Middle East Media Research Institute
August 13, 2019
Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri
On August 7, 2019, Al-Qaeda's Al-Sahab media wing released a video featuring a speech by Al-Qaeda leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri titled "The Battle of the Hijab." In the video, Al-Zawahiri addresses Muslim women and warns them of the war raging against the Islamic nation that seeks to force them to abandon their religion and hijab ("head covering").
The 12-minute video, which is the fourth episode of his da'wa ("preaching, invitation") series, shows the Al-Qaeda leader in the usual setting, in what appears to be a studio, sitting behind a table on which a Quran is open. Al-Zawahiri begins by addressing "Muslim sisters," particularly those who wear the hijab, saying the current war rages against the Islamic ummah at all levels – militarily, politically, ideologically, culturally, educationally, or economically and others. He says: "The reason behind this war is the danger the Muslim ummah poses to the existence of the modern global system, which is controlled by the leading [international] criminals."
Comparing the Islamic nation with other non-Islamic nations, he says that the nation of Islam is a nation of monotheism, chastity, and jihad for the sake of Allah, while other nations believe in polytheism, lechery, and invasion. He then accuses other nations of "trying by all means to exclude the Islamic Ummah or cause it to deviate from this religion and its shari'a." He says that non-Islamic nations wage wars of ideas and ideologies and other types of wars, and that they want Muslims to abandon their monotheism and become "secularists, irreligious, atheists, Christians, communists, and utilitarians," desert chastity, purity, virtue, and integrity, and indulge in lust and pleasures.
In a stark criticism of the United States and Western countries, Al-Zawahiri says: "Isn't it awfully strange that those who bombarded Japan with atomic bombs, killed five million people in Vietnam, occupied our countries, smashed the Ottoman state, planted Israel in our midst, divided us into more than 50 countries, are stealing our wealth and even the wealth of the whole humanity, are disregarding the destruction of our planet by climate change for their our own interest, are supporting every tyrant and corrupt powerful leader in our countries, and then lecture us about human rights, freedom, civilization, and justice?"
"Is it not strange that the world is controlled by five criminal powers through their international legitimacy, and then they lecture us on democracy and equality?" he asks.
Addressing Muslim women, Al-Zawahiri says that they stand on the frontlines of such wars. He also warns them that non-Islamic nations want Muslim women to abandon their "religion, commitment, chastity, modesty, Hijab, and morals," adding that they also want Muslim women to be atheists, irreligious, and secularists with no morals and principles.
He then praises the role of Muslim women in the Islamic community and their steadfastness, patience, and suffering, especially if their sons or husbands are killed, arrested, or lost. He commends Muslim women and girls who supported their male siblings who participated in jihad, incited them to take part in protests against oppression and tyranny, or suffered due to their imprisonment.
Al-Zawahiri goes on to say: "Oh noble and honorable women, you are one of the first targets in the war against our Islamic Ummah. They will try to reach your faith and conviction using every loophole so that they can penetrate [your faith]."
Confronting cultural, ideological, and media attacks against Muslim women, Al-Zawahiri encourages them to remain patient, steadfast, persevere, and seek Allah's help, urging those who make mistakes or commit sins to immediately repent and seek Allah's forgiveness.
Al-Zawahiri concludes by reciting the following Quranic verse, Quran 33:35: "Indeed, the Muslim men and Muslim women, the believing men and believing women, the obedient men and obedient women, the truthful men and truthful women, the patient men and patient women, the humble men and humble women, the charitable men and charitable women, the fasting men and fasting women, the men who guard their private parts and the women who do so, and the men who remember Allah often and the women who do so – for them Allah has prepared forgiveness and a great reward."