Dr. Ammar Ali Hassan, novelist, political and sociological researcher, specializing in Islamic Movements
During what was known as the “Great Cause of Jihad”, Omar Abdul Rahman, the spiritual leader of Gama’a al-Islamiyya, an Islamist militant group in Egypt, often known as “the blind sheikh”, improvised his plead before the court after the first World Trade Centre bombing in 1993. His followers wrote down it. Later, he revised it and put it in a book entitled “The Word of Truth”. That book had a great impact on those who took the man as their emir, pledged allegiance to him, complied with his views, listened to his advice and, for at least three decades, acted with diligence and determination.
Printed and distributed, the book came to be one of the important literatures of extremist groups and organizations in Egypt. Its impact extended to others beyond Egypt, especially considering the keenness of his followers to cite and distribute it widely among young people.
In the Word of Truth, Abdul Rahman touched on various issues, on which his vision did not deviate from the traditional, conservative, but closed, path contained in old books. His approach did not depart from adapting texts and their interpretations, whether they were Quranic verses or hadiths attributed to the Prophet (PBUH), and previous opinions and their developments, to justify his point of view first; and to serve the vision espoused by the so-called “radical political Islam” second, without regard to the essence of the message of Islam, or the immediate interest of Muslims.
Abdul Rahman permitted the fight against the government, collecting money from people under the pretext of building mosques, and then direct such money to this fight, which he called “jihad for the sake of Allah”, based on several perceptions as follows:
One: The obligation of Al-Hakimiyyah (i.e. legislation is only for Allah and that a system of governance or legislation other than what Allah has revealed is a sin), as he believes that the issue of Al-Hakimiyyah is self-evident, inevitable and logical, and says: “Whoever wants to subject all people to his command and prohibition, doing what he wants and decides, accepting what he legislates for them, is considered a tyrant, as he seeks to enslave people to his thoughts and whims. Those are the ones whom Allah Almighty commanded his servants to disbelieve, and to disown them”.
Two: Rebellion against the ruler: He believed that Egyptian President Mohamed Anwar Al-Sadat should not be obeyed, because in his view he violated Sharia, applied imported laws, and his political behavior contradicted the interests of the nation. Moreover, he went as far as to say: “The Imamate—meaning the presidency of the state—cannot be held by an infidel”. Accordingly, he permitted killing him, particularly after accusing the Egyptian regime of fighting Islam. In his opinion, the state allowed adultery and usury, made allies with non-Muslims, prevented the application of Sharia, stood against chastity by calling for women to go without hijab, called for abandoning the limits set by Allah, and administer punishments that have not come down from heaven.
Three: Rebellion against the ruler is not necessarily peaceful, as Abdul Rahman permitted the establishment of the Islamic state by force of arms, and believed that the religious scholars were on a fight against those who “prevent one of the obvious laws of Allah,” and he believed this to be the real jihad. He also dismissed the fight for any reason other than what he described as “elevating the word of Allah”, there is no fighting for the homeland, or to liberate and defend the land, nor to defend money or honor, all of this in his opinion was not jihad.
Four: He dismissed any legal jurisprudence outside the religious text, which keep pace with the developments of life and the needs and interests of people, as a secular and ignorant law, which permits what Allah has forbidden, and is imported from the West, in order to destroy the nation. On the other hand, he spoke of what he called the “integrated Sharia”, as the absolute science in harmony with the cosmic laws.
Five: Abdul Rahman dismissed the society as Jahiliy (ignorant and pre-Islamic) because it does not apply Sharia, but laws that he sees as “laws of ignorance” and then says: “The laws of ignorance are infidelity and deviation”. In his opinion, that ignorance “is not a period of time, but it is a stance”.
Six: He espoused a sharp “dichotomy”, arguing that “it is either Islam or ignorance, either faith or disbelief”; and that “in every approach other than the Islamic one, people worship for the sake of other people, and people worship people”.
Seven: He rejected democracy, because in his view it makes Al-Hakimiyyah for the people and not for Allah; saying that “The people have no sovereignty, nor are they a source of powers,”. Therefore, Islam in his view “disowns the democratic system”.
Once out of prison, Abdul Rahman dictated his plead or revised what had already been written down of it and finished his work on February 27, 1984. His conclusion was considered a direct directive, which was taken by the followers of the Islamic Group to heart, to engage in a bloody battle against Egyptian authorities and then society, a battle that lasted nine years soon (1988-1997). His conclusion was a blatant challenge to the rule, alluding that “secularism” had triumphed over “Islam” in Egypt due to the bias of power to it, and therefore must be countered by jihad.
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