The following report is now a complimentary offering from MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor (JTTM). For JTTM subscription information, click here.
On March 1, 2021, Jordanian jihadi ideologue Abu Muhammad Al-Maqdisi published a fatwa in which he said that Muslims who believe in secularism are more evil and worse than Christians and Jews.
Responding to the question of "who are committing the gravest act of unbelief and farther astray from the path: the polytheists or the secularists?" Al-Maqdisi answered: "Without doubt, the secularists are evil and more malicious than the polytheists and secularism is farther astray from the path and more malicious than polytheism." According to Al-Maqdisi, "the secularists who are associated with Islam even [merely] by identity are considered apostates by a group of scholars."
Elaborating on his fatwa, Al-Maqdisi considered secularists to be "more evil than Arab polytheists, Jews, and Christians" saying that "the Jews, Christians, those who worship graves, and many polytheists and unbelievers have committed lesser acts of unbelief than the secularists."
Al-Maqdisi went on to say that "the level of apostacy committed by secularists who separate the religion from people's lives and would not allow religion to be involved in the process of governing and legislation and [would] prevent it from taking part in politics and worldly matters is graver, even if they identify as Muslims, than [that of] polytheists, unbelievers, and apostates who have committed acts of unbelief but do not call for such separation, seek to promote it, approve of it, persuade people, or impose it on them."
He then classified secularists, noting that they are not all at the same level of unbelief. The "most evil and malicious type of secularists," according to Al-Maqdisi, are "the type of Pharaoh and those who detest and reject religion completely... prevent people from believing it and reject its rules and declare their atheism." The level after that, he wrote, are "those who are not hostile against the religion but they reject its involvement in worldly matters, governing, and politics. And there is a third group whom we could call Erdoğanists. They have their own definition of secularism as they do accept shari'a verbally and may be in their personal behavior but they would not include it in governing and political systems and they consider all religions and their adherents equal as they would not disavow any aspects of the false beliefs and they would not consider Islam any different from or superior to them."
Al-Maqdisi concluded his fatwa by saying that "the Ghannouchi secularism is farther astray [from the path] than Erdoğan's secularism... the reason behind this classification is that secularism has different levels and its adherents vary in how deeply they are involved in unbelief. Atatürk's secularism is definitely not at the same level as Erdoğan's, despite that Erdoğan's secularism does not reject Atatürk's secularism but rather protects, celebrates, and glorifies it."