On November 23, 2015, Imam Mohamed Khattabi was placed under house arrest by French authorities. On December 25, he returned to his Montpellier mosque pulpit, where he wept and explained that it had been alleged in the press that he supported Jihadists. Imam Khattabi said that when he talks about Jihad in his sermons he does not mean "war" or "killing."
Following are excerpts:
Imam Mohamed Khattabi (speaking in Arabic): I would like to take the opportunity to thank the Muslims. Allah has blessed me with the love of Muslims. As the Lord is my witness, while I am standing on this pulpit… Forgive me, because words… I call upon you to be my witnesses before Allah… I love you for the sake of Allah. Allah granted me the love of Islam and the Muslims. Who can rip this love out of my heart? Allah granted me your love, and concern for you, your interests, and those of the generations to come. Love breeds envious and hateful people.
By Allah, I am not saying this out of hypocrisy. This is beyond my capabilities. I love this religion, and I love the Muslims. I have invested my life in your service. Should I be condemned for that?
Imam Mohamed Khattabi wipes a tear
Imam Mohamed Khattabi (speaking in French): The religion of Islam is misunderstood by both sides: by non-Muslims, who do not know much about Islam, and by the Muslims themselves, many of whom are in conflict regarding the understanding of Islam. So what can be said about others? I will give you an example? Whenever I pray, I say in Arabic: "Allah, grant victory to Islam and to the Muslims, and support Your servants, the mujahideen all over the world." I say this every time. Let's bring triumph to Islam and the Muslims, and let's bring succor to the mujahideen.
A journalist asked me a question – and this appeared in the press – alleging that I support jihadists. This is a misunderstanding of Islam, because we have reduced Jihad to the bearing of arms. We have reduced Jihad to killings and to terror attacks. But Jihad… As the Prophet Muhammad said after the Battle of Uhud: "We have left the lesser Jihad and to return to the greater Jihad." Jihad is the daily routine. Jihad is perpetual. Walk the straight path, tell the truth, do not cheat or lie – that is part of Jihad.
Let me address the youth. Whenever your father or mother call you and say: "Come here, son, and take out the garbage," you must make Jihad deep inside you to say: "Yes, Mom, I'll take out the garbage." "Yes, Mom, yes, Dad." If you say [to yourself]: "Why isn't he taking out the garbage himself?" then you have failed in your Jihad.
When Allah speaks of war, He says "war." When Allah speaks of war, He says "war." "Whenever they kindle fire for war"…He says "war." He also mentions "killing" when He refers to wars. But the term "Jihad" has another meaning. It is a noble term.