Aladl wal ihssan

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The Concept of jihād in the Writings of Abdessalam Yassine

David Alexander Bienert Worcester College

Acknowledgments I would like to thank the following people for their help and support: Michael Willis, Ronald Nettler, Jan Geert van Gelder, Christopher Melchert, Juan A. Macías Amoretti, and Avi Spiegel.

Note on transliteration: The transliteration of Arabic letters in this thesis shallfollow the standard system, with the following exceptions:



ħ ş đ ŧ ż

‫= ﺹ‬ ‫= ﺽ‬ ‫ﻁ‬ ‫ﻅ‬ = =


Table of Contents
Introduction Abdessalam Yassine and al-‘adl wa al-iħsān Overview of Secondary Literature This Thesis Primary Sources The Structure of al-iħsān al-minhāj al-nabawiyy Introduction The Godly Personality – Characteristics and Affluents The Eleven Types of jihādSpiritual Education Ideology and Indoctrination Establishing the Islamic State Greater and Lesser jihād Individual and Communal jihād Greater jihād Greater jihād in the Mystical Sense Identity and Education The Persistence of Secular Ideologies in the Muslim World Islamic Virtues The Lesser jihād Unarmed Armed Violence and Force The Uprising Inception of the Islamic State after Uprising PoetryYassine’s Theory of Society and History Mysticism and Orthodoxy Mysticism Orthodoxy Historical Change Islamic Society – Spiritual Meritocracy The Second Caliphate Conclusion 1 1 4 8 10 11 13 13 16 18 19 25 35 48 48 49 52 55 61 63 65 65 68 74 77 80 84 86 86 88 93 96 97 99 104


1) Introduction

Abdessalam Yassine and al-‘adl wa al-iħsān Abdessalam Yassine is a Moroccan Islamic intellectual,the founder and spiritual leader of a movement nowadays called al-‘adl wa al-iħsān (“Justice and Spirituality,” henceforth al-‘adl). The movement is the largest and most active politico-religious association in Morocco. Apart from recruiting new followers, its activities range from participating in demonstrations, organizing Islamic charity and welfare societies, providing social services, food,and medicine to the poor, and arranging marriages.1 All attempts to gain legal recognition for the movement have so far been rejected. Yassine was born in 1928 in Marrakesh, even though the secondary sources contradict each other in terms of the precise month, or even location. The following account of his life is based mainly on the official version provided on his website.2 His father was a poorfarmer of Berber extraction, but the family claims descent from the Prophet Muhammad. This peculiarly Moroccan mixture of Sharifian and Berber identity was also highlighted by Yassine in his famous open letter to King Hassan II of Morocco, entitled al-islām aw al-ŧūfān,3 presumably to cast doubts on the legitimacy of the monarchy, which is officially based on claims to Sharifian lineage. Yassinecommenced his career as a government official (Inspector of Arabic Language) even before Morocco regained its independence, a fact which is not

Laskier, M. M.: A Difficult Inheritance: Moroccan Society under King Muhammad VI, MERIA (Volume 7, No. 3 - September 2003), p. 5. 2 nubdha min sīrat al-ustādh ‘abd al-salām yāsīn: 3 “Islam or theDeluge” – in the tradition of the naşīħa-genre, i.e. pious admonitions addressed to the ruler. For a detailed discussion of the epistle and its contents in historical-cultural perspective, cf. Munson, H. Jr.: “Religion and Power in Morocco,” New Haven (Yale, 1993). for the full, original texts of Yassine’s epistles, cf.: rasā’il al-ustādh al-murshid: &Lang=1256


mentioned explicitly on his official website, since co-operation with the French might be seen as embarrassing.4 On this career path he continued for ten years, inclusive of various journeys abroad for training purposes (around the Arab-Muslim world, but also to the USA, and France). As has been remarked by Tozy, Yassine’s direct...