This text, written in Shawwal 1439 AH (June-July 2018 CE), is a message written by a certain Zakariya al-Qardashi to a deputy of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi going by the name of al-Hajj Abdullah. I cannot find any information about Zakariya al-Qardashi, though the surname suggests an origin from the same area as Abu Ali al-Anbari. Al-Hajj Abdullah is also an obscure figure.
The message comes in the form of brotherly and well-meaning advice and pales in comparison with the scathing critique of the 'Hashimi Advice,' which (unlike this text) casts doubt on Baghdadi's claim to be Caliph. That said, there are some common themes in both works:
- Warnings against having a 'retinue of evil'.
- Concerns about disregard for the judiciary and ruling of Shari'a.
- The need to appoint the people most suited for positions in the organization.
This text was shared by the 'dissident' outlets in the Islamic State online debates. I translate it in full below. Any parenthetical insertions in square brackets are my own.
This is what Zakariya al-Qardashi wrote to Sheikh al-Hajj Abdullah (may God grant him success)
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
May God ensure that the deputy of the Amir al-Mu'mineen continues to obey Him, and lengthen might for him in utmost bestowal, and endurance of dignity, and may He make what He has bestowed on him conveyed with the blessing of the Hereafter, if he does well, to the one appointed over them. And may God entrust to the deputy of the Amir al-Mu'mineen in that which He has entrusted to him the affairs of those He has guided and chosen and may He make him someone who is guided by them. As for what follows:
I write to you with a letter in which I have spared no guidance, and I have spared no advice, so consider it with your mind and look at it again and again and give it your hearing, if you please? Then understand it with your heart and comprehend it, and do not keep your mind away from it, for indeed this world is an abode of transition and not an abode of establishment. And the one who does not know what the reward of God is may think that it is an abode of reward, and the one who has not known what the punishment of God is may reckon that it is an abode of punishment. So establish the truth in what God has entrusted to you and appointed you even for an hour of a day, for indeed the happiest of guides among God on the Day of Judgement is a guide by whom his subjects have been happy, and do not make to deviate and thus betray the trust that the Imam al-Mu'mineen Abu Bakr (may God guard him with His eye that does not sleep) entrusted to you, and do not make your subjects deviate.
The Amir al-Mu'mineen Omar (may God be pleased with him) wrote a message to Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas (may God be pleased with him) in which he wrote: "Establish the hudud even for an hour of a day, and if two matters come upon you, one of them for God and another for this world, give preference to your share in the Hereafter over your share in this world, for indeed this world vanishes and the Hereafter remains. And count the ill of the Muslims, and bear witness to their janazas, and open your door, and undertake their matter by yourself, for indeed you are a man among them, except that God has placed the heaviest of burden among them on you."
So consider the counsel of one of the ministers of the Messenger of God (SAWS) making clear to you the path of success, and lighting your path with the lamp of success, so beware oh Abdullah for yourself- may God have mercy on you- and not reprimand, for none of us knows when he will be in the company of those who depart, and the wretched one is the one who commits oppression when God entrusts him with a matter. Indeed most of the threat comes upon the oppressors, and if that is prohibited for the people of disbelief, it is all the more so for the people of faith, and that is even more the case with the working Ahl al-'Ilm, the likes of whom are rarely found, and by whom God supports the oppressed if they are just. And their justice is through doing well towards them and bringing them near, for how can a people prosper if they bring near the flattering enemy and distance the advising friend?
And the Companions had pledged allegiance to the Messenger of God (SAWS) on the basis of counsel for every believer, and Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (may God have mercy on him) said: "Do not conceal from your amir a matter you consider the benefit of mentioning it to be a Shari'i interest like corruption upon the grouping, for indeed conveying it is from good counsel while its contrary is deception" (Wisaya lil-Junud).
And beware of the retinue of evil who adopt names of 'wisdom' even as they are the furthest of people from it, for they are the people of perdition and ambitions, and were they to encounter you oh our Sheikh you would be under the ground from the day you encounter them. On the authority of the Prophet (SAWS): that he said: "A caliph has not been appointed successor unless he has two retinues: a retinue commanding good and inciting him to do so, and a retinue inciting him to evil and encouraging him to do so, and the protected one is the one God protects." So bring near to you the best retinue so that you may be the best retinue for the best Caliph as we reckon him and God is his reckoning.
And know, may God have mercy on you, that I am not like my predecessor, for I do not desire wealth for myself- God knows- and not for the Banu Hashim even as I am not of them, but rather I love the monotheists and I love for them what I love for myself, and I fear for them the torment of God on the Day of Judgement, and I do not write to you except for my fear for you and for the sake of reform, and you oh Abdullah have the executive authority, so do not stand between the servants and the law of their Lord, for this deed is oppression. And do not impede the Shari'a for the defense of the nearest of those brought near, let alone those besides them, and consider the words of the best of creation (SAWS): "Were it the case that Fatima the daughter of Muhammad had stolen, I would cut off her hand." So that is all the more so for the one who has spread corruption in the land, and destroyed and tormented the people in their religion and world, and with that rejects resorting to the Shari'a of God for arbitration, and his deed in its type is kufr, except that he is 'interpreting', and his interpretation entails criticism for the principle, for if you ask him about the reason he seeks aid in you and rejects the arbitration, he says to you that the judges are disbelievers, so what Dawla [Islamic State] is this that claims it is Islamic if its judges are disbelievers? And the words of the one who claims wisdom must be right and known, if not embraced from the outset.
Indeed I call upon you, oh our Sheikh, to repentance, and this is so. The Messenger of God used to seek the repentance of God and repent to him in meeting more than 50 times. And I call on you to punish those who have been extreme or overstepped and so have betrayed and been among the sowers of corruption. So if you do that, the subjects will love you more than those who preceded you, and you will become nearer to God, for you will attain your world and attain reward in your Hereafter. And if you turn away from this advice of mine and the advice of the people of justice the soles of whose sandals I do not equal, know that God grants respite and does not neglect, and we only seek best for you and we ask God to open your heart to advice.
And consider what the first reviver said by the agreement of the 'ulama: Omar bin Abd al-Aziz, when his son said to him: "Oh my father, I see you have delayed many matters, even as I reckoned that had you been appointed for an hour of a day, you would have expedited them, and how I wished that you had done that." Omar said to him: "Oh my son, indeed you are on good God has apportioned for you, but, by God, I cannot bring out anything to them from religion unless there is with it a portion from this world."
So the people have been created with a natural propensity for desire in these days of ours, and not every member in the State of the Caliphate (may God protect it) is fighting for the sake of establishing God's law absolutely, for there are those who desire commodities from this world because of the ongoing crisis, so apportion to the soldiers from the spoils what God has apportioned for them, in a form that suffices for them as their provisions and does not gratify them, for if they are gratified, they become lazy and cling to the earth, and if they are deprived, they revolt. And the middle is the best of the two paths.
And do not be, may God have mercy on you, like those about whom the sheikh of Islam Ibn Taymiyya (may God have mercy on him) spoke: trash only driven by zeal of Jahiliya, kinship and friendship. For if the one whose state is such seeks their aid, honour in sin takes hold of them and they support him even if he is an oppressor in falsehood against the oppressed truth, and this is among the greatest corruption of this world and the religion, and indeed the wars of the Bedouins and entry of the Turks and the Mongols into the land of Islam happened because of this (al-Sayasa al-Shari'iya 71).
And know that the positions are the keys of victory, and the best key is the one that has the best guardian, and indeed guardians are to be chosen according to the Prophetic guidance and not according to condemned opinion and rotten tribalism, and the Sunna of the Messenger of God (SAWS) was that the ones who lead the Muslims in prayer on Friday and the congregation and address them in sermon are the amirs of war, who are deputies of the Caliph upon the soldiers, like Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (may God be pleased with him). SAWS said: "The one most versed in reciting the Book of God should lead the people in prayer. But if they are equally versed, then the one most knowledgeable of the Sunna, but if they are equally knowledgeable in the Sunna, then the one who first migrated, but if they are equal in migrating, then the eldest of them, and no man should lead another in prayer under the latter's author authority, and take it upon himself to sit in his house without his permission"- (narrated by Muslim).
So proceed on this basis (may God have mercy on you), and appoint to the positions those who deserve them, and they are the most knowledgeable of people of their position. If it is judiciary, appoint these people who know it best, and if it is military positions, appoint those who know them best, and if it is fatwa-issuing, so it is the one in whom the conditions to issue fatwas have been realized. And if it is media, as before.
Thus, speaking falsehoods against God without knowledge will be avoided, and false pretenses to knowledge will be done away with forever by God's permission. And the meaning of SAWS' words- "the one most versed in reciting the Book of God"- is not the one who attained a certificate in the ten recitations or document records in some of them, but rather the best working of the people, the most wise of them, and the ones who consider most deeply the outcomes of deeds as the Messenger of God (SAWS) taught his Companions.
And let your guide be the writing of the mujahid Sheikh Maysara al-Ghareeb (may God accept him): "Nurturing wisdom requires that our youth be raised as our predecessors were in their manhaj bringing together following the evidence and clarifying issues of ijtihad for the subjects without detours and evasions, so that all from the amir and the one command will know their limits so the amir does not oppress his subjects and deal with them like slaves under his hand, and the commanded does not become insolent against his amir forgetting that his amir has a right upon him and his amir has competencies that are not for the subjects. And thus we will avoid many of the quarrels between brothers of manhaj if they know that issues of ijtihad, even if they disagree on them, are with the amir, for the word is the word of the amir and his opinion. So if that knowledgeable person becomes an amir, he must apply what he considers to be the truth in God's religion"- (Innama Shifa' al-Ay al-Su'al p. 27).
And by God I would have liked to have been able to advise you in secret, but the doors are shut, and there is no path to that. And perhaps you know of the arrests that have befallen a group of the best of God's creation, and which will increase until the one for whom you have provided shelter obtains his desire, and so you will likewise lose your world, and God alone knows the desire of this person.
And I conclude this message of mine with what the Amir al-Mu'mineen Omar bin al-Khattab (may God be pleased with him) wrote to Obeida bin al-Jarrah (may God be pleased with him): "As for what follows, I have written to you with a letter, in which I have spared myself no good in it. Embrace five traits. Your religion will be sound for you and you will obtain your good lot. If two adversaries attend to you, for you must embrace the just proofs and decisive oaths. Then bring close the weak so that his tongue may be open, and his heart may become bold. And attend to the stranger, for if his confinement lasts long, he abandons his need and departs for his people, and the one who nullifies his right is the one who does not raise a head by it. And be keen for conciliation, so long as the judgement is not evident to you. Wa-salam."
Written by Zakariya al-Qardashi
Shawwal 1439 AH
Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi is a research fellow at Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project.