Taghut is a word used several times over in the Quran in different contexts with a consistent core of signification so that it ultimately emerges as an important Quranic term.
Literally it means defiance and assumption of unlawful authority – the authority that rightfully belongs to Allah (SWT) alone. The Quran tells us that Moses (Musa AS) was ordered by Allah to go to the Pharaoh because he (the Pharaoh) had turned defiant and claimed to be the supreme lord of men. “Izhab ila Firawna innahu tagha.”(79:17)
One may assume such authority on his own or agree to such a position of unquestionable authority if it is somehow conferred on him; in both cases he will be Quranically categorised as Taghut.
The word Taghut is used in almost all the Quranic contexts as an antonym of Allah, the only Ilah who deserves unconditional worship, devotion and obedience in all aspects of human life. Any false deity, living or non-living, human or non-human or supposedly superhuman, who is worshipped and unquestionably obeyed attains the status of Taghut. Such a being sets himself up as a rival to the true Ilah and defies His authority. Explicitly or implicitly he assumes the position of God. Like the Pharaoh he declares to others: Ana rabbukum al-A‘la” (79:24) whether verbally or through his conduct and behaviour.
Sometimes worshipers, devotees and abjectly servile people may themselves raise someone or something to the pedestal and if those who are thus deified accept this role or remain unaware of this like idols, they too are included in the category of Taghut. Taghut, whoever it is, leads those who submit to it to chaos, confusion and darkness as Allah (SWT) leads the believers in Him to peace and Light. As the Quran says
Allah is the friend and protector of those who believe; He brings them out of darkness to Light: and those who disbelieve, their friends and protectors are the Taghut who bring them out of light into darkness. (2:257).
By: Prof. G. R. Malik