A jihad against preachers of ‘jihad’

Are those who incited and sent a Kuwaiti or a Saudi youth to fight in Syria only to return in a coffin considered partners in crime?

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

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Daoud al-Shirian, our colleague, recently opened fire on preachers of jihad, whom we know sacrifice the sons of others. Although many became occupied with the controversy over the significance of the word “jihad” on the religious level and its political use, the most important aspect is that some preachers rushed to deny having called for jihad: “We did not call for jihad and we did not incite anyone.”

Even one of the extremist preachers wrote to declare his innocence saying that young men called him for a fatwa (religious edict) to travel for jihad in Syria but he forbade them and urged them not to go! He also said that he made sure to show the angry enthusiastic young men that there are enough men in Syria who desire to accomplish the duty of fighting the Assad regime!

If such preachers are honest, then this is a laudable orientation and an important change. But when it comes to this issue of jihad, there are involved preachers who want to shift blame on governments. Other preachers claim it’s their religious duty to mobilize for jihad, and those are of course more dangerous.

Some inciting preachers think people’s memories are short, so in the past few months, they decided to retreat and keep silent

Abdulrahman al-Rashed

The aim is not to defame preachers but to put things in perspective. Are those who incited and sent a Kuwaiti or a Saudi youth to fight in Syria only to return in a coffin considered partners in crime? Or are they just preachers where incitement is an act of religious preaching and where the one committing it does not bear any responsibility? Inciting and mobilizing is a crime no matter what their language is, be it religious or patriotic - they push others to commit murders.

No right

The difference between jihad and murder lies in the legislation and decision. You have the right to defend your country and people in the absence of a civil and legitimate regime. Preachers have no right to declare jihad whenever they want for otherwise the world would become chaotic. The one who has the right to declare war is the state and its legitimate institutions.

Fighters who were sent to Iraq and now to Syria are not a party at war. They took to fighting after they were incited to do so by preachers who issued them fatwas and by others who financed them. Now, some of them returned dead and their families are demanding their governments to punish those who incited their sons to violence and sent them to die out there.

The problem is not Syria alone. Tragedies in the world are many. It does not make sense that at each war, preachers take to podiums or release recordings calling for fighting from Afghanistan to Bosnia, Somalia, Chechnya, Iraq and now Yemen and tomorrow Burma and Guinea. And the incitement list goes on.

Keeping silent

Some inciting preachers think people’s memories are short, so in the past few months, they decided to retreat and keep silent. As to why they did so, it’s because they are afraid of the consequences of the recent developments as families mourning the loss of their sons are directing accusations against them and calling for punishing them. They also became afraid after superpowers announced they will place them on specific list and monitor their funds and bank accounts.

The aim of sending young men for jihad is not really to fight the Assad regime, as these men end up as soldiers in al-Qaeda. It’s because of this that terrorist organizations have become stronger than before and deployed in the entire region.

Although many brag they will fight the Assad regime, we are later surprised that they are with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Iraq and Syria.

Liberating the Syrian people from their tragedy and toppling the Assad regime are aims that deserve making all efforts for. But these sublime goals have nothing to do with the concepts of jihadists who ride the political waves, run towards chaotic areas and raise Islamic banners. They are in fact brigades of slaughter that are not less evil than the Assad regime itself.

This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Jan. 22, 2014.

Abdulrahman al-Rashed is the General Manager of Al Arabiya News Channel. A veteran and internationally acclaimed journalist, he is a former editor-in-chief of the London-based leading Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat, where he still regularly writes a political column. He has also served as the editor of Asharq al-Awsat’s sister publication, al-Majalla. Throughout his career, Rashed has interviewed several world leaders, with his articles garnering worldwide recognition, and he has successfully led Al Arabiya to the highly regarded, thriving and influential position it is in today.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.