The Jihadis and the Turkish Elections

One of the unifying themes of the Sunni jihadi movement as it has developed over the past half-century has been the view that Western-style democracy is an affront to Islam. Even worse, it is a religion fundamentally incompatible with the faith, a version of polytheism (shirk) in which authority is derived from the popular will as opposed to God’s will, and in which manmade laws are adopted and implemented as opposed to God’s law, the Shari‘a. Yet as the jihadi movement’s unity has frayed over the past decade with the rise of the Islamic State, so too has the united front against democracy. Last month’s elections in Turkey, which saw President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, head of the Islamist AKP, reelected to another five-year term in office, brought divisions over the matter into the sharpest relief yet, as ideologues debated the legitimacy not only of voting for the Turkish president but

Read More »

How Turkey and the election of Erdogan are fragmenting the Jihadi movement

What to make of Turkey is arguably the most controversial issue in the Jihadi movement in Syria today. Is it to be seen as an infidel state? Is its leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to be considered an apostate? Is collaboration with Turkey religiously legitimate? What should be the attitude to Erdogan’s victory in last week’s election? These are some of the questions that have bedeviled Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the Jihadi group previously affiliated with al-Qaida in an earlier incarnation, and have become the most serious source of division between the group and the al-Qaida loyalists organized in Tanzim Hurras al-Din. HTS’s balancing act Previously, HTS appeared vehemently opposed to any relationship with the Turks, even criticizing groups like Ahrar al-Sham and Nour al-Deen al-Zinki for cooperating with Turkey on a diplomatic and military level. This was to change radically, however, when HTS openly assisted Turkish forces entering north-western Syria

Read More »

Al-Qaida Advises the Arab Spring: Al-Maqdisi

As Cole Bunzel pointed out some time ago, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, the famous Jordanian radical Salafi scholar, has published several fatwas and other documents in the last few months. Cole mainly dealt with only two of al-Maqdisi’s recent publications, however, while there are several others he wrote afterwards that are quite interesting as well. Joining rallies Several months ago, al-Maqdisi started publishing a series of short documents containing one or more fatwas. It’s not clear who’s asking the questions, but this doesn’t make his answers any less interesting. In the first installment of the series, al-Maqdisi discusses questions that are quite similar to some that his brother in arms Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti also dealt with several years ago, namely whether or not it is allowed to participate in rallies against the regime. Al-Maqdisi’s answer is similar to al-Shinqiti’s – it is allowed – but far more detailed. Al-Maqdisi states that

Read More »

Al-Qaida Advises the Arab Spring: Egypt

The number of jihadi publications on the Arab Spring is increasing dramatically as the months go by and my time has – as always – been very limited, hence my recent absence from Jihadica. I have several posts about al-Qaida’s advice to the Arab Spring lined up, however, including this one about Egypt. Scepticism When one thinks of Egypt and jihadis, the first person that comes to mind is probably Ayman al-Zawahiri. Al-Qaida’s leader has issued many a “letter of hope and good tidings to our people in Egypt” since the beginning of the Arab Spring and although that title may sound as if these epistles contain Christmas greetings to the country’s Coptic community, they offer nothing of the sort. In part three of his series of letters to the Egyptian people, al-Zawahiri spends most of his time warning his countrymen about the supposedly evil intentions of the United States

Read More »

The Allure of Parliamentary Politics

The Sharia Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid website has issued a new fatwa today by Abu Mundhir al-Shinqiti. The fatwa rules on the permissibility of Muslims electing representatives to parliaments and serving in those bodies. Since the Minbar’s Sharia Council has become the jihadis’ go-to resource for religious opinions, its fatwas on the Arab Spring matter in jihadi circles (see Joas’ and Brynjar’s earlier posts on the council’s output). This may become even more true in the months ahead if al-Qaeda continues to fade as the vanguard of the jihadi movement. Unsurprisingly, the council rules that it is forbidden for Muslims to participate in a parliamentary system, even if it is to make the constitution more Islamic (the reasons are the same as those outlined in my Foreign Affairs article). It also enjoins Muslims to focus on fighting in “lands of jihad,” which is somewhat at odds with al-Shinqiti’s earlier

Read More »
Latest Jihadica