Islamists Criticize Muslims who Abstain from Jihad

Publication: Terrorism Focus Volume: 3 Issue: 7

On February 17, the al-Tajdeed forum posted an interesting analysis that, amid the customary claims of imminent victory, points the finger of accusation at al-qa’idun ‘an al-jihad (“those who abstain from jihad”). Starting from the premise that the strategic initiative is turning in favor of the Islamic Nation—a position that “all but the blind, hypocritical, collaborationist and treacherous would espouse”—the author, Amir Abd al-Mun’im, cautions that this victory “requires effort and support from the Nation…yet this support is yet to arrive. We are giving the enemy an opportunity to use his cunning and gain space to reorganize and overcome his successive reversals” (

Now is the time to overwhelm the enemy, Abd al-Mun’im states, but he warns that time is working against the mujahideen and that the response so far has been disproportional to the scale of the battle. What is the cause of this mismatch? “The true crisis,” he states, “does not reside solely in the anti-Islamic camp, nor only in the treachery of Arab regimes; it is also and perhaps more profoundly in the Islamic camp … in the movements that call themselves Islamic…that desire to profit from [the banner of] Islam yet do not wish to make sacrifices on Islam’s behalf.” In the context of the recent election successes of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and Hamas in Palestine, the author takes issue with their programs. “Where is the support for jihad in the manifestos of Islamic [political] movements?…Where is the Muslim funding for those who fight while these [individuals] spend thousands on elections, festivals and conferences, which contain naught but empty words? Where is the support for jihad in the media [statements] of these movements?”

The continuing public isolation of the mujahideen is Abd al-Mun’im’s core complaint. This isolation is felt on the intellectual level, in the domestic political arena and also on the front-line itself. The failure to gain the intellectual high-ground is a particularly sensitive point. “Is it logical or reasonable for some who call themselves Islamists to come out against us,” he asks, “attacking the mujahideen and heaping accusations upon them, accusing them of immaturity?” The author is here referring to a number of high-profile criticisms of al-Qaeda’s strategy, particularly that of al-Zarqawi’s group in Iraq, delivered by a number of sites normally supportive of the armed struggle, “such as Mufakkirat [al-Islam], al-Mukhtasar and al-Asr…[and] people who sit in air conditioned offices complaining of indigestion and full stomachs, theorizing, philosophizing and attacking the mujahideen who are sacrificing their lives in the harshest of conditions.” Mufakkirat al-Islam, in particular, has been conspicuous for its hosting of discussions criticizing al-Zarqawi, and which stirred a lively debate for some weeks after ( These movements, he complains, “raise not a single word against America, while we continue to praise their intellectual distinction, doctrinal superiority, enlightenment, justice and moderation.”

No less troublesome is what Abd al-Mun’im feels is the pointless exercise of Islamist groups “that have cut back Islam to a matter of a few seats in a corrupt parliament…and divert their energy onto marginal matters, such as fatwas on the ownership of shares, or whether women may drive [or elect] municipal councils…[all the time] walking along paths dictated by America…to distract the Nation from supporting the jihad.” Yet, it is the Islamists’ attitude to front-line matters that upsets the author most. “We were shocked by individuals who call themselves Islamists taking aim at the mujahideen, mocking them and describing them as backward…Some have even attacked Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and al-Zarqawi, calling them the cause of all that has happened!” As an example, the author takes issue with the “Intifada in defense of the Europeans” conducted by high profile Islamist leaders such as the head of the Algerian FIS Abbasi Madani, criticizing “those that shudder at the cutting off of heads of some [infidel] invaders, while they do not shudder at American rockets and fighter planes wiping out houses from the face of the earth on top of those inside them.” It is hypocrisy on a grand scale, according to Abd al-Mun’im, which “exposes the trials the Nation is going though, not just the regimes of the Westernized elite, but also the large part of those raising the Islamic banner.” Its solution, he concludes, is to “cleanse the Muslims from the defilement of hypocrisy” through the purifying action of jihad.

The issue of al-qa’idun ‘an al-jihad occupies considerable space in jihadist writings and extensive use is made of the legitimizing influence of medieval treatises, such as the popular Mashari’ al-Ashwaq by the 14th century scholar Ibn Nuhaas, who refuted point-for-point the objections of those who would abstain and aimed to establish jihad as the highest expression of Islamic faith. The tension over the abstainers goes to explain much behind the strenuous efforts of jihadist writers and organizers of the recent anti-Danish protests. The mujahideen are searching for momentum to generally mobilize the Muslim masses against the prevailing world order, which to date the Afghan and Iraqi arenas have failed to provide.