«The Case of Nine Muslims» Conclusion: All Salafis are extremists
The year 2020 is coming to an end. The realities of today show that Ninel Fokina’s forecasts were true: in Kazakhstan, the number of people convicted of inciting discord has been steadily growing (in 2011, 17 crimes were registered and 13 individuals were convicted, whereas in 2018, 139 cases were registered in the Unified Register of Pre-Trial Investigations (URPI) with 83 people were convicted). Those who were convicted for inciting discord constitute the largest number of those convicted over all those years. Attorneys note that among all those convicted under Article 174, those who were tried for inciting religious discord are in the worst situation. Their chance to be acquitted is ever worse than of others convicted under Article 174, and often they do not have a chance at all. Lawyer Ayman Umarova says that the defendants under this Article are branded as “radical” and no court wants to take any responsibility acquitting them. “After all, if they are acquitted, then the CNB will find numerous other articles to charge them under, and will charge the judge for having acquitted a radical,” she says. 
Below is the story of a case of incitement of discord which, with the light touch of the media, came to be known as the “case of nine Muslims.” In December 2013, Bolatbek Nurgaliyev had created a WhatsApp group to exchange information on various theological topics, and have discussions on them. Between 2013 and 2018, the group had grown to 171 members with thousands of exchanges of communications. In October 2018, CNB arrested eight people: Azamat Umbetaliyev, Beket Mynbasov, Samat Adilov, Zhuldyzbek Taurbekov, Zhasulan Iskakov, Nazim Abdrakhmanov, Yernar Samatov, Bolatbek Nurgaliyev and, later, Ye. Suleimenov—all of them were practicing Muslims living in different regions across Kazakhstan. All were family men with multiple children in the household. Prior to their arrest in October 2018, none of them have had a criminal record, and many of them have never even met each other.
On 18 February 2019, all nine of them were charged under Article 174 of the Criminal Code of Kazakhstan “Incitement of social, ethnic, tribal, class, racial or religious discord.” Also, four out of nine, including Mr. Nurgaliyev, were charged under Article 256 of the Criminal Code “Propaganda of terrorism”. The indictment asserted that, since Mr. Nurgaliyev, the founder of that WhatsApp group, is a Salafi Muslim and since groups practicing a similar ideology are engaged in terrorist activities, then such WhatsApp group promoted terrorism. (It is obvious that such judgment by the investigator is logically incorrect —namely, it violates the principle of sufficient reason: the reason for the conclusion is false (not all followers of Salafism are engaged in terrorist activity) and the conclusion itself is also false because it is based on a false basis).
Thus, the only argument for the assertion that B. Nurgaliyev and the WhatsApp group practiced terrorism, except for the expert reviews that were conducted in the case, is a number of speculations made by the investigative body based on an erroneous assumption that all Salafis are terrorists.
As of October 2018, all nine were in this WhatsApp group, with varying degrees of involvement. A significant part of communications consisted of ordinary exchanges of articles, fragments of lectures of Islamic theologians. Some members posted more articles and comments, some less. Some of the participants—A. Umbetaliyev, S. Adilov, N. Abdrakhmanov—only posted one disputed text; Mr. Adilov had joined the group just two days before he was arrested, and had never had an opinion or made analysis on his own.
The trial of the eight defendants began on 12 March 2019. On 5 August 2019, the court found eight defendants guilty of violating Article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan. Nurgaliyev, Samatov and Mynbasov were also found guilty of violating Article 256 of the Criminal Code. Abdrakhmanov, Adilov, Iskakov, Umbetaliyev, and Suleimenov were sentenced to five years and six months in prison, Samatov and Mynbasov were sentenced to seven years and six months in prison, Nurgaliyev to eight years in prison. The ninth defendant, Taurbekov, was found guilty of violating Articles 174 and 256 and sentenced to seven years in prison in January 2020 due to health conditions which had forced the trial to be postponed.
In all cases, a total of four forensic expert reviews had been carried out: two religious (by an expert from the Institute of Forensic Expertise in Almaty, D.D. Musina) and two political science ones by engaged political science experts G.I. Mukhatayeva (IE “Shegebaeva L.Sh. “Forensic expert review of documents”), R.A. Akbarova (Deputy Director of the Centre for Forensic Expertise under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan at the time the reviews were conducted). In the nineteen texts which were selected from more than 6,000 screenshots from the group correspondence, the political science experts had revealed the elements of incitement of religious hatred and propaganda of terrorism.
In addition, the defence provided nine reports by R.D. Karymsakova, a philology expert, who did not find any linguistic elements of illegal acts in the disputed texts.
The Case of Nine Muslims: Where is Extremism?
Let us familiarize ourselves with several separate fragments of the expert’s conclusions in this case. In the nine opinions, all the disputed texts are an example of religious discourse and are prefaced by a glossary for methodology purposes. In addition, the disputed texts, due to the absence of a religious studies analysis, have Appendices which include the vocabulary articles from the authoritative encyclopaedia “Islam: Encyclopaedic Dictionary” (M.: Science, 1991). (Texts of the opinions are posted on http://www.adilsoz.kz/p/polit)
The experts were asked to opine on three questions, which should be resolved during the proceedings in cases brought under Article 174 of the Criminal Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan, according to the expert methodology [2, pp. 7-9], .
- What is the general focus of the text presented for analysis?
- Does the material under study contain the elements that substantiate or justify the need for a hostile, hateful attitude towards people based on their religious affiliation?
- Does the text under study contain a substantiation or justification for the need to carry out aggressive, violent acts against people based on their religious affiliation?
Abdrakhmanov was charged with a single text as extremist material, an abridged analysis of which is set out below.
Shiites are a branch of Islam that unites various communities that have recognized Ali ibn Abu Talib and his descendants as the only legitimate heirs and spiritual successors of the Prophet Muhammad (see Appendix 2).
Rafidis is one of the common nicknames given to Shiites by the Sunnis. This name was given because the Shiites rejected the legitimacy of the caliphs (see also Appendix 3, 3a).
Jahmites are a trend in Islam whose founder and eponym is Jahm ibn Savfan (see Appendix 4, vocabulary entries on “JAHM b. SAFVAN”, “al-JAHMIYA”).
Qadarites are adherents of one of the Islamic worldview teachings who held the opinion that a man is absolutely free in his thoughts and actions and God takes not part in it (see Appendix 5).
Heretic is a follower of a heresy, or deviation from the tenets of the dominant religion; a creed based on such deviations.
The Companions of the Prophet (Sahaba) - all men and women who have seen the Prophet as Muslims and have not turned away from the faith until their death (see Appendix 6)
Ahlul-beit / ahl al-Bayt is a designation adopted in the Islamic tradition for the family of the Prophet Muhammad, revered by both Shiites and Sunnis. The Sunnis attribute to Ahl al-Bayt all members of the Prophet Muhammad’s family, including his wives, while the Shiites insist that the descendants of Muhammad along the line of his daughter Fatima Zahra should be attributed to Ahl al-Bayt (see Appendix 7).
Infidels is a term used in some religions, especially Christianity and Islam, to refer to atheists, representatives of other religions, and those who doubt or reject the basic tenets of a religion. In Islam, the Arabic word kafir (literally “he who hides”) is used to denote infidels. In the Islamic doctrine, this term refers to a person who does not recognize one God (Allah) and denies the prophetic mission of Muhammad.
Shirk, literally in Islam: attributing companions (equal) to Allah or worshiping someone other than Allah, is often translated as polytheism. Consequence and one of the main manifestations of kufr.
Text (semantic parts are numbered by the expert).
“I. Shiites-Rafidis, Jahmites and extreme Qadaris are not included in the 73 movements of Muslims, because they are infidels!
The Rafidis, Jahmites and Qadaris, who deny the knowledge of Allah, came out of seventy-three movements, because those are (they belong to) heretical streams. The Rafidis, Jahmites and Qadaris are non-believers. Because the Rafidis accuse the companions of non-belief and impiety, and Allah praised and honoured them. Therefore, this (accusation of the Rafidis) is the accusation of Allah of lying, and whoever accuses Allah of lying is unfaithful. Also, the Rafidites worship akhlul-beyt (the family of the Prophet), and this is shirk. Also, they accuse Allah of lying that the Koran is protected from corruption. They say: “Only a third of the Quran remains uncorrupted.” All of this (of course) is apostasy!
II. Also the Qadarites, who say: “Truly, Allah does not know about things before they come.” They also attributed ignorance to Allah, for which they became unfaithful.
III. The Jahmites also are non-believers and come out of the seventy-two streams. This way, the holders of knowledge (scientists) have approved so.” From site of the sheikh... an outstanding scientist, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi”
The disputed text does not belong to N.A. Abdrakhmanov but is a literal text containing the explanations of a theologian, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi, translated from Arabic into Russian. This text is posted on several internet resources (e.g., at the time of download on 04/10/2019, this was available at https://everything.kz/article/28516 230-shiity-rafidity-dzhakhmity-i-kraynie-kadarity-ne-vkhodyat-v-73-techeniya-musulman-tak-kak-oni-nevernye, etc.)
On this resource, this text is cited as a component of dialogical unity, namely: first, a stimulus response is offered which includes this question: are the Rafidis part of the seventy-three streams mentioned by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)? and the disputed text-response is given as a reply-reaction.
The main idea of the text-response is expressed in the first phrase which has the following meaning: “Shiites-Rafidites, Jahmites and extreme Qadaris do not belong with 73 streams due to their non-belief.” The subsequent part of the text develops, explains, and continues this notion.
In terms of its structure, the text is conventionally divided into three semantic parts each having their own micro-topics (MT), namely: MT1 - Shiites-Rafidites as a movement outside Islam (see Appendix 2); MT2 - Jahmites as a movement outside Islam, MT3 - Qadarites as a movement outside Islam. The main issue to be resolved is what the reasons for such a state of affairs are. The expert examines the content and meaning of each phrase (but we omit this part and only list the grounds on which the thesis is based).
The first semantic part includes nine sentences. The first phrase contains a thesis that spans the entirety of the text that follows, and the rest of the text set forth five grounds for the thesis which speak of the Rafidites’ accusing their companions of lying, which amounts to non-belief (kufr); of the Rafidites’ worshipping the family of the Prophet (ahlul-beit) which is interpreted as shirk (polytheism) by the opponents of the Rafidites; of the statement by the companions of the Prophet that the Koran is corrupted; of the denial of the book of Allah; of the construction of a lie upon such denial which amounts to accusing Allah of telling lies.
The micro-topic of the second semantic part is the Qadarits who hold the opinion that “truly, Allah does not know about things before they occur;” that is, Allah knows about a deed or event only after it has actually been done or occurred. Such a statement attributes ignorance to Allah.
The third semantic part deals with the Jahmites as representatives of a movement that is beyond the realms of Islam.
Therefore, the sentences in the disputed text express the cause-and-effect relationships, in particular: phrases 1, 3, and 9 express the thesis of the text, and other phrases arguments express arguments that reveal the thesis and set forth grounds for it. In other words, the analysed text contains a statement that classifies the Shiites-Rafidis, Jahmites and extreme Qadaris as infidels and sets out the reasons which explain such an assessment of the ideology of the representatives of these trends.
In establishing the general semantic direction of the disputed text, it is necessary to determine the communicative goal of the author of this text (Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi) and the communicant, N. Abdrakhmanov. The content-semantic analysis of the text shows that Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi in his speech criticizes the ideological beliefs of the followers of these Islam trends thereby giving the reader a warning of the dangers of such ideologies.
The disputed text contains no ideas, opinions, assessments of N. Abdrakhmanov’s which in any way (negatively or positively) would provide commentary on the statements made by the author of the quote. Therefore, a linguistic analysis of the disputed text authored by Abdul-Aziz al-Rajikhi shows that its general semantic orientation is determined by the communicative intention of the author of the detailed quotation, and consists of N. Abdrakhmanov’s intent to inform his readers (co-religionists in the chat) of the criticism of certain provisions of ideology of the Rafidis, Jahmites and extreme Qadaris which is set out in a detailed quote by Sheikh Abdul-Aziz al-Rajikhi.
The information contained in the disputed text is reflected in Islamic doxography, which is a section of Islamic historiography whose subject is to describe ideological differences among Islamic religious and political groups, schools of law and confessional movements and communities. An in-depth and thorough explanation of the ideological positions of representatives of those trends in Islam that have received a critical coverage in the analysed quotation, can be provided by Islamic theologians.”
A content-semantic analysis of the text, while answering the first question, made it possible to find answers to the second and third questions (see the questions above).
Let us present the conclusions by combining them. – The content-semantic analysis of the text “the communication “Nazym” (N.A. Abdrakhmanov)” which is a detailed quote from the statements by Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi and which contains criticism of certain provisions of the ideology of the Rafidis, Jahmites and extreme Qadarites, demonstrated that it contains no elements that would substantiate or justify of the need for a hostile, hateful attitude toward people based on their religious affiliation, and no signs that would substantiate or justify the need for aggressive, violent acts to be committed against people based on their religious affiliation.
So, the bottom line is this: we have a single text authored by a theologian, Sheikh Abdul-Aziz ar-Rajikhi, that explains a key aspect of confessional differences between the Sunnis (Sunni Salafis in this case) and Shiites; the phenomenon characterized by the sheikh is an undoubtedly objective fact of the history of Islam which is reflected in Islamic doxography [4, pp. 163-164]. However, according to the opinion of the expert, political scientist G.I. Mukhatayeva, this text “contains the elements of incitement of religious discord.” Since this opinion by a political science expert was at the core of the N. Abdrakhmanov’s verdict, it can be said that this expert opinion (read, this text) was the basis for the court to issue a five- and half-year prison sentence for N. Abdrakhmanov.
A. Umbetaliyev was also charged with only a single text as extremist material, the abridged analysis of which follows.
“Why warn against innovators today?
They asked Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan: Why is it necessary to warn against innovators when the Ummah is at enmity with the Jews, Christians and secularists (almania)?
The Sheikh’s response: “Muslims cannot resist the Jews and Christians until they resist the innovation that is among them, and cure these diseases! Only then will they be able to resist the Jews and Christians until they resist the innovation that is among them, and cure these diseases! Only then will they be able to resist the Jews and Christians. However, as long as Muslims abandon their religion, wallow in innovations and sins, introducing simplifications to their religion, they will not be able to overcome either the Jews or the Christians! Indeed, they have prevailed over the Muslims because of omission in the religion. Therefore, it is imperative that the society is cleansed of innovations, of condemned qualities, and we adhere to the commandments of Allah “His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) before fighting with the Jews and Christians! Otherwise, if we begin to fight with them as it is, we will never defeat them; and we are just in such a position now. They are prevailing because of our sins!” see “al-Ijabat al-Muhimma” 128.”
A content-semantic analysis of this text has showed the following. In terms of the purpose of the statements, the analysed text represents a speech act of warning, or a preventive sentence. The communicative purpose of the preventive is described by the semantic formula ‘Remembering the consequences of A, do not act so that B happens’.
The topic of the text is set forth in the first sentence (Why warn against innovators today?), which assumes that the text will provide answer to the question about the reasons for warning against innovators today. The subsequent part contains a clarification of the reasons and purposes of the warning.
The key word of the text is “innovations”. In Islamic terminology, “innovation” is defined by the word bida’a. The concept of “bida’a” (bidaat/bidagat) denotes acts and events that contradicted the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad; in Islam, in polemical and doxographic literature, this term is used to denote “vicious representation,” or “delusion”). The notion of bida’a had not had clear boundaries: the same action or judgment was characterized by different dogmatic schools sometimes as “unlawful innovation” or “delusion,” and sometimes as “orthodoxy” which was sanctified by the authority of the Koran and Sunnah (see Appendix 2). In the text, the contextual synonyms of the word “innovation” (bida’a) are the words “illness,” “sins,” “simplifications of a religion,” “omissions in a religion,” “blameworthy qualities” (Islamic theologians could be involved to offer a complete and detailed explanation of the phenomenon of bida’a).
In the analysed text, explanations are given by a religious authority, Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan (a Saudi theologian and legal scholar of Islam, a member of several reputable religious organizations in the country).
The main idea of Sheikh’s clarifications is expressed in these sentences: “Muslims will not be able to resist the Jews and the Christians until they resist the innovation that is among them, and until they cure these diseases! Only then will they be able to resist the Jews and Christians until they resist the innovation that is among them, and cure these diseases! Only then will they be able to resist the Jews and Christians.”
Let us formulate the meaning of these statements: “Muslims must first cure their inner ailments in the form of innovations (which could destroy faith, just like a disease), and then (being a healthy organism) resist the Jews and Christians.”
The subsequent part of the warning indicates a state of affairs, a situation (...Muslims abandon their religion, wallow in innovations and sins, introducing simplifications to their religion;... if we fight them in such a state) in which there is a potential danger for Muslims, one which threatens their interests in the present and future (they cannot prevail over the Jews or the Christians!; Truly, they have prevailed over the Muslims due to omissions in the religion; we will never defeat them, and we are in just such a position now, they are prevailing because of our sins!).
In order to avoid such threat, the speaker, Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan, offers the best, in his opinion, way out of the already existing difficult situation, which will avoid the real danger of the state of affairs being described. (Therefore, it is imperative that the society is cleansed of innovations, of condemned qualities, and we adhere to the commandments of Allah “His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)… Islamic theologians could be involved to offer a complete and detailed explanation of this religious text.
Therefore, the content-semantic analysis of the text shows that its general direction (communicative purpose) is to inform the readers (recipients) of a phenomenon in Islam called innovations (bida’a), which poses a potential threat and may lead to undesirable consequences for the Muslim ummah. The ultimate goal of this warning is the speaker’s desire to prevent situations that are adverse for Muslims, to avoid those situations and strengthen the faith.
The content-semantic analysis of the text, when answering the first question, made it possible to provide a negative answer to the second and third questions.
In the Russian language, there is an expression “naked facts,” which means facts taken at face value, without additions, explanations, or justifications. In our case, such a “naked” fact is a single text whose author, Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan, reveals one of the main theological themes that describe the differences in the religious practice of the Salafis and traditionalists. The phenomenon (bida’a) that Salih al-Fawzan describes is an objective fact of the religious practice of Islam [4, pp. 163-164]. G.I. Mukhatayeva, a political science expert, had seen in the text the elements of incitement of religious hatred. Accordingly, such expert’s opinion on a single text has served as the basis for sentencing Azamat Umbetaliyev to five years and six months in prison.
A bitter joke here, if we may, is that Sheikh Salih al-Fawzan, a person well-respected in the Arab world, could have been charged as accomplice in this case by recognizing him a religious extremist, however to start an international scandal is not a good idea!
What follows is the controversial material (two texts) in the case of Zhasulan Iskakov (Abu Musa).
Communication no. 1
SALAUAT, (from Arabic with salat: prayer; salavat - plural) – God’s mercy. Endi namazdyk aty salauat. Salauat duga magynasynda degen (Abay) (4, p. 247)
The concept of “innovation” in the dogma of Islam is denoted by the term BIDA’A which means an action (event) that, from the point of view of Shiites and Kharijites, contradicted the words and deeds of the Prophet Muhammad. It was used and is still being used in the sense of “unlawful innovation,” “delusion” and in the meaning of “orthodoxy,” sanctified by the authority of the Koran and Sunnah (see Appendix 2).
Sufis are the followers of Sufism. Sufism in Islam terminology is denoted as at-TASAVVUF (see Appendix 3)
ZIKR (plural “azkar,” “mention,” “memory”) - remembrance as glorification of the name of God (see Appendix 4).
Tahmid (praise) is the glorification of Allah, but tasbih is a denial of unworthy qualities, tahmid is the words “al-hamdu li-Llah” (Allah be praised) by remembering and affirming Him as having the qualities of perfection, greatness and superiority. For example, when believers say that Allah is Mighty, Wise, Exalted, Knowing, Hearing, Seeing, using other names of the Almighty, this is tahmid.
Sahab, al-ASKHAB in Islam terminology, means companions of Muhammad, people who closely communicated with him or took part in his campaigns; everyone who had seen Muhammad at least once, even as a child, began to be called Sahab (see Appendix 5).
The expression “to cut into circles” is synonymous to the expression “to walk in a circle” – meaning a repetitive movement from one person to another, from one place to another.”
In and by itself, worship is a good and a reward. However, as the form or circumstances of salavat (or worship) change, it may also change and turn into an innovation. For instance, when the Sufis cut into circles and run, it seems nothing but zikr is being said. Seems like salavat, seems like tasbih, or tahmid. But neither the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam, nor the Sahaba, have ever done like this.
The text of this passage consists of five phrases. The first phrase gives a general description of Salavat as a prayer in distraction from anything external (in and by itself, being worship it is a blessing and a reward), the assessment is expressed with the help of evaluative vocabulary of good and reward.
In the second phrase, the speaker with the help of a modal word may suggest that a positively evaluated prayer (salavat) might turn into an innovation (that is, an “unauthorized innovation,” “delusion,” bida'a) (see Appendix 2). The conditions for changing the quality of worship consist in changing the form or circumstances in which worship is done (However, as the form or circumstances of salavat (or worship) change, it may also change and turn into an innovation).
What was said in the second phrase is given a more concrete follow-up in the third phrase, which describes the specific features of the actions of Sufis during worship (zikr) (see Appendices 3, 4): For instance, when the Sufis cut into circles and run, it seems nothing but zikr is being said.
In the dictionary entry for “ZIKR” it is noted (highlighted by us - expert) that in Sufism, zikr was a method of psychological influence on the “seeker,” a complex rite which, in order to be carried out, required special rhythmic movements (they walk rhythmically in a circle – expert); two types of zikr are practiced - individual and collective, both having the same purpose, which is to put a Sufi in a state of ecstatic trance. In order to ensure the quickest possible transition into this state, a number of techniques had been developed: voice, music, dance, changing the rhythm and breath frequency, position of the body - all served a single purpose, which is the concentration of the entire being on endless repetitions of the name of God (see Appendix 5).
As you can see, the speaker does not attribute to the Sufis special movements in the process of remembrance, but describes those movements (actions) as objectively inherent to the religious practice of the Sufis.
Therefore, the third phrase describes the specific elements of a ritual of worship (remembrance, prayer) of the Sufis that have the form of special movements: they circle, they walk in a circle, they run.
In the third and fourth phrases, the speaker (Zh. Iskakov), using the element of seems expresses, on the one hand, an assumption that the worship ritual of the Sufis is similar to that of non-Sufists in terms of glorifying Allah by remembering the praising names of the Almighty (... seems nothing but zikr is being said. Seems like salavat, seems like tasbih, or tahmid). In the fifth phrase, the speaker, on the other hand, notes the divergence of the Sufis ritual from that of the non-Sufis in a key criterion by which the fact of innovation was established: the elements of worship (cut into circles and run) were not like the behaviour of the Prophet Muhammad and his companions during a prayer: But neither the Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam, nor the Sahaba, have ever done like this.
Therefore, the linguistic analysis of the text of this message shows the following. The subject of the message is a description of the specifics of worshiping Allah (zikr) by the Sufis. These specifics, according to the speaker’s assumption, may turn the innovation by the Sufis into an “unlawful innovation,” “delusion.”
In her report, the expert notes that a comprehensive and detailed explanation of these thoughts of Zh. Iskakov may be given by Islamic theologians. And such an explanation by theologian would touch on the topical theme of “Salafism and Sufism: differences in worship as an example of different religious practices” [4, pp. 163-164]
Communication no. 2
Hukm is a judgment about a phenomenon.
Takfir is an accusation of non-belief (kufra).
Amal is work, care, labour, actions, deeds
Kufr is a term used to denote the worst sin in Islam – non-belief. A person who has fallen into kufr is called a kafir, or unfaithful.
Text (for the convenience of analysis, we numbered the sentences - expert):
1 There is a situation when they laugh at religion (for example, they say beard as a position of stupidity, medieval, etc.”.
2 And then it happens they laugh at beards (their shape, thickness, or they compare them).
3 Hukmas are different.
4 This is an example.
5 But this is also a blameworthy thing.
6 Do not takfir the brothers immediately.
7 Explain to them, scare them.
8 This is very dangerous.
9 Mockery of religion:
- Leads away from Islam
- Makes all amals to be in vain
- Dooms a person to eternal Hell if there is no repentance...
10 Said Al Hajjaoui al Hanbali of the condition for takfir: “Either he will speak a word, or he will do a deed—clear in his mockery of religion.”
11 Source: “Al Iqna”
12 And mockery of religion - ridicule, expression of disdain and humiliation, and what will be exactly... in this - is kufr.
13 What will be ambiguous, and depending on the intention of the speaker - it is not allowed to takfir him until his niet is clarified.
14 Sheikh Islam ibn Taymiyah said: An ambiguous thing is not made to be takfir.
15 See as-Sarim al-Maslul, 517
The text of this message consists of 15 sentences which were analysed in detail by an expert. We will omit this part and present only intermediate conclusions.
“A linguistic analysis of the text of this message shows the following. The theme touches upon the topical problem of non-belief and withdrawal of a person from Islam. One of the factors leading a person away from Islam is mockery (humiliation) of religion. Using the example of two expressions about the Muslim beards, the author of the message demonstrates the features of this phenomenon. In doing so, the speaker warns the reader against hasty accusations of Muslims in non-belief, while explaining the danger of ridicule of religion, and of its consequences. By citing famous religious theologians from different ages, the speaker explains when the words and actions will be considered non-belief (kufr) and in which cases takfir is not issued. A full, detailed explanation of the provisions of this message, which has a purely religious character, can be given by theologians-scholars of Islam.
The general focus (communicative purpose) of this message is to inform the reader: 1) of the presence and specifics of a phenomenon existing in the dogma of Islam which is called mockery (humiliation) of religion, 2) of the danger of ridicule of religion, 3) of the approaches to accusations of non-belief, and conditions under which those accusations are mounted. The main goal of the speaker is to try to warn the reader of the danger of ridicule (mockery) of religion and thereby reinforce his faith. In general, it follows from the content and meaning of these two texts that their main objective is in communicating to other people the views, angles, provisions of the dogma of Islam that the speaker thinks are useful and necessary enough to be introduced into the lives of the readers and realized in real life.”
The answers to the second and third questions on the two texts were also negative: the reviewed texts did not contain the elements that would substantiate or justify the need for a hostile, hateful attitude toward people based on their religious affiliation, and no elements substantiating or justifying the need to carry out aggressive, violent actions against people on the basis of their religious affiliation. To the foregoing, we will add that the expression “Faith is not about wearing short pants” which we saw in a speech by a famous politician, actually illustrates the phenomenon in Islam which the author of the text is trying to explain. In some Muslim communities, beards and cropped trousers are an integral part of the faith, constituting its external attributes. Any attempt to take it away from them or limit it or ridicule it, means an attempt to deprive a person of his faith.
Again, according to the opinion of G.I. Mukhatayeva, an expert in political science, these texts contain the elements of incitement of religious discord. Since the only evidence of Zh. Iskakov’s “guilt” are these two texts about the aspects of his belief and religious practice that carry a significant importance for him, it can be said that that the court based its verdict sentencing Zh. Iskakov to five and a half years in prison on such expert opinion.
We will also cite the controversial material (one of two texts) in the case of Yernar Samatov.
Sufist is a follower of Sufism. Sufism, in Islam terminology, is denoted as at-TASAVVUF (see Appendix 2)
Mushrik is a pagan who along with the Creator also recognizes other deities or semi-deities. A majority of Muslim ulemas believe that only polytheists are mushriks (see Appendix 3).
Ahi (Arabic, literally - my brother) - brother (in Islam)
Tawassul (Arabic: توسُّل - to seek closeness, seek favour) is a way to get closer to Allah through another person, through Allah’s beautiful names, or by doing good deeds. Also, tawassul is a religious practice in which a Muslim seeks closeness to Allah. A precise definition and methods of tawassul is a matter of debate within the Islamic religious community.
Sheikh – here: a representative of the highest Muslim clergy; a theologian and a lawyer.
“And if a Sufi-mushrik conducts namaz in the mosque, sometimes the imam himself, but mostly him…. It is clear that the sushrik is not done. The question is different * mushrik… In other words, the question is – am I no longer obliged to come to this mosque?... Yes, brother, I wouldn’t just call a person a mushrik. A brother had a face-to-face debate with him and he confessed that he was doing tawassul through his sheikhs.”
This statement, consisting of six phrases, is a problematic text as a matter of fact, one in which the author is asking a question that worries him, and that can have at least two answers: to go or not to go to the mosque. The question is relevant for the speaker, because of its association with religion, an area that carries a great deal of importance for the person asking the question. The speaker possesses a certain amount of knowledge of Islamic dogma and, in particular, its first dogma which is monotheism meaning Allah is recognized as the only deity and polytheism is categorically denied, which is reflected in the expression “there is no god but Allah.” Critics of Sufism talk about the connection between Sufism and paganism, which is reflected in the Islamic encyclopaedias, e.g.: “In some pagan areas, Islam was coming at that time exclusively in the form of Sufi;” “Many provisions of at-Tasavvuf (Sufism. - expert) have mixed with pagan beliefs that were previously prevalent in the indigenous population, such as the cult of ancestors, animism, magic, etc.” (see Appendix 2). Therefore, the speaker calls the Sufi adept a mushrik-Sufi, or polytheist (see Appendix 3). So the speaker is seeking an answer to a very important question: The question is different * mushrik… In other words, the question is – am I no longer obliged to come to this mosque? At the core of this question is this statement of fact: a Sufi-mushrik conducts namaz in the mosque, sometimes the imam himself, but mostly him…
In view of the negative assessment of Sufism given by the speaker, it should be noted that Sufism as a trend in Islam has been sharply criticized throughout its entire history by Sunni theologians who criticized the Sufis for cultivating “unacceptable innovations (bida’a), for substituting and perverting the provisions of Sharia, etc. The Sufi brotherhoods have been partially or completely banned in a number of Muslim countries (see Appendix 2).
For a clearer understanding of the meaning of the speaker’s statements, let us transform the first four phrases into two questions: If it is a mushrik-Sufi who mainly conducts namaz in the mosque, then what should the speaker do? Is he released from the duty to come to this mosque? (another variation of the question: is he allowed not to/should not continue to come to this mosque?). (Apparently, the author of the message is concerned about a situation in which he, being a diligent follower of all the tenets of Islam, including the notion of monotheism, is forced to go to a mosque in which the namaz is conducted by a polytheist). The speaker seeks an answer to finding a way out of this situation which is humiliating to religious feelings.
In the fifth phrase, he notes that he could not call a person a mushrik without a reason. There is insufficient context to interpret the sixth phrase. To confess means “to declare openly about something, to confess to doing something.” When a person confesses, we are talking about something blameworthy. Presumably, the reasons why the speaker had doubts about the person conducting the prayer in the mosque are set out in the sixth phrase, which in order to be interpreted properly would require a broader context, enabling an answer to these questions: What was it that his brother-in-religion debated about with the person who conducted namaz at the mosque? What action did that person confess to doing?
A detailed answer to the question asked, a clarification of the last, sixth phrase (A brother had a face-to-face debate with him and he confessed that he was doing tawassul through his sheikhs), and an answer to the question whether the information of a connection between paganism and Sufism corresponds to the history, dogma and doxography of Islam, and whether Sufism was indeed criticized by the Sunni, would be provided by theologians and scholars of Islam.
Therefore, the content-semantic analysis of this text shows that it is generally directed at the speaker asking answers to information that concerns him, namely: whether he is allowed to go to mosque where namaz is offered by a Sufi—a person who he considers to be a polytheist.
The answers to the second and third questions in the two texts were also negative. R.A. Akbarova, an expert in political science, found in this message and one other message posted by Ye.Samatov the elements of incitement of discord and propaganda of terrorism. By a court verdict he was put in prison for seven and a half years.
In terms of content composition, the disputed messages of all the other convicts could be divided into two categories. The first aspect: informing the recipients (communicants in the WhatsApp chat) of various ideological differences among the Islamic religious and political groups, confessional movements, by citing the texts of well-known Arab theologians such as Sheikh Fauzan, theologian Muhammad bin Abdul Wahabb, Sheikh Mukbil al-Wadi, Ibn Taymiyyah, Sheikh al-Saadi, Sheikh Hammad al Ansari, Sheikh Ibn Useymin, Sheikh Abd ul Hamid al Juhani, and others. The second aspect: warning the recipients against various dangers, including against the dangers of Ivhan ideology—not only for the Islam community as a whole but also for the Salafis in particular; against the danger of Muslims leaving Islam for such reasons as excess in religion—using the example of the Kharijites; warning young people against erroneous interpretations; warning against the dangers the Kharijites pose for Saudi Arabia and the entire world; warning young people against the ideas of Kharijism, etc.
An informative message was the one shared by Ye. Suleimenov in a text containing a description of a special legal regulation in relation to dhimmi (non-Muslim population living within a Muslim state), which was based on a reliable hadith, or a canonical text. Political science expert G.I. Mukhatayeva gave a negative assessment of this text, recognizing in her opinion no. 34 of 24 September 2018 that it “incited religious discord and promoted the superiority of Islam and the inferiority of Christianity and Judaism.” In other words, G.I. Mukhatayeva gave a negative assessment of a firmly established and reliable hadith as a canonical text, which is unacceptable from the standpoint of Islamic dogma.
The findings that R.D. Karymsakova arrived at, and that are common for all her nine opinions: the disputed texts that were presented for a review contained 1) no signs substantiating or justifying the need for a hostile, hateful attitude toward people based on their religious affiliation, and no signs substantiating and justifying the need to carry out aggressive, violent actions against people based on their religious affiliation, and 2) no signs substantiating or justifying the need to carry out explosions, arson and/or other acts that pose the threat of death or damage to property.
- In Kazakhstan, the number of people convicted of inciting hatred has been growing (https://cabar.asia/ru/)
- Brief guidelines on forensic philological expert reviews in cases of incitement of social, national, tribal, racial, class or religious discord. - Almaty, International Foundation for the Defense of Freedom of Expression “Adil soz”, 2019 (http://www.adilsoz.kz/publication/show/id/43)
- Methodology for expert research in cases of incitement of social, national, tribal, racial, class or religious discord. – Centre for Forensic Expertise under the Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Kazakhstan, 2019.
- M.F. Murtazin. Salafi discourse in the post-Soviet space // Russia and the new states of Eurasia. Issue no. 4 (45), 2019. pp. 88-102.