To the one who presumed to don a mantle that was not his.
As I transcribe these thoughts of mine, reports abound of your supposed death; whether you still live or have passed on is at this time unclear. With respect to the contents of this letter, though, it is largely irrelevant. The chances of this missive reaching you were always remote – and of you taking heed of it, were it to, probably non-existent. My hope, instead, is that these words might sway the heart of at least one of your followers and more importantly to serve as sincere advice to those who will follow in your wake.
For the acerbic tone of this missive I apologise in advance. Perchance you will riposte that one who has not dusted his feet in the path of Jihad has no right to sit in judgement over you. Perhaps. But then many of those whose sacrifices surpass yours, those who have suffered greater excesses at the hands of the Crusaders and their apostate allies, have been much harsher in their condemnation. Also bear in mind that sometimes the far removed sees better than the proximate.
A little over three years ago, following your forces’ seizure of Mosul, your late spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adnani declared the re-establishment of the Caliphate. Today the Safavid forces, supported by Crusader airpower, have just completed the final phase of their operation to reoccupy the historic city. Some two hundred miles to the west the accursed Kurdish communists have encircled Raqqah – the supposed capital of your Caliphate – and stand poised to bring your four year reign over it to a bloody conclusion. Posterity will record that your fighters acquitted themselves with valour and distinction over the course of the past nine months. Valiantly, against overwhelming odds they held out, exacting, moreover, a debilitating toll on the numbers and morale of their enemies. Their bravery in the face of impending doom has been attested to even by those charged with their elimination. Yet in spite of their heroism the truth is that the result of this battle was never in doubt from the get-go. A contest between a Kalashnikov and an F-16 is one which will only ever produce one winner.
It is true that seniority is no guarantor of wisdom nor indeed of rectitude; your decision to disregard the Sykes-Picot border and amalgamate the struggle against the Alawite tyrant in Damascus with the campaign against the Safavid puppet Maliki in Baghdad most impartial observers would place within the bounds of legitimate ikhtilaf. Your insistence on declaring yourself Khaleefah, on exacting jiziya from the Ahlul Kitab, on massacaring and enslaving the Yazidis (despicable as their cult is) on demanding bayah from the Ummah (including from all other armed factions), was the act of a usurper and a tyrant, of a man blinded by hubris and enamoured of power. Did not those who preceded you in the noble struggle to make Allah’s word supreme admonish you and urge restraint in the matter of Khilafah? Were you not advised not to be hasty in such a declaration?
A state cannot be declared amidst the fog of war and uncertainty. Any such declaration preceding the decisive defeat of its mortal enemies and the ensuing ambience of peace and security, is but a vain pretension; a reflection of aspiration rather than reality. Independence and autarky are the hallmarks of a Caliphate; yet was it not the truth that the salaries of your civil servants were paid by the Syrian and Iraqi regimes? Wasn’t it the case that your ‘state’ was dependent on their electricity and their currencies to function? As the supposed Khaleefah of 1.5 billion Muslims you were not able to show your face in public save once. I ask you when in the history of Islam has the Khaleefah been confined to scurrying between hideouts? Without an airforce or any credible air defences it was inevitably only a matter of time before your ‘state’ was worn down and finally effaced from the map.
Yes shaykh, “In Allah let the believers put their trust” – that victory is decided by Him and not by strength of arms is not in question – yet the One who ordered us to trust in Him also ordered us to make sufficient preparations: “And make ready against them all you can of power, including steeds of war (tanks, planes, missiles, artillery, etc.) to threaten the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others besides whom, you may not know but whom Allah does know.”
You demanded of hundreds of millions to emigrate to your ‘state’ while you were not in a position to afford them security, sustenance or meaningful employment. What heavy industry was there in the lands you controlled? For that matter, other than agriculture and the most basic manufacturing, what industry was there at all? What scientific research facilities had you available in which to employ the most erudite and prodigious minds of our Ummah? When no other state would extend you any manner of recognition, how did you intend to conduct trade and commerce? Were you so deluded as to believe that black market trading of oil could sustain you in the long term? Or perhaps your economic policy was predicated on the pillaging of Europe? When you were not able to decisively overcome the remnants of third world armies did you seriously envisage sweeping away the combined power of the NATO military machine to be a viable proposition?
This is not the Middle Ages! No matter how stentorian the takbirs no infantry formation can survive sustained heavy aerial bombardment – the debacle at Kobane should have taught you this if it was not already obvious. The reality of an insurgent group is a million miles removed from the reality of a state – as you have now discovered at huge cost not only to you and your followers but also to the detriment of millions of hapless Sunnis. For their plight, and perhaps even more poignantly the plight of those who made hijrah to your ‘state’, you bear considerable responsibility; for the consequences of your vanity and intransigence you will one day have to account to your Rabb.
The Khilafah is not a plaything, some bauble fit for childish squabbles. Toying with the emotions and aspirations of over one billion Muslims is an insult to the multitudes who have lost their lives in the quest for its re-establishment. Like a destitute orphan, for nine decades we have endured with forebearance, awaiting the return of the Sultanate – our shield and protector. Though the passing of the generations faded its imagery from our consciousness, instinct told us we would recognise it when we saw it again. Sadly, to all but the purblind, it was clear from the outset that your proto-polity was not it. Despite knowing it a simulacrum, ersatz and deceptive, nonetheless the presence of a territory ostensibly governed by the maxim that the rule was for none but Allah and whose rulers disavowed alliance or kinship with disbelief, imbued in us a renewed sense of hope and longing. The genie had been released from the bottle and the previously ineffable word was suddenly upon the lips of millions of Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Maybe, just maybe, a Muslim general somewhere would be inspired to follow suit. Someone who had the military wherewithal and the acumen to establish the genuine article.
“Soon, by Allah’s permission, a day will come when the Muslim will walk everywhere as a master, having honour, being revered, with his head raised high and his dignity preserved. Anyone who dares to offend him will be disciplined, and any hand that reaches out to harm him will be cut off.”
Be’ithnillah! But for now His (swt) decree is that we must endure a while longer. By designating your entity the Khilafah you gifted the Crusaders and their munafiqeen allies the chance to once more claim the destruction of the Islamic State just as their predecessors did a century ago. Once more they wax proud and arrogant in their claim to have crushed the hopes of the believers, declaring the idea of the Caliphate to be buried under the rubble of the great city they have pulverised. But as your late companion correctly averred, true defeat is the loss of willpower and desire to fight – a condition that has never afflicted this Ummah in 1400 years. And yes, we would only be defeated and they victorious if they were able to remove the Quran from our hearts. Indeed, how impossible a feat!
Ya Abu Bakr!
Jihad has certainly been ordained upon the believers. By it Allah (swt) distinguishes the faithful from the hypocrites. The Rasul (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) stated: “Whoever dies without having fought or having resolved to fight has died following one of the branches of hypocrisy.” The rewards of the martyr are innumerable, known widely to both the scholars and the laity of this ummah. Jihad has its conditions, however; yet more important than the punctilios is the ethos underpinning this noble act. Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) was sent as a mercy to mankind and his message, Islam, as a liberation from the shackles of human servitude. Jihad was the method to achieve this, and then only after peaceful persuasion had failed. The shedding of blood is an epiphenomenon of Jihad, not it’s objective. Enslavement of a defeated army (i.e. those who actively fought us) and their women was an option, never an obligation and one wholly unsuited to the current era. As one familiar with the writings of the ulema, you must surely be aware that many rulings and policies are liable to change with the time. Listening to the broadcasts of your officials and observing the behaviour of your soldiers, however, one would be forgiven for assuming Jihad synonymous with an orgy of bloodletting, enslavement and rapine. Do you suppose Islam to be spread by brutality? Was it ever the case?
Your treatment of non-Muslims has been nothing short of a disgrace. A stain on the history of Islam. From the outset – since the accession of your namesake Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) through till the the last Khaleefah, Abdul Majid II – the Islamic state has always protected the wealth, honour and dignity of its non-Muslim citizenry. Yes, it took the jiziya from them, but in return afforded them (almost) the same rights and protections as Muslims, to the extent that the ulema deemed even the backbiting of a dhimmi forbidden as a violation of our contract of protection with them. For centuries Jews and heterodox Christians would flee persecution towards the Islamic state, does it not therefore give you pause to think why today they flee from you as one might flee a rabid dog?
Though I place little trust in the Western media nonetheless the reports of sexual abuse (as per Islamic law) of Yazidi captive women are too numerous and consistent to dismiss. Your burning alive of the Jordanian pilot – as perfidious as his own behaviour was – was a spectacle that revolted even those hardened to acts of wartime savagery. Your betrayal and cold blooded butchery of Alan Henning, a man whose only crime was to care for the plight of starving Muslims, disgusted and dismayed even those previously disposed to support you. Do you suppose it any great wonder that your organisation attracts the miscreants and misfits of our communities – the flotsam who have spent their lives immersed in all manner of fahashiyah?
Shaykh, measure your sunnah against the sunnah of our Rasul (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) beautifully exemplified by his pardoning of Quraish upon the conquest of Makkah. Ask yourself whose follower you truly are? From where I stand your behaviour appears to mimic the Crusaders and Rafidah you claim to despise – vengeful and brutal, without discrimination between the innocent and the guilty.
Naturally there is always some precedent available to justify your actions – some statement of a scholar to lend it religious credibility. Shaykh, if one looks diligently enough one can always unearth some evidence that will buttress almost any opinion. You subscribe to the Salafiyyah minhaj which emphasises the primacy of the literal import of the texts over the opinions of scholars yet when such understandings stand in obstacle to your predetermined objectives you appear only too happy to abandon them in favour of a fatwa which isn’t. On a related note your insistence upon forcing your juristic opinions upon the populace is misguided and self-defeating. What benefit is accrued from forcing women to adopt the niqab when many opinions (even from amongst the Salafiyyah sect) permit the display of the face and hands? If you claim maslaha then know that for the short term benefit of “preventing fitnah” you have engendered an aversion for the Shariah in the hearts of tens of thousands of Muslims, already victims of decades of secular Ba’athist oppression. What would it have harmed you to have permitted the people to exercise their own judgement in this matter?
The Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said, “Make things easy for the people, and do not make it difficult for them, and make them calm (with glad tidings) and do not repulse (them).”
It was narrated that Hudhayfah ibn al-Yamaan (may Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) said: “Islam will wear out as colour on a garment wears out, until no one will know what fasting, prayer, Hajj and charity (zakaah) are. The Book of Allah, may He be glorified and exalted, will be taken away at night, and not one verse of it will be left on earth. And there will be some people left, old men and old women, who will say: We saw our fathers saying these words, Laa ilaaha ill-Allah, so we say them too.” Silah said to him: What good will (saying) Laa ilaaha ill-Allah do them, when they do not know what fasting, prayer, Hajj and charity are? Hudhayfah turned away from him. He repeated his question three times, and Hudhayfah turned away from him each time. Then he turned to him on the third time and said: O Silah, it will save them from Hell, three times.
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah (may Allah have mercy upon him) wrote:
Many people may grow up in places and times where a lot of the teachings of Islam are worn out, so that there is no one left to convey that with which Allah sent His Messenger of the Book and wisdom, so they do not know much of that with which Allah sent His Messenger, and there will be no one to convey to them. Such a person cannot be deemed a disbeliever, therefore the leading scholars are unanimously agreed that whoever is brought up in the wilderness, far away from people of knowledge and faith, and is new in Islam, and denies something of these obvious rulings that were established through mutawaatir texts, is not to be deemed a disbeliever until he learns what the Messenger brought.
Decades of corrupt rulership, the inaccessability of pristine religious education and the proliferation of corrupt scholarship promoting heresies such as syncretism, perennialism or the various strands of “reformed Islam” has rendered the awwam similar to those the noble Imam describes as having been brought up in the wildnerness. Ignorance is currently the norm and hurling accusations and judgements of apostasy in such a climate is something deserving of extreme caution and reservation.
Shaykh ul-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah further said: “Moreover, my attitude – and those who have spent time with me know that about me – is that I am the one who most emphatically forbids deeming a specific person to be a disbeliever, evildoer or sinner, unless it is known that definitive proof has been established against him, of the kind of proof that anyone who goes against it or rejects it becomes a disbeliever, evildoer or sinner. I affirm here that Allah has forgiven this ummah for their mistakes, which includes mistakes in issues of beliefs, words and practical actions.”
Shaykh, an article in Dabiq magazine does not constitute such an “establishment of the proof”. The Rasul (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) forgave the Muslim intent on betraying his plans to the mushrikeen. He, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, accepted his excuse and forbade Umar (may Allah be please with him) to execute him. I advise you and your followers to be fearful of shedding the blood of one who says La ilaha illaha. I warn you from committing such a calamity. Fear Allah and stay your hand. To meet Allah (swt) burdened by the mistake of sparing thousands who deserved death is infinitely preferable to meeting Him burdened with the blood of a single Muslim unjustly killed. Again I entreat you to fear Allah with the blood of the believers.
Allah’s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said:
“There are four signs that make someone a pure hypocrite and whoever has them has a characteristic of hypocrisy until he abandons it: when he speaks he lies, when he makes a covenant he is treacherous, when he makes a promise he breaks it, and when he argues he is wicked.”
And also: “Every betrayer will have a flag on the Day of Resurrection.”
To demand of us – the Muslim diaspora – to violate our covenants and set upon the non-Muslims we live amongst is to ask us to exhibit nifaq. Our refusal has no bearing on Al Walaa wal Baraa and as Muslims we affirm our disavowal of kufr and the kafireen. We will never be pleased with their way of life and neither they with ours. But again Shaykh, please reflect upon the situation before inciting the impressionable amongst us to violence. Since the fall of the Ottoman state a century ago, the entire world has taken the ruling of Dar ul-Kufr, nowhere has the power and the rule been for Islam alone – whether the land was Muslim or kafir majority. To castigate us for citizenship of disbelieving nations is to overlook this important fact; and remember that one of the first conditions of citizenship is that your fellow citizens be safe of harm from you.
The Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم said three times, “By Allah, he does not have faith!” It was said, “Who is it, O Messenger of Allah?” The Prophet said, “He whose neighbor is not safe from his harm.”
And as for your presumed rejoinder that we now have Dar al-Islam then I have rebutted this already and even were it to be the case it would still provide no justification for the violation of our covenants.
You warned in one of your communiques that the Muslims who reside in the lands of the Cross will not be permitted to live except as apostates. Sadly I fear on this point you will be proven correct. We beg of Allah (swt) to spare us and our offspring from such a fate. Ameen.
During the past two hundred years as Europe made huge strides in every sphere of human learning and endeavour the Muslim world stagnated, mired in the marshland of intellectual obscurantism. Today our nations have become bywords for totalitarianism, deprivation corruption and petty tribalism. But that the solution to such maladies was as facile as the importing of a few scientific primers from Western universities or in the adoption of a few socio-economic policies e.g. banning riba and implementing the hudood. Such ‘solutions’ by themselves will do nothing to ameliorate our condition. What is needed is nothing less than a paradigm shift in the pysche of the Muslim masses, a renewal of ijtihad, the adoption of rigorous checks and balances in government, genuine independence and empowerment of the judiciary and perhaps most importantly the inculcation of critical thinking and rational thought (within Islamic parameters).
Five centuries ago witnessed the dawn of the European renaissance, an intellectual revival weaned on the prodigious scholarship of the Muslim world. Soon Europe will repay the debt in the form of millions of highly educated young Muslims equipped with the skills indispensable to the administering of a modern state. Rather than urging them to rampage through the streets of London, Paris and New York, murdering bystanders who mostly oppose the depredations of their governments, had you the foresight and nous of one who would be Khaleefah you would instead urge them to busy themselves in acquiring the technical and economic capital essential for the restoration of the Islamic State (the genuine one) to its rightful position as the foremost power in the world.
Allah – the Mighty and Majestic – said in His Book:
“It is He who has sent his Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, in order for it to be dominant over all other religions, even though the Mushrikoon (disbelievers) hate it.”
The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
“This matter (Islam) will reach as far as night and day reach, and Allah will not leave any house or tent but He will cause this religion to enter it. Some will be honoured and others will be humiliated, Allah will honour Islam and humiliate kufr.”
“Verily Allah has shown me the eastern and western part of the earth, and I saw the authority of my Ummah (nation) dominate all that I saw.”
That victory will ultimately be ours was never in doubt. In the quest to earn His good pleasure though, let us not behave in a manner that incurs His wrath.
Any good that is in this letter is from Allah (swt), only the mistakes are mine.
May the peace and blessings of Allah (swt) be upon sayyidina Muhammad. Ameen.