Moazzam Begg, a British Muslim of Pakistani descent who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay between 2002 and 2005, was interviewed in an episode of the Unscripted Podcast that was uploaded to YouTube on January 17, 2020. Begg said that he had joined the mujahideen in Bosnia during the Bosnian War and that this was part of his process of becoming more religiously observant. Podcast host Dr. Salman Butt said that it is refreshing to hear people refer to the conflict in Bosnia as Jihad, and Begg said that the concept of Jihad will remain a sacred and “pristine” Islamic belief until Judgement Day. He emphasized that Jihad is not limited to an internal struggle and that key Islamic scholars have specifically said that Jihad is a military pursuit. He said that Muslims and their scholars need to take control of the narrative and be brave and bold enough to remain true to the Quran and the Sunnah. Furthermore, Begg said that the Muslims will eventually have to rise up against their oppression because Islam is being slowly undermined in the West and the East. He added that future generations need to be raised with the knowledge that they will ultimately be religiously obligated to rise up. Moazzam Begg is currently the Outreach Director at Cage, a London-based advocacy organization that focuses on Muslims who were detained during the War on Terror. For more about Cage, see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 3836. For more from the Unscripted Podcast, see MEMRI TV Clip No. 7703. The Unscripted Podcast is published by Islam21c, a pro-Muslim Brotherhood media organization.
Moazzam Begg: "I went to Bosnia about six or seven times during the war."
Salman Butt: [Inaudible]
Moazzem Begg: "I wanted to do something. I grew up learning the martial arts and I started teaching some of them in the local masjid [Mosque], just as kind of a response. And then later I took several convoys and for a period of time I joined the mujahideen in Bosnia, I make no contention or bones about that. But that was all part of – You can't do those things without knowing how to pray, without knowing how to fast, without knowing how to better and purify yourself. That was a simultaneous journey for me"
Salman Butt: "It's refreshing to hear people refer to that as jihad and mujahideen and stuff. Because right now as you know, because of the War on Terror, and – It's just to control and the choke and suffocation of Muslim discourse, and the word 'jihad' has become –"
Moazzem Begg: "–Synonymous with terrorism in Western lexicon. But it will never be in ours. It's muqadis, it is sacred in our belief, in our fiqh [doctrine]. It can't be denigrated, it can't be misconstrued, it can't be changed to what it is, and neither can it be hijacked by people who want to kill innocent people and say that this is jihad. It can't. Jihad will remain until yawm al-qiyama, until the Day of Judgment, a pristine Muslim belief.
"You know, people say, you know, that jihad can mean the internal struggle. All of those – true. But if you pick up any books of fiqh, and hadith, writings of jihad, and maghazi [writings about the military campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad], they talk about military jihad. They're not talking about the daily struggle to go and take your kids to school. So it's very specific, and as long as there are scholars who maintain that classic orthodox position, it can never be changed.
"We just need to take control of our narrative. And our scholars need to be bold enough and brave enough, and true to the word of the Quran and the sunnah.
"We've seen that the War on Terrorism is a perpetual war that will continue for decades on end. These are the longest wars in the histories of these countries, including the United States that has fought in every part of the world you can imagine."
Salman Butt: "And that's by design?"
Moazzem Begg: "That's by design. Yes. So this will be perpetual, and it means that Muslims by nature, by definition, they will have to rise to the call. People will rise from amongst us. And when that rising happens, there will be a greater oppression. That's also going to happen. So we have to be prepared, and we have to prepare our future generations in that knowledge. Don't oppress, and do not be oppressed [Quran 2:279]. Those are equally from Allah the most glorified and exalted, injunctions that we should know – don't harm people, [and] don't allow somebody to harm you. And we will have to rise. Not because of ourselves, but because our deen [religion] in itself is being bit by bit undermined. Whether it's in the West, or whether it's in the East."