Below is a hand-written note given by Michael Adebolajo aka “Mujahid Abu Hamza” (translated “Allah’s soldier [and] father of Hamza”) to a passer-by after he and Michael Adebowale aka “Ismail Ibn Abdullah” (translated “Ismail son of the slave of Allah”) had mutilated and murdered Gunner Lee Rigby. It was used as evidence at their trial.

Lee Rigby killer's letter

Here is my rendition of the note, taken from this source.

“T[o] my beloved children. Know that to fight Allah’s enemies is an obligation the proofs of which are so numerous that but a handful of them cuts out the bewitching tongues of the Munaafiqoon [trans. “hypocrites”].

A point to make at this stage is that Abu Hamza is saying that those who don’t think that fighting “Allah’s enemies” is an obligation – i.e. something you must do as a Muslim – are “hypocrites”. In this context “hypocrites” means “not ‘true-believer’ Muslims” or “not ‘proper’ Muslims”. In some understandings being a “munafiq” is tantamount to apostasy (which renders the individual liable to being killed-on-sight by an orthodox Muslim).

“Don’t spend your days in dispute with the cowardly and foolish if it means that it much delay[s] your meeting Allah’s enemies on the battlefield. Sometimes the cowardly and foolish could be those closest to you, so be prepared to turn away from them.

When you set out on this path do not look left or right.

In these paragraphs Abu Hamza is telling his audience that only the cowardly and foolish do notactively seek to “fight in the way of Allah” and that you should not turn away from the fight.

Seek Shahaadaha [trans. Lit. “become a witness”, in context “martyrdom”, meaning here “death in fighting for Allah”] oh my sons so that we might be raised [i.e. as in “to new life”] together. & if it is Allah’s decree that you are not to be in the hearts of green birds [an allusion to a statement in the hadith about where the souls of those who die fighting for Allah reside before the “last day”], then be ready to enter the university of Yoosuf sign[?]. Be patient there and be firm their and inshallah [trans. “if Allah wills”] you will meet your Lord with him pleesed [sic] with you. Verily Allah is with those who are patient.

This paragraph is an exhortation to actively seek death in” fighting for Allah” leaving the “enemy” – i.e. non-Muslims – no choice but to kill the “martyrdom-seeker”. This is supported by several hadith commending those who fought non-Muslims having made their own survival impossible. In effect this is also an endorsement of suicide bombing. The “university of Yoosef” is an allegorical allusion (from the teaching of present day Imam Abu Hanifah) to living in the temporal world and being “patient and firm” in faith and awaiting your opportunity to fight for Allah.

If I live beyond this day and you find me talking other than this, then know that perhaps Allah has left me to stray.

In other words “this is the true path of Islam” and anyone who says otherwise is not a “true-believer” Muslim.

This ends the personal part of the note. Abu Hamza and Ibn Abdullah then go on to address the wider non-Muslim community in the U.K.:

If you find yourselves curious as to why carnage is reaching your own towns, then know it is simply retaliation for your aggression in our towns.

This would be a fair point, but by analogy this attitude justifies the Americans attacking Muslim towns in retaliation for 9/11 and the string of Embassy bombings before Iraq and Afghanistan. In reality the view expressed, or rather alluded to, here is that whilst it is okay for Muslims to attack non-Muslims (after all Allah tells them it is their god given duty to do so – see below), it is “aggression” when non-Muslims (counter) attack Muslims.

Many of your people are aristocrats that benefit directly from the invasion of our lands without material loss. Whereas the average Joe Bloggs working class man loses his sons when they are killed by our brothers. When the heat of battle reached your local street it is unlikely that any of your so-called politicians will be at risk or caught in the cross-fire. So I suggest, you remove them.

Remove them and replace them with people who will secure your safety by immediate withdrawal from the affairs of the Muslims.

What is interesting here is the use of “your” and “our”. The paragraph makes it clear that abu Hamza and Ibn Abdullah think of “the Muslims” as the people to whom they have loyalty and the non-Muslims as the “other” from whom they consider themselves separated.

Muslims will trade with you on fair terms, but understand that your days of international armed robbery are drawing to a close.

To humble yourselves willingly is better for you.

I’m not sure whether this “humbling” should be understood to mean that the non-Muslims in Britain should humble themselves to the Muslims who just happen to live in Britain – i.e. become Dhimmis (third class citizens in their own state!) – or whether they mean “the Brits” should humble themselves to Allah – i.e. become Muslim.

Either or both could be correct, given that K.9:29 offers three choices: become Muslim, become Dhimmi or become dead.

May Allah guide your nation to the truth. Amen.

In other words: may Britain become an Islamic (jihadist) nation.

Then follow five lists of verses:

  1. 4:69-76, 4:84, 9:41
  2. 9:24, 9:39, 9:46, 9:87, 9:93
  3. 9:67, 3:173, 47:20, 9:86, 9:31, 9:56-57, 8:5-6, 2:170
  4. 3:160, 9:119, 9:23
  5. 9:38, 2:216, 3:142

These verses and their sequence obviously meant something to Abu Hamza and ibn Abdullah. This begs the question what do the verses say and why are they grouped as they are?

However, before looking at the verses I want to say something about the word translated as “fight”. For this I draw on the work of Mark Durie. The word in Arabic is “qital”. To understand this word, we need to realise that it is based upon the root “qtl” which means ‘kill’. From this root several other Arabic words are formed, for example qatala ‘kill, murder’; qatīl ‘someone killed, a casualty’; qatl‘homicide’; maqtal ‘vital spot on the body (injuring which brings death)’ (ref: Mark Durie).

In the Koran verses the most common form of the “qtl” Word used to denote fight[ing] is “qātilū”. Without going into the details (Durie covers them well and gives other sources for those interested) what this word truly means is ‘engaged in intentional and sustained activity with the purpose of killing, in a context of a counter-effort to kill.’ (Durie). In other words this “fighting” is a sustainedconflict with the purpose of killing the enemy and a clear risk of being killed (or dying) in the process as the enemy fights back.

Given the lengths to which abu Hamza and ibn Abdullah went to (a) ensure that Lee Rigby died and (b) attempt to commit “suicide by cop”, I would suggest that their actions fit this understanding of“qātilū” all to well.

Here are the translations of the verses from Hilali-Khan (other translations individually acknowledged):

List #1: K.4:69-76, 4:84, 9:41.

4:69-76: And whoso obeys Allah and the Messenger (Muhammad SAW), then they will be in the company of those on whom Allah has bestowed His Grace, of the Prophets, the Siddiqoon (those followers of the Prophets who were first and foremost to believe in them, like Abu Bakr AsSiddiq), the martyrs, and the righteous. And how excellent these companions are! [70] Such is the Bounty from Allah, and Allah is Sufficient as All-Knower. [71] O you who believe! Take your precautions, and either go forth (on an expedition) in parties, or go forth all together. [72] There is certainly among you he who would linger behind (from fighting in Allah’s Cause). If a misfortune befalls you, he says, “Indeed Allah has favoured me in that I was not present among them.” [73] But if a bounty (victory and booty) comes to you from Allah, he would surely say – as if there had never been ties of affection between you and him – “Oh! I wish I had been with them; then I would have achieved a great success ( a good share of booty).” [74] Let those (believers) who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight [falyuqātil] in the Cause of Allah, and whoso fights [yuqātil] in the Cause of Allah, and is killed or gets victory, We shall bestow on him a great reward. [75] And what is wrong with you that you fight [tuqātilūna] not in the Cause of Allah, and for those weak, ill-treated and oppressed among men, women, and children, whose cry is: “Our Lord! Rescue us from this town whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from You one who will protect, and raise for us from You one who will help.” [76] Those who believe, fight [yuqātilūna] in the Cause of Allah, and those who disbelieve, fight [yuqātilūna] in the cause of Taghoot (Satan, etc.). So fight [faqātilū] you against the friends of Shaitan (Satan); Ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaitan (Satan).

Note that the “great reward” mentioned above is either war-booty (often including sex-slaves) or immediate entry to the Islamic paradise with it’s 72 sex-slaves. “Oppression” is defined as anything that prevents a fully Sharia-compliant life-style.

4:84. Then fight [faqātil] (O Muhammad SAW) in the Cause of Allah, you are not tasked (held responsible) except for yourself, and incite the believers (to fight along with you), it may be that Allah will restrain the evil might of the disbelievers. And Allah is Stronger in Might and Stronger in punishing.

9:41. March forth, whether you are light (being healthy, young and wealthy) or heavy (being ill, old and poor), strive hard [or: wage jihad] with your wealth and your lives in the Cause of Allah. This is better for you, if you but knew.

From these verses we can see that the two murderers (or “soldiers of Allah” as they termed themselves) see themselves as waging a war against non-Muslims who are “the friends of Satan” and hence intrinsically evil. The first Koran passage ties in with the first paragraph of the personal part of the letter as well – only the coward and the fool don’t want to kill “Allah’s enemies”. The second Koran passage tells us that Muslims should be incited to wage war (one has to say that many Imams, Sheikhs etc. do a good job of this, thus echoing Mohammed’s incitement down the ages). The third passage tells us that Muslims should be prepared to wage war on non-Muslims whatever their physical condition and at the risk of their lives (just as “qatilu” implies). Alternatively, this “light” and “heavy” may be understood as lightly armed or heavily armed. Some commentators use one and others both interpretations of this vagary.

It’s also worth pointing out that the more correct meaning of qtl words in these verses carries with it the implication that Muslims must expect non-Muslims to (counter-)attack them, thus perpetual hostility towards and fear of attack from non-Muslims is implied (see also K.60:4).

List #2: K.9:24, 9:39, 9:46, 9:87, 9:93.

9:24. Say: If your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your wives, your kindred, the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline, and the dwellings in which you delight are dearer to you than Allah and His Messenger, and striving hard and fighting [or: waging jihad] in His Cause, then wait until Allah brings about His Decision (torment). And Allah guides not the people who are Al-Fasiqoon (the rebellious, disobedient to Allah).

9:39. If you march not forth, He will punish you with a painful torment and will replace you by another people, and you cannot harm Him at all, and Allah is Able to do all things.

9:46. And if they had intended to march out, certainly, they would have made some preparation for it, but Allah was averse to their being sent forth, so He made them lag behind, and it was said (to them), “Sit you among those who sit (at home).”

9:87. They are content to be with those (the women) who sit behind (at home). Their hearts are sealed up (from all kinds of goodness and right guidance), so they understand not.

9:93. The ground (of complaint) is only against those who are rich, and yet ask exemption. They are content to be with (the women) who sit behind (at home) and Allah has sealed up their hearts (from all kinds of goodness and right guidance) so that they know not (what they are losing).

The second group of verses has this main theme: a person should not like their life (in any or all of its aspects) more than waging war for Allah and the jihadi should prepare and be prepared for warfare at all times. Not to do so risks the loss of “the great reward”.

List #3: K.9:67, 3:173, 47:20, 9:86, 9:31, 9:56-57, 8:5-6, 2:170

9:67. The hypocrites, men and women, are from one another, they enjoin (on the people) Al-Munkar (i.e. disbelief and polytheism of all kinds and all that Islam has forbidden), and forbid (people) from Al-Maroof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and they close their hands (from giving (spending in Allahs Cause) alms, etc.). They have forgotten Allah, so He has forgotten them. Verily, the hypocrites are the Fasiqoon (rebellious, disobedient to Allah).

3:173. Those (i.e. believers) unto whom the people (hypocrites) said, “Verily, the people (pagans) have gathered against you (a great army), therefore, fear them.” But it (only) increased them in Faith, andthey said: “Allah (Alone) is Sufficient for us, and He is the Best Disposer of affairs (for us).”

47:20. Those who believe say: “Why is not a Soorah (chapter of the Quran) sent down (for us)? But when a decisive Soorah (explaining and ordering things) is sent down, and fighting (Jihad holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is mentioned (i.e. ordained) therein, you will see those in whose hearts is a disease (of hypocrisy) looking at you with a look of one fainting to death. But it was better for them (hypocrites, to listen to Allah and to obey Him).

9:86. And when a Soorah (chapter from the Quran) is revealed, enjoining them to believe in Allah and to strive hard and fight along with His Messenger, the wealthy among them ask your leave to exempt them (from Jihad) and say, “Leave us (behind), we would be with those who sit (at home).”

9:31. They (Jews and Christians) took their rabbis and their monks to be their lords besides Allah (by obeying them in things which they made lawful or unlawful according to their own desires without being ordered by Allah), and (they also took as their Lord) Messiah, son of Maryam (Mary), while they (Jews and Christians) were commanded (in the Taurat (Torah) and the Injeel (Gospel)) to worship none but One Ilah (God – Allah) La ilaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He). Praise and glory be to Him, (far above is He) from having the partners they associate (with Him).”

9:56-57. They swear by Allah that they are truly of you while they are not of you, but they are a people (hypocrites) who are afraid (that you may kill them). Should they find a refuge, or caves, or a place of concealment, they would turn straight away thereto with a swift rush.

8:5-6. As your Lord caused you (O Muhammad SAW) to go out from your home with the truth, and verily, a party among the believers disliked it; disputing with you concerning the truth after it was made manifest, as if they were being driven to death, while they were looking (at it).

2:170. When it is said to them: “Follow what Allah has sent down.” They say: “Nay! We shall follow what we found our fathers following.” (Would they do that!) Even though their fathers did not understand anything nor were they guided?

Ignoring 9:31, the theme of these verses is that of “hypocrites”. The import is that those Muslims who are reluctant to “kill for Allah” are hypocrites. Put another way, this list of verses are (some of) those referring to the “bewitching tongues of the Munaafiqoon” spoken of above in the personal section of this letter.

K.9:31 seems a little odd in this context, however I think that the implication of it’s inclusion here is that the “true-believer” Muslim is never to be swayed by any “un-Islamic” belief (as happened with Jews and Christians), the further implication is that reluctance to kill for Allah is one of those un-Islamic beliefs.

List #4. K.3:160, 9:119, 9:23

3:160. If Allah helps you, none can overcome you; and if He forsakes you, who is there after Him that can help you? And in Allah (Alone) let believers put their trust.

9:119. O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah, and be with those who are true (in words and deeds).

9:23. O you who believe! Take not for Auliya (supporters and helpers) your fathers and your brothers if they prefer disbelief to Belief. And whoever of you does so, then he is one of the Zalimoon (wrong-doers, etc.).

There are two themes here: (1) trust in and fear of Allah and (2) that the “true-believer” Muslim should only associate with those like himself – i.e. “proper” Muslims keep themselves apart from the non-Muslims and the “najjis Kafirs” (“dirty unbelievers”).

List #5: K.9:38, 2:216, 3:142.

9:38. O you who believe! What is the matter with you, that when you are asked to march forth in the Cause of Allah (i.e. Jihad) you cling heavily to the earth? Are you pleased with the life of this world rather than the Hereafter? But little is the enjoyment of the life of this world as compared with the Hereafter.

2:216. Jihad (holy fighting in Allah’s Cause) is ordained for you (Muslims) though you dislike it, and it may be that you dislike a thing which is good for you and that you like a thing which is bad for you. Allah knows but you do not know.

3:142. Do you think that you will enter the garden while Allah has not yet known those who strive hard from among you, and (He has not) known the patient. (Shakir).

We basically finish where we started: with a selection of verses that again advocate waging jihad and fighting “in the cause of Allah” and state that it is ordained – commanded – by Allah.

- – - – -

What we find is that these verses have five themes:

(1)Muslims should wage (continuous) war against non-Muslims as Allah commands, (2) that the love of this world should not hold them back from doing so, (3) that they must be prepared to die for Allah, (4) that it is an un-Islamic act not to fight and kill for Allah and (5) that the good Muslim should keep himself apart from both “hypocrites” and non-Muslims and only associate with other “true-believer Muslims”.

It is perhaps the last of these that is the most dangerous because it intentionally sets up a “closed positive feed-back loop” where the only religious input can be from those as or more “extreme”/ “fundamentalist”/”radical” – i.e. orthodox than oneself and any dissenting view is dismissed as that of a “hypocrite” or, sometimes, “Kafir”.

Whether this is the only correct way to understand these verses or not, or even whether it is a correct way to understand these verses lies outside the scope of this article and I am sure there are many Muslims who would at least say it was not a correct way to understand these verses when speaking to non-Muslims.

On the other hand, I think that this study of these verses in the groups given by Abu Hamza and ibn Abdullah gives us an insight into how the many Islamic terror organisations use the Koran to support their interpretations.

At the very least we can say that these verses are widely interpreted to incite and support terror given that in the last 12 years such verses have inspired nearly 5.4 attacks every single day. (Data ROP)

I hope that this article gives a useful, if disturbing, insight into the minds of two Islamic terrorists.

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