Amid the ongoing battle for Qusayr that has seen participation from Jabhat al-Nusra and Hezbollah on opposing sides, the Muslim Scholars Association- an organization of Sunni 'ulama with branches in a variety of countries- has issued the statement translated below in support of jihad against Assad's forces in Qusayr.
Some of the main themes here include the concept of defensive jihad (particularly apparent with the opening citation of Qur'an 22:39-40), the recognition of Qusayr's strategic importance in the Syrian civil war, the rejection of diplomatic solutions to the conflict (which have been futile anyway) and the highly sectarian discourse that is becoming increasingly prevalent among clerics observing the conflict in Syria from outside.
The sectarianism is most apparent in the constant referencing of the Shi'a as 'Rafidites' and Alawites as 'Nusayris'- both terms being considered offensive to members of both sects. In any case, a number of thematic threads like the hope of liberating Palestine and seeing a Jewish conspiracy are fairly standard.
I particularly emphasize 'outside' of Syria, because not one of the signatories is native to Syria or based there. It should also be noted that this organization has a presence among Sunni 'ulama in Lebanon, and so the statement issued in support of jihad could well attract more Lebanese Sunni fighters to the civil war in Syria.
In the Name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful.
Statement from the Muslim Scholars Association.
(Your brothers have embarked on victory in Qusayr).
Praise be to God, al-Aziz, who says: 'Permission [to fight] has been given to those who are being fought because they have been wronged, and verily is God able to grant them victory. Those who have been forced out from their abodes without right, except that they say- 'Our Lord is God'- and even if it had not been for God to keep people in check against each other, hermitages, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of God is mentioned a lot. God helps those who help Him. Verily is God powerful and exalted' (Qur'an 22:39-40).
Peace and blessings be upon the Seal of the Prophets (the Imam of the Mujahideen), on all his family and companions, and on those who follow them by virtue of good deeds until the Day of Judgment.
At the time in which the Rafidites and Nusayris are competing from all sides for the towns and villages of Syria, as their discourse has indeed united, their lords are encouraging them, and they kindle the flame of killing so that their populations are stirred up against the innocent, without any consideration of respect for the elderly, or even the woman who seeks aid or the child who screams in fright.
This is to say nothing of their livelihood that has delighted them and the fact they have preferred to refrain from seeking peace, while statesmen languish and the hearts of many of their children are burnt in sacrifice for the victory of their brothers.
Further, they stand out in the pages of history with the disgrace of their avoidance of providing reinforcements for their brothers who cry out to them for help, while being stingy in the campaigns of popular donations for relief assistance for those who seek help from them, while they [those seeking help] see them committing massacres for a whole time in a village![i] So where is the realization of the principle of loyalty to the believers (for believers- men and women- are allies for one another[ii]) in this crucial time?
Hence the Association of Muslim Scholars makes clear what follows:
1. If any of us has abandoned the oppressed among the men, women and children who cannot devise a stratagem in Syria, may we be exonerated of guilt on account of failure in the eyes of God the Mighty and Exalted. We say to all who have abandoned or admitted refraining from protecting our brothers: Beware of God and fear the consequence, for the Sunnah has entailed the failure of God Almighty: Whoever forsakes his brother, so the recompense depends on the type of deed. Just as you condemn, you are condemned. Days are like countries.[iii] And so that they may remember the truthful threat of the truthful one and his promise:
"There is no man who forsakes a Muslim man in a situation in which his respect is violated and his honor is diminished, unless he is forsaking God- the Mighty and Exalted- in a situation in which he loves his protection. And there is no man who protects a Muslim in a land in which his honor is diminished and his respect is violated, unless he has the protection of God in a situation in which he loves his protection" (hadith narrated by Abu Dawoud […][iv]).
2. The legal obligation according to Shari'a on states is greater than the support for the Mujahideen in Syria with medical supplies and relief materials that do not defend them from a bomber missile or aerial bombardment, hence it is obligatory to support the Jihad by all means of force possible, just as Iran does for the criminal Nusayri [i.e. Assad] and his Ba'athist regime. If that [regime] is not in compliance with the cause of Shari'a, then let it be in compliance with the cause of interests, politics and the fate of the world, with fear of the evil of consequence and fate!
3. It is obligatory on the Mujahideen in Syria that their armies come together and unite in their discourse for an end to the siege of Qusayr and the towns which the enemy are raiding, so that they [the Rafidites et al.] do not hoard far and wide in the spreading of their brothers with what they have among materials for war. And may the mutawilluna[v] know that it is not permissible for them to fall short in that for the reason of delusional interests and unjust expenses. But indeed the consequence of dividing into factions, dissent, and deficiency in the likeness of this is fatal for them, both in this world and in the Hereafter (and don't fight with each other or you will lose heart and your strength will vanish[vi]).
4. On Muslims generally it is obligatory to support their brothers in what they endure, and to supply them with what they can, especially in Qusayr to put an end to the siege on it; and that will be through reliable authorities in every land, whether they are respected associations or reliable individuals.
5. We call on anyone who can go to the refugee camps in Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere to undertake that enterprise, so indeed in witnessing the situation and hearing the truths, there is movement from knowledge of what is certain to witnessing what is certain, and you can be aware of the true obligatory extent of consolation, and their directive on what may benefit them and what may benefit their country.
6. Some of the cities have their own importance, and action for their sake is more important than for others, such as Qusayr which the tyrant and his aides from the Rafidites, Nusayris and Ba'athists are struggling for in their attempt to acquire it since it connects Lebanon to Syria, going from it to the coast and Nusayri areas from one side, and the strangulation on Homs is tightened through it from the other side, so the initiative to protect it is the greatest necessity, and its significance has its danger, since the same goes for the Sunni areas on the borders with the Nusayri areas.
7. On the people of Sham and other Muslims it is obligatory that they be aware of plots of the states, especially what is called the peace solution and political settlement, as the land of the Muslims has not entertained the ideals of these solutions of submission, with Palestine being the best example of that, so the Islamic states should be aware of the procedures travelling through the camps of the East and West.
8. The Mujahideen must cut off relations with those besides God, especially the promises of the East and West, as these people care for their interests and not those of anyone else, with seizure [of things] for reasons of force and ability (and prepare for them what you can from force and from binding of horses as you terrorize the enemy of God with them- your enemy as well- and others, even as you do not know them. God knows them[vii]).
9. Oh rich men of the Ummah, where is your support for your brothers? So this is the true investment (if you give an interest-free loan to God, He will compound it for you[viii]; whatever you spend from something, so He replaces it and He is the best of Sustainers[ix]).
10. The greatest obligation on the 'ulama of the Ummah and its official promoters is towards their brothers: to provide support to them, to teach them, to defend them, and to beware of their enemies, especially Hizb ash-Shaytan [Hezbollah] and others besides them, with a statement on the dangers of the internal Jewish and Christian project to turn Bilad ash-Sham into little cantons that don't pose a danger to the Jews, thus preventing the liberation of Palestine.
We issue this statement calling on the Muslim populace in Bilad ash-Sham and others besides it to be aware and make preparations to defend themselves and their families, for their enemy is not merciful.
In the same way we call on anyone who can to undertake his obligation in protecting them with the importance of praying for their brothers and devotion to our people there until they have been rid of the regime and the tyrant, asking God to be kind towards the oppressed in Bilad ash-Sham, to ratify their integrity, by which He reveals his religion, and by which He censures his enemy (oh ye who believe, be patient, vie in patience, remain in your positions and fear God. Perhaps you will then succeed- Qur'an 3:200).
1. Sheikh al-Amin al-Haj- Sudan (Head of the Association)
2. Sheikh Abd al-Rahman al-Mahmoud- Saudi Arabia (Deputy Head of the Association)
3. Sheikh Nasir bin Suleiman Al-Amr- Saudi Arabia (Secretary General of the Association).
4. Sheikh Abd al-Mohsen al-Mutairi- Kuwait (Assistant Secretary).
5. Sheikh Abd al-Aziz Abd al-Mohsen al-Turki- Saudi Arabia (Assistant Secretary)
6. Sheikh Mohammed Yusri- Egypt (Head of the Scientific Committee)
7. Sheikh Mohammed Abd al-Karim- Sudan (Head of the Membership Committee)
8. Sheikh Adil al-Hamad- Bahrain (Executive Director)
9. Sheikh Abd al-Wahhab al-Hamiqani- Yemen (Member of the Supreme Council)
10. Sheikh Shawkat Karansiki- Kosovo (Member of the Supreme Council)
[i] Presumably this refers to Qusayr.
[ii] Qur'an 9:71. The manner of citation in the original statement is not consistent, so all Qur'anic references not given by the authors will be noted here.
[iii] Arabic proverb that emphasizes the changeability of affairs.
[iv] The isnad (chain of transmission) follows but I have decided to omit it.
[vi] Qur'an 8:46.
[vii] Qur'an 8:60
[viii] Qur'an 64:17
[ix] Qur'an 34:39
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a Shillman-Ginsburg Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a student at Brasenose College, Oxford University. His website is http://www.aymennjawad.org