I was asked to give my comments on ‘Caliph’ al-Baghdadi’s recent audiotape and also ISIS’ statement on U.S. elections. I’ll start with the second, much easier task.
ISIS oppose elections in the U.S. and more importantly it opposes democracy in any Islamic society and the idealized Islamic state – the Caliphate. Their latest document provides the doctrinal reasons for doing so. While there might be political rationale for changing positions on this question (as did the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas), the Islamic State will pursue, to the bitter end, the religious justifications for arguing against a democratic, populist form of government (one which would unseat authoritarian modes of government, such as their own).
Their argument against voters participation in the U.S. election is firstly:
that both sides – GOP and Democrats – are inimical to the interests of Islam and Muslims.
Here is a translation of the document. Walking through it provides little novelty to those familiar with the group, but there might be some surprises for those who don’t read texts.
IS directs their argument in these initial arguments to/about Muslims by calling such elections an ‘apostate’ vote. Thus the Gore-Bush election and that of Obama were also acts of apostasy. They are especially bitter to former mujahid/neosalafi Safar Hawali who has spoken out against jihadism on behalf of the Saudi Arabian government (you can look him up in works on extremism in Saudi Arabia). But also towards Muslims who voted for Bush in Florida
Similarly “murtaddin” (renouncers of Islam and thus apostates) are the MuslimBrotherhood and “sister sects” who support participation in the U.S. elections and have done so for other elections, such as in Egypt, Tunisia, Jordan and Palestine.
ISIS say the only difference between Hilary Clinton and Trump is that the former is more skilled in political correctness.
ISIS is fiercely opposed to feminism (it would not acknowledge being anti-woman) and opposes Hilary as a “female feminist” & cites the well-known hadith “Never shall a people who give their leadership to a woman be successful.” (incidentally, this was a reference to the daughter of a Sassanian ruler).
#ISIS states that both Trump & HRC “committed themselves to the Jewish state” – meaning Israel, as indeed, have nearly all U.S. candidates, not only for president, but other positions.
The group condemns the outcome of elections by commenting on President Obama’s actions in the Muslim world – his invasion of Iraq & Sham, interference in Libya, his drone strikes Yemen, Afghanistan and Somalia.
The Islamic State regards HRC as the more dangerous candidate — she is able to lead more Muslims astray (into apostasy) by exploiting the notion of a liberal Islam or moderate Muslims. To this they contrast Trump’s (or his advisors) definition of radical Islam as being distinct from Islam. They write that he needs to understand that their proposals ARE Islam itself (which is ironically, the attack of right-wing analysts on all Muslims).
The group shows its intentions of not only attacking the legitimacy of elections but the rhetorical and ‘false divisions’ of Muslims that have been created by Western (and also some Muslim) politicians, media and analysis.
If anything, this document shows that the Islamic state and all its ilk, whether al-Qa’ida offshoots or the #Jihad 3.0 variant of ISIS that may emerge in a few years, will always oppose Western-style democracy & its imposition or growth in Islamic lands.
The next doctrinally-based argument is to decry all that which is not based on Shari’ah; and all who accept human-made legislation, judges, rulers who impose it – as tawaghit.
ISIS underscores its uncompromising view of tawhid — the single and sole authority of Allah — in this document and aims to associate the Western or democratic vision of Islamic world with sin and apostasy.
The document goes on to condemn those who are affiliates or associates in apostasy; and who fail to act against it, as apostates. Thereby it condemns ideal of popular legislation and voter participation as ‘ar-rida bi-kufr, kufr’; silent consent in apostasy is apostasy.
It condemns those who ‘fight’ for the supporters of apostate democracy (which could mean the Sunni soldiers of the Iraqi Defense Forces) or any supporters of the U.S. and all those allies of Christians & Jews — a much widern net.
“Fear of deportation and abuse” is not an excuse for association with kufr (apostasy) or Christians or Jews (This could be seen as a reference to Trump’s campaign and the urging of U.S. Muslim organizations to get out and vote against a candidate who threatens their presence in the United States.
ISIS writes that although one could argue this is coercion, the proper response to coercion is hijrah or flight (to an Islamic state) but not association with apostasy or its support.
The document makes many allusions to the early Muslims who betrayed the Muslims; and states that when angels seize sinners’ souls, they will ask didn’t they have the opportunity to emigrate (wasn’t the world sufficiently broad for them to take another alternative) instead of committing apostasy.
ISIS warns that even those with good intentions — for example to defend Muslims — who commit shirk, will be punished.
The document then states that given all of these preceding proofs, it is licit, and indeed obligatory to kill all those participating in the US apostate elections, for they are renegade apostates or Crusaders.
The language here is clearly directed at the popular electoral process: “Say O Disbelievers, we do not worship the people”.
The Islamic State makes it clear that it is threatening threat “Crusader” voters as well including women, who aren’t merely married and subjugated to their husband’s vote, they are voting on their own. This may seem a bit of an obscure reference, but it pertains to the waging of violence on women.
The document concludes by asking Allah to wreak calamity on US election day like none other in American’s “pathetic history.” So does this mean that ISIS has planned violent actions? It may have, and it would be foolish to assume that any intended by “lone wolves” might not be connected to IS Western-targeted planning departments.
In sum, this document illustrates the Islamic State’s uncompromising insistence that its Caliphate represents true Muslims – as compared to nation states & democratization even in the face of the group’s assured defeat in Mosul and following that in Raqqa.