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Unmasking Ideological Origins of ISIS; Refutation of Its Deviant Theology Alone Can Defeat This Evil

By Ghulam Ghaus Siddiqi, New Age Islam

09 May 2016

ISIS and the Future of the World between Political Condition and Hadith

داعش ومستقبل العالم بين الوضع السياسي والحديث

Author: Abd al-Rahman Al-Bakri

Published by: Darul Arabia, Cologne, Germany

Edition Language: Arabic

Year: 2015

Pages:   296

Abd al-Rahman al-Bakri’s latest book ‘ISIS and The Future of World between Political Condition and Hadith’ is a book to refute radicalism, extremism and terrorism deeply rooted in the deviant theology of ISIS. The book first presents the case study about the historical evolution of Wahhabism that, the author argues, inspired al-Qaeda, ISIS and the associated organizations. How the political condition and future of the world will change with the expansion of ISIS is also what the author discusses exploring various signs mentioned in Hadiths that warn Muslim Ummah of the dangers of an ideology like that of ISIS. The use of only military means against ISIS, in the author’s view, is increasing its power and strength. Therefore, in this book he proposes better solutions to weaken the power of ISIS.

The book is divided into one foreword and six chapters, namely: 1) The Salafist-Wahhabis and Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah: A brief history about their doctrinal similarities and differences; 2) The movement of ISIS and the Caliphate of Islamic State based on the Salafist Pattern; 3) Prophecies of the Great Messenger of Allah peace be upon him; 4) Elements of spreading the Salafist thoughts in all parts of the world; 5) The Hadiths of the Prophet – peace be upon him - about the Future of the World and the forthcoming tribulations; and 6) Hadiths of the Prophet -peace be upon him- about Imam Mahdi and the final decisive battle.  

Foreword to the Book

In the foreword to the book, Abd al-Rahman categorically says, “ISIS is the caliphate of Islamic state based on the Wahhabi-Salafist pattern”.

If ISIS “controls over the vast lands of Arab and Islamic countries”, Abd al-Rahman says, “it will make an unpredictable impact in its contribution to a climate of danger and other hazardous fallouts”. Warning the people of the danger of ‘ISIS’, he says, “We can’t rule out the possibility of establishment of ‘ISIS’ and its continued existence moving towards expansion and widening”. In the contemporary history many impossible incidents have turned possible, he argues, “Just three years before the fall of the Soviet Union, the matter of its dissolution looked so impossible. If a person talked about the possibility of its fall, he would be called irrational. But that impossible changed into possible and the situation is now different”. He also cites the examples of overthrow of the Shah of Iran, the fall of the Warsaw Pact alliance, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, the bombing of the World trade Centre in New York by a suicide group, occupation of Kuwait by Iraq, US declaration of war on Saddam Hussein and regime change in Iraq, the fall of Zine El Abidine’s regimes in Tunisia, Hosni Mubarak’s in Egypt, Gaddafi’s in Libya and other great events during the last two to three decades.

In Abdul Rahman’s view, it is not possible to discuss “the Islamic caliphate based on the Salafist pattern” without first delving deeper into the intellectual hubs of Wahaabism and the so-called Salafism that the Saudi State is based on. We can’t get a clearer picture of ISIS ideology without first studying, he says, “the role of al-Qaeda and bin Laden that embodied ideologies designed by Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab.”

Abd al-Rahman poses some important questions: “What are the intellectual and doctrinal roots of the Salafist ideology? What is the interconnection between this ideology and Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab? How did the Islamic ideology evolve during the times of Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab who founded the Salafist, Wahhabist and Takfiri ideology that inspired Al-Qaeda, ISIS and then the ideology of ‘Islamic caliphate’ based on the Salafist-Wahhabist pattern? What is the impact of books of Sahih Ahadees including Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih Muslim over this ideology? What is the relation between Wahhabi-Salafist ideology and the four Sunni schools of Islamic law? Is there any differences between the ideology of Wahhabism and that of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jamaah or Sunnis? What are those differences? Do the Salafist Wahhabis issue Fatwas to kill all those Muslims who do not believe in the Takfiri-Wahhabi-Salafist doctrines?

Six Chapters of the book

Chapter 1 which is entitled “The Salafist-Wahhabis and Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jama’ah: A brief history of their doctrinal similarities and differences” is divided into three main sections; 1) Doctrinal and Ideological roots; 2) the Salafist Wahhabis and Sunnis; and 3) The Salafist Wahhabis and Sunnis between Kufr and Islam. In the first section, Abd al-Rahman al-Bakri speaks of doctrines of Ash’aris and Mutazilites, indistinguishable dogmas of Ibn Tamiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahhab in different circumstances, some basic differences between the Wahhabis and the Imams of four schools of Islamic law.

Considering Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim the two most authentic books of Hadith, in Abd al-Rahman’s view, does not mean they “are absolutely free from the possibility of every sort of mistake in a chain of narration”. If any possibility of such mistake is found, the author opines “Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim will not be deemed as accountable for that, as it may occur from any of those narrators who came before them”. However, according to the dogmas of Wahhabism, believing any such possibility or criticism in any chain of narration of Bukhari and Muslims is a misguidance, the author tells us. The precautionary measure, Abd al-Rahman opines, must be maintained in terms of understanding Hadiths like “إن الله ينزل إلى السماء كل ليلة, or “إن الله يضحك إلى رجلين or “إن الله يضع رجله في جهنم or “إن الله يظهر للمؤمنين ويقول أنا ربكم فينكره المؤمنون حتى يكشف عن ساقه فيعرفونه and those Hadiths that literally and outwardly refer to Tajsim [anthropomorphism] and Tashbih [likening] of the Lord. It can be deduced from the statement of Abd al-Rahman that such Ahadith (plural of Hadith) must be understood in just the same way as the Sunni Muslims other than Wahhabis have done.

In the second section of the first chapter, Abd al-Rahman focuses on some doctrinal differences between the Salafist Wahhabis and Sufi-Sunnis. Having spoken of the designation of Ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah, he analyzes some of vile practices of Wahhabism, such as “doing Takfeer of Sunnis, accusing them of Shirk and Kufr, giving permissibility of forgery and false fabrications to install their arguments and refute their opponents, the deviant Wahhabi Fatwas, rulings, doctrines, opinions and perceptions in various phases, preventing Sunnis from studying the Fiqh of the four jurists, giving permissibility of blood and wealth of Sunnis as well as their children and women”.

In the third section of this chapter, Abd al-Rahman quotes a number of references in which the Wahhabi scholars have accused Sunni Muslims of shirk and Kufr. As Abd –al-Rahman notes, according to Wahhabism, “the Sunnis are the people of Jahmiyyah, Fitna [sedition], misguidance, Bida’tis (innovators), un-Islamic and those who speak the words of Fira’un [Pharaoh]”. It means according to Wahhabism, “95% Muslims of the world are Mushrikin and misguided who will reside in Hell. Therefore, it is mandatory to kill the Sunni Muslims [known as Sufi-Sunnis] who call for the Ash’ari doctrines and go against the Salafist doctrine of Ibn Taymiyyah”.

More significantly, in this first chapter of the book, Abd al-Rahman has tabled 193 references from the various books to reveal the doctrines of Wahhabism about Ahlus Sunnah/Sunnis and answered the questions posed in the foreword.

Chapter 2 which is entitled “The movement of ISIS and the Caliphate of Islamic State based on the Salafist Pattern” is divided into various sections. This puts analytical lights on subjects; the Salafist Wahhabis and spread of the contemporary Saudi state, the short description of Bin Laden and Abu Musa’b Zarqawi, evolution of the Salafist organizations to the formation of ‘ISIS’, conspiracy theories and ISIS, Combative plans and future blueprints of ISIS, Al-Qaeda and the associated groups, organizational body of ISIS—caliph, vice caliph, coordinator for the affairs of the states of Iraq, consultative and military councils, intelligence and security councils, Sharia’ body, media institutions and Bait ul-Maal [State Treasury]— social media war of ISIS, future  of ISIS in Iraq, Turkey, Iran, United states of America, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and European countries.     

This chapter deals with the emergence of the Saudi state on the Wahhabi Salafi ideology, bringing several questions in focus: Why did ISIS announce the state of ‘Islamic caliphate’? But why did Al-Qaeda not declare it prior to ISIS? Why did Saudi Arabia not declare establishment of the ‘Islamic caliphate’ in its three states during two and a half decades? What are the Salafist ideological roots adopted by ISIS for declaration of the caliphate state? What are the advantages that enabled ISIS to surpass al-Qaeda and the Saudi State in terms of declaring the ‘caliphate’? What are the fundamental disputes and differences between bin Laden's Al-Qaeda and Zarqawi’s Qaidat al-Jihad in Mesopotamia and ISIS under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi? And why is ISIS much more dangerous than al-Qaida not only for the region's future, but also for the future of the world? What are the regional and global views about ISIS and what can impact the future of ISIS? But rather, what are the regional and international capabilities to influence ISIS and its future plans? What are the future plans of ISIS at regional and global levels? What can ISIS achieve out of these goals? What are the possibilities of eliminating ISIS? Will the elimination of ISIS in Mosul and Syria completely eradicate this movement?

These questions, Abd al-Rahman says, are not quite easy to be answered. Nevertheless, they put forth incentives for discussion and thinking that may result into solutions.

In chapter 3, Abd al-Rahman al-Bakri quotes some prophecies of the prophet Muhammad -peace be upon him- about the future, talking about their application to the deviant groups of the history such as Kharijites and the Qarmatians in a broader sense. Then it deals with some questions, “Can these Ahadees equally apply to the deviant groups like Salafists, the protectors of the two holy Mosques and the people waving the banner of Tauheed? Is there any conclusive evidence that categorically support the application of these Ahadees to Salafists?

This chapter significantly discusses two subjects; 1) Hadith of the prophet {peace be upon him} which is the second source of Islamic legislation after the Qura’n and 2) the Salafist movements or, more precisely, the Salafist doctrines which differ from all other Islamic groups in terms of adopting and presenting Hadith. It focuses on whether or not the way Salafists deal with Hadith is better. What is the difference between the Salafists and non-Salafist Sunni Muslims in terms of dealing with the Hadith?

This chapter is of great importance in altering numerous scales and revealing right from wrong for Muslims in general and the Salafist movements in particular.

Chapter 4, Elements of spreading the Salafist Ideology in all Parts of the World, is also of particular significance and answers a series of questions; why did this ideology spread so much in this circumstance at this time? Who are responsible for the events taking place in the world—the events that can be described not only as terrorist events, but also as events that completely oppose the purely intellectual approach, human nature and the first message of all heavenly religions, particularly of Islam—i.e. the value of human being, the right to human life, security of those who are not guilty and non-combatants, such as children, women and the old who are unable to participate in fighting? Who are responsible for such events? Is it due to ignorance about Islam or due to misinterpretation of Islamic teachings? Are there certain countries responsible for the spread of this violent ideology? Which countries are these? What are their responsibilities? Are there any wrong global policies supporting the spread and strength of this ideology? The answers to these questions are essential to the decision and policy makers so as to combat and eradicate this phenomenon, or at least to reduce the damages.

In Chapter 5, The Hadiths of the Prophet – peace be upon him - about the Future of the World and the Forthcoming Tribulations, Abd al-Rahman adopts some methodological approach to interpret Hadiths about Fitna [sedition] and future of the world, Fitna of Sufyani, Hadiths about Sufyani between truth and illusion, discussing possibilities for the fall of Bashar Assad’s regime in Syria.  Abd al-Rahman then replies to questions; “Are we living in the era of Sufyani? Will Sufyani, Ashab and Abqah appear after the fall of Bashar al-Assad’s regime? Who will represent the banners of Suyani, Ashab and Abqah? Why will the Salafists fight Mahdi at the time of his appearance?” In this chapter, he also speaks of various types of Jews, the State of Israel between scaling up and falling down. Exploration of the four Hadiths of the prophet –peace be upon him- that warned Muslims of ISIS and narrations regarding the war between the people holding the right flags and Sufyani is what makes this chapter readable.

In the sixth and final chapter, Abd al-Rahman talks about the Hadiths related to the final decisive battle between Imam Mahdi and the Antichrist. This presents a brief perception about the future of the world; the widespread injustice, oppression and then establishment of justice and revival of the Deen [Islam] by the promised and awaited Imam Mahdi and realistic personification who will appear to fill the world with fairness and justice after it was filled with injustice and oppression.

Summing up

Abd al-Rahman deserves appreciation for using objective methods in writing this book. Various other books and articles have exposed the origins and ideological roots of ISIS, but this book is unique with its analytical style. The most striking feature of this book is that it tries to remove suspicions and confusions coming from the independent reading of some Hadiths frequently quoted by ISIS. Interpreting such Ahadith in a reasonable and acceptable way, it unmasks the deceitful attitude of ISIS for increasing recruitment process of the gullible and naive Muslims.

As for proposing solutions to address the problem of ISIS, Abd al-Rahman gives nothing new but what most of the authors and writers too have been suggesting that the only use of power against ISIS is not sufficient to curb atrocities of ISIS. As Abd al-Rahman notes, what is more useful in this time is altering and reforming the wrong thoughts stemming from Wahhabism that inspired the establishment of ISIS. He says, “We have been fighting against ISIS through military means. All these methods have consequently failed to eliminate these deviant thoughts. Instead these thoughts have increased much more than before. It is as if the use of military power against ISIS is increasing the strength of ISIS.

The mistake the world is doing in fighting against ISIS is its sole reliance on the use of military power only. This approach of confrontation as we have seen has failed. At the same time it should also be noted that little effort to fight against the deviant ideas of ISIS is not sufficient.  We ought to affirm here that the world must fight, refute and reject the deviant thoughts and misguided ideas of ISIS, adopting the sound and true tenets and realistic features of Islam. This is the way that will truly impact and be effective more than the use of power, weapon and violence”. Abd al-Rahman says, he has written this book in the same spirit.

A regular columnist for New Age Islam, Ghulam Ghaus is an Alim and Fazil (Classical Islamic scholar) with a Sufi background. He completed the classical Islamic sciences from a Delhi-based Sufi Islamic seminary Jamia Hazrat Nizamuddin Aulia Zakir Nagar, New Delhi with specialization in Tafseer, Hadith and Arabic. He completed his Alimiat and Fazilat respectively from Jamia Warsia Arabic College, Lucknow and Jamia Manzar- e- Islam, Bareilly, U.P. He did his graduation in Arabic (Hons) and post-graduation (Arabic) from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.