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From Ibn Taymiyyah to Daish (ISIS/ISIL) – by Sidq Miqal


The gruesome incineration of the Jordanian Pilot by Da’ish (ISIS) in Iraq has shocked many around the world. However, more than countering merely the violence and the mayhem, the current challenge posed by ISIS uprising is how to clearly define the factors and the actors. We need to understand that the prominent ideological factor that seems to motivate ISIS –and its Jihadist brethren from Mali to Indonesia- revolves round the concept of political authority in Islam. This ideology is not only driven by the teachings of the medieval Islamic scholar, Ibn Taymiyyah, but has also encouraged political violence and extremism in the name of Islam. Hence, it is important to examine the extent to which this ideology has predisposed the jihadist mindset of ISIS and others. So, let’s examine the radical political ideology of Ibn Taymiyyah and its influence on the ideological motivations of ISIS as well as the implications of his ideas for ISIS agenda.

And so the method on how to kill Al-Kassasbeh was not some dreamed up concoction, but stemmed from Islam as the quest on how to execute him circulated the Muslim world. In the burning scene video (see 1:00 above) ISIS gave the Islamic edict straight from the top Islamic authority of Ibn Taymiyya’s jurisprudence:http://shoebat.com/…/watch-horrific-video-isis-burning-pow…/

Several competing theories abound to explain the ISIS uprising, broadly revolving round socio-economic, political, and religious issues and the politics of post-colonial dominance and impunity, with despotic regimes motivating resistant movements to transform themselves into violent armed groups. One discourse that has remained less well examined is the theoretical claim that ISIS and all other Deobandi and Salafi jihadists have been deeply influenced by the religious and ideological teachings of the radical medieval Islamist, Ibn Taymiyyah. Let’s focus on the influence of Ibn Taymiyyah because there is no other Islamic theologian who has had as much influence on radical political ideology of Islam as Ibn Taymiyyah. The ideology itself is constructed on the concept that a legitimate political authority must be based on the Quran and the Sunna. Thus, it becomes a duty for all Muslims to ensure that Islamic law is implemented in society. As such, it is argued that most Islamic theologians, including reformers, revivalists and Islamists either from the Sufi or Sunni tradition, from the Wahhabis to Sayyid Qutb to Maududi and to Osama Bin Laden have in one way or the other attacked the validity of secular political authority. They have also questioned the authority of Muslim but secular political leaders who have failed both in their personal and political lives to uphold correct Islamic ideals.

How do we relate the concept and practice of Ibn Taymiyyah’s political ideology to the ISIS call for an Islamic state? Let’s make an attempt to examine the development of the concept of legitimate political authority in Islam, followed by an analysis of its radical and violent implications, how it was transited down to ISIS and why such ideology is a potent tool for Jihadist mobilisation efforts. Some of the lessons that ISIS and other contemporary Jihadists have drawn from Ibn Taymiyyah are as follows:

Ibn Tamyiyyah and Political Islam:

Ibn Taymiyyah was born in Harran, an old city within the Arabian Peninsula between Sham and Iraq (Al-Sham is an old name that represents the areas of Syria, Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon) in the year 1263. Ibn Taymiyyah became a professor of Islamic law. His political ideology was very unpopular with political leaders at the time and he was imprisoned in both Syria and Egypt. He portrayed Islam as a political ideology by which Muslims ought to explain and justify the ends and means of all organized social action. In this sense the ideology of political authority in Islam is more than merely a religion in the narrow sense of theological belief, private prayer and ritual worship. Ibn Taymiyyah picked up some religious elements in Islam and turned them into an ideological precept.

While in Medina, the Prophet drew up a pact known as misāq al-Madina (the Treaty of Medina). This particular treaty was very significant because, it guaranteed full autonomy to all tribes and religious groups like the Jews, the Muslims and other pagan tribes. In addition, it went beyond tribal structures and laid down the principle that if an outside force attacks Medina all will defend it together. This shows that the fundamental intention of the Prophet was to establish a religious community tolerant of diversity and responsive to political problems, but not a sovereign political authority. Ibn Taymiyyah argued that any exercise of authority, be it political or religious, “must be based on the law of Allah”. The development of this ideology by Ibn Taymiyyah must be understood against the socio-political context of Ibn Taymiyyah’s life during a period of profound spiritual and political upheaval. In 1258, the Abbasid Empire was defeated by the Mongol armies and Bagdad was captured. For most Muslims, the defeat of the ruling dynasty was an unmitigated disaster. Bagdad, a renowned city of Islamic learning, suffered the fate of being looted and pillaged. This experience forced Ibn Taymiyyah into active politics. The basic principle of this theory is that human beings must, individually and collectively, surrender all rights of lordship, legislation and exercising authority over others. For him the command to participate in jihad and its merit are crystal clear in the Quran, deserving no further discussion. With this in mind, he advocated a society where only the law of Allah was to be applied. The application of the law of Allah therefore was the only prerequisite for legitimate political authority and the valid means of defending and reforming all societies and for this purpose Ibn Taymiyyah legitimized the use of force.

Ibn Taymiyyah and Abdul Wahhab:

Ibn Taymiyyah also inspired the Wahhabi ideology based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived all about him. Hence, his call to purge Islam of all its heresies and idolatries. He borrowed his ideas from Taymiyyah who, like Wahhab, had declared war on Shi’ism, Sufism and Greek philosophy. He spoke out, too against visiting the grave of the prophet and the celebration of his birthday, declaring that all such behaviour represented mere imitation of the Christian worship of Jesus as God (i.e. idolatry). Abd al-Wahhab assimilated all this earlier teaching, stating that “any doubt or hesitation” on the part of a believer in respect to his or her acknowledging this particular interpretation of Islam should deprive a man of immunity of his life and his belongings. One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine has become the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority (in this instance, the King). With the advent of the oil bonanza, Saudi goals were to reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the multitude of voices within the religion to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this demonstration of soft power.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s Political Ideology and Today’s world:

The particular implication of Ibn Taymiyyah’s political ideology is that it runs absolutely contrary to the demands of the fundamental principles of democracy. He insisted that the source of law that governs society must be derived from the Quran and Sunna of the Prophet. Both the ruler and the ruled are subject to the law of Allah that no person, class or group, not even the entire population of the state as a whole, can lay claim to sovereignty. The doctrine of Ibn Taymiyyah completely repudiates the idea of popular sovereignty, any system of governance where the selection of leaders and public officers and the making of laws can be left in the hands of the people. Hence, the government of the day then becomes only a political agency set up to enforce the law of God. Ibn Taymiyyah forbade the separation of state and religion. What is considered as a civil right in democratic society, Ibn Taymiyyah saw as a religious duty. This is manifested in the way most Islamists see it as a religious duty to enforce not just the implementation of Islamic law but also to force others to accept it by whatever means, including the use of violence. In general terms, if the concept of legitimate political authority as proposed by Ibn Taymiyyah has to be literally implemented, there are far-reaching consequences not just for Islamic countries, but more importantly for emerging democracies across the developing nations where Muslim populations are growing. The reason is that the foundation of democracy in modern times lies in the sovereignty of the people. However, the extreme ideology of ISIS and other Islamists does not give space for the plurality of cultures, religions and institutions.

The Transition from Ibn Taymiyyah to ISIS

Ibn Taymiyyah’s views on legitimate political authority in Islam greatly influenced the prototype of Takfiri ideology and influenced uprisings that called for the establishment of Islamic governance; such as the Jihad of Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab 1744-1773; the Jihad of Abd al-Qadir in Algeria from 1808-1883 and the Jihad of Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda affiliates. Thus his influence within Sunni Islamists like Osama Bin Laden could be seen as a link between global takfiri ideology and local contemporary grievances. It is necessary to concede that this form of jihad espoused by Ibn Taymiyyah’s ideology is different from other forms of jihad based on mainstream Sufi traditions like the Jihad of the Mahdi in the Sudan from 1844 -1885, the Jihad of Imam Shamil in Russia from 1834 -1859 and that of Othman Dan Fodio in Northern Nigeria in more recent times. These were protagonists of the Sufi tradition whose forms of jihads were also defensive. Unlike the Taymiyyan jihad, they were built upon consensus and analogy. In light of these distinctions, evidence suggests that his ideology regained prominence in the Jihad waged against the Russians in Afghanistan and then continued to live on in Mujahedeen, Taliban, and the activities of Osama bin Laden. Osama often cited Ibn Taymiyyah in his sermons and communiqués. On one occasion he said:
The most important religious duty – after belief itself – is to ward off and fight the enemy aggressor. Šayḫ al-Islam (Ibn Taymiyyah), may Allāh have mercy upon him, said: “to drive off the enemy aggressor who destroys both religion and the world – there is no religious duty more important than this, apart from belief itself. This is an unconditional rule.”

It is therefore not surprising that the Middle East was not left out in the whirlwind of Ibn Taymiyyah’s far-reaching influence with the emergence of ISIS. According to Abū Abd Allah Al-Sa’dī, one of the leading figures of Al-Qaeda:
The state of šayh Muhammad b. Abd al-Wahhab (Saudi Arabia) arose only by jihad. The state of the Taliban in Afghanistan arose only by jihad. It is true that these attempts were not perfect and did not fill the full role required, but incremental progress is a known universal principle. Yesterday, we did not dream of a state; today we established states and they fall. Tomorrow, Allah willing, a state will arise and will not fall.

The feelings expressed in the above extract show the fact that extremists like the followers of Al-Qaeda and ISIS are not lying low in their effort to establish Islamic rule and that the ideological influence of the writings of Ibn Taymiyyah cannot be overlooked. The core leaders of ISIS read the teachings of Ibn Taymiyyah and have been deeply influenced by it. There are many recordings of their leaders’ sermons in circulation where they directly quote Ibn Taymiyyah.
In what looks like an impressive furtherance of Ibn Taymiyyah’s ideology, today’s Jihadists declare democracy as a system contrary to true Muslim beliefs and give out a clear-cut message to fight the democratic governments in Muslim countries. Like Maulana Abdul Aziz in Pakistan’s capital Islamabad, they are clearly contemptuous of the state and its agents and agencies and they openly say so in their sermons. They abuse other Muslims whom they consider to have abandoned the paths of Islam. They reject the corrupting influence of the secular world and they rail against the corruption within the so called Islamic community. They abuse the political class openly. They speak and look forward to a future of living in an Islamic state. They believe that a truly Islamic state is possible even though they are ignorant of the real world beyond them. Like Ibn Taymiyyah, they believe that the reformation of Islam and the implementation of Islamic law remains the only valuable option for social justice and prosperity. It is in this backdrop that all the Jihadism on display today can be viewed essentially as a corrective movement to contemporary Wahhabism through an extension of Ibn Taymiyyah’s original Salafist ideology.


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Shahram Ali


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  • Strange! Still there are innocent people who believe in Daish, Boko Haram etc. Let it be again and again clear that in today’s world these are all creations of powerful intelligence agencies who create, fund and equip these groups. Sure, the criminals, unemployed and stupids are easily available for use by the agencies, like in the old Europe where mercenaries were always available for use, as long as the paymasters were ready to employ them. The whole Muslim world is in turmoil with Daish, Boko Haram and Taliban likes – thanks to CIA, Mossad and Indian RAW and curse on the Muslim rulers who created the enabling environment for their enemies to operate in their territories.

  • I think Ibn Taymiyyah is one of the most misquoted and misunderstood jurisprudents. I wanted to write a point by point reply but am busy with a project. What ever you have written needs to be substantiated with his actual words. You did not do that. Let me do that from a counter narrative perspective. Excerpts below.

    1) His belief system did not undermine the truth. I quote him from his book Al Wasiyyat ul- Kubra

    ”We know, at the same time, that ‘Ali bin Abu Taalib radi-Allaahu anhu was more
    virtuous and closer to the truth than Mu‘aawiyah and those who fought him. Since
    it is confirmed in the Two Sahihs from Abu Sa‘id al-Khudri radi-Allaahu anhu that
    the Prophet (sal-Allaahu ‘alayhi was-sallam) said, “A band renegaded when they
    divided the Muslims, the party of the two that was closer to the truth defeated
    them.” [78] And this hadith is proof that with each group there was the truth, but
    that ‘Ali radi-Allaahu anhu was closer to the truth.”(Al Wasiyyat ul- Kubra)

    2) Respect for Prophet (s) from his book Aqeedat-ul-hamawiyyah

    ”The Prophet (s ) was the most knowledgeable
    person of his Lord. He was the most sincere adviser to the creation and the most
    eloquent in conveying and explaining the message. Therefore, it is not possible,
    with this complete conveyance, that he would leave explaining the issue of
    Eemaan in Allaah, His Names and Attributes, leaving it unclear and

    3) Answering a question concerning prophet’s grave. Excerpts from his book Qaa’idah ‘Adheemah
    The companions never used to come to the grave of the Prophet (Sallaallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam) during their residency in Al-Madeenah

    So they would not – if they were in Al-Madeenah, visit his grave, and nor would they come to it – not for du’aa or for other than it. Rather they would come to his Masjid, and for every prayer they would be in his Masjid, and other than his Masjid, and they would say: ‘As-salaamu ‘alaika ayyuhan Nabi wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu’ and they would send salaat upon him and would ask for him to be given the waseelah when they would hear the adhaan – just as he had taught them in his Sunnah. The welfare in this is mighty, since what is achieved by way of this is multiplied in comparison to visiting his grave, whilst they also feared that it could be a pretext/excuse towards shirk, and constant visitation, and idolatry.
    So this fear arose when it was possible to enter upon him, so when they blocked that – they prevented the people from entering upon him. Thus there was no way anyone could to make the well known visit, and no shirk, and not taking his grave as idol worship, and thus no one could but then pray except to his Masjid, and his Masjid is not his grave nor his home, rather his Masjid was built for the five daily prayers – and other than them.

    Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah
    Qaa’idah ‘Adheemah, page 83-84

    4) Answering a question on wasila , from his book Al-Fataawaa al-Kubraa
    What is the ruling of the statement: Allaah hears (responds) to the supplication through the means of Muhammad (Sallalaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam), for he is a means of access and an intermediary

    Alhamdulillaah; if what is intended by that is that having Eemaan in Muhammad and being obedient to him and sending peace and blessings upon him are all a means for the servant in having his supplication answered and being rewarded for his supplication then he is truthful.
    But if he intends that Allaah does not answer the supplication of anyone until he raises it to the creation, or that he gives him a portion of it, or that the Prophets themselves can intercede by their means in having the supplication answered whilst not having Eemaan in them and not being obedient to them then he has lied concerning that and Allaah knows best.

    Shaykh ul-Islaam Ibn Taymiyyah
    Al-Fataawaa al-Kubraa vol.1 p.349

    It is also important to emphasize that many of the positions of Ibn Taymiyah and Wahhabis contradict each other. While Ibn Taymiyah accepts Sufism (Tasawwuf) as a legitimate science of Islam (as all orthodox Sunni Muslims do), Wahhabis reject it wholesale as an ugly innovation in the religion. While Ibn Taymiyah accepts the legitimacy of commemorating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday (Mawlid) – accepted by orthodox Sunni Muslims as legitimate – Wahhabis reject it as a reprehensible innovation that is to be repudiated.

  • مذا ھب اربعہ کے علماء کی ایک جماعت نے ابن تیمیہ کی رد میں اس کے عقائد پر طعن کر تے ھوئے اور اس کے منحرف فتوؤں کو باطل کرنے کی

    غرض سے کتابیں لکھی ھیں جن میں سے کچہ حضرات کے نام یھاں درج کرتے ھیں ۔

    علی بن محمد میلی جمالی تو نسی مغری مالکی ۔انھوں نے ”السّیوف المشر قیہ لقطع اعناق القائلین با لجھة والجسمیة“لکھی ” ھد یة العا ر فین“ ج ۱

    ص ۷۷۴ اور ایضاح المکنون ج۲ ص ۳۷ میں اس کا تذ کرہ ملتا ھے ۔

    شھا ب الدّین احمد بن یحییٰ جبرئیل شافعی ۔انھوں نے ” خبرالجھة،، لکھی ۔دیکھئے ”ھد یة العا رفین “ج ۱ ص ۱۰۸ اور ابو حا مد مرزوق کے

    بقول یہ بھترین رسالہ ھے ۔ ”التوسل بالنبی وبالصالحین“

    تقی الدّین ابی بکر حصینی ۔انھوںنے ” دفع شبہ وتمرّد،، لکھی جو ۱۳۵۰ھء میں مصر میں طبع ھوئی اس میں ابن تیمیہ کے جھت اور

    تشبیہ کے قول کو باطل کیا گیا ھے۔

    محمد حمید الدّ ین حنفی دمشقی فر غانی ۔ ان کی کتاب کا نام ”الردّ علیٰ ابن تیمیہ فی الا عتقادات،، ھے ۔معجم

    المئو لفین تا لیف عمر رضا کحالہ ج ۸ ص ۳۱۶ ۔

    شیخ نجم الدین ابن ابی الد رالبغدا دی ۔انھوں نے ” رد علی الشیخ ابن تیمیھ،، لکھی۔ اس میں مو صوف نے ابن

    تیمیہ کے ایک رسالہ کاجواب دیا

    ھے ۔دیکھئے ” کشف الظنونج ۲ ص ۲۷ ۱۵

    شیخ محمد ابن علی مازنی ۔انھوں نے ” رسالة فی الرد علی ابن تیمیہ فی مسئالة الطلاق،، اور رسالہ فی مسئلة الزیارت“ لکھی ۔معجم المئو لفین تالیف عمر رضا کحالہ ج ۱۱ ص ۳۱ ۔

    ۰ عیسیٰ ابن مسعود منکالاتی مالکی ۔ انھوں نے ” الرد علی ابن تیمیہ فی مسئلة الطلاق“ لکھی ھے ۔ اس کا ذکر عمر رضا کحالہ نے معجم المئو لفین میں ج ۸ ص ۳۳ پر کیا ھے ۔

    ۰ شیخ کما ل الدین محمد ابن علی بن شافعی ود مشقی معروف بہ ابن زملکانی ۔انھوں نے ” الدرة المضیة فی الرد علی ابن تیمیھ“ لکھی اس کا ذکر ” کشف الظنون“ ج ۱ ص ۷۴۴ اور ” ھدیة العارفین“ج ۲ ص ۱۴۶،اور” معجم المولفین“ ج ۱۱ ص ۲۵ پر ھے ۔

    احمد ابن ابر ھیم سرو جی حنفی ۔ انھوں نے ” اعتراضات علیٰ ابن تیمیہ فی علم الکلام،،

    لکھی ۔دیکھئے معجم المئو لفین ج ۱ ص ۱۴۰ ۔

    کمال الدین ابو القاسم احمد بن محمد شیرازی۔ انھوں نے ابن تیمیہ کی رد میں کتاب لکھی : ”رد علی ابن تیمیہ،،جس کا تذ کرہ معجم المئو لفین ج ۲ ص ۱۵۰ ، پرھے ۔

    شیخ تقی الدین سبکی ، انھوں نے بھی ابن تیمیہ کی رد میں کتاب لکھی ھے ، جس کا تذ کرہ ” کشف الظنون،، ج ۱ ص ۸۳۷ اور ”ھدیةالعارفین،

    ، ج ۱ ص ۷۲۱ پر ھے اور شاید یھی ”شفاء السقام فی زیارت خیر الا نام“ ھو جس کے بارے میں شیخ محمد نجیت مطبعی حنفی نے اپنی

    کتاب ”تطھیر الفواد من دنس الاعتقاد،، ص ۱۳ پر اس طرح لکھا ھے کہ یہ کتاب غرض مقصود کو پورا کرتی ھے۔ ابن تیمیہ نے اپنی کتاب میں

    جو کچہ بیان کیا ھے اس کی بنیاد کو ختم کر تی رھی ھے ، اس کے ار کان کو متز لزل اور اس کے آثار کو مٹاتی ھے ، اس کے جھوٹے

    وعدوں کو فنا کر نے والی ھے اس کے فساد کو ظاھر اور اس کے عناد کو واضح کر دیتی ھے“۔

    شیخ محمد نجیت مطیعی حنفی عالم جامعہ ا زھر۔انھوں نے ” تطھیر الفوادمن دنس الا عتقاد،، لکھی۔ اس میں مصنف مذ کور نے ابن تیمیہ اور اس

    کے پیروں کی رد کی ھے ۔یہ مصر میں ۱۳۱۸ ء میں طبع ھوئی ھے ۔اور چوتھی مر تبہ ۰۵ ۱۴ ء میں تر کیہ میں بذریعہ آفسٹ طبع ھوئی ۔

    شیخ نعمان ابن محمود آلوسی بغدادی ۔ انھوں نے ” جلاء العینین فی محاکمة الا حمدین،، ”احمد ابن تیمیہ اور احمد بن حجر ھیثمی“ لکھی ۔ اس کا

    ذکر اسماعیل پاشا نے ایضاح المکنون ج ۱ ص ۳۶۳ پر اور عمر رضا کحالہ نے معجم المئو لفین ج ۱۳ ص ۱۰۷ پر کیا ھے ۔

  • ایم ایم عالم صاحب
    عقیدہ الوسطایہ اور فتوی حمویہ وہ دو چیزیں ہیں جن کی وجہ سے مذاہب اربعہ کے علمائے کرام ابن تیمیہ کے خلاف زیادہ ہوئے تھے ، یہ فتوی حمویہ تھا جس کے باعث ابن تیمیہ قید ہوئھ اور وسطایا تھا جس کی وجہ سے وہ مصر میں قید یوئے ، وھابیوں نے ہی نہیں خود قبن تیمیہ نے بہت شدت پسندی اور تکفیر کا مظاہرہ کیا ،مصر سے انہوں منے جو خط اپنے شاگردوں کو لکھے اس میں انہوں نے اہل حجاز تک کو شرک و بدعات کا مرتکب ٹھہرایا

  • The intellectual chicanery on what exactly was the message of a 13th century religious scholar in the context of the current explosion of savagery and bloodletting, seems like an exercise to somehow explain and justify. It is like painting a house on fire. Sometimes, evil is just that: Evil! Blaming it on anyone, be it a 13th century scholar or the CIA is to ignore one basic truth! Young Muslims from around the world are committing the most heinous crimes against humanity. The hand that decapitates a journalist or the guns down innocent children belongs to a human being. He has the choice. Those who are selling young school girls in Nigeria as slaves have chosen to do so. They have chosen to be evil. And they have their belief to provide justification. It is the perfection of Evil.