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A deeper look into the Matkab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat (Office of Investigation and Studies), a body in Islamic State administration. 

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The Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat (Office of Investigation and Studies) has been one of the most interesting bodies in Islamic State (IS) administration. Among the many items posted by the pro-IS 'dissident' outlet called Mu'assasat al-Turath al-'Ilmi is this self-history of the office that was published on 27 Ramadan 1437 AH (c. 2 July 2016 CE).

This self-history documents the first two years of existence of the office though some details are left out. Most notably, there is no mention of the prior names of the office: the Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa' (The Investigation and Fatwa Issuing Department) and the Hay'at al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa' (The Investigation and Fatwa Issuing Commission). The office's existence as a Diwan is attested in the earliest documents that can be found following the establishment of the Caliphate at the end of June 2014.

By the end of 2014/beginning of 2015, one begins to find the name Hay'at al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa' attested in the documents, though in many cases it is used interchangeably with the name Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Iftaa'. For example, if one looks at a series of fatwas that emerged in early 2015, one finds the name of Hay'at al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa' on the top of the document but the stamp of Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa'. A series of locally issued fatwas I obtained in September 2015 from the Raqqa area likewise appears to show the same interchangeability of names for the body. In an instance from the autumn of 2015, I find the name of Diwan al-Buhuth wa al-'Iftaa used on documents in Aleppo province as part of an encouragement of mobilization to prevent the Syrian government and its allies from breaking the siege of Kweiris airbase.

By the end of 2015/beginning of 2016 though, the name of Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat appears and becomes adopted officially, for it is how the body is described in the June 2016 IS video 'Structure of the Caliphate,' which features the office as separate from the series of Diwans.

Is there any significance to the name changes? By one account, the name changes reflect a demotion of the importance and responsibilities of the institution. If this self-history is to be believed though, the functions of the office remained the same and the body did not lose its prerogative to give fatwas on account of its name changes. In addition, its opinions and pronouncements were implemented in various departments of IS governance, such as the courts and Hisba apparatuses. It was also on account of the office's rulings on teachers who worked under the Syrian school system that a large-scale 'repentance' program was undertaken in 2015 for teachers in the Syrian territories of IS.

The self-history presents a list of works issued by the office, and mentions a couple of works by other bodies that the office reviewed and wrote introductions for. However, I would note that the list presented is not wholly comprehensive. For example, there is no mention of a Hay'at al-Buhuth wa al-Iftaa' treatise on calendar dating that I obtained and leaked in 2015, nor does the list mention the work Course in Tawheed, a 101 textbook for training camp recruits on the most basic aspect of Islamic doctrine. Some of the works mentioned have been published and translated online (e.g. see my translation and analysis of the treatise on the Shi'i sects).

The listing of works and explanations for the publication of some of them do provide context about various disputes and issues within IS. For instance, the treatise on the Shi'i sects was issued to make clear that they are apostates and not original disbelievers, contrary to the claim of 'extremists' that those sects are original disbelievers and the 'extremist' assertion of takfir against the one who pronounced the Shi'i sects to be apostates. The apostate/original disbeliever distinction is also important for the issue of taking women as concubines/sex slaves: while IS has permitted for women from the original disbelievers to be enslaved (thus e.g. the enslavement of Yezidi women), it has refrained from enslaving women of the apostates.

We also learn, for example, that a number of people from the Khazanawiya (a Naqshbandi Sufi order) ended up coming under IS rule. IS sought to repress this order and seek repentance of its members. Further, there was controversy in the IS health department about whether one could accept aid from non-Muslim aid organizations. Many mu'adhdhins (those who call to prayer) were making mistakes. And so forth.

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Clarifications about some of the works of the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat during two years

 

 

In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful

 

 

Clarifications about some of the works of the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat during two years

Praise be to God who has made knowledge a light for those who implement, and prayers and peace be upon the Imam of the Prophets and best of those sent, and on all his family and companions, and on whoso has followed them with ihsan to the Day of Judgement. As for what follows:

The Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat is an independent entity concerned with researching Shari'i issues, and issuing fatwas on matters of incidents and events, and it is directly affiliated with the Amir al-Mu'mineen or whoso represents him, and it was established by direct order from him.

And the office has- during two years- issued dozens of works and hundreds of written fatwas, and thousands of direct and audio fatwas.

And the work of the office is epitomized in researching and composing messages and books according to what the mashayakh in the Delegated Committee, the Diwans and the sectors and wilayas demand from it, or its amir's observation of issues that are frequently asked about, or when the need for them is urgent.

 

 

It also responds to the questions of the amirs, walis and soldiers from all the sectors through written fatwas, and it likewise responds to the questions of the soldiers and masses through the phone of the office on a daily basis, and likewise it responds to the questions of the people through a specialized program for fatwas in Idha'at al-Bayan, and sixty sessions have been recorded, and in each session no fewer than 20 fatwas.

And the office undertakes other assignments entrusted to it, like reviewing compositions and messages that have been produced by some of the other Diwans in the Islamic State, or establishing Shari'i courses, or giving lessons in 'Ilm and lectures to raise awareness in the mosques and diwans and places of ribat and likewise the institutes, such as the teaching of al-Mandhuma al-Bayquniya- more than once- the teaching of Ma'arij al-Qubul- more than once- and the teaching of al-Wajibat al-Mutahattimat- more than once- the teaching of Nukhbat al-Fikr, and the teaching of Kitab al-Tawheed and other works.

 


And the office aims to enrich the Islamic library in all issues of religion, so the Muslim will have no need for books of innovators and the 'ulama of evil, for the Murj'ites continue to reproach the people of Truth that they are isolated from them in issues of Hakimiya and jihad, and rely on them in issues of purity and prayer!

And we place before you the names of authorized compositions of the office during these two years:

1. Al-Taqrirat al-Mufida fi Ahm Abwab al-Aqeeda.

A book on the most important issues of creed that the Muslim must know. And it has been taught- by God's grace- to thousands of the mujahideen.

2. Masa'il wa Ahkam fi al-Salat wa al-Siyam

A book on the jurisprudence of purity, prayer and fasting. And it has been taught- by God's grace- to thousands of the mujahideen.

3. Masa'il al-Jiyad fi Fiqh al-Jihad

 

A book on the most important issues of jihad that every soldier of the soldiers of the Islamic State must know.

And it has been taught- by God's grace- to thousands of the mujahideen.

4. Taw'iyat al-Ru'iya bil-Siyasa al-Shari'iya

A book concerned with the most important issues of Shari'i politics.

And it has been taught- by God's grace- to thousands of the mujahideen.

5. Al-Amwal al-Sultaniya: Aqsamuha wa Ahkamuha

A book investigating what the jurists call al-Amwal al-Sultaniya, like spoils of war, booty and the like.

6. Al-Buyu': Wa Ma Yushra' wa Yumna' Minha

A book on the jurisprudence of selling, its conditions and regulations, and pointing out the permitted and forbidden sales.

 

And it has been taught- by God's grace- to the merchants in the Islamic State.

7. Al-Tahdhib fi Ahkam al-Ta'adhib

A book on the jurisprudence of the issues of torture. When is it allowed and when is it forbidden? And the regulations in that.

And the brothers in the Diwan al-Amn and Diwan al-Hisba have benefited from it.

8. Risala Tawdhidiya fi Bayan Hukm al-Mandhuma al-Ta'aleemiya fi al-Hukuma al-Nusayriya

A book on the matter of the ruling on the teachers, and clarification of it and affirmation of it, and thus the teachers were judged in kufr and their repentance was carried out, and they were made to join Shari'i courses, which has contributed to making thousands of teachers suitable to practise teaching in the schools of the Islamic State.

9. Al-Muntaqa fi Ahkam al-Ruqa

A book on sorcery and its conditions and regulations, and the issues that pertain to it.

 

And the brothers in the office of magic affiliated with the Diwan al-Siha have benefited from it, and it has been taught in more than one Shari'i course.

10. Zada al-Maklum

A condensed book, in which we suggested the most important issues that the wounded and ill need, and the book has been distributed in a number of the hospitals of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, so that our brothers wounded in the path of God Almighty may benefit from it.

11. Al-Mukhtar fi Ma'unat al-Kuffar

A condensed book on the discussion of the sayings of the 'ulama and deducing the predominant opinion among them regarding the ruling on accepting the aid of kafir aid organizations.

And the brothers in Diwan al-Siha have benefited from it.

12. Al-Wajiz fi Hadd al-Tahriz

A little book on the limit of tahriz for motorbikes and cars in which the hands are cut.

 

And work has been done in accordance with it in all the Shari'i courts by the grace of God Almighty.

13. Raf' al-Tathrib 'an Ittikhad al-Maharib

A jurisprudence book of hadith on the issue of the legitimacy or not of adopting maharib in the mosques. And work has been done in accordance with it among the brothers in the Diwan al-Da'wa wa al-Masajid.

14. Hukm al-Shari'a fi al-Tawa'if al-Shi'iya

A book investigating the ruling on the Rafidites and others besides them from the sects affiliated with Shi'ism. Are they original disbelievers or apostates?

And the book- despite its small size- contributed in refuting the extremists and their pronouncement that the Rafidites are original disbelievers, and takfir of the one who asserts their apostasy.

15. Ifa' al-Lahya wa ma Yata'allaq biha min Ahkam

 

A book discussing the assertion of the obligation of letting the beard grow, and mentioning the lines of evidence and pronouncements of the Ahl al-'Ilm in that, and some of the rulings concerned with it like shortening it and dying it black and the like.

And the book contributed to raising the awareness of the subjects on this matter.

16. Al-Qawl al-Zahir fi al-Hadi al-Dhahir

A little book on Shari'i dress for men, and what concerns the open guidance.

17. Al-Sabi: Ahkam wa Masa'il

A book discussing the most important issues of captivity and the slave girls.

The book was put in place a little bit before the issue of the enslavement of the Yezidi women, and it was distributed in publication at the time to a great number of the soldiers of the Islamic State and God created benefit through it at the time.

18. Su'al wa Jawab fi al-Sabi wa al-Ruqab

A condensed message on the most important issues pertaining to the rulings on the sabaya.

 

This message was put in place as a result of the repeated questions from the soldier brothers in the Islamic State.

19. Al-Bulugh fi Hukm al-Furugh

A realistic Shari'i study on a pact spread in the abode of al-Sham, called al-Furugh. And by God's grace this study was adopted and work was done in accordance with it in the judiciary.

20. Tabsir al-Ashab bi-Dawabit al-Ihtisab

A book of jurisprudence to raise awareness that we prepared to be a guide for every muhtasib.

And by God's grace it has been taught repeatedly to the muhtasibeen.

But we in the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat decided to cancel it and compose another book stronger than it.

21. Al-Arba'un fi al-Jihad wa al-Istishhad

 

A message on the mention of 42 hadiths selected from the books of the Sunna on the virtue of jihad, ribat and martyrdom. And it has been taught by God's grace to a great number of the soldiers.

22. Al-Nadhir fi Hukm al-Israf wa al-Tabdhir

An awareness-raising message on the issue of tabdhir and warning against it.

23. Ma la Yasi' al-Mu'adhdhin Jahluhu

A book of jurisprudence pertaining to the most important issues concerned with the adhan and the mu'adhdhin.

This book was put in place as a result of the noticing of the widespread mistakes that some of the mu'adhdhins fall into.

24. Al-Tariqa al-Khaznawiya: Haqiqatuha wa Hukmuha

 

A book that makes clear the truth of the Sufi order of Khaznawiya and its Shari'i ruling.

This book was put in place as a result of the presence of many of the members of this order under the authority of the Islamic State, and implementation of the book- by God's grace- was done by our brothers in the Diwan al-Hisba and the Diwan al-Amn to track the members of this order and seek their repentance.

25. Al-Qawl al-Samh fi Ahkam al-Mash

A message of jurisprudence on what concerns wiping over the slippers from rulings.

This message was put in place according to repeated questions from the soldier brothers in the Islamic State about wiping over slippers and socks.

26. Nil al-Zhafr fi Iqamat al-Hudud fi al-Ghazw wa al-Safr

A book of 'Ilm on making obligatory the application of the hudud in any region ruled by the Muslims.

This book was put in place to refute the doubts of the Ikhwan Muslimeen, the Sururis and the Qa'idat of Ayman al-Zawahiri in their mandating to impede the hudud on the pretext of weakness.

27. Hukm al-Ruju' li-Dar al-Kufr

 

A condensed message of 'Ilm on the prohibition on returning to the abode of kufr.

28. Al-Ishara fi Hukm al-Sufr li-Dar al-Kufr lil-Tujara

A condensed message on the ruling on travelling to the abode of kufr for business.

29. Al-Dhawabit al-Ashara fi Ahkam al-Ushr.

A condensed message of 'Ilm on regulating the issue of tithes.

30. Al-Ijmal fi Khabr al-Dajjal

A condensed message on the true characteristics of the Dajjal and the news of his coming out and warning the Muslims about him.

31. Al-Turus fi Diyat al-Nufus

A rich book of jurisprudence on the extents of blood money for lives, and the issues connected with that.

32. Al-'Ilan bi-Ahkam al-Khatan

 

A jurisprudence book of hadith in which are mentioned the most important issues concerning circumcision for males and females.

This book was put in place as a result of the repeated questions from the soldier brothers about this matter, and the frequency of births in the abode of Islam.

33. Dalil al-Mu'takif

A book of jurisprudence in which we posited the most important issues that the mu'takif needs.

This book was put in place as a result of repeated questions about the issue of itikaf every year, and in order for it to be taught in the Shari'i courses and institutes, whether for the soldiers or the subjects.

34. Al-Tahdhir min Mu'asiyat al-Amir wa al-Takhdhil an al-Nafir

An awareness-raising message of 'Ilm on warning about two evils: disobeying the amirs and lack of hearing and obeying, and takdhil and irjaf.

35. Ahkam al-Salab fi al-Shari'a al-Islamiya

A message of 'Ilm about crucifixion and what concerns it from rulings.

 

This message was put in place to be a guide for our brothers in Diwan al-Qada and Diwan al-Hisba.

36. Akhlaq al-Mujahid

An awareness-raising book in mentioning the most important graceful manners that the Muslims in general must be endowed with, and the mujahideen in particular.

This book was put in place to be taught in the camps.

But we in the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat decided to cancel it and compose another book stronger than it.

37. Al-Ta'minat al-Ijtima'iya

A message of jurisprudence about an issue of incident and the ruling of the law on it.

38. Tahdid al-Waqt Bayna al-Adhan wa al-Iqama

A condensed message about the ruling on defining the time between the adhan and iqama.

39. Al-Rad' fi al-Sarqa

 

A condensed message about the ruling on deterring theft.

40. Hukm Ittiyan al-Mara'a fi Dabriha

A condensed message of jurisprudence about prohibiting anal sex with the woman and refuting the one who permits that.

41. Hukm al-Saftija al-Mu'asira

A message of 'Ilm investigating the ruling on what is known today as money mobile services.

42. Hukm al-Saabb li-Llah Ta'ala

A message of 'Ilm about the ruling on the one who blasphemes against God Almighty: is he to be killed without repentance or is he to be asked to repent?

And implementation of it has been carried out- by God's grace- in all the Shari'i courts.

43. Al-Mu'atasir fi Fiqh al-Zakat

 

A message of jurisprudence about the most important issues of zakat that every Muslim is required to know and not neglect.

This message was put in place according to the demand of the brothers in the camps administration so that it should be taught.

44. Mukhtasir al-Sutur fi Ijabat Ahl al-Thughur (al-Majmu'a al-Awla)

And it is a group of fatwas responding to the questions that come from those performing ribat on the frontlines of the Islamic State.

This message was put in place to fill the imaginary chasm between those who perform ribat and the students of 'Ilm.

45. Majmu' al-Fatawa (al-Majmu'a al-Awla)

And it is a group of fatwas issued by the office in a consecutive sense since its establishment. We decided to collect them in a group of volumes.

46. Wujub Salat al-Jama'a

A pamphlet of 'Ilm about the ruling on the prayer of the congregation and mentioning the lines of evidence for that.

 

47. Dinar al-Dhahab al-Islami aw Dollar al-Waraq al-Amrikiya

And it is a pamphlet about the issue of the brothers in the Bayt al-Mal beginning to mint the currency of the Islamic State.

And it is a pamphlet that was published- by God's grace- and read on the manabir.

As for the books that were reviewed by the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat or had an introduction for them written by the office, they are numerous, and the most prominent are:

48. Irshad al-Hudat Ila Fiqh al-Zakat

A book prepared by the brothers in the Diwan al-Zakat about the most important issues in the jurisprudence of zakat, and an introduction for it was written.

49. Al-Adalla al-Jaliya fi Kufr Man Naasara al-Hamla al-Salibiya 'Ala al-Dawla al-Islamiya

 

A book prepared by the brothers in the Maktabat al-Himma about the kufr of the one who helps or aids the Americans in fighting the Islamic State and mentioning the lines of evidence for that. An introduction for it was written.

As for the fatwas issued from the Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat in writing or transcription, they are more than one thousand fatwas. We ask God to facilitate their collection and organization according to chapters of jurisprudence. Amen.

 

And in conclusion:

This is the effort of the poor. We ask God to bless it and make it grow.

It has been said: 'Books are the gardens of the intelligent.'[i] And it has been said: 'The meadow of 'Ilm is more adorned than the meadow of aromatic plants.'[ii]

The last of our calls is praise be to God the Lord of the Worlds, and God's peace and blessings be upon the most noble of the Prophets and those sent.

Maktab al-Buhuth wa al-Dirasat
27 Ramadan 1437 AH


[i] Al-Muhasin wa al-Adhdad (p. 6)

[ii] Bahjat al-Majalis (3/191)