ADVICE FOR THE LEADERS OF THE ISLAMIC STATE – BY Abū Hamzah Al-Muhājir (Rahimahullāh)

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Praise be to Allah, and may blessings and peace be upon the Messenger of Allah, and upon his family and those who support him. As for what follows…

My dear mujāhid brother, these are some pieces of advice that I’ve gathered from the mouths of men and the pages of books, although I do not claim to be a man of wisdom. I ask Allah to make you and me benefit from these pieces of advice. And Allah knows all intentions.

[1] Have sincerity towards Allah, for it will lead to salvation in the worldly life and the Hereafter. Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah has guaranteed the one who performs jihād for His cause, having left his home for no reason other than to perform jihād for His cause and to affirm the truth of His words, that He would enter him into Jannah or return him back home with all the rewards he has attained or the ghanīmah he has acquired.” Let the goal of your deed be that the word of Allah becomes the highest, for Abū Mūsa said, “Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) was asked about a man who fights out of bravery, out of zeal, or out of riyā’ (showing off), which of these is fighting for Allah’s cause? So Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, ‘Whoever fights so that the word of Allah is the highest is fighting for Allah’s cause.’”

[2] Be just and sincere towards your subjects, for “No man is appointed to lead ten people except that he will be brought forth in shackles on the Day of Judgment, and will either be set free on account of his justice or destroyed as a result of his oppression.” Likewise, “Any leader who takes charge of the affairs of the Muslims and then doesn’t strive for them and advise them, will not enter Jannah with them.” And likewise, “Allah does not give one of His slaves leadership, who then dies having cheated his subjects, except that Allah will make Jannah prohibited for him.”

[3] Seek consultation and hold discussions, for discussion is the partner of consultation. One should sit in a gathering to exchange ideas, then each person comments on the opinions put forth by the others, or puts forth a new opinion, and at the end of the gathering the correct opinion will become clear. Allah (ta’ālā) said, {And consult them concerning the matter} [Āl ‘Imrān: 159]. Allah has directed His Prophet to consult those under him despite the Prophet’s prudent intellect. So what about you?

And as was reported, “One who seeks consultation will have no regret, and one who prays istikhārah will not go wrong.” And it’s been said, “He who relies exclusively on his intellect will go astray, and he who is content with his own opinion will slip up, and he who consults intelligent men will take the correct path, and he who seeks the help of a man with insight will attain what is hoped for.”

So let every leader have a true consultative council beginning with the general leader and ending with the detachment commanders. But do not consult a person who has a certain need that he is seeking to fulfill, nor a person whom you sense desires to be consulted, nor a person who doesn’t think his opinions through, for it’s been said, “Leave your opinion until it ripens.” It was reported that ‘Alī said, “The opinion of an elder is better than the view of a young man,” meaning with regards to battle. And don’t consult anyone unless he’s alone, meaning that you should consult him in private, for this ensures more secrecy and is a greater deterrent to anyone who might otherwise disclose the issue. It is true! “Consultation and discussion are two doors to mercy, and two keys to blessings. No opinion that’s been reached with the help of these two things will go wrong.”

[4] Beware of only consulting a person who always agrees with your opinion, and beware of bad company. Get accustomed to being patient with any advisers who disagree with your opinion, and swallow the bitterness of their words and their criticism. But don’t be casual in that regard except with people who are virtuous, intelligent, chivalrous, senior in age, and trustworthy with secrets.

[5] There’s nothing more destructive towards the religion and dunyā than for a leader to become unaware of the actual circumstances that his subjects are in. So don’t seclude yourself from them, for you are only a human being and you don’t know what the people are concealing from you. And beware of using security as an excuse, thereby ensuring your personal security and neglecting your subjects in the process, for what a terrible leader you would then be!

And follow up on everything yourself even after appointing sincere and reliable individuals over areas of responsibility, for even a reliable person can betray you, and even a sincere person can deceive you, so be sure to verify things yourself. Allah (ta’ālā) says, {O Dāwūd, indeed We have made you a successor upon the Earth, so judge between the people in truth and do not follow [your own] desire, as it will lead you astray from the way of Allah} [Sād: 26].

“So Allah did not suffice with a broad implication and thereby avoid an explicit address. Nor did He accept busyness as an excuse, being content with the delegation of duties, but instead He linked such to misguidance.”
And don’t hasten to believe a person who seeks to spread corruption, for such an individual is deceitful even if he makes himself out to be sincere. Likewise, don’t just dismiss his words, for he may be telling the truth. Give your brothers the benefit of the doubt, for doing so will save you a lot of hardship.
[6] The leader is required to ensure that he and his soldiers are held responsible for the rights that Allah (ta’ālā) has made obligatory and the limits that He has set, “For he who fights for the religion is more deserving amongst the people of being held to its rulings.” But you will not reform anything when you yourself are corrupt, nor will you guide anyone when you yourself are astray. For how can a blind man guide others, and how can a disgraceful person give honor? And there’s nothing more humiliating than the disgrace of sin, and nothing more honorable than the honor of righteousness. So keep yourself above having poor character and befriending immoral people.

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[7] Beware of letting your dire need of something cause you to acquire it in an unlawful manner, for having patience in the face of dire need, while hoping for improved circumstances and a better outcome, is greater than committing a sin and then fearing its consequences. And the religion revolves around patience.

[8] Beware of standing out from others by way of the vehicle that you ride or the clothes that you wear, for indeed ‘Umar wrote to Abū Mūsā al-Ash’arī saying, “…and it has reached me that word is going around that your and your family’s clothing, food, and means of transport are of a different standard than that of the Muslims. So beware, O servant of Allah, of becoming like an animal that passes by a fertile valley and has no concern other than to fatten itself. Indeed its fatness will be what kills it. And know that if the leader goes astray, so too will his subjects. And the most wretched of people is he whose subjects are unhappy with him.”

[9] Know that war is just as they say, its burdens lie in being patient, its axis is comprised of craftiness and good judgment, its backbone is endurance, and its reins are caution. Each of these has its fruit: the fruit of patience is support [from Allah], the fruit of craftiness is triumph, the fruit of good judgment is success, the fruit of endurance is prosperity, and the fruit of being cautious is safety. ‘Amr Ibn Ma’diyakrib (radiyallāhu ‘anh) was asked about war, so he said, “Whoever is patient in war becomes prominent, and whoever abstains from it perishes.” So beware of hastiness, for an act of hastiness may lead to regret.

[10] Put the harsh and courageous men forward against the enemy during the heat of the battle, and distribute them amongst the various detachments so that they can be a source of strength for the weak and a source of courage for the coward. Beware of letting your brothers be accompanied by one who will cause them to abandon the fight or will say things that will harm their morale. Furthermore, beware of spies, for how many small forces have defeated large forces by Allah’s permission. And don’t select the strong fighters for the battle while leaving out the weak ones who are eager to attain the rewards of Allah, for the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “And are you given victory or sustenance except through the weak amongst you?” Indeed, Allah grants victory to a people through the weakest amongst them.

[11] Don’t neglect to take what you can of equipment, such as armor and helmets. Doing so is not cowardice, for Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam), the bravest of all people, had armor. And this doesn’t mean you can’t fight without armor when it’s appropriate to do so. Habīb Ibn al-Muhallab said, “I have not seen any man in war wearing armor except that he was worth two men to me. And I have not seen two men going without armor except that they were worth one man to me.” A knowledgeable man heard this statement and said, “He spoke the truth! Indeed, weapons have virtue. Can’t you see that when they hear someone scream for help, they call out ‘Grab your weapons! Grab your weapons!’ not ‘Gather the men! Gather the men!’”

[12] One who provides his brothers with a supply of food and drink that will strengthen them throughout their day is undoubtedly a wise leader. Indeed, when we searched the pockets of some fighters who were under the command of an Afghan leader that was fighting the Taliban, we found raisins.

[13] The leader should appoint a commander for each squad, and should inspect their vehicles, weapons and supplies, especially prior to a battle. Nothing should be taken that will become too much of a burden when the situation become serious and difficult, and nothing should be left that you will need when something breaks down or when the distance is very long, especially if the leader anticipates a long battle.

[14] You should not have more than three fighters in any car, unless there’s an overriding benefit in doing so. The leader should establish a secure, elaborate method of communication between each of the detachments, and establish code words for them to use when communicating, and slogans to shout when they’re fighting.

[15] The leader must let his subjects and soldiers hear things that will strengthen them and cause them to feel that they will triumph over their enemy. He should narrate to them from the causes of victory that would make them belittle their enemy. Allah (ta’ālā) says, {(And remember) when Allah showed them to you in your dream as few; and if He had shown them to you as many, you would have lost courage and would have disputed in the matter [of whether to fight]} [Al-Anfāl: 43].

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[16] The leader must study the battlefield very well. He should not fight from a position that will be easy for the enemy to surround without ensuring that the vulnerable points are guarded. And he should not take his soldiers out to a place so far that it’s impossible to bring them back safely.

[17] The Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said:

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Al-Muhallab said, “You must use deception in war, for it is more effective than reinforcements.” Some methods of deception include:

a. Planting spies.

b. Reconnaissance.

c. Feigning an intent to attack an area other than the actual target, for when the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) wanted to attack one area, he would give his army the impression they were going to attack another.

“If a man’s chest is too narrow to hold his own secret, then the chest of the one with whom he stores the secret is even narrower”  [Poetry].

And be on guard against your enemy at all times so that he doesn’t:

a. Pounce on you from near.

b. Assault you from far.

c. Ambush you when you’re inattentive. d. Or follow you when you’re returning home.

[18] Among the signs of a leader’s experience and sophistication is that he takes advantage of opportunities, “For indeed they come and go as the passing of clouds. And do not only seek the traces of the enemy left behind after the main body is gone.” Pounce when the opportunity first arises and not when it’s already gone.

“When your wind blows take advantage of it, for everything that flutters becomes calm” [Poetry].

[19] It’s permissible for the leader of an army to let one eager for shahādah expose himself to it if the leader knows that seeing him killed will be an incitement for the Muslims to fight zealously to avenge him. The opposite is also correct; he should protect any person whose killing will break the strength of his brothers, such as a distinguished commander. For this reason, know that the center is the most fortified and furthest from the enemy.

[20] Don’t allow your brothers to kill or take captive anyone on account of whom they would dispute and become disunited, even if it’s permissible from a certain angle, for unity during the course of battle is a predominant interest that cannot be superseded by anything else.

[21] Beware of blood. Beware of blood. Beware of shedding blood unjustly. For nothing is quicker to draw wrath or cause blessings to disappear than shedding blood unjustly. And beware of strengthening your authority and your soldiers through unlawful bloodshed, for this would be a short-term gain whose long-term consequences are weakness and helplessness. If you were to do so, you would have no acceptable excuse, neither before Allah nor before us. And by Allah, no case is reported to us involving the bloodshed of an innocent person from Ahlus-Sunnah that isn’t backed up by clear evidence of what he did to deserve his blood being shed, or supported by reasonable doubt, except that we will bring justice for the one wronged.

[22] Don’t be deceived by the ease of any operation, for a downhill slope can be followed by rough terrain. So give careful thought to both the present and the future, for nothing is more harmful to the people than a leader who only thinks about the present.

[23] Reward those who perform very well, be generous to a detachment that achieves victory, and honor a brave person publicly. In contrast, punish those who do wrong for their actions, even if by boycotting them, since it’s permissible for a leader to punish those who disobey his orders. If you don’t do so, those who perform well will begin to slack, and those who do wrong will become emboldened, things will get worse and your work will be ruined.

Furthermore, when rewarding those who perform well, do so publicly and when punishing those who’ve done wrong, do so privately, especially when it comes to the virtuous ones amongst them. As for the corrupt amongst them, then punish them publicly, for this is what the Sharī’ah has come with.

Be extremely cautious of over-punishing a soldier, or of pardoning him and then regretting it. And beware of letting your harshness become repulsive, for indeed the purpose of punishment in the Sharī’ah is to bring reform, not to quench one’s thirst for revenge. Likewise, be careful not to say something when you’re angry that you won’t be able to take back, for how often does a statement say to the one who wants to speak it, “Discard me.” And don’t make your statement inconsequential, O leader, when either punishing or pardoning someone. And when punishing someone, don’t go beyond the limits that Allah has set for you through your transgression and desires, for “transgression will be darkness on the Day of Judgment.”

So you need to be gentle, dear brother, in all of your affairs, even when it comes to punishment. Allah (ta’ālā) says, {And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have dispersed from around you} [Āl ‘Imrān: 159].

The Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Whoever has been given his share of gentleness has been given his share of all goodness. And whoever has been deprived of his share of gentleness has been deprived of his share of all goodness.” He (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) also said, “Indeed, this religion is firm, so delve into it with gentleness.”

[24] Know that your brothers listen and obey out of eagerness for Allah’s rewards, so their compliance is due more to their good character and adherence to the Sharī’ah, than it is due to fear of authority. So you should only discipline those whom you know will accept it due to their strong adherence to the religion. As for one whom you believe won’t be deterred by his religious commitment, then beware of punishing him. Rather, be lenient with him and win his heart, for those fittest to pardon others are those most capable of punishing them, and those who are least in worth and intelligence are those who oppress people under their authority. So be sincere towards Allah and be just towards the people as it relates to yourself, your family, and those whom you love from amongst your brothers and your subjects. Otherwise, you would be oppressing them. And whoever oppresses the servants of Allah, will have Allah as his opponent. And whoever has Allah as his opponent, will find Allah at war with him until he repents and desists. And fear the supplication of the oppressed, for there’s no screen between it and Allah, and the doors of the heavens are opened for it. And set aside an hour of your day to think carefully as to whether you’ve oppressed anyone, or whether there’s an oppressed person whom you could support. And if one wishes to hasten the anger of Allah, he should commit oppression!

[25] Reign over your brothers and over the people with kindness and you’ll win their hearts, for long-lasting love is due to kindness, and its disappearance is due to tyranny. If you show affection to the general public, their love for you will be sincere and you will win their esteem. Indeed, affection from a powerful person is humbleness.

‘Umar Ibn ‘Abdul-’Azīz would be extremely kind to the people. If he wanted to order the people with something from the orders of Allah that he thought they would dislike, he would wait until something came that the people would love, and would then announce both of them together. It was reported that he said, “Indeed, Allah disparaged alcohol twice in the Qur’ān and prohibited it the third time it was mentioned. And I fear that I would impose the truth upon the people all at once, so they would leave it and it would become a tribulation for them.”

[26] Recognize each person’s individual value, know their ranks, and give preference to men who are:

a. From the people of knowledge and virtue. The verses and narrations concerning their virtue are numerous.

b. Older in age, for “He who does not respect our elders, have mercy towards our young, and recognize the rights of our scholars, is not one of us.”

c. From a noble and prestigious family, at the forefront being the family of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).

[27] Check up on the families of the shuhadā’ and prisoners, and give them preference over others. Visit the sick and act as a servant for your brothers, for aside from carrying a heavier burden and having a lot more to be accountable for in front of Allah, you’re just a man from amongst them, so work for tomorrow.

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[28] Choose well when selecting a messenger to communicate with tribes and armed groups, and likewise when selecting someone to take control over checkpoints and bring the people to account, for to the people they are the face of the State. If they do well then we’ve done well, and if they do wrong then we’ve done wrong. To summarize, “Send a wise person who doesn’t need advising.”

[29] Beware, O leader, of jāhilī partisanship, for nothing destroys a firmly established structure other than extreme partisanship. Use intelligence and ploy to dismantle partisanship, not just strength, for indeed, the people of Iraq revolted with Ibn al-Ash’ath against ‘AbdulMalik Ibn Marwān, and amongst them were a large number of the best of the tābi’īn, such as Sa’īd Ibn Jubayr and his likes. But al-Hajjāj defeated them at Dayr al-Jamājim using ploy more so than strength. And know that it is wise policy to deal with these partisans quickly, especially their leaders.

[30] You must be serious, hardworking, and very ambitious. Beware of incompetence, for by Allah there’s no ride more humiliating. No matter how many times you stumble, keep trying, for we’ve seen through experience that there’s no work in which Allah granted success, except that there were many stumbles along the way.

Your brother,
Abū Hamzah al-Muhājir
1 Ramadān 1428

[Taken From Dabiq issue 7 pages 9-16]

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