I was contacted by a group of professional Muslims who, along with their religious advisors, have put together a framework for a lasting peace between ISIS and Mujahideen factions in Syria. They are trying to circulate their initiative to the various groups including ISIS to gain support and hopefully see the different sides sit down at a negotiating table.
They believe that it is still possible for a reconciliation for the good of all concerned. I raised some serious concerns regarding the peace initiative with Abu Yusuf, the representative of the group pushing the peace initiative. He maintains that it is a work in progress and general framework that must be discussed between the hostile groups. After the interview below, I am posting the full text of their peace initiative.
BAK: As salaamo alaykum wa rahmatullaah. Welcome and thank you Abu Yusuf for taking the time to sit with us today. You’ve crafted a peace treaty that, if accepted, would effectively end the fighting between ISIS and the major factions in the Syrian territories. Why did you feel this was needed and are you a member of any of the potential signatories?
Abu Yusuf: Wa alaykumus salaam wa rahmatullaah. Thank you for having me. Firstly, I am not the sole author and had the assistance of some friends. It is a commandment of Allah Ta’ala to make reconciliation between disputing Muslims, either as individuals or as groups. There are many ayat which command this and I have referred to some in the treaty itself. The need is clear and the treaty is a response to the commandment. I am not a member of any of the groups disputing at the moment and if I bind myself to the treaty it is only as a Muslim.
BAK: Why do you feel this document has the potential to succeed when other efforts to quell the fighting have failed? What is unique about it?
Abu Yusuf: The treaty is based on the Medina Charter. This was the first constitution in Islam and was a document binding the believers . It was and remains a profound document ,divinely inspired and it brought peace to the waring factions of Al khaws and Al azraj. It remains relevant today as a source of guidance for the Ummah. The success or failure of the document is in Allah’s hands. I am just trying my best with what I have to bring brothers together. I am not aware of ALL the efforts made by others and may Allah reward them for their trying as well. I do not believe that there is a time limit for reconciliation amongst the believers . I hope that this document is a good starting point as it draws directly from the sunnah and it is proposed by an individual who is not a member of any group and accordingly has no agenda that any of the groups would be suspicious of. It is difficult in this fitnah to find a completely neutral party and it is hoped that the groups will receive the effort in same sincerity with which it is proposed.
BAK: As you know ISIS has declared many of the other factions to be outside of the fold of Islam, most notably Jabha Anusra, Ahrar Asham, Islamic Front and others. This means, according to ISIS, their blood is permissible for them to shed and property is permissible for them to take. One of the clauses in the peace treaty states:
“Each territory under the control of each party will be a sanctuary for all Believers”.
Would ISIS accept this as a clause as they do not believe that any of the groups outside of theirs are “Believers”? Or would they be obligated to take back their statement of apostasy in order to potentially sign this agreement?
Abu Yusuf: One of the greatest difficulties in this fitnah is the use of labels. I consider all the factions fighting to establish shariah as brothers and place no labels on any. Labelleing groups to justify fighting is not new and is not exclusive to ISIS, other labels have been used by other groups such as the label of khawarij and takfeer has been a common characteristic of groups involved in jihad even before ISIS. I have specifically included a repentance clause for everyone to remove all doubt as well as a proclamation of the shahadah by all so that we begin with belief in Allah and belief that all those participating are Muslim. This removes the hinderance of anyone having to retract anything from the past. The idea is to join and look forward as believers and InshaAllah discard all labels moving forward.
BAK: One of the clauses states:
“If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this agreement the others must come to his help.”
It is unlikely that, should this agreement be accepted by the major factions, it will have any impact on the western powers that are currently hunting ISIS leadership and strongholds. Therefore it would mean that some of the groups operating in the territories who only now have local enemies such as Bashar Assad or Hizbollah etc., have now inherited much of the world’s most powerful governments as enemies. Is this within the interest of the Syrian struggle? Should Syrians now be willing to almost infinitely increase their list of enemies for the sake of the treaty?
Abu Yusuf: The clause is taken directly from the Medina Charter and there can thus be very little reason to reject it. The dispute is not based solely on the Syrian conflict. Most of the parties have not limited the struggle to regional goals. Those who want shariah have taken up arms in response to the commandments of Allah and have not limited their enemies. Their enemies are the enemies of Allah no matter how many they are. Only those with nationalistic objectives may object to this clause, but we believe that if Muslims are sincere they would want to help their Muslim brothers wherever they are. This clause emphasizes the need for unity as the open enemies are many- there is no time to still be fighting one another.
BAK: There is a clause that refers to the “Dispute Council”. According to the potential agreement:
“Each party to this agreement shall appoint 1 person to a council that is hereby established and is known as the dispute council”.
Being that there are quite a few factions that are opposed to ISIS, that would mean mathematically ISIS would be the minority in any dispute. For example if 1 person is appointed from Ahrar Asham, 1 from Jabha Anusra and so on, this would mean that ISIS is always at a disadvantage. Given the fact that they do not accept the judgment of anyone outside of their ranks as a principle, is it reasonable they would accept such a potentially crippling clause? Is this clause open for negotiation?
Abu Yusuf: The proposed representation in the council must be negotiated by the parties.This is a draft document . I don’t expect everyone to be happy with everything. It is of course open to negotiation and discussion . That is the point. We should find a mechanism that is fair in regard to representation. Once the parties exhibit a willingness to talk we can take their feedback and amend the document with their suggestions until we find a solution palatable to all InshaAllah. In its current form it is a niyah and an idea. It’s an opportunity to change what went wrong and replace it with what is best for the ummah InshaAllah.
BAK: What steps are you taking to bring the warring factions to the negotiating table?
Abu Yusuf: The draft has been circulated and some journalists have picked up on it. I am hopeful that it will reach the decision makers and that we receive some feedback InshaAllah. I am open to ideas on how to bring them to the table.
BAK: You do not want your identity to be revealed. Why is that?
Abu Yusuf: I have no objection to my name being revealed if there is benefit in it and if it is in order to establish credibility. It was withheld initially for security reasons.
End of Interview
PEACE TREATY INITIATIVE (FULL TEXT)
A. THE PARTIES
1. The signatories hereto are authorized to bind the parties they represent and all
persons under their authority are bound by the terms and the undertakings given
in terms of this agreement.
B. THE BASIS FOR THIS AGREEMENT
2. Each of the parties bears witness that there in none worthy of Worship besides
Allah, and Muhammad, (peace be upon him) is His messenger
3. To the extent necessary , all signatories hereto repent from all acts that cause the
displeasure of Allah, the mighty and sovereign, and are guided in this regard by
the following ayaat:
“Oh my servants who brought harm on their own souls, do not despair of Allah’s
mercy, for surely he forgives all sins.Truly, he is the forgiving, the compassionate
Turn to your Lord, repentant, and submit to him, before the doom comes upon
you, when you shall not be helped, and follow the best of what is revealed to you
from your Lord…..”(As Zumar, verses 53-54)
4. This is an agreement governing relations between the parties all of whom
(including those who follow them) are Believers. They form one nation — Ummah.
5. The parties have concluded this agreement in order to fulfill the obligations that
arise from the following Verses of the Holy Quran which forms the basis of their
“And if two parties or groups among the believers start fighting make peace
between them both, but if one of them rebels the other, fight the oppressor till
they return to the . The Command of Allah; then if it complies, then set matters
right between them equitably and be just. Surely Allah; loves those who are just”.
“The believers are but brothers, so make settlement between your brothers. And
fear Allah that you may receive mercy.”
C. DURATION OF THIS AGREEMENT
6. This agreement shall remain in force and be binding on each of the parties and
their members for a period of two years
7. By no later than 6 months prior to the end of the two year period, the parties shall
commence renegotiating the terms of this agreement. Should a new agreement
not be concluded before the the expiry of the two year period, the terms of this
agreement shall continue to apply and will remain binding until superseded by the
conclusion of another agreement.
8.The parties and their members agree to abide by the following undertakings.
8.1. The Believers, who fear Allah, will oppose the rebellious elements and
those that encourage injustice or sin, or enmity or corruption among
8.2. If anyone is guilty of any such act all the Believers will oppose him even if
he be the son of any one of them.
8.3. A Believer will not kill another Believer, for the sake of an un-Believer.
(i.e. even though the un-Believer is his close relative).
8.4. No Believer will help an un-Believer against a Believer.
8.5. Protection (when given) in the Name of Allah will be common. The
weakest among Believers may give protection (In the Name of Allah) and
it will be binding on all Believers.
8.6. Believers are all friends to each other to the exclusion of all others.
8.7.The peace of each of the parties to this agreement cannot be divided. (it
is either peace or war for all. It cannot be that one party is at war with an
UN- believer and another party is at peace).
8.8. No separate peace will be made by anyone of the parties when
Believers are fighting in the Path of Allah.
8.9. Conditions of peace and war and the accompanying ease or hardships
must be fair and equitable to all parties and believers alike.
8.10. The Believers must avenge the blood of one another when fighting in the
Path of Allah
8.11. Any one who kills another without warning (there being no just cause for
it) amounts to his slaying himself and his household, unless the killing
was done due to a wrong being done to him.
8.12. If anyone attacks anyone who is a party to this agreement the others
must come to his help.
8.13. The parties to this agreement must seek mutual advice and consultation.
Those who avoid mutual consultation do so because of lack of sincerity
8.14. A party will not be made liable for misdeeds of its ally.
8.15. Anyone (any individual or party) who is wronged must be helped.
8.16. None of the parties to this agreement ( including their members or
persons falling under their authority ) shall proclaim takfeer or label any
other party to this agreement Munafiq ,Khawarij , while this agreement
remains in force,unless such declaration has been made by the dispute
8.17.Each territory under the control of each party will be a sanctuary for all
8.18. A stranger (individual) who has been given protection (by any one party
to this agreement) in the area controlled by such party (“the territory”) ,will
be treated as his host (who has given him protection) and while (he is)
doing no harm ,is not committing any crime, and remains in the territory.
8.19. This agreement will not (be employed to) protect one who is unjust or
commits a crime (against other parties of the agreement).
8.20. Whether an individual goes out to fight (in accordance with the terms of
this agreement) or remains in his home, he will be safe unless he has
committed a crime or is a sinner. (i.e. No one will be punished in his
individual capacity for not having gone out to fight in accordance with the
terms of this agreement).
9. Any differences or disputes or alleged breaches of this agreement between the
parties or any party to this agreement shall be settled strictly in terms of this
D. RESPECT FOR TERRITORIES UNDER THE CONTROL OF EACH PARTY
10. For the duration of this agreement each party shall respect the territory controlled
by any other party to this agreement provided that such territory is governed
according to the Sharia and no other law.
11. Adherence to the Quran and Sunnah shall constitute general principles of the
12. The parties to this agreement shall offer its citizens an area of freedom, security
and justice without internal frontiers, in which the free movement of all believers is
13. Any territorial dispute between the parties shall be referred to the dispute council
who shall mediate the dispute.
14. Any non-believer or non-believing nation that is at war with any party to this
agreement and their allies will not be given protection by any party to this
15. The parties to this agreement are bound to help each other in the event of an
attack on the territory under their respective control. If anyone attacks anyone who
is a party to this agreement the other must come to his help.
F. OBLIGATION TO PAY BLOOD MONEY
16. Each party shall ensure that it , its followers and citizens carry out the obligation to
pay blood money whenever blood money is required to be paid under the Sharia.
G.TREATMENT OF PRISONERS
17. A prisoner may be killed, ransomed or freed according to the principles of the
Sharia . The manner of treatment of prisoners by the Holy Prophet saw shall be a model to aspire to.The decision of the head of each party made in accordance with this
general principle will be accepted by all other parties
18. The parties commit themselves to the following principles:
18.1. In case of war with anybody all parties will redeem
their prisoners with kindness and justice according to practice among
Believers and not in accordance with pre-Islamic notions.
H. APPOINTMENT OF THE DISPUTE COUNCIL-
19.Each party to this agreement shall appoint 1 person toa council that is hereby
established and is known as the dispute council.
20. The dispute council shall:
20.1. Within 3 months of the conclusion of this agreement, and by consensus:
20.1.1. Appoint a panel of suitably qualified judges ,
20.1.2. Adopt rules for the removal of judges, the filling of vacancies
and the conduct of proceedings before the judges
20.1.3. Adopt rules governing dispute resolution
20.1.4. Adopt rules governing appeals to it in respect of decisions made
by a judge
20.1.5. Do all such things as may be necessary to achieve the object of
shariah compliant, fair and equitable dispute resolution
20.2. Promote economic, social and territorial cohesion, and solidarity amongst
20.3. Monitor compliance with the terms of this agreement
20.4. Resolve disputes in terms of this agreement
20.5. Promote peace and harmony between the parties
20.6. Consult with all the parties to this agreement to establish and develop
20.6.1. a common monetary system
20.6.2. guiding principles regarding matters not covered by this
20.6.3. strategies to unify the parties under one leader
I. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE FUND
20 There is hereby established a fund to be known as the Treaty Fund,
which shall be utilized to enable the dispute council to fulfill its
obligations in terms of this agreement
21 Each party to this agreement shall contribute to the Treaty Fund ,
22 The dispute council shall, in a fair and equitable manner, determine
the amount to be contributed by each party to the Treaty Fund and
the dates of payment
21. Any dispute that arises between any Party and another Party to this agreement
must be referred to the dispute council
22. The dispute council shall attempt to conciliate the dispute and if such attempt fails
to achieve a conciliation within 30 days (or such extended or shorter period as the
council may determine), of the referral of the dispute, it shall refer the dispute to a
judge or judges, appointed by it under clause 20 .
23. Subject to clause J 24 ,the parties agree that they are bound by the decisions of
24.A decision of an arbitrator or arbitrators may be overruled by the unanimous
decision of the dispute council. GENERAL
25. The parties accept everything in this agreement and every judgment made
hereunder, which is for (bringing about) piety, unity and goodness.
26. This document will not (be employed to) protect one who is unjust or commits a
crime (against other parties of the Pact).
SIGNATORIES (Please indicate under the signature, you full name, the name of
organisation/ group represented, the capacity of signatory and date signed. The
signatory warrants that he is duly authorized. All signatures must be accompanied
by two witnesses who must sign next to the signatory plus the witnesses must
indicate their full names)
SIGNATURE OF DULY AUTHORIZED REPRESENTATIVE