Al-Zindani: Normalization with the Enemy is Treason

By Dr. Ahmad Nagi May 18, 2024 2996

After a long jihad in the service of Islamic causes and Muslims worldwide, the esteemed scholar Dr. Abdul Majeed al-Zindani, passed away on Monday, 13/10/1445 AH (22/4/2024 CE). Thus, “Al-Mujtama” republishes this interview conducted with him, originally published in issue 1293 dated 25/11/1418 AH (24/3/1998 CE).


Our opposition is not about scrutinizing the faults of others to gain political advantage, but rather a calculation to reveal the truth. 

 Islamic preacher Sheikh Abdul Majeed al-Zindani is one of the well-known figures of the Islamic revival. He lived through the stages of developing Islamic work in Yemen and participated in shaping its initial projects. He engaged actively with the Islamic movement and played a significant role in the pivotal events in Yemen. He was part of the government coalition between the Congress Party and the Yemeni Reform Party (al-Islah) and experienced the ideological conflict with the communist movement and the separatist war led by the communists. He was appointed as a member of the Presidential Council during the coalition. Currently, he is the head of the Shura Council of the Yemeni Islah Party.

“Al-Mujtama” had the opportunity to meet with him and discuss his vision for the experience of participating with the Islamists in the government, their current role in opposition, and how the relationship between Islamists and the authorities will evolve, in addition to how he views the critical issues facing Yemen, such as border disputes, Hanish land, and the Jewish influence near the Bab al-Mandab Strait.


The experience of Islamist participation in power in Yemen is indeed considered one of the richest in the Arab and Islamic worlds. Especially as Islamists engaged in politics and supported Yemen's unity through jihad against separatists, and now they are part of the opposition... I would like to hear your honor's view on this experience.

We consider ourselves a vanguard in this Ummah, not a distinct party from others. The people are Muslims, but we strive to give insight to the Ummah of the Islamic conditions, which the entire Ummah should follow. Thus, you won't find a distinction between us and the ruling authority, nor between us and other organizations that follow the Islamic approach. I'd like to point out here that Western political philosophy has spread today, and people mimic it without understanding the principles it's based on and the principles we should adhere to. We start from the premise that the Ummah has one religion and one doctrine to believe in, while Western methodology starts from the idea that everyone has their own philosophy and opinion, and they are free to have it, and there's a big difference between the two. Western philosophy says that the coalition should be based on the interests of parties, groups, and classes, and we say that the Islamic interest is intended for all of us, the interests of the wealthy should be protected, and the interests of the poor should be defended; the interests of all groups are all part of one nation and one entity. It is required to establish justice among all these various groups and entities, but the Western methodology is based on the assumption that those in the government must be with the government whether it is right or wrong, and those in the opposition must oppose the government to overthrow it and replace it with anyone with right or wrong, and we still say what Allah says: “O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah, even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.” (An-Nisa: 135)

We stick to the truth, whether with the government or the opposition.

We must speak the truth to both the ruling authority and to those outside it, even if we stand outside it. Because we follow the truth, our participation in the government was to preserve the public interest of the Ummah, which required unifying ranks against the great dangers threatening the country. Then, we left the authority after everything was settled. We saw that the major partner in the state and in the system has its own principles and policies that we have reservations about. So, we wanted to give them the full opportunity to pursue their policies and bear full responsibility. We often took responsibility for matters where we didn't have a say.

People expected us to adopt a Western approach after leaving the authority, seeking out its flaws, exaggerating issues, and inciting the public. But in reality, we search for the truth and seek how to present it in good terms and in beneficial advice that benefits the state, the people, and everyone. All of this made us reject the label of opposition from the start. We try to give it meaning in light of our Sharia and the approach of our religion. We consider opposition a form of collective responsibility where a group of people is accountable for public security. The purpose of this is to manifest the truth, support it, and clarify what benefits people. Therefore, the Shura Council of the Yemeni Congregation still wants to present the correct term to the Ummah.

When we were in government, some of our brothers in the Congress Party would say, “How can you have one foot in power and one foot in opposition?” We would tell them, “That’s not it. We know the truth, and we follow it wherever it goes.” Today, the opposition says, “Why haven’t you been moving?”

The truth is, we are honored to be with the authority when it is right and to be with the people when they are right. We are honored to be with the truth and to follow it wherever it goes. Therefore, the ruler feels safe deep down because we mean advice and seek what benefits everyone, young and old alike. Similarly, when we were in power, the opposition also felt safe because we didn't take sides. In our experience, we draw inspiration from our religion's goals, the verses of the Quran, and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). We try to follow the Islamic approach. If we succeeded, then it’s Allah’s guidance, and if we failed, it is from ourselves.


We are talking about the benefits that the Islamic movement has gained from participating in government and managing the governance of the country.

As I said, we consider ourselves a vanguard in a nation within a nation. We believe the welfare of the people to be the welfare of the country; the welfare of the nation is our own. We believe that achieving unity is a great gain for us and for the Arab and Islamic nations. Having an organized constitution for political life is a gain for us and for our people. This constitution should be in accordance with the Islamic approach, with the Quran and the Sunnah as its references. Islam is a gain for all Muslims and for the entire nation, not to mention that it is what’s best for all people. Because this is our approach, the incitement caused by external influences among the people of the same country against the ruler and the ruled is minimized. With the methodology we follow, the opportunities for incitement become limited, and its reasons become few. Everyone knows each other.


Can we expect to find this incitement and interference from foreign entities in Yemen one day?

No one knows the future except for Allah. However, from what we hear from those in charge, whether in al-Islah or in the government, they understand this issue and strive to prevent it.


Can we say that there is still understanding between the Islamists and the authorities?

Yes, there is still understanding. Differences in some interpretations exist as well, but we resolve them through mutual understanding, advice, and the constitutional methods we agreed upon in the constitution.


But we notice that the Islamists turned to opposition after the parliamentary elections, which were tarnished by violations against the Islamists, as reported by the media.

This is the nature of elections in modern countries, and it's often difficult to fully guarantee their integrity. We see achieving a 50% success rate in this regard as a step forward. The next step might be 60%, then 70%, and so on. We progress step by step, and in the long run, in Allah’s will, we will succeed. As for those who become angry and stop trying, they will surely not reach their goal.


The Islamists' siding with the opposition coincided with the emergence of some factions of socialism in some government positions. Does that mean anything?

The ruling People's Congress considers itself an Islamic party because its covenant is based on Islamic principles. It doesn't consider the Yemeni Islah Party as the sole bearer of this description, and we're pleased with that. We're pleased that the People's Congress adheres to the covenant it was founded on and that it strives to uphold it, along with the country's constitution, the rights of its people, and the Islamic approach. The official socialist party still maintains its independence and its identity, despite declaring that it doesn't endorse atheism, blasphemy, or the ideologies it once did. However, some socialist elements that left the party joined the People's Congress and the government.


We've heard that there's a somewhat special relationship between you and the Socialist Party, characterized by competition and attempts by the Socialist Party at one point to cast doubts on you... How far is this relationship between you and this party now?

This party used to consider me an unacceptable authority for the intellectual council I advocated, and they portrayed me very negatively to the public. However, when I met with their leaders and we engaged in several discussions, especially regarding faith-related issues and the scientific miracles in the Quran and Sunnah, Haydar Abu Bakr al-Attas, who was the Prime Minister at the time, and Saif Sari, a prominent intellectual leader, said: “We misunderstood you. We now distribute your tapes within the party.” But party members wondered what had happened. “You used to say this and that about him, and now you're distributing his tapes?” So we told them, “You need to get to know him and understand what he stands for.” I had intellectual discussions with several party leaders, and when the meetings were about intellect, there was often agreement. However, when the discussions turned political, it led to each side taking firm political stances.


And what about the relationship between the Yemeni Islah Party and other secular trends?

We believe that secularists in Yemen have abandoned secularism by accepting the constitution. We all agreed that Islamic Sharia is the source of all legislation, and adherence to the Quran and the Sunnah is obligatory for the state and its leaders. No official takes office without swearing by the Quran and Sunnah and pledging to uphold the constitution, and we consider all of this to be binding to all parties. In our party law, any party whose objectives or means contradict the constitution or Islam is deemed illegitimate. So, the categorization we used to have has ended. Some people even say today that secularists in Yemen have no secular cause anymore, and afterward, there might only be differences in some political, economic, and social interests. But we all agree that the reference point is the Quran and Sunnah.

In your experience participating in power and political life, how do you see the relationship between Islamists and authority in the Arab world? And how do you see its future?

When I spoke to you, I spoke about the circumstances in Yemen where two elements came together: the element of rationality, wisdom, and patience from the Islamists and the element of understanding from the authorities. Without both, this would not have been achieved. If we assume that one of them did not fulfill its duty or exceeded it, the situation in Yemen would be more severe than anywhere else. The population is mostly armed, and tribalism still dominates many people. Anyone concerned about the welfare of the country must be cautious in any decision made, and the evidence is that these two elements came together in Yemen. As for abroad, we do not know the circumstances of each country and each region, but we ask Allah the Almighty to provide this rationality and understanding.


To what extent has the Islamic movement in Yemen been able to help reduce tribalism in your country?

People resort to bigotry to protect themselves and their interests when injustice prevails, and they resort to bigotry when ignorance prevails and values and principles are absent. The Islamic preachers in our country have succeeded in teaching people Islamic brotherhood and abandoning tribalism, which seemed like almost impossible tasks to find a conventional solution for. For example, one preacher entered between two warring tribes and lived among them, managing to gather the combatants around his table. Whereas if they had met outside of this setting, each would have killed the other. But when it became known that they met at his place for lessons, brotherhood spread until sedition was eradicated from its roots thanks to the education and enlightenment he brought to the people. Furthermore, Islamic preachers and workers in the Islamic field, whether they are youth, preachers, scholars, or politicians, are keen to promote justice and resist injustice in all its forms and manifestations.


We have heard about previous and subsequent attempts by the authorities to end the role of religious institutes, close them, or convert them. What is the truth behind these attempts?

Unfortunately, the perception of religious institutions has been severely distorted. Detractors of these institutes have managed to portray them as institutions affiliated with a specific party or organization, suggesting that they should be abolished or weakened because of that. They argue that if a party wants to have institutes, they should be funded by the party, not by the state. However, we know that the driving force behind this is foreign policy. The same discourse that occurred in Turkey regarding the institutes for imams and preachers is happening here. So what brought together the planners in Turkey and Yemen despite the vast differences between them?

Undoubtedly, there are external insinuations and incitements. We, on our part, are still making efforts to correct this misleading image of the institutes because religious education is not a flaw. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “When God wishes good for anyone, He instructs him in the religion.” Therefore, closing down religious educational institutions is unacceptable to any Muslim because it is a form of blocking the path of Allah. However, despite everything, the institutes are still operating, albeit under pressure.


What role do religious institutes play within Yemeni society?

The greatest role they have played is in eradicating the spirit of sectarianism that once divided Yemen, one of the harshest forms of division in society. They address people through the Quran and the Sunnah. Everyone, wherever they are, adheres to the same methodology: respecting the Quran and the Sunnah and upholding them. Then comes society’s upbringing. This extends beyond the students of these institutes to a broader society. Wherever you find a religious institute, you find Islamic awareness, Islamic knowledge, insight, and understanding of religion. You find these reflections in people's lives. Furthermore, religious institutes played a significant role in countering the communist movement, which sought to make Yemen its base. They have also instilled high moral values and behavior in many generations.


Moving on to the critical issues in Yemen, meaning the border issue and the occupation of the Hanish Islands by Eritrea, as well as the economic development project adopted by the government, what’s your vision?

Yes, this is an important issue. The persistence of the border issue is like a ticking time bomb—a bomb that enemies can detonate whenever they want. If they want to harm us, they ignite the border issue, and if they want to harm our brothers in Saudi Arabia at any time, they ignite the border issue. Therefore, enemies of the Ummah, the Arabs, and the Muslims are keen to keep this problem alive to be able to exploit it whenever they want. Progress toward resolving it is in the best interest of all of us. Personally, I believe that the Muslim countries are one, and the conflicts over borders are a very ludicrous issue. We should be talking about how to unite, how to meet, how to be brothers, and how to revive this Ummah in an era where small entities can't stand on their own. The European Union is the best example.

So, if France, Britain, Albania, Italy, and these big countries say they can't face the challenges of this era alone, then we are more deserving of that in the Arab and Muslim countries. However, defusing the conflict remains necessary so that enemies do not detonate it whenever they want.

As for the Hanish Islands issue, when the government adopted the approach of negotiations, people accepted it and proceeded in this manner. Personally, I demand readiness regardless. In any case, we feel that Hanish Island was the first step in conspiring against the maritime routes owned by the Arab nation, and the Jews announced it. The Israeli Chief of Staff said, “We will besiege the Arab countries that besieged us.” How will they besiege us?

By controlling the waterways. They want to control the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. Therefore, I still call for accepting peaceful solutions to the Hanish issue, but we must be prepared to defend ourselves if attacked, especially since our coasts are open and exposed and Jewish ambitions are declared.


What is required from the Arab world, especially since it is under siege, not just Yemen?

The Arabs need to wake up and realize that small entities neither prosper nor are safe. Their continued existence in these conditions makes them susceptible to colonization at any time, allowing foreigners to control them at any moment. There is no salvation for them except through some form of unity. But as we talk about this, we must clarify the matter: why did Europeans succeed in their union while we did not? We want 100% unity, which immediately clashes with the interests of individuals, organizations, groups, opinion leaders, and authorities. Meanwhile, Europeans move towards unity step by step, considering the interests of each country, their connections, obligations, and systems. What would happen if we followed this path, accepting what is possible, postponing what we disagree on, and examining it with specialized committees and thorough research covering all details.


What are the risks of normalizing with the Zionist enemy?

 Normalization is surrender. One occupied your land, expelled you from your home, slaughtered your children, and drove you outside, then claimed the rest of the land you sit on was theirs. They did not stop talking about Greater Israel, encompassing seven Arab countries bordering Palestine—from the Nile to the Euphrates, including all of Kuwait, half of Iraq, and all of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, the third of Saudi Arabia, and half of Egypt. They say they will take Palestine, and the rest will follow. So, any kind of normalization is considered submission. The Arabs cannot accept this logic. The people must wake up, even if they are currently in a state of weakness that makes them feel defeated and compelled to surrender. Look at what Netanyahu does; he agrees to unfair peace terms harmful to us, and then in the end, they don't even abide by such terms. “Is it not [true] that every time they took a covenant a party of them threw it away? But, [in fact], most of them do not believe.” (Al-Baqarah: 100). This ayah is being fulfilled. These Jews don't keep their promises.

The people most enthusiastic about normalization are now the most outraged at the Jews' breaking their promises. If you follow your religion, remember the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “The last hour would not come unless the Muslims will fight against the Jews and the Muslims would kill them.” And the Hour is yet to come, for they manipulate the emotions of every Muslim.

They are now planning to demolish the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They say they have a sign indicating that the Al-Aqsa Mosque will be demolished and the Temple will be built in its place. They claim this sign is the birth of a red heifer, which has already occurred. When it reaches two and a half years old, the Temple will be built. So, how much time do you have left, Arabs? They are now on the path to demolishing the Al-Aqsa Mosque. They say, “Why are you angry? We'll bring you stones while you build the mosque in any other country!”

What do you expect the Muslim reactions to be?



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Last modified on Sunday, 19 May 2024 16:18