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You might say that Castro and Guevara created plenty of incident for this evil, if you see the pictures of the firing squads in 1960s Cuba. It's not new, it's just transmutated and elevated into some kind of "art" or "science" by these barbarians.

There is a certain irony in the fact that Osama Bin Laden had his roots in Hadhramaut, in today's Yemen. Yet it is precisely in that region where moderate orthodox clerics, who are now part of the bulwark against extremism in Islam, have their roots.

Two such are Habib Ali Al-Jifri, who wrote this article, and Habib Umar bin Hafiz. Both are of Hadhramaut roots but live in the UAE, where they are patronised by the country's rulers. They represent the Shafi'i fiqh and the Ba Alawiyya Sufi order, dominant in the area and also spread to Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in no small part because of refugees who fled Communist rule in South Yemen.

Not only are Al-Jifri and Bin Hafiz renown ulama or scholars, they are also seen by the UAE as important assets in confronting extremism. The UAE, with good reason, has blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood and CAIR, and other US and UK-based organisations which are extremist, yet tolerated and even indulged by the political class!

Yet the UAE also promotes the whole spectrum of Islamic orthodoxy as all four Sunni fiqhs are represented - the Maliki fiqh is dominant, but Hanafi, Shafi'i and Hanbali (aka Salafi/"Wahhabi") are also represented. In fairness, the Gulf states, Jordan and Egypt have a similar scenario. Even Saudi Arabia, by virtue of history, is more diverse in its makeup than would be assumed.

It is important to distinguish between traditional clerics who ally with legitimate authority, and radical clerics who preach revolution. The former belong to any of the four fiqhs or and two broad schools of theology. This is why clerics from two diametrically opposing versions of Sunni Islam - Sufism and Salafism - may be lumped together as "conservative" clerics because of their support for established order against revolution. And it is not only the Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi'i schools whose Ashari and Maturidi theology and Sufism constitutes the bulk of traditional Sunni Islam, but also the Hanbali fiqh and Salafist theology of Saudi Arabia (versions of it in Qatar and the UAE are actually milder in application). All of these are led by the traditional ulema who are educated and educate in the traditional Islamic manner.

Scholars from all of these schools, with their extensive networks of mosques and institutions, have devoted significant resources to denouncing ISIS with publications aimed at Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

For the Western world, engagement with Muslim rulers and establishment clerics may be the prudent thing to do as ISIS and extremism in general may not be defeated without them.


Posts: 5,100
Reply with quote  #2

As a region whose dominant tribe, the Bani Khalid, rebelled against Ottoman rule in the 17th Century and intermittently had Bani Khalid, Ottoman and Saudi rulers, the Al-Ahsa (or Hasa) region of eastern Saudi Arabia typifies the complexities regarding Islamic jurisprudence.

Each of the four schools of law and the three schools of theology benefited from patronage by the state in various parts of the Islamic World, no different to various forms of Christianity. The difference is that there is not a centralised "church" but a network of clerics, mosques and institutions often transcending national borders. In the Al-Ahsa region, as in the Hejaz and Asir regions, you will find Sunnis who adhere to the Hanafi, Maliki and Shafi'i schools of law. This pre-dates the Saudi conquest of those regions. In Al-Ahsa, for instance, the leading scholars for the three madhabs mentioned come from old, established families.

The Hanafi fiqh, considered the most "liberal" jurisprudence, was patronised by the Abbasids, Ottomans, Mughals and Hashemites, which is why it is found in the Balkans, Turkey, the Levant, Russia, Central Asia, South Asia and China.

The Maliki fiqh was patronised by Morocco and spread through Africa, and is also found in the Gulf states and in pockets of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

The Shafi'i fiqh, emanating from southern Yemen, spread to South-East Asia and East Africa and in pockets of the Gulf.

The Hanbali fiqh, the basis for Salafism or "Wahhabism", is established in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and parts of the UAE (where it is milder in application), and spread elsewhere with Salafism.

Consequently, Islamic states and their recognised scholars who defend the existing order - the religious establishment as such - whatever schools they may belong to, can be distinguished from Islamist movements whose interpretation of Islam is more radical.

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