Addressing the Problem of Dual Revelation in Islam – Part 2: Jihad al-Talab: Bane of Militant Islam Radicalisation

by Leslie Terebessy

The repression of reason, that emerged in Muslim tradition, persist until today, especially in in Islamic education.

During my first year of medical school, a Jamaah member named Muchtar invited me to join the organization. Muchtar was in his fourth year, and Jamaah had given him the title amir (prince or caliph)—a designation taken from early Islamic writings that is associated with the Islamic Caliphate or Amir al-Momenin (Prince of the Believers). I accepted his invitation, and we walked together to Jamaah’s mosque for noon prayers. On the way there Muchtar emphasized the central importance in Islam of the concept of al-fikr kufr, the idea that the very act of thinking (fikr) makes one become an infidel (kufr). (In Arabic both words are derived from the same three root letters but have different meanings.) He told me, “Your brain is just like a donkey (a symbol of inferiority in the Arab culture) that can get you only to the palace door of the king (Allah). To enter the palace once you have reached the door, you should leave the donkey (your inferior mind) outside.” By this parable, Muchtar meant that a truly dedicated Muslim no longer thinks but automatically obeys the teachings of Islam.[1]

Al-Azhar University is being reproached for teaching extreme perceptions of Islam.

Among the most prominent Al-Azhar sceptics is Egyptian TV anchor Ibrahim Essa, who argues that the institute’s curriculum is in some ways ideologically indistinguishable from what ISIS promotes. He has supported his claim by pointing to an excerpt from a book used at Al-Azhar high schools, Persuasion…In a January 2015 TV program, Essa noted how this text claims that fighting infidels, even if they have not attacked Muslims, is a religious obligation for every able and free Muslim man. The rationale is that since infidels do not convert to Islam even though Islam is a well-known religion, then Muslims should attack and kill them whenever possible. This reasoning seems to differ little from the calls of ISIS encouraging Muslims to kills those who do not believe in Islam.[2]

This was patently an extreme perception.

Ahmed Abdo Maher, a lawyer and Islamic researcher…challenged the former dean [Dr. Masmooa Abo Taleb of the Faculty of Islamic Studies for men in Al-Azhar University] about his department’s belief that Muslims who do not pray on Friday should be killed. This teaching is stated in the explanation of the eighth hadith in the book Imam Nawawi’s Forty Hadith. Abdo asserted that Al-Azhar has endorsed this and a number of other extremely violent views.[3]

Even killing persons that fail to pray congregational prayers is advocated.

Dr. Masmooa Abo Taleb replied that there is a difference between those who do not pray because of laziness and those who miss Friday prayers intentionally. He then confirmed that Muslims who intentionally miss Friday prayer should indeed be killed. El-Sheikh Metwally Al-Shaarway (1911-1998), who received his education and worked at Al-Azhar for many years, thought that Dr. Taleb’s views did not go far enough and issued an even stricter fatwa. In his own proclamation, Al-Shaarway called for the killing of Muslims who do not pray due to laziness, although he stated that they should be allowed three days to repent.[4]

There is no foundation for this in the Book of Allah.

Yet Al-Azhar has a long history of denouncing liberal Muslim thinkers as infidels. For instance, last June the former Grand Mufti, Azhari Sheikh Ali Gomaa, issued a fatwa declaring female Muslim writer Sherif El-Shobashy an infidel for urging others to respect a woman’s choice on whether or not to wear the veil. This willingness to denounce others belies the claim that has recently been put forward that Al-Azhar is simply refraining from classifying any Muslim as an infidel.[5]

Even the death penalty for apostasy is advocated by al-Azhar.

Were Al-Azhar’s domain limited to its own schools, the public controversy might not have reached its current scope. But Al-Azhar has also attempted to influence Egypt’s national education system. In 2012, Al-Azhar sent a note of objection to the Ministry of Education demanding the removal of a sentence in the Civil Education Curriculum for senior high school students that promoted religious tolerance. The book stated, “Respect whoever changes his religion, because the freedom to choose one’s religion is the foundation of belief, there is no enforcement in belief.”  Al-Azhar insisted that this sentence was antithetical to the hadith of Prophet Muhammad: “kill whoever changes his religion.”  As a result the Education Minister referred the authors of the book to be investigated. If Al-Azhar’s interest in denouncing moderates, preaching extremism, and championing its views for the Egyptian public continues, Egypt may face a threat from within its own borders.[6]

It is necessary to change the curriculum in al-Azhar.

ISIS isn’t the only force against which the world needs to unite. Unless nefarious interpretations of Islam are removed from books read by young Muslim students, the ideological foundation upon which ISIS developed will continue to stand even after ISIS falls. A curriculum change is much needed at Al-Azhar.[7]

Unless the required changes are made, the threat of extremism will persist as a threat in the umma. (Part III: Traditionalism)

[1] Tawfiq Hamid, “The Development of a Jihadi’s Mind,” Current Trends, p. 15, 6 April 2007, accessed on 24 Oct. 2020:

[2] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

[3] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

[4] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

[5] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

[6] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

[7] Maher Gabra, “The Ideological Extremism of Al-Azhar,” Mar 3, 2016, accessed 9 Feb 2022:

Part 1: Exploring the Fall of Islam and Its RenaissancePart 3: Traditionalism

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.