In the name of Allaah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
Salafi Da’wah in 1996: A First-Hand Personal Account.
The Era of the Scholars and the Escalation of the Da’wah.
Beginnings of Salafi Publications.
By the beginning of 1996, “Jimas” with Abu Muntasir as its head had decided it would openly declare its allegiance to the political activists and agitators in the Middle East and elsewhere: Safar al-Hawaalee, Salmaan al-Awdah, Abdur-Rahmaan Abdul-Khaaliq and others – all of whom were staunchly upon the ideology of Syed Qutb. Early in this year, Abu Muntasir visited Shaikh Al-Albaanee (rahimahullaah) in Jordan, he then went on to Alexandria in Egypt to visit Muhammad Ismail Muqaddam.
On his return, I met Abu Muntasir in Manchester. He told me how unimpressed he was with Shaikh al-Albaanee (due to him not giving “importance” to the political situation of the Muslims), and was particularly irate after being advised by Al-Albaanee that the manner in which he had wrapped his turban opposed the Prophetic Sunnah.
He was, however, very impressed with Muhammad Ismail in Egypt, as he was much more “aware” of the plight of the Muslims worldwide and their political situation. He also informed me in the same conversation that there was a plot to oust him as the leader of JIMAS headed by Abu Aliyah, and he would resist all attempts, since now it was no longer personal but doctrinal. He spoke of the attempts of Abu Sufyaan Abdul-Kareem McDowell to dislodge the status of Syed Abul-Ala Maududi, Hasan al-Banna and Sayyid Qutb as great Islamic scholars and reformers, and he found this offensive to his vision of Islam.
He stated that Abu Sufyaan had openly criticised these “great scholars” in open lectures and that was intolerable. It was clear that Abu Muntasir was now on a mission of his own to spread the doctrine of Qutb, Banna and Maududi. This actually flies in the face of those “academics” who continue to write that the splits between those ascribing to Salafism in the mid-nineties were based on personal differences and not doctrinal, as is claimed by Sadek Hamed (in Global Salafism) and others in their “academic” writings.
To further underline this doctrine, Ali Timimi was invited by Abu Muntasir in the spring of 1996. He delivered a lecture in East London that really drew the line in the sand entitled: “A Word of Advice to the Salafis in the UK.” In this lecture, he spoke of Tawheed al-Haakimiyah as a distinct fourth category of Tawheed (regarded by the Salafi scholars to be a doctrinal innovation), parliamentary elections, Jihad and political agitation.
A few days after this lecture, I was invited by Abu Muntasir to sit with Ali Tamimi, which I agreed to – two of us from Birmingham travelled to meet him in Leicester at a Mosque. At that stage I had still not heard this “advice” which Tamimi had delivered to a large audience in East London. Remember this was still the pre-internet media era – we had to wait for the audio tapes to be recorded, released and distributed.
In this sitting, Tamimi re-iterated much of his paranoid ideas revolving around the New World Order and it had overtaken and infiltrated the Salafi da’wah. He told us that we should not be surprised if he (Tamimi) was assassinated in the near future by the forces of evil due to him uncovering these realities and their effect upon the da’wah of ahlus-Sunnah. He said that he had been holding these views for a few years, but didn’t feel it was the right time to speak… until now.
He stated that Shaikh Ibn Baaz, Shaikh al-Albaanee, Shaikh Ibn Uthaimeen (all of whom were alive at that time) were not aware of these conspiracies against the da’wah – indeed they were in the dark about these realities. When I asked him about Shaikh Muqbil, he became agitated and spoke of him critically, insisting that knowledge should not be taken from him. One thing is for sure, as outlandish as his claims were, Ali Tamimi was a very convincing debater; and one can understand how hundreds, if not thousands of youth were convinced by him, and till this day, still support him. This is also a lesson for the Salafi in following the path of the early scholars who would forbid the Muslims from sitting with, and listening to the people of misguidance. Additionally, the great importance of referring our affairs to the major scholars of the era, which Ali Tamimi would not do. He would quote from Ibn Baaz or Ibn Uthaimeen (rahimahumallaah), then he would explain their words to fit his agenda, deliberately leaving off their specific clear-cut statements and quoting their general words. For example: These scholars would speak of the importance of people and the Muslim nations judging in accordance to the Book and Sunnah, and the great dangers that lie in opposing the Judgment of Allaah. So the Qutubis would quote these verdicts from the Salafi Scholars. But when these same scholars would forbid rebellion, assassinations, demonstrations and political agitation against the tyrannical Muslim rulers, the Qutubis would conceal that. This was the way of Tamimi, Idrees Palmer and others.
So all praise is due to Allaah, who protected us from his doubts and outlandish conspiracy theories, and after a few days, we started responding to these ideas of Ali Tamimi. Abu Iyaad worked tirelessly in translating material directly from the scholars in this regard. Others, such as Abu Talhah (rahimahullaah) joined the battle against the Qutubists. Much of that material is still available online at salafipublications.com
This, in no way means that Salafi Publications, or the brothers who subsequently set up Salafi Publications were alone in this battle against Qutubist domination – indeed there were others involved in this task of protecting the Salafi methodology, however, it must be said without doubt that in the West, Salafi Publications spearheaded the campaign against the Qutubist-Jihadist ideology.
Any contributions of individuals that I have left out from that era in no way means that their efforts were any less significant than my own, or of those whom I have named. These short articles give a truthful insight into that era and are not intended to diminish the noble efforts of others. In 1997, for example, in New Jersey, USA, Abu Uwais Abdullaah Ahmed Ali (rahimahullaah) delivered a series of scathing lectures against the influences of the Qutubies such as Ali Timimi.
In recent times, especially post “9-11”, academics have started to write about the growth of Salafi Da’wah in the West since the early 90’s, trying to find a link between Salafism and the radicalisation of Muslim youth in the West. The truth however is that extremist ideologues of that era tried to infiltrate the Muslim minds, they did not focus solely upon young practising Salafis, but upon all Muslims. The point that is missed by most academics is the response of Muslim groups to these alien ideologies. So what was the response, for example of the Salafis in the West, before “9-11”, to the influences of Omar Abdur-Rahmaan (Jamatul-Jihaad, Egypt), or Omar Bakri (Hizbut-Tahreer, al-Muhajiroun), or Muhammad al-Mas’aree, or Muhammad Suroor, or Faisal Abdullaah (Jamaican Jihadist), or Ali Tamimi, or Anwar Awlakee, etc, as compared to the response of other groups?
One must remember that these ideologues of extremism targeted Muslim youth as a whole, many Islamic youth organisations, mosques and university ISOCs welcomed with open arms visitations from Awlaki, Tamimi and Palmer, even after they had openly professed their extremist ideologies. The Salafi organisations on the other hand, it has to be truthfully said, resisted the influences of these ideologies, in fact spearheaded the charge against them as is witnessed by the writings of Salafis living in the West from the mid-90’s onwards.