What follows is Part II of an interview about the Sharia with Al-Maqalaat by Tam Hussein @tamhussein. Part I can be found here The Dawn of Islamic Theocracy: Monumental Sacrifice for Consistent Stability.
Context of this discourse began when the interviewer tweeted an interesting article, Stoning and Hand Cutting- Understanding the Hudud and the Shariah in Islam, by Jonathan Brown @jonathanACBrown, Associate Professor and Chair of Islamic Civilization at Georgetown University.
Al-Maqālāt introduced me to an article he had written concerning the Shariah entitled: The Essence of the Shariah- Objectives, concepts and priorities. And it is based on this article that we conducted this interview.
The reader will find that the interviewees attitudes and views are useful because he encapsulates a certain outlook which serves as a useful barometer for how some Salafi-Jihadists view the world. I should add that Al-Maqālāt does not consider himself salafi-jihadi as he made clear to me. However, he does cite scholars associated with this outlook namely Sh. Abu Qatadah and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, however equally he has cited and closely tied himself to the Taliban which has a Hanafi, Deobandi outlook. Nevertheless al-Maqālāt makes what seems incomprehensible to the Western reader, comprehensible even if it is wholly unacceptable to his or her world view.
As stated before the interviewees usefulness has not gone unnoticed. As such his writings have appeared on prominent blogs such as the influential blogs Pietervanostaeyen.com and Jihadology.net. With this in mind, this blog has decided to field questions that are in the public interest, in the hope that it will shed light on current trends on Jihadism.
Whilst the questions are mine, the answers below are his views and his views alone. The title of this post in fact was chosen by al-Maqālāt himself. I have however taken the liberty of introducing parentheses when I feel the reader could do with some clarifications on terms.
As an addition to this interview below are some links that may be of interest to the reader on the topics that we are discussing from another perspective. The Islamic tradition is wide and so those other links are available simply to illustrate that.
- On Islam and Secularism see for instance, Islam and the Age of Secular Age: Between Certainty and Uncertainty
- Minorities in Islam see Religious Minorities under Muslim Rule
- On Slavery see for instance and article on Slavery and Islam
- Institutions of Learning in Islam – George Makdisi’s Rise of Colleges is an excellent primer.
- Interesting article by Shadi Hamid on The Roots of the Islamic State’s Appeal: ISIS is related to Islam. The Question is How?
“Should Salafi-Jihadi perspectives take into account modernity and colonialism and accept that circumstances have fundamentally changed- that your conception of Shariah is difficult to apply. You mentioned that slavery will only be used by Muslims in situations of power- Islam accepts slavery as does Judaism and Christianity, slavery of course is not acceptable by the two other traditions now. In the context of modernity, from slave trade to Black Lives Matter, slavery is abhorrent to Moderns. Are you suggesting that slavery could be reintroduced when Muslims are in power? Does that not warrant that most people in the world will fight to keep slavery out? How does this appeal to the missionary aspect of Islam?”
“Well the Sharia is actually revealed to free people from every type of worldly slavery, the slavery of greedy capitalist extortionists ruling the world for example. People are already dealing with slavery without realizing it. Western corporatocracy and capitalism has enslaved people throughout the world, we all know that people in Third World countries are exploited by the textile industry for example. Hundreds of people have died throughout South-Asia in the collapsing and burning textile factories of death. More than 1100 people died for example in the Rana Plaze disaster in 2013, and this is just one case. Western clothing retailers profit from the modern slave labor of millions of Muslim brothers and sisters, in especially Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Bangladesh, who work in the most miserable circumstances. Even children not older than 16 years are exploited in these factories of death. We are not talking about incidents, rather this is the systemic policy of capitalist exploitation. Look at the oil spills and pollution in Niger Delta of Nigeria, destroying the lives of more than a million people who depend on this Delta for livelihood. If people of the modern world did not really fight against these types of abhorrent slavery why will they fight against so-called Islamic slavery? People of the modern world clearly do not care about the slavery of mankind.
Muslims are actually the only ones who confront economic and social slavery by western capitalism on the world. That is why the profit mongers of the established world order are focusing all of their powers on armed Islamic groups despite their small size. The Muslims are the only ones who pose a threat to the corrupt status quo, accepted by everyone else, as they are the only ones who are willing to sacrifice their lives for their values and freedom. Look at their struggle against western installed and supported tyrant regimes for example. The west has created a parasitic consumption society which exploits and enslaves weak and poor societies. While the Sharia rejects such a parasitic system of exploitations. Rather our economic relationship with other societies is built on fairness even if they are not Muslims. We do not exploit and enslave the weak and poor societies. The greedy and parasitic capitalist world of today however does not have such morals and values, their only goal is to make profits, even if it means the suffering of others. Nobody can deny this anymore. Unlike capitalism, we do not teach the greed of parasitic consumption at the expense of other people.
Moreover, there are actually human rights violations which are far worse than slavery but the people of the modern world remained quiet. The Senate CIA torture report, and the Amnesty International report about the prison tortures of the Syrian regime in the Saydnaya prison, and many other reports did not mobilize the people of the modern world to confront the established world order. Or will they only move when Muslims violate human rights? When ISIS took Yazidi women as sex slaves it was all over the main stream media and people throughout the world were in outrage, but it was suspiciously quiet in the media and in the public debates when the Buddhists in Myanmar took Rohingya Muslim women as sex slaves. I am not saying that ISIS was correct in taking Yazidi women as sex slaves, Mujahid scholars have already criticized this, but we constantly keep seeing these double standards. If people would really rise against abhorrent crimes they would resist the crimes of capitalism. And not with empty slogans but with their lives, like the Muslims are sacrificing their lives to free themselves and humankind from the slavery and injustice of tyranny in all its forms.
We should understand that Islam did not and does not introduce slavery, rather it merely changed the manner of slavery. Reports are even saying that there are more slaves today than ever before in history, while slavery only looks different to how it did in history. So when Islam will rule it will not introduce slavery, rather it will regulate slavery with Divine justice.
Yes, even the system of slavery in the Sharia is meant to rescue mankind. We must understand that slavery in Islam is nothing like the slavery we have seen by the colonial western powers. It is not allowed to kidnap random free people from Africa based on racial inequity and keep them in slavery for the rest of their lives and the lives of their offspring generation after generation. The system of slavery in the Sharia is aimed at neutralizing the animosity of nations as they are gradually integrated into Muslim society. Only during wartime could someone be taken into slavery from the enemy nation. When Muslim forces subdued their enemies they were not allowed to commit genocide like other nations did when they subdued their enemies. Because our mission is not that of extermination, rather it is a mission of savior. So when Muslims were in authority, the men, women and children of the subdued enemy could be taken as slaves to integrate them gradually into the Muslim society.
Understand that enemy nations would suffer even if they were left alone, without exterminating them, once they were subdued. When enemies would be subdued their societies usually collapsed and fell apart, they would be stricken with poverty, and they would resort to theft and prostitution, as other greedy nations would prey on them and abuse their weakness. This is something we have seen with our own eyes in modern history when communism collapsed and the Afghan Mujahideen crushed the Soviet-Union. We all saw how the Eastern Bloc fell into poverty, criminality and prostitution, and how they are being abused by greedy nations until this very day, from human trafficking to cheap slave laborers in Europe.
Instead of leaving subdued nations to their miserable fate the Muslims in authority, with the mission of saving mankind, would detain the subdued enemies as they are taken into Muslim societies to see Islam from a close and meet and deal with Muslims in daily life. This would teach them our religion and show them that Muslims were upright people standing for a Divine and just cause, therefore many of them would convert to Islam. History showed us that many of them became well-known Muslims and even scholars. I will not go into much detail about the many rights of slaves in the Sharia, but they are fed the same food we eat, and clothed the same clothes we wear, and do the same tasks we do, they are not hit, abused or neglected like the slaves in colonial western societies. They have the same duties and rights as a free man and there are many ways to gain your freedom. Many Muslims today should actually be very grateful that their ancestors were taken into slavery in the past, otherwise they would perhaps not even be alive today let alone be Muslims. The Prophet (PBUH) said “Allah wonders at those people who will enter Paradise in chains.”
However I will not dwell too much on the justice and wisdom behind Islamic slavery because it is actually not the main reason that will prevent people in our modern age from resisting this Divine system once it is established in the future. As it is in the nature of people to follow the strongest power no matter what their values may be, like we are witnessing right now. People do not submit to the capitalist west because of its so-called freedoms and human rights, rather they submit because it is the ruling power on the world. When Nazi Germany ruled France and other parts of Europe many people submitted likewise, not because they agreed with or accepted the Nazi ideology, but because people follow the strongest ruling power. People tend to submit to the status quo imposed by the established powers regardless of their values and ideologies. So once the Sharia is established people will not rise against it. If they did not rise against the injustice of capitalism why will they rise against the justice of the Islamic Sharia?
If we truly want to be free and independent we must become a force to be reckoned with, a force that is feared and respected by our enemies. Why do countries invest so much money in their military defense and national security? It is so that the enemies are threatened and do not dare to attack them. This is why a country like North-Korea for example was never attacked by the west, even though it is considered as one of “the axis of evil”. Iraq was only attacked after years of weakening sanctions and disarmament. Nearly all the countries on the world implement the Islamic principle of military preparation, except the Muslims it seems. While countries prepare against their enemies, the tyrants ruling our countries prepare against their own civilians. Allah said “And prepare against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” [8:60]
We do not live in a world of international human rights or morals and values, rather the powerful prey over the weak. If you have power you are feared and respected, regardless of your morals and values. But if you are weak you will be an easy prey for the corrupt world establishment. And Muslims are one of the weakest peoples in terms of military power. However unlike western morals and values our Islamic morals and values did not lose their missionary relevance. We do not seek power and strength to prey on the weak, rather we want to spread and uphold Divine values. So we must not think that strength and power alone will change our situation, rather we need to combine this with Islamic principals, morals and values. Otherwise we will just be stuck with another power hungry tyrant oppressor or another reckless rogue gang. The revival of our Ummah will not be reached by carrying weapons only. The revival of our Ummah will likewise not be reached with correcting our understandings in theory only. Our crisis needs both a materialistic and a spiritual solution. The enthusiastic youth who carry weapons against our enemies and the intellectuals in the realm of theory and thought, both need to complement and enhance each others efforts.”
“You said that you do not propagate Salafi Jihadism, so what is the difference between Jihadism and Salafi Jihadism? And does the infighting between the Salafi-Jihadi groups -Tahrir Shaam and Liwa Al-Aqsa- demonstrate that Salafi-Jihadism is a failed project and a dead end? Surely the Islamic movements have to look elsewhere or think anew?”
“Yes I prefer the call towards the Jihadi current in general rather than Salafi Jihadism specifically. But we must differentiate between those who hide behind false claims while their deeds testify the opposite and those who indeed proof their claims with their deeds. Therefore I do not consider Liwa Al-Aqsa or ISIS to be Salafi Jihadi groups, even if they claim to be, rather they are on the methodology of the deviant Khawarij. And fighting against the Khawarij sect is prescribed in our religion. Unless there is a greater benefit in avoiding any confrontation with them, like in Syria where the fight against the regime deserves the first priority and Muslims do not have the luxury of time and energy for secondary fronts. This is why battles against the Khawarij and other deviant sects and groups are avoided if possible. However Allah preordains war between peoples even if we dislike it. We must realize that Allah did not only prescribe Jihaad as He revealed the obligation to fight against our enemies, even though we dislike it. Rather He is also the One who decides against whom we fight and in which battles, even though we dislike it. He said “Fighting is prescribed for you even though you dislike it. But perhaps you hate something which is good for you; and perhaps you love something which is bad for you. Allah Knows, while you do not know.” (2:216)
One of the most difficult battles is the war against the hypocrites, the apostates and the Khawarij. If it were up to the Muslims we would only fight the original disbelievers because the internal battles against hypocrites, apostates and Khawarij are very difficult, as the parents, the children and the wives of your enemies are mostly Muslims, and even the enemies you are facing on the battlefield could be Muslims. But again, Allah is not only the One who preordained war and prescribed the obligation of Jihaad, He is also the One who preordains and prescribes against whom who fight. These internal battles are necessary. The Khawarij do not leave the Muslims any other choice except war. As they insist on spilling Muslim blood, this is their main characteristic. Allah said “And if Allah did not enabled people to keep one another in check, corruption would surely overwhelm the earth” (2:251)
One of the many accusations against the newly formed merger Tahrir Shaam was that they refuse to confront the extremism of the deviant Khawarij in Syria, as if they affiliated, associated or allied with each other. This could not be further from the truth. The difference however between Tahrir Shaam and other factions is that they avoid unnecessary conflicts which distract from the war against the regime, unless they are forced to. Unlike the factions in Northern Syria for example who invested all of their energy and time in fighting against ISIS under the Turkish led Euphrates Shield Operation while leaving and empowering the regime. How can we be happy with the liberation of Al-Baab from ISIS when it came at the cost of losing Aleppo city to the regime? We saw likewise how Ahraar Shaam declared an all out war against Jund Al-Aqsa, without any differentiation, while a campaign was ongoing against the regime in rural Hamaa and preparations were made to break the siege on Aleppo. This sabotaged both campaigns in Hamaa and Aleppo while losing against Jund Al-Aqsa.
We should not seek legitimacy to fight and kill other groups in internal power struggles like some unfortunately do as they label their opponents Khawarij or Sahawaat. There is a difference between seeking internal confrontations and surrendering yourself to Allah and His preordination. Abu Bakr Sadiq would have much rather liked to fight the Persians but Allah preordained the fight against the apostates. Ali ibn Abu Talib likewise would have much rather liked to fight the Romans but Allah preordained the fight against the Khawarij.
Moreover, Ali ibn Abu Talib was even forced to clash with the senior companions in an internal conflict during the Battle of Al-Jammal and the Battle of Siffin. Everyone who has been following the Jihaad in Syria closely witnessed how no one was more destructive for the Jihaad than the Khawarij. Even the hypocrites and the corrupting influence of the local tyrants were not as destructive as the reckless extremism of the Khawarij. This teaches us that we can not neglect the confrontation against the Khawarij, we must neutralize their deviance and corruption which spreads like an aggressive cancer. Even if we dislike this confrontation, as we are not the ones who decide against which enemies and in which battles we fight.
The Mujahideen have tried to avoid any confrontation but they could no longer stand by and watch Liwa Al-Aqsa transgress against the Mujahideen and Muslim civilians. They attacked Kafr Zaytan and cut the road of the Mujahideen in rural Hamaa to their guarding positions against the regime. They set up checkpoint which prevent the Mujahideen from traveling, and they expelled the Mujahideen from Khan Shaykhun, Morek and Al-Tamaniat. There were more than a hundred incidents of corpses of Mujahideen and civilians laying around daily on the streets in the territories they captured without knowing the reasons for their deaths.
It also became obvious that Liwa Al-Aqsa was affiliated with ISIS similar to Jaysh Khalid ibn Walid (Liwa Shuhada Al-Yarmouk and Harakat Al-Muthannah) in Al-Qunaitira, and they made Takfir on most the factions in Syria, among them Ahraar Shaam, Harakat NudineZinki, Jaysh Sunnah, and even the leader of Tahrir Shaam, Shaykh Abu Jabir. They also refused any independent Sharia court to resolve their disputes with the factions they attacked in their bases and guarding position in rural Hamaa. Rather they insisted on sending suicide bombers against Tahrir Shaam provoking further infighting. They even kidnapped dozens of Mujahideen who were guarding the fronts against the regime and killed them with their handcuffs still on. As they massacred more then 150 prisoners in Khan Shaykhun, most of them were Mujahideen from Jaysh Al-Nasr, who fought alongside Jund Al-Aqsa against the regime. Is this how you repay your Muslims brothers? So we can not stand by and watch them commit such wicked cruelties and crimes, even if we dislike a confrontation with them.
However the infights in Syria are not restricted to the factions that are associated or affiliated with Salafi Jihadism, there have been infights between and against factions who are not classified as such. Furthermore, the conflict with Liwa Al-Aqsa actually proves that the approach of the Jihadi current is successful. If we look at the difference between the factions who embrace the tolerance of the Jihadi current and the factions who show intolerance based on their partisanship in dealing with the corrupt and extremist factions for example, then we will see that the Jihadi current proved itself successful. Look at how Jabhat Nusra was successful in foiling the corruption of the Hazm Movement and other corrupt factions with minimum losses from both sides. While the reckless infighting and Takfir by ISIS only caused turmoil, death and destruction without foiling any corrupt projects in Syria; on the contrary.
Look at how Jabhat Fath Shaam dissolved Jaysh Al-Mujahideen with minimum losses from both sides. While the reckless infighting by Jaysh Al-Islam only caused turmoil and death without achieving any goals –when they sought to impose their authority on Jaysh Al-Fustaat and Faylaq Rahmaan in Al-Ghoutah. And look at the patience and wisdom of Jabhat Fath Shaam followed by Tahrir Shaam in dealing with the extremism of Jund Al-Aqsa and Liwa Al-Aqsa, as they successfully neutralized their harm, combining Dawah and Jihaad, with limited losses and harms. While the all out war declared by Ahraar Shaam to eradicate Jund Al-Aqsa, fueled by bigotry, did not achieve anything except the death and imprisonment of many from Ahraar Shaam, as many of their members left Jihaad all together, in addition to much of rural Hamaa falling to the regime while breaking the siege on Aleppo became impossible. If it wasn’t for Jabhat Fath Shaam who intervened and stopped the infighting between Ahraar Shaam and Jund Al-Aqsa the losses and harms would have been disastrous.
Misplaced partisanship and intolerance blinds us from using wisdom and patience. The Jihadi current seeks to overcome this intolerant partisanship which isolates us and hinders unity and cooperation with other groups. Jabhat Nusra, Jabhat Fath Shaam and Tahrir Shaam successfully neutralized the extremism of Jund Al-Aqsa and Liwa Al-Aqsa because of their patience and tolerance. For four years they have cooperated with them against the regime, and when this became impossible, they extracted and absorbed the truthful from Jund Al-Aqsa, leaving the hardcore extremists form the weak and unstable branch Liwa Al-Aqsa. They then balanced between debates and negotiations in combination with armed intervention. They succeeded in fragmenting Liwa Al-Aqsa until they eventually withdrew from the liberated territories to ISIS held territory. Tahrir Shaam did not have the goal of eradicating Liwa Al-Aqsa, rather their aim was to neutralize their harm and dissolve their presence. Unlike the overblown declaration of all out war to eradicate Jund Al-Aqsa at the height of their power.
Such biased declarations of war rather only provoke extremism, the same way extremism provokes prejudice. Ahraar Shaam insisted on labelling everyone in Jund Al-Aqsa as Khawarij without differentiation, knowing that we can not put all of their members under the same umbrella. Intolerant partisanship and politically influenced verdicts didn’t allow Ahraar Shaam to balance between the harms and benefits, causing more harm than good. They used extremism as a political playing card, forming symbolic alliances against Jund Al-Aqsa on Twitter and Facebook with no reality on the ground. While Tahrir Shaam merged successfully against the rogue branch Liwa Al-Aqsa. We have to deal with various people whether we like it or not, we can not reject others and isolate ourselves from everyone while closing our eyes for reality. Allah tests our patience and perseverance with deviant and corrupt people, and many of them are from our own ranks. As the Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said: “The believer who mixes with people and patiently bears their harm has a greater reward than the believer who does not mix with people and does not patiently bear their harm.”
Although the Jihadi current is especially relevant to global Jihadism, everything indicates that the factions in Syria who embraced the tolerance of the Jihadi current will outlast the others. The Jihadi current doesn’t exclude Salafi Jihadism but it isn’t exclusive to Salafi Jihadism. When we talk about Salafism here we are talking about the contemporary Najdi movement and school of thought, while all Sunni Muslims are essentially Salafi because they follow the Salaf (the pious predecessors). With that being said, Jihaad encompasses various schools of thought and methodologies, we can not restrict it to Salafi Jihadism, this would be unfair to the numerous Muslims from other schools of thought and methodologies who are also waging Jihaad today throughout the Muslim world. This is why I prefer the call to the Jihadi current (Al-Tiyaar Al-Jihaadi) in general rather than the restricted Salafi Jihadism. The restriction to Salafi Jihadism tends to keep us within the realm of theory, while this is exactly the hindering boundary which we seek to break with a global Jihaad encompassing the overall Ummah.
If we look at the Jihadi movements in the eighties and nineties we will see a sharp contrast which is fading away gradually after the coalition-wars that followed 9-11 and the popular movements in the Arab Spring. In the past we saw that the overall population of Afghanistan and Algeria for example carried weapons against the global and local enemies while the amount of Mujahideen in elitist Jihadi groups in Libya, Egypt and Syria were very limited. This distinction is fading away as Jihaad is becoming a people’s movement encompassing and uniting between various schools of thought and various methodologies. Calling towards Salafi Jihadism restricts this unity. Many Salafi theorists in the past were of the opinion that we could not fight against our enemies, all be it defensively against the transgressing enemies, before the Muslims correct and purify their doctrines and methodologies. The Jihadi current however does not restrict this unity and its theorists do not set such preconditions for a defensive Jihaad. We must understand that the Muslims being tortured in the tyrant prisons, who are waiting for our aid, do not really care which school of thought or methodology the Mujahideen have. It does not matter if it is an Ash’ari, Maturidi or Salafi who will free them.
I share the opinion of Shaykh Abu Musab Suri in this regard. The Jihaad in Afghanistan, Algeria, Bosnia and Chechnya was not exclusively fought by Salafi Jihadists, the same goes the Jihaad of the Mamluks against the Tartars, it was fought by a lot of deviant Muslims, and the Jihaad of the Abbasids against the Romans was fought with the Mutazillah sect who made statements of Kufr, etc. Like Shaykh Abu Musab Suri said maybe only 95 years of the more than 1430 years was fought under “a pure Salafi banner” so we should we say about the rest of all these years then? Furthermore, many contemporary wars did not even end with the establishment of an Islamic State. Do we say that all of these wars are not considered Jihaad as they were led and fought by Muslims with deviancy in their doctrine and methodology? And do we say that it was not Jihaad as they did not (aim to) establish any Islamic State?
Fighting for the establishment of the Sharia and an Islamic State is one of the biggest goals of waging Jihaad, but it is not the only goal. Warding off the aggression of the enemies and their oppression, while protecting the Ummah, is also one the goals of waging Jihaad. The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said that anyone who fought and died while warding off oppression, or defended his religion, or his honor, or his life and wealth dies as a martyr. Shaykh Abdullah Azzam even said that the one who died while defending a Christian woman from getting raped dies as a martyr. So imagine if it was a Muslim woman crying for help?
If a Muslim, regardless of his school of thought or methodology, carried arms in Syria to defend the thousands of Muslim women being raped and tortured in the dungeons of the regime, without having any aspirations in regards to the establishment of an Islamic State or the implementation of the Sharia, then this would be welcomed and praised. As this is one of the goals of our Jihaad. The Prophet (SalAllahu Alayhi wa Selam) said “Do not belittle any good deed, even meeting your brother with a cheerful face.” So every deed which contributes to our cause, all be partially and limited, is welcome and praised. We can not ignore or belittle the efforts of the volunteers from the Syrian Civil Defense team from example, despite the fact that they do not partake in actual fighting against the regime, and despite the fact that they receive US funds. The same goes for Muslim doctors, nurses and aid workers in Syria.
The Caliph Al-Mutasim forced scholars to utter the statement of Kufr that the Quran was created instead of being the Speech of Allah, he killed and tortured many scholars including the famous Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal. However when he launched an offensive military campaign against the Romans in Amorium, a man came complaining to Ahmad ibn Hanbal saying that he will not fight with Al-Mutasim because of his deviancy. What did Ahmad ibn Hanbal say? He said “And what will the Romans do when we leave Jihaad with the Abasids?”
Consider that this was an offensive battle while we are fighting a defensive war against the enemies that have gathered against this Ummah. If we insist on fighting our enemies under an exclusive Salafi banner, and refuse to fight if we do not find such a banner, then what will our enemies (the Rawafid, the Russians, the Zionists, the Americans, etc) do if they gain the upper hand over the Ummah? This is a war for existence, after securing our existence we can purify the deviancy in our Ummah with Dawah and wisdom. Many Muslim countries are drenched in innovations and deviancy, if we refuse to fight alongside these Muslims we will not be able to wage a defensive Jihaad against the enemies of the Ummah in many Muslim countries.
Calling towards Salafi Jihadism is an isolating call while calling towards the Jihadi current is a unifying call. Salafi Jihadism simply does not appeal to the overall general Muslim masses. We can not fight alongside the Ash’aris or Maturidis for example if Salafi Jihadism restricts our struggle by setting conditions to the doctrine and methodology of Muslims for a defensive Jihaad. More than 20 million people in Afghanistan are from the Hanafi school of thought and more than 400 million people in Central Asia are Maturidis and Ash’aris, rather the overall majority of Muslims stem from the Ash’ari theology. Restricting our struggle to Salafi Jihadism will not mobilize the Ummah. It was the Ash’aris who repelled the First and Second Crusade, while the scholars and leaders who adopted the Salafi doctrine in the Arabian Peninsula invited the Crusader Americans in the holy lands of Islam. This is what Muslims see. Yes, their Islamic doctrine was theoretically correct, but it did not benefit the Muslim Ummah against its enemies, rather it empowered their enemies. Contrary to the Muslims in Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya with different schools of thought, movements, doctrines and methodologies.
It is a true waste if we did not benefit from the religious zeal and pride of this Ummah, from the various schools of thoughts and movements, by restricting our struggle exclusively to Salafi Jihadism we set unnecessary conditions which hinder our shared defensive struggle. If we look at Syria then we will see that most of the factions do not even disagree over issues of religious doctrine, rather most of their differences are based on jurisprudential issues, strategies, tactics and politics. So if this alone is preventing us from unity then imagine how long the road is if we want to unite the whole Ummah in one shared struggle despite the different doctrines and methodologies. The approach of Al-Qaedah was very successful in achieving this difficult task, as they united different parts of the Ummah in one prioritized war against the US coalition and their tyrant puppet regimes. Mobilizing the overall Ummah against its enemies will obviously not be possible if we restrict our call to Salafi Jihadism.
We see that the Mujahideen in Mali, Tunisia and Algeria for example address the people with texts from the Maliki school of thought, because this is the dominating school of thought throughout Northern Africa. They do not approach the local peoples in these regions with statements from Shaykh Muhammad ibn Adbul Wahaab or Shaykh Al-Islam ibn Taymiyah. Why should we use their statements, knowing that the local people do not value Salafi scholars that much, if we can reach the exact same goals with similar statements from their own Islamic school of thought? Like Ali ibn Abu Talib said “Speak to the people according to their level of understanding, or do you want Allah and His Messenger to be rejected?”
We have to choose between a popular mass movement with mistakes and misinterpretations in the doctrines and methodologies of Muslims, or we isolate ourselves and insist on waging an elitist Jihaad. The Jihadi current wants to mobilize the whole Ummah against the enemies of Islam, while Salafi Jihadism insists on waging an elitist isolated Jihaad, much like ISIS for example. We can not wait for the whole Ummah to adopt the teachings of Shaykh Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahaab before we can wage Jihaad. Most of the Muslims in Algeria who fought against the tyrant regime in the 90’s did not make Takfir on those in government, they were simply convinced that this is a corrupt puppet regime which needs to be fought with arms since peaceful means did not bring about any chance; on the contrary the regime grew more aggressive. Salafi Jihadism however tends to set the condition that Muslims must make Takfir on the tyrant regimes before they can really fight against these regimes and before we can fight alongside them against these regimes. This is obviously counter productive if the people are already willing to fight the tyrant regimes without actually making Takfir on them.
However we should not stop raising awareness about our actuality and the nature of our struggle and continue removing misconceptions about nationalism, secularism, the implementation of the Sharia, the Sykes-Picot borders, neo-colonialism, etc. The Islamist parties know very well how to address and draw the general masses. The Islamic Salvation Front for example mobilized millions of people in Algeria in just two to three years. However popular support with an unstable and incorrect methodology is bound to fail, like we saw with the Islamist parties who only use peaceful means as they participate in democratic elections.
Although a correct doctrine and methodology is also bound to fail if it is lacking a grounded understanding of our actuality and an understanding of the nature of the conflict and our struggle, like we saw with the official Salafi scholars of Saudi-Arabia. While a correct doctrine and methodology with a correct understanding of the actuality and a correct understanding of the nature of the conflict and our struggle, is also fruitless if it is lacking popular support, like we saw with the Salafi Jihadi movements in the especially the eighties and nineties. Finally, a correct doctrine and methodology with a correct understanding of the actuality and a correct understanding of the nature of the conflict and our struggle, which does have popular support, but lacks the call towards action in the form of armed resistance against the tyrant regimes, is also a formula for failure like we saw with the movements of Shaykh Muhammad Suroor or Shaykh Safar Al-Hawali and the Sahwa movement in general.
So we have to combine between all of these disciplines in addition to military preparation, strength and organization. Like Shaykh Abdullah Azzam said, take from the Tabligh their manners, and take from the Ikwan their organizational experience, and take from the Salafis their theological doctrine. Collect the pieces of truth and goodness from people and perfect it. This is the methodology of the Jihadi current in a nutshell as they outline a global Jihad.”