– Sunni Creed: Strengthening the Sunni Narrative Against al-Qa’eda and Other Extremists.

(© Zubair Qamar 2013)

The Three Fundamentals of Orthodox Sunni Islam

There are three fundamentals of Sunni Islam based on the “hadith of Gabriel”[1]:

(1)   Practice/Jurisprudence[2] (Islam): Knowledge of the requirements of prayer, purification, pilgrimage, combative jihad, etc.

(2)   Creed/Theology (Iman): Knowledge of the Attributes of God, attributes of prophets, six articles of faith, etc.

(3)   Spiritual perfection[3] (Ihsan): Having the right intentions and genuinely loving Allah and Prophet Muhammad, worshipping sincerely and not for ostentation, shunning arrogance and envy, being mindful in prayer, etc.

While issues related to practice/jurisprudence, including jihad/combat and rebellion, have been discussed by many analysts to counter terrorists, there has been little to no discussion of how militants and other extremists contradict the most important fundamental of Islam: Mainstream Sunni creed/theology .[4] While militants prioritize the practice of combat and rebellion over other practices, their extreme marginalization of and differences in creed are bound to create fissures among jihadists, and Muslims in general, because creed is what determines whether one’s Islamic belief is sound or not. This article discusses the importance of creed in Sunni Islam, the Ash’ari, Maturidi, and Athari schools of Sunni creed, Ayman al-Zawahiri’s letter to Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi illustrating the divisions due to different creeds and the importance of overlooking them to unite under the umbrella of “jihad,” and how this knowledge can be used to strengthen the Sunni narrative against al-Qa’eda and other extremists.

The Importance of Sunni Creed

Why is correct creed important in Islam? The first pillar of Islam, which is the most important, is the Testification of Faith: “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.” Orthodoxy in Islam is mainly represented by correct creed, which is a prerequisite to having all jurisprudential practices, like prayer and jihad, accepted. Knowing about God correctly is personal obligatory knowledge (fard `ayn) that every Muslim must know, and is sinful if one does not know. Sunni scholar Imam Nawawi said, “The first obligation of all who are morally responsible…is to know God[…].”[5]

Lumbard (2008) explains the importance of creed/faith:

“Many would first think of fasting (sawm), praying (salah), or pilgrimage (hajj) when Islam is mentioned, but such practices were not fully instituted until later in the life of the Prophet Muhammad….The first message God gave to the Prophet Muhammad…was one of truth, the human response to which is faith. That is why the first revelations of the Qur’an speak of God, death, and the Last Day rather than fasting, pilgrimage, and zakat (alms tax). First the revelation reestablished the proper relationship between the divine and the human through faith. Then it taught the way of observing and maintaining the relationship through submission.”[6]

Muslims are required to understand and accept Sunni creed with complete conviction.  Moreover, when Prophet Muhammad dispatched his companions to people in far off lands, he did not tell them to fight, but to invite them to Islam and to teach them Islamic belief. Imam Abu Hanifah, an eminent mujtahid scholar of early Islam whose ijtihad is followed by most Muslims today, described knowledge of creed as “Fiqh al-Akbar” (the Supreme Wisdom). While Muslims are not required to understand the details of dialectical theology, a correct understanding of the attributes of God is required. Sunni creed is represented by the Ash’ari, Maturidi, and Athari schools of creed.

The Ash’aris and Maturidis

“Ash’ari” refers to an early Muslim theologian born in Basra named Abul Hassan al-Ash’ari (874-936), while “Maturidi” refers to another early Muslim theologian born in present-day Uzbekistan named Abu Mansur al-Maturidi (853-944). They were contemporary Muslim scholars who taught Sunni creed, and whose explanations of creed have been embraced for more than 1,000 years by the majority of Sunni Muslims from the early days of Islam to this day. While differing in only few respects, and described as virtually the same in most respects, Ash’ari’s and Maturidi’s  explanation of Sunni creed was formulated, systematized, and brought to fruition by them through rational debate with different sects competing for doctrinal truth (particularly the Mu’tazila). The challenges faced by Ash’ari and Maturidi were

(1)     “to define the tenets of faith of Islam and refute innovation;

(2)     to show that this faith was acceptable to the mind and not absurd or inconsistent; and

(3)      to give proofs that personally convinced the believer of it.”[7]

Most Sunni Muslims believe Ash’ari’s and Maturidi’s explanations of creed to be rooted in the Qur’an and Sunnah, and in the understanding of early Muslims who preceded them. The overwhelming majority of religious scholars and followers have followed Ash’ari and Maturidi creeds for more than 1,000 years, and are said to represent Sunni orthodoxy. Al-Zawahiri was aware of this when he said:most of the Umma’s ulema are Ashari or Matridi[…].”[8] In the four schools of Sunni jurisprudence today (Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki, and Hanbali schools),[9] “most of the followers of the Sunni Hanafi school of jurisprudence have historically been followers of the Maturidi school of theology. However, one third of them, along with three-quarters of the Shafi’is, all of the Malikis, and some Hanbalis, adhere to the Ash’ari school.”[10]

In line with the Ash’ari and Maturidi creeds, it is obligatory for a Muslim to know what is:

(1)     “necessarily true,

(2)     impossible, or

(3)     possible to affirm of both Allah and the prophets”[11]

Contemporary Sunni scholar, Nuh Keller, says, “These three categories traditionally subsume some fifty tenets of faith.”[12] (See footnote 12 for a description of the 50 tenets of faith)

The Atharis

Unlike the Ash’ari and Maturidi schools of creed, the Athari school – the third school of Sunni creed followed mainly by Hanbalis – did not delve into extensive doctrinal dialectics.[13] However, from a Sunni perspective the Athari school should be differentiated from the neo-Athari school that demonstrated and still demonstrates, the “tendency…towards excessive literalism in beliefs and even towards anthropomorphism (affirmation of human attributes to Allah).”[14] Wahhabis, militants, and other Salafis today follow a manifestation of the neo-Athari creed. While analysts differentiate Wahhabis from other Salafis mainly due to different views of combative “jihad” and rebellion, they nevertheless share the same or similar understanding of neo-Athari creed, which makes both groups very similar to each other. Both groups are, in fact, more similar in what is deemed more important to a Muslim: Creedal matters. Manifestations of neo-Athari creed, however, differentiate Wahhabis, militants, and other Salafis from the majority of Sunnis who are Ash’ari, Maturidi, or Athari in creed.

Al-Zawahiri’s Letter to Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi

The tension generated from creedal differences was demonstrated in Ayman al-Zawahiri’s letter to the late Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi (July 9, 2005) in which al-Zawahiri expressed concern that religious scholars (`ulema) – and the masses who follow these religious scholars – should not be criticized but supported. Not doing so would jeopardize the “jihad[15] effort. Al-Zawahiri mentions religious scholars in reference to Islamic creed (“Ashari,” “Matridi,” and “Salafi”):

“Striving for the ulema: From the standpoint of not highlighting the doctrinal differences which the masses do not understand, such as this one is Matridi or this one is Ashari or this one is Salafi, and from the standpoint of doing justice to the people, for there may be in the world a heresy or an inadequacy in a side which may have something to give to jihad, fighting, and sacrifice for God. We have seen magnificent examples in the Afghan jihad, and the prince of believers, Mullah Muhammad Omar – may God protect him – himself is of Hanafi adherence, Matridi creed, but he stood in the history of Islam with a stance rarely taken. You are the richer if you know the stances of the authentic ulema on rulers in times of jihad and the defense of the Muslim holy sites” (italics included by author).[16]

Al-Zawahiri’s call was one of unity among combatants to set aside their differences in matters of creed for the greater good: To win broader support from the religious scholars and population at large to strengthen the “jihad.” While al-Zawahiri appears to support Ash’aris and Maturidis, he, in fact, opposes them, as he clarifies below:

“If you take into account the fact that most of the Umma’s ulema are Ashari or Matridi, and if you take into consideration as well the fact that the issue of correcting the mistakes of ideology is an issue that will require generations of the call to Islam and modifying the educational curricula, and that the mujahedeen are not able to undertake this burden, rather they are in need of those who will help them with the difficulties and problems they face; if you take all this into consideration, and add to it the fact that all Muslims are speaking of jihad, whether they are Salafi or non-Salafi, then you would understand that it is a duty of the mujahed movement to include the energies of the Umma and in its wisdom and prudence to fill the role of leader, trailblazer, and exploiter of all the capabilities of the Umma for the sake of achieving our aims: a caliphate along the lines of the Prophet’s, with God’s permission” (italics added by author).[17]

Al-Zarqawi, Al-Zawahiri, and al-Qa’eda as a whole, not only oppose Ash’aris and Maturidis, but deal with them differently. While al-Zarqawi openly opposed and targeted them, al-Zawahiri’s strategic advice was to overlook creedal differences, whether “Salafi or non-Salafi,” to achieve the victory of “jihad” while recognizing that the Ash’aris and Maturidis have “mistakes” that would require “generations of the call to Islam and modifying the educational curricula” to correct them. Their opposition to Ash’aris and Maturidis, and adoption of a neo-Athari (Salafi) creed, is in violation of the three schools of Sunni creed that Sunni tradition represents. Al-Qa’eda and other militants have cited several Ash’ari scholars in their writings in an attempt to portray their support for traditional Sunni Islam. Their opposition to Ash’ari creed, however, renders their citations deceitful and insincere.[18]

The Sunni Narrative: Al-Qa’eda Violates Sunni Creed

To start, Sunni creed can be used to counter al-Qa’eda and other “Sunni” extremists for the following reasons:

(1)     Militants prioritize combat over creed. Militants trivialize the more important knowledge of creed, which is personal obligatory knowledge (fard `ayn) for every Muslim. The so-called jihad is interpreted in a twisted and exaggerated fashion by militants to represent it solely as a personal obligation more important than creed.

(2)     Militants have a non-Sunni creed and oppose creeds espoused by the Sunni majority. Orthodox Islam, as understood by militants, is mainly represented by combat instead of correct creed. Even while rhetorically claiming to support Sunni creed, militants and other extremists normally oppose all three schools of Sunni creed (Ash’ari, Maturidi, and Athari creeds) while superficially opting for a neo-Athari (anthropomorphic) creed, which has never been part of mainstream Sunni Islam. Furthermore, militants and other extremists are mostly against the majority understanding of Sunni creed, and accuse Ash’aris and Maturidis of being reprehensible innovators or infidels to be exterminated, yet deceitfully attempt to use them for support whenever it suits them. If militants claim that dialectical theology is not necessary to understand God, this does not make their neo-Athari creed correct from the standpoint of Sunni tradition. Rather, they adhere to an understanding of Wahhabi-Salafi creed that was invented by Ibn Taymiyah, supported later by Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab[19], and propagated by Salafis of all colors. Namely, Oneness of God (tawheed al-uloohiyya), Unity of God’s Lordship (tawheed al-ruboobiyya), and Unity of God’s Names and Attributes (tawheed al-asmaa’ was-sifaat). Creed has never been categorized and understood by the Sunni majority in this manner.

(3)     Militants demean religious scholars and knowledge. Joas Wagemakers says, “There seems to be a growing trend among jihadis to view fighters as being the most credible Muslims to comment on jihad, in spite of their lack of scholarly credentials.”[20] The opposition by militants to Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, well-known for his religious knowledge among extremist circles, illustrates the point. Scoffing at religious scholars, a central part of the militant outlook, elevates combat over belief, and ridicules Prophet Muhammad’s sayings, including: “Scholars [of religious knowledge] are the inheritors of the Prophets.”[21]  He did not say that those who combat are the heirs of the prophets. Prophet Muhammad was also asked, “`What is the best deed?’ He responded, ‘Belief in Allah and His Messenger […].’”[22] Many militants understand combat experience as a prerequisite to speaking about creed and other religious knowledge – a complete reversal of Sunni Islam that requires correct creed as a first priority and prerequisite to other Islamic practices. Militants do the opposite of what Prophet Muhammad prioritized.

(4)      Militants make combat a pillar of Islam. The first pillar of Islam, the Testification of Faith (“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah”) is replaced with so-called combative jihad as the first pillar, or is portrayed by militants as being a pillar of Islam. `Abd-al-Salam al-Faraj, for example, in “The Neglected Duty” saw combative jihad as the sixth pillar of Islam. However, jihad is not a pillar of Sunni Islam and never has been. Asma Afsaruddin says that “the Medinan scholar `Abdallah ibn `Umar, son of the second caliph `Umar ibn al-Khattab, is on record as having challenged those who had wished to elevate combative jihad to the level of a religious obligation. An Iraqi man came to Ibn `Umar and reproached him thus: “What is the matter with you that you perform the hajj and `umra but have abandoned fighting in the path of God (al-ghazu fi sabil allah)?’ To which Ibn `Umar responded, ‘Fie on you! Faith is founded on five pillars: that you worship God, perform the prayer, give zakat, perform the pilgrimage, and fast during Ramadan[…].”[23] If true, and even if militants today were waging genuine jihad, they would still be reprimanded by early Muslims for seeing jihad as a pillar of Islam.

Due to the reasons stated above, militants and other extremists contradict mainstream Sunni Islam because they violate the majority Sunni understanding of correct creed, which is the most critical fundamental of a Muslim’s salvation. Furthermore, those who hold a distorted understanding of Sunni creed as militants do due to prioritizing fighting over understanding God cannot be trusted for religious guidance. If their creed is wrong or uncertain from a Sunni perspective, how can Muslims be sure that their understanding of jurisprudence (including of jihad) is correct? The fissures created by creedal differences among militants should be further examined and exploited to strengthen the Sunni narrative against them.


[1] The three fundamentals of Islam are based on the following hadith, which describes the Angel Gabriel in the form of a man who explains the three fundamentals of Islam to Prophet Muhammad:

‘Umar ibn al-Khattab said:
As we sat one day with the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace), a man in pure white clothing and jet black hair came to us, without a trace of travelling upon him, though none of us knew him.

He sat down before the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) bracing his knees against his, resting his hands on his legs, and said: “Muhammad, tell me about Islam.” The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said: “Islam is to testify that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and to perform the prayer, give zakat, fast in Ramadan, and perform the pilgrimage to the House if you can find a way.”

He said: “You have spoken the truth,” and we were surprised that he should ask and then confirm the answer. Then he said: “Tell me about true faith (iman),” and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) answered: “It is to believe in Allah, His angels, His inspired Books, His messengers, the Last Day, and in destiny, its good and evil.”

“You have spoken the truth,” he said, “Now tell me about the perfection of faith (ihsan),” and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) answered: “It is to worship Allah as if you see Him, and if you see Him not, He nevertheless sees you.”

He said: “Now tell me about the Hour.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) answered: “The one who is asked about it does knows no more than the questioner.”

He said: “Then tell me about its signs.” The Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace answered: “That a slave girl shall give birth to her mistress, and that you see barefoot, naked, destitute shepherds vying to build tall buildings.”

Then the visitor left. I waited a long while, and the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) said to me, “Do you know, ‘Umar, who was the questioner?” and I replied, “Allah and His messenger know best.” He said, “It was Gabriel, who came to you to teach you your religion” (Sahih Muslim, 1.37: hadith 8).

(Keller, Nuh Ha Mim. (1995).The Place of Tasawwuf in Traditional Islamic Sciences. Available: http://www.masud.co.uk/ISLAM/nuh/sufitlk.htm)

While the hadith of Gabriel above seems to indicate that Islamic practices are more important than faith in God since the former precedes the latter in the order stated in the hadith, another narration of this hadith begins with an inquiry of faith by Gabriel to Prophet Muhammad. (See, for example, Sahih Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 2, No. 47). Imam Zaid Shakir, a popular contemporary American Sunni scholar says, “The Hadith of Gabriel (Jibril) is considered by most Muslim scholars to be one of the fundamental texts of our religion. It presents, in a comprehensive way, the foundations of Islam.” (Imam Zaid Shakir, Giving Thanks (2011), Available: http://www.newislamicdirections.com/nid/notes/giving_thanks/ ). Of the three fundamentals of Islam, Lumbard ( 2008) says they “are the three fundamental dimensions of the submitting way; they complement and complete each other. They are envisioned as three partially overlapping circles, and the place where all three circles overlap is the ideal that all Muslims strive to attain. One who embodies all three in their fullest depth and breadth is closer to living as a true human being in what the Qur’an refers to as the true nature (fitrah). This true nature is our original state before God and the innate disposition of all human beings.” (Lumbard, Joseph E.B.(2008). Submission Faith & Beauty: The Religion of Islam. Zaytuna Institute. Berkley, CA. p.xix-xx).

[2] This fundamental of Islam is also described as “submitting or submission.” (Ibid. Lumbard, 2008).

[3] This fundamental of Ihsan is also described as “beautification.” (Ibid. Lumbard, 2008)

[4] This article will mostly use the word creed. Sunni creed is synonymous with Sunni tenets of faith, belief, doctrine, and theology. While Sunni creed relates to knowledge and understanding of God’s attributes, it also includes knowledge of what prophets are and are not attributed with. Traditional or mainstream Sunni Islam refers to the understanding of most scholars in Islam’s history, is followed by most Muslims in Islam since the time of Prophet Muhammad, and comprises three central dimensions: Islamic belief/creed, Islamic practice or jurisprudence, and achievement of states of inner purity.

[5] Nawawi.(2003). Al-Maqasid:. Nawawi’s Manual of Islam. Translation and Notes by Nuh Ha Mim Keller. Amana Publications. Beltsville, MD. pg.6.

[6] Lumbard, Joseph E.B.(2008). Submission Faith & Beauty: The Religion of Islam. Zaytuna Institute. Berkley, CA. pg.1

[7] Keller, Nu Ha Mim. “Kalaam in Islam.” Lecture given at Aal al-Bayt Institute of Islamic Thought on

4 January 2005 in Amman, Jordan. Available: http://www.livingislam.org/k/ki_e.html

[8] The “Umma” is the community of Muslims. The “ulema” are the religious scholars of Islam.

[9] Kamali describes the geographical distribution of the adherents of each of the four Sunni schools of law:

The Hanafi school has the largest following of all the schools, owing to its official adoption by the Ottoman Turks in the early sixteenth century. It is now predominant in Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and among the Muslims of India, and its adherents constitute about one third of the Muslims of the world…(73).

The Maliki school is currently predominant in Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Upper Egypt, the Sudan, Bahrain and Kuwait….(73)

The Shafi’i school is now prevalent in Lower Egypt, southern Arabia, East Africa, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei, and has many followers in Palestine, Jordan and Syria….(83)

The Hanbali school is currently predominant in Saudi Arabia and also has followers in Oman, Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait….(84)
(Kamali, Mohammad H. (2008). Shari’ah Law: An Introduction. Oxford, England: Oneworld Publications, 2008, p.73, 83,84)

[10] Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf (compiler, translator, Introduction). (2007). Abu `l-Muntaha al-Maghnisawi, with Selections from `Ali al-Qari’s Commentary, Including Abu Hanifa’s Kitab al-Wasiyya. Imam Abu Hanifa’s Al-Fiqh al-Akbar Explained, Santa Barbara, California: White Thread Press, pg.19. Regarding criticisms, contemporary Sunni scholar Faraz Rabbani, says that “some major Hanbalis held beliefs that smacked of anthropomorphism [‘representation of God as having human form or traits’], this is true but unfair: it is also true that some Shafiis had such beliefs, and some were Mutazili rationalists; the same is also true of the Hanafi school. However, what matters is the general case (al-`ibra li’l ghalib), and the overwhelming majority of Hanbalis had sound beliefs, as is the case in the other schools…It is from the unfortunate attacks against the edifice of Sunni Islam that people pick on minor cases or rare historical incidents (like the occasional periods of inter-madhhab dispute) and try to generalize these into a history of discord whose existence is solely in their creative imaginations. Reality, for those who seek it, is that there was a remarkable unity that was based on a foundation of acceptance of difference of opinion within the limits; and a wisdom and pragmatism that avoided fitna with those whose ways diverged from the sound path of the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his inheritors, the scholars of Sunni Islam.” (Rabbani, Faraz. (2008). “Is There an ‘Athari’ Aqidah?” Question 4856. Qibla for the Islamic Sciences. Available: http://spa.qibla.com/issue_view.asp?HD=7&ID=4856&CATE=24)

[11] Ibid. Keller, “Kalaam in Islam.”

[12] Ibid. Keller, “Kalaam in Islam.”
“(a) The twenty attributes necessarily true of Allah are His (1) existence; (2) not beginning; (3) not ending; (4) self-subsistence, meaning not needing any place or determinant to exist; (5) dissimilarity to created things; (6) uniqueness, meaning having no partner (sharik) in His entity, attributes, or actions; (7) omnipotent power; (8) will; (9) knowledge; (10) life; (11) hearing; (12) sight; (13) speech; such that He is (14) al-mighty; (15) all-willing; (16) all-knowing; (17) living; (18) all-hearing; (19) all-seeing; (20) and speaking – through His attributes of power, will, knowledge, life, hearing, sight, and speech, not merely through His being.

(b) The twenty attributes necessarily impossible of Allah (21­40) are the opposites of the previous twenty, such as nonexistence, beginning, ending, and so on.

(c) The one attribute merely possible of Allah (41) is that He may create or destroy any possible thing.

The attributes of the prophets…similarly fall under the three headings:

(a) The four attributes necessarily true of the prophets (42­45) are telling the truth, keeping their trust, conveying to mankind everything they were ordered to, and intelligence.

(b) The four attributes necessarily impossible of them (46­49) are the opposites of the previous four, namely lying, treachery, concealing what they were ordered to reveal, and feeblemindedness.

(c) The one attribute possible of them (50) is any human state that does not detract from their rank, such as eating, sleeping, marrying, and illnesses not repellant to others; although Allah protected them from every offensive physical trait and everything unbecoming them, keeping them from both lesser sins and enormities, before their prophethood and thereafter.” (Ibid, Keller).

[13] Some pseudo-Sunni groups describe themselves as “Athari,” whereas they do not represent authentic Athari creed. Such groups promote anthropomorphism in the name of the “Athari” creed, and are better described as pseudo-Athari anthropomorphists from a Sunni perspective. In addition to many militants, they also include non-violent extremists, including Wahhabis and other Salafis,

[14] Rabbani, Faraz. “The Ash’aris & Maturidis: Standards of Mainstream Sunni Beliefs.” Available: http://seekersguidance.org/ans-blog/2009/11/19/the-asharis-maturidis-standards-of-mainstream-sunni-beliefs/, accessed Jan.12, 2012.

[15] Jihad is in quotes because militants violate the conditions that make combative jihad valid.

[16] Letter from Ayman al-Zawahiri to Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi, available: http://www.globalsecurity.org/security/library/report/2005/zawahiri-zarqawi-letter_9jul2005.htm

[17] Ibid. Letter from Al-Zawahiri to al-Zarqawi.

[18] While militants are usually against Ash’aris and Maturidis, they nevertheless use their statements in an attempt to portray support for their perspectives. This is a deceitful attempt to win more recruits from the moderate Sunni majority who espouse Ash’ari and Maturidi creeds. Qurtubi, for example, is a well known Ash’ari scholar who has been cited by Osama bin Laden in his declarations. See, for example: Bruce, Lawrence (2005). Messages to the World: The Statements of Osama bin Laden. Verso. New York, NY. pg..7 (footnote 13). Other Ash’ari scholars, including Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (see Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s “Illustrious Points: Observations on the Book al-Jami’” and

Abu Jandal al-Azdi’s “The Scholar’s Ruling on the Killing of Soldiers and Secret Police”), Jalaluddin al-Suyuti (see Harith `Abd al-Salam al-Misri’s “[If] They say…then you say! Revealing the Doubts of the Tremblers and Abandoners Regarding Jihad”), Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalani (see Yusuf al-`Uyayri’s “The Truth About the New Crusader War”), Nawawi (see Ayman al-Zawahiri’s “Response to a Grave Uncertainty from Shaykh al-Albani Regarding Silence in the Face of Apostate Rulers”), al-Qadi `Iyad (see Abu Qatada al-Filistini’s “Characteristics of the Victorious Sect in the Muslim’s Home Land (Greater Syria)”), are also cited. (William McCants (Editor & Project Director), Jarret Brachman (Project Coordinator). (2006).“Militant Ideology Atlas,” Combating Terrorism Center, U.S. Military Academy, West Point, NY. pp. 83, 121, 123, 130, 145, 205, 272. Available: http://www.ctc.usma.edu/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Atlas-ResearchCompendium1.pdf

[19] Muhammad ibn Abdal-Wahhab is the founder of the Wahhabi movement.

[20] Wagemakers, Joas (2011). “Reclaiming Scholarly Authority: Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi’s Critique of Jihadi Practices.” Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 34: 7, 523-539.

[21] This is an authentic hadith related by Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Nasa’i, Ibn Maja, Ahmad, Ibn Habban, and others. For an explanation of the hadith, see: http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2011/03/is-the-hadith-the-scholars-are-the-inheritors-of-the-prophets-authentic-if-so-what-does-it-mean-faraz-rabbani/

[22] Sahih Bukhari: Vol.2, Book 26, No. 594.

[23] al-Huda, Qamar (Ed.). (2010).Crescent and Dove: Peace and Conflict Resolution in Islam. United States Institute of Peace. Washington, DC. pg.47.