Thursday, August 20, 2015

Open Letter to Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’, And To the Fighters and Followers of the Self-Declared ‘Islamic State’ – Part One

By 120 Leading Religious Scholars and Academics From Across the Muslim World
24th Dhul-Qi’da 1435 AH / 19th September 2014 CE
Executive Summary
1. It is forbidden in Islam to issue Fatwas without all the necessary learning requirements. Even then Fatwas must follow Islamic legal theory as defined in the Classical texts. It is also forbidden to cite a portion of a verse from the Qur’an—or part of a verse—to derive a ruling without looking at everything that the Qur’an and Hadith teach related to that matter. In other words, there are strict subjective and objective prerequisites for Fatwas, and one cannot ‘cherry-pick’ Qur’anic verses for legal arguments without considering the entire Qur’an and Hadith.
2. It is forbidden in Islam to issue legal rulings about anything without mastery of the Arabic language.
3. It is forbidden in Islam to oversimplify Shari’ah matters and ignore established Islamic sciences
4. It is permissible in Islam [for scholars] to differ on any matter, except those fundamentals of religion that all Muslims must know
5. It is forbidden in Islam to ignore the reality of contemporary times when deriving legal rulings.
6. It is forbidden in Islam to kill the innocent.
7. It is forbidden in Islam to kill emissaries, ambassadors, and diplomats; hence it is forbidden to kill journalists and aid workers.
8. Jihad in Islam is defensive war. It is not permissible without the right cause, the right purpose and without the right rules of conduct.
9. It is forbidden in Islam to declare people non-Muslim unless he (or she) openly declares disbelief.
10. It is forbidden in Islam to harm or mistreat—in any way—Christians or any ‘People of the Scripture’.
11. It is obligatory to consider Yazidis as People of the Scripture.
12. Te re-introduction of slavery is forbidden in Islam. It was abolished by universal consensus.
13. It is forbidden in Islam to force people to convert.
14. It is forbidden in Islam to deny women their rights.
15. It is forbidden in Islam to deny children their rights.
16. It is forbidden in Islam to enact legal punishments (Hudud) without following the correct procedures that ensure justice and mercy
17. It is forbidden in Islam to torture people.
18. It is forbidden in Islam to disfigure the dead.
19. It is forbidden in Islam to attribute evil acts to God.
20. It is forbidden in Islam to destroy the graves and shrines of Prophets and Companions.
21. Armed insurrection is forbidden in Islam for any reason other than clear disbelief by the ruler and not allowing people to pray.
22. It is forbidden in Islam to declare a caliphate without consensus from all Muslims.
23. Loyalty to one’s nation is permissible in Islam.
24. After the death of the Prophet U, Islam does not require anyone to emigrate anywhere.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Praise be to God, Lord of the Worlds,
Peace and Blessings be upon the Seal of the Prophets and Messengers
By the declining day, Lo! man is a state of loss, Save those who believe and do good
works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
(Al-‘Asr, 103: 1-3)
Open Letter
To Dr. Ibrahim Awwad Al-Badri, alias ‘Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi’,
To the fighters and followers of the self-declared ‘Islamic State’,
Peace and the mercy of God be upon you.
During your sermon dated 6th of Ramadan 1435 AH (4th July 2014 CE), you said, paraphrasing Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq W: ‘If you find what I say and do to be true, then assist me, and if you find what I say and do to be false, then advise me and set me straight.’ In what follows is a scholarly opinion via the media. Te Prophet U said: ‘Religion is [rectifying] advice1.’ Everything said here below relies completely upon the statements and actions of followers of the ‘Islamic State’ as they themselves have promulgated in social media—or upon Muslim eyewitness accounts—and not upon other media. Every efort has been made to avoid fabrications and misunderstandings. Moreover, everything said here consists of synopses written in a simple style that refect the opinions of the overwhelming majority of Sunni scholars over the course of Islamic history.
In one of his speeches2, Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani said: ‘God bless Prophet Muhammad who was sent with the sword as a mercy to all worlds.’3 This statement comprises compounded confusions and a mistaken paradigm. Yet it is often repeated by followers of the ‘Islamic State’. Now God sent the Prophet Muhammad U as a mercy to all worlds: ‘We did not send you, except as a mercy to all the worlds.’ (Al-Anbiya’, 22: 107). This is true for all time and place. Te Prophet U was sent as mercy to people, animals, plants, to the heavens and to subtle beings—no Muslims disagree about this. It is a general and unconditional statement taken from the Qur’an itself. However, the phrase, ‘sent with the sword’ is part of a Hadith that is specific to a certain time and place which have since expired. Thus it is forbidden to mix the Qur’an and Hadith in this way, as it is forbidden to mix the general and specific, and the conditional and unconditional.
1 Narrated by Muslim in Kitab al-Iman, no. 55
2 Published by Sawarim Media on YouTube on April 3rd, 2014.
3 Ibn Taymiyyah says in Majmu’ Al-Fatawa (Vol. 28, p. 270), ‘Te Prophet U said, “I was sent with the sword as a sign of the Final Hour so that none would be worshipped save God, alone, with no partner. My sustenance has been placed under the shadow of my spear. Lowliness and humiliation will come to those who disobey my teachings. Whosoever imitates people is one of them.” Ahmad narrates this Hadith in his Musnad [Vol. 2, p.50] on the authority of Ibn Umar, and Bukhari cites it.’ However, the Hadith has a weak chain of narrators.
Moreover, God has prescribed mercy upon Himself: ‘…Your Lord has prescribed for Himself mercy …’ (Al-An’am, 6:54). God also states that His mercy encompasses all things: ‘…My mercy embraces all things…’ (Al-A’raf, 7:156). In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet U said: ‘When God created Creation, He wrote in place above His throne, with Himself “Truly, My mercy is greater than My wrath4.”’ Accordingly, it is forbidden to equate ‘the sword’—and thus wrath and severity—with ‘mercy’. Furthermore, it is forbidden to make the idea ‘mercy to all worlds’ subordinate to the phrase ‘sent with the sword’, because this would mean that mercy is dependent upon the sword, which is simply not true. Besides, how could ‘a sword’ affect realms where swords have no effect, such as the heavens, subtle beings and plants? Te Prophet Muhammad’s U being a mercy to all the worlds cannot possibly be conditional upon his having taken up the sword (at one point in time, for a particular reason and in a particular context). This point is not merely academic. Rather, it reveals the essence of much of what is to follow since it erroneously equates the sword and Divine mercy
1. Legal theory (Usul Al-Fiqh) and Qur’anic exegesis:
With regards to Qur’anic exegesis, and the understanding of Hadith, and issue in legal theory in general, the methodology set forth by God in the Qur’an and the Prophet U in the Hadith is as follows: to consider everything that has been revealed relating to a particular question in its entirety, without depending on only parts of it, and then to judge—if one is qualified—based on all available scriptural sources. God < says: ‘… What, do you believe in part of the Book, and disbelieve in part? ...’ (Al-Baqarah, 2:85); ‘… they pervert words from their contexts; and they have forgotten a portion of what they were reminded of…’ (Al-Ma’idah, 5:13); ‘… those who have reduced the Recitation, to parts’ (Al-Hijr, 15:91) Once all relevant scriptural passages have been gathered, the ‘general’ has to be distinguished from the ‘specific’, and the ‘conditional’ from the ‘unconditional’. Also, the ‘unequivocal’ passages have to be distinguished from the allegorical ones. Moreover, the reasons and circumstances for revelation (Asbab Al-Nuzul) for all the passages and verses, in addition to all the other hermeneutical conditions that the classical imams have specified, must be understood. Therefore, it is not permissible to quote a verse, or part of a verse, without thoroughly considering and comprehending everything that the Qur’an and Hadith relate about that point. Te reason behind this is that everything in the Qur’an is the Truth, and everything in authentic Hadith is Divinely inspired, so it is not permissible to ignore any part of it. Indeed it is imperative to reconcile all texts, as much as possible, or that there be a clear reason why one text should outweigh another. This is what Imam Shaf’i explains in his Al-Risalah, with a universal consensus among all Usul scholars. Imam al-Haramayn, Al-Juwayni, says in Al-Burhan f Usul Al-Fiqh:
4 Narrated by Bukhari in Kitab al-Tawhid, no. 7422, and by Muslim in Kitab al-Tawbah, no. 2751
Regarding the qualities of a mufti and the disciplines that he must master: … it is imperative that the mufti must be a scholar of language, for the Shari’ah is [in] Arabic. … it is imperative that he be a scholar of syntax and parsing … it is imperative that he be a scholar of the Qur’an, for the Qur’an is the basis of all rulings … Knowledge of textual abrogation is indispensable; and the science of the fundamentals of jurisprudence (usul) is the cornerstone of the whole subject … He should also know the various degrees of proofs and arguments … as well as their histories. [He should also know] the science of Hadith so that he can distinguish the authentic from the weak; and the acceptable from the apocryphal … [He should also know] jurisprudence.… Moreover, having ‘legal intuition’ (Fiqh Al-Nafs) is needed: it is the capital of anyone who derives legal rulings … scholars have summarized all this by saying that a mufti is ‘someone who independently knows all the texts and arguments for legal rulings’. ‘Texts’ refers to mastering language, Qur’anic exegesis and Hadith; while ‘arguments’ indicates mastering legal theory, analogical reasoning of the various kinds, as well as ‘legal intuition’ (Fiqh al-Nafs).
Al-Ghazali has said similar things in Al-Mustafa (Vol. 1, p.342), as did Al-Suyuti in Al-Itqan f Ulum Al-Qur’an (Vol. 4, p.213).
2. Language:
 As mentioned above, one of the most important pillars of legal theory is the mastery of the Arabic Language. This means mastering Arabic grammar, syntax, morphology, rhetoric, poetry, and etymology and Qur’anic exegesis. Without mastery of these disciplines, error will be likely, indeed inevitable. Your declaration of what you have termed ‘the Caliphate’ was under the title This is God’s Promise’. Te person who phrased this declaration intended to allude to the verse: ‘God has promised those of you who believe and perform righteous deeds that He will surely make them successors in the earth, just as He made those who were before them successors, and He will surely establish for them their religion which He has approved for them, and that He will give them in exchange after their fear security. “Tey worship Me, without associating anything with Me”. And whoever is ungrateful after that, those, they are the immoral.’ (Al-Nur, 24: 55) But it is not permissible to invoke a specifc verse from the Qur’an as applying to an event that has occurred 1400 years after the verse was revealed. How can Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani say that ‘God’s promise’ is this so-called Caliphate? Even if it were supposed that his claim is correct, he should have said: ‘this is of God’s promise’. Moreover, there is another linguistic error; wherein he has appropriated the word ‘Istikhlaf’ (succession) to refer to the so-called caliphate. Proof that this is not the correct usage of the word can be seen in the following verse: ‘He said, “Perhaps your Lord will destroy your enemy and make you successors (Yastakhlifakum) in the land, that He may observe how you shall act”.’ (Al-A’raf, 7:129). Succession (Istikhlaf) means that they have settled on the land in place of another people. It does not mean that they are the rulers of a particular political system. According to Ibn Taymiyyah, there is no tautology in the Qur’an5. There is a difference between ‘Khilafah’ and ‘Istikhlaf’. Al-Tabari says in his exegesis (Tafsir) of the Qur’an: ‘make you successors (Yastakhlifakum): Meaning He will make you succeed them in their land after their destruction; do not fear them or any other people.6’ This proves that the meaning of ‘Istikhlaf’ here is not ruler ship but, rather, dwelling on their land.
3. Oversimplification: It Is Not Permissible To Constantly Speak Of ‘Simplifying Matters’, Or To Cherry-Pick An Extract From The Qur’an Without Understanding It Within Its Full Context. It Is Also Not Permissible To Say:
‘Islam is simple, and the Prophet U and his noble Companions were simple, why complicate Islam?’ This is precisely what Abu Al-Baraa’ Al-Hindi did in his online video in July 2014. In it he says: ‘Open the Qur’an and read the verses on jihad and everything will become clear ... all the scholars tell me: “Tis is a legal obligation (Fard), or that isn’t a legal obligation, and this is not the time for jihad” ... forget everyone and read the Qur’an and you will know what jihad is.”’ People need to understand that the Prophet U and his noble Companions made do with as little material means as possible, without complicated technology, but they were greater than all of us in understanding, jurisprudence and intellect, and yet only a small number of Companions were qualified to issue Fatwas. God < says in the Qur’an: ‘... Say: “Are those who know equal with those who do not know?”...’ (Al-Zumar, 39: 9). God < also says: ‘... Ask the People of the Remembrance if you do not know.’ (Al-Anbiya’, 21: 7); and: ‘... If they had referred it to the Messenger and to those in authority among them; those among them who are able to think it out, would have known it from them ...’ (Al-Nisa’, 4: 83). Thus, jurisprudence is no simple matter, and not just anyone can speak authoritatively on it or issue Fatwas (religious edicts). God < says in the Qur’an: ‘... But only people of cores remember.’ (Al-Ra’d, 13:19). And the Prophet Muhammad U said: ‘Whoever speaks about the Qur’an without knowledge should await his seat in the Fire7 .’ It is also high time to stop blithely saying that ‘they are men, and we are men’; those who say this do not have the same understanding and discernment as the noble Companions and the imams of the Pious Forebears (al-Salaf al-Saleh) to whom they are referring.
5 Ibn Taymiyyah says in Majmu’ Al-Fatawa (Vol. 13, p. 341), ‘Tautology in [the Arabic] language is rare and in the Qur’an, it is even rarer or nonexistent.’ Al-Raghib Al-Asfahani says in Mufradat Al-Qur’an (p. 55), ‘This book is followed … by a book that informs the use of synonyms and their subtle differences. By doing so, the uniqueness of every expression is distinguishable from its synonyms.
6 Tafsir Al-Tabari (Vol. 9, p. 28)
4. Difference Of Opinion: In Regards To Difference Of Opinion, There Are Two Kinds:
blameworthy and praiseworthy. Regarding blameworthy difference of opinion, God < says in the Qur’an: ‘And those who were given the Scripture did not become divided, except after the clear proof had come to them.’ (Al-Bayyinah, 98: 4). As for praiseworthy difference of opinion, God < says: ‘... then God guided those who believed to the truth, regarding which they were at variance, by His leave ...’ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 213). This is the opinion expressed by Al-Imam Al-Shaf’i in Al-Risalah, the other three imams and all the scholars for over a thousand years.
When there is a difference of opinion among eminent scholars, the more merciful, i.e. the best, opinion should be chosen. Severity should be avoided, as should the idea that severity is the measure of piety. God < says: ‘And follow the best of what has been revealed to you from your Lord ...’ (Al-Zumar, 39: 55); and: ‘Indulge [people] with forgiveness, and enjoin kindness, and turn away from the ignorant.’ (Al-A’raf, 7: 199). God < also says: ‘[Those] who listen to the words [of God] and follow the best [sense] of it. Those, they are the ones whom God has guided; and those, they are the people of pith.’ (Al-Zumar, 39: 18). In an authentic Hadith, it is related that the Lady Aisha said: ‘Whenever faced by more than once choice, the Prophet U always chose the easiest one8.’
Te more severe opinion should not be considered more pious, religious or sincere to God < says in the Qur’an: ‘... God desires ease for you, and desires not hardship for you ...’ (Al-Baqarah, 2: 185). Moreover, the Prophet U said: ‘Do not be severe with yourselves lest God be severe towards you. A people were severe with themselves and then God was severe towards them9.’ There is delusion and vanity in severity, because severe people naturally say to themselves: ‘I am severe. Anyone less severe than me is deficient’; and thus: ‘I am superior to them.’ Herein lies an inherent attribution of ill-intention to God < revealed the Qur’an to make people miserable. God says: ‘Tā hā. We have not revealed the Qur’an to you that you should be miserable’. (Ta Ha, 20: 1–2)
7 Narrated by Al-Tirmidhi in Tafsir Al-Qur’an, no. 2950.
8 Narrated by Bukhari in Kitab al-Hudud, no. 6786, and by Muslim in Kitab al-Fada’il, no. 2327
9 Narrated by Abu Dawood in Kitab Al-Adab, no. 4904.
It is worth noting that most of the people, who became Muslims through- out history, did so through gentle invitation (Da’wah Hasanah). God < says: ‘Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation, and dispute with them by way of that which is best. Truly your Lord knows best those who stray from His way and He knows best those who are guided.’ (Al-Nahl, 16: 125). Te Prophet U said: ‘Be gentle, and beware of violence and foul language10.’ And while Islam spread politically from Central Asia (Khurasan) to North Africa due to Islamic conquests, the majority of the inhabitants of these lands remained Christian for hundreds of years until some of them gradually accepted Islam through gentle invitation, and not through severity and coercion. Indeed large countries and entire provinces became Muslim without conquest but through invitation (Da’wah), such as: Indonesia; Malaysia; West and East Africa, and others. Hence, severity is neither a measure of piety nor a choice for the spread of Islam.
5. Practical Jurisprudence (Fiqh Al-Waq’i):
What is meant by ‘practical jurisprudence’ is the process of applying Shari’ah rulings and dealing with them according to the realities and circumstances that people are living under. This is achieved by having an insight into the realities under which people are living and identifying their problems, struggles, capabilities and what they are subjected to. Practical jurisprudence (Fiqh al-Waq’i) considers the texts that are applicable to people’s realities at a particular time, and the obligations that can be postponed until they are able to be met or delayed based on their capabilities. Imam Ghazali said: ‘As for practicalities that dictate necessities, it is not far-fetched that independent reasoning (Ijtihad) may lead to them [practicalities], even if there is no specific origin for them11.’ Ibn Qayyim Al Jawziyyah said: ‘Indeed, [a jurist] must understand people’s propensity for plotting, deception and fraud, in addition to their customs and traditions. Religious edicts (Fatwas) change with the change of time, place, customs and circumstances, and all of this is from the religion of God, as already elucidated12.
6. Te Killing of Innocents:
God says in the Qur’an: ‘And do not slay the soul [whose life] God has made inviolable, except with due cause ...’ (Al-Isra’, 17: 33); and ‘Say: “Come, I will recite that which your Lord has made a sacred duty for you: that you associate nothing with Him, that you be dutiful to parents, and that you do not slay your children, because of poverty - We will provide for you and them - and that you do not draw near any acts of lewdness, whether it be manifest or concealed, and that you do not slay the life which God has made sacred, except rightfully. This is what He has charged you with that perhaps you will understand.”’ (Al-An’am, 6: 151). The slaying of a soul—any soul—is Haraam (forbidden and inviolable under Islamic Law), it is also one of the most abominable sins (Mubiqat). God says in the Qur’an: ‘Because of that, We decreed for the Children of Israel that whoever slays a soul for other than a soul, or for corruption in the land, it shall be as if he had slain mankind altogether; and whoever saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind. Our messengers have already come to them with clear proofs, but after that many of them still commit excesses in the land.’ (Al-Ma’idah, 5: 32) You have killed many innocents who were neither combatants nor armed, just because they disagree with your opinions13.
10 Narrated by Al-Bukhari in Kitab al-Adab, no. 6030
11 Al-Ghazali, Al-Mustasfa f Usul Al-Fiqh, (Vol. 1, p. 420)
12 Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah, I’lam Al-Muqi’een ‘an Rabbil-‘Alamin, (Vol. 4, p. 157).

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