Several days ago, I wondered why Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi–Zarqawi’s mentor and one of the most influential Jihadi ideologues alive–was being criticized or defended from criticism on the forums. And last week, I speculated as to the reason his site, Tawhed.ws, has been allowed to go back up.
We now have part of the answer. According to members of several forums, a statement is circulating in Jordan that renounces takfirism, especially as exercised by a small group from the city of Zarqa’ (Zarqawi’s hometown). One of the signatories of the statement is Maqdisi.
If Maqdisi signed the statement, it’s big news seeing as he’s the father of modern takfirism (excessively excommunicating other Muslims). It also represents a further repudiation of Zarqawi (he had already broken with him over his harsh tactics in Iraq). Although the statement is far short of the revisions of Sayyid Imam, it’s a step down the road and will cause another convulsion in the Jihadi Movement. Indeed, judging from the amount of posts on the forums defending Maqdisi against the libelous charge of signing the document, many a Jihadi foot soldier will have his heart broken if it’s true. (See the recommendations from the intro to the Atlas for the power of this sort of ideological repositioning.)
Not everyone is buying it of course. On Hesbah, for example, some think the statement and Maqdisi’s signature is a confection of the Jordanian government or the Muslim Brotherhood. However, others say that it represents his true views. Of the latter group, Muhibb Amir al-Shuhada’ is the most witty:
He is against the extremists among the takfiris…who excommunicate people for stopping at traffic lights because tyrants had put them there!