ji·had·ica

Al-Qaradawi and the Help of the Unbelievers

  Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the famous Egyptian Muslim scholar who’s often described as the most influential Sunni scholar alive, is well known for his comments on politics, society and other practical issues that believers have to deal with. Yesterday, I read in an article that he has added a new comment of that type to an already long list: he has called upon the United States to “hit” Syria. This may not come as a surprise to some, but it is nevertheless a position that is worth taking a closer look at. “Please sir, I want some more” In a recent Friday sermon delivered in the Qatari capital Doha, al-Qaradawi thanked the United States for giving 60 million dollars’ worth of weapons to the Syrian rebels fighting the regime of President Bashar al-Asad. This is remarkable enough in itself, but al-Qaradawi even added to that by asking for more help from

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Jihadi Twitter activism – Introduction

Ali Fisher and I have recently exchanged thoughts and data regarding the increasing Jihadi use of Twitter. By taking an interdisciplinary approach of social-media analysis and cluster network assessment, we decided to start a series on Jihadica on the parts of the overall jihadi, primarily Arabic language propaganda resonating among the audiences online. We plan on delivering updates on the subject as we move along and kick-off the series with an overall introduction to the theme. In future posts in the series, we will highlight and decipher some of the core content most often shared on Twitter, allowing conclusions to be drawn about the parts of jihadist propaganda which resonate with a wider audience (and hence shared over and over again). Introducing the theme The recent essay by Abu Sa‘d al-‘Amili on the state of global online jihad (discussed here) lamented a general decline in participation in jihadi online forums.

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What’s in a Name? A Jihadi Labels Himself

As all academics know, defining the subject you study is very important and often complicated. This is obviously no different in the study of jihadis, where terms such as “radical Muslims”, “Muslim extremists”, “Jihadi-Salafis”, “takfiris” and even “Islamo-fascists” are often used to describe Muslims engaging in violence against others. Such terms are based on criteria set by outsiders, sometimes resulting in terms that are crude, imprecise and/or used to describe people who strongly differ from one another. Others take the approach of simply listening to what the people that one’s research focuses on – in this case jihadis – call themselves. This often yields widely divergent and biased answers that are frequently ill-suited to be used by academics. Terms such as “Muslims”, “mujahidun” and “ahl al-Sunna wa-l-jama’a“, for example, are rather general and, more importantly, are also claimed by Muslims who have nothing to do with al-Qa’ida whatsoever. Defining one’s

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A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 4)

As we saw in the previous parts of this series, the Shari’a Council of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in Gaza wrote a book that can be described as a “crash course” in jihadi theory. In part 1, I described how the council used the term taghut (idol, pl. tawaghit) to accuse the rulers of the Muslim world of unbelief and why they were adamantly against both democracy and secularism. In part 2, we saw that the council believes Muslim rulers should be overthrown because of their man-made legislation but that something beneficial for Muslims should replace them, with the obvious favourite being a truly Islamic imamate of course. Finally, in part 3 it became clear that, its radicalism notwithstanding, the council did not believe any sinful Muslim should simply be fought by means of jihad but that one should be careful in applying takfir (excommunication). The “infidel” rulers, though, should

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A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 3)

In the first part of this series on a book written by the Shari’a Council of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in Gaza, we saw that its authors were highly critical of the rulers of the Muslim world and employed their Islamist terminology to accuse these rulers of kufr (unbelief), the details of which are dealt with in the second part of this series. Knowing this, you might expect the Council’s treatment of excommunication (takfir) to deal entirely with the legitimacy of excommunicating Muslim rulers and why they may be called “infidels” and expelled from Islam. Well, this is actually not the case. Apparently, the authors believed they had made a strong enough case against Muslim rulers in the previous chapters because chapter 4 is virtually entirely dedicated to giving a theoretical description of what takfir is, what its conditions and obstacles are and when it may or may not be

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A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 2)

In the first part of this series on a book describing what every jihadi ought to know, we saw that the authors of the book, the Shari’a Council of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in Gaza, initially seemed to give a purely religious description of things but quickly moved on to the political relevance of what they were saying. In a response to this post, one reader stated that their words were “just a rehash of Qutb”. He has a good point. In Qutb’s famous Milestones (Ma’alim fi l-Tariq), the author does indeed point out that those who fail to rule according to the shari’a and use man-made laws instead are claiming God’s sovereignty (hakimiyya), thereby turning themselves into gods or idols (tawaghit), just like we saw in the previous post. The scholars of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad go further, however, and show that they have much more detailed ideas than

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Quilliam Report

The Quilliam Foundation, a London based think tank, has released a very interesting new report by Muhammad Ali Musawi titled Cheering for Osama: How Jihadis Use Discussion Forums. It is one of the best introductions to the world of online jihadism that I have seen. It also points out some recent forum trends that should interest more seasoned observers.

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A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 1)

Throughout the years, the number of jihadi writings has grown enormously. Nowadays, books and fatwas on any given subject related to jihadi thought can easily be found and downloaded from the internet. As a service to those who can’t see the forest for the trees anymore or to those people who simply want a brief overview of what every budding jihadi theorist should know, the Shari’a Council of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in Gaza (not to be confused with the Shari’a Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, on which I wrote previously) produced what can be described as a crash course in jihadi theory some time ago. The book, entitled The Gift of the Unifiers on the Most Important Issues of the Basics of Islam (also available here), describes the theoretical underpinnings of jihadis’ animosity towards Muslim states and their policies in a mere 273 pages. This post is the

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What’s the Minbar doing in Moscow? (Part 3)

In the previous two parts of this short series (here and here), we saw that the Jordanian radical ideologue Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi and his website, Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, have been closely involved in efforts to support the mujahidun in the Caucasus by offering advice, translating books into Russian and encouraging and praising their efforts. We still don’t know why this is the case, however. In this final part of the series, we will try to answer that question. The Shari’a Committee To understand why al-Maqdisi and his website are so interested in the mujahidun in the Caucasus, we need to go back a few years to an interview that al-Maqdisi gave to the Jordanian newspaper Al-‘Arab al-Yawm, which was published on 5 July 2005. As regular Jihadica readers know, al-Maqdisi used his week-long release from prison in that year to criticise his former pupil Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi and to scold

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What’s the Minbar doing in Moscow? (part 2)

In part 1 of this short series of posts, we saw that the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad website published a communique by the leader of the Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus, Dokku ‘Umarov, claiming responsibility for the attacks in Moscow on 29 March 2010. This was slightly odd since the Minbar mostly publishes books, articles and fatwas, not claims of responsibility for attacks committed anywhere. Although a quick glance at the website may give the impression that this is indeed an exception, a more detailed look reveals that it is part of a broader trend. It appears that the Minbar has been involved in the conflict between Russia and the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus for some time. For instance, the Jordanian owner of the website, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, has written an epistle in support of the mujahidin in the Caucasus. In it, al-Maqdisi praises the supposed ideological purity, leadership and

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