An article in the 22nd issue of the official Islamic State (ISIS) mouthpiece Al-Naba, titled “Beit Al-Maqdis[1] – First and Foremost an Issue of Shari’a Law,”[2] sets out the organization’s position on Palestine and the war on Israel, from both the ideological and practical perspectives. The article states that the fight against Israel does not take precedence over jihad against the infidels elsewhere, and, furthermore, that the fight against the infidels within – that is, against the Muslim rulers and governments – is even more important. According to ISIS, prioritization of the war on Israel is a deviation from the principles of Islam, because jihad is aimed at establishing the religion and implementing shari’a law. Since the entire world except for the ISIS-controlled areas is ruled by infidels, the article asks why war against the Jews is being prioritized over the war against other infidels. It also states that restricting jihad’s target to war solely against the Jews is a forbidden alteration in the laws of Allah. In ISIS’s view, if there is to be any prioritization of jihad in any one place, then it should be to liberate the Islamic holy sites of Mecca and Medina from the clutches of the Saudi royal family.

The article posits that in every location, waging war against the infidels is the duty of the Muslim residents in the closest region; thus, at this stage, most of these efforts should be devoted to toppling regimes in the countries that neighbor Palestine and fighting Israel should be left to the Palestinians. However, ISIS calls on Muslims worldwide to help them, including by attacking the Jews and their allies wherever they can.

The article harshly criticizes the elements in the Arab world – among them nationalist regimes, left-wing movements and Shi’ite movements, especially Hizbullah – that sanctify the Palestinian cause and depict it as the Muslims’ main issue. It particularly condemns the Islamist movements – hinting at the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas – for using the Palestinian cause as a rallying point for the masses. Thus, it says, these elements are sinning by basing themselves basing their ideology on a “defective foundation.”

The article is aimed at rebutting accusations by rival Islamist movements and groups that ISIS is failing to fight Israel and is neglecting Palestine, and also at informing ISIS supporters of the organization’s positions on this issue. It should be noted that the article follows statements on the issue of Palestine by ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi; in a speech recorded in December 2015, he stressed that ISIS had not forgotten Palestine.[3]

Following are excerpts from the article: 


Transforming The Palestinian Cause Into The No. 1 Muslim Issue Is Religiously Prohibited Excess

“For decades, the issue of Palestine and its occupation by the Jews has dominated the lives of Muslims the world over. The exaggerators have exceeded in stressing its importance, and the merchants have traded in it – to the point where most people came to believe that Palestine is the Muslims’ primary cause. This is after the nationalists declared it to be the Muslims’ top priority, and [vowed] that no other issue should be raised until Palestine was liberated, so as not to diversify efforts or waste capabilities. Moreover, many believe that there is no room for jihad [anywhere] but in Palestine. The preachers of fitna and the rulers’ scholars everywhere condemn the mujahideen on all the battlefronts, and mislead the ignorant by asking ‘why don’t these [mujahideen] wage jihad in Palestine?’

“Those who deviated [from the true path] hold that… the Muslim ummah has no enemy but the Jews who are occupying Palestine. Even those who do seek to expand the circle [of jihad] to include the Christian Crusaders are deviating from the shari’a by declaring that the only reason for their hatred [of them] is that they support the Jews.[4]

“On the other hand, anyone who expresses hostility towards the Jewish state is considered a beloved hero whose banners are raised and whose portrait is hung aloft, regardless of his faith and religion. Thus, for some time people were attracted to Communist [movements], such as the Democratic Front and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and their allies among the global Marxist movements… even though they are atheist infidels… It was enough that they addressed the Arab’s primary cause and fought the Jews in Palestine.

“They were later drawn to the impure Shi’ites, such as Hizb Al-Lat[5] and Amal, because in years past these [groups] had fought the Jews in South Lebanon. Things got to the point where during the July 2006 war, people flew the Rafidite [pejorative term for Shi’ites] banners, and pictures of the infidel Hassan Nasr Al-Lat [i.e. Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah] were hung in the homes of millions.

“Additionally, tens of millions were drawn to the most evil of all the Arab Tawaghit[6] – such as Gamal Abd Al-Nasr, Hafez Al-Assad, Mu’ammar Al-Qadhafi, and Saddam Hussein, because they traded in the Palestinian issue and sold delusions to their followers, by means of impassioned speeches about throwing the Jews into the sea or burning their state with missiles.

“The trade in Palestine goes beyond the nationalists, the leftists, and the Rafidites; it has long since entered the core of the platforms of the parties, groups, and organizations that falsely affiliate themselves with Islam. They see it as a means of recruiting men and uniting the ranks, because they can find no other goal on which people agree but the Palestinian cause – in which everyone, without exception, trades. They thought it would be easy to build their platform on the foundation of the ‘problem of Palestine’… since they have found that people are distant from the religion. Therefore, they were tempted to rally people around themselves based on this defective foundation, [thinking that in this way they could] advance towards their organizations’ stated goals, such as establishing the religion and implementing the shari’a…”

The Law Of Jihad In Palestine Is The Same As Law Of Jihad In The Rest Of The World

“After nearly seven decades of empty slogans, Palestine is still ruled by the Jews, the Shi’ites, and their allies in the deviant parties who trade in the [Palestinian] cause – after ancient Palestine was divided into three parts, each ruled by a Taghout government that purports to be an enemy of the others.[7] Placing the matter of Palestine in the proper religious context, and smashing the idol that people have worshipped for decades – [that is, the idol of] ‘the Muslims’ No. 1 issue’ – constitute an essential foundation for building any genuine action for the sake of this blessed region.

“The foremost issue for the Muslims is to establish the Tawheed[8] for the sake of which Allah sent messengers and laid down the laws of jihad – in order to purge the land of polytheism and so that [the people] would worship the Almighty… This applies to Beit Al-Maqdis and its surroundings just as it applies to the rest of the world. Moreover, jihad to rescue Beit Al-Maqdis from the Jews is permitted only if it is being carried out in order to remove the rule of the Taghout and to fully establish the religion there. Waging jihad with the aim of replacing the rule of the Jews with a regime like that of those who currently rule Gaza and the West Bank is jihad that is null and void – because it is being waged for the sake [of the Taghout], not for the sake of Allah.”

ISIS operatives trample Palestinian flagISIS operatives trample Palestinian flag2ISIS operatives trample Palestinian flag, Syria July, 2014

“What Gave The Jews Priority Among All The Infidels?”

“If we look at the reality of the world today, we will find that it is completely ruled by polytheism and its laws, except for the regions where Allah made it possible for ISIS to establish the religion. The Muslims are obligated to wage jihad in order to remove the infidels from the usurped lands of the Muslims – among them Beit Al-Maqdis and its surroundings, the Land of the Two Holy Shrines [the Arabian Peninsula], and other Muslim lands. Therefore, jihad in Palestine is equal to jihad elsewhere. If a certain land’s virtue gives the option of jihad there precedence [over jihad in other lands], then waging jihad to rescue Mecca and Medina from the hands of the Saud family Taghout undoubtedly comes first.

“From another angle, Allah ordered His worshippers to fight all the infidels, without exception. Allah said: ‘And fight against the disbelievers collectively as they fight against you collectively. And know that Allah is with the righteous. [Koran 9:36].’ Therefore, what gave the Jews priority among all the infidels, to the point where those who deviate from the [true] path restrict jihad to them alone, in preference to others? The apostate [tyrants] who rule the lands of Islam are graver infidels than [the Jews], and war against them takes precedence over war against the original infidels. The legitimate jihad is fighting the Jews in Palestine, fighting the [tyrants] and their infidel supporters in every place and at every time, and fighting the Crusaders and all the polytheists in the world. Regarding restricting jihad to the Jews alone – this is an alteration of Allah’s law, and constitutes following the delusions of the Taghout who seek to prevent Muslims from waging jihad against the polytheists and infidels in the countries that they themselves control.”

First, Bring Down The Rulers Of The Countries Neighboring Israel – They Are Its “First Line Of Defense”; The Duty To Fight The Jews Is Incumbent Only Upon The Muslims Who Are Near Them

“Additionally, Allah commanded the believers to direct their jihad against the nearest infidels, as part of the fighting against all the polytheists, saying in the Koran: ‘O you who have believed, fight those adjacent to you of the disbelievers… [Koran 9:123].’ Therefore, Muslims everywhere should fight the infidels nearest to them. Muslims under Jewish rule should fight them, Syrians should fight the Nusairi [‘Alawi] ruler [i.e. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad] and other infidels such as the Sahawat[9] and the PKK,[10] Iraqi Muslims should fight the infidel Shi’ites, Peshmerga, and Sahawat, and Muslims in Egypt and the Sinai should fight [the tyrant] ruling Egypt and so on in all the Islamic lands – until such time as the Muslims in every land have completed the fight against the infidels near them and have brought their land under Allah’s rule. [Then] they can move on to fight the infidels adjacent to them, until the world is purged of polytheism and unbelief.

“This truth becomes crystal clear if we take into account that [the tyrants] next to Beit Al-Maqdis are the first line of defense for Jew state.[11] Therefore, war against the Jews can be waged only by eliminating these [tyrants], toppling their regimes, and destroying their armies, and then arriving at the borders of Jew State and confronting its army directly.”

“Waging jihad to rescue Beit Al-Maqdis and its environs from the Jews, which we pray to Allah happens soon, is a religious matter that is subject to all parts of shari’a law. No one should overstate its importance and elevate it above the [principle] of Tawhid, just as no one among those who believe in Allah and His religion should downplay it. It is a religious duty. All Muslims should work for it, because [Palestine] is one of the lands of Muslims that were taken over by the Jewish infidels, turned into ‘Dar Al-Harb,’[12] [and] governed by  Taghout laws,[13] [where] Muslim rituals were banned, Muslims were killed, [and] their property expropriated, and from which they were expelled. War against these Jews is the duty of every Muslim, but this duty is particularly incumbent upon the people of Beit Al-Maqdis [Palestine], for they are [geographically] the closest to them. This is providing that the objective of the war is to establish the religion of Allah, and not merely to regain land and property or to take vengeance on the Jews for their crimes of recent decades. It is the duty of Muslims worldwide to aid [the Palestinian Muslims in their fight] by sending them whatever men and money they can send. In addition, [they must] help [the Palestinians] and target their enemies by attacking the Jews and their allies wherever they find them, [by] killing them, destroying their property, and harming their interests in any way they can.” 

ISIS Warns The Palestinians: Waging Jihad For The Sake Of Palestine Is No Justification For Joining Other Groups

The article concludes by addressing the Palestinians and warning them against joining any organization but ISIS: “Waging jihad to rescue Beit Al-Maqdis from the Jews is no justification for joining infidel factions and parties such as the Shi’ite Hizb Al-Lat or the Islamic Jihad movement that is tied to it, or secularist and communist movements such as Fatah, the DFLP and the PFLP, or movements that claim to be Islamic but refrain from implementing the laws of Allah and instead effectively implement the polytheism of democracy, such as the apostate Hamas movement.

“Fighting the infidels under the banner of unbelief is not permitted under any circumstances. A Muslim should wage jihad only under the banner of the group of Muslims. If he cannot join the caliphate, then Allah considers his swearing of the oath of fealty [ba’ya, to ISIS] and waging jihad on his own to be in effect better than his selling of his soul in order to expel the rule of the Jews and cement the rule of the apostate Taghout parties and factions.”



[1] Beit Al-Maqdis is one of the names of Jerusalem. In Islamist and jihadi discourse, the name is symbolically used for all of Palestine, and is often expanded to “Beit Al-Maqdis and its surroundings.”

[2] Al-Naba, Issue 22, March 15, 2016.

[3] For a comprehensive review of ISIS’s position on Palestine and the Palestinians, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 66, The Islamic State (ISIS) And Palestine – Rhetoric Vs. Reality, November 19, 2015. For Al-Baghdadi’s speech, see MEMRI JTTM report, ISIS Leader Al-Baghdadi Criticizes Newly Created Islamic Coalition, Threatens All Countries Bombing Its Territories,  December 26, 2015. Signs of an internal conflict within ISIS over the Palestinian issue are evident in an open letter from a Gaza ISIS operative to Al-Baghdadi, in which he complained that ISIS is ignoring the plight of ISIS supporters in Gaza;  see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6334, Exclusive: Letter By ISIS Fighter To Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi Reveals ISIS-Sinai’s Ties To Hamas, March 2, 2016.

[4] This is implicit criticism of Al-Qaeda, whose leaders often justify their war against the U.S. and the West by citing the latter’s support for Israel.

[5] Pejorative term for Hizbullah. Al-Lat was a pagan goddess worshipped in pre-Islamic days.

[6] Taghout/Tawaghit [pl.], idol, any person or entity that is worshipped instead of Allah. In the Salafi-jihadi parlance this is a term for rulers who do not rule according to Islamic law. Typically refers to secular Arab rulers but also to those who are allegedly blocking the implementation of shari’a law.

[7] Hinting at Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Hamas in Gaza.

[8] Islamic monotheism.

[9] Pejorative used by ISIS to describe Sunni groups hostile to it. The name comes from the Sahawa (Awakening) movement of Sunni tribes in Iraq that fought ISIS there in the previous decade.

[10] Kurdish militias in Syria.

[11] Many jihadi writers and spokesmen insultingly omit the definite article when referring to Jews, by saying, for example “Dawlat Yahud” (“Jew State”) instead of “Dawlat Al-Yahud” (“the Jewish State.).

[12] “Lands of War” not controlled by Muslims.

[13] Laws other than shari’a law.

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