The Founder Lays Out The Islamic State’s Vision

By Kyle Orton (@KyleWOrton) on January 12, 2017

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Two of the very few pictures of Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi) in existence. The picture on the right, taken after al-Zawi was killed in April 2010, is most often used in Islamic State media.

Looking through others matters, I discovered this video of a speech by Hamid al-Zawi (Abu Umar al-Baghdadi), the first emir of the Islamic State when it was founded in 2006, entitled, “This Is Our Doctrine,” a neat summary of the speech’s content. As it transpires this is al-Zawi’s third speech—“Say, I Am Aware of My Lord” or “Say, I Am on Clear Proof from My Lord”—and dates to 13 March 2007. There is more to the speech than this section that a supporter of the Islamic State chose to excerpt, but the excluded parts seem extraneous at this vantage point—relevant in the week it was released, but no more. At all events, the video seemed an interesting contribution to what the Islamic State actually believes, so a transcript is reproduced below.

People have thrown many lies at us which don’t have any basis in our aqeeda [creed]. They have claimed that we consider the public [who don’t support us] as disbelievers, licensing their blood and wealth, and forcing people to join our state by the sword.

So here are our fundamental beliefs to respond to these lies, to ensure that the liar has no excuse and the supporter no suspicion.

First: We consider destroying and removing all signs of shirk [idolatry] and forbidding those things that lead to it compulsory. It was narrated by Imam Muslim in his Sahih that Abu al-Hayyaj al-Asadi told him: “Ali ibn Abi Talib has said to me that: Should I send you on the same mission as Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) sent me: ‘Do not leave an image without obliterating it, or a high grave without levelling it’?”

Second: The Rawafid [derogatory term for Shi’is] are idolaters and a renegade sect, and they are also abstainers from a lot of Islam’s pillars.

Third: We consider the sorcerer as a disbeliever and apostate, and that killing him is compulsory without accepting his repentance in this life after capturing him. Umar ibn al-Khattab [the second Rightly-Guided Caliph] said, “[The] sorcerers’ hadd [fixed punishment] is a hit by the sword [i.e. death].”

Fourth: We do not accuse Muslims who pray toward our Qibla [al-Kaaba (The Cube) in Mecca] of disbelief [i.e. make takfir on them] due to sins like adultery, drinking wine, or stealing, unless he considers it halal [permissible]. Our doctrine is the middle way between the extremism of the Khawarij and the neglect of the Murji’a. He who recites the shahada and practices Islam without denying anything of Islam, will be treated as we treat Muslims, and his soul will be left to Allah. And that disbelief [for us] is of two types, major and smaller. Also, judging who commits [disbelief] is based on aqeeda, word, or action. Making takfir against someone [excommunicating them] or saying he is going to hell forever is based on proving the kafir [unbeliever] conditions and an inability to prove otherwise.[1]

Fifth: It is compulsory to seek Allah’s judgment in disputes by pleading to religious courts and searching for them when it is not known where they are, because seeking non-Islamic judgments, which come from secular and tribal laws, makes the belief of a Muslim invalid. Allah said, “And whosoever does not judge by what Allah, such [people] are al-kafirun [the disbelievers]” [5:44].

Sixth: Respecting the Prophet (peace be upon him) is compulsory and … and attacking his honourable position or insulting his pure family or companions is disbelief and apostasy. Allah said: “Indeed, we have sent you as a witness and a bringer of good tidings and a warner that you [people] may believe in Allah and His Messenger and honour him, respect the Prophet, and exalt Allah morning and afternoon” [48:89]. And He said, regarding the companions of the Prophet: “Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those with him are against the disbelievers, merciful among themselves. You see them bowing, prostrating [in prayer], seeking bounty from Allah and [His] pleasure. Their mark is on their faces from the trace of prostration. That is their description in the Gospel, and their likeness in the Gospel: as a plant which produces its offshoots, and strengthens them, so they grows firm and stand upon their stalks, delighting the sowers, so that Allah may through them enrage the disbelievers. Allah has promised those who believe and do righteousness deeds forgiveness and a great reward” [48:29].

Seventh: We believe that secularism—despite the differences in its flags, such as nationalism, Communism, and Ba’athism—is clear unbelief, and he who practices it is a non-Muslim. Based on that, we consider everyone who participates in the political process—i.e. [Saleh] al-Mutlaq’s [Iraqi National Dialogue Front] party, [Taha] al-Dulaymi’s party, [Tariq] al-Hashimi’s [Iraqi Islamic] Party [which is Iraq’s wing of the Muslim Brotherhood], and others—as disbelievers. Because this process substitutes Allah’s religion [the shari’a] and lets Allah’s enemies control Muslims. Allah said of the mushrikeen [polytheists, idolaters] who change something of His religion to please the kuffar: “And certainly, devils do inspire their allies [among men] to dispute with you, and if you obey them, indeed, you would be idolaters” [6:121]. We also consider the Islamic Party’s methods un-Islamic, because they do not differ from the methods of the other murtad [apostate] parties [like Ibrahim] al-Jaafari’s [Dawa Party] and [Iyad] Allawi’s [Iraqi National Accord]. Based on that, we consider their leaders murtadun [apostates], but we don’t consider the [lower] members as disbelievers as long as the legitimate refutation [of the political process] was not clarified to them.

Eighth: we consider anyone who helps the occupation and its supporters with any kind of help—such as clothes, food, medicine, etc.—as an apostate, and, by that, he becomes a legitimate target to us.

Ninth: we consider jihad for the sake of Allah as a compulsory on everyone, and that the largest sin—after disbelieving in Allah—is the prohibition of jihad [at a time] when it is an obligation upon everyone. Ibn Hazm said: “There is no greater sin, after disbelieving, than the prohibition of jihad against disbelievers.”

Tenth: we believe that if countries are ruled by kufr [i.e. by men’s laws] and Islamic rule comes second, then they are dar al-kufr [lands of unbelief].  This doesn’t mean that the populations are kuffar, because all Muslims lands today are ruled by taghut [disbelieving tyrants], we [only] consider the rulers of those countries and their armies as apostates. Therefore, be warned that we will fight any invading troops fighting the Dawlat al-Islam [the Islamic State] in Iraq, even if they have Arabic and Islamic names. We advise them not to be a scapegoat for the occupation.

Eleventh: we consider fighting the police and army of the state of the taghut and apostasy as compulsory, and demolishing any building—if we see that the enemies can use it as a camp—as also compulsory.

Twelfth: We consider People of the Book [Christians and Jews] and Sabeans in the Islamic State as combatants. There is no protection for them because they have broken the covenant in different ways. So, if they want to be safe and secure, they have to renew their covenant with the Islamic State according to [the conditions of] the Pact of Umar.[2]

Thirteenth: we consider the members of the other jihadi groups in Iraq as our brothers, and we don’t accuse them of apostasy or immorality. But they are disobedient [i.e. sinning] because they do not do today’s duty (of working under one flag and one imam).

Fourteenth: we are not committed to any agreement done with the occupation. We consider it null, and we warn everyone [away] from striking any agreement with the occupiers—secret or public—without the permission of the Islamic State.

Fifteenth: we consider respecting the truthful ulema [religious scholars] as compulsory, and we defend them and put ourselves under their lead. We also expose those who follow falsehood or compromise with [religion].

Sixteenth: we give to those who preceded us in jihad their due, respect them, and protect their families and wealth.

Seventeenth: we consider freeing Muslim prisoners and women from the disbelievers, either by offensive [means] or by ransom, to be an obligation. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Free the prisoner and also consider [taking care of] their families, and the martyrs’ families, as an obligation.” The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He who prepared a mujahid is a mujahid, and he who provides for his family is a mujahid.”

Eighteenth: we consider it compulsory for the umma [Muslim community] to learn Islam, even if it means losing some of the fortunes of this life. Anything else [they want to learn] is religiously neutral, as long as it does not exceed the limits of religion.

Nineteenth: we consider anything that promotes abomination, such as satellites, as haram [forbidden]. Allah said: “Verily, those who like [to see] immorality spread among those who believe will a painful punishment in this world and the Hereafter. And Allah knows, and you know not” [24:19].





[1] Abu Umar’s warning to be cautious with the use of takfir echoes a speech made by his deputy, Abdul Munim al-Badawi (Abu Hamza al-Muhajir), in September 2007: “[T]he label and ruling of kufr is a right that belongs to Allah, which you are not allowed to apply to anyone except those who deserve it according to the shari’a. And know that takfir has both conditions and preventative factors, so we don’t declare takfir on someone unless the conditions are fulfilled and the preventative factors are eliminated. A person might make a statement or action of kufr and yet would not be guilty of kufr due to the presence of one of the preventative factors. Therefore, one whose Islam is established with certainty is not expelled from Islam except with certainty.”

[2] The Pact of Umar is almost certainly a myth but it is usually dated to the 630s, during the reign of the second Rightly-Guided Caliph, Umar ibn al-Khattab, and it has become a canonical part of Islamic tradition, laying down the conditions for dhimmis. With this treaty “in force” since nearly the dawn of Islam, it provided the theological basis for the caliphs to coexist with Islamdom’s always-significant Christian populations. Al-Zawi abrogating this covenant is therefore an extraordinary claim—and not just because it is the cancellation of something that probably never existed.

4 thoughts on “The Founder Lays Out The Islamic State’s Vision

  1. Pingback: Who Are The Khawarij? | The Syrian Intifada

  2. Pingback: Former Islamic State Leader Advises on Jihadist Conduct | The Syrian Intifada

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