by C Bunzel · Cited by 23 — pdf.  Abu Muhammad al-‘Adnani, “’Udhran amīr al-Qā’ida,” Mu’assasat al-
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13By Cole BunzelAbstractDrawing on leaked documents and other original sources in Arabic, this article examines the internal struggles over de˜ning the Islamic State™s ideology during the period 2014 to the present. Since the Islamic State declared the caliphate in summer 2014, disagreements over doctrinal mattersŠprimarily related to tak˜r (excommunication)Šhave sparked furious debates among di˚erent factions of the group. ˛e earliest bout of in˜ghting culminated in 2014 in the execution of a number of ﬁextremistﬂ scholars and activists. In˜ghting would reemerge in 2016, however, and grow increasingly more contentious, leading to the release of dueling pronouncements on tak˜r , the dismissal of numerous o˝cials in the Islamic State™s executive council, and later their defection and ˙ight from the group. ˛e disa˚ected include both those who believe the group has become too extreme and those who believe it has become too moderate. ˛e ideological incoherence in the Islamic State may well a˚ect its long-term prospects. Keywords: Islamic State, jihadism, ideology, theology Introduction Beginning in 2013, it became increasingly clear that al-Qaida and the Islamic State were deeply divided over ideology, each representing a competing strand of the ideological movement known as Jihadi Sala˜sm ( al- sala˜yya al-jihadiyya ). As the Islamic State of Iraq restyled itself the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, then the Islamic State in full caliphal garb, its ties with al-Qaida unraveled and the ideological ˜ssures in Jihadi Sala˜sm, once held in abeyance, came rushing to the fore. ˛e Islamic State, representing the more hardline wing of the jihadi movement, accordingly embraced a more doctrinally exclusivist brand, encouraging tak˜r (excommunication) of Muslims deemed insu˝ciently pure in regard of tawhid (monotheism). ˛e Taliban, for instance, once the vaunted ally and defender of Osama bin Laden™s al-Qaida, was cast as beyond the pale: a ﬁnationalistﬂ movement all too tolerant of the heretical Shi‚a.  Even the Islamic State™s jihadi competitors in al-Qaida could be targets of tak˜r . In a 2015 statement, for instance, the Islamic State pronounced Jabhat al-Nusra, then al-Qaida‚s a˝liate in Syria, an apostate group; a subsequent statement in 2016 established that the charge of apostasy applied to both the group as a whole and its individual members. Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri was generally spared explicit accusations of unbelief, but nonetheless was frequently derided as wayward and misguided. In May 2014, Abu Muhammad al-‚Adnani, the Islamic State™s o˝cial spokesman until his death in August 2016, called on al-Zawahiri to ﬁcorrectﬂ ( tashih ) his ﬁmethodologyﬂ ( manhaj ) by publicly condemning the Shi‚a as unbelievers and being clearer about the in˜del nature of the military forces of the Middle East™s apostate regimes. In saying this, al- ‚Adnani was distinguishing the Islamic State from al-Qaida ideologically. ˛e ideological discrepancy between the two groups was soon con˜rmed when al-Zawahiri portrayed the Islamic State as ﬁKharijites,ﬂ ﬁ tak˜ris ,ﬂ and ﬁextremists.ﬂ In distancing itself from al-Qaida, the Islamic State was adopting a distinctly rigid and uncompromising version of Jihadi Sala˜sm around which its members and supporters could rally and unite. Yet ideological di˚erences within the Islamic State itself were no small matter, and soon these began manifesting in controversy and dissent. Indeed, ideological in˜ghting in the Islamic State has been rampant, with serious consequences for the group™s unity and even perhaps its long-term survivability. Until recently, little was known about the precise nature, extent, and severity of these disputes, as the group™s leadership sought to keep them under wraps. Over the past year and more, however, leaked documents and other sources have emerged that allow us to give an account of these ideological quarrels and to see where they might be headed.
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14Theological BackgroundFirst, it will be helpful to begin by introducing something of the theological background against which these wars over tak˜r have been fought. Of greatest importance are two competing imperatives in Sunni Islamic thought, one discouraging tak˜r and one encouraging and even requiring it. ˛e ˜rst imperative is deeply rooted in Sunni tradition. It is the general prohibition against wrongfully excommunicating fellow Muslims, combined with the warning that misplaced accusations of unbelief will boomerang on the accuser. ˛e prohibition is grounded in a number of hadith , or prophetic statements, in which the Prophet Muhammad is reported to have cautioned against tak˜r and pointed to the potential boomerang e˚ect. According to one such statement, found in the most authoritative Sunni hadith collections, the Prophet declared, ﬁIf a man says to his brother, ‚O unbeliever,™ it redounds upon one of them.ﬂ ˛e implication is clear: Do not call someone an unbeliever unless you are absolutely certain. ˛e second imperative also has deep roots in Sunni tradition but is primarily associated with the Wahhabi movement in Saudi Arabia. Wahhabism, a Sunni revivalist movement founded in the 18 th century, historically has been concerned above all with the distinction between pure monotheism ( tawhid ) and polytheism ( shirk ). To enforce the distinction, the Wahhabis decreed that those seen as committing polytheistic actsŠin the traditional Wahhabi view, acts such as calling upon or seeking the aid of saints or prophetsŠmust be declared unbelievers. In other words, tak˜r of polytheists was a duty. Furthermore, the Wahhabis made it a duty to excommunicate those who failed or hesitated to excommunicate polytheists. Muhammad ibn ‚Abd al-Wahhab (d. 1792), the founder of Wahhabism, articulated this doctrine in a short treatise known as ﬁ˛e Nulli˜ers of Islamﬂ ( nawaqid al-Islam ). ˛e third nulli˜er in the list states, ﬁWhoever does not excommunicate the polytheists, or is doubtful about their unbelief, or a˝rms the validity of their doctrineŠhe is an unbeliever by consensus.ﬂ ˛is ideaŠthat one must pronounce tak˜r on those failing or hesitating to pronounce tak˜r Šis known commonly in jihadi circles as ﬁthe third nulli˜erﬂ ( al-naqid al-thalith ). In the Islamic State, as in Jihadi Sala˜sm at large, the Wahhabi heritage (under the guise of Sala˜sm) enjoys pride of place as representing the correct approach to theology. Most ideological in˜ghting in the Islamic State has revolved around the question of how exclusivist the group ought to beŠthat is, how narrowly the boundaries of Islam and unbelief ought to be drawn. In this context, it is Wahhabi principles, and the third nulli˜er in particular, that are being debated. The Hazimis˛e early phase of ideological contestation in the Islamic State can be traced to the rather obscure ˜gure of Ahmad ibn ‚Umar al-Hazimi, a middle-aged Saudi religious scholar from Mecca. To all appearances, al- Hazimi is not himself a jihadi, but his views on tak˜r , including especially his strict interpretation of the third nulli˜er, would have a tremendous impact on a group of jihadis who went on to join the Islamic State. Most of these came from Tunisia, where al-Hazimi had traveled as a preacher following the 2011 revolution there. In 2013, following his trips to Tunisia, he delivered a series of lectures on the third nulli˜er in which he elaborated doctrine that he called tak˜r al-‚adhir , or ﬁthe excommunication of the excuser.ﬂ ˛e excuser, al- Hazimi explained, is ﬁone who excuses polytheists on account of ignorance.ﬂ In other words, it is someone who excuses a person™s unbelief or polytheism on the grounds that the person is ignorant of the fact that he or she is committing unbelief or polytheism. At question here is the theological concept known as al-‚udhr bi™l-jahl , or ﬁexcusing on the basis of ignorance,ﬂ which many Sala˜ Muslims, including jihadis, have seen as a restraint on excessive tak˜r . Al-Hazimi is categorically opposed to al-‚udhr bi™l-jahl when it comes to so-called ﬁgreater polytheismﬂ ( al-shirk al-akbar ) or ﬁgreater unbeliefﬂ ( al-kufr al-akbar ), categories that include acts such as supplicating the dead or voting in elections. He therefore deems those who excuse polytheists on the basis of ignorance to be unbelievers in accordance with the third nulli˜er. ˛ose in the Islamic State who adopted al-Hazimi™s views came to be known as ﬁthe Hazimisﬂ ( al-Hazimiyya , al-Hazimiyyun ). Chief among them was a Tunisian named Abu Ja‚far al-Hattab, a former member of the
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15Shari‚a Committee of Ansar al-Shari‚a in Tunisia who became an early supporter of the Islamic State. In June 2013, he authored a book calling on Muslims in Iraq and Syria to give bay‚a (the contract of allegiance) to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to one source, al-Hattab belonged to an early Shari‚a committee in the Islamic State (probably set up in 2013) that also included the Bahraini Turki al-Bin‚ali and the Iraqi Abu ‚Ali al-Anbari.  Unlike these other men, however, al-Hattab was a ˜erce advocate of al-Hazimi™s concept of tak˜r al-‚adhir . Al-Bin‚ali, in a mid-2014 tweet, denounced the concept of tak˜r al-‚adhir as an innovation; later that year, Abu Sulayman al-Shami (aka Ahmad Abu Samra), a Syrian-American high-level o˝cial in the Islamic State, authored a scathing critique of al-Hazimi and his views, describing him as a supporter of the Saudi regime and explaining that the notion of tak˜r al-‚adhir had plunged its proponents into an endless spiral of tak˜r . ˛is was the main critique of the Hazimis: namely, that their obsession with tak˜r al-‚adhir inevitably led to tak˜r in in˜nite regress, or an endless chain of tak˜r (al-tak˜r bi™l-tasalsul ). In September 2014, it was rumored online that al-Hattab had been executed by the Islamic State. A document from the Islamic State™s General Security Department (Diwan al-Amn al-‚Amm), dated November 14, 2015, con˜rms that al-Hattab, among other leaders of the ﬁextremistsﬂ described here, was indeed arrested and executed. ˛e document, which is dedicated to examining ﬁthe extremism phenomenon in the Islamic State,ﬂ highlights the in˙uence of al-Hazimi on a ﬁcurrentﬂ ( tayyar ) of Islamic State members who adhered to the doctrine of tak˜r al-‚adhir and who believed that most Muslims ought to be regarded as unbelievers. ˛ese men had even reached the conclusion that certain leaders of the Islamic State were unbelievers on account of their failure to excommunicate Ayman al-Zawahiri. Approximately 70 of the extremists, according to the document, were killed aˆer being arrested and interrogated, while more than 50 managed to ˙ee to Turkey. Abu Ja‚far al- Hattab is named ˜rst in a list of 11 leaders of the current. Following the leaders™ execution, the document says, a number of secretive extremist cells were formed, some of which plotted against the caliphate. ˛e document concludes that while ﬁthe danger of the extremistsﬂ has been alleviated, ﬁthe extremism phenomenonﬂ is beginning to take a di˚erent form, its members practicing taqiyya (dissimulation). ˛e Islamic State said little in public about the Hazimi extremists, though in late 2014 the General Committee (al-Lajna al-‚Amma), the predecessor of the Islamic State™s executive body known as the Delegated Committee (al-Lajna al-Mufawwada), issued a statement prohibiting discussion of the ﬁsecondary issuesﬂ related to al- ‚udhr bi™l-jahl and forbidding distribution of related audio, visual, and written materials. In late 2014, a video was released from ﬁRaqqa Provinceﬂ featuring the arrested members of an ﬁextremist cell,ﬂ who are seen confessing to having excommunicated the Islamic State and plotted to rebel. An English-language article in the Islamic State™s Dabiq magazine also discussed the rounding up of this ﬁKhariji cell.ﬂ ˛is was likely one of the cells mentioned in the document that were formed in the wake of al-Hattab™s death. The Methodological CommitteeOthers in the Islamic State agreed with the General Security Department™s conclusion that extremism remained a problem. One of these was Turki al-Bin‚ali, the young Bahraini who had become the head of the Islamic State™s scholarly research out˜t, the O˝ce of Research and Studies (Maktab al-Buhuth wa™l-Dirasat). In a February 2016 letter to the Delegated Committee, al-Bin‚ali o˚ered his appraisal of the problem. ﬁIt saddens me to tell you,ﬂ he wrote, ﬁthat from time to time the troublemaking of the extremists continues in the ranks of the brothers.ﬂ Yet ﬁthe new extremists,ﬂ he continued, were not quite the same. For one thing, their leaders were Saudis, not Tunisians as before. For another, they ﬁhave appeared in a new garb and with a new issue.ﬂ ˛e issue was whether tak˜r was to be considered ﬁpart of the foundation of the religionﬂ ( min asl al- din) or ﬁone of its requirementsﬂ ( min lawazimihi ). According to ﬁthe new extremists,ﬂ al-Bin‚ali said, tak˜r was ﬁpart of the foundation of the religion,ﬂ meaning that it was a foundational religious principle that one could not shirk without falling into unbelief; those claiming otherwise were to be excommunicated. For al-Bin‚ali, this insistence on tak˜r as foundational was no di˚erent from the Hazimi doctrine of tak˜r al-‚adhir , since if tak˜r is foundational then it is not permitted to engage in al-‚udhr bi™l-jahl . It is simply tak˜r al-‚ahdir stated another way.
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16However, not all agreed with al-Bin‚ali that extremism remained such a problem. On the contrary, around this time an important segment of the Islamic State™s leadership was coming to the view that the greater problem was in fact excessive theological moderation, or restraint in tak˜r . ˛is was the conclusion reached by a special committee formed in mid-February 2016 to assess the doctrinal views of the Islamic State™s scholars in Iraq and Syria. ˛e committee, which bore no o˝cial title but was known as ﬁthe methodological committeeﬂ (al- lajna al-manhajiyya), was overseen by Abu Muhammad al-Furqan, the head of the Central Media Department (Diwan al-I‚lam al-Markazi), and sta˚ed by, among others, Abu Sulayman al-Shami, the forenamed Syrian- American leader, and an Egyptian named Abu Khabbab al-Masri (aka Shu‚ba al-Masri). According to an internal report written by al-Masri in July 2016, the committee began its activities at a time when the ﬁnew extremistsﬂ were allegedly on the rise; but aˆer interviewing several dozen of the Islamic State™s scholars, the committee concluded that the ﬁnew extremistsﬂ were for the most part a reaction to the greater problem of moderation. ˛e word used to indicate the latter was irja™ (Murji™ism, or ﬁpostponementﬂ), a theological term denoting an early Islamic sect that postponed judgments of unbelief. ˛e scholars suspected of irja™ included Turki al-Bin‚ali, who was himself interviewed by al-Furqan™s methodological committee on April 10, 2016. A summary of the meeting, written by al-Masri, shows that the committee regarded al-Bin‚ali with great skepticism, deeming some of his views on tak˜r to be inadequate. ˛is included his view that professed Muslims living in the so-called ﬁlapsed abode of unbeliefﬂ ( dar al-kufr al-tari™ )Šthat is, Islamic lands that had forsaken the Shari‚aŠwere to be regarded prima facie as Muslims, not as unbelievers. Others assessed to be in the irja™ camp included Abu Bakr al-Qahtani, a Saudi on the Delegated Committee who argued that tak˜r was ﬁone of the requirements of the religionﬂ not ﬁa part of the foundation of the religion,ﬂ and Abu al-Mundhir al-Harbi, a Saudi belonging to the O˝ce of Research and Studies who believed that appealing to in˜del courts was not in every case tantamount to unbelief. One outcome of the committee™s work was an o˝cial statement condemning ﬁthose who hesitate to excommunicate polytheistsﬂ ( man tawaqqafa ˜ tak˜r al-mushrikin ). ˛is statement, dated May 29, 2016, was issued by an obscure body called the Central O˝ce for Overseeing the Shari‚a Departments (al-Maktab al-Markazi li-Mutaba‚at al-Dawawin). Written primarily by al-Furqan, who solicited the input of the Islamic State™s scholars and o˝cials, it condemned the language of tak˜r al-‚adhir as problematic while a˝rming that there is no excuse for hesitating to excommunicate polytheists. On the all-important question whether tak˜r is part of the foundation of the religion or one of its requirements, it was equivocal, stating that discussion of tak˜r in terms of foundational and required is prohibited. Al-Furqan™s statement should thus be seen as an attempt to forge a theological compromise between those of relatively more extremist and those of relatively more moderate orientation in the Islamic State. ˛e men who saw themselves as occupying the middle ground as regards tak˜r Šal-Furqan, Abu Sulayman al-Shami, Abu Khabbab al-Masri, inter alios Šwere trying to keep the two sides at bay. Scholars such as al-Bin‚ali do not seem to have agreed with al-Furqan™s statementŠweeks before the statement was issued, al-Bin‚ali wrote to al- Furqan saying that tak˜r should be understood as ﬁone of the requirements of the religionﬂŠbut they did not erupt in protest. Al-Furqan™s theological compromise may have lasted longer had he not been killed in an airstrike on September 7, 2016. Several months later, in January 2017, Abu Sulayman al-Shami was killed by the same means, and around this time Abu Khabbab al-Masri was killed as well. ˛ere was great turmoil in the upper ranks of the Islamic State™s leadership, and as subsequent events were to show, some of the vacant positions were ˜lled by men of more extremist persuasion than their predecessors. It was in this context that Turki al-Bin‚ali, on January 20, 2017, sent al-Baghdadi a letter warning him against embracing a ﬁtheory of balanceﬂ whereby a certain number of extremists would be empowered in order to accommodate their constituency. Al-Bin‚ali had it on good authority that this was the policy al-Baghdadi was pursuing, and he appears to have been correct. 
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17˛e work of settling and clarifying the group™s ideology had been put on hiatus. When it was resumed in early 2017, it was under the leadership of a young Saudi newly appointed to the Delegated Committee named Abu Hafs al-Wad‚ani. Al-Wad‚ani, a former governor ( wali ) of Raqqa Province, was tasked with reestablishing al- Furqan™s methodological committee and ensuring ideological conformity among the Islamic State™s scholars. But unlike before, al-Wad‚ani™s e˚orts had an explosive e˚ect. Unlike al-Furqan, al-Wad‚ani showed no interest in ˜nding middle ground, instead siding entirely with those identi˜ed by al-Bin‚ali as the ﬁnew extremists,ﬂ that is, those who consider tak˜r to be ﬁpart of the foundation of the religionﬂ ( min asl al-din ). Al-Wad‚ani sought to enshrine this more extremist position as o˝cial doctrine and, in doing so, to put the perceived moderates in their place once and for all. On May 17, 2017, the Delegated Committee released a seven-page memorandum under the title ﬁ˛at ˛ose Who Perish Might Perish by a Clear Sign, and [˛at ˛ose Who] Live Might Live by a Clear Sign,ﬂ a quotation of Qur™an 8:42. Addressed ﬁto all the provinces, departments, and committeesﬂ of the Islamic State, it condemned the ﬁextremistsﬂ who promote the idea of tak˜r in in˜nite regress ( al-tak˜r bi™l-tasalsul ), but its main concern was the moderates, or the ﬁMurji™ites.ﬂ ˛e memorandum took an uncompromising position on those who waver in excommunicating ﬁpolytheists,ﬂ including those who vote in elections, a˝rming that tak˜r of polytheists is ﬁone of the manifest principles of the religionﬂ ( min usul al-din al-zahira ). ˛e latter phrase is e˚ectively the same in meaning as ﬁpart of the foundation of the religionﬂ ( min asl al-din ). In stating this, therefore, the Delegated Committee was adopting the position of the ﬁnew extremists.ﬂ Signi˜cantly, the memorandum stood in contradiction to the earlier statement produced by the Central O˝ce for Overseeing the Shari‚a Departments, which had warned against classifying tak˜r as either foundational or required. ˛e response of the Islamic State™s scholarly class, headed by al-Bin‚ali, was swiˆ and dramatic. Unlike in previous episodes of in˜ghting, the scholars made their objections public, leaking their refutations online. On May 19, 2017 al-Bin‚ali addressed a long letter to the Delegated Committee with his critical ﬁobservationsﬂ on the memorandum. He complained bitterly that the memorandum was issued in undue haste, not having been subjected to the scrutiny of ﬁthe scholars.ﬂ Some of al-Bin‚ali™s criticisms were trivial or pedanticŠthe new statement contained typographical and grammatical errors, and it relied on a fewˇweak hadith Šbut his main objections were substantial. He noted that the memorandum seemed intended to appease ﬁthe extremistsﬂ ( al- ghulat ), who were, he claimed, celebrating in mosques and on social media that ﬁthe Islamic State had repented and returned to the truth.ﬂ By declaring tak˜r ﬁone of the unambiguous foundations of the religion,ﬂ he argued, the Delegated Committee had contravened al-Furqan™s instruction to avoid classifying tak˜r one way or the other. For al-Bin‚ali, the implication of the phrase ﬁone of the unambiguous foundations of the religionﬂ was without question tak˜r in in˜nite regress. Another concession to the extremists that he bemoaned was a line to the e˚ect that professed Muslims beyond the Islamic State™s territoryŠthat is, in Dar al-kufr al-tari™Š are not necessarily to be regarded as Muslims. What ﬁmost peopleﬂ have taken away from this line, he noted regretfully, is that ﬁthe Islamic State excommunicates everyone outside its borders.ﬂ He then quoted several earlier speeches by Islamic State leaders seemingly contradicting this position. ˛e letter closes with an appeal to the Delegated Committee to revise and correct what it has written. On May 31, al-Bin‚ali died in Mayadin, Syria in an airstrike carried out by the U.S.-led coalition. In June, another Islamic State scholar who refuted the memorandum, the Kuwaiti Abu ‚Abd al-Barr al-Salihi, also died in an airstrike; at the time of his death, he was imprisoned by the group™s senior leadership. ˛e supporters of these men regarded their deaths as suspiciously convenient for the more extremist elements of the Islamic State. ˛ey speculated that these scholars and others had been killed at the direction of their ideological opponents, who in this case would have leaked the men™s locations to the coalition. ˛ese accusations were made explicitly by another Islamic State scholar, Abu Muhammad al-Hashimi, in an open letter to al-Baghdadi dated July 5, 2017. Al-Hashimi, who notes that he worked under al-Bin‚ali at the O˝ce of Research and Studies, is extremely critical of the caliphate in his letter, calling it an ﬁentity in which innovations and extremism have spread.ﬂ ˛e extremists, he alleges, have assumed power in the Delegated Committee and waged a ﬁwar against the scholars.ﬂ ﬁ˛e soldiers,ﬂ he tells al-Baghdadi, ﬁare saying among
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18themselvesﬂ that al-Bin‚ali™s death ﬁwas contrived by those who wrote or supported the memorandum of error.ﬂ Al-Hashimi also seems convinced that al-Salihi™s death was intentional. He describes how al-Salihi was arrested by the Islamic State™s security service in the last days of Ramadan 1438 (equivalent to the last days of June 2017) and brought to a ﬁcramped, old prisonﬂ along with ﬁmore than 60ﬂ of his supporters, only for them to be killed soon aˆerwards in an airstrike. ˛e next month, in August 2017, another prominent ally of al-Bin‚ali™s, Abu Bakr al-Qahtani, was killed in an airstrike in Iraq. One of his supporters wrote that his death recalled the ﬁmurky circumstancesﬂ of al- Bin‚ali™s demise. ˛e tak˜r memorandum had thus created a situation of all-out ideological warfare in the Islamic State. Extremist ˜gures such as Abu Hafs al-Wad‚ani were using their newfound power to isolate and perhaps even eliminate the scholars. Naturally, the latter were losing con˜dence in the Islamic State™s leadership, and some, such as al-Hashimi, were on the verge of leaving the caliphate altogether. At this point, al-Baghdadi realized that he needed to intervene before the scholars and their supporters completely abandoned ship. The ﬁReturn to the Truthﬂ On September 15, 2017, the Delegated Committee released a new statement withdrawing the tak˜r memorandum issued back in May. ﬁAdherence to the content of the memorandum titled ‚˛at ˛ose Who Perish Might Perish by a Clear Sign™ – has been terminated,ﬂ it stated, ﬁon account of its containing errors of knowledge and misleading and unreliable statements that have given rise to disagreement and division in the ranks of the mujahidin particularly and the Muslims in general.ﬂˇ˛e brief statement concluded by reminding readers of ﬁthe virtue of returning to the truth,ﬂ and in a postscript announced that an audio series dedicated to the ideological issues in dispute was forthcoming. According to one account of the events leading up to this ﬁreturn to the truth,ﬂ when al-Baghdadi learned of the uproar caused by the tak˜r memo he called a special meeting between himself, members of the Delegated Committee, and some of the Islamic State™s scholars. Aˆer hearing both sides of the ideological divide, he decided to dissolve the Delegated Committee and withdraw the May 2017 memorandum. One of the scholars present, the Egyptian Abu Muhammad al-Masri, was appointed to a seat on the newly reconstituted Delegated Committee; another, the Jordanian Abu Ya‚qub al-Maqdisi, was named the successor to al-Bin‚ali as head of the O˝ce of Research and Studies. Following the meeting, several of the members of the former Delegated Committee, including Abu Hafs al-Wad‚ani, were imprisoned, as were the members al-Wad‚ani™s methodological committee. Many of those incarcerated would ˙ee the Islamic State as its territory shrank; others, including al-Wad‚ani, were eventually executed. Al-Wad‚ani himself would write a fascinating retrospective on al-Baghdadi™s intervention and its aˆermath. In December 2017, aˆer being released from prison, he sent a long letter to al-Baghdadi questioning the wisdom of withdrawing the tak˜r memorandum and complaining about the rapidly deteriorating condition of the caliphate. ˛e Islamic State, he said, has become ﬁtwo factionsﬂ ( fariqayn ), one having been empowered and the other having been subject to a campaign of suppression. He noted that ﬁmany of the brothersﬂ are unsure whether al-Baghdadi is fully aware of what is going on. ﬁWe truly do not know,ﬂ he wrote, ﬁwhether this is happening with your knowledge or without your knowledge.ﬂ Al-Wad‚ani urged al-Baghdadi to return to the battle˜eld to reassure the soldiers, and to ﬁtry to repair what your recent decisions have ruined.ﬂ Aˆer writing his letter, al-Wad‚ani became a wanted man, though this time he managed to escape capture for two months. In June 2018, he was executed by the Islamic State on charges of being a ﬁKharijite.ﬂ In the second half of September 2017, the promised audio series appeared in six installments. Titled Silsila ‚ilmiyya ˜ bayan masa™il manhajiyya (ﬁKnowledge Series Clarifying Matters of Methodologyﬂ), it made a number of points regarding the right approach to tak˜r , one of which stands out about above all. ˛is comes in the third episode, where tak˜r of polytheists is classi˜ed as ﬁone of the requirements of the religionﬂ ( min wajibat al-din ), not as ﬁpart of the foundation of the religionﬂ ( min asl al-din ). It was a complete reversal of the
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20caliphate yet. If they do, there may still be too much bad blood with al-Qaida for them simply to return to it. About the Author: Cole Bunzel is a research fellow in Islamic Law and Civilization at Yale Law School, where his work focuses on the history of Wahhabism, Saudi Arabia, and the Jihadi Sala˜ movement. He received his Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University in 2018 and edits the blog Jihadica. Notes See further Cole Bunzel, From Paper State to Caliphate: ˚e Ideology of the Islamic State , Brookings Institution, 2015. Ideology was not the only factor separating al-Qaida and the Islamic State. Issues of personality and strategy were also key, but di˚erent approaches to ideology have been and remain critical.  For an excellent study of these fault lines in the preceding period, see Brynjar Lia, ﬁJihadis Divided between Strategists and Doctrinarians,ﬂ in Global Sala˜sm: Islam™s New Religious Movement , ed. Roel Meijer (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009), 69-87. See, for instance, ﬁ˛e R˘˜dah: From Ibn Saba™ to the Dajj˘l,ﬂ Dabiq 13 (January 2016): 32-45, available at https://jihadology. net/2016/01/19/new-issue-of-the-islamic-states-magazine-dabiq-13/ . See further the widely shared essay in online Islamic State circles, ﬁJuz™ ˜ bayan harakat Taliban wa-kufriyyatiha min bayanatiha ™l-rasmiyya wa-majallatiha wa-dasturiha ™l-taghuti,ﬂ available at http://www.jihadica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/bayan-aqidat-harakat-taliban.pdf .  Letter from the Delegated Committee, December 12, 2015, available at http://www.jihadica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/ hukm-al-fasail.pdf .  Letter from the Central O˝ce for Overseeing the Shari‚a Departments, June 1, 2016, available at http://www.jihadica.com/wp- content/uploads/2018/11/hukm-tanzim-qaidat-suriya.pdf .  See, for instance, Abu Maysara al-Shami, ﬁ˛e Q˘™ida of adh-Dhaw˘hir, al-Har˘r, and an-Nadh˘r, and the Absent Yem Wisdom, Dabiq 6 (December 2014): 16-24, available at https://azelin.˜les.wordpress.com/2015/02/the-islamic-state-e2809cdc481biq- magazine-622.pdf .  Abu Muhammad al-‚Adnani, ﬁ‚Udhran al-Q˘‚ida,ﬂ Mu™assasat al-Furq˘n, May 11, 2014, transcript available at http://www. jihadica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/udhran-amir-al-qaida.pdf .  Ayman al-Zawahiri, ﬁal-Sham amana ˜ a‚naqikum, Mu™assasat al-Sahab, January 14, 2016, transcript available at http://www. jihadica.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/al-sham-amana.pdf .  ˛e most illuminating sources have come from two Telegram channels called Wa-harrid al-mu™minin (ﬁAnd Rouse the Believersﬂ) and Ma‚dhiratan ila ™llah (ﬁAs an Excuse before Godﬂ), which are run by men convinced that the Islamic State has become too moderate. ˛e latter channel, which has changed its name to al-Nadhir al-‚Uryan (ﬁ˛e Bare Warnerﬂ), is operated by a former colleague of Abu Hafs al-Wad‚ani (d. 2018), a high-ranking member of the Delegated Committee on the more extremist side of things (more on him above). Together, Wa-harrid al-mu™minin and al-Nadhir al-‚Uryan have leaked many o˝cial Islamic State documentsŠ memorandums, letters, internal assessments, etc. Filling out the picture are the many leaked documentsŠmainly books and essays but also statements on current eventsŠdistributed by Mu™assasat al-Turath al-‚Ilmi (ﬁ˛e Scholarly Heritage Establishmentﬂ) and Mu™assasat al-Wafa™ al-I‚lamiyya (ﬁ˛e Fidelity Media Establishmentﬂ). ˛ese channels are aligned with the Islamic State™s scholarly establishment, which has grown distrustful of the caliphate™s leadership for reasons opposite those of Wa-harrid al-mu™minin and al- Nadhir al-‚Uryan : the scholars believe the Islamic State has become too extremist in orientation.  See Muhammad Nasir al-Din al-Albani, Sahih al-targhib wa™l-tarhib , 3 vols. (Riyadh: Maktabat al-Ma‚arif, 2000), 3:55.  ‚Abd al-Rahman ibn Qasim, ed., al-Durar al-saniyya ˜ ™l-ajwiba al-Najdiyya , 16 vols., rev. ed. (Riyadh: Warathat al-Shaykh ‚Abd al-Rahman ibn Qasim, 2012), 10:91-93, at 91.  See further on al-Hazimi Cole Bunzel, ﬁCaliphate in Disarray: ˛eological Turmoil in the Islamic State,ﬂ October 3, 2017, Jihadica , http://www.jihadica.com/caliphate-in-disarray/ .  For an overview, see Shams al-Din al-Naqaz, ﬁal-Qissa al-kamila lil-tayyar al-Hazimi al-akthar ghuluwwan ˜ ™l-tak˜r qabl Da‚ish wa-ba‚dahu,ﬂ Noon Post , July 31, 2016 (part 1), http://www.noonpost.org/content/19129 , August 2, 2017 (part 2), http://www. noonpost.org/content/19167 .  Bunzel, From Paper State to Caliphate , 26.
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