Al-Azhar Fatwa: Hacking U.S., Israeli Websites Is Permissible as Part of Electronic Jihad

August 29, 2008

No. 2037

According to a report on Islamonline.net, the Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee has issued a fatwa permitting the hacking of American and Israeli websites that harm Islam and Muslims, and also permitting damaging them, as part of “electronic jihad.”[1]

Following are excerpts from the fatwa and some reactions to it.

Al-Azhar: Electronic Jihad is One Means of Resisting the Enemy

The Al-Azhar fatwa, issued in response to a question regarding attacks by Muslim groups on Israeli and American websites in retaliation for these countries’ actions against Muslims, states:

“Jihad is set out by Muslim religious law so that the word of truth [i.e. Islam] will be supreme, in order to aid the oppressed, and in order to defend the religion, honor, homeland, freedom, and human dignity. As Allah has said on this matter: “Fight in the way of Allah against those who fight against you, but do not transgress. Lo! Allah loveth not transgressors. [Koran 2:190].”…

“Accordingly, electronic jihad on [Internet] networks is permitted by Muslim religious law because it is one of the means of resisting the enemy, particularly [when it is] an enemy that disseminates statements online that harm Islam and Muslims. Wars today are different from wars in the past; [today] the enemy uses various means such as ideological attack and electronic war.”

The fatwa also says, “The Muslim must stand up to the brutal attacks on Islam aimed at presenting it inappropriately. [This should be done] by means of electronic raids, and all possible resources should be directed to such wars.”

Clerics: It Is an Obligation to Help the Electronic Jihad with Technological Means and Money

The Al-Azhar fatwa won support from several clerics. Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Zaghoul, dean of the Shari’a Faculty at Mu’ta University in Jordan, expressed support for the fatwa and stated that electronic jihad was included in the category of “jihad carried out by means of the pen and the word.” He said, “The Prophet [Muhammad] urged [the believers] to defend Islam and to attack the infidels by all means – and electronic jihad is included in this framework.”

Dr. Muhammad Fuad Al-Barazi, director of the Islamic Association in Denmark and member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research, which is currently headed by Sheikh Yousef Al-Qaradhawi, thanked Al-Azhar for issuing the fatwa and stressed that attacking Israeli websites and websites that harm Islam was considered a kind of jihad. He added: “We need now many types of jihad. Anyone who thinks that jihad is limited only to going out to battle is mistaken; there are many types of jihad, including media, economic, and verbal [jihad]… Anyone with [access to] a certain technology can dedicate it [to the cause] and assist [in electronic jihad operations]. [Jihad] is an obligation incumbent upon all… [Likewise,] if [those waging electronic jihad] need economic support, those [who can help them] are obligated to do so.”

[1] www.islamonline.net, August 25, 2008. For more on electronic jihad, see MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 239, “Cyberspace as a Combat Zone: The Phenomenon of Electronic Jihad,” February 27, 2007,http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/1822.htm.