Suspicions of Sin in Martyrdom or Suicide Attacks.


A. Suspicions of Sin in Martyrdom or Suicide Attacks.


More than five years ago, I spoke a few times about the law concerning martyrdom or suicide operations from a number of points of view, [but] to this day the brothers keep asking me the same questions, since they are not able to understand what I've said on this subject, as it is scattered among more than 1,000 responsa. Therefore, I have seen fit to repeat things I have said in those various and sundry responsa in one single article, in detail, in order to make it easier for those interested to read them and understand them.

I said, and I say: These actions are closer to suicide [intihar] than to martyrdom [istishhad] and they are forbidden because of sins they may potentially entail, as follows:

1. The gravest [potential sin] is that the meaning [of these attacks] is that someone necessarily kills himself, which contradicts scores of unequivocal and conclusive shari'a texts that forbid the killing of one's self, for whatever reason. Among these texts are Allah's words [Koran
4:29-30], 'Do not kill yourselves, for Allah has been merciful to you. Whoever does so out of enmity and iniquity, he will be roasted in fire; this is easy for Allah,' and His words [Koran 2:195] 'Spend on the path of Allah [fi sabil Allah] but do not cast yourselves into destruction,' and the [Prophet's] words in the authentic hadith... 'Whosoever kills himself with a given object in this world will be tortured with it on the Day of Judgment...'

As for the arguments that have been used to prove that it is permitted for someone to kill himself in order to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy, like the proofs that it is permitted to be courageous and plunge into enemy lines [inghimas] ... this [permission] does not allow one to kill one's self, but rather [permits one to enter into situations where] one is killed by the enemy or by someone else...

2. To rely on ambiguous proofs in this matter is tantamount to the abrogation or suspension of that which is based on clear and unequivocal proofs prohibiting the killing of one's self. It is forbidden to have recourse to such a thing [i.e. reliance on ambiguous proofs], and this for a number of reasons:

A. That which has been clearly and firmly proven cannot be refuted or abrogated by that which is ambiguous.

B. That which is ambiguous should be interpreted and clarified in light of that which is clear, and not the contrary...

C. The principles of the shari'a obligate one to work from the entirety of the [relevant] texts... and forbid one to have recourse to saying that [texts have been] abrogated or suspended, or that texts of general application should be restricted, except in circumstances in which it is impossible to reconcile all of the texts... As for the matter at hand, this sort of impossibility does not arise, as there is no contradiction between the texts. They can be reconciled, and it is possible to work from the entirety of the texts without having to suspend any of the relevant texts. One the one hand, we use the proofs and the texts calling for bravery and penetrating [iqtiham] and storming [inghimas] enemy lines - but this without being foolhardy - and [this is permitted] even if it leads to one's being killed by the enemy, so long as there is in one's storming [enemy lines] an overriding benefit to the jihad, to Islam, and to the Muslims. On the other hand, we have the proofs and the texts that forbid one to kill one's self. The reconciliation [of these two groups of texts] is possible and easy, and there is absolutely no need to have recourse to limiting [the application of] or abrogating [texts]! In summary: My opinion on the subject is based on all of the texts that are relevant to the subject, whereas the opinion of those who disagree with me is forced to suspend the application of the unambiguous shari'a texts that forbid the killing of one's self. This is reckless and has dangerous consequences!

3. One of the prohibitions the violation of which this action may entail is that it generally causes - as anyone can see - the killing of innocent civilians whose wrongful killing is prohibited by the shari'a, whether they be Muslims or non-Muslims. This is a danger that should not be taken lightly, but rather, one should take great pains to stay clear of it. A man is in a good situation with respect to his religion as long as he hasn't shed the blood of innocents, as [Allah] said [Koran 4:93], 'Whosoever intentionally kills a believer, Hell is his eternal recompense, and the wrath and curse of Allah are upon him, and a great punishment is in store for him,' and [Koran 17:33], 'Do not take a life that Allah has made inviolable without justification'...

And there is an authentic tradition that the Prophet said 'Beware not to commit the seven cardinal sins,' one of which is 'taking a life that Allah has made inviolable without justification'...; and that he said 'It is forbidden for any Muslim to take the life, property, or honor of any Muslim,' and 'The killing of a believer is graver in Allah's view than the end of the world,' and 'It is possible that Allah may forgive any sin except for he who dies an unbeliever and he who intentionally kills a believer,' and: 'Allah does not allow he who has killed a believer to repent'... and: 'He who harms a believer, his jihad is not considered a merit.' This is said about someone who injures a believer - just harms him - so all the more so one who kills him, and kills him intentionally at that!...

These are proofs that are clear and conclusive, both as concerns their meaning and as concerns their authenticity which it is impossible to refute, or suspend, or downplay through the use of ambiguous proofs that are subject to several interpretations, or through weak and flimsy pretexts that are incapable of standing up to the unambiguous texts previously mentioned. For instance, the pretext that [non-Muslims] are using [Muslims] as a [human] shield, which is so often brought as a proof these days!

The [fact that] someone is using someone else as a [human] shield, which makes it permissible to kill people whom it is normally forbidden to kill - [requires certain] circumstances and conditions, and if even a single condition is absent, the law concerning the use of others as shields is not applicable, and likewise the use of it as a proof!

Among the conditions are:

- that the only way to repel the enemy's assault be from the direction of the [human] shield, since if there were a way to repel the enemy's assault from other directions besides that of the [human] shield, it would be forbidden to kill the [human] shield or expose him to danger and to confront the enemy from the side of the shield;

- that leaving the enemy alone so as [not to harm] the [human] shield does more harm and poses a greater hazard to the country and to the Muslims than fighting and killing the enemy and repelling him from the direction of the [human] shield. However, if killing [the enemy] and fighting him from the direction of the [human] shield do more harm and pose a greater hazard than leaving him alone - for instance, if dozens of innocent people whose killing is forbidden would be killed in order [to kill] one non-believer combatant - then it is forbidden to fight him from the direction of the [human] shield or to expose the [human] shield to danger. This is because the principles of the shari'a all instruct us to reject the greater damage in favor of the lesser damage, and to prefer the lesser of two evils when there is no way to avoid them both.

- that the overriding benefit from killing the [human] shield be definite and indisputable, and not just probable or possible...

- that it not be possible to put off killing the enemy...

If all of the preceding conditions have been met, it is then permitted for the jihad fighter to repel the enemy from the direction of the [human] shield, with his intention and aim being the enemy and not the [human] shield, and if then the [human] shield should suffer, Allah forbid, any sort of injury, then [the jihad fighter] has done no wrong, and the injury is considered to have come about unintentionally...

The question that arises, and that requires a frank and courageous answer, is: Do the so-called, known-as-'martyrdom [operations]' conform to the preceding conditions and limitations, such that one might justify them legally through the case of the [human] shield...?"

4. Another of the possible prohibitions [that suicide operations may entail] that is worth mentioning is that for a jihad fighter to attain the level where he sacrifices his life, his property, and everything he owns for the sake of Allah is [to pay] a great price that is rare in our time... It is not right for him to be condemned to death - in a bombing operation - with the very first step he takes towards the battlefields of jihad. This is the very thing that would make the enemy rejoice!... We have no right to actively hasten this unique young individual on his way to meet Allah, lest it be said on the Day of Judgment: 'My servant hastened to give me his life, [thus] Paradise is off limits to him and to those who hastened him on his way to meet Me.' It is essential that this young man be given ample opportunity to conduct jihad in a true and proper manner...

It has come to my attention that in some of the current jihad battlefields to which Muslim jihad-fighting youth from all quarters direct their steps... the young man who arrives there is given exactly two choices: Either he agrees to carry out a martyrdom bombing operation - in which case all of his jihad, not to speak of his life, is reduced to a single operation that perhaps will succeed and perhaps will fail - and so many of them do fail; or else he goes back whence he came, and this after he has suffered the greatest of dangers and tribulations in order to get to those battlefields!

This is wrong by any measure and by any standard. It is wrong in terms of the shari'a, since forcing the youth and compelling him to kill himself in a single bombing operation, about whose validity in the shari'a he is not convinced, or else he harbors some kind of doubt as to the extent of its validity and its permissibility, or else he thinks that it is more like suicide than like martyrdom... in this case if he obeys them and blows himself up, this would be to obey them in defying Allah, and this is forbidden... and if he dies while he still holds to this opinion and harbors this doubt, then he is in the category of those who commit suicide, and all of the warnings concerning the cardinal sin of suicide apply to him.

It is [also] wrong militarily and strategically, since it means that the jihad fighter is cast only into one single battle - which may succeed and which may fail - and this may scare off a large number of the youth of the Islamic nation who [otherwise would] want to join up in the battlefields of jihad for the sake of Allah!

It is also wrong with respect to the brother [i.e., the youth], as it squanders his worth, his security, and his well-being... after his having risked and suffered such dangers. This is forbidden!

Taken together, these four potential prohibitions [that suicide operations entail] are what led me to conclude that this is a forbidden action. And if an ignorant person, or anyone else, were to say to me, 'You want a jihad of roses. How [can this be]? We will not be able to get at the enemy if not by way of these martyrdom bombing operations,' I would tell him: 'You are lying. The jihad fighters that lay well-designed ambushes and lie in wait for the enemy, get at the enemy, and cause him greater damage and loss, in terms of quantity and in quality, than that which is achieved by means of the dubious suicide bombing operations which sow discord between Muslims and their 'ulama...

In this matter there are two well-known opinions: One group of scholars sees those who carry out these actions as having committed suicide, and [thus] they will be chastened and punished [in the hereafter]. And there is another group of scholars who sees them as martyrs, and [thus] as those who have been promised the delights of
Paradise. In my view, both of these opinions are weak and inconclusive, as I will explain.

Despite my being of the opinion that these operations are prohibited, and that they are closer to being suicide [than martyrdom], nevertheless if the one who carried them out did so on the basis of a certain interpretation and in reliance on the proofs of those who permit it, and if he thought these proofs to be conclusive, and he fulfilled their conditions and limitations, then I hope that he will be [accepted as] a martyr and will be among those who have been promised the delights of Paradise and that Allah will forgive him.

But if he knew that it was forbidden... or if he was in doubt as to whether it was permitted, and nevertheless he carried out the operation, for whatever reason, then he is one who has committed suicide, and he who takes his own life is among those who will be chastened and punished [in the hereafter]...

This is if his action only affects himself. But if his action brought about the wrongful killing of those whom it is forbidden to kill, then this has a bearing on the rights of others and on the payment of reparations and blood money. The elaboration on this subject is too long to be included here, and whoever wants to study it may find it written in the books of jurisprudence..."


'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi

August 24, 2005.

B. The Al-Sharq Al-Awsat Newspaper and the Ongoing Lie

That which was published about me on August 27, 2005, under the title 'The Theoretician of the Jihadi Salafi Movement Changes His Mind About Al-Qaeda from One Extreme to the Other and Publishes a Fatwa from London Forbidding Suicide Attacks,' is one link in a series of ongoing lies to which Al-Sharq Al-Awsat has accustomed us...

The newspaper published an article, 'From Al-Khudayr to Al-Tartusi,' by its secular writer, 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, on
August 29, 2005. In it, Al-Rashed said (and in my opinion he is not at all "rashed" [lit: one who follows the right path]): The government of Britain had hardly announced its decision to expel the radical activists, and already each of them was running around trying to improve his standing. 'Umar Bakri fled to Lebanon and from there declared his love of moderateness and rejected violence. Sheikh Abu Basir [Al-Tartusi] changed his stand and announced that he considers martyrdom operations to be heresy, and bolstered his new stand with proofs from the hadith that encourage peace. It seems that Al-Tartusi - may Allah forgive him - was not aware of these [proofs] before the Blair government's decision to expel [people] like him from their country'...

You said about me, by way of your writer, Rashed: 'Sheikh Abu Basir Al-Tartusi changed his stand and announced that he considers martyrdom operations to be heresy.' This is a lie, ignorance, and pure invention, as my statement that the operations are forbidden does not mean that I consider them to be heresy or that they make those who carry them out into heretics...

The claims that I retracted [a previous stand] and changed my opinion, and went back and changed my opinion out of fear of Blair and his laws and out of fear of prison and expulsion... are an invention that the very first line of my article refutes, since I said [in this article], 'In the past, more than five years ago, I already spoke a number of times about the law concerning martyrdom or suicide operations from a variety of points of view,' and these words were posted on my website at approximately that time, and my stand on this question has been known to all for quite some time...

The question that arises is why Al-Sharq Al-Awsat and its mendacious writer chose to ignore this line that refutes their claim... The answer is known to all and it is this: [because of] the animosity towards us, towards our way, and [towards] our brothers, and the obstinate desire to take revenge and to smear us, even if it be through the use of lies and malice...

We do not fear any human - not Blair, his government, and his laws, nor Bush, his government, and his mad wars against Islam and the Muslims, nor your masters, the despots of heresy and apostasy [i.e. the Saudi regime]. We fear Allah alone, and when we say or write something we do not try to curry favor with anyone... The only thing that we take into account is Allah's will...

Any news item that the garbage newspaper Al-Sharq Al-Awsat publishes about me does not represent me, nor does it reflect my true position... and anyone who wants to know the truth about anything that I have published should go to my website or hear it directly from me..."


'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi

September 3, 2005

C. An Argument Against the Claims and Challenges of Those Who Disagree [with My Opinion] on Suicide Attacks.
Before I reply to the brothers' questions and discuss the claims of those who disagree with me, I would like to relate to a number of things:

These so-called martyrdom operations are considered, as far as the method and the means used, to be a modern phenomenon, and [thus] it is possible that concerning them there will be room for individual religious legal opinion [ijtihad] and differences of opinion [ikhtilaf] among the scholars. [These operations] are among the practical issues that is unbecoming that they should lead to [the classification of people into] faithful and pure [versus] those accused of treason, sin, and error.

My statement that these operations are not permitted is a longstanding statement with which everyone is familiar, [since] it was published on my website more than five years ago, among the fatwas, and it is not a new statement, as was published in some of the inciting and hostile media...

Truth and justice are a mercy to this world and the next, and they benefit men and jinns [spiritual beings], non-believers and believers. Even beasts, insects, and plants derive benefit from a just decision. Thus, we are not obligated to deny every justice or truth that may aid the non-believer in any way, shape, or form, and to renounce it, hide it, and make it disappear. No, that is not in our nature. That is the nature of the people of the Book, the Jews and the Christians, who hid that which was written in the [Divine] Book and the truth that Allah revealed to their prophets. The greatness of our upright religion is that it prescribes justice and the doing of kindness with those who believe in it and with its enemies in the same manner...

It is possible that those who have gone astray, and the non-believers, will appropriate what I am saying and its subtlety as they appropriated that which others have said in the past, will take it out of its [original] context and intention, and will use it for their bad purposes. But this does not make it legitimate for us to be silent and not obey the call of truth... The solution to such situations is for people to receive the information or the fatwa from reliable sources and from those who issued it, and not from sources belonging to those who have strayed from the upright path...

In the following, I will respond to the questions I was asked, and I will discuss the proofs of those who disagree [with my opinion], one after the other:

Argument #1: One of the strong proofs [used to] permit martyrdom operations and the killing of one's self in order to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy is [Koran] verse 6: 151: 'Do not take unjustly the life that God has forbidden.' [Those who made this claim] cited Sheikh 'Abd Al-Qadir Ibn 'Abd Al-'Aziz as saying that he used to believe that martyrdom operations were not permitted because he hadn't found an explicit proof among the texts that removes it from the category of suicide. He struggled with this for a long time until he found a proof permitting them in the verse, 'Do not take the life that God forbade unjustly,' since jihad against the enemy and harming them is the greatest justice [and therefore one is allowed to take one's own life for this purpose].

Answer: Judging from that which was reported in the name of Sheikh 'Abd Al-Qadir, we can say that the sheikh agrees with us that the rest of the texts - which we will discuss presently - do not permit martyrdom operations and do not remove them from the category of suicide; this, apart from the verse that was mentioned, which the sheikh was the only one to understand in this fashion. He was the only one to use it as a proof on this subject. But does this verse really contain a proof permitting [these] operations?

No, it does not contain a proof permitting so-called martyrdom operations, because all of the exegetes agree that this verse is about the imposition of the death penalty, which is carried out by a Muslim ruler against criminals who, according to Islamic law, are deserving of it. It also relates to the killing of and waging of war against those infidel enemy combatants who are deserving of being killed according to Islamic law. The killer [in the verse], who is directly responsible for carrying out the death penalty and the killing, is the Muslim ruler... and the one who is killed and against whom the death penalty is carried out is another person, someone who has committed a crime that, according to Islamic law, makes him deserving of being killed. [Thus the verse has nothing to do with killing one's self.]

In addition, the killing of someone who kills unjustly, and the imposition of the death penalty on him, is the greatest justice; nonetheless, it is forbidden for the killer, according to the scholars, to kill himself or to execute the death penalty against himself.

In addition, Sheikh 'Abd Al-Qadir, and he alone, understood [this verse] in this queer fashion. Nobody of any account before him or after him understood it in this way. This sort of individual and queer interpretation cannot refute unequivocal proofs nor [permit] the taking of lives or other such vagaries.

[This] verse and its meanings have nothing to do with the topic to which they tried to apply it. [This] verse, with which they tried to permit [suicide] operations - and which those who disagree with me see as one of the strongest proofs, if not the strongest of them all - is nothing but an ambiguous proof, and is certainly not a clear proof... permitting so-called martyrdom operations. Can this proof, which is too weak [even] to be [considered] an ambiguous proof, provide an answer to unambiguous proofs that forbid someone to kill himself and that see this as suicide and one of the gravest sins? [Certainly not.]

Argument #2: [There are those who bring up] the story of the young and devout youth and the despotic king, in which [the youth] showed the king in what way he could be killed, and thus is similar to someone who takes his own life. This [supposedly shows] that so-called martyrdom operations are permitted. [The story of the devout youth and the despotic king is a hadith that tells of a youth who healed lepers, the blind, and other ailing people. He was summoned to the king, who asked him who it is that gives him healing powers. He answered, "Allah." The king asked, "Meaning me?" The youth answered, "No." The king asked, "Do you have another god besides me?" The youth answered, "Allah is my God and yours." The king demanded that he take this back, but he refused, and the king ordered his men to kill him, but they couldn't, and instead died themselves. The youth said to the king that he didn't have any power over him, and that he and his men couldn't kill him except for in one particular way. The king asked, "What is this way?" The youth answered, "Assemble your men on a certain plain, crucify me on a stump, take an arrow from my quiver and say, "In the name of Allah, God of this youth." When you say this, you will be able to kill me. The king did so and the youth was killed, and all the men said, "We believe in the God of this youth."]

Answer: This is [indeed] one of the better proofs those [who oppose my opinion] have brought in support of their position on the question, but nevertheless it is inconclusive in its indication of the permissibility of so-called martyrdom operations. This inconclusiveness is due to the following points:

- The story of the youth and the despotic king is a special and exceptional story that never recurred in all of history. The youth did what he did out of a kind of divine inspiration or revelation that instructed him what to do. I don't think that anyone who has not received such a revelation could say to a despotic oppressor: "You have no power over me, and you cannot kill me, no matter what you do and no matter how much your army lords it over me, except for in one particular and specific manner.' This is not the case with suicide operations!

- One of the aims and goals of the way the youth showed the king [to kill him] was to demonstrate to the king, his retinue, and his ministers, and to the people, that the king was not a god, as he claimed, and that he was impotent and weak and could neither help nor hurt; that he was incapable of killing whom he wanted, despite the power and might that had been given him; that [all] souls are in the hands of their Creator and their King, He who grants life and puts to death; and that the king, if he wanted to kill [the youth], had no recourse but to ask the permission of the Creator and King of [his] soul and of every soul. The request for the Creator's permission is made by the king after he has assembled all the people together so as to bear witness to the scene: 'In the name of Allah, God of the youth.' If he does this, he [can] kill the youth, and if he doesn't, then he is not able to kill him, and he has no power over him, no matter how hard he tries. This is the lofty and momentous goal [of the youth's actions], since in those days the people thought that the king was their god and that he had power over the souls of the people and that he was able to grant life to, and put to death, whomever he wanted. This is not the case with suicide operations, and their goals have nothing to do with this.

- The way in which the youth was killed brought it about that an entire nation was guided to the right path, and that the people were led out of the oppression of idolatry and idol worship to the light of monotheism and the worship of the Creator. The youth, through the revelation [he received], was aware of this and knew about the lofty results that would be achieved. For this reason, he insisted on the one single way in which he instructed the king, and through which these lofty and unrivalled benefits were realized. According to an authentic hadith, when the youth died, the people said: 'We believe in the God of the youth, we believe in the God of the youth, we believe in the God of the youth.' When the king arrived, they said to him: 'Do you see what it was that you had to be wary of? Allah delivered you a warning, and the people believed.' This is not the case with suicide operations.

- Despite the fact that the Islamic nation is a nation of jihad and desire for martyrdom - and it has braved thousands of battles throughout the course of its history - nevertheless the scholars of Islam have never drawn from the story of the youth and the king the conclusion that has been drawn by a number of our contemporaries - namely, that this story constitutes a proof of the permissibility of killing one's self in order to inflict damages on the enemy. All that is good and all that is sound are to be found in following in the footsteps of the early righteous generations and in understanding them, and not in coming up with unfounded innovations - and especially if these innovations are in relation to that which is inviolable and to matters of life and death.

- In addition to the preceding, it may also be said that the youth did not actually take his own life, but rather was killed by the despotic king, whereas in suicide operations one does kill one's self.

- If a murderer who is deserving of the capital punishment specified in the Koran brings himself before a shari'a court for them to carry out the capital punishment against him, one would not say of him that he had killed himself and that he is like someone who has killed himself, and that in consequence it is permitted for him to kill himself, and that he can carry out the capital punishment against himself by himself. The same is true of the story of the youth. Just because he showed the king the way in which he could be killed - in order to attain the aforementioned benefits - this does not mean, and it cannot be said, that he killed himself, and that his case is the case of someone who kills himself, as some have understood it.

From all of the preceding, we can see that the story of the youth and the king, and its implications, are one thing, and that the suicide operations that have been justified by it are something else. The most that can be said concerning the story of the youth and the king is that it is inconclusive in its indication of the permissibility of suicide operations. That which is inconclusive, as I pointed out in my essay "Potential Sins...", cannot take precedence, rival, refute, or limit the extension or the application of that which is conclusive, which in our case forbids one to kill one's self.

Argument #3: [Some have] drawn an analogy between the killing of one's self for the sake of jihad to the killing of a Muslim who is being used as a human shield for the sake of jihad, which is permissible. They say that the religious scholars determined that it is permissible to kill the human shield, who is a Muslim whose life is inviolable, in order to repel the enemy's aggression. If then it is permitted to kill the [Muslim] human shield for the sake of jihad, then one is [also] permitted to kill one's self, as in [for instance] so-called martyrdom operations, for the sake of jihad, since the two [i.e. the human shield and the one who takes his own life] are equal in sanctity and worth.

Answer: This is a baseless analogy due to the incompatibility [of the two elements of the analogy], and it is not fit to be used as a proof for the permissibility of suicide operations, for a number of reasons:

- The killing of the [Muslim] human shield is subject to conditions and stipulations that are not met in the [case of] suicide operations. Al-Qurtubi, in 8:563 of his commentary to the Koran, said: 'The killing of the [Muslim] human shield is permitted, and no one disputes this, if the benefit [derived from killing him] is necessary, comprehensive, and definite. The meaning of its being necessary: that it be impossible to get to the non-believers in any way other than by killing the human shield. The meaning of its being comprehensive: that it be of decisive import for the entirety of the Islamic nation, such that the killing of the human shield yield a benefit for all of the Muslims, and if one does not act, [then] the non-believers [themselves] will kill the human shield and will subdue the Islamic nation. The meaning of its being definite: that this benefit will definitely be achieved by killing the human shield.' To this should be added the condition that it be impossible to repel the enemy's attack from a direction other than that of the [human] shield. Under these conditions and stipulations, it is permitted to act in accordance with the law of the human shield. Suicide operations - the so-called martyrdom operations - do not fulfill any of these conditions or stipulations, as is plain to see, and thus it follows that it is impossible to draw an analogy between them and the question of the [human] shield.

- The human shield is killed by someone else, and the [permissibility of] his being killed by someone else in no way means that it is permissible for him to kill himself in a direct manner so as to deprive the enemy of the possibility of using him as a means of exerting pressure on the Muslims - whereas in suicide operations one kills one's self [and thus they are not permitted].

- Despite the fact that for the Islamic nation there is a great demand for taking advantage of every last part of the laws of jihad - as it is a nation of jihad and warfare - nonetheless, its righteous forefathers did not come up with this law and this strange analogy to the question of the [human] shield. This does not mean that their ability to comprehend and to properly judge the meanings of the texts was deficient, God forbid. It means, rather, that this understanding [of the issue] that has been adopted by a minority of later, contemporary [scholars], is strange and weak.

- The claim that the [human] shield who is killed by someone else, and he who kills himself for the sake of jihad, are 'equal in sanctity and worth' is completely incorrect. While it is true that they are equal in terms of their sanctity as people whose lives are inviolable, they differ in level, degree, and worth, and in other respects. The jihad fighter who fights in the battlefields of jihad is not the same as those shirkers who stay behind, or those commoners who shirk jihad and so might be used by the enemy as a [human] shield, as Allah said [Koran 4:95]: 'Those from among the believers who stay behind - apart from the disabled - are not equal to those who fight jihad for the sake of Allah with their possessions and their lives. Allah has accorded those who fight jihad with their possessions and their lives a higher level than those who stay behind. Allah has promised good to all, but Allah has accorded a greater reward to those who fight jihad than to those who stay behind.' This was said about those who had an excuse to stay behind, so how much more so regarding those who do not have an excuse to stay behind. The jihad fighter is worth a thousand of them! It is also said [Koran 57:10]: 'He who spent [money] and fought before the victory is not equal to those who spent [money] and fought afterwards; he is on a loftier level. Allah has promised good to all, and Allah knows your actions well.' This difference in level, degree, and worth is between those who spent and fought before the victory and those who spent and fought after the victory, and thus concerning one who didn't spend and didn't fight for the sake of Allah at all, and preferred to be with the shirkers, the preference [for the jihad fighter] is all the greater. Likewise, the sunna has indicated that [the life] and honor of one who fights jihad for the sake of Allah are of a greater sanctity than that of those who stay behind in their homes. Thus we know not to accept the opinion of those who disagree [with me] and who say that they are on the same level in terms of worth and sanctity and degree in all respects, and for this reason [claim that] just as it is permitted to kill the one for the good of jihad, so it is permitted for the other to kill himself for the good of jihad, and draw an analogy between the two. Therefore, when I said that this proof is equivocal and does not stand... [I was in the right].

Argument #4: Many of those who responded evinced the proofs that permit one to storm [inghimas] and penetrate [iqtiham] the ranks of the enemy [in order to achieve] an overriding benefit for jihad, and then drew an analogy between the one who kills himself in a suicide attack and these proofs.

Answer: The proofs that permit storming the ranks of the enemy in order to achieve an overriding benefit for jihad are right, and it is right to act in accordance with them. However, storming [the enemy's ranks] is one thing, and killing one's self, as in suicide attacks, is another, and it is impossible to draw an analogy from one to the other, and this for several reasons:

- One who storms [enemy ranks] is killed by the enemy, whereas one who carries out a suicide attack kills himself, and so in this they are not equal.

- That the one who storms enemy ranks will be killed is probable, but not certain, since many of those who storm the ranks of the enemy disperse their army and succeed in their mission without being killed. There is no better witness to this than the history of jihad in Islam. In contrast, someone who blows himself up in a suicide attack has killed himself for sure, and so in this they are not equal.

- This analogy is a legal innovation that was never put forward by any of our forefathers. And one cannot say that [this is because] our forefathers did not have explosives at their disposal so as to be able to draw the analogy, since there was no shortage of ways of killing one's self, and they are plentiful in every time and place. If it were permissible to kill one's self for one of the aims of jihad, it is impossible that our righteous forefathers would not have said something about this, especially as there is no detail of the laws of jihad, no matter how small and inconspicuous, that they didn't discuss and elucidate.

Thus we see that the proofs [relying on the case of] storming [enemy ranks] are not strong and do not succeed in proving the permissibility of killing one's self for one of the aims of jihad. What these proofs have to say on the subject is ambiguous, and Allah is all-knowing.

Another objection: Someone who kills himself in a so-called martyrdom operation doesn't kill himself because he is sick of this world or in order to escape from a fleeting affliction that has befallen him, but rather does this in order to inflict heavy casualties on the enemy and because he seeks martyrdom for the sake of Allah, and therefore the verses and the hadiths that prohibit killing one's self and qualify the one who does so as a sinner apply to the former and not to the latter [and thus suicide attacks are not forbidden].

Answer: Any religious act through which one seeks to get closer to Allah must necessarily fulfill two conditions, and neither of them is sufficient without the other: 1) that the act be entirely for the sake of Allah and none else, and 2) that it be in accordance with the sunna and in keeping with the shari'a and its laws...

Whoever serves Allah in a way other than that which He permitted, and legislated, and ordered - his worship is rejected, even if he fulfilled the condition of the act being entirely [for the sake of Allah], as Allah said [Koran 18:110], 'Whosoever wishes to meet his Lord, let him do good deeds...' - that is to say, deeds that are in accordance with the sunna and the laws of the shari'a - 'and let him not in his worship associate anyone else with his Lord' - that is to say, he has to fulfill the condition of the act being entirely [for Allah] when he does a good deed. And Allah said [Koran 67:2]: 'He who created life and death, in order to test you and see who among you is the best in his deeds.' The scholars said: This means, which of you is the most righteous [in acts] and the most pure [in intention] in his deeds. The performance of jihad is not exempt from these two conditions. It is not enough that it be entirely dedicated to Allah, but it must also be in accordance with the sunna and with the laws of the shari'a, and if either of these conditions is not fulfilled, the action is cast back against the one who did it...

Another objection: Some have said: Your decision on this issue does not benefit jihad and the jihad fighters; on the contrary, it benefits their enemies.

Answer: What is important is, first and foremost, what the law dictates concerning this issue, and whatever the law dictates, that is the overriding benefit; and wherever there is something that is in conflict with what the law dictates, then there is no benefit, only detriment, whether we know it or not [as is said in Koran 2:132]: 'Allah knows, and you do not know.' On the contrary, my decision on this issue, in addition to the preceding, is precisely that which contains the overriding benefit for jihad and for the jihad fighters and for jihad's good name and standing as one of the great foundations of Islam. This is what I believe, and this is one of the reasons that led me - already quite some time ago and not just recently - to broach this question. It should be known that I do not and will not accept that the youth [who are devoted to] God's unity and jihad, especially as they are few and far between, should become sacrifices of suicide operations, and that in so doing we should gladden [our] enemies and give them the most precious of gifts, and this without there being any payoff to speak of - whether we know it or not - as though there were no other manner of fighting jihad and of reviving the obligation of jihad other than this dubious manner that sows dissension and disagreement among Muslims.

The certain sacrifice in a suicide bombing attack of a youth [devoted to] God's unity and jihad - of whom there are no more than some hundreds, or a few thousand - in exchange for [the killing] of one or two people, or the wounding of a number of enemy forces that can be counted on the fingers of one hand, while the enemy forces number hundreds of millions - do you see any overriding military-strategic benefit to jihad and to the jihad fighters in this action and this result, in a cost-benefit analysis...? Are the youth [who are devoted to] God's unity and jihad, the elite of the Islamic nation, of so little importance to you? Do you consider them to be of such little worth?

...Those who disagree [with me] permitted these operations, subject to well-defined stipulations and conditions:

- that they be exceptional, and that one not have recourse to them except when they are a pressing necessity made obligatory by an overriding benefit necessary for the jihad, in some specific given circumstance;

- that the benefit derived from them be overriding and definite - or in other words, not [just] presumptive;

- that the benefit derived from them should be of general import for all Muslims;

- that extremely heavy casualties be inflicted on the enemy;

- that it be impossible to inflict these heavy casualties other than through this action;

- that it not lead to the death of innocent people whose killing the shari'a forbids and who are not in the category of people governed by the law of the [human] shield...;

- in addition to all of the preceding, that the motivation for this act of sacrifice be purity of intention, and jihad for the sake of Allah, and in order to make Allah's word supreme, and not for any other aim or motive.

These are the conditions [imposed by] those contemporary scholars who permitted these operations, and they permitted them conditional to their being fulfilled. The question that arises is: Do those who carry out suicide attacks - as we see them, and live with them, and hear about them - adhere to and fulfill these conditions and stipulations? In how many and in what percentage of the [suicide] operations did they adhere to these stipulations and conditions?

The answer is very discomfiting: Perhaps in over 90% of these operations, not all of these conditions and stipulations were fulfilled. It follows that one cannot attribute the opinion that these operations are permitted and legitimate to those contemporary 'ulama and sheikhs who permitted these operations, [since they permitted them only] in accordance with their conditions and stipulations.

Thus there is cause for the group of contemporary scholars who decided in favor of the permissibility [of these operations], in accordance with their conditions and stipulations, to go back and review their fatwas wherever they find that the fatwa might be misunderstood, or misapplied, or implemented in the improper context, or be employed by those who have no knowledge of their stipulations and conditions and thus do not take them into account, as we can see is often the case.

This is my answer to and refutation of the proofs and objections of those who disagree with me, praise Allah, Lord of the worlds...

Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi
September 23, 2005

D. The
Amman Operation is Illegitimate and Forbidden, and Does More Harm Than Good

The media reported on the evening of Wednesday, November 9, that an attack on three hotels in
Amman was carried out, by means of suicide operations. Regardless of who it was that was behind this action, and from the position of the trust placed in me and the responsibility that rests on my shoulders, and for which I answer to Allah, I emphasize that this operation is illegitimate and forbidden [by the laws of Islam] - and not only does it do more harm than good, it does no good whatsoever, and it cannot be considered Islamic nor can it be considered jihad... nor can it be categorized as an act of jihad according to the shari'a. I disavow it before Allah, and I do not recognize it or approve of it. [I say this] because there are three kinds of victims of these explosions:

A. Muslims, who comprise the majority of the victims, and whom it is forbidden to frighten or to abuse their life, property, or honor in any way - this according to the Koran, the sunna, and the ijma' [legally binding consensus].

B. Foreign non-Muslim businessmen, tourists, and functionaries working in the hotels. They have the status of protected allies [mu'ahad] - as I have explained elsewhere - and it is likewise forbidden to frighten them or to abuse their life, property, or honor in any way, according to the Koran, the sunna, and the ijma'.

C. People on military or espionage missions hostile to Muslims. I will suppose that they were present, though I can not state it positively. Nonetheless, their presence does not excuse an intentional attack against the first two categories that I mentioned, neither according to [Islamic] law nor according to reason.

I have already explained this position of mine time and time again... in order to fulfill my obligation before Allah and before man, and so that my silence not be interpreted as a kind of agreement to or approval of this kind of operation.

In the past, when I condemned and repudiated the London attacks, the spreaders of false rumors, inciters, and spiteful people who try to seek out any false step said that this was a political fatwa that I issued [only] because I live in London and feared for my life and my family, lest we be hurt by the British government's laws concerning what is purported to be terrorism, and that I issued it out of fear and so as to save myself.

To those and to others I say: I hereby emphasize the very same position with respect to the explosions in Amman, despite their having occurred at a distance of several thousand miles from me, and despite the fact that the Jordanian authorities compelled me to leave Jordan and that I have been forbidden from entering its territory for decades, and I have nothing to expect or to gain from Jordan. Therefore, all that may be said is that this position derives solely from what I believe in, from religion, and from morals, and from [the desire] to get closer to Allah - and not from [the desire] to get closer to human beings...

'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi
November 10, 2005

E. "He Who Approves of Something is Like He Who Did It"

Know that he who approves of something is like he who did it, and he who approves of an abomination or a sin, and applauds, praises, and elevates it - he bears his own responsibility and the responsibility of he who committed [the sin], even though he [the approver] did not do it himself and was sitting on his sofa at home [at the time]. And he who approves of a good deed receives the reward for it and the reward of he who performed it, even though he [the approver] did not do it himself, and was prevented from doing it by inability or weakness...

Allah said [Koran 4:140]: 'He has revealed to you in the Book that if you hear His signs being denied [yukfar biha] and ridiculed, do not sit with them until they turn to a different subject, since that would make you like them. Allah will gather the hypocrites and the non-believers together in Hell.'

Sheikh Suleiman ibn 'Abdallah ibn Muhammad ibn 'Abd Al-Wahhab said: The plain meaning of this verse is that if someone hears Allah's signs being denied and ridiculed, and he sits with the non-believers [al-kafirin] and the ridiculers without his having been compelled to do so, and without disavowing [what they are saying], and without leaving them until they turn to a different subject, then he is a non-believer [kafir] like them, even if he didn't do what they did, since this is in effect approval of unbelief, and approval of unbelief is unbelief.

The scholars of [Islamic] law have concluded, on the basis of this verse... that he who approves of a sin is like he who committed it, and if he claims that he disavowed it in his heart, [his claim] cannot be accepted, since one [only] judges [on the basis of] that which can be seen. He made a display of unbelief, and thus he is a non-believer...

Al-Qurtubi said in his Al-Jami' 418/5, "since that would make you like them" - [This means that] whoever doesn't steer clear of them expresses approval of their actions, and approval of unbelief is unbelief. Thus, everyone who sits [with others] in a sinful gathering and doesn't rebuke them bears the same responsibility as they do. If he is not able to rebuke them, he should try to find a way to leave their company so as not to fall in the category of people discussed in this verse.'

Some people who were drinking wine were brought before [the Umayyad Caliph] 'Umar ibn 'Abd al-'Aziz, and he ordered that they be flogged. He was told that there was one among them who refrained [from drinking wine], and he said, 'Start with him, for you have heard Allah's words: "He has revealed to you in the Book that if you hear His signs being denied and ridiculed, do not sit with until they turn to a different subject, since that would make you like them..."'

If someone witnesses a sin being committed and disapproves of it, it is as though he wasn't there, and he who wasn't there and approves of it, it is as though he witnessed it... The essential thing is one's intention...

A widespread phenomenon has caught my attention among many people who don't take religion seriously. They not only stick their noses into [Koranic verses] whose interpretation is unclear, they often meddle, without their having any knowledge [about it], with [Koranic verses] whose interpretation is clear and that clearly indicate that something is prohibited or permitted, and then they split up into supporters and opponents...

'Abd Al-Mun'im Mustafa Halima, Abu Basir Al-Tartusi
November 11, 2005






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