Defining the Enemy: Abū Muhammad al-Maqdisīs Radical Reading of Sūrat al-Mumtahana

In: Die Welt des Islams
Joas Wagemakers Nijmegen

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This article examines the interpretation of “the enemies” in Sūrat al-Mumtahana (60) by the Jordanian ideologue Abū Muhammad al-Maqdisī, one of the most influential jihādī-Salafī theorists alive. Al-Maqdisī's reading of the sūra's text and his interpretation of its context turn this part of the Qur'ān, which seems to have been meant to warn the early Medinan Muslims of the dangers of befriending hostile Meccan idolaters, into the basis of a radical ideology. Special attention is paid to the far-reaching consequences of al-Maqdisī's political interpretation of the text, especially when combined with his views on kufr (unbelief) and al-walā' wa-l-barā' (loyalty and disavowal), which he adopts from Wahhābī scholars and bases mostly on this sūra. Al-Maqdisī's particular combination of the text and context of sūra 60 yields a definition of “the enemy” that is rooted in the Qur'ān and Sunna but differs greatly from its traditional interpretations as well as Wahhābī writings by evolving into a radical ideology to overthrow the political rulers of the Muslim world.

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