“Understanding ISIS,” by Muhammad ibn Kateb Al Ashari

This document was available for download on Academia.edu so I assume the author has no plans to make money off of it as he is offering it int the public domain like that. I did a heavy edit on it and I think I made it a lot better. Nice short overview on Wahhabism, Ibn Taymiyyah, Saudi Arabia and ISIS. Good for people who don’t know a lot about the subject and not bad even for those of us who do. Hope you enjoy. We need more pieces like this.

In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful

To understand ISIS you must understand Wahhabism

Muhammad ibn Kateb Al Ashari

The dramatic arrival of Da’ish (ISIS) on the stage of Iraq has shocked many in the West. Many have been perplexed and horrified by its violence and evident magnetism for Sunni youth.

To understand ISIS, you need to understand Saudi Arabia. The dominant strand of Saudi identity derives directly from Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism) and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. The latter was then no more than a minor leader amongst many continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.

The alliance between Ibn Abdul Wahhab and Al-Saud helped secure Saud’s power grab and instituted Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s monopoly on traditional Islamic scholarship.

Wahhab’s theology was something new. It was a revolution based on Abd al-Wahhab’s Jacobin-like hatred for the putrescence and deviationism that he perceived in his shallow understanding of Islamic sciences – hence his call to purge Islam of all heresies and idolatries.

The American author and journalist Steven Coll described how this austere and censorious disciple of the 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyyah, Abd al-Wahhab, despised “the decorous, arty, tobacco smoking, hashish imbibing, drum pounding Egyptian and Ottoman nobility who traveled across Arabia to pray at Mecca.”

But the history of Wahhabism is even older than that. If you want to understand Wahhabism, you need to understand that Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahhab was only the Lenin or Wahhabism, whereas his ideological mentor, the Marx of Wahhabism, existed long before in Ibn Taymiyyah.

Before, I proceed in to Wahhabism, I will touch on Ibn Taymiyyah first.

The controversy surrounding Ibn Taymiyyah is not new or modern. Islamic scholars of his time were divided. Those who first met him often praised him, while others who learned of him through his writings and views scorned him. But he remains more of a despised icon than a revered one, and numerous classical writings show that his influence was short lived until the rise of Wahhabism.

Ibn Taymiyyah’s extreme fatwas have been used by ISIS and Al Qaeda today.

The most important fatwa upon which ISIS bases its holy war or jihad is the “Mardin” fatwa. This fatwa illustrates the extremism which marked all of Ibn Taymiyyah’s fatwas. He was born in Mardin on the border between present-day Syria and Turkey in 1263. When he was 7 years old, the Mongols attacked and overran his town. Ibn Taymiyyah moved to Damascus to live with his grandmother.

Jihadists believe that when he became an Islamic jurist, Ibn Taymiyyah issued a fatwa encouraging the fight against Mardin and its people, although the fatwa has been a source of disagreement among Muslim scholars for a long time. Many hardliners and advocates of Salafist jihadi ideology perceive this fatwa as permission to wage war to impose Sharia even within Islamic countries.

Ibn Taymiyyah had another fatwa on “collateral damage,” which stipulated that the mujahedeen who intended to target infidels were allowed to kill other Muslims who might stand in the way of reaching the mujahedeen’s goal. Al-Qaeda used this fatwa to justify the killing of large numbers of Iraqis with car bombs and improvised explosive devices after the US invasion in 2003.

You can say that Ibn Taymiyyah was misunderstood, but the fact remains that Ibn Taymiyyah has been a much loved and inspirational icon of Wahhabism, and fatwas like these are very disturbing. A lot is at stake here if you accept criticism of ibn Taymiyyah. The whole Salafi theology is based on his views and opinions, so it is common to see people defending him and his fatwas. Even many non-Salafist Sunnis will defend him.

Fast forward 500 years to the deserts of central Saudi Arabia. Here Wahhabism was birthed from Taymiyyah’s seeds.

One of the main tenets of Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine is the key idea of takfir. Under the takfiri doctrine, Abd al-Wahhab and his followers could deem fellow Muslims infidels should they engage in activities that in any way could be said to encroach on the sovereignty of the absolute Authority in the Wahhabis’ understanding of the religion.

Abd al-Wahhab denounced all Muslims who honored the dead, saints, or angels. He held that such sentiments detracted from the complete subservience one must feel towards God and only God. Wahhabi Islam thus bans any veneration of the pious and prophets, pilgrimages to tombs and even faraway mosques, religious festivals celebrating prophets including celebrating Prophet Muhammad’s birthday and prohibits the use of gravestones when burying the dead.

In traditional Islam, engaging in these acts could be no more than disliked or not recommended, but disbelief or heresy by which the blood of a Muslim and their properties become lawful was not a possibility.

Understanding the Wahhabi movement is essential to understand the wars in the Middle East and the Wahhabi vs Shia conflict and the struggle of traditional mainstream Islamic theology to survive in the face of billions of Petro-Wahhabi dollars of Saudi Arabia.

This conflict is actually about who controls Middle East: Shias or Wahhabis. Sunnis have been the main players in the region for centuries due to numbers but also as a continuation of the message of Prophet and His companions. Sunni scholars have traditionally felt that they remained duty-bound to preserve Islamic orthodoxy in Islamic lands, hence their dominance over the Middle East and Arabia in particular makes sense..

Islamic theologians during ibn Taymiyyah’s time successfully silenced his views, and for centuries he were nearly forgotten until the British used support for Taymiyyah-influenced Wahhabism as a cynical tool against the Ottomans who were at the time more or less representative of traditional Islam. The British succeeded in defeating Ottomans politically 100 years ago, but now, a century later, they now have had to deal with their own Frankenstein monster, the Wahhabi ISIS.

The question is, Will ISIS be used by West as a pretext to launch global war against Islamic countries? If this happens, one of two things may happen. First, we will discover that Wahhabism has very foolishly succeeded yet again in assisting the demise of Islamic lands. If however ISIS succeeds, the demise of Islamic lands and Islam itself as well as West is a highly likely possibility unless a third option is activated – empowering traditional Islam and subduing both Wahhabism and Western imperialism. This third path may be the only way to avoid global annihilation.

Please follow and like us:

6 thoughts on ““Understanding ISIS,” by Muhammad ibn Kateb Al Ashari”

  1. Islamic lands need to be left alone by western imperialist forces. This is true.

    But I disagree with empowering traditional Islam. Islam is Islam. It is what the prophet did and said. Traditional Islam is Islam mixed with Hinduism in India. It is Islam mixed with African traditions in Africa. No!

    Islam is the Islamic state. The caliph knows what is what. He has a PhD in Islamic studies.The Islamic state is the reformation of traditional Islam which is nothing more than a watered down version of Islam miixed with local traditions.

    Inshallah al Lah will guide the writer of this article meant for western consumption.

    One can see his western driven embarrassment of Islam in the Islamic state, which is guided by the scholarly caliph who knows more about Islam than most people. This embarrassment is nothing but hypocrisy and the chapter in the Koran called the hypocrites is for embarrassed people like this writer who hide their embarrassment about true Islam with a show of their historical knowledge, but who show their ignorance in their waffle about traditional Islam.

    Islam is Islam. Mashalla, mashallah, mashallah.

  2. The glorious wonders of Islamic civilization – raw, uncensored footage of ISIS slave markets in Mosul, Iraq.

    WARNING; Disturbing visuals captured by India TV. The language is Hindi but there are plenty of English subtitles. The images are outrageous, you can hear the captured Yazidi, Christian and Kurdish girls crying and screaming in the background.

    What could be the most traumatic thing for a woman after seeing her husband/son/male relatives slaughtered like sheep in an abattoir? Being paraded in a slave market by these medieval barbarians.


    Coming soon to a city near you. As more Dhimmi lands fall into ISIS territory, the Facebook generation will witness the revival of slavery, some 200 years after its abolition from civilized wonder.

    According to this source, the slave markets of ISIS have more than a few Westerners as well as “thousands” of captured women from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka etc.


    Now Investigators accepts that every year thousands of women from India, Nepal and Bangladesh are sold for the slave markets of Middle East and Syria through India because that countries doesn’t have direct air link to many Middle East Countries.


    Islamic State ‘selling sex slaves to wealthy clients from Saudi Arabia and Turkey’

    Jinan describes how once she arrived in Mosul she was taken to “a massive reception hall with huge columns” alongside dozens of other women.

    She claims that during the “slave markets” she saw Westerners whose nationality she could not work out – along with Iraqis and Syrians. 🙁

    1. I stand corrected. It turns out several portions of the video are FAKE. They are nothing but a misplaced footage by INDIA TV which thrives on sensationalism just like all other Indian media outlets.

      Turns out all the “terrorists” and “burqa-clad slave women” are stage actors from London. I should have known, the cut-glass, crispy British accents are a sure giveaway.

      This episode casts a serious doubt on the credibility of anything one reads or watches in Indian media. The underpaid reporters probably invent their stories in the editorial mail-room while they must be paying actors ALL THE TIME to create sensationalist bullshit headlines.
      I’m sure it must have been a real SLOW day at INDIA TV office. When some bored reporter discovered this video online, everyone jumped at it.

      This is how the entire scenario at INDIA TV office would have played out like.

      INDIA TV NEWS EDITOR: “ISIS! Slave women! Real slave market footage! Came right on time, this is what we need, fellas. Get your asses ready, let’s start working on this SCOOP right away. Gotta kill the competition. It’ll be raining TRPs soon. And Vinod, don’t forget to contact our advertisers.”

      VINOD: “But Sir! You do realize this is not real ISIS footage. We’ll be laughed at out of the town. Besides, everyone is hooked on to the Internet. Our cover will be blown in seconds.”

      RAJ (IN NEXT CABIN): “Vinod, I know you have lived in the West for a while but this is not the US or the UK. The Indian viewer is far more stupid in comparison. Most desis are far too insular to be able to locate Iraq or Syria on a map. Even if we get caught, Indians couldn’t care any less if this footage is for real. What do you say Mala?”

      MALA (WHILE ADJUSTING HER MAKE-UP): “I don’t know about you all but I think this video is real. I’m a woman, the screams were real. Let’s put some depth and heart into this story. Let’s expose these ISIS monsters for who they are.”

      INDIA TV NEWS EDITOR: “I have an idea. Raj, why don’t you download some archive footage of ISIS from Reuters. Make sure it’s not easily traceable on YouTube. Ganesh from the IT team will merge all video screens together to create a clip that will convince all our viewers.”

      MALA: “Ganesh is a pro, Sir. His software skills have always been very useful. After all, he used to work for Infosys and had faked his own H-1B visa to work in the US. Even the Americans couldn’t catch wind of what was happening.”

      INDIA TV NEWS EDITOR: “That settles it. Let’s create the most sensational footage of all times. Make sure we play it for the entire day, 24 hours. I want at least 100 million eyeballs on this story. Let’s milk our advertisers for all they’re worth.”

      RAJ: “Right away, Sir. As we know our channel viewers are dumb as a rock. Heh heh.”

      INDIA TV NEWS EDITOR: “Quiet, Raj. Be respectful. This thing is far beyond TRPs. It’s a service we owe to our Mother India. It’s our responsibility to create proper awareness on this monster called ISIS.”

      RAJ (SNIGGERING): “Right, Sir.”

      VINOD: (dumb, paralyzed look)

      MALA (SHRUGGING VINOD’S SHOULDERS): “Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’ll get used to all this very soon. Welcome to India. Jai Hind.”

      INDIA TV NEWS EDITOR: “Jai Hind, fellas. Cheers.”

      RAJ: “Jai Hind, LOL.”

      1. So you hate India and you hate Islam.

        Actually I think your number one hatred is India. Islam is just an excuse to go to where your true hatred resides and that is of course India; you demonstrated this in your two posts. This focused hatred is very valuable.Concentrated hatred is always good.It gets results. Let us see how this works practically.

        Focus on one area of hatred and you will be in deep concentration and in the midst yogic power. Do not biased against this yogic power because it has a connection to India, indeed such power is in fact yours;and since you do not have an army or billions in money or political power it is this potent option that awaits your command

        A divided hatred is of no use. Focus one hundred percent on this focus of your hatred and you can in your bedroom alone destroy all that you hate. You can just by your concentrated mind power destroy India.

        Make a doll and call it India and then focus like you have never focused before.

        Begin small. Destroy an Indian ant by the power of your mind and soon you will be able to destroy all of India. When this happens the doll will explode and you may get in trouble with your parents but at least you will have been successful. It will be worth it.

        Next day you can write an account of what you did for your school. You will be soon in the national and international papers and statues of you will be erected in gold all over the world.

  3. I always wonder do Islamic apologists think that everybody around them are dumb and do not know Islamic teachings? Do they think that Islamic primary sources are hidden somewhere and nobody has access to them? This mister Al-how-his-Arabic-name, a Master of the Art of Islamic propaganda, again repeats that nonsense about “good” “traditional” Islam and “bad” Wahhabism-Salafism. There are no such things. Every Muslim must adore Muhammad. Every Muslim must follows the way of life of their beloved prophet. His deeds are written in the Sunnah, the second most sacred book in Islam. To refute the Sunnah is a heresy and apostasy. So everything that is being done by Islamists was done by Muhammad. Everything that is being done by ISIS was done by the first Caliphate and the first Caliphs. Every barbarity that is being done in Saudi Arabia has been being done in every Muslim country before the modern times when European colonial authorities forbade those Medieval traditions. Including the Ottoman empire with an alleged good “traditional” Islam. The law (Sharia) in the Ottoman empire was hardly different from that of Saudi Arabia. It is the result of the European influence and Westernization that those barbarities has been abandoned in many Islamic countries. Nothing of Wahhabism, Salafism, Al-Qaeda, Taliban, Saudi Arabia etc. contradicts Islam. The problems and flaws of Islam we face today are inborn into the religion from the very beginning. Muslims want a good peaceful Islam? Then they must begin with their beloved prophet, who committed every known human big crime including murders, and their sacred books, which are full of hatred to non-believers.

    1. Brilliant. I could not have said it any better. Rus you are intelligent man who goes to the original sources historically and theologically and allows the Muslim community to speak about themselves as they wish to.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Enjoy this blog? Please spread the word :)