The jihadist group Jama'at Ansar al-Islam- of Iraqi origin but primarily active in northwest Syria- released a message of congratulations to the Ummah (the global Muslim community) on the occasion of Eid al-Adha. The themes of the message are familiar, such as emphasising the need for the Ummah to take up the obligation of jihad and return entirely to the guidance of the Prophet and revive its glory. Only then, the message argues, will the joy of Eid be complete. More generally, the message highlights some ideas behind the Eid and the Hajj pilgrimage, such as migration in traversing long distances with the aim of pleasing God.
At present, many observers have noticed that Jama'at Ansar al-Islam is militarily active in northwest Syria and has released multiple media items advertising its operations. Why is this so? After all, Jama'at Ansar al-Islam was part of the 'So Be Steadfast' operations room of jihadist factions that clashed with Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) and is now effectively dismantled.
Jama'at Ansar al-Islam infographic on operations from 17 July until 4 August, claiming a total of 16 operations. Of these, 13 are bombing operations, 2 machine-gun firing, and 1 sniper.
The reason is that the group has reached a mutual understanding with HTS, which permits Jama'at Ansar al-Islam to carry out operations provided the group does not form or join any new operations room. This should not be surprising considering that Jama'at Ansar al-Islam does not appear to have other issues with HTS such as disputes over the defection of personnel from HTS and the arrest of figures by HTS, in contrast with other groups of the 'So Be Steadfast' operations room like Jabhat Ansar al-Din and Liwa al-Muqatileen al-Ansar.
As a source close to the matter put it to me in a statement:
'Regarding the operations of al-Ansar [Jama'at Ansar al-Islam], before the room the group was independent and after the room also it is not affiliated to any group or side. And in the operations of the Hay'a [HTS] the group decides on participating and how to participate or lack of participation: it is independent, and the room was only military coordination and not a merger.'
Below is the Jama'at Ansar al-Islam message on Eid al-Adha translated by me.
In the name of God, the Compassionate, the Merciful
There is no deity but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God.
Central Media Directorate
Jama'at Ansar al-Islam
Date: 10 Dhi al-Hujja 1441 AH
Message of the Central Media Directorate regarding the blessed Eid al-Adha.
Praise be to God who has preferred the people of Islam through the religion of Tawheed, and commanded them to support it with the tongue of truth, and the force of iron, and has conferred upon them blessings, and has promised the one thankful for them with more, and has threatened the one rejecting them with the strong torment. And we bear witness that there is no deity but God in testimony by which we meet God on the day when the implementation of the promise and the occurrence of the threat will arise, and prayers and peace be upon the Messenger of God, his family and companions the leaders of the rightly-guided direction.
Our dear precious Ummah:
Here the Eid has come back with its fine raiment to fill the hearts of the believers with delight and joy and to clothe their faces with joy and light, so to God be praise and grace in that He mandated for the Ummah what revives for it meanings whenever they have been absented from its present.
For our Eid al-Adha recalls al-Khalil Ibrahim- peace be upon him- and his testing in the Tawheed of the Lord of the Worlds and his da'wa and preaching and jihad and disavowal of the idolaters and his rejection of their Tawagheet that they made by their hands: 'There has been for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people: we disavow you and what you worship besides God. We have disavowed you and there have appeared between us and you enmity and hatred forever until you believe in God alone' (al-Mumtahina 4). It also commemorates his sacrifice of the most precious of what he had in handing over to his Lord: 'So when they both submitted and he lowered him down upon his forehead' (al-Safat 103), and his selection after the length of his testing.
And the Hajj and its scenes remind us of its secrets in its being mandated, for the journey of the Hajj is a migration in the path of God and the abandoning of worldly affections from homeland, dependents and wealth and crossing the deserts and distances to undertake obedience to the Exalted, thus arousing His contentment, as nothing else competes with love for Him in His heart, so it is also the affair of the stranger people of jihad today.
Also the gathering of the Hajj pilgrims from every deep road to the house of God upon one creed, submitting to God and crossing the man-made political boundaries and racist situations, recalls the gathering around the league of Tawheed and suppressing of the understandings of the rotten nationalism.
SAWS said: 'And whoso calls with the call of Jahiliya is of the inhabitants of Hell, even if he fasts, prayers and claims that he is Muslim, so call the Muslims by what God has called them: the Muslims, believers and servants of God' (brought out by al-Tirmidhi).
Also the Talbiya and Takbir bear in their interior the stripping of worship from all types of idolatry, from democracy and evil secularism and the idolatry of the graves and palaces (the constitutions of the Tawagheet) for to God belongs the command and promotion and to Him is absolute obedience: '...Surely to Him belong creation and the command...' (al-Araf 54), and the Almighty has said: '..And whatever you have disagreed upon, its ruling is to be referred to God' (al-Shura 10). And He has said: 'Indeed the ruling belongs only to God, who has commanded that you worship none but Him' (Yusuf 40).
So we congratulate you, our beloved Ummah, and we congratulate the mujahideen and the masses of the Muslims on this blessed Eid and we ask God to render it upon us with victory and Tamkin and to make this Eid al-Adha of ours the a beginning for a new life filled with sacrifice of what is precious and dear in the path of making supreme His word and lowering the word of one besides Him, and attaining His contentment.
So oh Ummah of Muhammad (SAWS):
We your sons in Jama'at Ansar al-Islam, the greatest Eid in our view, which we have always striven and will continue to strive to achieve if God wills, is that we should be a straight powerful brick in restoring the Ummah to what it was upon from glory and leadership.
And that we should live under the shade of the Shari'a of God in our live, completely and minutely, and that we should see the Ummah entering into piece entirely, shaking from itself the dust of its negligence of fighting and jihad in the path of God that is an individual obligation in these days of ours, for God has drawn a parallel between the act of worship of jihad and the sacrificial ceremonies of the Hajj, for He has said:
'Its meat and blood will not reach God, but taqwa from you will attain Him, and likewise He has put them to use for you in order for you to glorify God upon what He has guided you, and convey glad tidings to those who do good. Indeed God defends those who have believed. Indeed God does not love every treacherous ungrateful person. Permission has been given to those who are being fought because they have been wronged. And indeed God is capable of supporting them. Those who have been driven from their abode without right, merely for saying our Lord is God. And had not God driven people against each other, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of God is mentioned much would have been destroyed. And indeed God supports the one who supports Him. Indeed God is powerful, mighty' (Surat al-Hajj 37-40).
And our complete Eid will be when the entire Ummah returns to the guidance of the Prophet (SAWS) and the pure spring of his Sunnah so there will be removed from it traces and sediments of the principles of innovations and their derivatives that have eaten away at its body, from Irja', Jabariya, Qadariya and Kharijiya.
And it will be when our Lord blesses us with being conquerors of the disbelievers, subduing the enemies of Islam and the Sunnah, and our delight in the liberation of our brothers and sisters from the prisons of the Tawagheet and that we should live the life of jihad and martyrdom as is the particular of this Ummah.
This is the Eid of the Muslim and the best of his days absolutely: a day of repentance and turning to God in repentance and implementing what is obliged upon him in the right of God, and striving with the lordly people of knowledge and the honest mujahideen to remove the causes of backwardness of the Ummah and to fight upon the law and the middle path without too much and too little, so that the word of God should be highest until one of the two best things.
God is greatest, God is greatest, God is greatest, there is no deity but God.
God is greatest, God is greatest, and praise be to God.
And God's blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and all his family and companions.
Jama'at Ansar al-Islam
Central Media Directorate
Friday: 10 Dhi al-Hijja 1441 AH
Corresponding to 31 July 2020 CE