Issue 15 Of ISIS-K Magazine 'Voice Of Khurasan' Reinterprets Ottoman Empire's Promotion Of Sufism, Attacks India's Right-Wing Hindu Government For Persecution Of Muslims, Eulogizes Kashmiri Jihadi Umais Al-Kashmiri

October 13, 2022

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The latest issue of "Voice of Khurasan," an English-language monthly magazine published by Al-Azaim Foundation, the media arm of the Islamic State's Khurasan Province (ISIS-K), has several articles on jihad. Two of its lead articles are notable: the first, for criticizing the right-wing Hindu government headed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi for its persecution of Indian Muslims, and the second, for reinterpreting the Turkey-led Ottoman Caliphate for promoting Sufism in opposition to Tawheed ("Islamic Monotheism").

The magazine's latest edition, Issue 15, is dated Rabiul Awwal, 1444, in the Hijri calendar, which corresponds with the lunar month beginning September 27, 2022.[1]

The magazine's cover story, titled "Hindutva, RSS, And An Islamophobic State," attacks the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi – especially the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its mother organization, Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), an Indian right-wing Hindu nationalist paramilitary volunteer organisation, for the persecution of Indian Muslims. "Since 2014 [when Modi became prime minister], there have also been anti-Muslim campaigns targeting almost every aspect of the Indian Muslims, such as their trades and businesses as well as their rights to earn a livelihood, food, job opportunities, religious attire worn by Muslim women, praying, and so on," the article states.

The article also attacks Indian Muslim leaders for "working hand in hand with the Hindu extremists and betraying the Islamic Ummah." It says: "The Islamic history is a witness to the fact that whenever infidels got an upper hand on the Muslims for butchering them, there were some traitors, in the ranks of the Muslims, who mislead the Islamic Ummah."

Another lead article in the magazine is titled "The Fall of Ottoman Empire And Their Deviance From The Straight Path." It criticizes Islamic scholars for saying that the fall of the Ottoman Caliphate caused the beginning of the backwardness of Muslims worldwide. Instead, the article gives a radical reinterpretation of the Ottoman Empire (1300-1924), saying that the Ottoman rulers encouraged different forms of shirk ("polytheism") and kufr ("unbelief") throughout their rule by encouraging Sufism and associated idolatries such as grave worshipping and seeking help from Sufis instead of Allah.

"Shirk (idolatry) and kufr (unbelief) became widespread, and Tawheed [Islamic monotheism] began to fade away in the lands that they ruled," the article declares, adding: "The reasons for the fall of the Ottoman Empire were many, and they all revolved around its deviation from referring judgments to the Law of Allah the almighty, and this incurred a life of misery and distress on Muslim individuals and the whole Ummah." The article especially attacks Ottoman sultans for promoting Sufism and unleashing a war against Tawheed.

The magazine has a major article on the Ottoman Empire.

One of the articles is titled "Understanding The Matter Of Takfir [the practice of declaring a particular Muslim to be an unbeliever]." It should be mentioned that around the time in 2014 that the Islamic State declared its caliphate in Iraq and Syria, it also became known for its gruesome public killings of Shi'ites whom it called Rafidhites ("rejectionist," a pejorative term for Shi'ites) and non-Muslims. The killings followed Takfir, the act of declaring someone to be an infidel and, therefore liable to be killed.

"Whoever opposes the religion of Islam is termed as a kafir [unbeliever] in general, irrespective of [whether] the evidence has been established against him or not. And there is no doubt regarding this among the scholars and this is the understanding of the Koran and Sunnah [traditions of Muhammad]. As far as the matter of specific shirk is concerned, the matter of takfir applies upon a person who accepts Islam but commits a major shirk after the establishment of the evidence upon him. In that case, there remains no impediment in making takfir of him," the article says.

According to the article, anyone not following Islamic practices, such as Sufis, can be declared to be kafir. The text goes on to quote Muhammad, the founder of Islam, as saying: "By him [Allah] in whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of hellfire," (Sahih Muslim: 153).

Under a long-running series of articles titled "Memories Of Shuhada [Martyrs]," the magazine has been paying tributes to jihadis who died for the ISIS in recent years. In the current issue, it pays tributes to Umais Al-Kashmiri, a fighter from Kashmir valley.

According to the article during the initial years of his jihadi career, Umais al-Kashmiri joined Harkat all-Mujahideen, which was later known as Harkat Al-Ansar, the seventh-century local residents of Medina who, according to Islam, hosted Muhammad and his followers in their homes when they emigrated from Mecca, and went on to train in Afghanistan, later returning to Kashmir. In October 1995, he married the daughter of Umais Ghazali, emir of Tehreek Al-Mujahideen.

Subsequently, he returned to the Pakistani tribal region where he joined Al-Qaeda. Eventually, Al-Kashmiri left the organization along with other jihadi fighters to join the Islamic State (ISIS). He was killed in Makranay area of Mamand in Afghanistan during a security operation.

The article criticizes the Pakistani government and Pakistani military's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) as well as Jamaat-e-Islami for hijacking the Kashmiri independence movement as well as the wider religious agenda of the jihadi organizations.

"The fruits of this struggle [of Kashmiris] were reaped by the Pakistani state in general and the apostate intelligence agency ISI in particular which made no qualms in exploiting the atrocities committed by the Indian army against the Muslims of Kashmir," the article says.

It adds: "The apostate political and military parties and organizations continue to receive funds to this day [in the name of Kashmir]. The Muslims of Kashmir bore the brunt of Indian oppression in Kashmir, young men were killed, their wealth was taken, their honor was violated, and their women were raped. This oppression and tyranny continue, and the apostate Pakistani government does nothing more than issuing condemnation statements..."

The magazine's table of contents.

The article slams Jamaat-e-Islami's Kashmir branch for serving Pakistan's interests rather than representing the Kashmiri struggle. "As the valley of Kashmir was simmering with anti-India rhetoric which had engulfed thousands of young men, the Jamat-e-Islami [...] has been working on the ground to solidify the claim of Pakistan on Kashmir. This organization, having its roots in hypocrisy, has been actively corrupting the aqeeda [creed] of the Muslims of Kashmir," it adds.

In recent months, the Voice of Khurasan has been also publishing a series of articles called "The Pugwash Conspiracy." In these articles, the ISIS-K blames Canada-based NGO Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs for infiltrating jihadi organizations in the name of helping their prisoners in jails with money and legal help, and subsequently using those contacts to create divisions among the jihadi organizations. To ISIS-K, this is a Jewish conspiracy against the Islamic world since the founder of Pugwash is a Jew. The magazine issue carries the sixth part of this series.

"Reasons For Staying Away From Jihad" is another article that is part of a long series. This article discusses whether one can avoid jihadi battles for some reason and goes on to define the role of mujahideen and jihad in the rise of Islam.

"Jihad is the pinnacle of Islam after bringing faith [i.e., after becoming Muslim]. There is no deed of Islam that can equal jihad in terms of rewards and status. The status of the mujahideen in the sight of Allah is the highest of all people, after the prophets. Allah has created a hundred ranks in the Jannah [paradise] for the mujahideen and the distance between two consecutive ranks is like the distance between the heaven and the earth," the current article says.

The article goes on to argue that only hypocrites stay away from jihad. It stresses purity of intention in jihad, adding: "This means that a person, looking for his own interests, can hardly wage jihad. Seeing victory and booty, he goes to jihad, and if he is about to face difficulties, he hardly shows up his face, as if these are the people who have subjugated jihad to their own desire and comforts, but they were supposed to submit themselves to the commandment of Allah and His messenger, be it easy or difficult for them."


[1] Telegram, October 2, 2022. The original English of the quoted text in this dispatch has been lightly edited for clarity and standardization.

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