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Islamic Ideology ( 17 Nov 2020, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Refuting The Jihadist Doctrine Of Al-Wala Wal Bara (Loving And Hating For The Sake Of Allah)

New Age Islam Staff Writer

17 November 2020

A radical doctrine, “al-Wala wal Bara” (WB), in the coinage of Ibn Abdul Wahhab of Najd was an Islamic creed with an overwhelming implementation in matters of faith (Aqeedah) and day-to-day practice (Mua'amlaat). Mainly drawn from Qur'an (Al-Maidah, verse: 5:51) heavily relied upon an earlier interpretation of the same by Ibn Taymiyya, it was first frequently used in matters concerning Jews and Christians' influences among Muslims, stressing that Muslims must shun to retain 'puritanical' Islam. The Quranic verse quoted in this regard reads:

"O believers, do not take the Jews and the Christians as your friends and protectors, they are friends of each other.  And whoever is an ally to them– then indeed, he is [one] of them" (Qur'an 5:51).


 Also Read:   Peaceful Coexistence in Islam: A Middle Path Between Al-Wala And Al-Bara?


Enjoining the WB upon Muslims as mandatory duty to prove loyalty with Muslims only and express disavowal (bara') from all non-Muslims and not to 'befriend or ally' (wala') with them, Ibn Taymiyya wrote:

“The declaration of faith that there is no god but Allah, requires you to love only for the sake of Allah, and to hate only for the sake of Allah, to ally yourself only for the sake of Allah, to declare enmity only for the sake of Allah; it requires you to love what Allah loves and to hate what Allah hates" (al-Ihtijaj bil-Qadar, p.62).

Ibn Abdul Wahhab took it further:

“Islam of a man can never be accepted, even if he abandons polytheism, unless he shows enmity in his words and actions towards the disbelievers and infidels”……. “Kufr and Islam are opposed to each other. The progress of one is possible only at the expense of the other and co-existences between these two contradictory faiths is unthinkable”……“The honour of Islam lies in insulting Kufr and Kafirs, One who respects Kafirs, dishonours the Muslims. To respect them does not merely mean honouring them and assigning them a seat of honour in any assembly, but it also implies keeping company with them or showing considerations to them. They should be kept at an arm's length like dogs”….. (Majmu’ah at-Tawhid).


Also Read:   Takfeer, Wala Wal Bara’a, Darul Islam vs. Darul Harb—Three Major Catalysts of the Jihadist Radicalization: Rebuttals from the Classical Islamic Sources


Modern Salafist ideologues, Shaikh bin Baaz, Shaikh al-‘Uthaymeen, Shaikh al-Fawzaan and Shaikh Hamad bin Ateeq further developed the WB doctrine in their literature. Shaikh Hamad bin Ateeq (Imam Muhammad bin Sa‘ud Islamic University, Riyadh) wrote in his book, An-Najaat wal-Fakak (p.14),

“In the book of Allah, there is no ruling more apparent and significant than the ruling of al-Wala' Wal Bara', after the requirement of Tawhid and the prohibition of its opposite”

Thus, the genesis of the WB doctrine comes from the classical Salafist literature, and has been primarily used by the Wahhabis to fight shirk and bid'ah in both Muslim and non-Muslim lands. The WB doctrine particularly targets non-Salafi/Wahhabi Muslims such as Sufis and Shias declared as 'infidels', even if they happen to be their friends, classmates, neighbours, countrymen or even relatives. They were declared by Ibn Abdul Wahhab as ‘Murtad’ (apostates).

This is the core belief that Ibn Abdul Wahhab and his adherents consider the concept of Al-Wala wal-Bara to be “an integral part to Islamic faith" (Iman-al-Kamil). And this hatred and hostility towards non-Muslims, they believe, has to be visible and unequivocal i.e. True Muslims are enjoined not to imitate non-Muslims in their dress, language, morality and culture.


Also Read:   Jihadist Atrocities and the Salafi-Wahhabi Doctrine of Al-Wala-Wal-Bara (Loyalty with Salafi-Wahhabi Muslims and Enmity against all non-Salafi-Wahhabi Muslims and non-Muslims)


Modern Jihadist Literature and the WB:

The doctrine of WB got developed in the Wahhabi discourses after the historical rivalry between Saudis and Ottomans in the late 18th century and the Saudi civil war in the 19th century. Inspired by the same interpretation and doctrine of Ibn Abdul Wahhab, the modern Jihadist ideologues repeatedly quote the WB doctrine to brainwash the gullible and naive Muslims.

By re-producing the books on the WB doctrine, the ISIS Telegram channels are actually reinforcing the basic Wahhabi-Salafist exclusivist postulates espoused by Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s writings and other similar ulema’s books and commentaries of Qur’an and Hadith which were widely distributed in the areas sized by the Daesh/ISIS.

One such collection is al‐Qahtani's books on Al Wala Wal Bara originally submitted as a thesis for a Master’s Degree to the Department of Aqeedah (Islamic creed) of the Ummul‐Qurah University, Makka. In these books, Al-Qahtani urges Muslims to show disavowal in their everyday lives, social relations, and attitudes towards non-Muslims. It indicates whom to be loyal to, and whom to disavow—and from which authorities, persons, deeds, and practices one should distance oneself, thus fostering the mentality of "us versus them".

Al-Qahtani and other Saudi-Wahhabi clerics who opposed the Saudi establishment, particularly their foreign policy seen as having 'wala' to the West, condemn the Saudi rulers under the pretext of the WB doctrine citing the related Qur'anic verses.

The WB consists of the vast jihadist literature of the modern times. It also underlies ISIS and al-Qaeda's body of literature which continues to develop in the cyber publications. In an essay released in December 2002, Ayman al-Zawahiri wrote: “The world is divided into two warring camps: true Muslims and the rest of the world. True Muslims must be in a constant state of Wala (loyalty) to one another in all cases, at the same time, in a state of Bara' (enmity) either in a constant state of hatred or at least being distant from everyone else”.

Moderate Muslims' Contestation

Though the WB is mainly derived from the Qur'anic verses as strongly argued by the Wahhabi scholars, moderate Muslim scholars delegitimise their interpretations and frequent use of the WB in today's context. Egypt's Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's largest seminary issued a Fatwa stating "al-Wala’ wal-Bara’ is not a doctrine of faith (Aqeedah), but a matter of heart and not of deeds. Faith produces in the heart of the believer “love, friendship, affection and support for all true believers and disavowal (Bara’a) from the beliefs and thoughts that contradict what he believes in (not against the disbelievers) ” (Dar al-ifta’ al-misriyya 2014).

In another Fatwa, the Darul Ifta al-Misriyya says,

“Al-Wala (Loyalty) means that a Muslim abides by the teachings of Islam and preserves his Muslim identity while maintaining the principle of peaceful coexistence with others. Al-barā' means that a Muslim protects his creed from doubts which may lead him to accuse others of disbelief or attack others without right. The principle in the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims is coexistence. Muslims living in non-Muslim countries have to engage in their communities while observing their Muslim identity. It is legally impermissible for Muslims to share non-Muslims in anything that violates the fundamentals of Islamic law. There is no doubt that maintaining ties with non-Muslims by exchanging visits, offering condolences and good wishes, exchanging gifts and the like are from among kind treatment.

“This is considered one of the ways towards calling to the religion of Allah through noble manners. Allah the Almighty commands us to speak kind words to everyone alike. He says, Speak fair to people. (Al-Baqarah 2:83). Allah also commands us to always be kind to others. He says, Allah commands justice and the doing of good. [An-Nahl, 90) Allah does not forbid us from maintaining good ties with non-Muslims, exchanging gifts or from other acts of kind treatment. Allah the Almighty says, Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) faith nor derive you out of your homes from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loves those who are just. (Surah Al-Mumtahana)

“All of such good actions must be carried out while observing one's Muslim identity Based on this, the scholars of the Hanafi school based their opinion on the permissibility of Muslims engaging in corrupt contracts in non-Muslim countries, basing their opinion on more than 9 proofs derived from the Sunnah, the Prophet's biography in addition to the opinions of the Companions and their followers. These proofs include: - The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) approved of his uncle 'Al-Abbas' dealing in usury [riba] with the polytheists of Mecca before the emigration. - The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) wrestled Rukana before he embraced Islam in Mecca and before his [the Prophet's] emigration; the game included risk taking and betting.” (Darul Ifta al-Misriyyah)

Islam vehemently promotes peaceful coexistence whether Muslims live in minority or majority. For example, non-Muslims in Pakistan and Muslims in India must live under protection. It is true that in the state of war, all sorts of friendly relationships were forbidden but this was meant only for war-times, and cannot be applied in modern times to the places where Muslims and non-Muslims have vowed to abide by the rules of peace. This is the correct interpretation regarding al-wala wal-bara which should be echoed everywhere so that common Muslim masses can be saved from falling prey to the radical Jihadist concept of Al-Wala wal-Bara.


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