The ‘Caliphate’ of al-Baghdadi – Announcement from Syrian Scholars
The following is an approximate translation of a statement released by Hay’at al-Shām al-Islāmiyyah, the Islamic Sham Association. It is an independent body that carries out various relief and educational work which also includes a fatwa and research department to issue fatwas concerning Syrian affairs. Its members include a number of Syrian scholars and activists.
The official announcement from the Hay’at al-Shām al-Islāmiyyah of Syrian scholars on the ‘Caliphate’ of al-Baghdadi
All praises are due to Allāh the Lord of the worlds and there exists no enmity except towards the oppressors. May peace and blessings be upon Mohammad salla Allāhu ‘alayh wasalam who came with clear truth and may peace and blessings be upon his family, his companions and all of those who follow him until the last day.
Trials and tribulations continue to arrive in succession, afflicting the Muslims until the Muslim Ummah is purified just as the fire removes impurities from Iron. The most recent of these trials is the declaration of a ‘Khilāfah’ or an Islamic Caliphate, announced by al-Baghdadi’s group. This follows the countless wounds afflicted on the people of Syria; killing, Takfīr (accusations of disbelief), intended hindrance of their revolution and Jihād and breaking apart their unity.
We never thought that such a hollow and void claim would require a public statement in response, but al-Baghdadi’s group have mastered the art of public deception through magnifying their organisation in both status and number and by hijacking the victories of others. This has been exacerbated by the media, portraying the entire revolution as one led by ‘ISIS’ in a general attempt to discredit the sincere Mujāhidīn.
These events need to be leant the full consciousness of every individual, and bring forth new responsibilities on scholars and analysts wherever they may be. Remaining silent or looking for excuses is no longer an option, but rather it is now incumbent upon everyone to speak the truth like never before.
The invalidity of this ‘Caliphate’ can be seen from a number of angles:
1. The declaration of the ‘Caliphate’ was by a dissident group that practices Takfīr and sheds blood as religion in and of itself. This methodology is totally perverted from the example of the Prophet salla Allāhu ‘alayh wasalam who taught the Ummah true leadership and how to establish a noble and upright Khilāfah (Khilāfah Rāshida), exemplified by his companions.
2. The absence of the (necessary) elements that compose a ‘state’, both legally and by what is understood through custom. Even if they truly had authority in the land and prevalence they would have appeared in person, thus they are closer to being a gang than a state.
3. The unilateral declaration of Khilāfah without the consultation of scholars or the Muslims in general, due to al-Baghdadi’s group’s belief that they are exclusively the people of Shura while others are apostates or members of ‘Sahwas’. Such unilateral action totally disregards and undermines the authority of the whole Muslim nation. ‘Umar radiy Allāhu ‘anhu said: “Whoever gives the pledge of allegiance to a man without the consultation of the Muslims should not be given the pledge of allegiance, nor should the one who he gave it to out of deception, lest they will both be killed.” Ibn Hajar may Allāh mercy on him said in Fathul-Bāri: “this means, whoever does this, has deceived himself and his companion, subjecting both to the possibility of being killed.”
4. The forcing of people to give al-Baghdadi the pledge of allegiance while it has not been given to them in the first place. They said that “due to the declaration of the Khilāfah it has become incumbent upon all Muslims to swear allegiance to it and to give victory to Ibrahim…” and that “he has become the leader and Khalīfah of Muslims everywhere”! They added, “whoever wants to cause division should be shot in the head, whoever it may be without dignity.”
5. The appointment of a completely unknown ‘Khalīfah’ (apart from his name), not recognised by any scholar nor the masses of his own group let alone the majority of all Muslims, completely disregarding the conditions set out by the scholars that form a leader. This is a form of ridicule towards the Ummah, and is similar to the behaviour of dictatorships.
6. The overturning of al-Baghdadi’s original commitment of allegiance to his leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. Previously al-Baghdadi had said: “We owe it to God that you are our governor and upon us is to listen and obey as long as we live.” Al-Zawahiri had long issued an instruction to abolish ISIS in Syria. Will treachery, betrayal and failed promises be the first thing the “Khalīfah” of the Muslims gets up to?
The following are some of the countless evils, calamities and tribulations brought about on the Muslims by this illegal declaration:
1. Announcing a Caliphate in this manner demolishes the real purpose of the Caliphate which is to preserve the sanctity of Islām and govern the land by it. It furthermore distorts the image of Islām by showing that its system revolves around killing, criminality and savouring the cutting off of heads and hands.
2. Considering that the whole Ummah has committed an offence by not pledging allegiance to the unknown ‘Caliph’, therefore permitting that it is fought and that its blood is shed if it refuses to subdue itself. Allegiance can only be for someone who is followed by the majority of people and by whom the matters of the general public are rectified. This is what is intended by the Hadith: “Whoever dies without having given bay’ah (a pledge of allegiance) has died in a state of ignorance.” This bay’ah cannot be imposed by a group that does not recognise the Ummah to start with, nor does it recognise its past or present scholars.
3. Weakening the Muslims and scaling back their victories in Iraq and Syria, creating dissension between them and preoccupying them from fighting their main sectarian enemy.
4. Disabling efforts in Da’wah, education, Jihād and aid carried out by the groups and battalions that do not fall under its banner.
5. Strengthening the enemies of Islām in Muslim countries and giving them the excuse to appropriate Muslim countries all over again. The policy of these people is to support this “Caliphate” model by facilitating its expansion, easing the delivery of weapons to it and helping it to surround territories held by other fighters. Their expansion will then be used as an excuse to demolish and split apart Sunni regions, before turning against the rest of the Muslims under the guise of fighting terror and extremism.