Middle East Policy Council

Journal Essay

Protecting Jihad: The Sharia Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad

Joas Wagemakers

Summer 2011, Volume XVIII, Number 2

Mr. Wagemakers is a lecturer at Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and a research fellow at the Netherlands Institute for International Relations Clingendael, the Hague. His research focuses on Islamism and Salafism. He co-edits ZemZem, a Dutch-language journal on the Middle East, North Africa and Islam, and he blogs at jihadica.com, a weblog on developments in jihad.

Throughout the past two decades, various radical Islamist groups in the Middle East have sometimes used extreme forms of violence against their enemies. Like any other type of warfare, the battles waged in the name of Islam were never nonviolent.1 In the past 20 years or so, however, several Islamist groups have shown that they were willing to go beyond fighting non-Muslim armies in a classical jihad between the abode of Islam (dar al-Islam) and the abode of war (dar al-harb) and instead use large-scale violence against civilians, often including fellow believers. Prominent examples of this trend include Algeria2 and Egypt3 in the 1990s, Iraq since 20034 and Jordan in 2005.5

Radical Islamists' widespread use of violence against civilians, particularly other Muslims, was not received uncritically by the radical scholars on whose writings the militants based their ideas. Some Islamists have been critical of the expansion of jihad to countries like the United States and openly condemned the terrorist attack of 9/11 and the strategy behind it.6 Others, such as the Egyptian al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya7 and the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG),8 have completely revised their radical ideologies. Still others seemed to take a middle way, criticizing certain jihadi9 militants for their (extreme) use of violence. Of the latter group, the radical Egyptian scholar Sayyid Imam (a.k.a. Dr. Fadl/Abd al-Qadir b. Abd al-Aziz) and the Jordanian Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi are probably the best-known examples, although they do not have similar ideas. While various publications have dealt with the criticism expressed by these two men,10 far less attention has been paid to al-Maqdisi's efforts to expand on his criticism of certain jihadi practices, in order to purify jihad and the creed that supports it and to protect them from allegedly bad influences.

This article analyses al-Maqdisi's efforts to protect jihad by looking at his actual criticism of certain jihadi militants and, conversely, at his attempts to support and praise "good" jihadis in several countries. The article then focuses on the successful attempt by al-Maqdisi to set up a council of like-minded scholars in order to provide guidance and advice to youngsters dealing with religious questions about a host of issues, including jihad, and what advice this council has actually given. Using mostly Arabic primary sources taken from the internet,11 including the collections of fatwas published by the council, this article argues that these radical scholars may well have an important impact on the future of jihad and as such are worthy of both scholars' and policy makers' attention.


Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi (born, Barqa, West Bank, 1959) is a prominent radical ideologue who has written numerous works in which he denounces the rulers of the Muslim world for their adherence to "man-made laws" (qawanin wadiyya) instead of Islamic law (sharia). Al-Maqdisi considers this a grave violation of God's absolute unity (tawhid) and his total sovereignty in legislation and calls for, or at least supports, jihad against these "un-Islamic" rulers. As such, al-Maqdisi has been a major figure in the international jihadi movement for years, but he is probably best known for being the former mentor and teacher of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (1966-2006), the first leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, whom he directly and indirectly started criticising for his use of violence in 2004, as we will see. Although, as mentioned, al-Maqdisi's criticism has been dealt with in several other publications, it is necessary to pay attention to both his critique of certain jihadi practices and his efforts to praise the fighters he considers to be doing well in this respect in order to understand why he set up the council of scholars later on.12

Criticizing "Zealous Youngsters"

Al-Maqdisi's critique of certain jihadi militants can basically be summarised by stating that he believes some of "these zealous youngsters" (haulai l-shabab al-mutahammisin), as he sometimes calls them,13 to have very little idea of what they are getting involved in when they engage in jihad. As has been argued elsewhere, this criticism is not a sign of ideological revisionism or moderation, nor is it an attempt to malign jihadis. Instead, al-Maqdisi's criticism shows his concern about the alleged purity of jihad, for which he feels responsible since he has partly helped inspire it.14 This criticism of jihadis with regard to their use of violence15 can be divided into three specific points. First, he feels that some Islamist militants use violence too randomly; second, he believes that they sometimes use extreme and unnecessary forms of violence; and third, he states that jihadis, instead of focusing on fighting to set up an Islamic state, very often just attack others without a long-term plan. All three of these points are related to al-Maqdisi's general complaint that jihadis are often ignorant of both the religious and practical knowledge necessary to wage a proper jihad.

The first point, about random violence, is closely connected to the issue of takfir (excommunication). Since jihadis need to justify killing other people, particularly if they are fellow Muslims, they often use this concept. In other words, jihadis declare their Muslim opponents to be unbelievers (kuffar), in order to legitimize their use of violence against them. There are, however, specific norms and rules specifying when takfir is allowed, about which al-Maqdisi wrote an extensive study meticulously describing the permitted types of takfir as well as "extremism in excommunication" (al-ghuluw fi l-takfir, i.e., applying the concept very broadly), which he adamantly rejects.16 He also condemns the violence that sometimes ensues from this extremism in takfir. In a book he wrote specifically about his concern for jihad, al-Maqdisi scolds jihadis for believing that non-Muslim women and children and even innocent Muslim bystanders may simply be killed. He explains that a tradition (hadith) of the Prophet Muhammad, in which the latter seemingly gives permission to do so,17 actually only allows Muslims to hit these people if there is no other way of attacking their opponents or if no distinction can be made between enemies and bystanders. On the basis of incorrect interpretation, al-Maqdisi laments, many innocent Muslims are killed by jihadis, which he strongly condemns.18 He also states that military, political and economic sites should be targeted, not sinful places such as cinemas, whose visitors may not be excommunicated outright but should be brought back to Islam through missionary activities (dawa).19 With regard to al-Zarqawi, al-Maqdisi concedes in a letter to him that his former pupil might not apply takfir at random but states that this is not very clear from his actions.20 He therefore not only warns al-Zarqawi to refrain from spilling (presumably Sunni) Muslim brotherhood but also reprimands him for targeting Shiites in Iraq.21

Regarding the second point of criticism — the extreme and unnecessary use of violence — al-Maqdisi is especially concerned about the use of suicide bombings. Although he believes they are legitimate means for attacking the enemy, he argues that they should be used sparingly and only when no other means are available, not to kill one or two people.22 He complains that some young fighters seem to believe that jihad is only possible through explosions and that many jihadis have fallen "in love with explosive operations" (mughram bi-amaliyyat al-tafjir).23 Apart from the fact that explosions and suicide bombings are obviously more likely to endanger the lives of innocent bystanders, al-Maqdisi also objects to their widespread use because they tarnish the image of Islam and jihad24 and kill the fighters who blow themselves up. He considers this wasteful, in view of the small number of jihadis.25

The third and final point that al-Maqdisi tries to make regarding jihadis' use of violence concerns their short-term planning and inability or unwillingness to look to the future. This has to do with the lack of organization in their attacks. Al-Maqdisi advises fighters to operate collectively instead of individually to maximize their efforts.26 Most important, however, is the distinction al-Maqdisi makes between qital al-nikaya and qital al-tamkin: fighting to hurt or damage the enemy vs. fighting in order to consolidate one's power. While he does not reject the former, which involves only attacking the enemy, he has a clear preference for the latter. It allows Muslims to set up a safe haven, take control over a certain territory and perhaps even found an Islamic state. This, al-Maqdisi believes, will require

a broad and comprehensive plan (khutta shamila wa-wasia) in which the most insightful, knowledgeable and experienced (awwali l-basar wa-l-diraya wa-l-khibra) divine scholars (al-ulama al-rabbaniyyin), active missionaries (al-duat al-amilin) and sincere jihad fighters (al-mujahidin al-sadiqin) take part [...].27

According to al-Maqdisi, this type of jihad has been rather rare. He wonders why jihadis continue to have success in fighting others and liberating countries but fail to translate their victories into sustained power, the lasting removal of oppressors and Islamic statehood. He laments the fact that even successful actions such as the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat in 1981 or the attacks of 9/11 — which he applauded28 — were nothing more than tactical because the people responsible for them failed to follow up on them and take the reigns of power. He therefore advises jihadis to think twice about fighting if they only want to launch attacks, since their efforts are unlikely to yield any lasting results without the use of proselytizing and other means to gain a real foothold in a territory and consolidate their power.29

Praising "Knowledge Seekers"

Thus, al-Maqdisi is clearly concerned about certain jihadi practices he sees and hears about, not because he is against jihad or the use of violence but because he wants it to be legitimate, to serve a purpose and to lead to tangible results. Al-Maqdisi sums up his own position:

Every jihad fighter needs to remember that we are the sons of a magnificent religion (din azim). His jihad, his aims (ghayatuhu) and his means (wasailuhu) are too clean (anzaf), too pure (athar), too lofty (ala) and too sublime (ajall) to be similar to or resemble the acts of mafia gangs whose ends justify the means.30

A remark like this begs the question: are there actually jihadis who do meet the requirements that al-Maqdisi sets? He seems to think so, as he praises these jihadis for precisely the aspects of their jihad that he finds lacking in the use of violence by those mentioned above.

Al-Maqdisi's general criticism of jihadis is that they often have no idea of what they are involved in. In his letter to al-Zarqawi and his book on jihadi malpractice, al-Maqdisi had already admonished fighters to study Islam and their surroundings and was happy that his former pupil was getting advice from Abu Anas al-Shami, a Jordanian scholar and "knowledge seeker" (talib ilm) who could provide al-Zarqawi with the necessary religious understanding to help him cope in Iraq.31 Having the right religious knowledge to enable one to deal with the travails of war and conflict seems to be precisely the reason al-Maqdisi praises the "knowledge seekers" of the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, a jihadi group fighting the Russian army.32 In a letter he wrote to them, he states that "the brothers" of "the Higher Sharia Court of the Emirate of the Caucasus" have "knowledge and understanding (al-ilm wa-l-fahm)" that will "bring great blessing to the Muslims and the jihad in that country"33 and praises the words and vision of the emirate's leadership.34

With regard to doctrinal issues such as "extreme" takfir and the violence resulting from it, al-Maqdisi lauds the "serenity of method" (safa al-manhaj) and the "purity of declaration" (niqa al-tasrihat) of the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus as well as their adherence to the unity of God and their unwillingness to deviate from this.35 He therefore praises their soldiers "who wage jihad according to this method. They are truly the army of tawhid."36 In fact, when two suicide bombers sent by the Islamic Emirate detonated their explosives on two trains of the Moscow metro on March 29, 2010, al-Maqdisi's website published a communiqué that allowed the emirate's leader, Duku Umarov, to explain that this attack was an act of revenge against Russia and not terrorism. This message was echoed by the website itself, which confirmed that this attack was precipitated by an alleged massacre of poor and innocent Muslims by the Russian army, thereby apparently trying to clear the jihadis of any wrongdoing.37

As for the question of consolidating power and setting up an Islamic state, it seems that al-Maqdisi is also quite satisfied with the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus. The fact that jihadis in the Caucasus have actually made a realistic effort to set up their own emirate shows that they are busy with exactly the kind of qital al-tamkin that al-Maqdisi wants fighters to focus on. This coincides with the apparent strategy of al-Qaeda to try and set up safe havens from which its fighters can launch attacks;38 the Islamic Emirate in the Caucasus seems to be an important part of this.39 Considering al-Maqdisi's frustration over jihadis who are victorious in battle but subsequently fail to set up an Islamic system, it is not surprising that he praises the jihadis in the Caucasus for their "choice for the Islamic sharia and preferring it over international law" in the area under their control.40 Similarly, al-Maqdisi seems satisfied, though not so explicitly, about the Somali jihadi movement known as al-Shabab (the Youth). They, too, have secured a significant part of Somalia and have set up their own system through, for instance, the levying of taxes.41 Although al-Maqdisi may not necessarily agree with all of their actions, he clearly supports al-Shabab, in general. He distances himself from Sheikh Sharif, a fellow Somali Islamist, who has accused al-Shabab of being "a terrorist movement," following a "takfiri ideological method" that "considers [shedding] people's blood permissible," al-Maqdisi writes, and warns the jihadis against this man.42

Conversely, al-Maqdisi advises the radical jihadis in the Gaza Strip — who oppose Hamas's agenda of less than total application of the sharia and cooperation with secular Palestinian factions such as Fatah,43 and with whom he has sided at the expense of Hamas on several occasions44 — to refrain from attacking the more powerful Islamist rulers there. Despite the apparent willingness of some radicals to overthrow Hamas's rule in the Gaza Strip45 and al-Maqdisi's own disagreement with the latter, he still advises not to fight them. Better "not to widen the conflict," presumably since they would not be able to set up a territory of their own there anyway.46


While al-Maqdisi's criticism of some jihadis was mostly broad and general in nature, his praise of certain others was quite specific. However, Al-Maqdisi clearly also wants to use these "good" jihadis as a broader example to others, apparently in order to show them that the pure jihad he wants them to wage can actually be realized. In fact, referring to the knowledge, organization and consolidation of the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, he writes, "Today, many of the jihadi and fighting groups everywhere on earth need these lessons and admonitions (hadhihi l-durus wa-l-ibar) and [they] need to stop, consider them and learn from them."47 Al-Maqdisi apparently realized that his efforts to steer the widespread attempts to wage jihad and apply takfir in a different and "purer" direction would probably be more effective if this "protection" of jihad in general was done collectively. This is probably why, in 2009, he set up his website's Sharia Council.

The Sharia Council

The roots of the Sharia Council (Al-Lajna al-Shariyya) seem to go back to July 2005. During that month, al-Maqdisi used a brief period of release from prison to express some of the criticism of jihadis mentioned above in various interviews with Jordanian and Arab media. A newspaper article published during this period mentioned that al-Maqdisi "revealed his intention to form an organisation of [various] Sunni scholars in the world with the goal of 'controlling fatwas' and releasing the jihadi message among youngsters and Salafi trends.'"48 Al-Maqdisi later denied having even granted an interview to the author of the article in which this quote appeared.49 This may be true, but the article generally does represent his point of view. Indeed, with regard to his remark about the organization of scholars he wanted to start, both his desire to control the advice given to jihadis ("controlling fatwas") and his emphasis on the legitimacy of jihad ("releasing the jihadi message among youngsters") are cited. We may therefore conclude that the article was correct up to a point; al-Maqdisi probably did intend to set up a council of Sunni scholars to advise and help young jihadis.

Because al-Maqdisi was re-arrested only a few days after the appearance of this interview and was held until March 2008, he was clearly not in a position to realize his goal of starting an organization of scholars. In the autumn of 2009, however, a question-and-answer forum (muntada l-asila) was started on his website.50 Alongside al-Maqdisi himself, there were several other like-minded radical scholars who united in the website's Sharia Council and offered to give advice to youngsters on any issue related to Islam, including jihad and takfir. Since September 2009, almost a dozen scholars have participated in the forum (see Table 1). Their fatwas are regularly collected in books, which are then published on the website. As of this writing (November 2010), 13 volumes of fatwas had appeared.51

Table 1: The Sharia Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad

Number Name (Presumed) Nationality54 Number of Fatwas55
1. Abu Usama al-Shami Syrian 176
2. Abu Muhammad al-Shami Syrian 155
3. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi Jordanian 141
4. Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi Palestinian 136
5. Abu Humam al-Athari Jordanian 125
6. Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti Mauritanian 106
7. Sharia Council as a whole - 45
8. Nasir al-Din al-Baghdadi Iraqi 42
9. Abu Muslim al-Jazairi Algerian 39
10. Abu Idris al-Yamani Yemeni 37
11. Abu Hafs al-Jazairi Algerian 26
12. Abu l-Nur al-Filastini Palestinian 6

The overview of scholars in Table 1 shows that, if we assume the nationalities mentioned to be valid, they are from various parts of the Muslim world, including the Gulf, the Levant and North Africa, as are the people who ask them for advice. Apart from this information, however, little is known about these scholars. I have found writings by only five on the list (apart from al-Maqdisi). While Abu Usama al-Shami seems to have written very little besides his work for the Sharia Council,56 the other four — Abu Humam al-Athari, Abu Hafs al-Jazairi, Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti and Abu Muslim al-Jazairi — have been more productive. They are clearly close to al-Maqdisi, as expressed by the letters "congratulating" him on the violent death of his son in Iraq in June 2010;57 the praise from some of them,58 particularly al-Athari, who defended him when he was being attacked by other jihadis for his criticism of their methods;59 and the introductions al-Maqdisi has written for some of their books.60 What is also clear is that they are close to him in ideology. Several of them have written extensively (and similarly) on the most important issues to al-Maqdisi: "un-Islamic" laws, the rulers behind such legislation in the Muslim world,61 and the religious scholars who support them.62 Some also explicitly share al-Maqdisi's63 critique of democracy64 and Hamas's policies65 and clearly support jihad and those who participate in it.66 However, they reject "extremists in takfir" and refuse to be labeled as such themselves.67

It is striking that, judged solely by the number of fatwas they have given to readers, al-Maqdisi is only the third most important scholar. Although for unknown reasons al-Maqdisi also kept giving occasional fatwas of his own that are not included in the collections of the Sharia Council, his relatively low number of contributions suggests that the Council is not just a vehicle of al-Maqdisi alone but really an effort to create a multi-scholar advisory group. Moreover, it is not clear why some fatwas are given by the Sharia Council as a whole instead of by individual scholars. The questions answered by the entire Council were not so long, difficult or controversial that a collective or anonymous answer was preferred. We can only speculate as to why this happens.

The Council's Advice

The questions asked of the Sharia Council involve much more than just takfir and jihad. Many of them deal with having to cope within both Muslim and non-Muslim societies whose inhabitants profess a different type of Islam (or even religion) than the questioners themselves. The issues they deal with range from whether to get a vaccination against swine flu68 to whether it is allowed during PalTalk discussions to impersonate other people by giving oneself a Christian name69 or referring to oneself as "Bint Bin Laden" ("the daughter of Bin Laden") when Osama bin Laden is not actually one's father.70 The fact that the Council deals with much more than jihad and related matters is not surprising. Al-Maqdisi's emphasis on seeking knowledge and learning about Islam as opposed to focusing only on military affairs is clear throughout his writings on jihad, as we have seen above. It is, therefore, only natural for him and his colleagues to address a broader set of questions than just those related to violence.

Perhaps not surprisingly, when the issue of jihad does come up, the questioners often mention their parents' opposition to their decision to take up arms. A student who expressed his wish to talk about tawhid with his father, for instance, was dismissed by the latter. His father, who perhaps suspected that his son's emphasis on this concept stemmed from jihadi interpretations of Islam, which often focus heavily on tawhid (as we saw above), apparently bluntly told his son, "We are not Afghanistan."71 Another man tells the Council that his father is a famous Yemeni sheikh who does not agree with his religious beliefs and "threatens to put a curse on [him]" if he goes off to wage jihad.72

Like al-Maqdisi himself, who does not criticize takfir and jihad as such but rather the expressions of these concepts that he considers extreme, the Sharia Council makes it perfectly clear that it does not consist of a moderate group of scholars who try to talk people out of waging jihad altogether. On numerous occasions, the Council's scholars indicate that young men should not let obstacles get in the way of their wish to wage jihad. Issues such as marriage73 or taking care of family,74 outstanding debts75 and parents who are unwilling to give their sons permission to fight76 should, in the opinion of the Council, not prevent Muslims from fighting for Islam. Its scholars do acknowledge the difference between jihad as an individual duty (fard ayn), meaning that every able Muslim should engage in it, and jihad as a collective duty (fard kifaya), indicating that, if a certain group of Muslims fights, the rest are exempted. While they state that an offensive jihad is a collective duty requiring its participants to first settle their debts, take care of their families and ask their parents for permission, the scholars repeatedly claim that jihad in the defense of Muslim land is an individual duty, releasing Muslims from the need to do these things.77 Moreover, they argue that every jihad nowadays is a defensive one, an individual duty for which no permission from anyone is needed.78

The reason the scholars of the Sharia Council believe every jihad nowadays is defensive, and therefore a fard ayn, lies in their use of takfir and shows that they agree with al-Maqdisi on this issue.79 Like him (and other radical Islamists), the Council's scholars contend that today's rulers in the Muslim world do not govern on the basis of Islamic law, which they see as a requirement of their being Muslims, leading them to apply takfir to these presidents, kings and ministers. This, in turn, leads to the conclusion that apostate unbelievers are actually in control of Muslim-majority states. In this sense, one can argue that even the Muslim world is governed and "occupied" by non-Muslims.80 This is evident in the Council's assertions that the rulers in Syria are guilty of unbelief (kufr),81 that elections are ways of allowing the people — instead of just God — to legislate, meaning that they are a form of polytheism (shirk),82 that the entire Muslim community (umma) is either being occupied by Western powers or raped by "apostate" rulers,83 and that armies fighting for these governments are also sources of unbelief.84 Considering these points of view, it is not surprising that the Council's scholars also see the armed struggle against the rulers of Muslim countries such as Algeria as a legitimate and defensive jihad that is an individual duty for every Muslim.85

Given the Council's ideas on takfir and jihad, one can conclude that they hold views just as radical as al-Maqdisi's. Their radicalism shows clear boundaries, however. Like al-Maqdisi, the Sharia Council tries to protect jihad from supposedly bad influences by rejecting what it sees as extremism in takfir and the random attacks often connected with it, unnecessary violence, and the lack of consolidation of power among jihadis. With regard to takfir, the Council stresses several times, for example, that, while the Hamas-led government in the Gaza Strip does not rule according to the sharia, it is not allowed to excommunicate the movement as a whole or to apply takfir to its military wing, the Qassam Brigades.86 Similarly, several questioners are told that states and their laws may be expressions of kufr and shirk, but that not everyone involved in politics is necessarily guilty of this, too. The scholars argue, for instance, that not every bureaucratic procedure in an un-Islamic system is wrong.87 Nor is every job related to the state reason to apply takfir to the person who holds it (if it is even sinful at all).88 An example of such a job is that of a man who works for the state's fire department, which is considered completely harmless by the scholar answering a question on this topic.89 Moreover, the Council also advises against generally excommunicating people who vote in parliamentary elections.90 Questioners are thus told to refrain from general or "extreme" applications of takfir91 and to stay away from movements that support such beliefs.92

Regarding the use of violence that could result from "extreme" forms of takfir, the Council is also clear. It argues against fighting Hamas in Lebanese refugee camps,93 instead advising jihadis to (among other things) unite, seek knowledge, practice dawa in order to get people to follow the correct path and "engage in fighting the Jews until the people gather under the banner of tawhid."94 One member of the Council advises his readers in a fatwa that jihadis should not target Christians simply for their "unbelief" and should refrain from blowing up churches.95 Moreover, in answer to a question as to what to do with Algerian journalists who defame jihadis in their articles, the Council first advises not to start waging jihad on one's own but "to join ranks with the jihad movement (al-indimam fi saff al-jamaa al-mujahida) or at least to co-ordinate [one's actions] with it." Second, it states that journalists should not be targeted in jihad simply because of their ideas or their insults to jihad fighters.96

The emphasis on planning and organization is clearest in the Sharia Council's advice regarding the consolidation of jihadi power. Jihadis in the Gaza Strip, for example, are advised to "prepare practical programmes (baramij amaliyya) on every level [of] the sharia, education (al-tarbawiyya), security (al-amniyya), military matters (al-askariyya), the media (al-ilamiyya) and finances (al-maliyya)... etc."97 Not surprisingly, one questioner is treated to an appraisal of setting up a caliphate:

The caliphate is a religious necessity (darura diniyya) for the sake of tawhid, for the sake of establishing justice (iqamat al-adl) and for the sake of uplifting the circumstances of the Muslim community (istiqamat ahwal al-umma) and preventing chaos (man fawda) and disorder (al-idtirab).... Muslims must try to strive to create the components of that caliphate.... They have to study the beneficial knowledge (al-ilm al-nafi), the sound creed (al-aqida al-sahiha) and call to it (al-dawa ilayha) [and] spread it among the people, prepare equipment and ammunition (idad al-udda wa-l-atad) and mobilise the people for jihad in the way of God (fi sabil Allah) through which he will protect the territory of the Muslims (baydat al-Muslimin) and through which the excellence of tawhid is preserved.98

Considering this strong support for setting up a caliphate, thereby consolidating power and providing better opportunities to establish an Islamic system, it is only natural that the Council expresses strong support for jihadi efforts to set up an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip. Although the timing and preparation were perhaps not very good — the fledgling emirate in Gaza was quickly thwarted by Hamas in a bloody battle in August 200999 — the principle of setting up an Islamic emirate is essential for applying the sharia in full and should therefore be applauded.100

The Sharia Council thus advises and criticizes youngsters regarding the same points that al-Maqdisi had already mentioned in his earlier writings on jihad. Although the Council cannot simply be said to be an extension of his thinking, it does spread a message of supporting jihad against the rulers of the Muslim world and the West in principle, while being highly critical of its excesses. This is quite similar to what al-Maqdisi tries to instill in his readers. As such, it can be said that the Sharia Council constitutes a successful attempt by al-Maqdisi and the Council's scholars to broaden and deepen the former's efforts to protect jihad from influences they consider harmful and provide an authoritative and "clean" jihadi alternative to militants from all over the world.


This article has shown that criticism of jihad does not necessarily come from opponents or radicals who have drastically revised and moderated their ideology. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a prominent Jordanian Islamist ideologue and radical thinker, has been a staunch critic of some jihadi practices over the past two decades but nevertheless continues to support jihad and its practitioners. Al-Maqdisi's criticism is aimed at protecting jihad from actions and practices he considers wrong and counterproductive. He discerns among some jihad fighters a worryingly high level of ignorance of Islam and Islamic law as well as of the environment in which jihad takes place. This ignorance is expressed in more or less three different areas: attacking (Muslim) opponents too randomly, sometimes after first having applied excommunication on them too quickly; using violence that is unnecessary or even illegitimate; and concentrating on fighting alone at the expense of trying to consolidate the jihadis' power in a certain territory. Al-Maqdisi subsequently holds up several examples of jihadi groups who, in his opinion, do perform well in these areas, particularly the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus, partly in order to show jihad fighters how it should be done.

This effort to protect jihad seems to have been taken to the next level by al-Maqdisi in his creation of a Sharia Council that answers people's questions on many issues, including jihad and takfir, on his website. The Council has not only grown to include about a dozen scholars, but has also answered over a thousand questions posed by Muslims from all over the world in little more than a year. This Sharia Council has the same ideas as al-Maqdisi of supporting takfir and jihad in principle, but warning against its excesses and stressing the need to set up an Islamic state. As such, the Council may well have an important impact on future trends within jihad. The reason is that they, though critical of excesses, have retained their credibility as radical scholars by refraining from revising their views, and they provide a platform to express their ideas and advise people from all over the world. Moreover, their own claims against "extremism" may make them less vulnerable to accusations by more moderate scholars that they are extremists. Considering the above, as well as the quick, easy and direct access questioners are granted to a group of radical scholars willing and able to advise them, the Sharia Council is not only important to academics studying the trajectory of jihad, it also constitutes a trend that policy makers and counterterrorism experts would do well to keep an eye on.

1 General works on military forms of jihad include, for example, Richard Bonney, Jihad: From Qur'an to bin Laden (Palgrave MacMillan, 2004); and Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam (Markus Wiener Publishers, 1996).

2 See, for example, Mohammed Hafez, "Armed Islamist Movements and Political Violence in Algeria," Middle East Journal, Vol. 54, No. 4, 2000, pp. 572-591; Mohammed Hafez, "From Marginalization to Massacres: A Political Process Explanation of GIA Violence in Algeria," in Quintan Wiktorowicz, ed., Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach (Indiana University Press: 2004), pp. 37-60; Mohammed Hafez, Why Muslims Rebel: Repression and Resistance in the Islamic World (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2003), esp. pp. 155-173; and Quintan Wiktorowicz, "Centrifugal Tendencies in the Algerian Civil War," Arab Studies Quarterly, Vol. 23, no. 3, 2001, pp. 65-82.

3 Hafez, Why Muslims Rebel, op. cit., pp. 173-185.

4 Mohammed Hafez, Suicide Bombers in Iraq: The Strategy and Ideology of Martyrdom (United States Institute of Peace, 2007); Mohammed Hafez, "Suicide Terrorism in Iraq: A Preliminary Assessment of the Quantitative Data and Documentary Evidence," Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol. 29, No. 6, 2006, pp. 591-619.

5 The reference is to the suicide bombings in several hotels in Amman on November 9, 2005. For background information on this, see International Crisis Group (ICG), Jordan's 9/11: Dealing with Jihadi Islamism, Middle East Report No. 47, November 23, 2005.

6 For an excellent treatment of the discussions between radical Islamists on the legitimacy of 9/11, see Fawaz A. Gerges, The Far Enemy: Why Jihad Went Global (Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 185-250.

7 Omar Ashour, "Lions Tamed? An Inquiry into the Causes of De-Radicalization of Armed Islamist Movements: The Case of the Egyptian Islamic Group," Middle East Journal, Vol. 61, No. 4, 2007, pp. 596-625; and Roel Meijer, "Commanding Right and Forbidding Wrong As a Principle of Social Action: The Case of the Egyptian al-Jamaa al-Islamiyya," in Roel Meijer, ed., Global Salafism: Islam's New Religious Movement, (Hurst & Co. Ltd./Columbia University Press, 2009), pp. 207-217.

8 Borzou Daragahi, "Libya's Coup: Turning Militants against Al Qaeda," Los Angeles Times, December 15, 2009.

9 I define "jihadi" in this article as a person who participates in, calls for or actively supports any military form of jihad.

10 For Sayyid Imam, see, for example, Amel Lamnaouer and Romain Caillet, "De l'usage du jihad: la fin d'une ère en Égypte? Les revisions idéologiques de Sayyid Imâm," in L'Égypte dans l'année 2007, Hadjar Aouardji and Hélène Legeay, eds. (CEDEJ, 2008), pp. 85-115; and Daniel Lav, "An In-Depth Summary of Sayyid Imam's New Polemic against Al-Qaeda, 'Exposing the Exoneration,'" Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), No. 500, February 23, 2009, www.memrijttm.org (accessed June 2, 2009); and Lawrence Wright, "The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda Mastermind Questions Terrorism," New Yorker, June 2, 2008. For al-Maqdisi, see, for example, Steven Brooke, "The Preacher and the Jihadi," in Hillel Fradkin, Husain Haqqani and Eric Brown, eds., Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Vol. 3, (Hudson Institute, 2006), pp. 52-66; International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT), "The Salafi-Jihadi Movement: An Internal Discourse Between al-Maqdisi's Ideology and al-Zarqawi's Way," ICT's Jihadi Websites Monitoring Group, www.ict.org.il/Portals/0/Internet%20Monitoring%20Group/JWMG_Al-Qaeda_Salafia.pdf, September 2009 (accessed January 20, 2010); and Nibras Kazimi, "A Virulent Ideology in Mutation: Zarqawi Upstages Maqdisi," in Hillel Fradkin, Husain Haqqani and Eric Brown, eds. Current Trends in Islamist Ideology, Vol. 2, (Hudson Institute, 2005), pp. 59-73.

11 Most internet sources used in this article were downloaded from al-Maqdisi's website, www.tawhed.ws. All sources from this website were still available in November 2010 when this article was completed.

12 For more on al-Maqdisi's life and ideology, see Joas Wagemakers, "A Purist Jihadi-Salafi: The Ideology of Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi," British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2009, pp. 281-297.

13 See, for example, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat maa Thamarat al-Jihad (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2004), p. 80.

14 Joas Wagemakers, "Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi: A Counter-Terrorism Asset?" CTC Sentinel, Vol. 1, No. 6, 2008, www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol1Iss6.pdf. For a more in-depth treatment of this issue, see Joas Wagemakers, "Reclaiming Scholarly Authority: Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi's Critique of Jihadi Practices," Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Vol. 34, No. 7, 2011, pp. 1-17. His concern for jihad and his sense of duty to speak out about this was also confirmed by al-Maqdisi when I spoke to him about this. Personal interview with Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Amman, January 2009. See also Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, p. 35.

15 Al-Maqdisi also criticises youngsters for issues that are not directly related to violence, such as their ignorance about the powers of the security services or, alternatively, their sometimes excessive secrecy. See Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, pp. 36-41, for instance.

16 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Risala al-Thalathiniyya fi l-Tahdhir min al-Ghuluw fi l-Takfir (www.tawhed.ws/t, 1998/1999). Al-Maqdisi himself also uses takfir and generally applies it to the rulers of the Muslim world for their unwillingness to apply the sharia in full, which he uses as a justification of his support for jihad against them. Many would argue that this use of takfir is also quite extreme but to al-Maqdisi this is not the case since he makes a thorough and detailed case against the rulers of the Muslim world and does not apply the concept randomly against groups of people whose specific sins he has no knowledge of. Generally, al-Maqdisi labels people "extremists in takfir" if they apply the concept randomly, too quickly (i.e., without studying a case) or in situations where a person's sins clearly do not justify calling them unbelievers.

17 See Sahih Muslim, book 32 ("Kitab al-Jihad wa-l-Siyar"), chapter 9 ("Bab Jawaz Qatl al-Nisa wa-l-Sibyan fi l-Bayat min ghayr Taammud"), No. 1745. In other collections it is No. 4321. For an English translation and similar traditions, see Peters, Jihad, p. 13.

18 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, pp. 3-5.

19 Ibid., p. 7-8.

20 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Zarqawi: Amal wa-Alam (Munsara wa-Munasaha) (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2004), p. 9.

21 Ibid., p. 12; "Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi: al-Salafiyya al-Jihadiyya," Al-Jazeera (www.aljazeera.net), July 7, 2005 (accessed August 24, 2006).

22 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, pp. 2-3, 109, 114.

23 Ibid., p. 2.

24 Ibid., pp. 123-124; Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Zarqawi, pp. 10, 12.

25 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Zarqawi, p. 11.

26 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, pp. 31-33.

27 Ibid., pp. 48-49. The quote is on p. 49.

28 Ibid., pp. 30, 56; Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Hadha Ma Adinu llah bihi (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2001), p. 1; Hiwar al-Shaykh Abi Muhammad al-Maqdisi maa Majallat al-Asr (www.tawhed.ws/t, n.d.), p. 6.

29 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, pp. 49-56, 83-90, 98, 104-114, 128; and Al-Zarqawi, p. 11.

30 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Zarqawi, p. 11.

31 Ibid., p. 7.

32 For more on this emirate, see www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/, an allegedly independent Islamic website that is clearly sympathetic to the Islamic Emirate of the Caucasus and those fighting Russia.

33 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Risalat Nusra wa-tizaz bi-Imarat wa-l-Mujahidi l-Qawqaz (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2009), p. 5.

34 Ibid., p. 6.

35 Ibid., p. 1.

36 Ibid., p. 7.

37 Bayan Amir Imarat al-Qawqaz Duku Abu Uthman hawla Tafjirat Musku (www.tawhed.ws/r?i=31031009, 2010). For more on this communiqué as well as an English translation, see Joas Wagemakers, "What's the Minbar Doing in Moscow? (Part 1)," Jihadica, posted May 4, 2010, www.jihadica.com/what%E2%80%99s-the-minbar-doing-in-moscow-part-1/ (accessed July 26, 2010).

38 Murad Batal al-Shishani, "The Concept of Safe Havens in Salafi-Jihadi Strategy," Terrorism Monitor, Vol. 7, No. 27, 2009, www.jamestown.org/uploads/media/TM_007_87.pdf (accessed July 26, 2010).

39 Murad Batal al-Shishani, "Salafi-Jihadis and the North Caucasus: Is There a New Phase of the War in the Making?" Terrorism Monitor Vol. 8, No. 27, 2010, www.jamestown.org/uploads/media/TM_008_60.pdf (accessed July 26, 2010).

40 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Risalat Nusra wa-tizaz, p. 15.

41 "Jihadists on the March," The Economist, February 25, 2010; and "Somalia Comes to Uganda," The Economist, July 15, 2010.

42 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Risalat Nusra li-l-Mujahidin fi l-Sumal wa-Kashf Shubhat Mashayikh al-Dajjal (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2009), p. 3.

43 For more on these groups, see Yoram Cohen and Matthew Levitt, with Becca Wasser, Deterred but Determined: Salafi-Jihadi Groups in the Palestinian Arena, Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Focus No. 99, January 2010, www.washingtoninstitute.org/pubPDFs/PolicyFocus%2099.pdf (accessed July 26, 2010); and Mary Habeck, "Al-Qaida and Hamas: The Limits of Salafi-Jihadi Pragmatism," CTC Sentinel Vol. 3, No. 2, 2010, www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol3Iss2.pdf (accessed July 26, 2010).

44 See, for example, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ataqtuluna Rajulan an Yaqula Rabbi llahu (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2009); and Hamas Sahhahu l-Asas wa-khshu llah la Takhshu l-Nas (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2009).

45 Benedetta Berti, "Salafi-Jihadi Activism in Gaza: Mapping the Threat," CTC Sentinel Vol. 3, No. 5, 2010, www.ctc.usma.edu/sentinel/CTCSentinel-Vol3Iss5.pdf, 9 (accessed July 26, 2010).

46 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, "Muqaddima," in Al-Qawl al-Asas fi Hukumat Hamas, ed. Abu Abdallah al-Maqdisi (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=218, 2009), p. 5. Al-Maqdisi also warns against applying takfir to Hamas as a movement, though not as a government. See Ibid., p. 7.

47 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Risalat Nusra wa-tizaz, p. 5.

48 Luqman Iskandar, "Al-Murshid al-Ruhi al-Sabiq li-Abu Musab al-Zarqawi Yantaqidu Amalahu fi l-Iraq," Al-Arab al-Yawm, July 5, 2005.

49 Bayan Sadir an al-Shaykh al-Maqdisi fima Nushira fi l-Suhuf al-Urduniyya (www.almaqreze.com/bayanat/artcl007.html, July 5, 2005), (link no longer available).

50 The forum can be found at www.tawhed.ws/FAQ/.

51 See www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365 for all volumes of fatwas. For some reason, however, volume 4 cannot be downloaded.

52 The Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad ("the pulpit of the unity of God and jihad") is the name of al-Maqdisi's website.

53 These are presumably not the scholars' real names but their "jihadi names." Al-Maqdisi, for instance, is actually called Abu Muhammad Isam b. Tahir b. Muhammad al-Barqawi. While retaining the part of his name that indicated whose father he is (his kunya, i.e. "Abu Muhammad" [father of Muhammad]), he has dropped all other parts of his name and refers to himself as "al-Maqdisi" (the man from Jerusalem), since this is the nearest important city to Barqa, the village where he was born. Interview with al-Maqdisi, Amman, January 2009. The names these scholars use are not simply made up, however, but generally give an indication of where they are (originally) from, although the reliability of this is not 100%.

54 The determination of the scholars' nationality is based on my own knowledge of their background or their names. See note 53 above.

55 This refers to the number of fatwas given between September 23, 2009, when the forum started, until November 28, 2010; it also determines their position in this figure. The total number of fatwas in this period was 1,035. The number of fatwas given only adds up to 1,034, possibly due to a delay in tracking the number on the website. It should be borne in mind that some scholars, such as Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, only joined later and were not even included in the thirteen volumes of fatwa collections published so far. As of yet, their fatwas can only be read on the forum itself and will presumably be published at a later date.

56 Abu Usama al-Shami, "Idilu Huwa Aqrab li-l-Taqwa" (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abuoamas, n.d.).

57 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Kulluna Abnauka (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); and Abu Hafs Sufyan al-Jazairi, Tahniat al-Shaykh Abi Muhammad al-Mqdisi bi-stishhad Ibnihi Umar (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abu-hafs, 2010); and Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Tahia la Taziya (www.tawhed.w/shanqeet, n.d.).

58 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Barqiyya fi Musibat "al-Tariya" (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2008); and Abu Hafs Sufyan al-Jazairi, Barqiyya ila Fadilat al-Shaykh Abi Muhammad al-Maqdisi (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abu-hafs, 2009).

59 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Qawl al-Narjisi bi-Adalat Shaykhina l-Maqdisi (www.ansar-jihad.net, 2009), (accessed April 24, 2009); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Sayf al-Muhannad fi Munasarat Shaykhina Abi Muhammad (www.muslm.net/vb/showthread.php?t=286633, 2008), (accessed March 23, 2010).

60 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Sarim al-Maslul ala Aghalit Samih al-Dulul (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); and Al-Kawkab al-Durri al-Munir fi Ibtal Huqan al-Takhdir an Takfir Kull Hakim Kafir Sharir (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); and Abu Hafs Sufyan al-Jazairi, Madha Taqsuduna bi-Manhaj "al-Takfiri" (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abu-hafs, 2008); Abu Hafs Sufyan al-Jazairi, Asnaf al-Ulama wa-Awsafuhu (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abu-hafs, n.d.).

61 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Matar al-Wabil fi Ijabat al-Sail (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2008), 28-39; Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Ghayat al-Majhud fi Nasihat al-Shurat wa-l-Junud (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, "Waddu law Tudhin fa-Yudhinuna" (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Al-Faida fi Fahm Ayat al-Maida (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=shanqeet, n.d.).

62 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Adiya al-Salafiyya, Nisa bi-Amaim wa-Luhan! (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2008); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Hiwar am Khuwar?! (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Ikhsa fa-Lan Tad'u Qadraka ya Murji (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2008); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Kawkab; Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Nawafih al-Muskiyya fi Naqsh Shubhat al-Marhala al-Makkiyya (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Warat al-Qawiyya li-l-Murjia al-Ghawiyya (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); Abu Hafs Sufyan al-Jazairi, Asnaf; Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Intisar li-l-Sajna al-Abrar fi Fitnat al-Hiwar (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=shanqeet, 2010).

63 For al-Maqdisi's critique of democracy, see Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Dimuqratiyya Din (www.tawhed.ws/t, n.d.). See also Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Al-Mashru al-Sharq al-Awsat al-Kabir (www.tawhed.ws/t, 2004). Al-Maqdisi essentially rejects democracy for the same reason he rejects "un-Islamic" laws: in a democracy, the people are the ultimate rulers, making them the ones who decide about legislation instead of God.

64 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Fatwa l-Shaykh al-Wadii fi Hukm al-Dimuqratiyya al-Shari (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Hajr wa-l-Taqbih li-Ahl al-Intikhabat wa-l-Tarshih (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2006); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Qul La Ashhad (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Wa-La Taqulu Thalatha (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009).

65 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Al-Sarim; Abu Hafs al-Jazairi, Fajiat Masjid Ibn Taymiyya (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abu-hafs, 2009).

66 Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Abarat al-Abir fi Ritha Amir al-Muminin wa-l-Wazir (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Buzugh al-Fajr bi-l-Muhajjat al-Ashr (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2009); Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Waqfat wa-Khawatir maa Dhikr Amir al-Muminin al-Atir (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=bakraziz, 2010); Abu Muslim al-Jazairi, Al-Mubadara li-Raf Rayat al-Islam fi Maghrib al-Islam (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=abumslem, 2010).

67 Abu Hafs Sufyan l-Jazairi, Madha. See also Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Surraq al-Wasatiyya: Radd ala Mutamar al-Wasatiyya fi Nuwakshut (www.tawhed.ws/a?a=shanqeet, 2010), pp. 20-22.

68 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Thalitha (hereafter Ijabat 3), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), pp. 5-6; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Thamina (hereafter Ijabat 8), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), p. 30.

69 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 8, pp. 9-11.

70 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Khamisa (hereafter Ijabat 5), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), pp. 46-47. See also Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Hadiya Ashara (hereafter Ijabat 11), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), p. 37.

71 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Ula (hereafter Ijabat 1), www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), p. 9.

72 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Sadisa (hereafter Ijabat 6), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), p. 9.

73 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Thaniya(hereafter Ijabat 2), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), pp. 5-6.

74 Ibid, pp. 34-35; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 3, pp. 7-8; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 6, p. 13.

75 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 2, pp. 20-21; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 6, pp. 3-4.

76 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 38-39; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 6, pp. 9, 14-15, 38-39; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Thalitha Ashara (hereafter Ijabat 13), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=35, 2009), p. 27.

77 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 2, pp. 20-21, 34-35; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 3, pp. 7-8; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 6, p. 13. Only young fighters needed permission from their parents. The idea behind settling one's debts is, of course, that waging jihad may lead to one's death, leaving one's creditor without his money. The need to ask for permission has its roots in Islamic law, in whose rulings this has long been a requirement for participants in jihad as a collective duty. See Wael B. Hallaq, Sharia: Theory, Practice, Transformations (Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 326.

78 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 38-39; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 6, pp. 3-4, 9; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 13, p. 27.

79 See Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Waqfat, p. 98, where he states that every jihad nowadays is a defensive one.

80 For an extensive explanation of al-Maqdisi's position on this issue, see for instance Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Kashf al-Niqab an Shariat al-Ghab (www.tawhed.ws/t, 1988).

81 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 1, p. 26.

82 Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 1, 27-28; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 2, pp. 3-4.

83 Abu Muslim al-Jazairi, Ijabat 3, pp. 47-48.

84 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Sabia (hereafter Ijabat 7), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), pp. 27-28; Abu Muslim al-Jaza'iri, Ijabat 13, pp. 30-31.

85 Abu Muslim al-Jazairi, Ijabat 3, pp. 1-2; Abu Muslim al-Jazairi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Tasia (hereafter Ijabat 9), (www.tawhed.ws/c/i=365, 2009), pp. 43-45; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 5, p. 20.

86 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 1, pp. 1-2, 29-31; Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 42-43; Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 11, pp. 24-25.

87 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 1, pp. 11-12.

88 Abu l-Nur al-Filastini, Ijabat 3, pp. 19-21; Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 6, pp. 20-21; Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Thaniya Ashara (hereafter Ijabat 12), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), p. 44; Nasir al-Din al-Baghdadi, Ijabat 13, pp. 48-49.

89 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 13, p. 37.

90 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat al-Asila fi Muntada Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad Al-Majmua al-Ashara (hereafter Ijabat 10), (www.tawhed.ws/c?i=365, 2009), pp. 7-8.

91 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 2, p. 18; Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 5, pp. 10-11; Abu Humam Bakr b. Abd al-Aziz al-Athari, Ijabat 5, pp. 31-34.

92 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 6, pp. 11-12.

93 Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 1, pp. 14-15.

94 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 40-41. The quote is on p. 41. See also Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 11, pp. 4, 9-10. One scholar even advises a Somali student to refrain from engaging in jihad in order to study Islam since that is what his jihadi group needs him to do at the moment. See Abu Usama al-Shami, Ijabat 13, pp. 7-8.

95 Abu l-Mundhir al-Shinqiti, Fukk al-Asara fi Kanis al-Nasara (www.tawhed.ws/r?i=25091033, n.d.), pp. 2-6.

96 Abu Muslim al-Jazairi, Ijabat 5, pp. 7-9.

97 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 40-41. The quote is on p. 40.

98 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 9, p. 37.

99 See, for example, Eric Cunningham, "Growing Threat to Hamas: Gazans Who Think It Has Sold Out," Christian Science Monitor, August 17, 2009.

100 Abu l-Walid al-Maqdisi, Ijabat 3, pp. 44-46.

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