The Islamic State [IS] has become well known for its elaborate murals and billboards in keeping with its state building project (e.g. see my posts here and here). However, Jabhat al-Nusra, which has been increasingly building up its own proto-Islamic emirate project in northwestern Syria partly to rival IS, has also been putting up plenty of billboards and murals to advertise its presence. Reflecting that phenomenon are the photos below, most of which date from the last 4 months or so, by which time Jabhat al-Nusra had developed a substantial network of strongholds in Idlib province in particular after routing its main rivals the Syrian Revolutionaries Front and Harakat Hazm. Of course this does not mean that Jabhat al-Nusra billboards and murals did not exist previously, but the trend has become more noticeable.
One should compare with the evolution of the Jabhat al-Nusra judicial body front known as Dar al-Qaḍa, reflecting a more hardline approach from Jabhat al-Nusra as regards control of societal institutions and less willingness now to work with other rebel factions in administration. This has given rise to widespread rebel concerns about Jabhat al-Nusra's intentions, partly explaining recent rebel merger formations such as the Levant Front in Aleppo province and the absorption of Suqur al-Sham into Ahrar al-Sham.
Below is an archive I have compiled of over 50 Jabhat al-Nusra billboards and murals.
"My prayer is my salvation. It is the first thing on which man will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement."
"Jihad is for whosoever has spoken truthfully, not for whosoever has preceded."
"Corruption has appeared in the land and sea from what the hands of the people have earned, that He may make them taste some of what they have done, that perhaps they may return."- Qur'an 30:41.
On right: quotation of Qur'an 28:83. On left, partial quotation from Qur'an 2:197: "And take provisions, but the best provision is fear of God."
"When is the last time you read the Qur'an?." This billboard and the next three below reportedly from Hama countryside.
"Do you know by heart more of the book of God than songs?."
"The first thing on which man will be held accountable on the day of Judgement: Prayer. For if it is just, the rest of his deeds are just. But if it is corrupt, the rest of his deeds are corrupt."
"The one who leads to what is best is like the one who does it." [a hadith]
"And remind: for a reminder benefits the believers." [Qur'an 51:55]. Directions are given to some Hama province villages such as al-Meluleh and al-Tarfawi.
"I ask for God's forgiveness and I repent to Him." This billboard and the next three below reportedly from Idlib countryside.
"To the people of loyalty, giving [i.e. to them] is insignificant." [title of a speech by Jabhat al-Nusra's amir Abu Muhammad al-Jowlani]
"God is my reliance and He suffices a guardian."
"Whoever prepares a raider, has participated in the raid." [from a hadith on the authority of Zaid ibn Khalid].
"So remember me and I will remember you." [Qur'an 2:152]. This one and next three below reportedly from Hama wilderness.
"They have forgotten God, so He has forgotten them. [Qur'an 9:67] Don't be among those about whom God has spoken."
"When a son of Adam dies, his deeds are cut off except for three things: ongoing charity, knowledge from which one can obtain benefit, or the supplication of a righteous son for him." [hadith on the authority of Abu Huraira]
"The best people are those most beneficial to other people." [derived from a hadith on the authority of Ibn Omar]
Jabhat al-Nusra "Development Office": On right: "If you support God, He will support you" [Qur'an 47:7].
"And the Messenger said: 'Oh Lord, indeed my people have taken this Qur'an as a thing abandoned." [Qur'an 25:30]
"For God is the best preserver: He preserves the absent, restores the strange, guides the misguided, heals the afflicted, cures the sick, relieves worries."
"Sarmada [Jabhat al-Nusra stronghold in Idlib] welcomes you. To the people of loyalty, giving [i.e. to them] is insignificant."
"Oh you who believe, fear God, indeed the earthquake of the hour is a great affair." [Qur'an 22:1]
"And as for the one whose scales are light, his abode will be an abyss. And what will make you know what that is? A Blazing Fire!" [Qur'an 101:8-11].
"We are your pious sons, your impenetrable fortress and your vigilant eye."
"Three ayahs [verses of the Qur'an] summarize life: 'from a drop of sperm He [God] has created him and determined his fate. Then He has eased the path for him. Then He has caused his death and buried him [Qur'an 80:19-21].' (a short journey)."
"Be a great friend before you become bones and worms." [saying of famous 20th century CE Egyptian jurist Sheikh Shaarawi]
"Oh man, what has deceived you concerning your Lord, the Generous [Qur'an 82:6]? Threat, promise, challenge, mercy, reprimand and affection."
"Know that the best of your deeds is prayer."
"Al-Rahman [God] has mercy on the merciful."
"Oh mujahid: your car is a guarantee on your neck and you will be asked about it."
"Your car is a guarantee and you will be asked about it, oh mujahid."
"Indeed We will not allow the reward of anyone who did well in deeds to go amiss [Qur'an 18:30]. Plough in the land the seeds of grapes and you will know for certain that it will not make thorns sprout."
Depicting the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. On right: "Jabhat al-Nusra: by God's permission we will free it." On left: "And I am behind your walls Omar, so wait for me."
"The burden of religion oh Capital of Martyrs: Homs." Reportedly from Idlib province.
"Oh Sham, be a pearl on a front that has arisen so that the state of the Qur'an may be announced. Damascus."
"The Messenger of God (PBUH) said: 'The people most beloved to God are those who most benefit other people."
"Indeed the fall of Bashar [al-Assad] is an aim for us and we will bring his downfall by God's permission, but our highest aim is to cultivate a generation among whom there are not the likes of Bashar."
"All will go to God after death but the happy one will go to God in his life."
"They have celebrated Christmas. So some of the Muslims have celebrated with them on the pretext of New Year. They have celebrated Valentine's Day, so some of the Muslims have celebrated with them on the pretext of visit of loved ones. They have celebrated Mother's Day, so some of the Muslims have celebrated with them on the pretext of parents. But when one of the Sunna precepts of the Prophet comes by them, they ignore it on the pretext that it is only Sunna and not obligation. Thus they are more keen to observe the festivals of the kuffar [disbelievers] and establish innovation than they are to establish the Shari'a and uphold the Sunna of the Lord of Mankind [Prophet Muhammad- PBUH]."
"If moderation had meant the middle ground between two sides, the manhaj [direction] of Abu Talib would have been moderation between the manhaj of the Quraysh and Muhammad [PBUH]. Rather, moderation is following revelation regardless of the rank of its owner among the people." This refers to the fact that Abu Talib- Muhammad's uncle- offered the Prophet protection from retribution by the Quraysh tribe who opposed his revelation in Mecca, but he himself never converted to Islam.
Marking Jabhat al-Nusra's control of Salqin in Idlib province, featuring a partial quotation of Qur'an 24:35: "A blessed olive tree, neither of east nor west, whose oil would almost glow." The use of this quotation likely refers to Idlib province's role as a production centre for olives.
"The town of Salqin welcomes you."
"Our blood is in sacrifice for your blood" [featuring a map of Israel-Palestine]
"Sniper of our front, oh heart of our force."
"Migrate to your Lord. Migrate to Him by abandoning insubordination. Migrate to Him and your provisions are obedience."
"The Day of Penetration: one of the Muslims' Days." The billboard refers to one of Jabhat al-Nusra's operations targeting the Interior Ministry in December 2012. 'Abu Hamza al-Kurdi'- the first person referenced in the billboard- was a suicide operative used in this attack.
"Deraa Checkpoint Raid"- another billboard commemorating a Jabhat al-Nusra suicide operation, carried out by one Abu al-Mo'atasem on 18 Sha'aban 1434 AH/27 June 2013 CE. See here for more.
"Pillars Operation in the heart of the capital Damascus"- this refers to an operation conducted in 2012. See here for more.
Billboard commemorating the Jabhat al-Nusra assault on the village of Rahjan in the Hama countryside in July 2014, using one Abu Bakr al-Kuwaiti as a suicide bomber. See here for more.
"So arise, oh son of jihad, unsheathe your sword, oh boy...and bear the banner of the free, striking with the swords and firing with arrows, striking with arrows, striking with daggers and bayonets: the strength of your determination, the promise of your preparation. And head on the path of the blessing of God."
On right: "Rejoice, oh one who prays. The Messenger of God (PBUH) said: 'Through the five prayers God cleanses sins.'" On left: "Take heed, oh one who abandons prayer. The Messenger of God (PBUH) said: 'Between man and idolatry and disbelief is abandoning of prayer.'"
"Participate in the victory. Your knowledge is weapons for the victory of the Ummah. Your manners are weapons for the victory of the Ummah, your faithfulness, your purity, your honesty, and your worship are all reasons for the victory of God and His success. So do not shrink/reject what is right in any way, and offer what you can, and don't be a reason for the defeat of the Ummah through your faults and insubordination."
"People of al-Sham, we have sacrificed our souls and blood for you."
Another billboard featuring the Dome of the Rock: "Rejoice oh Misra, good tidings have come to you." The words refer to a nasheed. Reportedly in Idlib countryside.
The loss of power in the east of Syria: the replacement of an old Jabhat al-Nusra banner in Albukamal with the Islamic State's flags.
"The Messenger of God (PBUH) said: 'Islam began as something strange and will return as something strange just as it began, so give good tidings to strangers."
"Oh rebels: do not be content except with a Caliphate on the program of the Prophets."
An old mural from the days when Jabhat al-Nusra had a presence in Tabqa [al-Thawra] in Raqqa province (now controlled by the Islamic State): "We are a people- whom God has made mighty in Islam and if we should seek might in something besides it [Islam], may God lower us."
"Indeed God is in aid of man as long as man is in aid of his brother. Whoever needs clothes, let him take. Whoever has excess, let him place them here."
"Islam will be victorious with or without you, but you will be at a loss without it."
"May God have mercy on al-Faruq Omar when he said: "You will not be victorious over your enemy by numbers or equipment but rather you will be victorious by your obedience to God and your enemy's rebellion against Him. But if you be equal in rebellion they will overcome you by numbers and equipment."
"It is not necessary for us to say that Islam is just for every time and place, but rather time and place will not be just without the existence of Islam."
"Darkush Welcomes You. Jabhat al-Nusra."- Darkush is a town in Idlib province that was seized from the Syrian Revolutionaries Front by Jabhat al-Nusra last year.
The Da'wah and Irshad Office for Jabhat al-Nusra in Darkush. This is one of the main Jabhat al-Nusra institutional bodies alongside the Dar al-Qada judicial body.
"Here are two paths: [on right] So remember me and I will remember you; [on left] they forgot God and He forgot them."
"Here are two paths: [on right] the tooth brush: cleaning one's mouth and pleasing the Lord; [on left]: smoking: a sin against God and destructive for the body."
"Here are two paths: [on right]: When did this last appear for you [Qur'an]? [on left]: this [phone etc.] last appeared for you seconds ago."
"The one who rises up for Truth is the one who rises up to destroy corruption then calms down to build up the glory."
"Piety is the goodness of character."
"Whenever you are tempted by sin, remember that the One who created you is watching you."
"Beware the fire even if by the splitting of a date, but whoever cannot find that then let it be by a good word." [see here for context]
"Indeed the Prophet (PBUH) summarised religion, all religion, when he said: 'Religion is advice'."
"If beauty attracts eyes, then manners attract hearts."
"Jabhat al-Nusra supported us when the world stood against us and didn't help us, and today we support it when the world has stood against it. Friday 22 May 2015. Jabal Zawiya." The Jabal Zawiya area has become a Jabhat al-Nusra stronghold since the routing of the Syrian Revolutionaries Front last year.
"America, get away from our revolution, get away from our front. For all the Syrian people are Jabhat al-Nusra. Jabal Zawiya. 22 May 2015."
"Jabhat al-Nusra: we asked for their support and they supported us. And today, supporting them is a right upon us. Friday: 22 May 2015." [also from Jabal Zawiya],
Illustrating Jabhat al-Nusra-Ahrar al-Sham closeness in Idlib city. The Nusra billboard reads: "Jihad is the path towards Paradise, towards glory, towards elevation, and it is what will bring light upon the night of our Ummah."
"We are not a substitute for the Ummah, nor are we seeking to dominate it, but we are rather a part of the Ummah. We are its servants, protecting it with our chests and defending it by our blood."
"So may the dunya vanish, and let us perish and let our organizations, groups, and projects perish and the blood of a Muslim should not be spilled at our hands without right"- [from al-Qa'ida figure Atiyah Abdullah al-Libi]
"With the protection of God. Jabhat al-Nusra."
"Which of the two do you want to wear on the Day of Judgement? Choose: Lifevest or Battlevest. Seize your life before your death."