Ayman az-Zawahiri1 stated:
“Our age has witnessed a new phenomenon that is gaining ground continuously; the young combatants who abandon their families, countries, property, studies and jobs to seek a place in which to carry out Jihad for the love of Allah.”
What is apparent from these extremist organisations and their ideological leaders is that their call revolves around the establishment of a utopian Islamic State that can only come about by an ideological revolution followed by a violent one. To reach that end, they employ methodologies that are modern in approach yet veiled with beards, robes, slogans and rhetoric that harks back to early Islam.
It is a clever approach, and to the untrained, religiously uneducated youth, it must be said, has a certain appeal. Muslim youth and new converts to Islam often feel lost in a society that seems to be at conflict with their Islamic faith. With the scarcity of teachers to orthodox Islamic tradition2 in many lands, these youths are attracted to radical calls that break from the norms of society; it is a rebellion, in their eyes, that is sanctioned by religion. In times gone by, they would have instead expressed their rebellion to authority by coming home late at night, or refusing to enter an arranged marriage, maybe even taking a girlfriend or getting into a fight with a gang from the neighbouring district; but now rebelliousness often takes on a much more serious manifestation: killing that is sanctioned by their religious leaders, theft and armed robbery in western cities that they regard as “booties of war”3, demonstrating in the streets with banners and placards that call for the mass slaughter of ‘infidels’.
All this, as they claim, is a reaction to Western imperialism, invasion and occupation of Muslim lands – it is in their eyes all part of the Jihad package. The truth, however, is much more complex. No doubt the invasion of Muslim lands under dubious pretexts and the use of force and bombings against Muslim lands in which the civilian population is harmed or killed are unjustified and oppressive. The Muslim response however must be measured, in accordance to the Quranic legislation and the Prophetic methodology which has placed the authority with the Muslim rulers, whether righteous or tyrannical, and with the body of qualified major scholars. These learned scholars also have authority; they are the well-known scholars who act upon deep-grounded knowledge of Islamic Law4 and do not rebel against the the impious Muslim rulers.
The Disciple of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), ‘Abdullah bin Mas’ud (رضي الله عنه) stated:
“The people will not cease to remain upon goodness so long as they attain knowledge from their scholars and their elders – so if they seek knowledge from the young ones and the foolish ones, they will surely be destroyed.”5
The violent reaction of the extremist-Jihadist sects to world events has proven over the years to have caused more harm to the Muslims, more bloodshed and more instability – in fact their activities only result in the increase of restrictions upon Muslim communities around the world.
Nevertheless the Jihadists have not stopped in their attempts to recruit Muslim youth and new converts, whether it is on University campuses, in prisons, mosques or over the worldwide web, and thus it is necessary that the grave danger posed by these extremists upon Muslim communities throughout the world is highlighted.
1 Knights under the Prophet’s Banner by Ayman az-Zawahiri who is Al-Qaeda’s current principle ideologue and Usamah bin Laden’s mentor. This tract of Zawahiri become widely known through long extracts that were published by the London-based newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat in December 2001.
2 Orthodox Islamic Tradition necessitates adherence to the Quran and Sunnah upon the understanding of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وسلم) and the two generations that immediately followed them; not opposing their understanding and methodology in interpretation of the texts, and not giving precedence to the opinions of others besides them. Those who voice this orthodoxy are gaining ground throughout Muslim communities in the West, and they are referred to as Salafis. Orthodoxy (or Salafism) equates to a balanced adherence of the Islamic faith, and is not to be confused with extremism, which is to go beyond bounds with blatant misinterpretation of the revealed texts in opposition to the methodology of the Companions of Prophet Muhammad.
3 Radicals believe that the whole world is Dar al-Harb, which translates as ‘Domain of War’, wherein these radical-Jihadists are at war with the governments and populations of every country in the world. So by whatever means they can acquire the wealth of that land, they consider it as war booty. ‘Umar Abdur-Rahman was a leading proponent of this ideology. He was a leader of Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyyah, a militant-Jihadist movement in Egypt that is considered a terrorist organization by the Egyptian government. The group is responsible for many acts of violence, including the November 1997 Luxor massacre, in which fifty eight foreign tourists and four Egyptians were killed. ‘Umar Abur-Rahman spent three years in Egyptian jails where he awaited trial on charges of issuing an edict resulting in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat by the terrorist Egyptian group, Islamic Jihad (Al-Jama’ah al-Islamiyyah). Abu Qatadah (currently residing in the UK) is another radical who made permissible the robbery of wealth from Muslims living in Algeria who had become infidels in his extremist view. Source: Al-Ansar magazine, issue 72, p. 3, 20th Jamada ath-Thani 1415H corresponding to 24th November 1994 – more on Abu Qatadah later.
4 The scholars of the Muslims who are known for their adherence to the traditional sources of religion include: Ibn Baz, Ibn al-Uthaimin, al-Albani, Muqbil bin Hadi, Ahmad an-Najmi – all now deceased; and those presently alive include Salih al-Fawzan, Abdul-Muhsin al-Abbad, Rabi bin Hadi, Abdullah al-Ghudayan, Abul-‘Azeez Alush-Shaikh, Ubaid al-Jabiri, Salih as-Suhaimi and others. They are grounded in knowledge, elderly with experience and experts in the various fields of the Islamic sciences.
5 Reported by Ibn Mandah in the Musnad of Ibrahim bin Adham, p.34.
Taken from the book, The Rise of Jihadist Extremism in the West – An analysis of Extremist Ideologies and the Most Notable Figureheads of Radicalisation, First Edition, July 2010, Salafi Publications, pp.16-19.