American Muslim Jurists: Offensive Jihad — Not Yet
TheÂ Assembly of Muslim Jurists of AmericaÂ (AMJA) opposes offensiveÂ jihadÂ in the West, but for reasons that may surprise you. In an ArabicÂ fatwaÂ (religious decree) that doesn’t appear on its English website, it states that “the Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensiveÂ jihadÂ at this timeÂ [emphasis added].”
This doesn’t mean that allÂ jihadÂ is to be abandoned. “With our current capabilities, we are aspiring towards defensiveÂ jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation,” it said.
It is important to notice that it was issued in Arabic on the website of its Secretary-General, Salah Al-Sawy. Even though AMJA is based in Sacramento and its mission is to serve their American Muslim audience, it decided against issuing thisÂ fatwaÂ in English. If it wasn’t translated by theÂ Translating JihadÂ blog andÂ reportedÂ by Andrew Bostom in 2011, we probably wouldn’t know about it.
Deception is something that AMJA approves of. In an English-languageÂ fatwaÂ on its website, issued by Al-Sawy in Â 2005, Muslims areÂ authorized to lieÂ for the sake of “repulsing evil” if there are “compelling strokes of necessity.” In that case, “he can indirectly say something that his listener can understand something else.”
(That’s the concept of necessity, also known as darura.)
In a 2007 Arabic paper presented at one of its conferences, AMJA even recommends that Muslims become judges and use deception to implementÂ shariaÂ law to the best of their ability. According to aÂ non-verbatim translation, it says a Muslim judge in a non-Muslim country “must in his heart hate the man-made law” and “judge by the rulings of theÂ Shari’ahÂ as much as possible,Â even if by a ruse. [emphasis added]”
The AMJA commands Muslims in the West to remain committed to establishing “Shari’ahÂ rule.” AnotherÂ fatwaÂ from Al-Sawy states that Muslims can only become American citizens if is no other viable option and “on the condition that they do not accept indefinitely the law and legislation of that country and being indefinite belonging to the nation of the non-Muslim country.”
Al-Sawy blames the Muslim world’s ills on its failure to apply “Shari’ahÂ Rule,” attributing it to the “Devil’s” influence. In anotherÂ fatwa, he says the “Devil” has misled Muslims into believing thatÂ Sharia’sÂ hudud, or its criminal punishments, are “harsh and barbarous.”
AMJA has issuedÂ fatwasÂ in support ofÂ marital rape,Â stoningÂ married men that commit adultery,Â executingÂ critics of Islam’s founder andÂ apostatesÂ andÂ Â female circumcision.Â It evenÂ warnsÂ Muslims of the dangers of becoming police officers because they might be forced to engage in sins like “gender mixing” orÂ having to“arrest a Muslim man whose wife said he ‘raped’ her.” Unsurprisingly, from 1992 to 1995 Al-Sawy was aÂ visiting professorÂ for a satellite campus of Saudi Arabia’s Ibn Saud Islamic University located in Fairfax.
Other AMJAÂ fatwasÂ are based in anti-Americanism and hostility to non-Muslims. OneÂ tellsÂ Muslims to “not take as a friend anyone apart from the believers.” Another declares that Muslims areÂ forbiddenÂ from providing food and other supplies to U.S. and foreign soldiers in Muslim countries. They canÂ only serve in the U.S. militaryÂ in capacities where they are not “involved in fighting, harming or even bothering Muslims at all.” Joining the FBI or other security agencies isimpermissibleÂ because of their supposed persecution of Muslims.
In 2009, AMJA endorsed supporting armed jihad against Israel in response to military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Al-Sawy issued a rage-filledfatwaÂ that was nothing less than a call-to-arms. It said that when a Muslim land is invaded, obviously referring to Gaza, every Muslim is required to help their co-religionists “fight in their own defense” and “with every possible means of support: military, financial, political and journalistic.”
Al-Sawy also declared that Muslims should use the conflict to “revive the obligation ofÂ jihad,” “revive the call toÂ ShariaÂ rule,” “reinvigorate and continue the option of the resistance and rejection of the Zionist project;” “revive the policy of using all available and possible means ofÂ da’wahÂ [proselytizing] andÂ jihad” and “revive the bonds between Muslim communities living beyond the lands of Islam.”
That’s pretty extreme for a group thatÂ saysÂ its jurisprudence is based on a “moderate approach and a rejection of extremism.”
This type of preaching isn’t limited to the AMJA website audience. AMJA’sÂ Fatwa Committee scholars,Â expertsÂ andÂ membersÂ hold positions in mosques and Islamic schools across the U.S. and outside the country.Â Al-Sawy is also the president of theMishkah Islamic University of North America, an online school that was originally called the Sharia Academy of America. He also co-founded theÂ American Open UniversityÂ and was its Vice President from 1995 to 2004.
AMJA’s extremism is so pronounced that it’s hard to believe that anyone affiliated with it is ignorant. This is an organization that believes offensiveÂ jihadÂ in the West is wrong only because it is impractical. It endorses “defensiveÂ jihad” against Israel and in the Muslim world. It explicitly endorses instituting “Shari’ahÂ Rule” without any room for believable equivocation. And, if necessary, it’s willing to lie and deceive.
Any group or individual that embraces AMJA should be disqualified from being considered a “moderate.”