May 6, 2003 Special Dispatch No. 500

Friday Sermon in Falouja, Iraq

May 6, 2003
Iraq | Special Dispatch No. 500

During the past week in Falouja, there have been exchanges of gunfire between Iraqis and U.S. troops which have resulted in deaths and injuries. The following are excerpts from the May 2, 2003 Friday sermon delivered by Sheikh Jamal Shakir Al-Nazzal at the Great Mosque in Falouja, Iraq:

Islam and the West

"…Brothers, before we begin with the matter of the destruction that has struck large and small in this country, I would like to say that it was the Islamic State that established the beacon of science for all humanity in the spheres of engineering and law. The era of the Islamic State became a golden age, at a time when Europe was living a life of ignorance, like beasts, without [its people] knowing law, human rights, or women's rights. In France there was [even] debate regarding whether women were considered human."

"Islam arrived and illuminated the minds of man. Andalusia is testimony to this. The king of Britain, France, Austria, and Norway, which were then a single state, wrote to the emir of the believers in Andalusia and requested [permission] to send his children to study sciences with the Muslims at the University of Cordoba in Andalusia. He told him – and the letter still exists – 'I am sending you my children, the fruit of my loins, to study science with you.' He signed the letter, 'Your servant, George.'"

"Let all hear – the Muslims, George, and George's supporters: This same Islamic culture, that enlightened the land, takes precedence over Europe. Europe and its forces must treat the Muslim lands with sanctity, primarily Baghdad, the capital of [Haroun] Al-Rashid,[1]which gave the Europeans the sciences, the clock, and gifts, out of friendship…"

Marxism – Not America – Harmed Us

"…Brothers, have we not said from this pulpit, beware of disobeying [the commandments of Islam], as disobedience kills us even before the weapons of our enemies do. But we did not listen to this call. You have seen how what we warned of has happened to us. What happened to us was not caused by the force of America. By Allah, we do not fear its force, because all power is Allah's. What happened to us was because we distanced ourselves from Islam. It was not due to the power of the American forces, but because we followed Marxism and Socialism and violated the principles of Islam… We have been unjust and have acted with tyranny, by means of the previous rulers… We must awaken and return to Islam before the great catastrophes occur."

America: Bring Freedom and Democracy to Iraq

"We say in honesty that if the [previous] ruling gang was corrupt and oppressing, you [Americans] must not act with corruption and oppression. If the previous ruling gang plundered the rights of the people, you must not plunder our rights. If the previous government was unjust, come cooperate with us and bring freedom and democracy, as you claim, so that the Iraqi people will live in security and comfort and will elect a good government that will give rights to every human being …"

Islam and The Other Religions

"…The Prophet Muhammad signed agreements and treaties with the polytheists who worshipped idols. He signed agreements and treaties with the Christians and with the Jews. All those who honored the agreement, the Prophet Muhammad honored the agreement with them. Let the people of the New Testament and also the Torah hear: 'We are guided by the Koran and by the words of the Prophet. Anyone who harms the People of the Book harms me.' What does this mean? If you are a Muslim and in your country are Jews, Christians, and Sabians,[2]do not harm them, because if you harm them, you are harming the Prophet Muhammad. How wonderful this tolerance is?!… When the Jews emigrated to Palestine, some families remained in one of the cities. When they witnessed the tolerance of Islam in the city… they converted to Islam, willingly and out of love for this great religion. In our city, Falouja, there are Sabians, and you all know it. When they saw that Islam is the religion of tolerance, the religion of good, the religion of love, they all converted to Islam, and became our brothers."

Jesus and the American Forces

"We appeal to the Christians, the People of the Book, in the east and west of the land, to look at Islam and compare it with their New Testament. All are books [sent] from Allah, and all emissaries are from Allah… Oh People of the Book, come let us reach the truth. The people of the New Testament should act according to what Allah brought down to them. You [Americans] are Christians? Then, please, read the New Testament. If it is written in it that you must oppress the wretched, then let's talk about it. But if it is written that you must act justly, then we appeal to the American forces that entered [Falouja], and quote the words of Jesus to them: 'If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the left cheek.' Wonder of wonders. America, the invading forces, struck us first, with uncalled-for and unacceptable force, in Baghdad and in other places. In our city, they struck us on the right cheek and on the left cheek and from above, from the front, and from behind, and their planes hover above our city, verily, above the houses. The tanks and armored personnel vehicles drive through the streets and aim their weapons at people. They say that America does not act with terror. By Allah, this is the gravest terror."

"Hear, countries of the world: In our city there are no weapons. Do we have weapons of mass destruction?! We have weapons of mass construction: good deeds, the Koran, prayer. This is our weapon. We are people of mass construction and not of mass destruction. We are people of comprehensive justice, for Islam and the other religions, and we do not differentiate between white and black, rich and poor, minister and emir, merchant and poor. No! The essence is Islam…"

We Call on American Forces to Leave Our City

"Why does America violate the sanctity of Islam in these lands? America, Britain, and others made a fuss when the Taliban destroyed the idols of Buddha – everyone knew what happened. But aren't emotions raging in the Arab, Islamic, and European countries over the blow to the sanctity of man in Iraq, in Baghdad, in our city Falouja? I ask you, American forces, have you found shells, missiles, [or] bombs in Falouja, and is that why you are killing our children?..."

"We say, we must act rationally and with faith, and according to the way of the Koran, the way of Muhammad. We call on the American forces to leave our city. We will protect our [own] people, city, and children."

"They [the Americans] claim that some of them were attacked by shooting or other things. By Allah, the state did not give us submachine guns, or even pistols… They did not arm us, except [with] the weapon of faith. Our children went out to protest in freedom, like [people] demonstrated in Britain and Washington against Bush. Did he kill them?"

"Our brothers, oh people of Islam and people of the world of the different religions, we say in honesty that the American forces must leave – first of all, [they must leave] our city. [In other places], Saddam built them luxurious palaces, so they should go spend time there, they should swim and dance. What do they want from us?!…"

Friction With the Americans Must Be Avoided

"We recommend to our brothers, even though we appreciate their emotions, not to act hastily and to try to preserve the lives and blood of all, and [preserve] security in our city. Allah willing, we will succeed by negotiating with them [the Americans], to cause them to understand that they made a mistake and that they will not repeat this mistake and will leave this city…"

"Our brothers, it is forbidden for our people and our youth to go out to demonstrate in any way. Hear and obey. Anyone who goes out to demonstrate bears responsibility and is committing a transgression, because he acts against our orders. The demonstration was not organized by any party, as we have no parties. We are clerics, the heirs of the prophets. We have not defiled our feet by entering party headquarters, even when it was at the height of its power. Will we defile our feet today by entering party headquarters? No way…"

"We call on America to draw strength from its humanity and not from its power… We appreciate the things that America and its president have done for us. First of all, the removal of the siege on Iraq – for this we must thank them. Second, for not harming the Iraqi people for what the deposed rulers did. And third – Allah knows, there is a third good thing that they did [but I forgot]…"

"We demand always a Muslim ruler, but not an extremist and arrogant Muslim leader, as was in Iran and Afghanistan, in which there were rulers who did not understand life, and did not know how to cooperate with the countries and the other minorities and to give them rights…"[3]

[1]The caliph of the Abbasid Empire (d. 809), whose capital was Baghdad.

[2]A monotheistic cult from the dawn of Islam.

[3]Al-Arabiyya Television (Dubai), May 2, 2003.

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