November 6, 2001 Special Dispatch No. 296

Terror In America (22): Egypt's Al-Azhar Clerics: We Declare War On America

November 6, 2001
Egypt | Special Dispatch No. 296

The unofficial website of Egypt's Al-Azhar University,, continues to post anti-Americanstatements made by the university's clerics and professors pertaining to the U.S. war against terrorism. Moussa Hal, areporter for the website, compiled these statements and published them in a number of articles entitled "Islamic clericsin Egypt declare war on America."[1] The following are excerpts from the site:

Hal reported that Sheikh Ali Abu Al-Hassan, head of Al-Azhar's Religious Ruling Committee, said, "It is the sense of danger that unites the West. They have put together a coalition against Islam. They sense danger only from Islam. This feeling has united them against a single enemy, which is Islam. Why, therefore, should we ourselves not unite? … We, Oh Nation of Islam, are all targeted by our enemy… Why should we not unite, therefore, around the cry, 'There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah' and fight our enemy?…"

"Entering into an alliance with the Americans against Afghanistan constitutes Ridah [that is, turning away from belief in Islam, for which the punishment is death, with no possibility of clemency]… The Afghan opposition [forces] must not put [their] hand in the hand of the Americans; they must stand with their countrymen [and] their co-religionists, otherwise Allah and his angels will curse them…"[2]

On another occasion, Abu Al-Hassan told Hal, "There is no doubt that this is a case of a hostile state fighting us, and we must resist it… Resistance in this case is by all possible means, even by means of war. If the enemy sets foot on the lands of Islam, he must be fought. In this case, a man must set out [on a Jihad] without the permission of his father, a woman without the permission of her husband, a debtor without the permission of his lender, and a slave without the permission of his master. Islam urges us to set out on a Jihad for the sake of Allah until we accomplish one of two good things: martyrdom or victory…"

"When Islam is attacked, there are no borders. Jihad in this instance is an obligation for all Muslims… In this instance, the aggression is against Islam and therefore it is the obligation of all Muslims, not only the local residents, to protect this piece of land…"

"The Afghans have the right to defend themselves, and we are obliged to help them and to defend them as best we can from the cruelty of the American attacks. Islam has commanded us to support our Muslim brothers under attack, and to fight the Jihad alongside them against the polytheists, with our souls and with our property…"[3]

Dr. Abd Al-Azim Al-Mut'ani, Al-Azhar University lecturer, stated, "This war is a criminal attack, genuinely similar to the first Crusader wars, which the West waged in the Middle Ages under the rallying cry of defending the Christian pilgrims, when their actual target was Islam and the Muslims. Now, the U.S. has declared a war on Afghanistan, under the rallying cry of fighting terrorism, when the actual goal is to harm Islam and to wipe it off the face of the earth…"

"The Islamic world must stand by the oppressed… The [Islamic] peoples must fulfil their obligation towards Islam and towards Muslims. The battle is a battle of the peoples and they are the ones who drive the rulers to do their duty. If the armies of Islam do not do their duty with regard to this invasion of Islam, they must be dispersed!!"[4]

In another article, Al-Mut'ani discussed the differences between Jihad and terrorism: "Terrorism is a modern term. In Islam, the meaning of terrorism is intimidation, not all intimidation is forbidden by religious law… In the modern age, when [different] kinds of oppression and persecution emerged, some ethnic groups in almost every society were stripped of their rights. When they insisted on their rights, and [when] the despotic regimes rejected them – the oppressed and persecuted found no way to express themselves but by means of [various] kinds of rebellion…"

"The most recent example of the so-called terrorism are the recent attacks against America. Whatever the interpretations may be, no one disagrees that America is the one who killed and was killed. It is America that killed itself with its distorted policy. It was completely successful in sowing hatred and loathing in the hearts of [people] of the entire world by means of its policy, a policy of double standard, primarily in all things regarding Islamic and Arab affairs… At this point, I would like to give two examples: the problem that occurred between East Timor and West Timor. The Muslim side was the stronger side. America went berserk and mobilized all the international institutions to defend the non-Muslims. Within 24 hours there were United Nations troops in addition to special forces from the U.S. at the scene. America did not stop until it had achieved its goal… In contrast, it allows Israel to slaughter Palestinians and to destroy the mosques… America did not lift a finger to save the Palestinian people. After all this, America still wants Allah to give it security. [Yet] it is the one that attacked itself because it angered the world."

"What America has done against Afghanistan is a crime, and one of the most loathsome kinds of international terrorism. [This is] interfering in others' domestic affairs, which is not accepted both by the monotheistic religions and by the laws [made by man]… We could have stood with America had it sought a precise definition of terrorism and had it established statutes of punishment for terrorism in the UN. After that, every state could have sought the terrorists within its own jurisdiction. But that the U.S. should carry out this mission [by itself] – no, no, a thousand times no! Even if the present regimes support America, these regimes are only passing clouds. They do not enjoy stability; stability is in the hands of the peoples…"

"What America is doing now is world terror waged against the weak. Even if the Islamic peoples are not worthy of the support of Allah – because they themselves do not support Him – the forces of tyranny deserve to be defeated."[5]

Dr. Abd Al-Sabour Shahin also discussed the differences between terrorism and Jihad: "The truth is that the way Islam uses the word 'terrorism' is honorable, as Allah said: 'Make ready for them whatever you can of armed strength and of mounted pickets at the frontier, whereby you may daunt the enemy of Allah and your enemy.' The terrorism mentioned in this verse refers to intimidation or threat, not necessarily to damage. For this reason, accusing Islam or Muslims of terrorism is mistaken, because Muslims as a nation are the symbol of peace in the world and the Muslim nation has never attacked a neighboring nation…"

"There is a huge difference between terrorism and Jihad. Jihad is a general term that includes Jihad by means of words, Jihad by means of leadership, and Jihad by means of war. War is only on behalf of the nation and in accordance with its decision, and not according to the decision of an individual. What is happening with the Palestinians is a Jihad that is legitimate according to religious law, aimed at defending the Islamic holy places. What the Afghani people is doing in response to the aggression is also a Jihad that is legitimate according to religious law..."[6]

Dr. Abd Al-Hay Al-Farmawi, a lecturer, referred to the American campaign in Afghanistan as follows: "The American attacks on Afghanistan are terrorism, oppression, repression [and] barbarism, and can even be called bullying. The American missiles were directed at innocents among the defenseless Afghani people. America is doing this without presenting any proof of Osama bin Laden's guilt. This proves that this war, as Bush said, is a crusader war against Islam and Muslims. We must awaken before the U.S. forces reach us."[7]

To this, Dr. Yahyah Isma'il, the official spokesman of the Al-Azhar clerics, added, "This war is a war against Muslims and Islam. Everyone must offer help to the mujahideen brothers in Afghanistan. They should not be abandoned in the tragedy to which they are subject."[8] In a similar vein, the Islamic Sheikh Youssef Al-Badri called on "Muslims to declare a Jihad against the Americans. We all must prepare for Jihad, because the strikes will reach even us, in many Islamic countries. What America and the West have done is an international crime…. a great crime against humanity. This is a war against Islam, as the leaders of the West and the leaders of the U.S. have said. We have no choice but to declare our own position: Are we with Islam or are we with Bush? The answer is what will determine the fate of the Islamic nation in the new millennium."[9]


[1], October 11, 2001.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid, October 18, 2001.

[4] Ibid, October 18, 2001.

[5] Ibid, October 15, 2001.

[6] Ibid, October 22, 2001.

[7] Ibid, October 11, 2001.

[8] Ibid, October 11, 2001.

[9] Ibid, October 11, 2001.

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