Salafi Scholars on ISIS – ON ISIS Part II

By: Ashique Nilambur

It is popularly articulated claim that the IS is from the Salafi school of thought within the Islamic tradition, where Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahab being the major proponents of the school. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi’s own assertion that he is from the Salafi school of thought; the fact that IS reads books of Muhammad ibn Abdul Wahab, Ibn Taymiyyah and other later salafi scholars; the demolition of shrines which is one of the major concern to the salafis; and the more importantly, salafi school of thought demand for a revival ‘to the time of Prophet and Islamic governance’, naturally force people outside Islam to think that IS is from the Salafiyyah. However, it is nothing but an argument just like the accusation IS being ‘Islamic’. On the other hand, salafis all over the world have stood against ‘Islamic state’ maintaining that it is absolutely unislamic organization and denounced its combat in Iraq and Syria.

There are many important questions that need to be addressed considering the above statements. Is there a salafi school of thought? If not, what is salafiya? How do we decide the authority of one being ‘salafi’ and other being taken out of the fold. How influential is Ibn Taymiyyah and Ibn Abdul Wahab in the so- called salafi school of thought. To answer these questions we need a much more sophisticated discussion and it is not the aim of this article. The article aims to detail some opinions of the salafi scholars who are ‘taken for granted being scholars’ from the salafi school of thought regardless of difference in their organizations and groups.

The ISIS was termed as a ‘Khariji[i] Takfiri[ii] group’[iii] by Shaykh Salih bin Sa’ad as Suhaymi[iv] and said it ‘is more evil than’ other terrorist factions like an- Nusrah[v]. Shaykh Jamal bin al- Haarithee and Shaykh Abdul Hameed al Hajooree[vi] had the same opinion that of Suhaymi. Shaykh Muhammad bin Ramadan al Haajiree[vii] went further saying “ISIS is a conspiracy against Islam”.  Shaykh Mashhur Hasan al- Salman[viii] stated about the organization that it ‘is not a Salafi group’.[ix]

According to Ahmad al- Najmi[x] the methodology of ISIS in establishing a Caliphate goes against the very foundations of Islam. He said ‘the call to establish a Caliphate is abandoning the foundation of that Allah and His Messenger commanded with.’

Now regarding the so- called established ‘Caliphate’ al- Salman explicitly states that it ‘is not established upon the sunan (way) of Allah’[xi]. As- Suhaymi accuse the pledge of allegiance given to their Caliph, Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi, as being ‘based on their (ISIS) own corrupted methodology’[xii] and further indicated that ‘a pledge of allegiance to (an) unknown individuals in secret’ is not allowed according to the Islamic law. Shaykh Abdul Muhsin al- Abbad[xiii] share the same opinion that of as- Suhaymi regarding the pledge of allegiance[xiv].

Ali bin Hasan al- Halabi brings another important fiqh principle where he asserted that ‘as Divinely legislated and Prophetic ‘Shura’ [counsel] si without any factional isms and schisms, or bigoted machinations; and a Caliphs will not be considered credible unless all of the Ummah concur, not just a political party or group.’[xv] He also draws another fiqh condition in which goes against Abu Bakr al- Baghdadi emphasizing that ‘for a credible Caliph is that the true people of power and authority have knowledge of the Caliph and his person and the condition of his character – both of which are absolutely missing in the case of “Abu Bakr al Baghdadi”.

On the practices ISIS is with Shaykh al- Salman opined it as ‘a major tribulation’ for the reason being mainly ‘expulsion and killing.’[xvi]Shaykh al Abbad blamed the group for advocating takfir on Muslims so as to kill whoever they want in the most brutal ways. Shakyh as- Suhaymi brings an experience of a member of his family who belonged to an- Nusrah who was been killed by ISIS for not pledging allegiance to their Caliph[xvii].

As for regarding migrating to Syria or Iraq and joining ISIS, Shaykh al- Abbad said especially about the youths, both men and women, that ‘none of them should even think about joining up the sect’ (ISIS) and that it is ‘obligatory on those youth to protect themselves from getting carried away”[xviii] by their false ideology, while Shaykh as- Suhaymi advised the youths to ‘stay at home’[xix]

All above fatwas from the salafi scholars make it explicit that salafiyah has nothing to do with the Islamic state of Iraq and Sham whatsoever. Such claims to attribution upon Salafi tradition is because of sheer ignorance and misunderstanding or deliberate attempt to misrepresent and misinterpret Salafi methodology.  Allah knows Best.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of 


[i]  Kharijites is the earliest deviated sect within Islam, which traces its beginning to a religio-political controversy over the Caliphate.

[ii] Takfiri is a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of apostasy.


[iv] Shaykh Salih as Suhaymee was born in the year Hijra 1366 (1947) in Medina. He took his doctorate in Islamic Jurisprudence. He worked as an Associate Professor in the Islamic University of Medinah, School of Dawah and Usoolud Deen, in the Aqeedah Division (and he was head of this division for a while as well)


[vi] Shaykh Abdul Hameed al hajooree was born in Hijra 1392 at Hajoor. He went to Dammaj and joined Darul Hadith, where he learned from the renowned scholar Shaykh Muqbil Ibn Hadee al Waadiee.

[vii] He is Shaykh Muhammad bin Ramzaan Aal-Taamee Al-Haajiree -hafidhahullaah-. The Shaykh lives in Jubail, Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia. He holds a Master’s Degree in Islaamic Jurisprudence (Fiqh) from the Imaam Muhammad bin Sa’ood University

[viii] Shaykh Masshur al- Salmân was born in Palestine in 1380 H/ 1960 CE and at the age of seven migrated to Jordan. At the age of ten, he began his formal study of Islam, including lessons in the sciences of Qur’an, Hadith and fiqh (jurisprudence). The most well-known teacher of al- Salman was Shaykh Nasirudeen al- Albanee


[x]He is Shaykh Ahmad bin Yahyaa bin Muhammad bin Shabeer An-Najmee, who was born in Hijra 1346 at Najaamiyyah and learned from many scholars of one of them was shaykh Abdullah al Qar’aawe.



[xiii] He was born in Hijra 1353 in the city of Zulfi, Saudi Arabia. He taught in the University of Medina and is well- famous for his services in the university.