One of my prison mates asked me what I thought of how some of the Mujāhidīn had killed an American civilian then publicized it on television and the internet for the entire world to see, such that it became the news of the hour and almost completely stole the spotlight from news of the atrocities of the Americans – who claim to be defenders of human rights – in Abu Ghraib prison!!
I replied that I do not support or like such actions, even though I know how the Mujāhidīn who did them felt; their yearning for the religion of Allāh to be victorious, their care for restoring it to strength, their pain for the affairs of his Ummah, and their anger at how the enemies pounce madly on their prey. I know that all of this is what propelled them to publicize their actions, despite which I maintain that I do not like what they did, and wish they had neither done nor publicized it.
It is more befitting for a person who attributes himself to the great school of the Islamic Jihād not to announce or adopt any actions for which he will be censured. Instead, he should focus on actions that will raise the banner of Jihād and distance it from anything that will discolor it or enable the enemy to exploit it by, defaming the Mujāhidīn, or using it to achieve their own goals.
My companion remarked, “You surprise me! Why do you not like them – are they not permissible?”
I replied: O my brother, when I say that I do not like something, it does not necessarily mean that that thing is in opposition to the Sharī‘ah or a matter of contention. There is nothing more beloved to me than agreement between the Muslims and partaking in acts of good, but I am devoted to destroying anything that will harm the Jihād and its reputation during a time in which the war no longer solely depends on physical combat, for the media now plays a large role in this war. So my statement stems from my choosing what is purer and more beneficial for the da‘wah, the Jihād and the Muslims in these circumstances.
I have repeatedly stated throughout my writings, speeches and lessons – to you and others – that the callers and the Mujāhidīn will not be victorious or benefit their Ummah and Jihād in the manner they desire unless they rise above only looking at what is permissible and impermissible, and instead begin to weigh up the permissible things for their benefit and harm, advantages, which is stronger, and which is more preferable.
Allāh the Exalted said,
and Allāh said,
So Allāh has commanded us to pursue the most advantageous, best and most beneficial actions to us, for He said,
As Muslims, we should not be looking at what is permissible, legislated and lawful; they are already known and accepted, and we can only decide on actions or Jihād that are thus. We cannot attain what is with Allāh by disobeying Him, and the religion of Allāh will not become victorious by means of what is unlawful, disbelief or shirk. This must be one of the fundamental truths understood by anyone who works for this religion, and one of the basic principles of its helpers and Mujāhidīn. So we should not raise issues and ask questions purely based on this outlook, but rather – as we have said numerous times before – we must consider that which is most beneficial for the Jihād, most advantageous to the Muslims, and most harmful to their enemies.
When it comes to matters related to our food, drink, clothes, or marriages, we are not satisfied with the permissible, lawful and legislated; rather, we choose the best food, drink and clothes, and the best of women. But when it is a matter of the religion, da‘wah or Jihād, anything becomes acceptable and convincing; if it so happens to be something permissible, legislated or lawful then it becomes all the more wonderful!
Is it not permissible, lawful and legislated – for example – to marry a woman who is paralyzed, blind in one eye, and a leper? Undoubtedly it is permissible and legislated, on top of which you will be rewarded for it. So then why do you desire and strive to select a woman one who is healthy, and also even beautiful?
I will mention an incident that happened that may perhaps lighten the dryness of this topic: one of our brothers in Bosnia informed me that a group of Arab youth asked one of the Mujāhidīn there to try to marry them to some of the Bosnian orphan girls, saying it would protect the girls and provide them security. They made mention of the slaughters, oppression and rape witnessed in Bosnia, and they showed their deep compassion and enthusiasm, and insisted on their request. The brother promised them he would reply after a few days, but they continued to press him, so he said, “I have given some thought to your request, and I value your consideration and sense of honour. I know many poor and orphaned sisters in many African countries such as Ethiopia and Somalia, and I will do my best to marry you to them so that you provide them security, if you so desire!” It was not a moment before those youth promised him to reply to him after a few days, just as he had initially done – but they left and he never heard from them again!
So why did they leave and not return? Is what he offered them not permissible and legislated – indeed, even rewardable?!
Is it because we do not restrict ourselves to what is permissible and legislated in such matters, but rather widen the sphere to investigate what is better, more agreeable and more beautiful?
O my brother, what sense does it make to only accept the purest and highest quality when it comes to our food, clothes and marriages, but to accept what is inferior when it comes to our religion, Jihād and da‘wah?
May Allāh preserve Umm Nidāl al-Filistīniyyah, the woman who sent her son Mahmūd to a Jewish settlement in Palestine. He penetrated the settlement with his bullets and bombs after he had remained in hiding for seven hours on end, waiting for the opportune moment to pounce on his prey. He fought and massacred until he was killed. When his mother was asked about him after he was killed, one of the things she said was that she had been preparing him for a day like this; when he was young, she would stop him from throwing stones at the Jews so that they would not shoot at him and injure him, as that would then hinder him from undertaking the great work that lay in store for him. She would say to him, “I want you for something greater than throwing stones,” and she would say, “I have six sons that I am prepared to send forth in the Way of Allāh, but for honourable causes like that of Mahmūd…”
When will the Mujāhid youth mature and mould his thoughts to be like this, or even greater? Three quarters of our efforts, wealth and the sacrifices of our brothers today are dispersed, due to their short-sightedness – or the short-sightedness of their leaders – that is displayed by carrying out actions of a lesser status and merit, under the claim that they are legislated!
When will we direct our efforts and concentrate our Jihād on what is better and more beneficial for the Ummah, and on the most advantageous actions that also cause the most harm to the enemy?
When will we look beyond the limits of the permissible and legislated, and instead dive into their depths to select the most honourable, greatest, and purest actions that will raise the banner of Jihād – radiant and pure?
I said to my companion – who had been sentenced with life in prison for blowing up some cinemas and wine shops, and his thoughts had matured and developed on the same level as his actions, despite the length of time he had spent in prison and the knowledge he had been seeking there – “If you do not like my words and are not convinced of them, then this is what you must do: if you are released from prison tomorrow, go back to blowing up cinemas and win shops again. Do this while the Muslims today aspire to greater matters and turn themselves against the most arrogant force on earth, as they strive for a state and a voice in the running of this world, and to suppress all elements of disbelief. Do this, while they are in need of every effort, every drop of blood, and every sincere person and Mujāhid to fulfill their goals. So do not participate in these higher goals, but instead go back to your war against the sinning Muslims and their general people, and blowing up the cinemas they frequent.”
Is this not permissible, legislated, and a rejection of evil…?…!
He said, “I will not do that, for I have now understood and learnt, and I too long for that which is greater…”
I replied: If your mind cannot comprehend what I have said to you, then your understanding and knowledge still needs to mature; you have not yet understood or gained the knowledge that suits reality, the challenges of today, and the needs of our religion and Ummah.
Think about the uproar that followed the publication of those pictures of the American – known as a civilian in the language of today – who was beheaded right before the television screens after being killed, which some scholars even consider a form of mutilation.
The enemies of Allāh, evil scholars, Americans and oppressors exploited this incident as a means of defaming the Jihād and its people, slandering them, and making the Muslims masses in general – and the Iraqis in particular – turn away from the Mujāhidīn, and other such negative actions. And there was not even any great benefit gained from drawing attention to this incident and publicizing it. I believe that whoever carried out this action did not make the right choice, and if he wants this to blow over with the enemies of Allāh, he must direct his thoughts to studying the reality of today’s war with the enemies of Allāh, and the reality of its weapons and tools. He must know that it is not dependant on the knife that was used to kill that American, and that maturity in understanding the Jihād and its tools is not proportionate to the size and magnitude of the knife, but rather it lies in the comprehensiveness of the Jihād, its tools, media, public acceptance, and maturity of choice. Sometimes certain actions will have to be forsaken for others that are more important, sometimes precedence will be given to a certain action for a specific time, sometimes they will do actions and make choices without announcing what they are, and sometimes they will openly announce their actions if they see there is a clear benefit to this and it is not an action that will cause a backlash or disputes. If they are able to do this, then they will have the enemy’s media as well as their own working for them, for they are directing it in the manner that they themselves desire, not in the manner their enemy desires, and they will not leave any room for the exploitation of any error to be used for the enemy’s own dirty aims and ends. Islamic knowledge alone does not suffice for achieving and succeeding in such matters – even though it is necessary, and indeed indispensable – one also needs to observe reality, its courses, and the enemies and their plots with intelligence; one needs to think about the situation of the Ummah, what it is most in need of, and the greatest hardships facing it.
If you say to me, “O Shaykh, you have made distant our hope and restricted a sphere that is wide! The Messenger of Allāh killed people in captivity – he killed most of the people of Banū Quraydhah – and the best guidance is that of Muhammad !” I would reply, “Yes, and I have no doubt that the best guidance is that of Muhammad . But if only you reflected on it, understood it, analyzed it and pondered it, you would achieve a great success.”
For this reason, the scholars who have researched this great guidance dictated that the Imām has the choice with regards the prisoners, of whether he should be kind and set them free, or ransom them, exchange them for Muslim prisoners, kill them, or any other option he sees as best, according to the religion of the prisoner, and the severity of his enmity and harm.
His choice in this should be based on ‘that which is more beneficial and advantageous to Islām and the Muslims,’ as dictated by these scholars. They have taken us back to what is most advantageous and beneficial, and this is exactly what we keep talking about, encouraging, and directing the Mujāhidīn to, in every aspect of Jihād today!
If you examine the life of the Messenger of Allāh with regards his prisoners, you will see that he did not maintain a single policy with regards them all – sometimes he would be kind and let them free, as in the case of Thumāmah ibn Ithāl; sometimes he would accept ransom and compensation for their release; other times, he would kill them for the sake of teaching a lesson, retaliation or any other reason, as he did with the men from ‘Uraynah who apostatized, killed the shepherds, and gouged out their eyes, so he retaliated in the same way. He also killed one of the disbelievers while he was clinging to the walls of the Ka‘bah and proclaimed his death to the leaders of the people, as a lesson to every person religion who fights against Islām, or satirizes Islām and the Muslims. But throughout all of this, he did not kill anyone in captivity in such a public manner except the most vehement of people in their enmity to him and his religion.
‘Abd al-‘Uzzā, or ‘Abdullāh ibn Khatal, whom the Prophet had killed while he was hanging on the walls of the Ka‘bah, was one of people whose blood had been declared lawful by the Prophet on the day of the Conquest of Makkah, from among the rest of the people who disbelieved in his religion and fought him. Their blood was declared as such due to the severity of their enmity, their attacks, and their satirizing Islām and the Muslims. ‘Abdullāh ibn Khatal accepted Islām, and the Messenger of Allāh sent him on a journey with a man from the Ansār; he killed the man and apostatized, and would then satirize the Messenger of Allāh , and would make his two songstresses sing his satire to the polytheists. So the Prophet killed him in captivity along with one of his songstresses. Another example is Muqays ibn Sabābah who apostatized after accepting Islām, killed Muslims, helped the polytheists slander the Messenger of Allāh , and fought against him vehemently.
So ponder the difference between the crimes committed by those killed in captivity compared to the rest of the people of Makkah to whom he granted security; these people committed sins of apostasy, murder, personal attacks, enmity, and slander. As they were the only ones killed in captivity from all the polytheists of Makkah, Shaykh al-Islām deduced from this that it is obligatory to kill anyone who insults the Prophet.
Yet in spite of this, if a person flees from his people and accepts Islām, and is granted security, then he is to be forgiven. Such was the case with Habbār ibn al-Aswad who attacked Zaynab, the daughter of the Messenger of Allāh , when she emigrated; he prodded her camel until she fell off it on to a rock. She was pregnant at the time and had a miscarriage. Other examples are those of ‘Ikrimah ibn Abū Jahl and Qaynah ibn Khatal and more.
The only combatant prisoners of Badr that he killed in captivity were al-Nadr ibn al-Hārith who would insult and harm him greatly with both word and deed, and ‘Uqbah ibn Abū Mu‘īt, who – in addition to severely harming and torturing the Companions of the Prophet – had slandered the Qur’ān and the Prophet, harmed him, strangled him with his cloak in an attempt to kill him, and placed the insides of a camel on his back while he was prostrating. So the Messenger of Allāh only killed these two prisoners in captivity from among all the rest.
With regards Banū Quraydhah, they were – as Ibn al-Qayyim said in al-Zād – the strongest of the Jews in their enmity to the Messenger of Allāh and the most extreme in their disbelief, and thus he did to them what he did not do to their brothers from the Jews of Banū Qaynuqā‘ and al-Nadīr.
It is narrated in al-Bukhārī that he killed their combatants, but this is only after they broke their contract with him, helped the disbelievers of Quraysh against him, and rallied them together with the tribe of Ghatafān – and others – to fight him. They were one of the reasons that the Battle of the Confederates occured, so it is of no surprise that he would deal with them specifically – among the rest of the Jews – in the way that he did. Yet despite all of this, he himself did not make the ruling that they should be killed, due to his deep understanding, and out of consideration for his Companions from among the Ansār who were new to Islām so that they would not receive harm. Rather, he told their confederates and allies from the tribe of Aws – and even Banū Quraydhah themselves – to pass the judgment, and the Jews accepted to submit to any judgment passed by Sa‘d ibn Mu’ādh, so he (may Allāh be pleased with them) judged that their combatants be killed.
Upon research, one will find that there is no report that the Prophet killed anyone other than a combatant – or civilian as they call him today – in captivity, and even from the combatants he only killed those who proved themselves severe in their disbelief, enmity, war, insult and satire against the Muslims. Undoubtedly, his choice to use an intermediary was one of great wisdom, as was looking beyond the legislated and permissible and considering what was best for Islām and the Muslims, and choosing what would cause the greatest harm to the combatant enemies of Allāh. This enabled him to teach a lesson to any enemy that pursued him, discipline others who were not combating him and his religion to the same degree, and forced them to remain faithful to their covenants and not transgress by means of war or enmity; and there were many other such benefits that may have been achieved through making wise choices and using an intermediary; an intermediary that chooses the strongest, most harmful type of fighting against the fiercest of enemies, and does not put such enemies on an equal footing with the rest of the disbelievers, or even other combatants. One other point to note is that he did not mutilate dead bodies – and indeed forbade it – to the extent that he refrained from mutilating the body one the polytheists, although he had resolved to do so after seeing how this man had mutilated the body of his uncle Hamzah (may Allāh be pleased with him). Despite this being a permissible and legislated action – to retaliate and seek revenge in a like manner –he taught his Ummah to pursue whatever is most advantageous, purest and most complete in their actions and Jihād, just as His Lord directed him to do by His saying,
He then directed the people to that which is better and more complete with His words,
Allāh the Exalted also said,
then He said,
And Allāh said,
then He said,
These are things I always strive – when addressing the Mujāhidīn and callers – to draw their attention to, direct their determinations and hopes towards, incite them to pursue, focus their efforts on, and develop their thoughts in line with; they should consider the great status of the Islāmic Jihād, and consider the greatest needs of the Ummah and their religion, such that their choices are not only made within the sphere of what is permissible and legislated, but rather that they extract the pearls of what will be beneficial, suitable, and steadfast to the Ummah and the Jihād. They should consider the course of action that will lead to raising leaders, callers and Mujāhidīn who do not only look at what is permissible, legislated and lawful in a superficial manner, but rather they scrutinize it, examine it closely, and explore it, to enable them to give preference to what is most beneficial at a certain time, what is most virtuous, and what will cause the most harm to the enemy.
I will even go further and say that it is obligatory upon them to act in this manner, especially when they find there are confliction obligations and numerous tasks to be fulfilled by the Muslims today.
So they may have to give precedence to the preferred obligation that has a narrow scope, over the less preferred and wide in scope.
We must not incite the youth, in this Jihād of ours, by using the claim that Jihād is obligatory in any sphere, with any actions, or under any leadership. Rather, what is obligatory upon them as the Muslims clash with the enemy in the Jihād fields, and with the many calamities befalling the Muslims, wars ignited against them, and the many enemies that fight them and declare their sanctities lawful…what is obligatory on them in the ocean of such a reality, is to choose what is better, most important and most preferable when it comes to matters on which the victory of Islām and the Muslims depends. They should select the purest banners and most mature leaders; this selection should not be fuelled by empty enthusiasm, or influenced by the speeches of government scholars or propaganda of their media, newspapers and conferences. Rather – as we have repeatedly mentioned – the selection should be determined by what is most beneficial for Islām and the Muslims, purest for their Jihād, and most harmful and injurious to their enemies.
They should also perform types of defensive Jihād over the offensive, because the offensive Jihād is a collective obligation (fard kifāyah), but the defensive Jihād is an individual obligation (fard ‘ayn). Thus, the scholars stipulated with regards offensive Jihād that one must take the permission of the parents and the debtor, but they imposed no such restriction on the performance of the defensive Jihād.
They should know that included under the heading of defensive Jihād is to fight for the sake of liberating a Muslim land from the hands of disbelieving tyrants – be they internal or external -, and thus should make the consolidation of the Muslims and their religion a goal and priority in their plans. Thus, this kind of fighting should be given precedence over any other type of fighting that does nothing more than cause injury, or is characterized as being a series of disconnected actions of commanding the good and forbidding the evil.
They should also give precedence to freeing the Muslim prisoners, for this is close to the meaning of defensive Jihād, and they should strive to rescue the weak and oppressed, as Allāh the Exalted said,
It is reported in Sahīh al-Bukhārī on the authority of Abū Mūsa al-Ash‘arī in a marfū‘ narration, “Free the slave…”
And for this reason, al-Nawawī said, “If the enemies capture one or more Muslims, then the strongest view is that it is to be treated as would the enemy entering the lands of the Muslims (meaning, like defensive Jihād) because the sanctity of a Muslim is greater than the sanctity of land, so it is obligatory that they work to free the prisoner(s).”
Knowing about this precedence, understanding it, and having patience with reality, the extent of the enemy’s evil, and the level of their enmity and war against Islām and the Muslims, will help the Mujāhid give preference to the various different obligations. In effect, he will be able to give preference to the individual obligation over the collective, and he will know the actions that he may not be silent over or delay, for delaying them will bring about a disgrace to the Muslims, allow innocent blood to be declared lawful, or other such things. So he will give preference to these actions, and he will not be content to make choices only according to what is obligatory upon him. I ask Allāh the All-Mighty to dispose of the Muslims’ affairs for them in the right way, and to make them firm on what He loves and pleases him – He is able to do that, and Allāh speaks the truth and guides to the right path.
One of the brothers who read these pages and registered what he read in accordance to what already existed in his minds said to me, “Be gentle with your pen and have mercy on it, O Shaykh!” to which I reply, “I will have mercy on it, and even gladden it, by using it to defend the Jihād of the Muslims, and purify it from anything that will distort its reknown, slander it, defame it, or deviate it away from its path.”
This Jihad is not the property of any person, so he should not think that he can take exclusive possession of it by directing it in down the course he desires. Rather, all the Muslims have a share in it, and they must take care to distinguish it, and work to establish it. They should strive to do this by partaking in it, and offering sincere advice, direction and supplications; anyone considered a leader or a reference point has an even greater responsibility in this regard.
They may not use any form of cajolery or flattery, and they may not assent to any deviations, distortions or wrongdoing – even if issued from the closest of people to them – and they must give precedence to what brings about benefit to the religion, the Jihād and the Muslims, over pleasing any names and personalities.
I say to him and others like him: Reflect on the words that I have written on these pages, for they are words that bespeak a grief, through which I have offered my most sincere advice to the callers, the Jihād and the Mujāhidīn. Do not restrict, solidify or minimize your thoughts by trying to discover whether the Shaykh means so-and-so or so-and-so, for this will prevent you from attaining the benefit of the words. The matter is greater than what you think, and I am not accustomed to busying myself with specific personalities, for that will preoccupy me away from the callers or Mujāhidīn whom we consider to be from the people of truth and sincerity, if Allāh wills, and we do not praise anyone over Allāh. Indeed, in this book of mine that oozes with worries and grief over this Jihād, I am having mercy on it and helping it in a manner greater than the help afforded by weapons and wealth, if only people would understand. I have written it due to my concern for directing this Jihād to what is more beneficial and brings the most advantage to the religion of Allāh, and so that I may caution against deviations and protect the Jihād from any errors and shortcomings,
 al-Isrā’, verse 9
 al-Isrā’, verse 9
 al-Zumar, verse 55
 al-Zumar, verse 18
 al-Nahl, verse 126
 al-Nahl, verse 126
 al-Shūrā, verse 40
 al-Shūrā, verse 40
 al-Mā’idah, verse 45
 al-Mā’idah ,verse 45
 al-Nisā’, verse 75
 Hūd, verse 88