The Assembly of Muslim Jurists of America (AMJA) opposes offensive jihad in the West, but for reasons that may surprise you. In an Arabic fatwa (religious decree) that doesn’t appear on its English website, it states that “the Islamic community does not possess the strength to engage in offensive jihad at this time [emphasis added].”
This doesn’t mean that all jihad is to be abandoned. “With our current capabilities, we are aspiring towards defensive jihad, and to improve our position with regards to jurisprudence at this stage. But there is a different discussion for each situation,” it said.
It is important to notice that it was issued in Arabic on the website of its Secretary-General, Salah Al-Sawy. Even though AMJA is based in Sacramento and its mission is to serve their American Muslim audience, it decided against issuing this fatwa in English. If it wasn’t translated by the Translating Jihad blog and reported by Andrew Bostom in 2011, we probably wouldn’t know about it.
Deception is something that AMJA approves of. In an English-language fatwa on its website, issued by Al-Sawy in 2005, Muslims are authorized to lie for the sake of “repulsing evil” if there are “compelling strokes of necessity.” In that case, “he can indirectly say something that his listener can understand something else.”
(That’s the concept of necessity, also known as darura.)
In a 2007 Arabic paper presented at one of its conferences, AMJA even recommends that Muslims become judges and use deception to implement sharia law to the best of their ability. According to a non-verbatim translation, it says a Muslim judge in a non-Muslim country “must in his heart hate the man-made law” and “judge by the rulings of the Shari’ah as much as possible, even if by a ruse. [emphasis added]”
The AMJA commands Muslims in the West to remain committed to establishing “Shari’ah rule.” Another fatwa from Al-Sawy states that Muslims can only become American citizens if is no other viable option and “on the condition that they do not accept indefinitely the law and legislation of that country and being indefinite belonging to the nation of the non-Muslim country.”
Al-Sawy blames the Muslim world’s ills on its failure to apply “Shari’ah Rule,” attributing it to the “Devil’s” influence. In another fatwa, he says the “Devil” has misled Muslims into believing that Sharia’s hudud, or its criminal punishments, are “harsh and barbarous.”
AMJA has issued fatwas in support of marital rape, stoning married men that commit adultery, executing critics of Islam’s founder and apostates and female circumcision. It even warns Muslims of the dangers of becoming police officers because they might be forced to engage in sins like “gender mixing” or having to“arrest a Muslim man whose wife said he ‘raped’ her.” Unsurprisingly, from 1992 to 1995 Al-Sawy was a visiting professor for a satellite campus of Saudi Arabia’s Ibn Saud Islamic University located in Fairfax.
Other AMJA fatwas are based in anti-Americanism and hostility to non-Muslims. One tells Muslims to “not take as a friend anyone apart from the believers.” Another declares that Muslims are forbidden from providing food and other supplies to U.S. and foreign soldiers in Muslim countries. They can only serve in the U.S. military in capacities where they are not “involved in fighting, harming or even bothering Muslims at all.” Joining the FBI or other security agencies isimpermissible because of their supposed persecution of Muslims.
In 2009, AMJA endorsed supporting armed jihad against Israel in response to military operations against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Al-Sawy issued a rage-filledfatwa that was nothing less than a call-to-arms. It said that when a Muslim land is invaded, obviously referring to Gaza, every Muslim is required to help their co-religionists “fight in their own defense” and “with every possible means of support: military, financial, political and journalistic.”
Al-Sawy also declared that Muslims should use the conflict to “revive the obligation of jihad,” “revive the call to Sharia rule,” “reinvigorate and continue the option of the resistance and rejection of the Zionist project;” “revive the policy of using all available and possible means of da’wah [proselytizing] and jihad” and “revive the bonds between Muslim communities living beyond the lands of Islam.”
That’s pretty extreme for a group that says its jurisprudence is based on a “moderate approach and a rejection of extremism.”
This type of preaching isn’t limited to the AMJA website audience. AMJA’s Fatwa Committee scholars, experts and members hold positions in mosques and Islamic schools across the U.S. and outside the country. Al-Sawy is also the president of theMishkah Islamic University of North America, an online school that was originally called the Sharia Academy of America. He also co-founded the American Open University and was its Vice President from 1995 to 2004.
AMJA’s extremism is so pronounced that it’s hard to believe that anyone affiliated with it is ignorant. This is an organization that believes offensive jihad in the West is wrong only because it is impractical. It endorses “defensive jihad” against Israel and in the Muslim world. It explicitly endorses instituting “Shari’ah Rule” without any room for believable equivocation. And, if necessary, it’s willing to lie and deceive.
Any group or individual that embraces AMJA should be disqualified from being considered a “moderate.”