Zindani: Yemen’s most influential cleric — and Al-Qaeda-linked
The caption to the AP photo above identifies Sheikh Abdel-Majid al-Zindani as “Yemen’s most influential Islamic cleric” who is also “considered an al-Qaida-linked terrorist by the United States.”
Now wait a minute. How can al-Zindani be “Yemen’s most influential Islamic cleric” as well as “an al-Qaida-linked terrorist”? Aren’t the learned analysts forever telling us that Al-Qaeda represents a twisted, hijacked version of the true, peaceful Islam, and that the vast majority of Muslims abhor and oppose it? Then why doesn’t the Vast Majority of Peaceful Muslims in Yemen rise up and reject al-Zindani as a Misunderstander of Islam? How did he come to be “Yemen’s most influential Islamic cleric” if he misunderstands Islam so severely?
“Clerics in Yemen warn of jihad if US sends troops,” by Ahmed Al-Haj for The Associated Press, January 14 (thanks to all who sent this in):
SAN’A, Yemen — A group of prominent Muslim clerics warned Thursday they will call for jihad, or holy war, if the U.S. sends troops to fight al-Qaida in Yemen.
The group of 15 clergymen includes the highly influential Sheik Abdul-Majid al-Zindani, whom the U.S. has branded a spiritual mentor of Osama bin-Laden but who is also courted by the Yemeni government for his important backing.
The clerics’ warning goes straight to the Yemeni government’s dilemma in cooperating with Washington against an al-Qaida offshoot in the country. In doing so, Yemen’s weak regime must avoid upsetting al-Zindani and other radical Islamic figures whose support it needs to stay in power.
“If any foreign country insists on aggression and the invasion of the country or interference, in a military or security way, Muslim sons are duty bound to carry out jihad and fight the aggressors,” the clerics said in a statement.
This is in line with the Islamic doctrine that jihad becomes obligatory upon all Muslims whenever a Muslim land is attacked. (Provocations by Muslims from that Muslim land don’t factor into this equation — if the non-Muslim enemy strikes back, that constitutes an invasion of Muslim land.) All the schools of Islamic jurisprudence agree that when a non-Muslim force enters a Muslim land, jihad becomes the individual obligation of every Muslim (fard ‘ayn) rather than a collective obligation of the entire umma, from which one is released if others are taking it up (fard kifaya). Bulghah al-Salik li-Aqrab al-Masalik fi madhhab al-Imam Malik (“The Sufficiency of the Traveller on the Best Path in the School of Imam Malik,”) says this:
Jihad in the Path of Allah, to raise the word of Allah, is fard kifayah [obligatory on the community] once a year, so that if some perform it, the obligation falls from the rest. It becomes fard `ayn [obligatory on every Muslim individually], like salah and fasting, if the legitimate Muslim Imam declares it so, or if there is an attack by the enemy on an area of people.
The Hanafi, Maliki, and Shafi’i schools of Sunni jurisprudence further declare that jihad, once it is fard ‘ayn, is no different from prayer and fasting — in other words, to engage in warfare with non-Muslims in that case is a religious devotion that cannot lawfully be evaded. Hashiyah Ibn `Abidin, an authoritative text of the Hanafi school, says that jihad is “fard ‘ayn if the enemy has attacked part of the Islamic homeland. It thus becomes an obligation like salah [prayer] and fasting which cannot be abandoned.”