2007 Speech

Grand Mufti’s remarks warning youth against seeking jihad abroad
Translation of an October 1, 2007 speech by the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia and Chairman of the Senior Ulema (Religious Scholars) Sheikh Abdulaziz Al-Ashaikh.

May Allah’s peace and mercy be upon you.

All praise is due to Allah alone, and may He shed his grace on he whom no prophet will come after.

Allah Almighty has obligated upon all Muslims to mutually advise and exhort each other to the truth. He says: “….and recommend one another with truth…” (Qur’an 103:3). The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, has said as well: “None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself.”

Therefore, out of compassion for our youths and in the spirit of giving advice to both imams and the general body of Muslims, I saw fit to write these words after having noticed within the past few years our youth leaving our land of Saudi Arabia seeking jihad for the sake of Allah abroad. These youths are zealous and enthusiastic about their religion but have not attained requisite knowledge by which they can distinguish between right and wrong. This fact was the main reason for which certain suspicious parties were able to deceive and implicate them in their schemes, making the youth a tool in the hands of external entities, duping them in the name of jihad.  Through these imprudent youth, these mischievous parties seek to realize their misguided goals and carry out their aims by implicating them in heinous acts which have no association with Islam whatsoever. This has gotten to the point that our youth have become a commodity bought and sold by different groups, east and west, used for goals and objectives whose damage to Islam is known only to Allah the Supreme.

We and others have previously warned and cautioned against traveling abroad on the pretext of jihad because the conditions abroad are turbulent, always ambiguous, and allegiances unclear. Great evils have resulted from these youths’ disobedience of their rulers and scholars by traveling abroad for so-called jihad. These include:

1. Disobedience of the ruler, the guardian of the ummah’s affairs, and the undermining of his authority – in itself a major sin. The Prophet, peace be upon him, says: “Whoever obeys the ruler has obeyed me and who disobeys the ruler has disobeyed me.” He, peace be upon him, also said: “Hearing and obeying is compulsory upon every Muslim in matters which he likes or dislikes.” The evidence concerning the impermissibility of disobedience to the ruler are many.

2. It has been found that some of the youths who traveled for what they thought was jihad have disavowed their binding allegiance to the ruler of this noble land, a ruling that was upheld by all authorized scholars. This forbidden act is considered as a great Islamic sin. The Prophet, peace be upon him, said: “Whoever breaks the pledge of obedience (to the ruler) meets Allah on the day of judgment without any pretext for him, and whoever dies without vowing his allegiance dies the death of a person before Islam.” That was narrated by Musallam.

3. These youths who engaged themselves in such acts have become easy prey for those seeking to spread disorder and mischief in the land (a capital sin in Islam), wanting to exploit their enthusiasm to the point where they are transformed into mobile booby-traps ready and willing to kill themselves for the sole purpose of political or military gains for suspicious and unknown parties.

4. They have been exploited by foreign parties to embarrass this noble country, cause damage and fear within it, provoke enemies from outside to realize their ambitions, and justify their plots against it.

This is the most serious of affairs, since this act of theirs has caused great harm to the Muslim nation as a whole, and its evil has affected other safe and secure countries. By doing this they have also introduced discomfort and weariness to this country and its people.

It is known that jihad is entrusted only to the guardian of the nation’s affairs, the ruler, who also has the duty to prepare and mobilize armies. He alone has the right and authority to direct armies, call for jihad, and identify the destination and the appropriate time. This and all other matters related to jihad are entrusted to the ruler, with no exception. The nation’s ulema and the people of Hadith and Athar have considered this to be an integral part of their creed, and have emphasized it in their words. 

Al-Hasan al-Basri, may Allah have mercy on him, once said: “They (the rulers) are responsible for five of our affairs: the Jummah (Friday) prayer, the Jamma’h (congregational prayers), the gatherings for the Eid, safeguarding of borders, and the carrying out of punishments. And so I swear by Allah, the religion will not be set straight without them, even if they transgress and wrong others. By Allah I swear because the great good that Allah brings about with them is far greater than their harm. And I swear by Allah that obedience to them may be sometimes painful, but abandoning them is disbelief.”

Al-Tahhawi said: “Hajj (pilgrimage) and jihad are continuously established by the rulers, both the righteous and wrong-doers of them, until the Day of Resurrection. Nothing will falsify this fact or negate it.” Ibn-Taymiyah, may Allah rest his soul, says about the centrist creed: “They hold the pilgrimage, jihad, the group, and the ids with the emirs, whether they are pious or licentious.”

This is an issue which is established by the people of the Sunnah wa al-Jama’ah (people who follow the true Prophet’s path), that is, there is no jihad except with the order of the imam (the ruler) and under his banner. This is derived from the following hadith of the Prophet: “Verily the Leader is a shield, the army fights from behind him, and he is a protection for them. If he order the people to be God-fearing and is just, then the reward is for him in that, and if he orders other than that, then that is upon him.” This was cited by Al-Bukhari and a Muslim sheikh. There are other Hadiths that support this point, which is also supported by the consensus of the companions of the Prophet, may Allah have mercy on them, and after them all the Muslims agreed unanimously on this. Therefore to leave for jihad without the permission of the ruler is a violation of some of the basic principles of Shari’ah, and thus constitutes the commission of a major sin. Those who incite such acts by young people are one of two types of people:

- Either one who is ignorant of the facts surrounding the issue, and thus must fear Allah, the Great and Almighty, for his sake and that of his country and the Muslims as well as these youths. He should not encourage them to become caught up in situations where allegiances and affairs are confused, in which true allegiances are unknown, while claiming that this is jihad.

- Or a man who knows the facts surrounding this issue and intends to harm this country and its people by his action. He, Allah forbid, is feared to be an aid to the enemies of our religion, working and plotting against this country, the country that establishes God’s Oneness, as well as against the people of God’s Oneness. And this is a great danger.

It is everyone’s duty to fear Allah Almighty, to ponder the umma’s condition, to act according to Shari’ah, and to have patience in learning and preaching. They should not be prone to urgency and recklessness. Everyone knows that power changes hands throughout history, and that Allah will grant victory to those who defend His religion, and that good lasting results are for the people of righteousness. My advice is for all of us to strive to educate the people about Allah’s Oneness, encourage them to adhere to it, and to serve Him and fulfill His duties. This is the duty of the ulema, preachers, and students of Islamic knowledge, along with preparing one’s self to face the enemy. This is one of the ruler’s duties.

I also recommend to the youths to obey Allah first and foremost, and then their rulers and be close to their ulema, as this is a requirement of the Shari’ah. I recommend that those who are wealthy be cautious as to how they spend their money, so that their monies will not result in harm to the Muslims. I also urge fellow scholars and students of Islamic knowledge to explain the truth to the people, take the youths by their hands, enlighten them about the reality, and warn them of the consequences of following passions and enthusiasms without discipline or the regulation of beneficial knowledge.

I ask Allah Almighty to guide us to the right path and make us guides for others. I also invoke Him to show us truth and bless us to follow it, to show us falsehood and bless us to avoid it. I ask Him to show us these areas in which we falter as I ask Him, Glory be to Him, to make his religion prevail, and for His word to be superior, giving victory to his worshipful servants, preserving our country and other Muslim territories with security and faith, and protect us from seditions both apparent and hidden. I ask Him to forgive us and shed His mercy on us, and that He does not let us, because of our sins, be overtaken by someone who does not fear Him or show us mercy. He is the Sublime, the all-Hearing, the all-Responding. May Allah bless the  Prophet Muhammad, his family, and all his companions.

May the peace and blessing of Allah be upon you.

The Grand Mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
Chairman of the Council of Senior Ulema and Department of Scientific Researches Religious Edicts.