Azzam on jihadi pastimes

In his lecture al-Tarbiya al-Jihadiyya wa’l-bina’ from the mid-1980s, Abdallah Azzam offers advice to aspiring mujahidin about how they should spend their free time: 

“Work on making good use of your time. Do not waste your time. Always try to bring about some benefit from your social gatherings. 

So, if you see people talking about food, drink, telling jokes, etc., tell them: ‘Guys, I read a story today to tell you about something that happened in Syria, or something that the Afghans did,’ or say: ‘What do you think about this hadith? I read the tafsir of this verse to tell you about,’ etc. Benefit them in this gathering, and occupy them with something that will benefit them. 

Sit down together and read the Qur’an, read the biographies of the Prophet and the Companions, a simple explanation of the Qur’an such as ‘Tafsir al-Jalalayn’ – a simple, general explanation – and read a simple book of Fiqh, especially regarding how to pray. Read the entire section on how to pray, such as ‘Fiqh as-Sunnah.’ Read in detail how to make wudu’, because it doesn’t make sense to sit for thirty years not knowing the proper way of making wudu’, performing prayer, etc. – you pray while not knowing the fundamentals of the prayer and wudu’, and you do not know the details of optional fasting, etc. So, do all of this combined with good friends and a pure, truthful intention.”

Inside the Saudi military

Regular readers of this Tumblr will be familiar by now with the typical scenes from life inside jihadi groups like Islamic State. Recently I started compiling pictures from inside the Saudi military deployed in Yemen for the sake of comparison. I knew there would be many similarities, but I didn’t realise quite how similar the scenes would be. Frankly, if you swap the green Saudi flags for black ones, there is virtually no difference in the iconography and practices displayed in these pictures compared to the jihadi ones. The only slight difference I can spot, aside from the clothing and the hardware, is that the Saudi soldiers are using different hand gestures; they give thumbs up and V-signs where jihadis would point their index finger up. It’s worth noting that the Saudi government, when tweeting these pictures, refers to these soldiers as murabitun (frontier guards), just like the jihadis. This goes to show that many aspects of jihadi culture are not innovations, but traditional or mainstream practices in parts of the Muslim world.