Former Islamic State Leader Advises on Jihadist Conduct

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 6, 2015


The sixth edition of the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, Dabiq, published on 29 December 2014, reproduced a speech by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, entitled, “Advice for the Soldiers of the Islamic State”. The speech was dated 23 September 2007.[1] It is reproduced below with some editions in transliteration and some important sections highlighted in bold.

The Islamic State was founded by Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi) in Taliban Afghanistan in 1999 and he moved with his followers to Baghdad in May 2002. Abu Hamza joined al-Zarqawi shortly after. Al-Zarqawi’s group became al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) in October 2004. Al-Zarqawi was killed in June 2006 and Abu Hamza was his successor in leading AQM. The Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) was formed in October 2006, and a month later Abu Hamza swore allegiance to its leader, Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), publicly dissolving all al-Qaeda entities on Iraqi soil (though there were other groups remaining—like Ansar al-Islam or Ansar al-Sunna—that had connections with al-Qaeda.) Abu Hamza served as al-Zawi’s “war minister” and deputy—they effectively ran the organization together, and were indeed killed in one-another’s company in April 2010, leading to the accession of the current caliph, Ibrahim al-Badri (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi).

Abu Hamza has been identified, possibly wrongly, as having another kunya, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, and was certainly misidentified as having the real name Yusuf al-Dardiri. In fact, Abu Hamza’s real name is Abdul Munim al-Badawi, as the Islamic State has itself said on several occasions. Beyond a long history in Islamic Jihad (EIJ) in his native Egypt dating to the early 1980s, probably preceded by time in the Muslim Brotherhood, very little is known of Abu Hamza. EIJ would later become a core part of al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda’s current emir is EIJ’s long-time leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Abu Hamza apparently acquired bomb-making skills in al-Qaeda’s camps, including al-Faruq, and worked for al-Qaeda in Yemen in the late 1990s, shortly before he moved to Afghanistan where he had contact with al-Zarqawi.

This speech of Abu Hamza’s, below, came at the nadir of the Islamic State’s fortunes in Iraq, and advises on patience with the Sunni community that the Islamic State seeks to govern and good conduct (such as not stealing war spoils). That tactical leniency and out-competing the Iraqi government on issues of governance like corruption were key parts of the Islamic State’s revival in response to the Surge and Awakening.


Praise be to Allah, and may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and those who support him. As for what follows:

My dear mujahid brother, these are some pieces of advice that I’ve gathered from the mouths of men and the pages of books, although I do not claim to be a man of wisdom. I ask Allah to make you and me benefit from these pieces of advice. And Allah knows all intentions.

One of the few existing pictures of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

One of the few existing pictures of Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

[1] Sincerity to Allah in both word and deed, for Allah does not accept any action unless it is done sincerely and correctly. The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Actions are judged according to their intentions, and every man shall have what he intended.” He (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) also said, “I swear by the One in whose hand is the soul of Muhammad, there is no wound that is obtained for the cause of Allah except that it will come on the Day of Judgment in the form it was in when it was obtained, with its colour being the colour of blood and its smell being the scent of musk.”

And with that lies the success in both the worldly life and the Hereafter. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah has guaranteed the one who performs jihad in His path, having left his home for no reason other than to perform jihad in His path out of belief in His words, that He would enter him into Jannah or return him back home with what he has attained of reward or ghanima [war spoils].”

Let the goal of your jihad be that the word of Allah becomes the highest, for Abu Musa (radiyallahu anh) said, “Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam [prayer of god and peace be upon him]) was asked about a man who fights out of bravery, out of zeal, or out of riya [showing off]—which of these is fighting in the path of Allah? So Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Whoever fights so that the word of Allah is the highest is fighting in the path of Allah.'”

[2] Ask the people of knowledge what is required of you when anything befalls you concerning the obligation of jihad in the path of Allah, for there is a scholarly consensus that knowledge must precede action.[2] Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon every Muslim.” So don’t kill or take ghanima without first knowing why you’re doing so. And the least that can be done in that regard is to seek the fatwa of a scholar whose knowledge and religious practice you trust.

[3] Beware of letting the affection you have towards a relative or loved one turn you away from aiding Allah’s religion. Indeed, we know that this can tear you apart, but remember the statement of Allah (ta’ala), “O you who have believed, do not take My enemies and your enemies as allies, extending to them affection while they have disbelieved in what came to you of the truth” [Al-Mumtahanah: 1]. For Allah’s right is more obligatory, and supporting His religion is more essential.

[4] By Allah, I love you, and I love that which will save you. So listen to my advice concerning an important issue, the issue of takfir [excommunicating Muslims]. The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever says concerning a believer that which is not true, Allah will cause him to reside in the mud of corruption [composed of the pus from the people of Hellfire] until he takes back what he said.” Therefore, know my dear brother that the label and ruling of kufr is a right that belongs to Allah, which you are not allowed to apply to anyone except those who deserve it according to the shari’a. And know that takfir has both conditions and preventative factors, so we don’t declare takfir on someone unless the conditions are fulfilled and the preventative factors are eliminated. A person might make a statement or action of kufr and yet would not be guilty of kufr due to the presence of one of the preventative factors. Therefore, one whose Islam is established with certainty is not expelled from Islam except with certainty.[3] So, beware of suspicion, and ensure that you’re well-informed regarding the issues that the practicing scholars have differed over.

[5] Fulfil any agreements and covenants of security that are valid according to the shari’a, and be extremely cautious of the incitements of Shaytan [the devil]. Allah (ta’ala) said, “So he who breaks his word only breaks it to the detriment of himself” [Al-Fath: 10]. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “The blood of every Muslim is equal. The lowest amongst them will have his guarantee of protection fulfilled by them. The most distant of them will also have his guarantee of protection honoured. They are one hand against all others. The weak fighter amongst them is equal in his share of ghanima with the strong fighter amongst them, and the dispatched fighter who guards the rear of the army is equal in his share of ghanima with the fighter who is sent out on an expedition to attack.”

Likewise, know that we do not allow any soldier to make pacts or grant security. This is only to be done by Amir al-Mumineen [the Commander of the Faithful (i.e. the caliph)] and his deputies, for he is typically more aware of, and better capable of determining the interests of the State.

[6] Strive hard to obey Allah and beware the ominous consequences of sin as well as the evil of your inner self and the Shaytan. For indeed al-Faruq, Umar Ibn al-Khattab, advised Sa’d Ibn Abi Waqqas (radiyallahu ‘anhuma) saying, “So I order both you and the soldiers who are with you to have taqwa [knowledge] of Allah, and I order both you and the soldiers who are with you to be more vigilant against committing sins than you are against your enemy, for the sins of your soldiers should be more feared than their enemy. And ask Allah to help you against your inner selves just as you ask Him for victory over your enemy.”

[7] Prayer, prayer O soldiers of Allah. For indeed, it strengthens the heart, energizes the limbs, and prevents immorality and bad conduct. It is the place to have a private conversation with the Lord, and the place to seek His support. And the closest that the slave will be to his Lord is when he is in prostration. Prayer is the pillar of the religion and the banner of the Muslims, so don’t delay it except for a valid excuse whose truth Allah will acknowledge

[8] Beware of self-delusion and the love of being praised, especially following a victory against your enemy, for this is the best opportunity for Shaytan to cause you to lose the fruits of your jihad and your extensive ribat in the worldly life and the Hereafter

[9] There are two things that are always followed by disgrace and loss:

Injustice: Allah (ta’ala) said, “O mankind, your injustice is only against yourselves” [Yunus: 23]. So there is no victory with injustice.

Dishonesty: Allah (ta’ala) said, “But the evil plot does not encompass except its own people” [Fatir: 43]. So there is no friendship with a swindler.

[10] Break your inner self when it craves something, for not everything that one craves should be sought after. “Indeed, the soul is a persistent enjoiner of evil” [Yusuf: 53]. Take up fasting and you will be granted chastity. In summary, control your desires and be austere with your inner self concerning that which is not permissible for you. And being austere with one’s inner self is to be balanced concerning that which it loves or hates.

[11] Be truthful to Allah concerning any responsibility that you’ve been placed in charge of and do not burden yourself with something that you’re not responsible for, for Allah will not ask you about it. Rather, search for truthfulness in all of your affairs, for truthfulness is a shelter and lying is an abyss. And “It’s enough of a sin for a man to narrate everything he hears.”

[12] Be agreeable with your brothers in everything that brings you closer to Allah and distances you from disobeying Him. Smile at them a lot, and listen to those who are older than you. If you see them working then work with them, for if you remain sitting while they’re working it’ll arouse bitter feelings. And if your brother is dear to you then be humble towards him. And know that being quick to blame someone is not from justice.

[13] Don’t chase after people’s flaws, especially your leader and your brothers. Conceal their faults as much as you can and Allah will conceal yours, and don’t try to discover those of their flaws that you’re not aware of. The Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Beware of suspicion, for indeed suspicion is the falsest of speech. Do not probe for information, do not spy, do not envy one another, do not boycott each other, and do not hate one another. Be slaves of Allah and brothers.”

It was reported that Imam Malik (rahimahullah) said, “I saw people in Medina who didn’t have any flaws. They went searching for the flaws of the people, so the people began mentioning some of their flaws. And I saw people in Medina who had flaws. They were silent concerning the flaws of the people, so the people were silent concerning their flaws.”

[14] O soldiers of Allah, know that both we and you are honoured with the establishment and defence of the Islamic State in the land of the two rivers [Mesopotamia], but know also that it is not the state of Harun al-Rashid whereby we address the clouds in the sky as he used to do [informing them that wherever they poured their rain it would pour upon Muslims’ lands due to the expansiveness of the caliphate]. Rather, it is the State of the vulnerable.[4] We fear the enemy’s attack and we terrorize them, just as the sahabah [the companions] in the first Islamic State of Medina would never leave their weapons due to fear. A Jew might even sneak around their area and even reach a fort containing women and children, and there’d be no one to kill him but a woman. So deal gently with the people and let them feel the sweetness and honour of Islam, and beware of making them fear Islam and its rulings. And if there’s a matter that our people will dislike, then work for that matter using sweet and pleasant words and deeds that will cause the people to accept its bitter aspect.[5] In summary, let the people love the religion of Islam, its rulings, and the Islamic State, for “the best of Allah’s slaves are those who make Allah’s slaves loveable to Allah, make Allah loveable to His slaves, and walk the earth as sincere advisors.”

[15] As-Sahib Ibn ‘Abbad said, “Reverence of the ruler is a definite obligation, and is incumbent on he who listens attentively.” So let yourself feel reverence for Amir al-Mumineen, for “Indeed, from among the means of venerating Allah is to honour the Muslim elder … and to honour the just ruler.” It is obligatory to obey those of his orders that don’t entail sinfulness, regardless of whether he is otherwise just or oppressive. Beware of slandering him without right, for to do so may be a major sin that destroys the slave. And from the advice of Aktham Ibn Sayfiis his statement, “Don’t dispute excessively concerning your leaders … for there is no jama’a [congregation] for the one whom the people differ over.”


Picture from Dabiq 6 of [presumably] Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

[16] Concede to your leader’s decision, and accept his opinion and direction so that there is no disunity or division, as long as it’s an opinion or an issue of ijtihad [indepedent judgement] or it has a basis in the shari’a and doesn’t entail any sinfulness. As long as you seek Allah’s reward, then know that the reward lies in listening to and obeying your leaders, on condition doing so doesn’t involve opposing the shari’a.

Don’t conceal any issue from your leader that you believe would carry shar’i benefits if you were to mention them to him, such as corruption that could spread, for informing him would be considered advice and keeping it from him would be considered deceit. Likewise, informing him would not be regarded as the prohibited form of backbiting or the blameworthy form of snitching as long as what you’re bringing to his attention is something you’ve concluded with certainty or with strong suspicion. Imam an-Nawawi said, “If there’s a need for it then there’s nothing wrong with so, such as if he… informs the ruler or someone in authority that ‘someone is doing such-and-such and is pursuing something that’ll bring about corruption.’ The person in authority is then obligated to investigate the issue and bring an end to it. All that and anything similar to it is not prohibited, and in fact it can sometimes be obligatory, and sometimes recommended depending on the circumstances.”

Beware of being treacherous or of being a trustee of the treacherous, for it used to be said, “It’s enough treachery for a man to be a trustee for traitors.”

Allah (ta’ala) said, “And when there comes to them information about [public] security or fear, they spread it around. But if they had referred it back to the Messenger or to those of authority among them, then the ones who [can] draw correct conclusions from it would have known about it. And if not for the favour of Allah upon you and His mercy, you would have followed Shaytan, except for a few” [An-Nisa’: 83].

[17] Be patient with your leader even if he has wronged you, for this is a religious obligation. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever sees from his leader something he dislikes, then let him be patient with him.”

This is what Abdullah Ibn Umar narrated to Abdullah Ibn Muti Ibn al-Aswad when they renounced their obedience to the leader of their time, Yazid. Ibn ‘Umar advised Ibn Muti with the following despite what Yazid had in him of oppression. It is reported in Sahih Muslim that ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar came to Abdullah Ibn Muti after the incident of al-Harrah in the time of Yazid Ibn Mu’awiyah. Abdullah Ibn Muti said, “Toss Abu ‘Abdur-Rahman a pillow.” ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar said, “I didn’t come to you to sit down. I came to narrate a hadith to you which I heard Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) say: ‘Whoever removes his hand from obedience to the leader will meet Allah on the Day of Resurrection without any argument, and whoever dies without having bay’a [pledge of allegiance] to the leader, dies a death of jahiliyya [pre-Islamic ignorance].'”

Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahhab said, “And I view that jihad is to continue with every imam, whether he is righteous or sinful … and I view that it’s obligatory to listen to and obey the imams of the Muslims, both the righteous and the sinful of them, as long as they do not order you to disobey Allah.”

[18] Wherever you may be in the land of jihad, ribat [guard duty] should be observed at night. And I do not deem it permissible for three people to go to sleep without them having a leader and without organizing guard duty between them. From the advice of Abu Bakr (radiyallahu anh) to one of his commanders is the following: “Be on guard against night raids, for indeed the Arabs can take you by surprise.” And do not let anything preoccupy you from your shift on guard duty, for you are on the frontline. Fear Allah, fear Allah concerning your brothers.

[19] Preparation, preparation, O my Muslim brother, for indeed Allah said, “And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war” [Al-Anfal: 60]. And preparation includes physical exercise which strengthens your body, as well as martial arts. It’s been said, “If you seek something when you need it, its time has passed. So prepare for tomorrow before you reach tomorrow.”

[20] Ribat, ribat! Meaning, dedicate yourself to jihad in the path of Allah, to guarding the frontlines, increasing the numbers of the mujahideen, and terrorizing the enemy, even if you have to remain there for a lengthy period of time. And if you’re in a place where the enemy fears you and you fear the enemy, then that is ribat. Allah (ta’ala) said, “O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful” [Al-Imran: 200]. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “One day of ribat in the path of Allah is better than the dunya [temporal world] and everything in it.”

[21] My brother, do not wish to encounter the enemy if your wish is the result of your self-delusion, your pride, your overconfidence, or anything similar. Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do not wish to encounter the enemy, and ask Allah for well-being. And if you meet the enemy, have patience, and know that janna [paradise] is beneath the shades of swords.” Supplicate to Allah when the two rows meet for battle, for du’a [supplication to god] made at this point is answered. The Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) made du’a during the battle of al-Ahzab saying, “O Allah, Revealer of the book, Mover of the clouds, and Conqueror of the parties, defeat them and grant us victory over them.” He would also make du’a’ saying, “O Allah, You are my helper and supporter. By You I move, and by You I attack, and by You I fight.”

[22] Embolden your hearts, for doing so is a means of victory and triumph. Know that the most difficult thing for a soldier of Allah to train for is getting used to a lot of combat. Make frequent mention of the grudges you have against the enemy, for they increase your boldness. Remember that the enemy raped your mothers and your sisters, prevented you from Jumu’ah and congregational prayers, and cut you off from trade and agriculture. In short, he didn’t leave you with anything of the religious and worldly affairs.

[23] You must have guides when you head out towards the enemy if you’re unable to study your territory and the enemy’s territory. And take enough supplies, including weapons, food, and medicine, and don’t leave anything that will assist you in your jihad. Move with your weapon, your needle and thread, and your flashlight. Carry medicine that can treat an injury and reduce pain, and don’t take a lot of clothes.

[24] “Do a good deed before the battle, for you only fight the enemy with your deeds.” The best of deeds is to unify the rank, and be united in word. Allah (ta’ala) said, “Indeed, Allah loves those who fight in His cause in a row as though they are a [single] structure joined firmly” [As-Saff: 4]. And beware of having different intentions, for if you are united in word but are divided in your intentions, it will be a cause of differing amongst one another. And know that a man’s strength and well-being is tied to his brothers. As the saying goes, “The humiliated one is he who heads out on his own.”

[25] Don’t be frightened by the enemy. Allah (ta’ala) said, “Two men of those who feared [Allah and] on whom Allah had bestowed his grace said, ‘Assault them through the gate, for when you are in, victory will be yours. And put your trust in Allah if you are indeed believers'” [Al-Ma’idah: 23].

And know that victory and consolidation are in Allah’s hands alone. “If Allah should aid you, then no one can overcome you; but if He should forsake you, who is there that can aid you after Him? And upon Allah let the believers rely” [Al-Imran: 160]. At-Tabari said in his tafsir, “‘Then no one can overcome you’ from amongst the people. He is saying that no one will overcome you while He aids you, even if everyone in the world were to gather against you. So do not fear the enemies of Allah on account of your small numbers and their large numbers as long as you are upon His order and are upright in obedience to Him and to His Messenger, for indeed triumph and victory will be yours and not theirs.” Therefore, seek Allah’s aid with your du’a and appeal to Him for help, for worshipping Allah through du’a has an amazing effect in bringing about victory and in correcting your intentions. Allah (ta’ala) said, “Is He [not best] who responds to the desperate one when he calls upon Him and removes evil and makes you inheritors of the earth? Is there a deity with Allah? Little do you remember” [An-Naml: 62].

[26] Spare no effort in fighting the advancing enemy, and beware of laziness and incompetence, for they are two diseases that the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) sought refuge from.

[27] “O Muslims! Indeed, patience is might, failure is incompetence, and victory comes with patience.” And indeed, cowardice is a deadly vulnerability, and persistence is a sanctuary. Those who’ve been killed in war while fleeing are a lot more than those who’ve been killed while advancing forward. In the first stages of Islam it was prohibited for a Muslim to flee when outnumbered ten-to-one. How greatly we’re in need of those days! Allah (ta’ala) said, “And whoever turns his back to them on such a day, unless swerving [as a strategy] for war or joining [another] company, has certainly returned with anger [upon him] from Allah, and his refuge is Hell—and wretched is the destination” [Al-Anfal: 16]. So be patient with your commander and instil patience in him when you fight and when the two rows clash, for patience makes victory incumbent, and what follows patience is praiseworthy. What follows patience is victory, and goals are not achieved by making wishes.

[28] It is recommended to make takbir when you see the enemy, due to the statement of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) when he saw the people of Khaybar coming out with their spades (to tend to their fields), “Allahu akbar,” three times. “Khaybar is ruined. Indeed, when we descend into a people’s territory, then evil is the morning of those who were warned.” An-Nawawi said, “This indicates that it’s recommended to make takbir when you meet the enemy.” Making takbir is included under the general encouragement for making dhikr of Allah when you meet the enemy.

However, Abu Musa al-Ash’ari narrated that Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to dislike raising one’s voice when fighting. And Qays Ibn Ubad narrated saying, “The companions of the Prophet (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) used to dislike raising one’s voice when fighting.” On the day of Badr, Utbah Ibn Rabi’ah said to his companions when he saw the camp of Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam), “Do you not see them moving their lips like snakes (i.e. not making noise).” Likewise, when A’ishah (radiyallahu ‘anha) heard her companions making takbir during the Battle of the Camel, she said, “Don’t shout so much, for indeed making lots of takbir when meeting the opposing force is a means of failure.” Therefore, whispering dhikr is recommended when engaged with the enemy, except when charging and attacking.

[29] Never steal anything from the ghanima. Allah (ta’ala) said, “And whoever betrays, [taking unlawfully], will come with what he took on the Day of Resurrection” [Al-Imran: 161]. It is reported that Ibn Abbas said, “Ghulul (stealing from the ghanima) never occurred amongst any people except that fear was cast into their hearts.”

[30] The following is advice from Allah in which He gathers the etiquette of war. He said, “O you who have believed, when you encounter a company [from the enemy forces], stand firm and remember Allah much that you may be successful. And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute and [thus] lose courage and [then] your strength would depart; and be patient. Indeed, Allah is with the patient” [Al-Anfal: 45-46].

The following is advice from Allah’s Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam): “Fight in the path of Allah. You fight those who have disbelieved in Allah. Do not steal from the ghanima, or act treacherously, or mutilate corpses …”

[31] Make lots of du’a for Amir al-Mumineen in his absence, and also for your poor brother, for whoever is concerned about his brother and his religion, let him not withhold making a du’a’ for him in the early morning, in sujud, at the time of adhan, and—most importantly—when the two rows meet for battle. Al-Fudayl Ibn Iyad said, “If I had one du’a that would be answered I would not make it except for the imam, for indeed if he becomes upright, the land will become fertile and the people will become safe.” So Ibn al-Mubarak kissed him on the head and said, “No one other than you is good at this.”

And I make du’a’ here, so say “ameen”:

O Allah, grant me sincerity in word and deed. O Allah, make me firm upon the truth and guide my opinions. O Allah, soften my heart in accordance with the truth towards those who are obedient to you, and make me harsh and severe towards your enemies. O Allah, indeed I am weak when acting in obedience to You, so make me strong and energetic in that regard, and do not make from amongst those who are heedless. O Allah, make me great in Your sight, insignificant in my own sight, and beloved and respected by my brothers. O Allah, protect me from being imprisoned, grant me shahada on Your path, don’t take me by surprise, and grant me a favourable end in all of my affairs, O Changer of hearts

Your brother,

Abu Hamza al-Muhajir

1 Ramadan 1428 [13 September 2007]






[1] The date given in Dabiq for this speech is “1 Ramadan 1428”, which corresponds to 13 September 2007, but the date on the original speech when one looks it up (وَصَايَا للجُنْدِ) is 11 Ramadan 1428 (23 September 2007). The same day, incidentally, Abu Hamza gave a speech on “Advice to the Emirs” (وَصَايَا للأُمَرَاءِ).

[2] The advice of Abu Hamza to adhere to the (jihadi) scholarly consensus—even in 2007—is quite something, given that the Islamic State had defied its own ostensible religious commanders in al-Qaeda by this time and since 2013 has been in outright rebellion against these clerics.

[3] The Islamic State is also now known for being loose with takfir, but Abu Hamza’s speech advises restraint and excommunicating only when it is unavoidable by the shari’a. In the Islamic State’s self-conception, it is evidently judicious with the Holy Law. In January 2007, the first emir of “the State,” Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) had given a speech laying out of the Islamic State’s creed in which he said: “We do not accuse Muslims who pray toward our Qibla of disbelief due to sins like adultery, drinking wine, or stealing, unless he considers it halal [permissible]. Our doctrine is the middle way between the extremism of the Khawarij and the neglect of the Murji’a. He who recites the shahada and practices Islam without denying anything of Islam, will be treated as we treat Muslims, and his soul will be left to Allah. And that disbelief [for us] is of two types, major and smaller. Also, judging who commits [disbelief] is based on aqeedah [creed], word, and deed. Making takfir against someone or saying he is going to hell forever is based on proving the kafir [unbelief] conditions and an inability to prove otherwise.”

[4] Harun al-Rashid was the Abbasid caliph in Baghdad between 786 and 809, overseeing a vast flourishing in culture and learning, which has appeared in fictionalized and exaggerated form in The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. The Islamic State movement has often held up Harun al-Rashid and his caliphate as a success, doubtless because Harun al-Rashid’s state was based in Iraq and was powerful in its time. But the relative openness of Harun al-Rashid’s state and the rackety lives of many at court would not meet jihadist standards for orthodoxy.

[5] In other words, Abu Hamza advises the Islamic State against being too harsh too quickly in its implementation of its governance program.

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