The Founder Lays Out The Islamic State’s Vision

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 12, 2017

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the first emir of the Islamic State when it was founded in 2006, gave his third speech—”Say, I Am Aware of My Lord” or “Say, I Am on Clear Proof from My Lord”—on 13 March 2007. An English transcript of the speech was released online by the Jihad Media Battalion and a video of part of the speech was released, entitled, “This Is Our Doctrine”, a neat encapsulation of the speech’s content. The speech is an interesting first-hand statement of what the Islamic State actually believes, and is reproduced below.

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All praise is due to Allah, from whom we ask thanks, help, and forgiveness. We seek refuge in Allah from the evil within ourselves and from our ill deeds. Whoever is guided by Allah cannot be led astray, and whoever goes astray cannot be guided. I testify there is no God but Allah and no partner has He. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and messenger.

Allah the Almighty says: “Truly, Allah defends those who believe. Verily, Allah loveth not any traitors to the faith, or [those who] show ingratitude” [22:38]. And He says: “And there is no victory except from Allah, the All-Mighty and the Wise” [3:126]. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. Allah is the greatest. “Help from Allah [against your enemies] and a near victory” [61:13].

O bold courageous mujahid in the mushrikeen [polytheists’, idolaters’] jails. Lift your head and laugh from the deep of your heart, because you have brothers who never accept injustice for you. They pledged to Allah to bring you back to their ranks, by Allah’s might at the beginning and at the end. Yesterday your brothers cried Takbir over “Abu Ghraib” [prison] walls, and they released more than sixty prisoners and they did the same in “Combating terrorism” prison—then at the apostates’ jails in al-Amel district police station, then Shahraban police directorate in Diyala province. And today, by the grace of Allah, the State of Islam soldiers broke into one of the mushrikeen dens and one of their fortified strongholds, in an operation which was—by the enemy’s confession—an “extremely quick and precise” operation. Your brothers diverted their enemy to more than one location; this distraction to the enemy’s power was helpful to the brothers, who stopped roads and disrupted electricity and communication systems and then, in less than fifteen minutes, they were in the jail opening the doors for their brothers from the muhajireen [lit. “migrants”; foreign fighters] and ansar [lit. “supporters”; local jihadists]. More than 220 mujahideen were released by the might of Allah. The enemy confessed only 140 freed and that is true because they have mentioned only the supporters from Iraq, while the rest were from the migrants to Allah in Mesopotamia [the land between the two rivers (the Euphrates and the Tigris)]. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar. Allahu Akbar.

And while we are in this glory—fighting the enemy and holding patiently with ourselves and our brothers in the face of an unprecedented Crusader-Safavid campaign since the occupation began, asking support from everyone for gathering the ranks and uniting the word, we all got surprised with a vicious, multi-directional media onslaught against the young Islamic state, which brought sorrow to all the faithful due to its precise and coordinated content and its multiple means and the harmony between its leaders, despite their different inclinations. It is obvious that this was planned in a pitch-black, bleak night, as stated in a study for the Brookings Institution in cooperation with RAND research organization, published before the last satanic campaign against the State of Islam, under the banner of “Fighting al-Qaeda”. And if we want to know who is behind this campaign we should know who the beneficiary is.

So, let us ask questions: What would the state of jihad be in Mesopotamia if there was no al-Majlis Shura al-Mujahideen or the State of Islam? And how would things go if the State of Islam’s soldiers laid down their weapons and stopped jihad?

The answer is known: Honour will be violated; the crops and the cattle will be exterminated. And if you don’t believe it, I ask any fighting group which claims the perfect manhaj [methodology], the pure banner and the might in front of enemies, to publish three filmed military operations for breaking into American headquarters or even one filmed operation for breaking into just a one American military barracks.

So, what are the goals of this recent media onslaught against the State of Islam?

Firstly, disengaging the strong cohesion between the State of Islam and its great popularity.

Secondly, trying to stir conflict between the State of Islam and other jihadist groups.

Thirdly, excluding the global jihadist trend from the battlefield for the interest of national [Islamist] trends, which are more openi and more moderate, distorting its worldwide image.

Fourthly and lastly, eliminating the jihad in Mesopotamia and making the umma [Muslim community or nation] lose hope in it in light of their own collapse, which strikes vigorously at the foundations of [Nuri] al-Maliki’s government, as shown in the grave declaration by an elite team of American officers that, “The U.S. has only six months to win the war in Iraq, Or it will face a Vietnam-style collapse”.[1] This was confirmed by the warmonger Dick Cheney, who suddenly turned into a chicken giving a defeatist speech that: “Their target now is to go home with honour”.[2] And also the Democratic majority in the U.S. Congress declared that: “The security plan should give its fruitage in the middle of this summer, or they will hurry in withdrawing the troops within the end of this year”.

This precise period of time made the enemy and his agents race to prepare Iraq for a new leadership, which will be more moderate and less dangerous than the State of Islam, especially if we know that the Americans will inevitably engage in a military campaign against Iran for many reasons; this is not the time to mention them. In that case settling Iraq and ending the catastrophic situation there is a must, especially in the Sunni provinces, even if it was in the interests of a moderate Islamic group or a more fundamental one, but one that can be handled via a mediator. This is the reason why Al-Salul [the Saudis] are in a hurry to build and fortify the “Saudi Hezbollah” under a different title with the blessing of ulama al-salatin [the sultan’s scholars or palace scholars], especially those who were well known for their hostility against the Islamic movement. Oil money has flooded to them from the so-called Muhammad bin Nayef and by the religion traders [those who sell their religion to please masters other than God].

They started a three-dimensional war against the State of Islam:

First, drying up the sources of money through a long term campaign of lies and false accusations, which sadly were believed by many faithful who had forgotten that Allah’s apostle—peace be upon him—said: “My subsistence has been made under the shadow of my spear” and said: “Good will remain [as a permanent quality] in the foreheads of horses till the Day of Resurrection”.

Second, drying up the sources of “men” and cutting the relation between the sincere believers and the State of Islam, especially after the failure of all their fatwas to repulse the Muslim mujahid youth from sacrificing their money and souls for sake of Allah. So they plotted with MOSSAD and CIA agent Yosri Fouda [a reporter with Al-Jazeera] and cooperated together to detect and unveil the paths of entry of the emigrant fighters and martyrdom-seekers. Despite that, those good people—who accompanied them and facilitated their affairs—have stated more than once that they do not receive emigrants, then what pushed them to this risk? And exposing this way and put it under spotlight? This wicked Yosri Fouda admitted that he gave the information to a country’s intelligence services.

Third, using a triple-headed dagger. Its poles are:

  1. A group of beneficiary apostates, blood traders, and jihad fruitage stealers, such as: Saad Zaghloul, [Ahmed] Ben Bella, and [Muhammad] Ali Jinnah. To those we say: “The time is gone for stealing jihad fruitage and trading the organs of war victims and the blood of the martyrs”. The Prophet—peace be upon him—said: “The believer does not allow himself to be stung twice from the same hole”.
  2. A group of alleged Salafis, who sit at home not fighting and not letting others to fight because of their cowardliness. Their goal is to insult the mujahideen and expose their faults.
  3. A group of the envious, motivated by the rush of many of their fighters and battalions to pledge alliance to the State of Islam. Mankind is created to desire to be the highest, so it does not like anything to be above it. The prophet—peace be upon him—said: “Three things, no one can escape from: suspicion, augur evil and envy”. Ibn al-Qayyim [al-Jazrawi], who faced severe insults because of envy, said: “Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal was a group [by himself]; people could not bear that fact because of envy, so they went to the Caliphate and said ‘Is it logical that you and your counsellors and rulers are all on a false path and Ahmad alone is on the truth?’ The Caliph could not bear this fact, so he ordered him [Hanbal] to be jailed and tortured. La ilaha illallah [There is no deity but God]. It happens today, as it was yesterday.” And we say, as Ibn al-Qayyim said: “La ilaha illallah, it happens today as it was yesterday.” And we remind you what Allah said: “Allah already knows those among you who hinder [men] from fighting in Allah’s Cause, and those who say to their brethren, ‘Come here towards us’, while they [themselves] come not to the battle, except a little, being miserly with their help to you [the believers]. Then, when fear comes, you will see them looking to you, their eyes rolling like one who hovers [close to] death. But, when the fear departs, they will smite you with sharp tongues in their greed for wealth [from the ghanima (war spoils)]. Such have not believed. Therefore, Allah makes their deeds fruitless and that is ever easy for Allah” [33: 18-19]

They [other Iraqi Islamist insurgents] have repulsed people from jihad in Allah’s cause because of the rancour in their hearts and envy towards the truthful believers, who set off fear and alarm in their hearts. They also invited their tribes to rest and comfort, even if it meant taking infidels as friends, and opposing Allah, his messenger, and the believers. And they put their hands in the hands of Arab mushrikeen, begging for their help for religious people, in sweet tongue claiming that all they want is the occupiers out.

People have thrown many lies at us which don’t have any basis in our aqeeda [creed]. They have claimed that we consider the public [who don’t support us] as disbelievers, licensing their blood and wealth, and forcing people to join our state by the sword.

So here are our fundamental beliefs to respond to these lies, to ensure that the liar has no excuse and the supporter no suspicion.

First: We consider destroying and removing all signs of shirk [idolatry] and forbidding those things that lead to it compulsory. It was narrated by Imam Muslim in his Sahih that Abu al-Hayyaj al-Asadi told him: “Ali ibn Abi Talib has said to me that: Should I send you on the same mission as Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) sent me: ‘Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without levelling it’?”

Second: The Rawafid [derogatory term for Shi’is] are idolaters and a renegade sect, and they are also abstainers from a lot of Islam’s pillars.

Third: We consider the sorcerer as a disbeliever and apostate, and that killing him is compulsory without accepting his repentance in this life after capturing him. Umar ibn al-Khattab [the second Rightly-Guided Caliph] said, “[The] sorcerers’ hadd [fixed punishment] is a hit by the sword [i.e. death].”

Fourth: We do not accuse Muslims who pray toward our Qibla [al-Kaaba (The Cube) in Mecca] of disbelief [i.e. make takfir on them] 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 aqeeda, word, or action. Making takfir against someone [excommunicating them] or saying he is going to hell forever is based on proving the kafir [unbeliever] conditions and an inability to prove otherwise.[3]

Fifth: It is compulsory to seek Allah’s judgment in disputes by pleading to religious courts and searching for them when it is not known where they are, because seeking non-Islamic judgments, which come from secular and tribal laws, makes the belief of a Muslim invalid. Allah said, “And whosoever does not judge by what Allah, such [people] are al-kafirun [the disbelievers]” [5:44].

Sixth: Respecting the Prophet (peace be upon him) is compulsory and … and attacking his honourable position or insulting his pure family or companions is disbelief and apostasy. Allah said: “Indeed, we have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner that you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honour him, respect the Prophet, and exalt Allah morning and afternoon” [48:89]. And He said, regarding the companions of the Prophet: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those with him are against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing, prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Gospel, and their likeness in the Gospel: as a plant which produces its offshoots, and strengthens them, so they grows firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers, so that Allah may through them enrage the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteousness deeds forgiveness and a great reward” [48:29].

Seventh: We believe that secularism—despite the differences in its flags, such as nationalism, Communism, and Ba’athism—is clear unbelief, and he who practices it is a non-Muslim. Based on that, we consider everyone who participates in the political process—i.e. [Saleh] al-Mutlaq’s [Iraqi National Dialogue Front] party, [Taha] al-Dulaymi’s party, [Tariq] al-Hashimi’s [Iraqi Islamic] Party [which is Iraq’s wing of the Muslim Brotherhood], and others—as disbelievers. Because this process substitutes Allah’s religion [the shari’a] and lets Allah’s enemies control Muslims. Allah said of the mushrikeen who change something of His religion to please the kuffar: “And certainly, devils do inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you, and if you obey them, indeed, you would be idolaters” [6:121]. We also consider the Islamic Party’s methods un-Islamic, because they do not differ from the methods of the other murtad [apostate] parties [like Ibrahim] al-Jaafari’s [Dawa Party] and [Iyad] Allawi’s [Iraqi National Accord]. Based on that, we consider their leaders murtadun [apostates], but we don’t consider the [lower] members as disbelievers as long as the legitimate refutation [of the political process] was not clarified to them.

Eighth: we consider anyone who helps the occupation and its supporters with any kind of help—such as clothes, food, medicine, etc.—as an apostate, and, by that, he becomes a legitimate target to us.

Ninth: we consider jihad for the sake of Allah as a compulsory on everyone, and that the largest sin—after disbelieving in Allah—is the prohibition of jihad [at a time] when it is an obligation upon everyone. Ibn Hazm said: “There is no greater sin, after disbelieving, than the prohibition of jihad against disbelievers.”

Tenth: we believe that if countries are ruled by kufr [i.e. by men’s laws] and Islamic rule comes second, then they are dar al-kufr [lands of unbelief].  This doesn’t mean that the populations are kuffar, because all Muslims lands today are ruled by taghut [disbelieving tyrants], we [only] consider the rulers of those countries and their armies as apostates. Therefore, be warned that we will fight any invading troops fighting the Dawlat al-Islam [the Islamic State] in Iraq, even if they have Arabic and Islamic names. We advise them not to be a scapegoat for the occupation.

Eleventh: we consider fighting the police and army of the state of the taghut and apostasy as compulsory, and demolishing any building—if we see that the enemies can use it as a camp—as also compulsory.

Twelfth: We consider People of the Book [Christians and Jews] and Sabeans in the Islamic State as combatants. There is no protection for them because they have broken the covenant in different ways. So, if they want to be safe and secure, they have to renew their covenant with the Islamic State according to [the conditions of] the Pact of Umar.[4]

Thirteenth: we consider the members of the other jihadi groups in Iraq as our brothers, and we don’t accuse them of apostasy or immorality. But they are disobedient [i.e. sinning] because they do not do today’s duty (of working under one flag and one imam).

Fourteenth: we are not committed to any agreement done with the occupation. We consider it null, and we warn everyone [away] from striking any agreement with the occupiers—secret or public—without the permission of the Islamic State.

Fifteenth: we consider respecting the truthful ulema [religious scholars] as compulsory, and we defend them and put ourselves under their lead. We also expose those who follow falsehood or compromise with [religion].

Sixteenth: we give to those who preceded us in jihad their due, respect them, and protect their families and wealth.

Seventeenth: we consider freeing Muslim prisoners and women from the disbelievers, either by offensive [means] or by ransom, to be an obligation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Free the prisoner and also consider [taking care of] their families, and the martyrs’ families, as an obligation.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who prepared a mujahid is a mujahid, and he who provides for his family is a mujahid.”

Eighteenth: we consider it compulsory for the umma to learn Islam, even if it means losing some of the fortunes of this life. Anything else [they want to learn] is religiously neutral, as long as it does not exceed the limits of religion.

Nineteenth: we consider anything that promotes abomination, such as satellites, as haram [forbidden]. Allah said: “Verily, those who like [to see] immorality spread among those who believe will a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you know not” [24:19].

All praise is due to Allah. Allah has full power and control over His Affairs, but most humans know it not.

Your brother,

Abu Umar al-Husayni al-Qurayshi al-Baghdadi


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[1] This refers to reporting on 1 March 2007: “An elite team of officers advising the US commander, General David Petraeus, in Baghdad has concluded that they have six months to win the war in Iraq—or face a Vietnam-style collapse in political and public support that could force the military into a hasty retreat. The officers—combat veterans who are experts in counter-insurgency—are charged with implementing the ‘new way forward’ strategy [a.k.a. ‘the surge’] announced by George Bush on January 10. … But the team, known as the ‘Baghdad brains trust’ …, is struggling to overcome a range of entrenched problems in what has become a race against time, according to a former senior administration official familiar with their deliberations.”

[2] Vice President Cheney gave a speech on 20 February 2007 while in Japan, which did include the line: “We want to complete the mission [in Iraq], we want to get it done right, and then we want to come home, with honour.” But the general outlay was not so defeatist as al-Zawi suggested. “America will stay on the offensive in the War on Terror,” Cheney said at one point. “The American people will not support a policy of retreat.”

[3] Abu Umar’s warning to be cautious with the use of takfir was echoed in a speech made by his deputy, Abdul Munim al-Badawi (Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), in September 2007: “[T]he 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.” [UPDATE: A similar statement on the use of takfir appeared in Al-Naba, the Islamic State’s weekly newsletter, in March 2018.]

[4] The Pact of Umar is almost certainly a myth but it is usually dated to the 630s, during the reign of the second Rightly-Guided Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and it has become a canonical part of Islamic tradition, laying down the conditions for dhimmis. With this treaty “in force” since nearly the dawn of Islam, it provided the theological basis for the caliphs to coexist with Islamdom’s always-significant Christian populations. Al-Zawi abrogating this covenant is therefore an extraordinary claim—and not just because it is the cancellation of something that probably never existed.


Post has been updated

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