Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule: Ibn Taymiyya

“Among the fundamentals of the truth, which the texts [to which one refers to know the religion] provide proofs of, is that people with a tyrannical (jā’ir) and unjust (zālim) leader are ordered to show patience (sabr) in the face of his tyranny, his injustice, his oppression (baghi), and not to fight him…”

(Ibn Taymiyya, al-Istiqamā, i. 32)

Yahya Michot’s Muslims Under Non-Muslim Rule: Ibn Taymiyya, which was originally published in French, is a much needed corrective that places Ibn Taymiyya in the proper context. It shows the misreading of Ibn Taymiyya by neo-Orientalist scholars and by certain violent Islamists. The value therefore is that it helps explain to what extent Ibn Taymiyya has been either misunderstood or misrepresented. In theory and practice Ibn Taymiyya advocated force only against foreign invaders; he forbade use of force against established authorities; himself dying in prison for outspoken criticism of the State, without resort to force or sedition of any kind.

The frames Michot uses to examine the modern readings of Ibn Taymiyya are through four questions Ibn Taymiyya was asked: a) when should one flee (migrate) from sin?; b) what are the different types of emigration?; c) what is the status of Mardin, a city in modern day Turkey, which had been occupied by the Mongols, and whether it was in Balād al-Silm (land of peace) or Balād al-Harb (land of war)?; and d) what are the conditions for challenging power? (pp. 63–100).

Indeed, while a valuable and worthwhile book for scholars in Islamic studies, it may remain largely inaccessible to the lay reader interested in learning more about security and terrorism-related issues on a sophisticated level.

And only God knows best.

Hāroon Ibn Ebrāhim Sīdāt

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