran

The term taghut occurs eight times in the Quran.[2] In Pre-Islamic Arabia referring to pagan deities such as Al-Lat and Al-Uzza.[6]

"Do you not see how those given a share of the Scripture, [evidently] now believe in idols and evil powers? (Taghut) They say of the disbelievers, 'They are more rightly guided than the believers."

— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayat 51[7]

This is taken to refer to an actual event in which a group of disbelieving Meccans went to two eminent Jewish figures for counsel on the truth of Muhammad's teachings and were told that the pagans were more rightly guided than Muslims.[8]

"Do you [Prophet] not see those who claim to believe in what has been sent down to you, and in what was sent down before you, yet still want to turn to unjust tyrants for judgement, although they have been ordered to reject them? Satan wants to lead them far astray."

— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayat 60[9]

The Arabic taghut is variously interpreted to refer to idols, a specific tyrant, an oracle, or an opponent of the Prophet.[10][11]

"The believers fight for God's cause, while those who reject faith fight for an unjust cause (taghut). Fight the allies of Satan: Satan's strategies are truly weak."

— Qur'an, Sura 4 (An-Nisa), ayat 76[12]

Again, this term taghut has been used here to designate a demon worshipped by the Quraysh.[13]

"There is no compulsion in religion: true guidance has become distinct from error, so whoever rejects (taghut) false gods and believes in God has grasped the firmest hand-hold, one that will never break. God is all hearing, all knowing."

— Qur'an, Sura 2 (Al-Baqarah), ayat 256[14]

See also


  1. ^ Nünlist, Tobias (2015). Dämonenglaube im Islam (in German). Walter de Gruyter. p. 210. ISBN 978-3-110-33168-4.
  2. ^ a b c Momen, Moojan. (1995). "Țāghūt". In John L. Esposito. The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern Islamic World. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  3. ^ Mawdudi, 1988, vol.1, pp.199-200
  4. ^ Mir, Mustansir (2007). Understanding the Islamic Scripture. New York: Pearson Longman. p. 55. ISBN 978-0-321-35573-7.
  5. ^ H. Rahman, “Jibt, Taghut and the Tahkim of the Umma”, Arabica, 29/1 (February 1982), 57
  6. ^ Fahd, T.; Stewart, F. H. (2012). "Ṭāg̲h̲ūt". In Bearman, P.; Bianquis, Th.; Bosworth, C. E.; van Donzel, E.; Heinrichs, W. P. (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam (Second ed.). doi:10.1163/1573-3912_islam_COM_1147. ISBN 9789004161214, 1960-2007
  7. ^ Quran 7:51
  8. ^ See Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation p.87 notes
  9. ^ Quran 4:60
  10. ^ See Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation of the Qur'an p.89
  11. ^ Abdel Haleem Oxford Translation p.91
  12. ^ Quran 4:76
  13. ^ Dr. Shmuel Bar Lebanese Hizballah – Political, Ideological and Organizational Highlights 29 October 2006 p. 6
  14. ^ Quran 7:256