Readers may remember in a previous post I translated some internal files on the issue of women's da'wa inside the Islamic State during the days when the group controlled territory in Iraq and Syria. One of the issues raised in those files was the case of Dr. Imaan Mustafa al-Bagha (Umm al-Mudhaffar al-Dimashqiya, a kunya she actually took after a son-in-law) and an institute she was running in the Raqqa area that focused on religious education for women.
The internal files in this post touch more specifically on Dr. Bagha and the institute she was running, detailing the controversies about certain beliefs she expressed on social media and were attributed to her by others. The report- marked with date 24 Rajab 1437 AH (c. 2 May 2016 CE) and based on an extended meeting held with her- paints a generally negative picture of her, describing her as haughty and harboring a kind of partisan nationalism rooted in pre-Islamic ignorance (Jahiliya). This sense of self-superiority is attributed to the fact that she is a doctoral graduate and the daughter of a prominent Syrian Islamic scholar, who is himself denounced as an apostate by the organization for proclaimed support for Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, whereas she refrained from takfir against him on the grounds he proclaimed his support for Assad out of fear.
In the end, the report recommends closing the institute, which, contrary to usual practice, was directly affiliated with the wali (provincial governor) of Raqqa rather than the oversight of the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid (Da'wa and Mosques Department). The closing of the institute she was running is what actually happened.
It is also interesting to observe her description of her life-story, saying that she harbored hatred against the disbelievers in general and the 'Crusaders' in particular, and had secretly admired Osama bin Laden for a long time. She also had a long history of lecturing in Islam in Saudi Arabia before she migrated back to Syria to join the Islamic State.
As I noted before, the portrait of Dr. Bagha in these files strongly contrasts with documents I obtained under the label of the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid (Da'wa and Mosques Department) that praised her as well as her son Abu al-Hassan al-Dimashqi, who died fighting for the Islamic State. When I showed those documents to al-Nadhir al-Uryan (who leaked these internal files on Dr. Bagha), he explained that her relations with the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid were very good, and that they were ignorant about her. He added that she won much sympathy through exploiting her son's death by publicizing it on social media, though the order eventually came to close her page. Also, her son-in-law Mudhaffar reputedly used his position in the judiciary to publicize her feelings of grievance. In a public post commenting on the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid documents praising her, al-Nadhir al-Uryan wrote:
'Umm al-Mudhaffar al-Dimashqiya, many were duped by her especially as she abandoned Saudi Arabia with her family, and came to the land of the Dawla, and that was after her daughter Ahlam al-Nasr preceded her as she came to the land of the Dawla after Abu Osama al-Ghareeb (the son of Umm Adam al-Majatiya) coordinated for her as she had left without her family's knowldge. And after that she married Abu Osama al-Ghareeb and her mother and her family joined her and the mother was not content with the marriage of her daughter and there occurred between them many problems though Ahlam al-Nasr stood beside her husband, and her mother returned, and their matter came to the courts, and they raised cases against each other, and Abu Osama and his wife Ahlam al-Nasr had raised a case against her accusing her of irja' and Jahmism.
And the cases remained among them in the courts until the fall of Raqqa.
Umm al-Mudhaffar is of the controlling haughty type that loves positions of authority, and what she strove for as soon as she came to the land of the Dawla is the position of authority, therefore she used all strategems to reach her desire, and she succeeded until the complaints began to multiply against her from the sisters, so Abu Muhammad al-Furqan curbed her and closed the institute she was running.
Therefore we won't be surprised that the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid had mentioned her in one of its files as one of the enduring mujahid women, and God is the One whose help is to be sought.'
Below are the internal files on Dr. Bagha translated.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
Report after meeting with Umm al-Mudhaffar al-Dimashqiya.
Date: Sunday afternoon, 24 Rajab 1437 AH
The journey in seeking 'Ilm:
. Umm al-Mudhaffar was born in Damascus, and the house of her father (Dr. Mustafa al-Bagha) was filled with books, so she liked to read and seek 'Ilm since a young age.
. Then she completed after that Shari'i high school, to enroll after that in Damascus University, from which she graduated. Then she prepared a study on the subject of 'Expenditures of Relatives', and she was examined by Dr. Faruq al-Akam, so she obtained through it the master's degree. Then she prepared a study about the subject of the 'Guardianship of the Woman', and she was examined also by Dr. al-Akam, so she obtained by this study the degree of the doctorate.
. She married a man who knows the Qur'an by heart and is accredited in the ten readings, and this was her dowry, and he worked as a pharmacist.
. She enrolled with al-Malik Faysal University in al-Dammam as a lecturer.
. She worked in lecturing and da'wa for 25 years.
. She asserts that she has 18 studies in 'Ilm on the Internet, in addition to a page on Facebook and a site on the Internet to publish her articles and studies.
Adopting the manhaj and mobilizing to al-Sham:
. The beginning was that the doctor read the book 'Nights of Turkestan' when she was around 10 years old, which nurtured 'hatred' in her against the Tawagheet of the world, and 'hatred' against the disbelievers in general, and against the Crusaders in particular.
. Then she knew after that Sheikh Osama bin Laden following the events of 11 September, and she claimed that he did not add anything to her information, for she was on the same manhaj as she claims but she saw in him a fine example for the mujahid in that time, and she supported and loved him, but secretly, in order to avoid the harm of the intelligence services, and she described him in her articles as 'my king' and no one knew who was 'her king' whom she always praised, until she mobilized to al-Sham so she affirmed that 'her king' was the person of Osama bin Laden.
. The events arose in al-Sham, and Jabhat al-Nusra appeared, then the Dawla was announced after it, and she claimed that she delayed until she should know the matter and truth, but her daughter and her son both hastened to mobilize to al-Sham to join the Islamic State.
. Then she, her husband and her children all migrated to al-Sham and joined the Islamic State, and she announced that on the Internet to spite the disbelievers, as she said.
. The Islamic State added nothing to her in terms of doctrine and manhaj, for she was on its manhaj since she was young according to her claims. Indeed she always said- 'I have been Da'eshi before the coming of Da'esh'- as she wrote in an article after her arrival to al-Sham
The Dhat al-Nataqain institute:
. The problems began with her in the institute around a year and a half ago as she claims.
. She outlined the general plan for the institute, and displayed it to the Diwan al-Ta'aleem, and there were arguments between agreeing to the project and rejecting it, and in the end the outlined project was decided upon, and work has proceeded with it till this day of ours.
. Much opposition was aroused against her work in the institute because of what was attributed to her from articles and beliefs, so she met with Abu Bakr al-Qahtani once, and with Omar Mahdi Zaidan once, and she claimed that more than 15 interrogations were carried out with her during a year with the same accusations, and each time she was exonerated of them, and she became tired of this as she says.
. The Diwan al-Ta'aleem asked her for a CV of the female lecturers in the institute, and copies of their qualifications, but Umm Ahmad al-Masriya (the wife of Abu Maram al-Jaza'iri) refused and said that she cannot obtain them because they are in Egypt, and Umm al-Mudhaffar mentioned that Umm Ahmad had claimed a number of qualifications before that with contradiction on them. Then Umm Ahmad al-Masriya said that there is a committee that would come and test all the female lecturers, which Umm al-Mudhaffar considered to be an insult or threat against her, especially as the one responsible for the test would be the spouse of Umm Ahmad.
. She mentioned that she does not speak in the institute except on matters agreed upon.
The educational staff in the institute:
1. Umm Amro al-Halabiya al-Urduniya: lecturing on Qur'an sciences, tafsir and jurisprudence.
2. Umm Abd al-Rahman al-Muhajira al-Jazrawiya: lecturing on the sira, history, the jurisprudence of jihad and the ways of peace.
3. Umm Othman al-Shamiya al-Manbajiya: lecturing on Arabic language.
4. Umm Maryam al-Shamiya: lecturing on jurisprudence.
5. Umm al-Mudhaffar al-Dimashqiya: lecturing on 11 subjects.
6. Umm Muhammad al-Kurdiya: lecturing on tajwid.
The levels and number of students:
. Level 1: 200 female students.
. Level 2: 70 female students.
. Level 3: 50 female students.
. Level 4: 30 female students.
. Removal of illiteracy: from 20 to 50 female students.
The number of female students in the institute approximately: 320-400 students.
The issues brought out in the meeting:
. Many issues have been stirred up concerning Umm al-Mudhaffar, by the testimonies of many sisters, inside and outside the institute. Indeed also from the people closest to her.
And the most prominent of these issues:
1. Her denial of sorcery and demonic affliction, and the reason is her rationalism approach in discussing Shari'i issues.
2. Her broaching of the issue of the fitna between the companions and the error of some of them and delving into it.
3. Her words about respecting the religions and her citing as evidence words attributed to al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam: "The people of our dhimma before the people of our path." And so Islam respects the existence of the religions with it.
4. Her description of Shari'i violations with rational legal terms, like her words about theft being an economic crime, and adornment being a social crime, and so on.
5. Her words about the reason for making the aqiqa sacrifice of two rams for the new born male and one for the new born female, and her assertion that the male deserves more than that!
6. Her words on the issue of captivity, and her condemnation of it.
7. Her assertion that the report of ones is supposition of proof and supposition of evidence and doctrines are not proven by it.
8. Her lack of takfir against Morsi, Erdogan and Ismail Haniyeh.
And many other issues.
And she denied all this absolutely, and said that all this are claims against her out of malice, despite the multiplicity of the witness testimonies.
. There was raised the issue of her trust in her father in the various meetings as well as her lack of takfir of him, despite his support for the Taghut Bashar on the pulpit in his presence. And she admitted that she does not declare takfir on him, and made allowance for him on the grounds that he has been afraid, so we mentioned that the consensus is that fear is not something that permits the commission of kufr, and the difference between fear and compulsion. Despite that she considered that he has not become a disbeliever despite the clarity of his expressions of support for him, even if she considered that he was languid. And she mentioned that her father has been in Jordan until recently and she thought that he returned to Damascus.
. Most of the discussion was about the women's problems in the institute and its independence from the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid and its transfer to the wali directly, contrary to the course of operation in the Islamic State, and Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi informed her of the falsehood of this decision, and its cancellation in the meeting.
. The issue of the test and her abstention from it was raised, despite the fact it was an order from those leading the Diwan and who are considered its amirs. There was extended discussion on that, and her view that it was a mistaken idea (test on papers on issues of creed), and the clarification of its fault in that, and it seems that the matter had in it a type of challenge and offence.
. The existence of some deviant fatwas of hers and strange articles on her page on the Internet, for example:
Iman Mustafa al-Bagha:
Dr. Abd al-Karim Bakar: I read his books and they were nothing, superficial, and I know female students who abandoned study in one of the colleges (in the land of al-Haramain) because of his trivial books, but he has become a scholar in a time in which ignorance has spread, and the matter is relative
And the tragedy is not only in his ignorance, but rather in the hireling nature of his trivial pen. This gang of hireling pens that betray God and His Messenger and lie against the Ummah, and have forgotten that the day of Reckoning is a day in which neither wealth nor sons will be of no use, as they will pay the price dearly: a day in which the feet of truth trample on them.
When I came to the land of the Caliphate I did not need to change any of my thought or what I studied from the Shari'a sciences because what the Islamic State is upon accords with what I learnt from the books of Shari'a at the hands of the students of Sheikh Hassan Habanka (may God have mercy on him).
So let the hireling pens stop misleading the Ummah, pens that exploit small souls that have imbibed lowliness and subjection, and have bowed to their enemy and their employees.
Imaan Mustafa al-Bagha:
Congratulating the disbelievers on their occasions or imitating them in that may be forbidden if the occasion is religious, or disliked if it is worldly.
The evidence for the first: the obligation of faith in God and faith in Him means disbelief in what contradicts Him, and whoso is pleased with what contradicts Him has committed kufr and it is a spontaneous logical analogy. As for the worldly occasions they come under condemnation in the words of SAWS: 'You should follow Sunans of those before you inch by inch, step by step...' These are issues resolutely decided in law, but some have imbibed love for the one who has been victorious over them and stolen their civilization.
My dear brothers let's forget Plato, Aristotle and their mumbo-jumbo (our fate we know the story) but I have found for you more magnificent book by the pure author, the intellect whom we all love, and as for myself I am his fan: it is a book- 'Free Islamic Education' by the scholar Abu al-Hassan al-Nadawi: a useful and enjoyable read by the power of the Almighty.
. And in sum, it seems that she lies a lot, and considers that she is the one who established the institute, and she does not want the one who disagrees with her on it at all, and does not think that there is one on her level of 'Ilm such as to be a peer for her.
Summation and Recommendations
. The doctor is a 'rationalist' who uses 'rationalist' terms a lot in her explanation of the Shari'i issues, and she has been accused of rejecting established matters in the Qur'an, Sunna and consensus, like sorcery and captivity and other such things, as has come in the old and new testimonies against her.
. The doctor does not have the manhaj of adjudication, and she is wary of mentioning the expression 'apostate' and 'disbeliever' and she uses non-Shari'i terms for them like 'war criminals' and 'I hate them' and other things. Indeed she also repudiates takfir of senior apostate figures, such as the 'ulama of the Tawagheet and others besides them. And there has occurred from her in the tone of words what can be understood from it her condemnation of the Islamic State in takfir of the apostates, as came in the testimony of her daughter: 'Enough empty talk! This accusation [apostasy] that you assert and attach to the people in order for you to kill them.'
. She is a very haughty women, to the point that she is haughty about the fact that she is haughty and refuge is to be sought in God, as came in the testimony of the female teachers in the institute: 'She says that her roots are established in the land, and no one can extirpate them, and she said indeed I have become on high and powerful in this time.' And likewise from the testimony of her daughter: 'Is it not a good thing that it is spread about that I am haughty?! This means that I have that because of which I can be proud!' And it seems there are officials who gave her the specific green light for her to be haughty, for she always says: 'I have become abooove- and the waw is extended very much- more than you think, and I am supported and relied on!' As came in the testimony of her daughter also.
. It seems that the woman is weak in 'Ilm in the issues of creed but also perhaps issues of jurisprudence. But rather, she is good in literary and social matters and the like.
. She has a Jahili partisan nationalism, in keeping with her haughtiness and her attested vanity- which has led her to social climbing and thinking she deserves leadership in its place- as she is more worthy than others besides her- and the merits of priority as she is the daughter of the apostate Mustafa al-Bagha and the fact that she is a doctor in university, and God is the One whose help is to be sought.
. Issues in which she contradicts the manhaj of the Ahl al-Sunna wa al-Jama'a have spread among the women in general and the students of them in particular, which calls for correcting the matter quickly.
. The women has made great efforts in lecturing, for she lectures 11 subjects in the institute, and she directs the institute and in it are more than 300 female students, which shows her activity in work and effort in it.
. The institute must be cancelled and its staff rebuilt (Abu Suleiman said: the solution may be in cancelling the idea of the institute entirely, and making the lecturing in mosques designated for the women in some hours of the day, and that is because the frequency of the mixing of the women with each other is better suited to the deliberate stoking of the problems among them, as women have been known for that).
. Attending the meeting:
1. Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi
2. Abu Khabab al-Masri
3. Abu Suleiman al-Shami
4. Al-Mudhaffar al-Shami (her daughter's spouse).
. Umm al-Mudhaffar said after the meeting that she was wronged in the meeting, and made false claims, such as Sheikh Abu Muhammad al-Iraqi threatening her with killing, when he mentioned the story of Abu Ja'afar al-Hattab and his brothers. And likewise she claimed that the sheikh alluded to a relation between her and the Sheikh Abu Abd al-Rahman al-Tamimi (the wali of Raqqa), which made him transfer the affiliation of the institute to him personally, and other things besides it.
. al-Mudhaffar (the spouse of her daughter, and she may take up her kunya out of feeling of auspiciousness for it, after the failure of his claim that she is his maternal aunt by lineage then from nursing), and his close relation with her, which helps to spread 'her grievance' among the people, especially as he works within the Diwan al-Qada wa al-Madhalim.
And God is the One whose help is to be sought.
Written by Abu Khabab al-Masri
Reviewed by Abu Suleiman al-Shami
Diwan al-Ta'aleem: Education department
Tawagheet: idol tyrants/idolatrous tyrants
Abu Bakr al-Qahtani: a Saudi scholar who became one of the luminaries for the more 'moderate' dissident trend inside the Islamic State.
al-Halabiya: epithet deriving from Halab (Aleppo)
al-Manbajiya: epithet deriving from Manbij, a town in Aleppo.
Captivity (sabi): i.e. taking prisoners of the women and children of the original disbelievers who have no pact with the Muslims. This could entail enslavement.
al-Izz bin Abd al-Salam: a renowned Shafi'i theologian.
Sheikh Hassan Habanka: a twentieth century Syrian Islamic scholar.
'Indeed I have become on high and powerful in this time'- notable that the original language expression here is Egyptian Arabic.
'And the waw is extended very much'- referring to the emphasis on the word فوق in the original by the repetition of the middle waw sound.
Diwan al-Qada wa al-Madhalim: Department of Judiciary and Grievances.
Abu Ja'afar al-Hattab: a figure who became well-known for his 'extremism' within the Islamic State.