Al-Shabab are criminal terrorists not jihadis - update 9/23/13
Posted Sep 22, 2013

Al-Shabab are criminal terrorists not jihadis

by Sheila Musaji

On TAM we have a lengthy collection of fatwas, statements by scholars and community activists, from America and around the world, condemning extremism and terrorism titled Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism .  We also have a collection of articles titled How mainstream Muslims understand the term “jihad”.  Muslim have been speaking out against this criminal element among Muslims falsely claiming Islamic justification for their crimes for many years.

Only two weeks ago there was a National Conference on Extremism held in Somalia.  All Africa reported that “A group of 165 Somali religious leaders issued a fatwa condemning al-Shabaab”:

... The clerics said al-Shabaab was a “strayed group” attempting to divert Muslims from practicing their faith. They also said al-Shabaab was wrong to label the Somali government an apostate government, as it works under Muslim principles.

The clerics called on al-Shabaab to repent, and urged Somalis not to join the group, support it or shelter its members. The communiqué also asked Somalis to report al-Shabaab members to the Somali authorities, and said both the government and civilians should support the fight against the militants.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, who gave the closing remarks at the conference, said the Somali federal government would take resolutions from the conference under consideration in its efforts to fight extremism, UN-funded Radio Bar-Kulan reported.  Religious leaders, scholars, elders and intellectuals from across the country and the diaspora met to devise solutions to increase security and stability in Somalia.

BBC had more details on the Fatwa:

... Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud opened the government-organised conference that drew Somali scholars, elders and imams from both within the country and abroad.  At the end of the four-day conference, the seven points of the religious edict were read out by Islamic scholar Sheikh Abdirizak Ahmed Mohamud:

• “Al-Shabab has strayed from the correct path of Islam, leading the Somali people onto the wrong path. The ideology they are spreading is a danger to the Islamic religion and the existence of the Somali society.
• “The Somali government is an Islamic administration; it is forbidden to fight against it or regard its members as infidels.
• “Al-Shabab, an extremist group, must atone to God and must cease its erroneous ideology and criminal actions.
• “It is forbidden to join, sympathise or give any kind of support to al-Shabab.
• “It is a religious duty to refuse shelter to al-Shabab members, who must be handed over to Somali institutions responsible for security.
• “It is a taboo to negotiate on behalf of al-Shabab members in custody or release them from jail.
• “Somali officials have a religious duty to protect the Somali people from the atrocities of al-Shabab. The Somali public also has an obligation to assist the government in its security operations against al-Shabab.”

Nairobi-based Somali analyst Mohamed Abdullahi told the BBC’s Newsday programme that the fatwa, issued by so many prominent scholars, is likely to sway opinions on the ground, but is unlikely to change the path of those in the group’s top leadership.

“The fatwa includes a security element of community policing against al-Shabab,” he said.  But it should be coupled with other efforts to win the hearts and minds of people on the ground, he added.  “There must be another parallel programme to ensure that those young men who joined for economic reasons, for instance, are provided with employment or opportunities as well as convincing those who are really not extremist in ideology.” ...

And, although it is clear that the overwhelming majority of Muslim scholars and ordinary Muslims reject extremism and terrorism, and have condemned each and every act carried out by criminal terrorists, they continue in this criminal behavior.  Obviously, groups like al-Shabab, al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban, etc. really don’t care what Muslim scholars or the majority of ordinary Muslims have to say.  They continue to attempt to justify or cloak their criminal activities by claiming an Islamic justification that doesn’t exist in reality.  And, they are as likely to kill Muslims as non-Muslims because their fanatical views see everyone who doesn’t share their views as the enemy.

BBC reportedthis latest atrocity in Nairobi Kenya follows a series of atrocities in Somalia designed to terrorize the local population.  A local African paper Sabahi discussed other violent acts carried out by al-Shabab in Somalia against local Muslims who don’t support their criminal activities.  The title of a 2010 article in Africa Witness got it right There is nothing Islamic about al-Shabab.  That article noted:  ”... Let’s look at the formal name of al Shabaab, which is Harakat al Shabaab Mujahedeen, meaning Movement of Warrior Youth (MWY). There is nothing Islamic about this name. In my opinion, al Shabaab is a political movement trying to attain its goal by tarnishing the good name and image of Islam.  As Muslims, we strongly condemn the recent terrorist attacks in Kampala, which caused the death and injury of several people. We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families, relatives and friends of the victims. Ugandans should know there is no room for terrorism in Islam. Islam totally forbids all forms of terrorism and aims at bringing peace, unity and love to humanity. ...”

And, after all of this previous condemnation, Al-Shabab has stormed a shopping mall in Kenya, and left numerous people dead and wounded, and taken others hostage in an ongoing act of terrorism.

Reuters reported

... Al Shabaab, which has links to al Qaeda and is battling Kenyan and other African peacekeepers in Somalia, had repeatedly threatened attacks on Kenyan soil if Nairobi did not pull its troops out of the Horn of Africa country.

“The Kenyan govt (government) is pleading with our Mujahideen (holy warriors) inside the mall for negotiations,” the group said under its official Twitter handle @HSM_Press. “There will be no negotiations whatsoever at #Westgate.”  Another al Shabaab tweet read: “For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it’s time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land.” ...

VOA reports that the Inter-religious Council of Kenya has issued a statement condemning the attack in Nairobi.

... Reading the statement on behalf of the religious leaders, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary General Adan Wachu said despite the latest attack which is being claimed by the Somali militant group al-Shabab, the Kenyan people are united to face the challenge.

Wachu also said they are working together with other religious leaders to avoid religious violence.  “We, the religious leaders, are engaged in robust dialogue to ensure that these relations are not just maintained but also made stronger.  We are convinced beyond doubt that the attempt to sow seeds of discord between Muslims and Christians will fail miserably and that we shall remain united,” said Wachu. ...

How dare these criminals call themselves “Mujahideen” or even Muslims.  There is no justification for such actions in Islam.  How dare they call this jihad.  How dare they include any term related to Islam in the name of their criminal enterprise.

To repeat what mainstream Muslims feel about this despicable crime.  As Muslims, we strongly condemn this terrorist attack which caused the death and injury of innocent people. We extend our heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the families, relatives and friends of the victims.  Most Muslims don’t accept criminals or terrorists defining themselves as “jihadis”, we strongly object to their use of this term for criminal acts of hirabah.  Extremists and terrorists do not have the right to co-opt or hijack or defame the term jihad by their criminal interpretations.  We reject the extremist/terrorist definition of Jihad in favor of the traditional, legitimate, respectable, spiritual concept. 

Al-Shabab, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, the Taliban or any Muslims engaged in or defending terrorism, or attacks on civilians are not engaged in jihad but in HIRABAH, no matter what their self definition.  The use of the term jihad to describe acts that are reprehensible is an attempt to justify unjustifiable actions. They may be Muslims, but their actions have nothing to do with Islam.  Muslim extremists are attacking minority communities, including Shia, Ahmadi, Christians, Sikhs, Sufis, etc. Even in countries where communities have lived together in relative peace for centuries, there is now a lack of tolerance, and even violence towards minorities.  In Pakistan, whose “Quaidi Azam” or great leader and founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a Shia, the Shia are now undergoing intense persecution. 

Muslim communities need to ask themselves where this strain of extremism is coming from, who is promoting it, and why are so many being radicalized in spite of the clear teachings of Islam?  Who is teaching this perversion of Islam and why are young people listening to them instead of the overwhelming majority of traditional scholars?  What has changed in the last few decades, and how can ordinary Muslims counter this perversion of Islam in a meaningful way?

Some news sources are reporting that there are foreigners including Americans among the Al-Shabab criminals.  As an American Muslim I believe that the fatwa issued by the scholars in Somalia applies everywhere.  The ideology extremists are spreading is a danger to everyone.  It is wrong to sympathize with or give any kind of support to al-Shabab or any other extremist groups.  It is a religious duty to refuse shelter to known members of such terrorist groups, and if any are known in our communities they should be reported to law enforcement. 

UPDATE 9/23/2013

Shahed Amanullah has sent this message.  You may read about the terrorist attacks on the Westgate Mall in Nairobi and think there is nothing you can do. There’s always something you can do. While al-Shabaab goes on a rampage, using vulnerable Somali youth as cannon fodder in the process, Somali youth leaders like Mohamed Ali are busy mobilizing Somalis to push back. A few weeks ago, he launched a Generation Change chapter in Mogadishu (Generation Change Mogadishu), and inspired 50 of his peers to work on projects that rebuild the country and take it back from the extremists. The Generation Change Kenya chapter in Nairobi is also doing great work in this area. Please give them your encouragement, your advice, and your support so that they can show the extremists that these youth won’t be manipulated anymore for evil ends.


Background on the Al Shabab organization

This list of articles, primarily by Muslims, should be very helpful in understanding how Muslims understand the term, and how they feel about its’ misuse by both terrorists and Islamophobes:

A Call to Harabah, Aziz Poonawalla
A Christian jihad?, Khaled Diab
A detailed fatwa - Defending the Transgressed by Censuring the Reckless against the Killing of Civilians, Shaykh Muhammad Afifi al-Akiti
A Message to American Muslims, Imam Tammad Adi
A Muslim Sage Visits the USA by M. Shahid Alam (Mulla Nasruddin stories on the topic of 9/11)
A Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism (5 parts), Sheila Musaji
A Terrorist By Any Other Name, Jane Chastain
A Time for Introspection: “The worst enemies of Islam are from within”, Hamza Yusuf
A World Out of Touch With Itself, Rabbi Michael Lerner,
A Memo to American Muslims, M.A. Muqtedar Khan,
A Muslims anguish in the Midst of the Attack on America, A. Rashied Omar,
A Time for Renewal, Ali Ahmed Minai,
Against the Nihilism of Terror: Jihad as Testimony to Transcendence, S. Parvez Manzoor
America as a Jihad State: Middle Eastern perceptions of modern American theopolitics, Abdal-Hakim Murad
American Muslims Have A Special Obligation, Ingrid Mattson,
American Muslims and Scholars Denounce Terrorism, Statement from Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy,
America’s Tragedy, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf
The Amman Initiative: A Theological Counter-Attack Against Terrorism, S. Abdallah Schleifer
An Open Letter to America and the World, Asma’el Muhaiyaddeen,
An American Prayer to Remember September 11th, Omar Ricci,
Attitudes of Ignorance, Parvez Ahmed 
Beware of Injustice: It’s Hell, Mahbubur Rehman
Bin Laden’s Violence is a Heresy Against Islam, Abdal-Hakim Murad,
Bin Laden’s Fatwa: A Call to Harabah, Aziz H. Poonawalla,
Bringing Back Real Islam, Fuad Nahdi,3604,1187183,00.html
The Call to Jihad, Tariq Ramadan
Clarifications About the Concept of Jihad in Islam, Maulvi Yahya Nomani (tr. Yoginder Sikand)
Combatting Terrorism, M. Shahid Alam,
The Concept of Jihad in Islam By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, (tr. by Yoginder Sikand)
Counterterrorism, M.A. Muqtedar Khan
Creating Common Platforms Between Muslim and Western Societies to Tackle Extremist Discourse,
S. Abdallah Schleifer
“Creative Destruction”: Exposing the Ideological Roots of Modern Terrorism, Dr. Robert Dickson Crane
Dare I say “Jihad”, Jeff Siddiqui
Dept. of Homeland Security Urges Caution With Words
Deviations in the Concept and Practice of Jihad, Maulana Waris Mazhari (tr. Yoginder Sikand)
Dialectics of Terror by M. Shahid Alam
The Evolution of ‘Jihad’ in Islamist Political Discourse, Farish A. Noor
From Defensive to Offensive Warfare:The Use and Abuse of Jihad in the Muslim World, Dr. Abdulaziz Sachedina
Harvard Jihad Speech Controversy, Sheila Musaji
Hirabah - Jihad - Terrorism - Violence - Just War - Crusades (TAM article collection)
Hirabah versus Jihad, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Hirabah versus Jihad: Rescuing Jihad from The al Qaeda Blasphemy, Jim Guirard
Home-grown imams fight home-grown extremism, Aftab Ahmad Malik
How Muslim Americans Really Responded to the Events of 9/11, Riad Abdelkarim & Jason Erb, 
Interpretation and Exceptionalism, Asma Barlas,
Interpreting the Islamic Ethics of War and Peace, Sohail H. Hashmi,
Inventing Suicidal Jihadists, Hasan Zillur Rahim
Interview: Khaled Abou El Fadl:  Jihad Gone Wrong
Is Islam more violent than other religions?:  Is the Qur’an inherently violent?, Sheila Musaji
Is there such a thing as religious terrorism?, Sheila Musaji
Islam Means Surrender to God, Not Violence
Islam, the Religion of Peace, Sr. Ruqaiyyah Waris Maqsood
Islam: Religion or Ideology?, Imam Zaid Shakir
Islamic or Muslim Terrorism and Extremism: Are they all Contradictions in Terms?, Jeremy Henzell-Thomas
Islamic Politics, Muslim Militancy and ‘Jihadist’ Movements, Maulana Waris Mazhari (tr. Yoginder Sikand)
‘Islamic terrorism’ an insult that distorts reality, Jimmy E. Jones
It’s Not Jihad It’s Unholy Hirabah, Jim Guirard
Islamophobes See “Jihad” Everywhere, Sheila Musaji
Jewish sages on “lesser jihad” and “greater jihad”, Svend White
Jihad, John Esposito,%20By%20John%20Esposito.htm
Jihad Against The Abuse Of Jihad, Abukar Arman
The Jihad Against the Jihadis: How moderate Muslim leaders waged war on extremists—and won, Fareed Zakaria 
Jihad Against Racism, Abdul Malik Mujahid
Jihad Against Violence launched in U.K.
Jihad Against Violence: Muslim Women’s Struggle for Peace, WISE statement  and PDF
Jihad and Ethics: A Survey of the Current Literature, S. Parvez Manzoor
Jihad and the Modern World, Dr. Sherman Jackson
Jihad?  But What About Other Verses in the Qur’an?, Asghar Ali Engineer
Jihad: Concept, history and Contemporary Application, Sheikh Ali Gomaa
Jihad, Empire and the Ethics of War and Peace, S Parvez Manzoor
Jihad Incorporated: An Assessment, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Jihad - Islam’s Struggle For Truth,  Mansur al-Mujahid (Vincent Cornell)
Jihad: It’s True Meaning and Purpose, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi
Jihad of Islamophobes, Hussein Rashid
Jihad Renogiated, Yusuf al Qaradawi
Jihadism is Kufr, not Islam, Sultan Shaheen
Just War and Jihad, Bilal A. Malik,
Language and war in the Middle East, Ali Alarabi 
Maslow and the Fourth Jihad, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Memo to Mr. Bin Laden: Go to Hell!, Muqtedar Khan,
Mindless Martyrs, Shahed Amanullah
The Muslim Community: Where We Stand 1994, Hamza Yusuf
Muslim Reactions to September 11th, Sheila Musaji,
Muslim scholars reject bin Laden’s idea of Jihad
Muslim Terrorists Embrace a Very Secular Heresy, Abdal Hakim Murad
Muslim Victims of September 11th Attack
Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence: People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words, Sheila Musaji
Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism list of article collections and resources on this and other topics including responses to Islamophobic claims.
- Part I & II Fatwas & Statements by Muslim Scholars & Organizations against extremism and terrorism
- Part III Statements & Articles by Individuals
- Part IV A few Quotes A-K, and L-Z
- Part V Muslim Voices Promoting Islamic Non Violent Solutions
- Part VI Qur’an & Hadith Against Extremism and Terrorism
- Part VII Selective Hearing of Muslim Voices Against Extremism and Terrorism
- Part VIII Religious terrorism is an oxymoron, Sheila Musaji
- Part IX Throwing Stones at the Qur’an From a Biblical Glass House, Sheila Musaji
- Part X Claim that all terrorists are Muslims ignores history
- Part XI A Spiritual Jihad Against Terrorism (5 parts), Sheila Musaji
Part XII Muslim Scholars Appeal to Christian Scholars for Dialogue and Peace - “A Common Word”, Sheila Musaji
Part XIII Muslim Violence, Christian Non-Violence:  People in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Words, Sheila Musaji

Muslim World Condemns Attacks on U.S.,
Muslims Must Reclaim Islam From Hate Filled Zealots
My Fatwa on the Fanatics, Ziauddin Sarwar,,3858,4262753-108959,00.html
New Frontiers in Conflict Management: A Grand Strategy to Wage Jihad Against Terrorist Muslim, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Peace and Justice in Islam, Imam Zaid Shakir
Qur’an 2:216 Commentary
Recapturing Islam from the Terrorists, Abdal-Haikim Murad,
Religious Authority, Extremism, and the Amman Message, H.A. Hellyer
Reply to Robert Spencer on his translation of jihad as holy war, Yusuf Smith
Rescuing jihad from the terrorists, Salman Ahmad
Russia’s 9/11 in Chechnya:  Waging Jihad against Muslims who Hijack Islam, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Spiritual and Intellectual Jihad: A Best-Case Scenario for the Holy Land, Dr. Robert D. Crane
Spiritual significance of jihad, Syed Hossein Nasr
Striving for Veritas at Harvard (Jihad Speech), Jim Guirard
Struggle Against Terrorism, Mazin Qumsiyeh
Terrorism, Jihad, and the Struggle for New Understandings, Dr. Antony T. Sullivan
Terrorism Has No Place in Islam, Zaki Badawiǧion=0&article=9314&d=28&m=9&y=2001
Terrorism is at Odds With Isamic Tradition, Khaled Abou El Fadl,
Terrorists Are Mass Murderers, Not Martyrs
Thank God Someone Is Listening to Us - Terrorism Is Not Jihad, Sheila Musaji
Towards A Definition of Terrorism, Ayatollah M. Ali Taskhiri
Turning Murderers Into Martyrs, Dr. Farish Noor,
Twin Towers Viewed From a Western Minaret, Michael Wolfe, 
UK Muslims Urged to Fight Terrorism
Winning the War of Ideas, Dr. Hesham Hassaballa
When In Doubt, Call It ‘Jihad’, Svend White
Who Are You Calling a Jihadist?, Sumbul Ali-Karamali
You Say Jihadi, I Say Extremist, Zahed Amanullah