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memri
July 31, 2006 No.
1222

Saudi Shura Council Member Sheikh Al-'Obikan: According to Shari'a, Hizbullah Operations are Illegitimate; A Temporary Peaceful Settlement With the Jews is Needed

In a column in the London daily Al-Sharq Al-Awsat titled "Do Not Cast Yourselves into Perdition by Your Own Hands," prominent Saudi sheikh 'Abd Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan [1] criticized Hizbullah's current operations. [2] He wrote that Hizbullah had no authority to declare jihad, and that the damage caused by its actions outweighed any benefit they might produce. He added that since the Muslims have no chance of winning this campaign against the Jews, a temporary solution is necessary - a truce similar to the temporary truce of Hudaybiyya (628 A.D.), signed by the Prophet Muhammad with the Meccan polytheists. [3]

The following are excerpts:

"Many are Undertaking Tasks that are Not Theirs [To Undertake] - Including [Declaring] Jihad for the Sake of Allah"

"In the deluge of the recent events that have shaken our country, and in the depths of the raging disputes, one seeks the help and guidance of Allah - especially with respect to the fact that many are undertaking tasks that are not theirs [to undertake]. This includes [declaring] jihad for the sake of Allah, which the honorable Islamic shari'a has explained clearly and unambiguously, [stating who is authorized to declare it].

"The noble shari'a states that [one] should pursue and maximize gain, while avoiding and minimizing loss, as set out in the well-known [religious] principle. Another shari'a principle [states] that avoiding loss takes precedence over reaping gain.

"The shari'a places preconditions and constraints on the declaring of jihad, which must be considered in order to ensure the greatest gain for the nation and spare it loss - [that is,] in order to ensure the minimum possible damage and avoid greater damage. One of the preconditions regarding jihad [states] that the [the jihad fighters] must have [sufficient] capability to inflict harm on the enemy and to repulse its evil, so as to ensure the lives, the property, and the honor of the Muslims and to safeguard them from aggression or harm, that is, [from] destruction of property, from violation of honor, and from bloodshed."

Anyone Who Declares Jihad Without Guaranteeing the Capability to Defeat the Enemy Violates Shari'a

"Without fulfillment of the precondition of [having sufficient] capability [to defeat the enemy], anyone who declares jihad will not be safe from violating the [religious] principle of avoiding greater loss that overshadows the smaller gain. The Koran and the Sunna stressed this principle. Allah said: 'O Prophet! Exhort the believers to fight. If there be of you twenty steadfast, they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a hundred (steadfast) they shall overcome a thousand of those who disbelieve, because they (the disbelievers) are a people who do not understand... For the present, Allah has lightened your burden, for He knoweth that there is weakness in you. So [in these circumstances, Allah prescribes that] if there be of you a steadfast hundred they shall overcome two hundred, and if there be of you a thousand (steadfast) they shall overcome two thousand, Allah willing. Allah is with the steadfast [Koran 8:65-66].'

"From [Allah's] lightening of the burden that appears in this verse, several clerics, Koran commentators, and ulema have concluded that the Muslim fighters must flee [the battle] if the enemy's number is more than twice the Muslims' number. This is what the Prophet clarified to us in his Sunna with [his] words and his deeds. He acted according to the words of Allah: 'Cast not yourselves to perdition with your own hands, and do good (to others); surely Allah loves the doers of good [Koran 2:195]'...

"[Muhammad] agreed that [the military commander] Khaled bin Al-Walid and his men should flee from the enemy in the Battle of Mu'ta [in 629 A.D.] due to [the enemy's] greater numbers. The Companions of the Prophet thought that this [kind of] flight [from battle] was forbidden, and said: 'We are those who flee.' But [Muhammad] told them: 'You retreat in order to attack [later]'… Likewise, when the Prophet was in Mecca, he was not permitted [by Allah] to ward off their damage and to wage a defensive jihad, because he did not have the capability to do so."

The Situation of the Prophet and the Polytheists Cannot Be Compared With That of the Palestinians and the Jews

"If we compare the incident in which the Prophet and his men signed a [temporary] truce [hudna] and peace [sulh] with the polytheists in the Al-Hudaybiyya truce with the current case of our Palestinian brothers and the Jews, we find that the Prophet and his men were in a more dangerous and damaging situation [than the situation of the Palestinians vis-à-vis the Jews].

"Hence, if some people say - with the aim of preventing a truce or peace - that the Jews are desecrating Jerusalem [and therefore that jihad should be declared], this is not sufficient reason. We say to them [in response] that the polytheists [also] desecrated the Ka'ba and the Haram [the sacred zone in Mecca], and moreover, that there is a consensus that the Al-Haram Mosque in Mecca is more important and of higher status than Jerusalem [and despite this fact, the Prophet signed a truce and refrained from fighting the polytheists].

"If they say that there is someone who is defiling Jerusalem, [and therefore that we should wage jihad, then] we say to them that the polytheists defiled the Ka'ba by placing [other deities alongside Allah - and the Prophet nevertheless signed a truce with them]. And if they say that the Jews are the people who are the most evil and the most aggressive towards the Muslims, we tell them that the polytheists are more unbelieving than the Jews, and that there is a consensus that the Ahl Al-Kitab [People of the Book] - and the Jews are among them - are closer to the Muslims than the polytheists...

"If they say that the people of Palestine are persecuted, oppressed, and harmed, we say that the infidels did all this, and even more, to the Muslims in Mecca. Some of [the Muslims in Mecca] were tempted to abandon their religion, tortured, flogged, imprisoned, murdered, and harmed in other ways."

"Peace or Truce With the Jews, or Solutions by Peaceful Means and Diplomatic Dealings, is What is Required Now"

"If we know all this and compare the two cases, it will become clear that turning to peace or truce with the Jews, or to solutions by peaceful means and diplomatic dealings, is what is required now - assuming that the precondition of [lack of sufficient Muslim] capability holds. This [is required] until such a time as the Muslims have the capability to restore their rights, and until the precondition of [sufficient] capability is met, and the Prophet's Sunna, in word and deed, can be implemented...

"If we respond to the hasty, emotional, and imprudent calls, we will never succeed, and we will never attain our objectives. Proof of this is Hizbullah's action in Lebanon, when it independently took the decision to [wage] war, without this decision coming from the natural source [i.e. the Lebanese government], without agreement regarding the declaration of war against the Jews, and without concern for the [relevant] interests. The capturing of the two Jewish soldiers - which [Hizbullah] thought of as gain - has [actually] led to disaster and to obvious loss.

"What [we] got in exchange [for the capture] of the Jews [was this]: One of our countries has been entirely destroyed; there have been severe damage to [its] infrastructure, expulsion and starvation of its inhabitants, the killing of many of [its inhabitants], the weakening of the strength of the Muslims, the breaking of their unified position, and division in their ranks…"

"My Advice to My Muslim Brothers is to Leave Fateful Decisions... to the Nation's Leaders and Rulers"

"It is regrettable that ordinary people, who do not know and do not understand, have begun to interfere in important matters such as these, which is the [sole] prerogative of the rulers and commanders. As the religious scholars have instructed, [the decision to wage] war lies in the hands of the ruler... My advice to my Muslim brothers is to leave the decisions regarding the fate of the nation, and [regarding] war and peace, to the nation's leaders and rulers, who consult with knowledgeable ulema and with people known for their wise counsel, in order to decide what is best."


[1] For more on Sheikh Al-Muhsin Al-'Obikan, see:

MEMRI Egyptian Sheikh Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Tantawi - Islamic Reformist: A Religious and Intellectual Profile, "Egyptian Sheikh Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Tantawi - Islamic Reformist: A Religious and Intellectual Profile," July 13, 2006, Egyptian Sheikh Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Tantawi - Islamic Reformist: A Religious and Intellectual Profile ;

MEMRI Reeducation of Extremists in Saudi Arabia, "Reeducation of Extremists in Saudi Arabia," January 18, 2006, Reeducation of Extremists in Saudi Arabia ;

MEMRI Saudi Clerics Criticized Following Death of Hundreds in Mecca Stampede: ‘We Must Stop the Disregard for Human Life Based on Rulings That Adhere [Strictly] to the Written Word’, "Saudi Clerics Criticized Following Death of Hundreds in Mecca Stampede: 'We Must Stop the Disregard for Human Life Based on Rulings That Adhere [Strictly] to the Written Word,'" February 23, 2006, Saudi Clerics Criticized Following Death of Hundreds in Mecca Stampede: ‘We Must Stop the Disregard for Human Life Based on Rulings That Adhere [Strictly] to the Written Word’ ;

MEMRI Moderate Senior Saudi Cleric Sheikh Al-'Abikan in Lectures and Writings: Jihad in Iraq is Illegitimate; The Muslim Brotherhood's Ideology is the Cause of Terrorism, "Moderate Senior Saudi Cleric Sheikh Al-'Obikan in Lectures and Writings: Jihad in Iraq is Illegitimate; The Muslim Brotherhood's Ideology is the Cause of Terrorism," August 12, 2005, Moderate Senior Saudi Cleric Sheikh Al-'Abikan in Lectures and Writings: Jihad in Iraq is Illegitimate; The Muslim Brotherhood's Ideology is the Cause of Terrorism ;

MEMRI Anti-Soccer Fatwas Led Saudi Soccer Players to Join the Jihad in Iraq, "Anti-Soccer Fatwas Led Saudi Soccer Players to Join the Jihad in Iraq," October 7, 2005, Anti-Soccer Fatwas Led Saudi Soccer Players to Join the Jihad in Iraq ;

MEMRI A Saudi Public Debate on Women's Participation in the Municipal Elections, "A Saudi Public Debate on Women's Participation in the Municipal Elections," February 11, 2005, A Saudi Public Debate on Women's Participation in the Municipal Elections ;

MEMRI Reactions and Counter-Reactions to the Saudi Clerics' Communiqué Calling for Jihad in Iraq, "Reactions and Counter-Reactions to the Saudi Clerics' Communiqué Calling for Jihad in Iraq," April 21, 2005, Reactions and Counter-Reactions to the Saudi Clerics' Communiqué Calling for Jihad in Iraq ;

MEMRI Leading Progressive Qatari Cleric: By Permitting Suicide Operations, Al-Qaradhawi and His Ilk Have Caused a Moral Crisis in Islam, "Leading Progressive Qatari Cleric: By Permitting Suicide Operations, Al-Qaradhawi and His Ilk Have Caused a Moral Crisis in Islam," August 25, 2005, Leading Progressive Qatari Cleric: By Permitting Suicide Operations, Al-Qaradhawi and His Ilk Have Caused a Moral Crisis in Islam ;

MEMRI Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi and Other Islamic Scholars Debate Suicide Operations in a Counter-Terrorism Conference, "Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi and Other Islamic Scholars Debate Suicide Operations in a Counter-Terrorism Conference," August 26, 2005, Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi and Other Islamic Scholars Debate Suicide Operations in a Counter-Terrorism Conference .

[2] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), July 27, 2006.

[3] The truce of Hudaybiyya, signed in 628 A.D. between the Prophet Muhammad and his Meccan enemies, the Quraysh tribe, was for a period of 10 years.