The Islamic State Expands Its Definition of Heresy

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on 20 May 2017

A ruling in the name of the Islamic State’s Delegated Committee, prepared it seems by one of its senior members, Abu Zayd al-Iraqi, was issued on 17 May, expanding the scope of who, within the Muslim community, IS considers a heretic. The memo was addressed to “All Wilayat, Dawawin, and Committees,” and entitled, “That Those Who Perish Would Perish Upon Proof and Those Who Live Would Live Upon Proof”. The wide use of takfir (excommunication) has been one of IS’s most defining and controversial features—even within the jihadist world. This judgment, which comes in the context of a broader centralization of authority—on 14 May a decree banned individual IS fighters from using social media—takes IS into territory akin to the Armed Islamic Group (GIA), which hereticized whole sections of Algeria’s population and began slaughtering them. The text of the ruling was released in English and is reproduced below.


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All praise belongs to Allah alone, and blessings and peace are upon the one who there is no prophet after him.

To proceed:

As-Salamu alaykum wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

Ibn Taymiyyah said, “Of the greatest blessings upon one for whom Allah wants wellness is that He brought him to live in this time, during which Allah is renewing the religion and reviving the slogan of the Muslims and the conditions of the believers and the mujahideen, so that they may be similar to those who preceded them of the muhajirun [foreigners] and ansar [locals]. So whoever upholds that in this time will be those who follow them in goodness, those with whom Allah is pleased and those who are pleased with Allah, who prepared for them gardens beneath which rivers flow, remaining therein forever; that is the great success. So it is appropriate that the believers thank Allah for this tribulation, which is in reality a generous gift from Allah, and for this trial, which contains a great blessing” (Majmu’ al-Fatawa 28:420).

To proceed: Allah sent the prophets and messengers, calling through their words to the tawhid of Allah, the rejection of the world’s tawaghit [rulers who have replaced God’s law with man’s law], the separation from Jahiliyya [pre-Islamic ignorance], and the fighting of the imams of kufr therein until there is no more fitnah and the religion is entirely for Allah.

They called through their words to the singling Allah out for worship, rule, and obedience, and to allying with the people of tawhid [monotheism] and to opposing the people of shirk [idolatry, polytheism] and rivalry.

Allah said, “We certainly sent into every nation a messenger, saying, ‘Worship Allah and avoid taghut.’ And among them were those whom Allah guided, and among them were those upon whom error was deserved. So proceed through the earth and observe how was the end of the deniers” (An-Nahl 36).

The messengers followed one another upon that. And one of them who was specific to this da’wa was Ibrahim, through whom Allah established the hanif millah, which He selected for us, as He said, “Strive for Allah with the striving due to Him. He has chosen you and has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. It is the religion of your father, Ibrahim. He named you ‘Muslims’ before and in this (revelation) that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people” (Al-Hajj 78).

This da’wa [preaching] was comprised of achieving tawhid, rejecting shirk and rivalry, and establishing the creed of al-wala wal-bara [loyalty (to Muslims) and disavowal (of unbelievers)], which is the tightest bond of iman [faith].

Allah said, “There has already been for you an excellent example in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Indeed, we are disassociated from you and from whatever you worship other than Allah. We have denied you, and there has appeared between us and you animosity and hatred forever until you believe in Allah alone’” (Al-Mumtahanah 4).

The prophets and messengers continued upon this creed, each of them carrying the banner of tawhid and renewing for the people what was lost of the religion.

Allah said, “Then We sent Our messengers in succession. Every time there came to a nation its messenger, they denied him, so We made them follow one another (to destruction), and We made them narrations. So away with a people who do not believe” (Al-Muminun 44).

The war between the allies of al-Rahman [God] and the allies of al-Shaytan [the Devil] did not cease in ferocity (even) until Allah sent forth the Seal of the Prophets and Imam of the Messengers, our prophet Muhammad, with the sword in a time near to the Hour [the apocalypse], “that those who perish would perish upon proof and those who live would live upon proof.” So Allah renewed the hanif millah through the mission of His Messenger.

Allah said, “Then We revealed to you to follow the religion of Ibrahim, inclining toward truth (i.e. the hanif millah); and he was not of those who associate with Allah” (An-Nahl 123).

So Allah’s Messenger began calling to Allah with words and weapons until He went to the Highest Fellowship, and Allah perfected through him the religion and completed the blessing upon the muwahhidin, just as He said, “This day I have perfected for you your religion and completed My favour upon you and have approved for you Islam as religion” (Al-Maidah 3).

Then that was continued by his companion in the cave, the Shaykh of the muhajirun and ansar, [the first caliph] Abu Bakr as-Siddiq through whom Allah supported the religion on the Day of Ridda, bringing the Arabs back to Allah’s religion after it was almost driven away. Thereafter, those after him of the remaining rightly-guided khulafa and imams continued this way until Islam became fully established.

Then, things came full circle after generations drooped with shubuhat, and most people were tried by time and their hearts became hardened, and the people of Islam became estranged. Tawhid was pierced and its effects were nearly obliterated, as its lights were about to be extinguished. The affliction was so widespread until the one holding on to his religion and tawhid became like one holding on to a hot coal. Through this, the promise of Allah’s Messenger was realized, as a single Sunni, fighting faction remained, as he said, “This religion will not lose its establishment, as a group of Muslims shall fight for it until the Hour is established” (Muslim: 1922).

That came when Allah allowed the appearance of the state established by the ulama and imams of the Najdi da’wa [i.e. the Wahhabists who established the First Saudi State], those who excused themselves to Allah by waging war against the shirk of grave-worship, calling to Allah with word and weapon, composing books, moving through the lands, and calling to the tawhid of Allah. Their state lasted nearly seventy years upon this, just as it was fought because of this. Thereafter, no one remained upon shirk except those whose hearts were twisted with the love of rotting bones scattered in graves.

Similarly, the Islamic State—may Allah honour it through tawhid—was established, offering tens of thousands of its sons to wage war against the shirk of the constitution, representing the global system, and it was thus fought by nations in the east and the west. And surely those far and near have known that this state wages its war for the sake of ruling by the shari’a, the rejection of lowly man-made laws, the destruction of domes worshiped besides Allah, whether those domes are over graves or over parliaments. Those both far and near know that we make takfir of tawaghit, those who legislate and those who vote for them, and that we make takfir of those who worship graves and whoever argues for them, and that we fight them for that.

This is what the Islamic State has called to since it was founded at the hands of Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, so it disbelieved in the world’s tawaghit, their laws, their borders, their rules, and their rites, and it fought all kinds of mushrikeen [practicers of shirk], from the Rafida [Shi’a], the secularists, and the democrats after making takfir of them and showing enmity to them, just as it made takfir of those who defend them—and for this it continues to fight and is fought today.

Shaykh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi said, “But the sunnah of Allah is established that truth and falsehood shall continue to wrestle until the Day of Resurrection. So it should be no wonder for the people of falsehood to see the people of truth calling people to tawhid, as it should not be pleasant to the people of shirk and rivalry to see the people of tawhid bringing people out of the darkness and into the light, by the permission of their Lord, to the path of the Mighty, the Praised. Allah said, And when Allah is mentioned alone, the hearts of those who do not believe in the Akhirah shrink with aversion, but when those other than Him are mentioned, immediately they rejoice’ (Az-Zumar 45).”

The shaykh clarified that the people of tawhid do not distinguish in their disavowal of shirk and its people between the taghut and its worshipers and between the heads, followers, and supporters thereof.

The shaykh said, “The reality of the matter is that our battle today to establish the Islamic State is not only against the rulers themselves, but it is against their supporters and aids of soldiers, police, and intelligence, those whom Allah likened to pegs in His c saying, ‘Fir’awn, possessor of pegs’ (Al-Fajr 10). At-Tabari said in his tafsir, ‘He’s saying: Do you not see how your Lord has also done with Fir’awn, the one with pegs, and the people of tawil have disagreed about the meaning of his saying, ‘possessor of pegs,’ and why that was said. Some of them said that it means the possessor of soldiers who empower him in his authority, so that pegs in this setting means soldiers.’”

He also said, “And those nominated for elections: they are claimants to rububiyya and uluhiyya, and those who vote for them have taken lords and partners besides Allah. Their ruling in the religion of Allah is that of kufr and being outside of Islam. O Allah, have I conveyed? O Allah, then bear witness.”

When the Islamic State was established and people gave bay’a [oath of allegiance] to Abu ‘Umar al-Baghdadi, he mentioned that of the greatest fruits of establishing the state is the spread of tawhid. He said, “The side of tawhid is the head of worship, for the sake of which Allah sent the messengers, revealed the books, and created Jannah and the Fire. So all praise is due to Allah, first and last, as He facilitated for us that the people of Iraq should be today from the greatest of people on the face of the world in maintaining tawhid. So there is no shirki Sufism being called to, no tombs being visited (in worship), no bid’a [innovation] celebrations being held, no candles being lit, and no pilgrimage to any worshiped idol, for the people of Iraq have, with their own hands, have destroyed those tombs until Allah was worshiped alone and the shari’a of Allah began to be the rule, that the legitimate source might return: the shari’a of Allah instead of the kafir West’s man-made constitutions.”

He then clarified the fruits of the State in embodying this tawhid with wala and bara, saying, “So in a very short time period, a great generation of youth was trained upon the forgotten creed of wala and bara. So while we used to hear in the books of sirah and history and be amazed at Ibnul-Jarrah killing his father and Abdullah waiting for his prophet’s permission to kill his father Ibn Ubayy Ibn Salul, we have today begun witnessing with our own eyes and hearing with our own ears that which is most amazing from the sons of Mesopotamia, despite the doubts and desires. This is a father killing his son, the spy, with his own hands. This is a tribe disavowing its son, the policeman for Maliki. And strangely amazing, a woman leaves her husband, turns her back on him, because he committed ridda [apostasy] by supporting the Maliki state and his party” (Hasad as-Sinin bi-Dawlat al-Muwahhidin).

Then Allah blessed the Islamic State, as it extended into the exposing land of Syria, the land of epic battles, and the stronghold of the victorious faction at the end of time. The Khilafa was announced and the muhajirun and ansar gave bay’a, taking upon themselves the covenant and pact that they would support this religion.

The State did not change its manhaj. It did not haggle over its religion. And its resolve did not waver. Instead, it continued thereon, not playing favourites nor turning from the path.

Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani said:

We will fight, and fight, and fight until the religion is entirely for Allah. We will never beg people to accept the religion of Allah and to rule by Allah’s shari’a. Whoever is content, then this is the shari’a of Allah. Whoever dislikes it, is discontent with it, and refuses it, then we will continue in spite of him. This is the religion of Allah. We will declare the apostates as disbelievers and disavow them all. We will take the disbelievers and polytheists as enemies and hate them. “Indeed, there is a good model for you in Ibrahim and those with him, when they said to their people, ‘Verily we are innocent of you and what you worship beside Allah. We have disbelieved in you and there has appeared between us and between you enmity and hatred forever, until you believe in Allah alone’” (Al-Mumtahanah 4).

We cannot take allies from the disbelievers and apostates of the national military councils or democratic and secularist factions and boost them up as the apostates of those groups with Islamic names have done. Allah said, “And whoever allies with them of you, then he is of them” (Al-Maidah 51), “And truly He sent upon you in the Book that when you hear the verses of Allah being rejected or mocked, then do not sit with them until they engage in other talk. You would be, in that case, like them. Verily Allah will gather the hypocrites and disbelievers altogether in Hellfire” (An-Nisa 141). We are not able to flatter them and overlook them, thereby not rejecting their shirk and not declaring our enmity and hatred to them, and instead showing them brotherhood, love, and allegiance, just as al-Qaeda in Syria, the Jabhat al-Ridda (Apostate Front) losers, have done. If we do not show enmity and hatred to the kuffar, then wala and bara will be lost, along with the religion, and the disbelievers would be mixed with the believers.

You think religion is just lip service,

prayer and combat alongside anyone,

“Make peace and mix” with those who hate the faith?!

What is religion but love, hate, wala,

and bara from every straying sinner?

This is the manhaj of the Islamic State, may Allah honour it with tawhid. As for the statements that distort the creed of wala and bara, burying the millah of Ibrahim n in the shubuhat of people of irja (Murjii doctrine) and tajahhum (Jahmi doctrine). Likewise are the opinions of the people of ghulu (those extreme in matters of takfir), those who passed through the religion as the arrow passes through its target; the State is innocent of them. And no one has the right to speak in its name or ascribe an opinion to it that it did not hold, for its saying is the saying of its Imam (may Allah honour him through tawhid), and those whom he delegates, or of its official spokesman

As for the fabricating of lies and speaking based on assumption, then that is to speak without knowledge, which Allah has forbidden. He said, “And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart: about all those one will be questioned” (Al-Isra 36).

And He 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 should investigate 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).

Two types of people are in violation of this:

The First Type: Those who ascribe to the State opinions of irja that are in opposition to its actual manhaj, or who claim that what they ascribe or hold the opinion of is the official opinion of the Islamic State (may Allah honour it through tawhid). And the Islamic State is innocent of this claim. And these people are of different kinds:

Some of them accept the Islam of one who does not make takfir of his people’s taghut, claiming that this is the opinion of the Islamic State, and the Islamic State is innocent of this opinion. Instead, it [the Islamic State’s official opinion] is that of making takfir of the tawaghit and whoever defends them and does not make takfir of them, without exception.

Some of them treat the making of takfir of mushrikeen a matter that is khafiyya (obscure) or khilafiyya (disputable), placing difficult restraints on its implementation, such that the third nullifier of Islam is completely and categorically suspended. Thereby, they do not consider the one who refrains from making takfir of an idol worshiper to be an absolute kafir, whether he considers his act to be a form of shirk or not, until he is notified. As such, they do not consider the one who refrains from making takfir of one who insults Allah to be a kafir until he is notified. On top of that, they ascribed to Umar that he did not make takfir of those who refused to pay zakat, to give the impression that the Sahabah disagreed about making takfir of the mushrikeen, as they claim. Worse than this is that they claim that this opinion is that of the Islamic State! This is a pure fabrication. Those both far and near know that the Islamic State (may Allah honour it through tawhid) has not ceased for a single day from making takfir of the mushrikeen, and that it treats the making of takfir of the mushrikeen as one of the utmost principles of the religion, which must be known before knowing the prayer and other obligations that are known of the religion by necessity. As such, in its statement that came from the Central Office Overseeing Shar’i Dawawin, regarding the one who refrains from making takfir of the mushrikeen, on 22/8/1437 [29 May 2016].

Some of them allow the shirk of tahakum (litigation) to the taghut with the claim of necessity, putting it in the status of ikrah (coercion).

Some of them reject the ijma’ of the Sahabah on making takfir of the mumtani’ factions (those who forcefully refuse the implementation of the shari’a).

Some of them refrain from making takfir of those who vote with the claim of their being ignorant of the reality of elections.

Some of them do not make bara (disavowal) of the scholars of taghut who are calling to committing shirk.

The Second Type: Those who defame the State and make takfir of it, as they are affected by the bid’a of the Khawarij and Mu’tazilah. Thus, some of them criticize its opinions that are merely the stances of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a, doing so out of their ignorance of the manhaj and opinions of Ahl al-Sunna. Some others ascribed to the State certain opinions that it essentially does not hold. Glory to Allah! This is an immense deception. And these people are of different kinds:

Some of them make takfir of the State because it does not accept the heretical chain takfir invented by the Mu’tazilah. It is true that it does not accept this, thus following thereby the way of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a [Sunnis].

Some of them ascribe to the State that it considers the asl (default ruling) of lands of Ridda (“incidental kufr”) to be that of Islam, which is a lie against the Islamic State and a clear fabrication.

Some of them make takfir of the State using the claim that it permits the act of open kufr for benefits during war, and they have lied!

Instead, the open belief of the Islamic State regarding that, is that open major shirk and open major kufr are not permitted except through ikrah (coercion). Allah said, “Whoever disbelieves in Allah after his belief, except for one who is forced while his heart is secure in faith; but those who open their breasts to disbelief, upon them is wrath from Allah, and for them is a great punishment” (An-Nahl 106).

Ibnul-Qayyim said, “There is no dispute between the Ummah that it is not allowed to permit the speaking of the word of kufr for any material reason, except for the mukrah (coerced), as long as his heart is secure with iman” (I’lam al-Muwaqqi’in 3:141).

And this is the opinion and belief of the Islamic State on this matter. But these ones have been mistaken due to ignorance and their lack of distinguishing between what is open shirk and open kufr and between what are exceptions that are permitted due to necessity, as in the hadith of Muhammad Ibn Maslamah and others. The poet spoke the truth when he said: How many find fault with a correct opinion / When his own fault is an ill understanding.

And some of them turn on their heels, recoil from their bay’a, and flee to the lands of Kufr, based on the allegation of great error, failure, negligence, and oppression from some of the umara. This is exactly what those renegades did regarding Uthman, which is something that anyone could do if he doesn’t fear Allah and keep watch over himself in what he takes and leaves (of opinions), since no one is safe from error, failure, negligence, and oppression regarding himself and his family, except whomever Allah wills. But the real objective to which these ones intend is to rationalize for themselves their fleeing from Dar al-Islam to Dar al-Kufr.

Have not these abandoners thought about what they have brought upon themselves of seeking out a land in which the laws of kufr reign instead of a land ruled by the laws of Islam? Or about their satisfaction of residing with the people of kufr and debauchery, instead of residing with the people of religion and righteousness? “Would you exchange what is better for what is less” (Al-Baqarah 61)? This is only if their religion were sound, but how could it be—how could it be?!

As for those who claim to be giving sincere advice to the umara, while reviling, defaming, scaremongering, and frustrating them in a way that only gives joy to the enemies of the kuffar, the murtadeen, and the munafiqeen [hypocrite], then the best case for him would be that he is in violation of the Book, in opposition to the Sunnah, and has deviated from the path of the Salaf in giving sincere advice to the umara.

Anas Ibn Malik said, “Our elders from the companions of Allah’s Messenger forbade us, saying, ‘Do not insult your umara, do not cheat them, and do not hate them, but fear Allah and have patience, for the matter is near’” (Reported by Ibn Abi Asim in as-Sunnah 1015).

Abu Bakrah said, “I heard Allah’s Messenger saying, ‘Whoever is kind to Allah’s authority, Allah is kind to him. And whoever demeans Allah’s authority, Allah demeans him’” (Reported by Ibn Abi Asim in as-Sunnah 1017).

Iyad Ibn Gham said to Hisham Ibn Hakim, “Did you not hear the word of Allah’s Messenger, ‘Whoever wants to sincerely advise an authority, then he should not do so publicly, but he should take him by his hand and withdraw with him. If he accepts it from him, then so be it; and if not, then he has fulfilled his responsibility’” (Reported by Ibn Abi Asim in as-Sunnah 1096).

Abud-Darda said, “Indeed the beginning of a person’s nifaq is his defaming his imam” (Reported by al-Bayhaqi in Shu’ab al-Iman 8959).

Al-Fudayl said, “The believer covers and sincerely advises, while the dissolute exposes and announces” (Ibn Rajab in al-Farq bayn an-Nasihah wat-Ta’bir p. 17).

And this one who claims reconciliation in this manner is either a negligent ignoramus or is suspicious of Islam and its people.

Otherwise, has not this “rioter” who claims reconciliation known that from the principles of Ahl al-Sunna wal-Jama’a is that obedience to those in authority is obedience to Allah? Allah said, “O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you” (An-Nisa 59).

And Allah’s Messenger said, “Whoever obeys me has surely obeyed Allah, and whoever disobeys me has surely disobeyed Allah. And whoever obeys my emir has surely obeyed me, and whoever disobeys my emir has surely disobeyed me” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The limits of obedience were brought by the shari’a, which obligates obedience and compliance to those in authority regarding what is virtuous, in times of delight and dislike, in times of hardship and ease, and that the Muslim does so selflessly. So if those in authority command something lawful, obeying them is obligatory, and if they command something that is preferred, obeying them is obligatory, and if they command something that the soul dislikes, obeying them is obligatory. This is because obedience is regarding what the soul likes and dislikes.

As such, if they command something in which they perceive to be beneficial to and protective of the Jama’a of the Muslims, even if that results in some of them being harmed thereby, then obedience is obligatory in that—even if they don’t understand why that is beneficial to them.

And what if he find something he dislikes in his emir, other than blatant kufr that exits him from the millah: is it not obligatory upon him to dispute his command or divide the ranks of the Jama’a? Did not the ayat, ahadith, and other reports reach him that incite the believer to listen, obey, and have patience with his umara regarding what they order him of matters of delight and dislike and of hardship and ease—even in that which he finds there to be their preferential treatment of his Dunya, as long as he does not see blatant kufr from them?

The authentic ahadith and other reports in this regard are many, famous, and well-known for those who reflect—even a little—over the books of the Salaf. They include:

The hadith of Ubadah Ibn as-Samit, who said, “The Prophet called us, so we gave bay’a to him, that we listen and obey in what we find in times of our delight and dislike, in times of our hardship and ease, and that we do so selflessly, and that we do not dispute the command of those in authority unless we see blatant kufr, concerning which we have proof from Allah” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The hadith of Abdullah Ibn Abbas, who said that the Prophet g said, “Whoever dislikes something from his emir, then let him have patience thereon, for no person leaves the authority—even a hand span—then dies, except that he dies a Jahili death” (Reported by Muslim).

The hadith of Ibn Mas’ud, who said that the Prophet said, “There will be preferential treatment and matters that you deny being good.” They said, “O Messenger of Allah, what do you order us?” He said, “Fulfill the rights that are upon you to fulfill, and ask Allah for what is yours” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

And the hadith of al-Harith al-Ash’ari, that He said, “Indeed Allah ordered me to order you with five things: You must do jihad, you must listen, you must obey, and you must perform hijra [emigration to the caliphate], for whoever separates from the Jama’a a bow’s length, then his prayer and fast will not be accepted from him, and these are the fuel of the Fire” (Reported by at-Tabarani in al-Mu’jam al-Kabir.

And Muhammad Ibn Sirin narrated that Abu Bakr and ‘Umar would teach those who enter into Islam, saying, “Worship Allah and do not make anything a partner to Him; pray the prayer that Allah prescribed upon you in its times, for neglecting to do so causes one to perish; pay the zakah with a pleasant demeanor while doing so; fast Ramadan; and listen and obey to those whom Allah gave authority” And they said to a man, “And work for Allah and do not work for the people” (Reported by al-Adani in al-Iman).

Abdullah Ibn Mas’ud said, “If the imam is just, then he gets the reward and you must be grateful. And if he is a tyrant, then he bears the burden and you must be patient” (Uyun al-Akhbar).

Al-Hasan said about umara, “They are appointed to five of our matters: The Jumu’a prayer, the congregational prayer, the ‘Id prayer, the outposts, and the borders. By Allah, the religion is not established except with them, even if they oppressed and wronged. By Allah, that which Allah rectifies through them is more than what they corrupt” (Al-‘Iqd ath-Thamin fi Sharh Ahadith Usul ad-Din).

Al-Barbahari said, “If you see a man supplicating against the authority, then know that he is a person of desire, and if you hear a person supplicating for the authority to be righteous, then know that he is a person of the Sunnah inshaallah. Fudayl Ibn ‘Iyad said, ‘If I were to have an answered prayer, I would not make it except for the authority.’ It was said to him, ‘O Abu Ali, explain to us what you mean.’ He said, ‘If I made it for the authority, he would be set aright, and by his righteousness the people and lands would be set aright.’ We have been ordered to supplicate for them to be righteous, and we were not ordered to supplicate against them, even if they oppressed and wronged. That is because their oppression and wrongdoing is against themselves, while their righteousness is for us and the Muslims” (Sharh as-Sunnah).

The meaning of that is that Ahl al-Sunna have patience with those in authority over them, being sincere to them and admonishing them in secret, not instigating the masses and rabble against them, nor being helpful to the kuffar against their state and those in authority over them. And it is known that mentioning the faults and errors of the umara in private and public gatherings only leads to evil. “And whatever leads to haram is itself haram,” and “the means to such carry the ruling of where they lead,” including the loss of trust between the troops and their umara, as well as bad assumptions about the umara and the removal of their dignity, which leads to dissension and separatist corruption.

Ibn Kathir said in his tafsir, “As-Sabbah Ibn Siwadah al-Kindi said that he heard ‘Umar Ibn Abdil-Aziz saying in a khutbah about the ayah, ‘Those who, if We give them authority in the land,’ ‘But it is not only an obligation of the authority himself. Rather, it is on both the appointed and those over whom he was appointed. Shall I not tell you what rights you have over the authority regarding that and what rights the authority has over you regarding that? That he holds you to account for the rights of Allah over you, that he takes from some of you and gives to others, and that he guides you to that which is most upright as much as he is able. And you must give obedience to that, not for worldly gain or only through coercion, and neither secretly opposing what one reveals.’”

So look at how he said that it is an obligation upon the Muslim to listen and obey, not for worldly gain or through coercion, and neither secretly opposing what one reveals. This means to be content, accepting, and having good assumption of those in authority. It is not part of unworldly obedience to the emir to insult, gossip, expose, provoke, or incite with the claim of reconciliation, as those whom Shaytan has tripped have done.

Will the abandoner not reflect over the command of the Prophet of having patience with the umara, whether they were Bedouins or Abyssinians, whether righteous or dissolute, even if they preferred themselves in something of the transitory vanities of the Dunya; and his command to recognize the status of those in authority, obeying them in what is good as long as they do not order blatant kufr?

And will he not reflect over how the Salaf describes one who slanders the emir as one of nifaq and bid’a? And it is known that slander is not sincere advice to what is virtuous, nor is it the repudiation of a vice. Rather, it is only insult, vilification, defamation, the spreading of bad traits, and the concealing of good qualities. And it is not as some whose souls that command them with evil have rationalized for them, that this slander is heroic, this dispraise is courage, this backbiting is the declaration of truth, and that this dividing the ranks is in opposition to tyranny—and Allah’s help is sought from such thoughts.

Abdullah Ibn Amr narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “There will be fitna [strife] that will purge the Arabs, those killed of them therein will be in the Fire, and the tongue therein will be mightier than the clashing of swords” (Reported by Abu Dawud).

May Allah, through His blessing and generosity, make us and you from those through whom the Sunnah is revived, heresies are killed, the hearts of the people of truth are empowered, and the souls of the people of desires are repressed.

“Our Lord, do not impose blame upon us if we have forgotten or erred. Our Lord, and lay not upon us a burden like that which You laid upon those before us. Our Lord, and burden us not with that which we have no ability to bear. And pardon us; and forgive us; and have mercy upon us. You are our protector, so give us victory over the disbelieving people” (Al-Baqarah 286).

May Allah reward you well.


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A precis of this fatwa was printed in the 82nd edition of IS’s newsletter, Al-Naba.


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Turki al-Binali, IS’s most visible, if not quite its most senior, cleric, penned a twenty-point refutation of this decision on 19 May 2017—about a fortnight before al-Binali was killed on 31 May. Excerpts of al-Binali’s letter to the Delegated Committee, protesting this ruling, were printed by MEMRI:

“[The Delegated Committee’s memo on takfir] exacerbated matters. The extremists on the Internet celebrated it. Some of them delivered sermons from mosque pulpits, saying, ‘Allahu Akbar! Truth has appeared and falsehood has departed. Today the Islamic State has repented and returned to the truth by saying that takfir is among the clear principles of religion.’ Some extremists on the Internet said that ‘this memo is a step forward. It compels al-Baghdadi to renew his Islam and repent his heresy,’ Allah forbid [such talk]. Those who follow the media of friends and foes alike will find that this memo gave a green light to defame the Islamic State, may Allah glorify it with monotheism. Dozens of brothers have informed us of this. …”

The following are excerpts from some of al-Binali’s 20 objections:

“Why was a memo of this kind issued in such haste? …

“Why wasn’t the memo shown to scholars fully versed [in Islam]—which, praise Allah, are numerous? [For the sake of comparison,] Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, may Allah have mercy on him, issued his statement [the May 29, 2016 statement by the Central Office] only after conducting 19 meetings with dozens of scholars, and even this statement evokes criticism to this day … Moreover, we have been informed that the author of the memo did not even consult the members of the Doctrinal Committee—which was established to discuss such matters—such as Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Masri, may Allah grant him success.

“Is it conceivable that the Caliphate State’s memos and statements should be reactions to pamphlets and audio messages circulated by the extremists? The basic principle is that such matters should be published in well-founded books, not in hasty memos that may contain mistakes and errors, especially if they are meant for distribution among all the soldiers …

“All the brothers I met recently noticed that the memo was [apparently] published out of fear of the extremists’ recklessness … As evidence they pointed to the fact that this memo contradicted the statement of Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, may Allah accept him … This … is unlike what we have come to expect of our sheikhs and leaders since the establishment of the Islamic State, may Allah glorify it, [namely a stance that] does not fear the reproach of critics …

“Why [was a memo addressing] such sensitive matters published with the second most important seal in the Islamic State, inferior only to that of the Imam [al-Baghdadi], may Allah glorify him? …” Al-Binali goes on to explain that, if the memo had been issued by a lesser authority, such as the Doctrinal Committee, for example, correcting its errors would have been less problematic. He adds that the style of the memo, the legal argumentation and the way it proceeds from one thought to the next [all] indicate that it was prepared by Abu Zaid al-Iraqi (this is apparently the kunya of a senior member of ISIS’s leadership, whom al-Binali does not hold in high regard as a scholar).

“How can a weak, inadequate, hadith be used to prove such grave matters, without [presenting] any correct hadiths? [This is] especially [puzzling] given that this memo was issued by the [body directly] subordinate to the Imam [al-Baghdadi, i.e. the Delegated Committee].” Al-Binali goes on to discredit several hadiths mentioned in the Delegated Committee’s memo.

“In memos and statements of this sort that address the most profound religious matters, it would have been possible to avoid many grammatical mistakes by showing them to competent scholars who would edit them, and [such scholars] are numerous, praise Allah …

“The following is the most important remark: How could the memo be issued with such an obvious contradiction? The memo contradicts what was firmly established in sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Furqan’s statement [i.e., the Central Office’s Statement No. 155, from May 29, 2016], in which he said that ‘the claim that declaring the heresy [of those who refrain from excommunicating others] is a principle of religion involves an invalid interpretation [of the shari’a] …’ Then along comes this memo and says explicitly that ‘the Islamic State… regards the issue of proclaiming the heresy of polytheists to be one of the clear principles of the religion …’ One can either speak of ‘principles of religion’ or of ‘clear issues.’ But [the memo] combined the two, producing a new position that contradicts the previous statement [by al-Furqan] and goes farther than the position of the extremists themselves.”

Explaining the basic problem he identifies in the Delegated Committee’s memo, al-Binali argues that regarding takfir as a clear principle of the religion leads to an endless chain of takfir: “A clear principle of religion is something that is known prior to the Prophetic proof [i.e., an elementary theological concept known to mankind even before and regardless of the revelation of holy scripture]. This means that [two sinners]—one who says that another god exists besides Allah and one who refrains [from takfir, i.e., from proclaiming the heresy of one who is guilty of it]—are on the same level. The implication of this is that a person who refrains [from takfir] has violated one of ‘the clear principles of the religion,’ and therefore he [himself] is a polytheist who cannot be excused on [the grounds of] ignorance or according to any interpretation. The same goes for a second person who refrains [from proclaiming takfir against the first person], since he too has violated one of the clear principles of religion, and the same goes for the third, fourth, and one-hundredth, until one is forced to proclaim takfir against oneself …”


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The Islamic State repealed this ruling on 15 September 2017. The Delegated Committee, once again addressing itself to “all the provinces, departments, and councils”, explained the abrogation of the 17 May ruling this way: “Observance of the content of the memorandum titled ‘That Those Who Perish Might Perish by a Clear Sign’ … has been annulled … on account of its containing errors of knowledge and misleading and unreliable statements that have given rise to disagreement and division in the ranks of the mujahideen in particular, and the Muslims in general”. The new ruling restored two books by Turki al-Binali’s Office of Research and Studies that had been banned by the Delegated Committee in early July. The new statement advised IS members to consult the texts issued prior to the May document, as these books, after being amended and edited, “do not contain anything that contradicts the doctrine of ahl al-sunna”. “We advise”, the 15 September judgement said, returning to and relying “on these books for clarification of the issue of excommunication of mushrikeen, the ruling of the abstaining community [those who refuse to implement shari’a, as opposed to the victorious community], and the rulings on houses or other issues”.

The 17 May decision was widely controversial within IS—and gave an opening to al-Qaeda, which printed in its Masra publication the view of an IS jurist, Khabbab al-Jazrawi, that the Delegated Committee had no authority to hereticize Sunnis who, because of ignorance, did not excommunicate those who participated in elections. There was some turmoil in the aftermath of the revocation, though IS addressed it head-on in radio broadcasts on al-Bayan.

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Al-Quds Al-Arabi, an independent Arabic-language paper in London, reported on 18 September that it had “several well-informed sources about the internal [IS] crisis” between the Binalist and Hazimist factions. In the paper’s telling, the recent decisive victory of the faction that had surrounded Turki al-Binali and Abu Bakr al-Qahtani, both killed over the last few months, as symbolised by the abrogation of the takfir ruling, was because, after an “absence … for many months”, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had re-emerged and re-asserted his authority, cleaning house by dismissing and placing under house arrest several prominent officials who were, or were sympathetic to, the Hazimis. Al-Quds Al-Arabi says that the “most notabl[e]” official that al-Baghdadi removed was Haji Abd al-Nasser, a Turkoman from Tal Afar who had been one of the leading Hazimi supporters since their emergence in 2014 and had been “in charge of the Syrian Emirate”. Also removed were: Abu Maram al-Jazairi (Algerian), Abu Hafs al-Wa’dani al-Jazrawi (Saudi), and Abu Asma al-Tunisi (Tunisian), who were “concentrated in wadi al-furat (the Euphrates valley) and Deir Ezzor”. The signal that the tide had turned, according to Al-Quds Al-Arabi, came in an audio statement from an IS shar’i (religious judge), Abu Abdurrahman al-Shami, also known as Abu Abdurrahman al-Zarqawi because of his close connection to the founder of the IS movement, Ahmad al-Khalayleh (Abu Musab al-Zarqawi). Abu Abdurrahman condemned the Hazimis in his message and accused them of being linked to the Saudi government—the accusation resting on Ahmad al-Hazimi being in a Saudi prison. It seems Abu Abdurrahman has been appointed IS’s general jurist and placed on al-Lajna al-Mufawada (The Delegated Committee).

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