Monday, October 04, 2004

Living in the "House of War"

The Saudi cleric Salman Bin-Fahd al-Awdah, who is alleged to have financed a mastermind of the Madrid bombings, and who reportedly made a deal with the Saudi regime to keep a low profile after his teachings had inspired the 9-11 hijackers, has not made another public statement since last Wednesday. I have, however, found a statement he published in a Saudi newspaper that was posted on the Al-Jazirah web site in Riyadh in Arabic on August 15. It was translated by the British Broadcasting Corporation.

In the August 2004 statement, al-Awdah urges that the fighters in Iraq not target Iraqis, whether they are in the military of not. He approves "fighting and killing military occupiers and those who work under them from the Western intelligence services" but disapproves of "acts of bombing, destruction and blind killings" because they will "foment hostilities, discord, differences and sedition within Islamic societies."

Here are some salient passages of his statement, in the translation supplied by the BBC Monitoring Services:
Therefore, the right thing is that the fighters in Iraq must not target their Iraqi brothers, whether they are civilians, military or others. They should not be permitted to do this under any pretexts. Moreover, fighting among the various Iraqi communities should not be encouraged. The aim must be clear; namely, expelling the occupiers and driving out the invaders from the country. All the soldiers who entered the country from the Western coalition forces, such as the Americans and British and their allies and those who joined them and obeyed their orders, are legitimate targets that should be fought and killed until they leave Iraq in ignominy. As for expanding the circle of killing, targeting and bombing that we are seeing these days, it is a destruction of the country and its people and a useless expansion of the circle of conflict....

Nobody should appease anyone and cause confusion in explaining what is right and what is a duty just to appease this or that or because well-meaning individuals suggest certain ideas. We do not fight well-meaning people and do not point our fingers at anybody but we clearly announce that acts of bombing, destruction and blind killings will never benefit the Muslims and Islam but will foment hostilities, discord, differences and sedition within Islamic societies. The only thing that we approve and consider legitimate is fighting and killing military occupiers and those who work under them from the Western intelligence services, which prepare for the aggressors to commit their aggression. As for embarking on destruction and expanding the circle of targets, thinking that this serves the future of Islam, I say that this is a big and baseless illusion and God does not approve the work of the evil-doers....

Thus, grinding wars and major conflicts occur. After a few years, people will discover that they have destroyed everything and burned their counties, turning them into wastelands, consumed souls and dissipated wealth. They look for the results and consequences and find only illusions, doubts and deception. May God protect us.

Here I repeat what I have said many times, just as an advise for the sake of God, his prophet and the believers. Sending young men to Iraq is an irrational plan and a thorny path. The Iraqi people can take care of themselves. They know better how to do that. Means of jihad are many. It can be done by words, by hand and by heart and mind.
It is difficult to know how and whether to reconcile Sheik al-Awdah's statement with support for those who carried out the Madrid bombing and the 9-11 attacks. The agreement he made with the Saudi regime to keep a low profile casts doubt on the sincerity of his more moderate pronouncements. Yet, even in this statement, in which al-Awdah condemns bombings in Iraq, it is important to note that the moral distinction he urges is not between combatants and non-combatants. In disapproving the expansion of the "circle of killing," he plainly is focusing his remarks to those conducting resistance in Iraq. The support, both inspirational and financial ("by words, by hand and by heart and mind"), for those who planned and carried out acts of terror in the West would indicate no reluctance to expand the jihad to areas outside the Islamic world by acts of terror. Al-Awdah's statement does not explicitly express opposition to bombings and other indiscriminate killings that occur outside the Islamic community, and there is little reason to think his followers would interpret him as making such a broad condemnation. It would appear that his restrictions extend to the Islamic world (the ummah, in the broad sense of the world Islamic community or dar al-Islam, "House of Islam"), but not to the non-Islamic world, the dar al-harb (normally translated, interestingly enough, as "House of War").

Those on the liberal-left who think retreat from Iraq permits relief from the war on terror would do well to ponder this demarcation and to ask themselves which house they live in: the House of Islam or the House of War? May God, indeed, protect us.

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|| headland, 8:24 AM

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