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Jabhat al-Nusra and IS: same hadith, same message

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — just a curiosity ]
.

SPEC DQ same hadith JN IS

The hadith quoted in the upper panel is from p. 11 of the new issue of Dabiq, the magazine of the Islamic State.

Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi captions the hadith in the lower panel:

“When a son of Adam dies, his deeds are cut off except for three things: ongoing charity, knowledge from which one can obtain benefit, or the supplication of a righteous son for him.” [hadith on the authority of Abu Huraira]

His post attributes it, along with many other examples, to Jabhat al-Nusra.

**

Sources:

  • Islamic State, Dabiq issue 9, p 11
  • Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, Archive of Jabhat al-Nusra Billboards and Murals
  • Role reversal — well, not quite

    Sunday, May 10th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — an astute PR move, i think — but still a slaughter of captives ]
    .

    It’s usually the men in balack (IS) who execute the men in orange (Copts) — upper panel, below — but this time there has been a reversal of the color code, with the men in orange (Jaysh a-Islam) executing the men in black (IS) — lower panel.

    SPEC DQ role reversal

    I think the Jaysh’s choice of orange jumpsuits on this occasion was likely in deliberate and ironic commentary on the IS images, as indeed the IS choice was a deliberate choice echoing the jumpsuits of Guantanamo.

    Note, though, that those executed in the upper panel were Christians, while the Jaysh is a Muslim outfit giving IS a taste of its own medicine. The Coptic Christians, by contrast, have been remarkably forgiving, treating the e=xecution of their own as a cause for gratitude at the faithfuoness of their martyrs.

    Boston: Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad

    Sunday, April 19th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — “The now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1996-2003) brings to the public one final conference on apocalyptic beliefs” ]
    .

    If this was a movie, I’d say the speakers at this conference were a “stellar cast”! Will McCants, Graeme Wood, Cole Bunzel, Timothy Furnish, David Cook, JM Berger, Husain Haqqani.. Paul Berman and Ayaan Hirsi Ali..

    I participated in several of the old Center for Millennial Studies conferences that Richard Landes organized around the turn of the millennium, and they were intense academic highlights for me. I thought it very short-sighted when CMS funding was cut after the turn of the year 2000, agreeing with Dr Landes that millenarianism was unlikely to go away any time soon — and AQ, and IS even more so, have more than proven his point — hence this “final” conference.

    If you can attend, by all means do — highly recommended. I’m delighted to have been invited to attend myself, and hope to keep Zenpundit readers well informed.

    **

    Apocalyptic Hopes, Millennial Dreams and Global Jihad: May 3-4, 2015, Boston University

    Sponsored by the BU History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East

    Most Westerners associate the terms apocalyptic and millennial (millenarian) with Christian beliefs about the endtime. Few even know that Muhammad began his career as an apocalyptic prophet predicting the imminent Last Judgment. And yet, for the last thirty years, a wide-ranging group of militants, both Sunni and Shi’i, both in coordination and independently, have, under the apocalyptic belief that now is the time, pursued the millennial goal of spreading Dar al Islam to the entire world. In a manner entirely in keeping with apocalyptic beliefs, but utterly counter-intuitive to outsiders, these Jihadis see the Western-driven transformation of the world as a vehicle for their millennial beliefs, or, to paraphrase Eusebius on the relationship between the Roman Empire and Christianity: Praeparatio Califatae.

    The apocalyptic scenario whereby this global conquest takes place differs from active transformative (the West shall be conquered by Da’wa [summons]) to active cataclysmic (bloody conquest). Western experts have until quite recently, for a wide range of reasons, ignored this dimension of the problem. And yet, understanding the nature of global Jihad in terms of the dynamics of apocalyptic millennial groups may provide an important understanding, both to their motivations, methods, as well as their responses to the inevitable disappointments that await all such believers. The now defunct Center for Millennial Studies at Boston University (1996-2003) brings to the public one final conference on apocalyptic beliefs, co-sponsored by the BU History Department and Scholars for Peace in the Middle East (SPME).

    **

    Schedule:

    *All events will take place in the Stone Science Building (645 Commonwealth Ave), room B50

    Sunday, May 3

    10:00-12:00 Introduction:

    1. Richard Landes, “Globalization as a Millennial Praeparatio Califatae: A Problematic Discussion
    2. William McCants, Brookings Institute: “ISIS and the Absent Mahdi: Studies in Cognitive Dissonance and Apocalyptic Jazz”
    3. Graeme Wood, Yale University, Atlantic Monthly: “On the Resistance to seeing Global Jihad as Apocalyptic Movement”

    12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch

    1:30-3:30 Panel II: The Millennial Goal: Global Caliphate

    1. Cole Bunzel, Yale U.: ISIS: From Paper State to Caliphate: Hotwiring the Millennium
    2. Timothy Furnish, Independent Scholar: “Varieties of Transformative (non-violent) Jihadi Millennialism
    3. Jeffrey Bale: Monterey Institute of International Studies, “The Persistence of Western ‘Mirror Imaging’ and Ideological Double Standards: Refusing to Take Islamist Ideology Seriously

    4:00-5:30 Panel III: Case Studies in Apocalyptic Jihad

    1. David Cook, Rice University: “ISIS and Boko Haram: Profiles in Apocalyptic Jihad”
    2. JM Berger, Brookings Institute, “The role of communications Technology in mediating apocalyptic communities”
    3. Mehdi Khalaji, Washington Institute of Near East Policy: “Apocalyptic Revolutionary Politics in Iran”

    Monday, May 4

    10:0-12:00 Panel IV: Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Genocide

    1. Itamar Marcus, Palestinian Media Watch, “Anti-Semitism, Conspiracy Theory and Apocalyptic Global Jihad”
    2. Charles Small, “Ideology and Antisemitism: Random Acts or a Core Element of the Reactionary Islamist Global Jihad?”
    3. Richard Landes, BU, “Active Cataclysmic Apocalyptic Scenarios, Demonizing and Megadeath: Taiping, Communists, Nazis, and Jihadis.”
    Comments: David Redles, Michael Barkun

    12:00-1:30 Break for Lunch

    1:30-4:00 Final Panel Discussion

    Paul Berman, Independent Scholar
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Independent Scholar
    Jessica Stern, Harvard University
    Husain Haqqani, Hudson Institute
    Charles Strozier, John Jay College
    Brenda Brasher, Tulane University

    **

    Selected Work

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Read “Those Who Love Death: Islam’s Fatal Focus on the Afterlife” from Heretic (2015) Here

    Jeffrey Bale
    Read “Islamism and Totalitarianism” (2009) Here
    Read “Political Correctness and the Undermining of Counterterrorism” (2013) Here

    J.M Berger
    Read “The ISIS Twitter Consensus” (2015) Here
    Professor Berger’s latest book, coauthored with Jessica Stern, ISIS: State of Terror, can be purchased Here

    Paul Berman
    Read “Why is the Islamist Death Cult So Appealing?” (2015) Here

    Cole Bunzel
    Read “From Paper State to Caliphate: The Ideology of the Islamic State” (2015) Here

    Medhi Khalaji
    Read “Apocalyptic Politics: On the Rationality of Iranian Policy” (2008) Here

    Richard Landes
    Read “Enraged Millennials” from Heaven on Earth: The Varieties of the Millennial Experience (2011) Here

    William McCants
    Read “The Sectarian Apocalypse” (2014) Here

    Jessica Stern
    Read “The Coming Final Battle” from ISIS: State of Terror (2015) Here

    Charles Strozier
    Professor Strozier’s book, The Fundamentalist Mindset can be purchased Here

    Graeme Wood
    Read “What ISIS Really Wants” (2015) Here

    Ghazwa-e-Hind revisited: Husain Haqqani

    Sunday, March 29th, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — a highly recommended article on an often overlooked topic ]
    .

    Amb Haqqani

    **

    Amb. Husain Haqqani has a new piece up on the Hudson Institute site, Prophecy & the Jihad in the Indian Subcontinent, which deals with the Ghazwa-e-Hind. I have quoted Haqqani before on this topic, since he is an eminently credible witness, unlike the propagandist Zaid Hamid.

    Key intro para:

    Radical Islamists invoke the Hadith (the oral traditions attributed to the Prophet Muhammad) to prophesize a great battle in India between true believers and unbelievers before the end-times. These references in the Hadith to the Ghazwa-e-Hind (Battle of India) infuse South Asia with importance as a battleground in the efforts to create an Islamic caliphate resembling the social order that existed at the time of the Prophet Muhammad and the Rightly Guided Caliphs (632-661 AD).

    After discussing the Khorasan-to-Jerusalem and Euphrates-gold ahadith (the latter easily and often interpreted to refer to Middle Eastern oil, aka “black gold”), he turns to the Ghazwa traditions:

    In one version of the Hadith, attributed to Thawban, a freed slave of the Prophet Muhammad, “[t]he Messenger of Allah said: ‘there are two groups of my Ummah whom Allah will free from the Fire: The group that invades India, and the group that will be with Isa bin Maryam, peace be upon him.’”4 Isa bin Maryam is the Quranic name of Jesus, whose return to earth alongside the Mahdi is held in Islamic tradition to be a seminal event of the end of time.

    In another version, narrated by Abu Hurairah, “[t]he Messenger of Allah promised us that we would invade India. If I live to see that, I will sacrifice myself and my wealth. If I am killed, I will be one of the best of the martyrs, and if I come back, I will be Abu Hurairah Al-Muharrar.” Al-Muharrar translates as “the one freed from the fire of hell.”

    We hear relatively little about the Ghazwa-e-Hind narrative in the west, so Haqqani then offers some recent historical context:

    Just as the prophecies of Khurasan became popular during the wars in Afghanistan, the Ghazwa-e-Hind divinations became a staple of the Islamist discourse after the launch of jihad in Indian-controlled parts of Kashmir in 1989. Throughout the 1990s, Pakistani official media also encouraged discussion of the Ghazwa-e-Hind Hadith to motivate jihadists. In fact, every major Pakistan-based jihadi group that launched terrorist attacks across the border claimed that their operations were part of the Battle for India promised by the Prophet. For these Pakistani groups, supported by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, the target of jihad should be the modern state of India and its “occupation” of Kashmir.

    **

    This next para gave me pause and insight, quoting as it does a Deobandi source:

    According to Maulana Waris Mazhari of the Darul Uloom Deoband seminary in Uttar Pradesh, India, the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir was not jihad; the dream of establishing “Muslim hegemony throughout the entire world” was fanciful. “The term ghalba-e Islam, the establishment of the supremacy of Islam, used in the context of the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet (Hadith), refers not to any political project of Muslim domination,” Mazhari wrote, “but, rather, to the establishment of the superiority of Islam’s ideological and spiritual message.”

    Haqqani then goes into considerably more detail on Mazhari‘s views, saying for instance:

    Mazhari saw the Ghazwa-e-Hind Hadith as an instrument of propaganda in “the proxy war engaged in by Kashmir by powerful forces in Pakistan in the guise of a so-called Jihad,” which he and other Ulema consider “nothing but deceit.”

    **

    Haqqani next turns to the various contemporary jihadist interpretations of the Ghazwa, starting with the shifts occasioned by the defeat of the Taliban and the death of Osama bin Laden:

    The defeat of the Taliban and the arrival of NATO forces in Afghanistan in 2001 shifted al-Qaeda’s major operations to Iraq and Yemen even though Osama bin Laden continued to hide in Pakistan. For some time, discussion of the epic battle for India diminished in the jihadi discourse while grand strategies for the expulsion of Western influence from the Middle East took center stage. The death of Osama bin Laden and the rise of ISIS, however, have revived global jihadist interest in Ghazwa-e-Hind.

    and:

    The recent revival of interest in the Ghazwa-e-Hind prophecy reflects rivalry between competing jihadi groups. Al-Qaeda, now led by Ayman al-Zawahiri, faces the prospect of extinction as its Arab cadres defect to ISIS, led by Baghdadi. Zawahiri has worked to build alliances with Pakistani jihadi groups and make inroads in India’s Muslim population because it helps him remain relevant in the face of ISIS.

    As to that rivalry between AQ and IS, Haqqani concludes his piece:

    Al-Qaeda appears to be attempting to maintain support among radical Islamists in the subcontinent by directing its ire at India. Its leaders have been active in Afghanistan and Pakistan since the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad and maintain close ties to the Pakistani-supported Afghan Taliban and Kashmiri jihadi groups. By focusing on India, al-Qaeda hopes to retain the support of Pakistan-backed groups, which interpret the Ghazwa-e-Hind Hadith to mean re-conquest of Hindu India without hitting Muslim Pakistan. Even in Zawahiri’s statement about AQIS, Pakistan was mentioned only as a country that needed to be brought under full Sharia rule while Hindu India was portrayed as the enemy of Islam.

    ISIS, on the other hand, has accepted the allegiance of groups that are violently opposed to both the Republic of India and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. ISIS affiliates appear to have opted for the alternative interpretation of Ghazwa-e-Hind, offered by groups such as the TTP, to pursue jihad in all parts of historic Hind. Indeed, in an ominous declaration, one South Asian ISIS member proclaimed, “[o]ur struggle is ongoing and Insha’Allah after defeating Pakistan Army, we won’t just stop in Pakistan rather we shall continue our advance into Kashmir and India until the laws of Allah are implemented globally and the whole world comes under the rule of one Muslim Khalifah.”

    All in all, this is a fascinating and timely article, and I highly recommended it as a counterpoise to our usual concern with westward-facing jihad.

    When the promise of the miraculous is disappointed

    Saturday, March 21st, 2015

    [ by Charles Cameron — the role of promise and illusion in recruitment, disappointment and disillusion in CVE ]
    .

    Here’s an example of promise and disillusionment from the early Afghan jihad: upper quote below from Abdullah Azzam, lower quote from Mustafa Hamid.

    SPEC DQ miracles azzam & hamid

    **

    It seems that disappointed hopes are and/or should be a major focus in countering violent extremism, ie places where the jihadist recruitment “narrarive” fails when it comes in contact with ground reality. Because a caliphate that is losing ground is no caliphate. Because a caliphate that diverges from its own ideals and standards is no caliphate. Because the food is terrible, or battle turns out to be more real than bargained for:

    [ order of these two NYT paragraphs reversed here at Zenpundit ]

    During nearly a year in contact with New York Times reporters, Abu Khadija expressed gradually growing discontent. His grievances ranged from relatively mundane issues like eating canned food and being deployed to a front line far from his family because of a lack of fighters, to discomfort with the group’s strategic priorities and its extreme violence.

    “I can’t eat, I feel I want to throw up, I hate myself,” he said, adding that the executioners had argued over who would wield the knives and finally settled the issue by lottery. “Honestly, I will never do it. I can kill a man in battle, but I can’t cut a human being’s head with a knife or a sword.”

    Jessica Stern makes a similar point on NPR:

    I think that we need to hear a lot more from people who leave ISIS – somebody who says, gosh, I joined. I thought I was going to be making the world a better place, and it turned out that it really wasn’t what I imagined, that there were atrocities that I didn’t want to be involved in. There are people who are saying that. We need to amplify those messages.

    **

    The quote in the upper panel of the DoubleQuote above comes from Azzam’s collection, The Signs of Ar-Rahmaan in the Jihad of Afghanistan. There are many miracles (both mujizat and karamat) described there. Among them, one of the most interesting to me concerns the Miraj and al-Aqsa mosque:

    Informing the people of the details of Baitul Maqdis after the night of Me’raaj.

    Rasulullah sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam said: When the people denied (the Me’raaj), Allaah Ta’ala revealed the Baitul Maqdis to me and I informed the people of its details whilst looking at it.”

    The Miraj was the prophet’s night journey to the Noble Sanctuary / Temple Mount (Bait al-Maqdis) in Jerusalem, from whence he ascended the heavens and was given the instructions for Muslim prayer. The Noble Sanctuary was Islam’s first Qibla or direction of focus in prayer.

    The quote in the lower panel above comes from Mustafa Hamid in his forthcoming book with Leah Farrall, The Arabs at War in Afghanistan. In it, Hamid illustrates both the spiritual aspirations and disappointed hopes at play in that earlier jihad.

    I have discussed Azzam’s and others’ descriptions of miracles previously in such posts as Of war and miracle: the poetics, spirituality and narratives of jihad, Azzam illustrates Levi-Strauss on Mythologiques, and Gaidi Mtaani, the greater scheme of things. Such stories are profoundly moving to those who are open to believing them.

    In Mustafa Hamid’s words, we see the equal and opposite influence unleashed when such stories, offered as promises in recruitment, prove unsubstantiated by reality.

    A hat-tip to Myra MacDonald, who pointed me to this quote.

    _______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Side note:

    Students of comparative religion may find the following paragraphs, quoted in the Azzam compilation from the Deobandi scholar Ashraf Ali Thanwi of interest:

    Karaamaat and Mu’jizah do not occur by a person’s design — that whenever the Nabi or Wali wishes he can execute such an act. Such acts only occur when Allaah Ta’ala in His Infinite Wisdom wishes to exhibit the act. It then occurs whether a person desires it or not.]

    A karaamah does not indicate that the person performing such an act is better than others. In fact, sometimes the karaamah decreases his status in the sight of Allaah, due to fame and vanity entering his heart. It was for this reason that many of the pious personalities used to make istighfaar (seek forgiveness) when a karaamah would manifest itself at their hands, just as they would make istighfaar when sins are committed

    The statement “It then occurs whether a person desires it or not” reminds me, for instance, of the tale told of St Teresa of Avila, friend and colleague of St John of the Cross:

    Legend tells it that as Teresa was in the choir singing among her sisters one day, she began to levitate. When the other nuns started to whisper and point, Teresa lowered her gaze and realized that she had risen several inches above the stone floor. “Put me down!” she demanded of God. And he did.

    There’s a deeper truth hidden in St Teresa’s request, I suspect: grace is not taken, it is given.


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