Sayid Imam al-Sharif is purportedly doing just what needs to be done, and what I have many times called upon peaceful Muslims to attempt to do: undermining the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad. As an Egyptian official rightly says, “The way to deprive them of their ability to recruit is to attack the message. If you take Islam out of the message all that is left is criminality.” This is what I have said all along, so I guess this makes Sayid Imam al-Sharif an “Islamophobe,” but never mind: he is doing it so well, according to this article, that Zawahiri himself is all shook up. And “Egyptian and western experts, government officials and former jihadis agree that Sharif’s shift is both genuine and highly significant.”
Yet apparently the main idea that Sayid Imam al-Sharif and others are attacking is the jihadists’ promiscuous application of the principle of takfir: the declaration that a fellow Muslim is an unbeliever (and can thus lawfully be killed). The main goal seems to be discrediting jihad attacks against non-Sharia Muslim states like Egypt and nominal Muslim authoritarian rulers like Mubarak. For “their self-criticism includes observations that the wrong path to jihad benefits only the Jews, the US and Egypt’s Christian minority.” Jihad against them is still A-OK.
“Violence won’t work: how author of ‘jihadists’ bible’ stirred up a storm: Revisionist message from prison cell shakes al-Qaida colleagues,” by Ian Black for The Guardian (thanks to Twostellas):
In a prison cell south of Cairo a repentant Egyptian terrorist leader is putting the finishing touches to a remarkable recantation that undermines the Muslim theological basis for violent jihad and is set to generate furious controversy among former comrades still fighting with al-Qaida.
Sayid Imam al-Sharif, 57, was the founder and first emir (commander) of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organisation, whose supporters assassinated President Anwar Sadat in 1981 and later teamed up with Osama Bin Laden in Afghanistan in the war against the Soviet occupation.
Sharif, a surgeon who is still known by his underground name of “Dr Fadl”, is famous as the author of the Salafi jihadists’ “bible” – Foundations of Preparation for Holy War. He worked with Ayman al-Zawahiri, another Egyptian doctor and now Bin Laden’s deputy, before being kidnapped in Yemen after 9/11, interrogated by the CIA and extradited to Egypt where has been serving a life sentence since 2004.
Sharif recently gave an electrifying foretaste of his conversion by condemning killings on the basis of nationality and colour of skin and the targeting of women and children, citing the Qur’anic injunction: “Fight in the cause of God those who fight you, but do not transgress the limits; for God loveth not transgressors.” Armed operations were wrong, counterproductive and must cease, he declared sternly.
That would be Qur’an 2:190, a passage that culminates with the injunction that Muslims must fight against unbelievers until “religion is for Allah” (