Note: This is No. 2 in a series of reports about the second edition of the AQAP’s Inspire magazine
Government agencies and media: A PDF of Al-Awlaki’s document “The New Mardin Declaration — An Attempt at Justifying the New World Order” is available upon request. For the full document, send an email with “New Mardin Declaration” in the subject line to [email protected].
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On October 11, 2010, Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released the second issue of its English-language magazine Inspire. This issue of the magazine included a document by American Muslim scholar Anwar Al-Awlaki, titled “The New Mardin Declaration — An Attempt at Justifying the New World Order,” in which he categorically rejects the arguments and conclusions of the March 2010 New Mardin Declaration.
The New Mardin Declaration was issued at the end of a conference held in late March 2010 by Islamic scholars from all over the world, in the city of Mardin, Turkey, to discuss and reinterpret a seminal fatwa given by the prominent 14th-century scholar ibn Taymiyya. In reinterpreting this fatwa, the scholars challenged many of the fundamental principles cited by extremist Muslims to justify jihad and takfir (accusations of heresy against fellow Muslims). The New Mardin Declaration, issued at the end of the conference, set out the following principles, among others:
· The traditional Muslim division of the world into the “Abode of Islam” and the “Abode of War” is no longer valid, because all of mankind is now bound by international treaties and civil laws that guarantee security, peace and religious, ethnic and national rights for all. Therefore, the entire world must be declared “a place of tolerance and peaceful coexistence between all religions, groups and factions.”
· Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa cannot be cited as grounds for leveling the charge of kufr(heresy) against fellow Muslims, for rebelling against rulers, or for terrorizing and killing Muslims or non-Muslims.
· Authorizing and carrying out armed jihad is the exclusive right of heads of state, not of individual Muslims or Muslim groups.
· Religious differences and a desire for booty are not legitimate grounds for war.
· Only highly qualified religious scholars are authorized to issue fatwas.
· It is the responsibility of Muslim religious scholars to condemn violence and extremism clearly and explicitly.
In his response to this declaration, Al-Awlaki makes the following points:
Answering the New Mardin Declaration’s statement that the Muslims are bound by international treaties and civil laws that guarantee security and rights for all, he states that international treaties are not binding on the Muslims, because they were drafted by the global superpowers without consulting the Muslims and with the aim of consolidating a world order that excludes them.
Moreover, he stresses that a Muslim cannot be said to enjoy freedom of worship as long as he is bound by the laws of the state rather than the laws of the shari’a, and as long as he must abide by the rulings of civil courts that do not enforce the laws of Allah. Thus, he says, “the modern civil state of the West does not guarantee Islamic rights.”
In response to the New Mardin Declaration’s statement that the world must be declared a place of “tolerance and peaceful co-existence between all religions,” he replies scornfully: “Islam can never recognize and live in peaceful coexistence with worshiping a cow or an idol.”
As for its injunction against accusing fellow Muslims of heresy, and against terrorizing and killing others, he says that when a Muslim commits open heresy the charge of kufrdoes indeed need to be leveled against him, and adds that the Muslims have every right to terrorize those who terrorize them – such as the Americans, the Israelis, and the British, and must do everything in their power to “strip them of their safety and security.”
Al-Awlaki also rejects the New Mardin Declaration’s assertion that difference of religion is not legitimate grounds for jihad, pointing out that the Muslims fought the pagans of Arabia because they were pagans, and the Persians because they were Zoroastrians. “The Muslims,” he explains, “have a mission to bring Islam to the world” and to fight the non-Muslims until they accept this religion. He concedes that the Christians and Jews are allowed to practice their faith, but only as long as they “pay the jizyah in a state of humility.” In fact, Al-Awlaki says, even the quest for booty is legitimate grounds for jihad, because “the purest and best form of sustenance for the believer is [spoils of war].” He adds that there is no religious evidence that only a head of state may declare war, and that when the leaders are not inclined towards jihad, it falls to the people to declare and wage jihad, both offensive and defensive.
As for the idea in the New Mardin Declaration that Muslim scholars must condemn all forms of violent rebellion and protest, he says “This may be the way of Ghandi or Martin Luther King, but it is not the way of [the Prophet] Muhammad, who said ‘I was sent with the sword before the Day of Judgment.'” He adds that Palestine, Iraq and Afghanistan cannot be freed except by force.
Lastly, he addresses the New Mardin Declaration’s claim that only highly qualified scholars may issue fatwas, turning it against the New Mardin Declaration itself, and against its reinterpretation of Ibn Taymiyya’s fatwa. He says: “The Muslim masses today must beware of any fatwa that calls for the reinterpretation of well-grounded, accepted and valid fatwas given by the classical scholars.”
A PDF of Al-Awlaki’s document “The New Mardin Declaration — An Attempt at Justifying the New World Order” is available upon request to members of the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor Project. For the full document, send an email with “New Mardin Declaration” in the subject line to [email protected].
 For the first issue of Inspire, see MEMRI Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor, “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula Re-Releases Inspire Magazine – Al-Awlaki Calls for Bombings and Assassinations in U.S., July 11, 2010.