Wednesday, 23 March 2011

EXCELLENT: How Eretical is al-Qaeda? Some Light at the End of the Tunnel, or Just Some Internal Quarrel? Part II

But the aim is still the same: Jihad, the killing of Infidels because of the necessary spread of Islam

Continues from Part I

An In-Depth Summary of Sayyid Imam's New Polemic against Al-Qaeda, 'Exposing the Exoneration' By: Daniel Lav * (February 23, 2009)

Chapter 3: Al-Zawahiri's Strategy of Deception
In this chapter, Sayyid Imam accuses Ayman Al-Zawahiri of employing a strategy of deception throughout the Exoneration, both in general and in Islamic legal matters. Many of these are relatively minor matters dealt with elsewhere in Exposing the Exoneration, the Document, and Imam's Al-Hayat interview, and may be passed over. Following are some of the major points:

First, Imam writes that Al-Zawahiri throws out different opinions in Islamic legal matters, leaving the reader with the impression that it is permissible to follow any one of them. For instance, Al-Zawahiri cites some scholars who permit violating an agreement with infidels in order to justify the 9/11 attacks, despite the attackers having entered the U.S. with a visa. [22] Imam writes: "When there are disputing opinions, Allah, may He be praised, commanded us not to [arbitrarily] choose one of them, but rather to refer them to the Quran and the Sunna; the opinion that is in agreement with them is the true one, and the opinion that conflicts with them is the false one. This is what is called tarjih. Allah said (Quran 4:59): 'when you have a dispute in a matter, refer it to Allah and the Prophet, if you believe in Allah and in Judgment Day.'" He cites Ibn Taymiyya and other scholars who says that the 'ulama are unanimous in forbidding the adoption of a legal opinion without tarjih, and that to do so is a great sin.

Imam also addresses Al-Zawahiri's claim that the Document only has criticism for the mujahideen and that it "ignores the true criminals: the Americans and their helpers." [23] He points out that the Document does in fact address the issue; but more interesting is the fact that Imam takes this opportunity to expound on the principle that "the crimes of the infidel do not justify passing over the wrong [committed by] the Muslim in silence." Imam bases this principle on the circumstances of the revelation of Quran 2:217. According to tradition, Muhammad, after he and his followers emigrated to Medina, sent a party of Muslims to the area of Mecca to gather intelligence on the Quraysh tribe. They ran into a caravan of Quraysh and killed one of them during the sacred month in which fighting is forbidden. Verse 2:217 was then revealed to Muhammad: it calls fighting in the forbidden month a great sin, and the sins of the infidels even greater. Sayyid Imam's point is that even though the verse says the infidels' sins are worse, it does not pass over the sins of the Muslims in silence, and traditions relate that Muhammad paid blood money, indicating that this was indeed a wrongful killing. Imam then writes that this principle provides the answer to Al-Zawahiri's attempt to deflect criticism by saying that it is Al-Qaeda who is fighting the Americans, and that their crimes are greater. Imam adds: "From the preceding you learn why Al-Zawahiri asked so much in the Exoneration about the crimes of America and Israel, and made a show of his great interest in the Palestinian cause. This was meant as a sort of justification for [Al-Qaeda's] criminal school of belief. He doesn't want anyone to criticize them so long as crimes are committed by America and Israel… By doing this, he is deceiving people…" [24]

Sayyid Imam then adds insult to injury by comparing Al-Zawahiri to Gamal 'Abd Al-Nasser. (Salafi jihadists consider pan-Arabism heresy and 'Abd Al-Nasser an apostate.) He notes that 'Abd Al-Nasser tried to quell dissent following the defeat in the 1967 war with the slogan "No voice should rise above the din of battle," and says that Al-Qaeda is now employing the same excuse. But even the premise is not valid: far from defending the Muslims, Al-Qaeda drew the U.S. into Iraq for its own purposes, and then killed more Iraqis than the Americans did.

Imam then addresses in detail the actions of Al-Qaeda in Iraq: "bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and their followers bear the responsibility for every drop of blood that has been and will be spilled in Afghanistan and Iraq… The killing of the people of Iraq, in mosques, markets, and at funeral processions, and the blowing up of their houses, like the Jews blow up the houses of some Palestinians - is this jihad for the sake of Allah or foiling America's plans?... Was it not Al-Qaeda that lit the fuse of sectarian civil war in Iraq, through [the actions of] Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi, who killed the Shi'ites en masse? The Sunnis paid the price for this, in people killed, exiled, and driven out of their homes

"The Prophet told us of 'the sect made victorious' (al-ta'ifa al-mansura) that would champion Islam and the Muslims. In our days, there is the 'insane sect' (al-ta'ifa al-majnuna), which brings disasters on the Muslims and destroys countries and societies. Can the mentality that caused the loss of an Islamic state that existed in reality, in the Taliban's Afghanistan - can this mentality be expected to establish an Islamic state in Iraq - in reality, and not on the internet? And have the Islamic peoples become guinea pigs upon whom bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri try out their pastime and sport of killing en masse?..."

Another interesting subject is only briefly alluded to here; Sayyid Imam asks rhetorically whether Iraq was the Abode of Islam before the American invasion - a question no jihadist would answer in the affirmative. The implication is clear - that Al-Qaeda is interested only in fighting America, and not in establishing Islamic rule wherever it is absent.

Al-Qaeda Exploits the Palestinian Cause
Imam then accuses Al-Qaeda of exploiting the Palestinian cause for their own purposes. He writes that it is well known that the quickest way to gain popularity among the Arabs and Muslims is to focus on the Palestinian cause, and that Al-Zawahiri himself outlined this strategy in his book Knights Under the Prophet's Banner. According to Imam, though, Al-Qaeda has done nothing for the Palestinians other than make a verbal appeal to the Bedouin of Sinai to wage jihad. "In order to gain popularity, bin Laden often talks about the children of Palestine and their safety. But what about the children of Afghanistan, upon whom he brought the Americans, destruction, orphanhood, and displacement? Are they not all Muslims?" Imam writes that fighting against the Jews is not really among bin Laden's priorities, since he is focused on America, and that the talk of Palestine is solely for propaganda purposes.

He also writes that Al-Qaeda's failure to establish cooperation with any of the Palestinian factions is because the latter have nothing to gain from such a partnership, and not, as Al-Zawahiri claims, because of reservations Al-Qaeda has with regard to them. Imam writes, for instance: "Al-Zawahiri criticized Hamas for participating in elections on the basis of a secular constitution. But why [criticize] just Hamas? Why doesn't Al-Zawahiri criticize his sacred sheikh, bin Laden? Bin Laden spent enormous sums supporting Nawaz Sharif against Benazir Bhutto in the parliamentary elections in Pakistan - and these were funds for the jihad he had been given by the Saudis. When I learned of this in 1992, I said to Abu Hafs Al-Masri, who was the one who paid the funds to Nawaz Sharif: 'Abu Hafs, by Allah, bin Laden is leading you straight to hell.'" [25]

Imam: Peace Treaties with Israel Are Permissible
In a digression, Sayyid Imam explains his own position on Palestine and Israel, which is noteworthy in its own right. First, he says that the Palestinian cause is not the central issue confronting the Arabs and the Muslims; the most important matter is the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate. He then addresses bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri's position that recognition of Israel and signing a peace accord with it are forbidden; while peace accords with infidels are permitted, they argued that Israel is not a fixed infidel country, but rather an enemy occupying Muslim land. [26]

Regarding the issue of recognition, Imam writes that this term is a Western invention, and does not have any grounding in the shari'a on which it could be opposed. Whether there is a distinction between a fixed infidel country and an occupier of Muslim lands is also a matter of dispute in Muslim law. The general principle, according to Imam, is that the texts permitting peace accords are not restricted, and thus it is always permitted to sign such an accord with any infidel anywhere if this serves the interests of the Muslims. To illustrate this point, he notes that Salah Al-Din Al-Ayyubi (Saladin) concluded a number of treaties with the Crusaders.

That said, Imam writes that jihad against Israel remains obligatory; while this jihad has no chance of success, it inflicts damage on the enemy, and prevents further deterioration in the situation. [27]

Al-Qaeda Has Had Dealings with Apostate Regimes
Sayyid Imam then responds to Al-Zawahiri's accusation that the Document avoided discussing the rulers of Muslim countries, whom jihadists consider apostates who must be fought. Al-Zawahiri is in the right here: while the discerning reader can deduce from the Document that Imam does still consider the rulers apostates, there is no direct statement to this effect, in stark contrast with Imam's earlier writings. [28] Since there is little Imam can say to directly parry this accusation, he instead goes on the offensive and depicts Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden as being inconsistent on this issue themselves.

First, he writes that Al-Zawahiri's brother Muhammad, who is in prison together with Imam, told the security services in Egypt that he held the ruler (i.e. Mubarak) to be a Muslim (and not an apostate), and that after saying this he began to receive privileges. [29] In addition, Imam claims that Muhammad Al-Zawahiri made a secret attempt to reach an accord with the Egyptian authorities in June 2007. Second, Imam writes that bin Laden only began to declare the Saudi rulers apostates after they revoked his citizenship and his passport in 1994; the implication here is that bin Laden acted for personal reasons, and not for the reasons bin Laden himself gives, e.g. the hosting of non-Muslim troops in the Arabian Peninsula. Imam claims that in 1996, when the Sudanese decided to expel bin Laden, he wrote a letter of apology to the Saudi rulers and asked to return, but was refused. Imam also mentions bin Laden's cooperation with Pakistani intelligence agencies, and he repeats his accusation about bin Laden's involvement in Pakistani elections. [30]

Chapter 4: On Al-Zawahiri's History and His Relationship to Bin Laden
Sayyid Imam writes: "Al-Zawahiri, in his book Knights under the Prophet's Banner, explains that he became close to Al-Qaeda in order to unite the efforts of the Muslims. This is incorrect. Bin Laden was around him for 14 years, from 1987 to 2001, and he didn't unite with him during this time. To the contrary, he harshly criticized him, to the point of accusing him of being an agent of Saudi intelligence, simply because [bin Laden] withheld donations from them in 1995. Al-Zawahiri wrote an article in their [Egyptian Jihad's] journal Kalimat Haqq with the title 'The Youth Sacrificed their Lives and the Wealthy Were Stingy with their Money.'

"The Jihad group didn't join Al-Qaeda, only Al-Zawahiri and eight others did; and the reason was not to unify the jihad but rather, as I have mentioned, because Al-Zawahiri saw that all the attention, money, and fame were bin Laden's, since the announcement of the [Global] Front in 1998, and Al-Zawahiri knew that he would not get any of this just by being allied with bin Laden, and that he had to be a follower of him.

"Bin Laden knew well that when Al-Zawahiri joined him, this was the joining of someone who was impotent and had reached a dead end, and who hadn't succeeded in anything. [Bin Laden] didn't entrust him with any activity, and Al-Zawahiri didn't have anything to give bin Laden - whether in the field of the shari'a, militarily, politically, or financially - except his name. So bin Laden, in turn, humored him in name only, and changed the name 'Al-Qaeda' to 'Qaedat Al-Jihad' - and this is the name Al-Zawahiri is eager to emphasize. By the same token, bin Laden didn't brief Al-Zawahiri on the events of 9/11 before they occurred, and he didn't allow anyone but himself to appear in the media.

"After joining Al-Qaeda, Al-Zawahiri lived alone in the shadows. He used to frequent the office of Al-Qaeda's Media Division in Qandahar to participate in some of their activities under the leadership of Khaled Sheikh Muhammad.

"Then came his golden opportunity to realize his life's dream and his desire for fame and stardom; the events of 9/11 came to Al-Zawahiri on a golden platter [to help him] realize his desires. These were momentous events from which he could derive great media benefits. Even if he had no part in them, they were committed by an organization he had joined three months earlier."

According to Imam, this personal investment in the 9/11 attacks is what led Al-Zawahiri to explain away all of the shari'a problems with the attacks, to brand anyone who opposed them as serving the interests of the Zionist-American alliance, and to refuse to take responsibility for destroying the Islamic state in Afghanistan.

Sayyid Imam then accuses Al-Zawahiri of "
sanctifying" bin Laden "as though, after the Prophet, [another] infallible person had emerged." He continues: "The strange thing is that Al-Zawahiri, all his life, criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, and then became a follower of one of them - bin Laden" He proposes three reasons for Al-Zawahiri's behavior:

1. It was bin Laden, through the 9/11 attacks, who finally offered Al-Zawahiri the opportunity to achieve fame;
2. Al-Zawahiri wants to succeed bin Laden after his death and inherit the "Al-Qaeda" brand. Since (according to Imam) the vast majority of Al-Qaeda members are Saudis or Yemenis whose attachment to bin Laden is personal rather than ideational, Al-Zawahiri feels he has to sanctify bin Laden in order to win their loyalty. (For his part, Imam estimates that it is very unlikely that Al-Zawahiri could succeed in winning the loyalty of the Saudis and Yemenis);
3. Al-Qaeda's funding was overwhelmingly Saudi and went to bin Laden directly, and Al-Zawahiri wants to ensure that at least some of this funding continues in the event that he manages to succeed bin Laden.

Imam then turns to recap all of Al-Zawahiri's misdeeds on the way to achieving his goal of fame. He testified against his fellow Egyptian Islamists in 1981, sold them off to Sudanese intelligence in 1993, and destroyed the Egyptian Jihad by joining the Global Front in 1998 (i.e., by doing so he led the Americans to begin extraordinary renditions of Egyptian Jihad members). He and bin Laden never thought to apologize for destroying Afghanistan, "as though the Afghans were worthless insects." In all the years they received protection from Sudan and Afghanistan, and despite all the money they had, "they never built a single road, school, or hospital - at a time when hundreds of Afghan children were dying of hunger and cold." Al-Qaeda entered Iraq by the offices of the Kurdish Ansar Al-Islam group, and then turned their backs on Ansar Al-Islam and started acting independently. (Imam seems to take this as a personal offense, since he adds that the head of Ansar Al-Islam, Mullah Krekar, translated Imam's book The Essentials of Making Ready for Jihad into Kurdish). Finally, Al-Zawahiri falsified religion in order to justify the 9/11 attacks.

Sayyid Imam concludes the section with the words: "Oh Muslims: jihad for the sake of Allah is right, but don't allow these people [i.e. Al-Qaeda] and their ilk to traffic in this noble cause. They push the youth to extreme sacrifices, and visit heavy calamities on Islam and the Muslims - while at the same time they are as concerned as can be for their personal safety and advantage - [all this] without achieving the least benefit for Islam and the Muslims…" [31]

Al-Qaeda Are Like the Anti-Christ; Bin Laden Can't Read a Book from Cover to Cover
The final installment of Exposing the Exoneration consists almost entirely of ground already covered, but Imam does add a few points regarding Al-Qaeda's veneer of religiosity. He draws an implicit comparison between Al-Qaeda and the Dajjal (the antichrist), and cites the following eschatological hadith: "The Dajjal will not operate clandestinely. He will come from the East and will call people to religion, and people will follow him. He will continue this way until he reaches Kufa [in Iraq], where he will make a show of religiosity, and will act in accordance with religion. People will follow him, and he will urge people [to follow religion]. Then he will claim to be a prophet. This will alarm all sensible people, and they will part ways with him. After a time, he will say 'I am Allah'. One of his eyes will be blind, one of his ears will be cut off, and between his eyes will be written 'kafir.' This will be apparent to any Muslim, and anyone with even a mustard-seed of faith in his heart will part ways with him." Imam then adds examples of others who started out as champions of religion and ended up perverting it or opposing it, and calls on people not to be taken in by Al-Qaeda's talk of religion and jihad.

Another passage is meant to further demonstrate the point that Al-Qaeda's attachment to Islam is superficial and instrumental. Imam relates that "in 1994 in Sudan there was a subject bin Laden was interested in. I suggested he read a certain book on the matter. He told me: 'I'm not capable of reading an entire book to the end.' As for his speeches, his followers write them for him."

Imam emphasizes that instead of following the slogans of Al-Qaeda one should follow the 'ulama, since they are the legitimate authority in an age when there is no Caliph. He states that it was this concern that led him to write his earlier work, The Compendium on Religious Study. [32] In fact, it is this issue that Imam sees as the heart of his dispute with Al-Qaeda.

Daniel Lav is Director of MEMRI's Middle East and North Africa Reform Project

[1] Interview with Al-Hayat (Saudi Arabia), December 9, 2007.
[2] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1785, "Major Jihadi Cleric and Author of Al-Qaeda's Shari'a Guide to Jihad…" December 14, 2007, ; and:
MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1826, "Major Jihadi Cleric and Author of Al-Qaeda's Shari'a Guide to Jihad Sayyed Imam vs. Al-Qaeda (2)…" January 25, 2008,
[3] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 18, 2008.
[4] This verse has served as one of Sayyid Imam's main justifications for takfir throughout the years; cf. Al-'Umda fi i'dad al-'udda p. 297, where he uses it to show that those who deny the doctrine of offensive jihad are unbelievers.
[5] This Ahmad Al-Jaza'iri is mentioned by Yusuf Al-'Uyayri, the founder of Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula; according to Al-'Uyayri, Al-Jaza'iri was head of a small but prominent radical group in Peshawar that pronounced takfir against Muslim scholars, but did not participate in the jihad, on the grounds that it was not permitted to fight alongside the Taliban. Risala maftuha li-fadilat al-sheikh Safar al-Hawali, p. 22. Since Al-'Uyayri was an Al-Qaeda supporter, it is possible that his representation of Al-Jaza'iri's position is overly general, and that he only pronounced takfir against scholars affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and not "Muslim scholars" in general. This would be in accordance with Sayyid Imam's characterization of him. It should also be mentioned that Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, whom Imam names as Al-Jaza'iri's teacher, refrains on principle from pronouncing takfir against Muslims scholars; Al-Maqdisi, Imta' al-nazr fi kashf shubuhat murji'at al-'asr, p. 70, ft. 52 cont.
[6] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 19, 2008.
[7] Cf. Document of Right Guidance in Al-Jarida (Kuwait), November 25, 2007, where Imam explains that the human shield argument does not hold for attacks in America because such attacks are considered an offensive jihad (jihad al-talab). This distinction also explains Imam's position in the Document of Right Guidance requiring parental permission to wage jihad. He first states this in the absolute, and then specifies that parental permission is definitely required in offensive jihad, and that some scholars require it in defensive jihad under certain conditions. Al-Jarida (Kuwait), November 21, 2007. (Imam uses the terms jihad kifa'i, i.e. jihad that is incumbent on the Muslim community as a whole, and jihad 'ayni, i.e. jihad that is incumbent on each Muslim as an individual. These are the forms of obligation in offensive and defensive jihad, respectively.)
A number of critics, including Al-Zawahiri and Al-Maqdisi, wrote that Imam's position on parental permission was an elementary mistake in jurisprudence. Al-Zawahiri claims that the unanimous view is that parental permission is not required in defensive jihad, and expresses astonishment that Imam does not even mention this view explicitly, writing that this is the "nadir of the author's downfall in religious knowledge." Exoneration, pp. 72-73. Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi writes that requiring parental permission (in absolute terms) without distinguishing between offensive and defensive jihad is an egregious mistake, since the fact that it is not required in defensive jihad "is known [even] to beginning students." Al-Maqdisi concludes from this that this and other parts of the Document of Right Guidance were not in fact authored by Sayyid Imam. Su'al hawla ma nusiba ila al-shaykh sayyid imam min taraju'at, Ramadan 1429 (September 2008).
These critics, however, were arguing at cross-purposes: for Imam, jihad against America is offensive jihad. Even his stance on fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan is nuanced: he supports fighting, but believes that the balance of forces precludes hope of victory. This consideration may be enough to demote these arenas from the category of classic defensive jihad.
[8] Exoneration, p. 167. (Imam is apparently working from a different version of the Exoneration, and gives the page number as 193. The page numbers here correspond to the standard edition posted on jihadi websites.)
[9] Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu'at al-fatawa, 3/267.
[10] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 21, 2008.
[11] Cf. Ella Landau-Tasseron, "'Noncombatants' in Muslim Legal Thought," Hudson Institute Research Monographs on the Muslim World, 1/3, December 2006,
[12] For more on the human shield cf. MEMRI Special Report No. 40, "Expatriate Syrian Salafi Sheikh Abu Basir Al-Tartusi Comes Out against Suicide Attacks," February 10, 2006,
[13] Al-Jarida (Kuwait), November 25, 2007.
[14] More specifically, Imam argues that Al-Qaeda are ignorant of a rule of jurisprudence that governs how to reconcile conflicting laws. This is that the more general law is restricted by the more specific one. In this case, the principle of retaliation in kind is general, whereas the categories of people one is not allowed to kill is specific. Thus one should retaliate in kind, except where doing so would involve killing those one is not allowed to kill. Cf. Ibn Taymiyya, Majmu'at al-fatawa, 21/262.
[15] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 22, 2008.
[16] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 1785, "Major Jihadi Cleric…" December 14, 2007,
[17] Exoneration, p. 85ff.
[18] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 23, 2008.
[19] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 24, 2008.
[20] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 25, 2008.
[21] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 1, 2008.
[22] In the Exoneration, Al-Zawahiri also mentions favorably what he acknowledges is a minority view, that the infidels' guarantee of safety to the Muslim visitor does not automatically entail an obligation on the Muslim's part not to harm the host country. Exoneration, p. 93.
[23] Exoneration, p. 4.
[24] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 25, 2008.
[25] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 27, 2008.
[26] Cf. Bin Laden, Risala ila Ibn Baz bi-butlan fatwahu bi'l-sulh ma'a al-yahud, 1415h.,
[27] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 28, 2008.
[28] Cf. MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 444, "The Party of Jurisprudence vs. The Party of Action: Sayyed Imam, Ayman Al-Zawahiri, and the Split in the Jihad Movement," May 29, 2008,
[29] Imam relates that Muhammad Al-Zawahiri later went back to arguing for jihad against the ruler, but not on the grounds that he is an apostate, but on the grounds that he is a hypocrite (munafiq) - one who outwardly conforms to Islam but denies it in his heart. Imam writes that this is entirely contrary to the shari'a, since only Allah knows who is a munafiq, and from the legal point of view such a person is considered a Muslim against whom it is forbidden to fight. Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 29, 2008.
[30] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), November 29, 2008.
[31] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 1, 2008.
[32] Al-Masri Al-Yawm (Egypt), December 2, 2008.


More on this issue:



EXCELLENT: How Eretical is al-Qaeda? Some Light at the End of the Tunnel, or Just Some Internal Quarrel? Part I

But the aim is still the same: Jihad, the killing of Infidels because of the necessary spread of Islam

An In-Depth Summary of Sayyid Imam's New Polemic against Al-Qaeda, 'Exposing the Exoneration' By: Daniel Lav * (February 23, 2009)


The senior jihadist cleric Sayyid Imam Al-Sharif has recently published a new polemic against Al-Qaeda titled Exposing the Exoneration (Al-Ta'riya li-kitab al-tabri'a). To explain this title we need to review the events that led to the writing of this book.

In late 2007, rumors began circulating that Sayyid Imam, the imprisoned former leader of the Egyptian Jihad group in Pakistan and a former longtime associate of Ayman Al-Zawahiri, was preparing to publish a new book calling to end the jihad against the rulers of Muslim countries and in the West. This book, The Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity in Egypt and the World, was published in serial form between November 18 and December 4, 2007. It laid out, in terms of Islamic law, the arguments for refraining from jihad at the present time, as well as specific criticisms of recent jihadist activities. The underlying theme of these criticisms was that the jihadist movement had strayed from the proper practice of jihad as laid down in Islamic law. More specifically, the argument for refraining from jihad was based on the fact that the jihad groups are today in a state of weakness and have no possibility of waging a successful jihad.

The Document of Right Guidance served also as a formal cease-fire declaration, and was signed by imprisoned members of the Jihad group in Egypt. For this reason, Sayyid Imam wrote it in general terms, and did not name Al-Qaeda specifically as the target of his criticisms; he explained that some of the prisoners were cut off from news from the outside world, and still held Al-Qaeda in high esteem. Since he wanted to gain as much support for the document as possible, he merely laid out his theoretical positions, sidestepping the issue of whether Al-Qaeda was guilty of violating them or not. [1] He did, however, attack Al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and Al-Zawahiri in exceptionally harsh terms in an interview with the Al-Hayat newspaper. [2]

After some initial hesitation, Ayman Al-Zawahiri published a response to Sayyid Imam, in a book called A Treatise Exonerating the Nation of the Pen and the Sword from the Blemish of the Accusation of Weakness and Fatigue (henceforth: the Exoneration). The Exoneration attacked Sayyid Imam on a number of fronts. First, the Exoneration alleges that the Document of Right Guidance was written under duress, and that Imam had been tortured into writing it under the supervision of the CIA and Egyptian intelligence. (For this reason, Al-Zawahiri usually refers to "the author of the Document" rather than specifying Imam as the author.) Second, Al-Zawahiri attempts to refute the legal arguments in the Document of Right Guidance, and most importantly, the argument that "ability" - military, financial, and other - is a precondition for jihad that cannot be met today. Among other topics broached in the Exoneration are: differentiation between soldiers and civilians, retaliation in kind (al-mu'amala bi'l-mithl), whether attacks can be carried out by mujahideen who enter a foreign country with a visa, the argument of the "human shield," and whether a minor requires his parents' permission to fight jihad. It also addresses a range of other topical and historical issues, such as the 9/11 attacks, relations between Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the history of the Egyptian Jihad group, Sayyid Imam's views on 'Abdallah 'Azzam, and Al-Qaeda's position on attacking Shi'ites. Sayyid Imam's new book is meant as a refutation of Al-Zawahiri's Exoneration, which explains its title, Exposing the Exoneration.

In addition to Al-Zawahiri's response, the Document of Right Guidance was denounced by other leading jihadist thinkers as well. The two most important of these were Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, the influential jihadist scholar living in Jordan who was Abu Mus'ab Al-Zarqawi's mentor; and Abu Basir Al-Tartusi, an expatriate Syrian jihadist scholar. Both Al-Maqdisi and Al-Tartusi have themselves expressed criticism of some of Al-Qaeda's tactics, especially in Iraq, but their statements have always been couched in the language of constructive criticism, and they have stopped well short of calling for a moratorium on jihad.

In essence, the founding figures of the jihadist movement today fall into three camps. 1) Al-Qaeda and its unconditional supporters; 2) jihadist scholars who are supportive of the global jihad, but critical of specific tactics and practices (e.g. Al-Maqdisi and Al-Tartusi); and 3) those who support jihad in theory, but are highly critical of Al-Qaeda and believe that most jihad operations should be stopped at present due to various contingencies (e.g. Sayyid Imam).

Exposing the Exoneration recycles many arguments already made by Imam in the Document of Right Guidance and in the Al-Hayat interview. However, since the Document avoided criticizing Al-Qaeda by name, this is in essence the first time that Imam has outlined a comprehensive criticism of Al-Qaeda per se in a written document. In addition, the language used in Exposing the Exoneration is even harsher than that used by Imam in the past. He repeatedly insinuates that Al-Zawahiri and bin Laden are apostates, and he compares them to the Dajjal (the antichrist).

Exposing the Exoneration consists of four chapters. The first attempts to demonstrate that Al-Zawahiri is a chronic liar; the second attempts to demonstrate that Al-Qaeda has founded a heretical school of jurisprudence whose entire purpose is to justify its actions; the third deals with various and sundry problems Imam has with Al-Zawahiri's Exoneration; and the fourth discusses Al-Zawahiri's personal history and his relationship with Al-Qaeda.

Chapter 1: Al-Zawahiri Is a Liar
Sayyid Imam's new book, Exposing the Exoneration, opens a second round of polemic with Ayman Al-Zawahiri and Al-Qaeda. The acrimony is evident from the outset, where Imam quotes: Quran 16:105, "Those who do not believe in Allah's signs, they are the liars"; Quran 33:58, "Those who malign believing men and women undeservedly are guilty of slander and manifest sin"; and a hadith: "Lying is iniquity, and iniquity leads to hellfire." Imam then lists "Al-Zawahiri's slanders and lies."

First, he says that Al-Zawahiri provides no proof for his accusation that the Document of Right Guidance was written under the direction of America and the Jews. He challenges Al-Zawahiri to a ritual exchange of curses (mubahala), in which each side invites Allah's curse on the party that is lying.

He also accuses Al-Zawahiri of lying when the latter wrote that the Document of Right Guidance made no mention of the ruling regimes (i.e. whether they are Muslim or apostate) or of preparation for jihad. Imam points out (correctly) that both issues were in fact mentioned, and that he dedicated an entire book to the issue of preparation for jihad, Al-'Umda fi i'dad al-'udda ("The Essentials of Making Ready for Jihad"). But while Imam is technically right on this point, he is nonetheless being disengenuous: the Document does not explicitly state that the rulers are apostates, nor does it give much prominence to the issue of preparing for jihad. The Document was written in deliberately ambiguous language; it appears moderate to the casual reader, yet when challenged by jihadist critics, Imam is able to point to passages that address their concerns, albeit only in general terms.

Sayyid Imam also takes on Al-Zawahiri over the latter's contention that the Document of Right Guidance serves the interests of America and the Jews, while Al-Qaeda is at the forefront of the fight against them. Imam writes that it is Al-Qaeda that brought America and the Jews into Afghanistan and Iraq, and that they were the first to flee from America in Afghanistan. He also notes that Al-Qaeda, at various times, offered America a ceasefire and negotiations. Imam ties this behavior to an earlier episode in which Al-Zawahiri lied to the Sudanese government, telling them that he had 10,000 fighters at his disposal, and received payment from them to carry out attacks in Egypt. Imam claims that when six of these Jihad members were being led to their execution, Al-Zawahiri sat with Sudanese officials telling jokes. "Some people pay money for fame, or to promote themselves or their product, but Al-Zawahari pays in the blood and lives of his brothers, and leads them to waste away in prison, for his own media fame. And then he says, 'are there any more?' and continues to find people he can dupe…" [3]

Sayyid Imam writes that he devoted space to proving that Al-Zawahiri is a liar because one may not accept testimony from liars, and thus it would be forbidden to listen to Al-Zawahiri even if in a given instance he were telling the truth.

Chapter 2: Al-Qaeda Founded a DeviantSchool of Jurisprudence Solely to Permit Killing Americans En Masse
Sayyid Imam argues that Al-Zawahiri is not merely promoting isolated erroneous positions in jurisprudence; rather, Al-Qaeda has founded a corrupt and deviant school of jurisprudence expressly in order to permit inordinate mass killing, and all their positions in jurisprudence are aimed at this goal. He gives a list of "criminal" principles used by Al-Qaeda to sidestep shari'a laws that would prevent them from killing Americans en masse. These are:

- Fighting the far enemy (America) before the near enemy (apostate regimes);
- Takfir and killing based on nationality, on the grounds that citizenship is tantamount to allegiance to the infidel country and support for its laws;
- Allowing the killing of one who pays taxes to infidels, on the grounds that this is tantamount to financial warfare;
- Unrestricted permission to kill an infidel "human shield," thus allowing Al-Qaeda to kill civilians in infidel lands;
- Unrestricted permission to kill a Muslim "human shield," thus allowing Al-Qaeda to kill the Muslims mixed in with the infidels;
- Unrestricted application of the principle of retaliation in kind (al-mu'amala bi'l-mithl) in order to expand the scope of indiscriminate killing;
- Fighting America is defensive [jihad], and that [in consequence] one may travel to fight in America without the permission of one's father and others [whose permission is normally required];
- A Muslim's entry visa into infidel lands is not a guarantee of protection (aman), and [thus] he is allowed to kill [the infidels];
- Even if this visa were a guarantee of protection, it would be permitted to violate it;
- The entry visa for tourists entering Muslim lands does not serve them as a guarantee of protection from being killed or kidnapped.

Sayyid Imam argues that after adopting these principles, Al-Qaeda employed the following false arguments to deflect criticism:

- The only people allowed to speak on these matters are the sheikhs of jihad encamped in the mountains and on the frontiers (and not other 'ulama);
- Anyone who criticizes them is impeding the jihad, attacking the mujahideen, and causing harm to the Muslim nation;
- Anyone who criticizes them is serving the interests of the Crusaders and Zionists.

Sayyid Imam then turns to refute these principles:

The Cause of the Muslims' Misfortunes Is the Muslims Themselves, and Not America

The necessary predicate to the doctrine of jihad against the far enemy is the belief that America and the Jews are the cause of the Muslims' problems. Imam writes that bin Laden uses this claim to enlist the Muslims on his side and to transform his personal fixation on America into the issue of the entire Muslim nation, while in truth the cause of the Muslims' misfortunes is the Muslims themselves. He backs this up with a number of verses from the Quran, e.g. 42:30, "Whatever misfortunes befall you, they are because of what your hands have wrought…" Imam then implies that the leaders of Al-Qaeda are unbelievers (in this case equivalent to apostates), since their position contradicts these verses, and Allah said (Quran 29:47): "None deny my signs [or: verses] but the unbelievers." [4] He also points out that bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri's violations of the shari'a led Ahmad Al-Jaza'iri, a student of Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi, to declare them apostates already in 1992. [5]

Imam then goes on to extend this principle in a quietist vein: Allah allows infidels to defeat Muslims as a punishment for their sins. He supports this contention from the hadith and historical examples. For instance, when Yusuf Ibn Tashfin, Emir of the North African Almoravid dynasty, helped the Muslims of Al-Andalus defeat the Spanish kings, they asked him to leave troops behind in Al-Andalus to defend them. He answered: "Devote your intention [to Allah alone], and Allah will protect you from your enemy." Imam continues: "Allah, may He be praised, says that the Muslims' misfortunes are because of themselves, and bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri say they are because of America. Let the Muslims consider who they are going to follow: Allah, or bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri?"

Regarding Israel as well, Imam claims that it is Palestinian agents who enable Israel to kill whomever it likes, and it is Palestinian workers who build the settlements. He lists a number of examples of internecine fighting among Muslims, and notes that the U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia - regardless of the legality or illegality of their presence - have not killed any Muslims in the country since they were introduced, whereas Al-Qaeda has.

He continues: "The number of Muslims whose death and dispossession Al-Qaeda has caused in a number of years, in Kenya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Pakistan, and elsewhere, is far greater than the number killed or dispossessed by Israel in Palestine and neighboring countries in 60 years. So all the talk of Al-Qaeda defending Muslims is a tall tale…"

According to Imam, improvement of the Muslims' situation must start from within, as Allah said (Quran 13:11): "Allah does not change a people's lot until they change what is in their hearts." [6]

Other Options Besides Jihad
Imam writes: "Jihad against an aggressing enemy is obligatory when there is the ability to wage it. But to cross the ocean to go to your enemy in its own home and destroy one of its buildings, and [in retaliation] it destroys the Taliban state - and then you claim to be a mujahid - only an idiot would do such a thing." In essence this statement contains two factors that could make jihad against America not obligatory. The first is the condition of "ability" (istita'a), about which Imam already wrote at length in the Document of Right Guidance: even when a given jihad is obligatory, if Muslims lack the ability to carry it out successfully the obligation is suspended. But the other element here is whether jihad against America is considered an offensive or a defensive jihad; Imam considers it an offensive one, [7] whereas Al-Qaeda considers attacks on America defensive jihad.

Sayyid Imam attacks Al-Zawahiri's statement that "it has been clear, and remains clear, to any impartial observer with two eyes, that this corrupt reality will not be changed through softness and conciliation; it can only be changed by force." [8] Imam writes that this statement leads Al-Zawahiri to unbelief (or apostasy), since it denies other options that according to Imam are explicitly stated in the Quran and the sunna - for instance, Quran 8:61: "If they incline to peace, incline to it (as well)…" He also gives the example of the celebrated early Muslim commander Khalid bin Al-Walid, who retreated from the battle of Mu'ta and was praised by the Prophet for doing so. Moreover, he writes that Al-Zawahiri is simply lying about this whole issue, since bin Laden offered America a truce (Al-Hayat, January 20, 2006), and Al-Zawahiri offered to negotiate with America (Al-Hayat, December 21, 2006).

The Status of Mullah Omar
In his interview with Al-Hayat, Sayyid Imam advanced the claim that one of bin Laden's great sins was that he deceived Mullah Omar, to whom he had sworn obedience, by undertaking the 9/11 attacks behind his back. In Exposing the 'Exoneration,' Sayyid Imam continues this line of attack, and accuses bin Laden of coming up with a forbidden innovation in religion with regard to Mullah Omar's status as Emir, solely in order to justify his betrayal of him.

In June, 2001, bin Laden made it known that he was planning to carry out a large-scale attack against America; some of his followers, especially from his shari'a council, objected that Mullah Muhammad Omar had forbidden them to attack America. Imam claims that in response, bin Laden invented a new doctrine, according to which Mullah Omar was Emir only with regard to domestic issues, and that he did not have to be obeyed in matters that went beyond the borders of Afghanistan.

Imam argues that the shari'a definition of loyalty to the Emir does not recognize any such distinction, and that this was an idea that Satan planted in bin Laden's head. To prove his point, Imam notes that all scholars agree that one is obliged to obey the Emir in matters of jihad; and since jihad takes place beyond the Abode of Islam, it is clear that the Emir's authority extends to matters of foreign policy. In addition, he writes that the entire distinction is fallacious in this case, since the planning for 9/11 took place inside Afghanistan, the attackers set out from Afghanistan, and bin Laden stayed in Afghanistan after the attacks. Thus bin Laden violated his oath of fealty to Mullah Omar, and the Prophet Muhammad said of such people: "One who abandons obedience [to the ruler] will meet Allah on Judgment Day and will find nothing to say for himself."

Preferring the Far Enemy to the Near One
Another Al-Qaeda principle that Sayyid Imam considers a forbidden innovation in religion is that of giving the far enemy (America) precedence over the near one (apostate regimes).

First, this principle is based on the contention that America is the cause of all the Muslim's misfortunes, a principle with which Imam already took issue. In addition, it contradicts the Quran and the sunna. For instance, Quran 9:123 says: "Oh believers, fight those unbelievers who are near to you…" This was interpreted by prominent exegetes, and in a fatwa by Ibn Taymiyya, as meaning that the obligation in jihad is to begin with the nearest enemy. Thus Imam accuses Al-Zawahiri of throwing aside the Quran and the sunna and replacing them with individual opinion, all in order to accommodate bin Laden. He cites again Ibn Taymiyya: "When a man permits something that is forbidden by unanimous opinion, or forbids something that is permitted by unanimous opinion, or changes an [Islamic] law that is agreed to unanimously, it is the agreed view of the jurisprudents that he is an infidel apostate." [9]

Imam claims that Al-Zawahiri only came up with the principle of fighting the far enemy when he joined bin Laden in 1998, and that his fellow members of the Egyptian Jihad criticized him for this, since it led the U.S. to begin kidnapping the group's members. Despite this sacrifice, Imam says that bin Laden didn't even give Al-Zawahiri advance knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, and only taxed him with justifying them ex post facto. [10]

He then notes an irony: the 9/11 attacks on the far enemy drew America into Afghanistan, where it became the near enemy, against whom there is a clear obligation to fight. But precisely at this point, bin Laden and Al-Zawahiri fled the battle, leaving the Afghans to bear the brunt of the war. The Al-Qaeda leaders claim that their role is to incite to battle, but Imam asks why they don't incite themselves to fight. Allah commanded Muhammad to rouse the believers to battle by providing a personal example (Quran 4:84). Thus when a Muslim encounters someone who claims that his role is to incite to battle, he should say to him: first of all, go incite yourself, and go fight.

Takfir and Killing Based on Nationality
Bin Laden's stated position is to kill Americans without differentiating between military and civilians. One of the difficulties in this position is that the U.S. has Muslim citizens as well. In the Exoneration, Al-Zawahiri justifies this position by saying that being a citizen of an infidel nation necessarily means allegiance to that nation and obedience to its infidel laws. This renders the Muslim citizen himself an infidel, or at least something close to it, and thus killing Americans en masse is allowed. One does not have to worry that such attacks may kill Muslims, since they are all apostates.

Imam points out that Al-Zawahiri's position is tantamount to takfir of hundreds of millions of Muslims around the world. It cannot be definitively said that all these Muslims are satisfied with the infidel laws in their countries, especially as there is no Abode of Islam today to which they could emigrate. (The Abode of Islam is defined as areas ruled by Muslims and by Islam; for Sayyid Imam, none of what are usually referred to as Muslim countries fit this description).

Imam writes further that even if one were to grant Al-Zawahari's argument that all Americans are infidels, one could still not kill Americans indiscriminately, since there are categories of infidels that it is forbidden to kill - women, children, the aged, peasants, etc. He notes that cumulatively, the members of these categories make up the majority of the population of infidel lands.

The common explanation for these exemptions is that these categories of people are unable to take part in combat. [11] Al-Zawahiri thus attempts to sidestep this difficulty by arguing that since Americans pay taxes, they are funding the army that is fighting the Muslims, and in consequence are to be considered financial combatants. In response, Imam points out that this would make all the Muslims in India and Russia apostates, since their countries are fighting in Kashmir and Chechnya. In addition, he says, Al-Zawahiri's position contradicts the practice of the Caliph 'Umar, who ordered his soldiers to spare noncombatant peasants during the invasions of Persia and Byzantium - this despite their being taxpayers.

Another argument employed by Al-Qaeda to justify the killing of innocent civilians is that of the human shield. (The primary meaning of this term is a noncombatant used as a human shield during battle, but it can mean as well any noncombatant present among others who are legitimate targets.) [12] Sayyid Imam refers the reader to his explanation of the issue in the Document of Right Guidance. There he wrote that the permission to kill the human shield is not based on any proof-text, and thus the scholars allowed it only in cases of necessity. Since, in his opinion, attacks on America are offensive jihad - that is, a jihad voluntarily initiated by the Muslims - it is not possible to invoke necessity, and thus it is not permitted to kill the human shield. [13]

Sayyid Imam then addresses yet another argument employed by Al-Qaeda to justify indiscriminate killing of Americans: the principle of retaliation in kind (al-mu'amala bi'l-mithl). Al-Zawahiri bases this principle on two Quranic verses (2:194 and 16:126), and on a fatwa by a contemporary Al-Qaeda sheikh, Nasir bin Hamad Al-Fahd. The fatwa asserts that the U.S. has killed approximately 10 million Muslims in recent decades, and thus according to the principle of retaliation in kind, "even if a bomb were dropped on [America] killing 10 million of them, and destroyed their land to the same degree that they destroyed Muslim lands, this would be permitted, without any need for any other proof. We would need other proofs [only] if we wanted to kill more than this number."

Imam answers this argument by saying that Al-Qaeda looks at the shari'a through one eye only. The principle, properly stated, says that one should retaliate in kind, unless the "kind" is something that is not permitted in the shari'a. [14] And since indiscriminate killing is forbidden in the shari'a, the principle cannot be used to justify Al-Qaeda's attacks on America. [15]

On 9/11: An Entry Visa Is a Guarantee of Protection and Obligates the Foreigner Not to Harm the Host Country
Sayyid Imam writes that the preceding issues had been discussed by Al-Qaeda's Shura council prior to the 9/11 attacks. Aside from bin Laden, only three people (in the leadership) knew the details of the plot - Khalid Sheikh Muhammad, Abu Hafs Al-Masri (Muhammad 'Atif), and another he leaves unnamed, whom he says was informed 24 hours before the attacks. The others knew that a large attack on America was planned, and so they held discussions regarding the legitimacy of such an attack. However, since they did not know that the attackers would be entering the U.S. on entry visas, this particular issue was not raised. After 9/11, when it became known that the attackers used entry visas, a dispute arose between those who said this was a violation of the shari'a and those who defended the practice. The critics argued that a visa is a guarantee of protection (aman), and it entails an obligation on the part of its beneficiary not to harm the host country. The attacks were then a violation of this obligation and an act of perfidy. This is the view advanced by Sayyid Imam as well. [16]

Al-Zawahiri argued against this view in the Exoneration, drawing on Western definitions of a visa that do not mention anything about protection. [17] Imam excoriates Al-Zawahiri for relying directly on definitions of a visa found in foreign laws and in the Encyclopedia Britannica and calls this methodology ignorance in the shari'a. He argues that when considering a topic for which there is no clear precedent in Islamic jurisprudence, one must first determine what aspects of the issue are relevant, and then compare those aspects with other issues for which there are precedents to see if there is an applicable law. With regard to the matter at hand, Imam adduces classical scholars who wrote that permission to enter a country amounts to a guarantee of protection (aman) even when this is not explicitly stated. Thus the determinative factor regarding a visa is whether or not it is permission to enter a country, and not whether or not it contains an explicit statement of protection. Since a visa is by definition permission to enter a country, it is similar to the classical aman, and thus is a guarantee of protection, and entails the corresponding obligation from the Muslims not to harm the host country. Imam summarizes Al-Zawahiri's methodology thus: "Al-Zawahiri abandons the Muslim jurisprudents and issues fatwas based on the Encyclopedia Britannica. This is like those mentioned by the Prophet: 'The people have taken ignorant people as leaders; they are asked questions and issue rulings without knowledge, and they go astray and lead others astray'."

Sayyid Imam next deals with Al-Zawahiri's backup argument, namely, that even if the visa is a guarantee of protection, one is allowed to violate its conditions. Al-Zawahiri borrows this argument from the Al-Qaeda cleric Sheikh Nasir Al-Fahd. Unlike Al-Zawahiri, Al-Fahd holds that the entry visa is a guarantee of protection; he writes, however, that violating the guarantee of protection is possible for two reasons: 1) in order to trick the enemy; and 2) because the enemy, America, has committed aggression against the Muslims.

For the first argument, Al-Fahd based himself on the story of a Jew, Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf, who lived in Medina during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad. Al-Fahd argues that the Prophet's companions gave Ka'b a guarantee of protection, and then killed him. This is similar to what Al-Qaeda did on 9/11, and thus 9/11 was likewise permitted.

Sayyid Imam presents three counterarguments. First, he writes that no one ever gave Ka'b a guarantee of protection, or anything remotely resembling it. He had been covered by the agreement between Muhammad and the Jews of Medina, but Ka'b had violated the conditions of this agreement by insulting the Prophet. The Companion who killed him did employ a ruse - with Muhammad's knowledge and consent - but this has nothing to do with the issue of a guarantee of protection.

Second, while the Prophet Muhammad did say "war is deception," classical scholars wrote that this principle only allows deception of infidels when there is no accord or guarantee of protection (aman). Third, Al-Fahd tried to compare the law of an infidel with a guarantee of protection in Muslim lands to the law of a Muslim with a guarantee of protection in infidel lands, and these cases are not comparable.

Al-Fahd's second argument was that there is no accord between America and the Muslims, since the shari'a does not recognize those that have been signed under international law; and even if there were a valid accord, America's actions against the Muslims would certainly have abrogated it. [18] Sayyid Imam refutes this argument in a number of ways. First, he writes that no matter how bad America's aggression against Muslims may be, it does not reach the level of those who fought against the Prophet himself (sic). He then cites a hadith concerning two Muslims who promised the Quraysh tribe that they would not fight alongside Muhammad (at the Battle of Badr). When the two informed Muhammad of this promise, he told them they had to keep it and sit out the battle. Thus if one is obligated to keep a promise to the Quraysh, who fought against the Prophet himself, one is certainly obliged to uphold one's obligations towards America entailed in the visa. Imam then cites Al-Shafi'i, the eponym of one of the four Sunni schools of jurisprudence, who also wrote that aggression on the part of infidels does not make it permissible for a Muslim to violate the conditions of the guarantee of protection.

Americans Are Not One Single Legal Entity
Sayyid Imam then turns to another of the arguments in Sheikh Nasir Al-Fahd's fatwa. Al-Fahd compared the American people in toto to Ka'b bin Al-Ashraf. He argued that all Americans are a single legal entity, since none of the U.S.'s institutions are of any consequence without (the support of) the American people.

Imam writes that this concept, which does away with the distinction between combatants and noncombatants, is yet another of Al-Qaeda's forbidden innovations in religion. He points out that the Prophet did not relate to the Quraysh tribe in this way. In addition, one could say that the Persian and Byzantine rulers would also have been of no consequence without the support of their peoples, and yet the Prophet's Companions did not consider these peoples one single legal entity, and refrained from killing the categories of people one is not allowed to kill.

Sayyid Imam also uses current events to argue against Fahd's view. He points out that some countries, like Spain, replaced heads of state who supported the Iraq War; that there are protests against the war in America and in the other countries of the alliance; and that the Archbishop of Canterbury recently has taken positions in the Muslims' favor. Thus, factually speaking, it is wrong to consider all Americans or all Europeans as enemies.

He adds that Nasir Al-Fahd is ignorant, should be prevented from issuing fatwas, and should be held liable for the damage he has done.

Attacks on Tourists in Muslim Countries
Al-Zawahiri relied on Nasir Al-Fahd's ruling that all Americans are a single legal entity to permit attacks on tourists in Muslim countries as well. Since Imam already dealt with this argument, he merely restates the reasons he gave in the Document forbidding attacks on tourists. It is not permitted to attack a non-Muslim who entered a Muslim country under a guarantee of protection, and this applies to those who received visas from these countries. In fact, one is not allowed to harm any non-Muslim who believes he has a valid guarantee of protection, regardless of whether the guarantee given him is objectively valid. (This is an important part of the argument, since both Imam and Al-Qaeda consider the governments of Muslim countries to be apostate). If the guarantee is invalid, one must escort the non-Muslim out of the country, without harming him. Imam criticizes Al-Zawahiri for encouraging the kidnapping and killing of tourists, when Al-Zawahiri himself traveled to European countries and to America, and entered and left unharmed.

Attacking Civilians Is Proof of Al-Qaeda's Cowardice
Sayyid Imam sums up this discussion and concludes that all of Al-Qaeda's various arguments - killing based on nationality or payment of taxes, the human shield, retaliation in kind, considering all Americans a single legal entity - are all just excuses to justify killing Americans en masse. He adds that Al-Qaeda's killing of civilians (including Muslim civilians) is a kind of (tacit) admission of their inability to attack military targets. In addition, he says, it is a proof of cowardice.

Regarding the Argument that Only "the Scholars of Jihad" Can Rule on Such Matters
Imam then takes issue with the argument that only "the scholars of jihad" - i.e. scholars who are themselves mujahideen - can rule on matters relating to jihad. (He does not name Al-Zawahiri specifically as the source of this doctrine, and it does not in fact seem to appear in the Exoneration, at least not in such a categorical form.) He writes that this is another religiously forbidden innovation. Nowhere in the classical works of jurisprudence is this specified as a condition; in addition, Imam notes that classes of people who do not fight jihad - the blind, the disabled, the sick, and women - can rule on judicial matters. He also notes that the early jurisprudent Muhammad Al-Shaybani lived in Iraq, which was not then on the frontier, and when he wrote on the laws of jihad he received the commendation of his contemporary, Al-Awza'i, who did live on what was then the frontier (Beirut). [19]

Sayyid Imam concludes the chapter by reiterating his assertion that bin Laden, Al-Zawahiri, and their followers are ignorant in religion and that their corrupt positions on jurisprudence were invented with the express intent of justifying their sins. He adds that normally one does not dignify such ignorance with a response, but that he wrote the preceding refutations so that the uneducated would not be taken in. [20]

Later in the book, Sayyid Imam returns to the subject of Al-Zawahiri's take on jurisprudence, and writes that the root of the problem is the undue sway that the thinking of Sayyid Qutb continues to have over Al-Zawahiri: "I would like to draw the reader's attention to the fact that Al-Zawahiri is influenced by the writings of Sayyid Qutb, may Allah have mercy on him. That which is correct in the writings of both of them [i.e. Al-Zawahiri and Qutb] is in the field of general education, and jurisprudential laws must not be based on this - especially regarding permission to spill blood and take goods. Both of them are extremely weak in jurisprudence, though there is a vast difference between Sayyid Qutb and Al-Zawahiri in terms of their honesty…

"If Sayyid Qutb were still living, I think that he would have already filled the gap in his knowledge of jurisprudence. He had spent most of his life in literary studies [and thus his lack of knowledge of jurisprudence was due to lack of time to study]. But as for Al-Zawahiri, his intellectual development stopped at the stage of Sayyid Qutb's writings, more than thirty years ago, and he never progressed beyond them to the stage of jurisprudential maturity - despite my repeated and futile attempts to push him to study the shari'a. He didn't have patience for the study of the shari'a sciences…" [21]


More on this issue:

Continues on Part II


Tuesday, 8 March 2011

On the Road to the New World

Examining Islam's Expansionist History; By Abdullah al-Araby

Muslims often claim that Islam is the world's fastest growing religion. This boast empowers them with increased fervor as they race down the road for conquest of the New World. They argue that the number of new adherents embracing Islam is an indication of Allah's vindication and Islam's appeal as the only true religion. They ask, "How could so many people be wrong?" Hand in hand with this, Muslims cite another equally important claim, that Islam has a lower attrition rate than other faiths.

Undisputedly, Islam is growing rather rapidly, but there is no scientific evidence for the claim that Islam is the world's fastest growing religion. The purpose of this article is not to dispute the fact that Islam is growing, but to demonstrate that the reasons for Islam's growth can be attributed to factors that have very little to do with Islam's merits. To accomplish this we will explore the reasons and implications behind the phenomenon of the spread of Islam during historical and contemporary times.

First, we will acquaint you with some of the Islamic principles that serve as the force behind Islam's expansionist mentality.

Islam's ultimate goal is to rule the world. Islamic theology provides two methods for this to be accomplished. The first is spiritual, as people are lured into conversion. The second is coercive; it is the political/physical conquest of nations. For Muslims, there are no gray areas. They see the world in black and white. To them the world is divided into two big camps: the House of Islam and the House of War. The House of Islam are the Muslims, and the House of war are the non-Muslims. Muslims (the House of Islam) are in a constant state of spiritual/political/physical warfare with Non-Muslims (the House of War) until they subjugate them into Islam.

Islam always employs a carrot and stick policy. The carrot and stick that is perpetually set before Muslims is the expectation of generous rewards in this life and in eternity for those who fight for Islam. On the other hand, those who falter are warned of severe temporal and eternal punishments.

Apostasy from Islam is not an option. Once-a-Muslim-always-a-Muslim, the only official alternative is death. There is no room for changing one's mind. The door is wide open to join Islam, but there is no backdoor for those that would like to leave it.

The Early Stages of Islam
Mohammed started espousing his new Islamic religion at age 40. Initially, his methods for spreading the message were gentle and peaceful. The motto was, "
No compulsion in religion". His first convert was his loyal wife, Khadija. During the next three years, Mohammed privately persuaded seven men to join him, one of whom was his slave Zaid. The other six were: Abu Bakr, Uthman ibn Affan, Zubair ibnel Awam, Abdel Rahman ibn Auf, Saad ibn abi Wakkaas, and Talha. With this limited success, Mohamed decided to begin preaching the message of Islam in public. During this period he was under the protection of an influential uncle named, Abu-Talib. There is no evidence, however, that his uncle ever converted to Islam. After five years of hard work, the Muslim band had grown in numbers to a total of a mere sixteen. Some of Mohammed's followers migrated to a Christianized area that is present day Ethiopia. These enthusiasts succeeded in adding only a few more men, women and children to Islam's membership. To this day, Ethiopia remains a predominantly Christian country. As the years passed, the number of Muslims in Mecca, the birthplace of Islam, grew to about forty men and women. Mohammed used every maneuver at his disposal to convince the polytheistic people of Mecca to embrace Islam. They worshipped 360 gods, of whom Allah was considered the ruling deity.

To appease and appeal to the pagan Arabs, Mohammed incorporated some of their idolatrous rituals into Islam. The Islamic practices of making Hajj, circling the Kaaba, and kissing the black stone are all pagan rituals that predate Islam. During one of his meetings with the chiefs of the Quraish tribe of Mecca, he took a step that exposes the depth of his deceptive desperation. He feigned devotion to their pagan deities. He recited the following Qur’anic verses wherein supposedly Allah praised the three pagan Arabian goddesses, Allat, Al-Uzza, and Manat. The verses read, "
Have you not seen Allat, and Al-Uzza, and Manat, the other, the third? These are the exalted Swans, and truly their intercession may be hoped for." Mohammed then led the Qurashites in paying homage to the goddesses by kneeling in prayer with them. Curiously, soon afterward Mohammed apparently recognized that his actions had been inconsistent with the monotheistic nature of Islam. His remedy was to allege that Satan had whispered the verses in his ears. He nullified the verses and changed the text of Surah 53:19-23 to read as it does today. Regardless of his hard work, willingness to compromise with idolatry, and peaceful preaching, nothing seemed to work in his efforts to add members to his new religion. After 13 years of being headquartered in Mecca, he had won no more than 100 converts. The failures, the ridicule, and the threats against him by the people of Mecca, led him to a pivotal decision. In the year 622A.D. he decided to relocate his ministry base from Mecca to Medina, Arabia. This action was so strategic in the development of Islam that it was marked by the introduction of a new Hijira (migration) calendar and a revolutionary new methodology for spreading the Muslim message.

The days of being a peaceful, tolerant prophet were over. At this juncture Mohammed began to proclaim that Allah was instructing all Muslims to use swords, not just words, to fight for the cause. They were to adopt the sword of Jihad as the primary means of subduing the masses to the will of Allah. From that point on, Mohammed's directives and the actions of his Muslim band signaled to non-Muslim Arabs that all his old pacts with them and former promises to them were null and void. Soon, significant numbers of Arabs flocked to join Mohammed. Their motivations for doing so were twofold. They feared his ruthlessness, and they hoped for shares of the booty derived from the Muslims' plundering of caravans and villages. Muslims conducted a series of 27 raids on other Arabian tribes and caravans in which they killed opponents and captured goods, slaves and gained new territories. Mohammed personally observed 26 of these raids, and participated by fighting in 9 of them. His peaceful efforts prior to the migration to Medina produced a constituency that was primarily comprised of friends and family.

During the subsequent years, and up until his death, tens of thousands were added to the ranks of Islam through his new policy of coercive violence. Eight years after arriving in Medina, Mohammed was able to organize an army of 10,000 to attack Mecca. For the most part, this army consisted of men that were far more motivated by personal greed for material gains than they were by spiritual zeal for Allah's call. Conversely, the Meccans that surrendered to Islam after Mohammed's victory were motivated more by fear of death than they were by sincere belief in Allah and his Apostle. Mohammed was successful in subduing all of Arabia under his control and at the time of his death he was planning to send an army to take Syria.

However, events that transpired over the next few years proved that the conversions of many were a matter of coercion rather than conviction. Those that perceived opportunities to forsake Islam did so with greater rapidity than their original conversions. After Mohammed's death, the various factions within Arabia, including Jews and Christians, revolted against Islam.

The successors of Mohammed were called Caliphs. The first one, Caliph Abu Bakr, had to recall the Muslim army from the anticipated conquest of Syria to quell a revolt at home. This revolt resulted in a fierce war called the Apostasy War, which was waged against the masses that were attempting to leave Islam. The Muslims prevailed after offering the Arabian revolutionaries a combination of attractive enticements and physical threats. Once the Arabian Peninsula was securely under Muslim control, it was time to look beyond its borders in furthering Islam's influence. Between the years 637A.D. - 644A.D. the second Caliph, Omar, authorized a number of successful raids to subjugate many of the neighboring countries. Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Armenia, Iraq and Iran were all invaded and Islamisized. Within a century of its birth, there were many indications that Islam was making great progress on its road to establishing a new world order. Islamic forces raged through North Africa, and destroyed corrupt Byzantine Christianity in their wake. They conquered all of the Middle East, Central Asia, and large portions of India. In 710 A.D. Islamic forces crossed the Straits of Gibraltar and swept through most of Spain and Portugal. France was invaded and one-third of it was captured. Fortunately, when the Muslim hordes were 125 miles from Paris, they were defeated by Charles Martel at the Battle of Tours (Poitiers), in 732 A.D. The Muslims' occupation of Spain lasted a few hundred years, until they were slowly driven back to North Africa.

Muslim activists constantly boast that, "
Islam is the religion of peace and tolerance," They assert that the wars of Islam were only "defensive" actions in response to the aggressions of others. Historical facts belie their assertions. The nations that the Muslims conquered did not pose any threat to Arabia. The countries that the Muslims invaded, had not initiated attacks. The Muslims attacked them with the motive of prospective plunder and the desire to force Islam on the rest of the world. Allah's orders were clear,

When the forbidden months are past, then fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent, and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity, then open the way for them: for Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful." Surah 9:5

In dealing with "People of the Book" (Christians and Jews), the Qur’an was a bit more generous. The Qur’an did not call for their deaths, but commanded Muslims to,

"Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued." Surah 9:29

It was no surprise that the invading Muslims were not satisfied to merely subjugate the conquered countries to Islamic Law. In addition, each nation underwent the process of Arabization. This was accomplished as the invaders systematically attempted to erase the identities of people groups by abolishing their native cultures and languages replacing them with Arab culture and language. Christians and Jews that did not accept Islam lost the status of full-citizenship in their respective nations. They were reduced to the status of "Dhimmitude" or the "protectees" or wards of the Muslims. In return for this protection they were expected to pay the Jizya" (poll tax). Christians and Jews were also subjected to a long list of humiliating and degrading rules included in what is known as "the Pact of Omar." They were forced to sign a document, authored by Omar, agreeing to the following regulations and prohibitions.

We shall not build new monasteries, churches, convents or monks' cells in our cities or in Muslim neighborhoods. Should any of theses fall into ruins or disrepair, we shall not repair, by day or night, those in our own neighborhoods or those situated in the quarters of the Muslims.
We shall keep our gates wide open for passersby and travelers. All Muslims that pass our way are to be given board and lodging for as many as three days. We shall not hide any spy from the Muslims or give them sanctuary in our churches or shelter them in our homes.
We shall not proclaim our religion publicly nor attempt to convert anyone to it. We shall not forbid any of our kin from entering Islam if they desire to do so.
We shall show respect toward Muslims. If they wish to sit, we shall rise from our seats.
We shall not seek to resemble Muslims by imitating any of their garments, turbans, footwear or parting of the hair.
We shall not imitate their way of speech.
We shall not mount on saddles, gird ourselves with swords, bear any kind of arms, or conceal weapons on our bodies.
We shall not engrave Arabic inscriptions on our seals.
We shall not sell fermented drinks.
We identify ourselves as non-Muslims by clipping the fronts of our heads.
We shall always dress in the same manner wherever we go and we shall bind the zunar, identifying us as non-Muslims, around our waists
We shall not display our crosses or our books on the roads or in the markets of the Muslims. We shall use only clappers very softly in our churches. We shall not raise our voices in mourning when following our dead. We shall not shine lights on any of the roads of the Muslims or in their markets.
We shall not bury our dead near the Muslims.
We shall not take slaves who have been allotted to Muslims.
We shall not build houses of taller elevation than the houses of Muslims.
We accept these conditions for ourselves and for the people of our community, and in return we shall receive safe-conduct.
If we in any way violate these regulations, for which we ourselves stand surety, we forfeit our covenant [dhimma] status and shall become liable to the penalties for contumacy and sedition."

Islam in Modern History
Nine hundred years after the first wave of Islamization, a second powerful wave took place, in the seventeenth Century. The Ottoman Empire's Muslim Turks tried to expand their rule into Europe. They captured Greece, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, and parts of Romania and Hungary. By 1683, they had reached the gates of Vienna. However, once again, and against all odds, the Western forces were able, miraculously, to repel them. Following this second failed attempt to conquer Europe, Islam fell into a state of depression. In the mid-nineteenth century the Western countries pressured the Ottoman Empire to stop collecting the Jizya tax from Christians and Jews living in the Islamic world. The dhimmitude status was officially abolished; however, many of its provisions against Christians and Jews lingered on in the Islamic world. To this day, discrimination, and, at times, flagrant State-sanctioned persecutions against Christians and Jews run rampant in most Islamic countries. A new Islamic awakening began taking place in the 20th Century. It was not spawned by military might or the forced occupation of lands. Undoubtedly, in modern history, the driving factor behind the new revival and acceptance of Islam was the discovery of vast reserves of oil in the Arab and Islamic countries.

Oil has become a strong weapon to advance the global influence of the Islamic oil-producing nations. With it, they can make stronger nations, that depend of them for oil, tremble in fear. Suddenly it became politically incorrect to criticize Islam or Muslims. Most importantly, with this new sword in hand, Muslims now have the means to finance their call to convert the world to Islam. Now in the 21rst Century Muslim advocates sense that they have the upper hand and therefore are becoming increasingly more aggressive in the West. They boast about being able to convert some 6-8 million in the United States alone. Muslims challenge the historical fact that Islam has been spread by the sword. When speaking about their new converts they say, "
Where is the sword? Nobody is using a sword against these people. They are coming into Islam on their own accord!"

In reality, the number of Muslims in the USA and the growth rate of Islam in America have been extremely exaggerated. Islamic activists inflate the figures by including Christians of Middle Eastern origin in the numbers cited as the USA Muslim population. The truth is 80% of the Arabic speaking people in America are actually affiliated with Christian denominations. The motive behind the exaggerations is to gain more political clout. One scientific study put the number of Middle Eastern Muslims in the U.S. between 1.4 and 2.8 million. The majority of these did not come through conversion but through immigration and procreation. In 1990, the National Survey of Religious Identification conducted a study. It was followed-up in 2001 by a study of the American Survey of Religious Identification. These studies demonstrated that Islam is by no means the fastest growing religion in America. Whether it is, by conversion, immigration, or procreation, it is being surpassed by a number of other religious groups.


1990 Est. Adult Population

2001 Est. Adult Population

% Of Ch’ange 1990 - 2001




+ 717%




+ 338%




+ 237%




+ 109%

It is undeniable; however, that Islam is seriously advancing in the West. This is mainly attributed to Islam's capacity to wield influence through its new sword of oil. The newly acquired wealth is currently being used in Western democracies in a manner that gives Islam a distinct economic advantage over Christianity. Christians must depend on the sacrificial donations of their members to build and maintain churches, pay salaries and finance evangelism and benevolent outreaches. As a result many Christian churches and organization have to shut down and sell their buildings. Muslims that are using Petro-Dollars from the oil rich Gulf and Saudi governments often purchase these defunct Christian properties. Muslim clerics, on the other hand, don't need to depend on donations to build mosques, pay their salaries, and purchase airtime in the various broadcast Media. The financial aid that they get from Islamic states enables them also to give generous assistance to needy people that are potential converts to Islam. More seriously, large sums of oil monies are covertly slipped into the hands of Muslim extremists' organizations.

Without any qualms of conscience they finance terrorist attacks, against non-Muslims and against moderate Muslims alike, around the globe. With these factors in mind, it should be no surprise that Islam is growing in the West. In addition, unquestionably the Muslim activists of modern times are smarter and are using more sophisticated tactics than those of ancient times. The days of the primitive methods that were used to conquer the known world, between the 7th - 17th centuries, are over. Islam now applies carefully studied and sophisticatedly executed methods. They define their targets, and decide on the best strategies to reach them. Young women are reached through love and marriage. With our African-American citizens the race card is used. They are deceived into believing that Mohammed was black and that Islam was birthed on the African continent. To the needy, they use money. For most people, they polish Islam and present it in an attractively revised westernized form.

The violent Qur’anic verses that were revealed in Medina are carefully excluded. The peaceful verses of the Mecca era are emphasized. The fact is, according to Islamic theology, the early peaceful verses that were written in Mecca are nullified (abrogated), and replaced by the later verses that were written in Medina. To the religious establishment they claim compatibility with the Judeo-Christian faith. They cite belief in Moses, Jesus, and the Virgin Mary. They concur with us on the existence of Heaven and Hell. Regardless of their boast that they have a lot in common with us, the fine print in Islamic teaching tells a different story. Legally and politically they have the means to buy political influence and to retain high-powered teams of skilled lawyers. These experts find loopholes in our laws that enable Muslims to manipulate the system. They frighten their opponents with the prospect of dragging them into long-term court battles in order to sue for large sums of money. The Archbishop of Izmir, His Exc. Giuseppe Germano Bernandini, summed up the political dilemma of the West in relation to Islam by quoting an authoritative Muslim spokesperson that he had encountered during an Islamic-Christian dialogue meeting. The man calmly stated with assurance, "
Thanks to your democratic laws we will invade you; thanks to our religious laws we will dominate you."

In Conclusion
Make no mistake about it; Islam is well on the road to becoming a major spiritual/political influence in the New World. It is imperative that we don't lose sight of the fact that their ultimate goal is to rule the world. It is patient enough, and sufficiently financed, to accomplish its goal, one country at a time. Muslim advocates are working fervently to convert America to Islam. Their dream may not be practical, but they are gaining ground every day. There is a thought that often wakes me at night: The Muslims were able to conquer most of the known world in the 7th century with their limited and primitive means. What will happen to the world, if America becomes a Muslim country, and its might, wealth, technology, and resources fall into the hands of the Muslims? If this occurs, the New World will look like the old world. Time will lapse, and revert back to the 7th century, and the New World's civilization will be reduced to a big, barren Sahara desert.