[This article was published in the 18th issue of Nida'ul Islam
magazine (, April - May 1997]

Sheikh Rifa'ey Ahmad Taha,
an official from Jama'a Islamia States:

"The Islamic State in
Egypt is Approaching"

Can you please shed light on the creed, direction, and program of the Jama'a Islamia in Egypt?

The Jama'a takes its direction in accordance with the predecessors, and is united under a single intellectual banner which aims to isolate the submission of people to their Lord to the exclusion of others, and to establish an Islamic vicegerency (Khilaphah) in accordance with the prophetic guidance, and to seek the pleasure of Allah, the Lord of the worlds.

Its Creed: The creed of the righteous predecessors in whole and in detail.

Its direction: To understand Islam in its entirety as it was understood by the righteous predecessors, its reference being the Qur' an and the Sunnah and what the Imams have agreed on, and to take the teachings of the righteous predecessors after checking their evidence. It does not put for ward an opinion in the face of a clear text (Nass), nor a mind over something which has been faithfully transmitted, comprehending in this the spirit of Shari' ah (law) setting and adhering with the principles of Islam, confining ourselves with the established foundations in the clear Shari'ah.

We submit that the religion is complete, and that we are addressed with the entirety of what it came with, it is not fitting for us to dissect or divide it into stages, because religion is what had been established an d finalised with the death of the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w). We do this to the best of our ability, since the extent of the ability is the extent of responsibility, as when the ability is present, it must be applied. Otherwise the basis of the call is st anding, and the work in accordance to it is legislated, however we do not neglect in this to look at the Islamic interests (Al-Masalih), or the repulsion of the suspected evils (Al-Mafasid).

Our program is to fulfill the law of Allah and to adhere to all th at has been required of us, with respect to calling to the religion of Allah, commanding decency and forbidding indecency, and to strive in the path of Allah. All this to progress in parallel lines, and each position having its own style to suit it. For f lexibility has its place, and strictness has its place, and that is the wisdom which our Lord has demanded: " Call to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful advice, and argue with them in that which is better." "O Prophet, strive against the Kuffar and the hypocrites, and be strong against them." We take with every mean, program, and resource which Islam permits, even if it was not known to those before us, as long as it is in the interest of Islam, or leads to the realisation of a benefit.

The members of the Jama' a and the extent of its diffusion in society is reflected in the number of prisoners and their qualifications, with the knowledge that most of the prisoners are members of the Jama'a.

This is of the bounty of Allah alone. We seek refuge in Him alone from being arrogantly amazed with our magnitude, or to be arrogant due to our numbers.

As for the achievements of the Jama'a, we see every achievement short of the establishment of the Law of Allah to be very little.

Of our most important achievement is the major role we played alongside the Islamic tide, the Islamic revival which raised the awareness of the Muslims with respect to contemporary issues and situations. There is no doubt that the situation of religious a wareness has become more mature , as healthy phenomena and moral values have become widespread in our society, after being absent or not noticeable due to the forced Westernisation and various oppressions from the non-religious governments which had governed Egypt.

Many of the important and potent religious and intellectual issues were not known, such as the issues of sovereignty, Jihad, and the Islamic government. Today, they have become the talk of the man in the street, and of the issues keeping public opinion bu sy. From the practical aspect, we regard the Islamic movement and the Jama'a Islamia from its inception to have broken the negative attitude and the apathy, and was able to let loose the "change" energies in our Muslim people. This was not a mere temporary shake, infact it came within an active, organised, and structured framework.

The Jama' a Islamia in Egypt has established a true struggle which has been able to oppose the oppressive regime in Egypt and to turn the attention of the world to the extent of the tyranny under which the Egyptian people suffer. Our success is measured through the fact that our people have begun to reject the regime and desire its end.

The most amazing aspect of our struggle is our ability to maintain it to this day, despite the horrific machinery of oppression, and the military which is armed with the most modern weapons and war resources (American subsidies and a special budget for th e internal military). The forces of the Jama'a continue to direct a variety of painful strikes against the pillars of the regimes, its helpers, and its oppressive centres.

Despite the false propaganda which used all the aspects of the media in Egypt, and all the religious and official bodies, and the educational institutions amongst others, in spite of all this, the sympathy of the people continues to be biased towards thei r brothers and children who are represented in the Jama'a Islamia. There is no stronger indication of this than the zeal of the people for the Islamic Scholars and the Islamic activities more than any othe r tide. Infact the nationalist party does not even dream of a small portion of the popularity of the Jama'a even in one principality of the principalities of Sa' eed. Infact we challenge any other movement to prove that it has the popularity of the Islamists in Egypt. Infact, every opportunity where people are able to freely express their opinions shows the popularity of the Islamic movement.

What are the reaches of the Jama'a Islamia in the Egyptian society, and what are its most important achievements?

The Jama'a Islamia is spread throughout the Egyptian principalities, especially in Sa'eed, for in the eight Sa'eed principalities, no suburb or village is without an organised presence for the Jama'a, as the Jama'a controls the Islamic activities and receives great support from the people. Infact in some of the Sa' eed centres, the number of the villages which are represented in the Jama'a in a salient and effective manner exceeds forty villages.

The Jama'a also has representation in the trade organisations and the official charitable organisations and associations, even though the situation does not permit for them to openly declare their affiliation.

As for the student organisations, these are almost completely under the control of the Jama'a, especially the principalities in the middle and south of Sa'eed.

This situation has remained until the beginning of the nineties, infact thousands have been effected to a particular degree, however, almost every home, and family have some members belonging to the Jama'a, either free, in prison, or martyred.

Many are continuing to join the Jama'a. It is not a secret that many of the members who are currently engaged in the activities of the Jama'a only revived their adherence to Islam during the preceding three years.

The social activities of the Jama'a have had a great effect on the people, this is the secret of the spiritual union for the Jama'a with people from amongst the poor in particular. What is not known is that many of the recent operations were supported by the families in revenge for their children against the police and their transgressions.

How has the Egyptian regime participated in the destruction of the country on the economic, moral, and political fronts?

The reality is that the Egyptian regime did not just participate in the destruction which took place in Egypt, the Egyptian regime is destruction itself. It began the destruction and incited to it, and facilitated the commission of the most heinous crimes with respect to economic, moral and political destruction at the hands of foreign and local powers. All this took place with its approval and under its protection, infact it was the tool at the hands of the apathetic.

On the economic front: the regime has completely surrendered to the international bodies such as the World Bank, the IMF, etc., and promoted the systems of the West despite the obviousness of their failure, and the clarity of their goals which aim at the realisation of the interest of the international powers with an increase in the siphoning of our wealth and at the expense of our people, who live below the poverty line. These are not mere expressions, or inciteful semantics, they are facts and numbers. You can compare between the economic condition of Egypt with the other nations of the world 45 years earlier before martial law governed Egypt and its situation today. Then compare Egypt before 1981 and Egypt today to know that the worst period which is passing over our people is this period which is governed by Mubarak and his cronies - then consider the following: the increase in the rate of the unemployed, the closure of many of the national industries, the sale of public assets, the foreign infiltration in the many economic arenas, the foreign possession of most of our essential economics, or its ownership by the governing elite and their cronies and their transforming it to personal property which the people cannot benefit from.

As for the moral front: the spread of fornication, the popularising of decadence, the spread of corruption becoming g overnment policy. The new policy which came in the last ten years is to attack everything that is Islamic and to replace values with license and misguidance. This is done through the education curriculum and through the media. Unfortunately, these policies had a very negative effect on many cross sections of the population, whereby the rate of crime increased, drug addiction became common amongst the youth, and for the first time, the crime of rape became common in Egypt, to the extent that is was committed in the streets and in the public areas without intervention.

Corruption also spread as had patronage, and bribery became a common governing practice in all dealings. The cases of corruption increased in the midst's of government to the extent that they can no longer hide it, that they were forced to sacrifice some to throw sand in the eyes. However, these some were of the small flies, sacrificed in order to cover up for their superiors. We do not suspect that the others will receive just punishment except at the hands of the Muslims Insha Allah.

As for the political front: Egypt has not known in all its history, a policy that has failed as bad as that during the Mubarak period, for he is the one who took the leadership of the Arabs to their downfall. Whilst he practised, day and night, the calls to "peace" with Israel, he practised hostile policies against the peoples of Iraq and Sudan. This is not so strange as the person who has alienated, degraded, and humiliated his own people, and practised against his nation the ugliest of the tortures of the old colonialists. It is not strange to see him becoming enemies with the brothers, in obedience to the orders of the White House, and the acceptance of the policy of being subjugated which has become a habit for him, and a trade mark of his, as long as it pleased his masters who work to maintain his regime with all their energies.

It is not important if Egypt were to lose its position in the region, or that Israel continues to fulfill its greedy designs, nor that our people starve in the names of the International bodies, nor that the Americans control our resources. All that is unimportant, for the keeping of the Mubarak in government is the great national goal, and the grand national victory, because he is the man!!

There is no doubt that each country has its own circumstances, and catalysts which effect the path of strivance and correction, so it necessitates the existence of various stages which it must pass through. What stage has the Islamic movement reached in Egypt, during this period? And what is the direction of your organisation in the near future?

The Islamic movement in Egypt can be divided into two sections: the struggle/Jihad section: this has reached the stage of true confrontation with the regime, and the non-struggle element, which reached the stage of desperation with the regime, and the ability of their means to achieve anything or to influence the public arena in the shade of the terrorist policies practiced by the Egyptian regime. We see that the policies of the regime are driving the people to seek change by means of force, and that the people will reach the stage - where all the suffering they are undergoing on all fronts will lead to explosion, after this long suppression which they suffered. Then, they will bond with the Islamic movement in revolution after they bonded with it socially and spiritually.

The time has come for the Islamic movement to unite its efforts and to gather its energies to attack the Shaytan which is entrenched in Egypt.

The Jama'a continues to prop up its confrontation with the regime, as it works at the same time to create the appropriate climate to help it in its Da'wah, and to bring the release of the prisoners, and the removal of the oppression from the Muslims of Egypt.

From another aspect, we are working to link the different Islamic groups in an attempt to make a united stance, taking account that the Muslim public are the winning ticket in the forthcoming Jihad.

We concentrate in our publications on exposing the reality of the Egyptian regime, the internal policies of which have thrived on corruption and transgression. Their external policies which thrived on treason and humiliation. The blinders which the official press have placed over the eyes of many sections of the public is the factor which worked to extend the life of the regime.

What is the position of the religious organisations such as Al-Azhar and its scholars with respect to the battle between the regime and the Islamic groups?

When AlAzhar is mentioned, there must be a distinction between the official Azhar which submits to the regime and its direction, and the free Azhar which is represented by honest scholars who accept their responsibility, and the requirement to fulfill the trust which they had undertaken. "Those who express the messages of Allah, and fear Him, and do not fear anyone except Allah." These are not frightened with imprisonment, nor are they won over by grants. They do not value positions if these require them to refrain from speaking the truth and befriending falsehood.

The time has come for a complete demarcation, there is no longer any room for flexibility in controlling the distinctions and drawing the boundaries. Either you are amongst the secularists and under their sovereignty, or you are with the religion and Islamic law.. Either you are entrenched with the transgressing despot or with the suppressed Muslim people.

I bring you tidings that we have in the Jama'a Islamia scholars from AlAzhar, more than the regime has whom they had placed in the official stations therein.

It is a point of pride for the Azhar that some of its men have caused distress for the despots in Egypt and America together, so that they conspired against him and placed him in the prison under trumped up charges. He is the scholar Dr. Omar Abdul Rahman, may Allah hasten his freedom.

History does not forget that one of the most popular teachers of our time is Sheikh Kishk, may Allah grant him mercy, and he is a man from AlAzhar. As also Sheikh Ahmad AlMahlawi, and Sheikh Salah Abu Isma' il, and many others. They all had memorable stances with respect to our mission and our work.

The Egyptian prisons are filled with tens of thousands of Muslims, in what conditions do they and their families live?

This period is regarded as the worst period lived by the prisoners, particularly political prisoners.

The general policy with the various prison authorities is to make the prison system a tool for slow death. They are wasting the bodies of the prisoners as they have learnt that the prisons are strengthening the resolve of our youth. The prisons during this miserable time have been transformed into cemeteries: for an entire day's feed for a prisoner does not suffice for one meal, and they are forbidden medication despite depriving them from sunlight and fresh air and forcing them to remain in their closed cells 24 hours a day; this assists the spread of lung and skin diseases. The prisons are also full of harmful insects, and on top of this, they also deprive the prisoners of water for long periods, and when they are given water, it is not sufficient for one drink.

As for group punishments, this is the system within prisons, this occurs when any prisoner commits what they regard as forbidden, so much so that some prisons forbid the recitation of the Qur'an in an audible voice, or the possession of a copy of the Qur'an. In addition there are periodic tortures with the sole intent to humiliate prisoners, not to force confessions or to obtain information. There is also what is known as the "party", or "welcoming party", these are group beatings which are perpetrated on the new prisoners, or prisoners who have been moved from one prison to another.

As for visits, these had been banned four years ago, they are only permitted in two prisons only, the Wady Jadid prison, in Alwahat, it takes 12 hours to get to this prison from Cairo, and the other, the Wady AlNatroun which is on the Alexandria - Egypt highway in the middle of the desert.

The families of the prisoners travel these distances to obtain a permission to visit the prisoners, they are given a written permission after one and a half to two months. When the families arrive for the visit, the guards only permit the first ten families. This forces many families to spend the night in the open in front of the prison despite the existence of rest areas for visitors, as these areas are kept locked and they are not permitted to use them nor use their facilities, despite the fact that most of the visitors are women and children.

As for the families, many have had members in prison for up to nine years without charge. Their salaries in that period had been stopped, as a result of administrative laws which had been requested by the political leaders. The laws which previously guaranteed a salary for the prisoner before facing trial had been repealed.

I take this opportunity to direct a call to the Muslims to face up to their responsibility towards these families, many women and children amongst whom had been forced to work in unbefitting jobs despite the fact that they have their faces covered.

The Islamic state in Egypt, when?? And what will its effect be on the countries of the region?

The Islamic state in Egypt is coming, the rate of its approach is increasing day after day. This is becoming more obvious in the haste in the footsteps of the false regime to reveal their enmity and remove their veils and caution. They are revealing that the progress of the Islamic movement is faster than their plans, their programs and their calculations and estimations.

The Americans and the Zionists have been forced to jump ahead of the proper steps. It is obvious that their zeal to have a military presence in the region and their attempt to control all the alleys and doors and charitable organisations in order to protect the regimes which are loyal to them. They are attacking any Islamic activity which represents a threat to them through bases which enable them to move quickly at any occurrence outside their calculations.

This takes us to the challenges which confront the future of the Islamic government, and I do not doubt that the west aims for this. They do not want the Muslim people to take their country except as a diseased body with many internal problems, so that the government and the people would be kept busy with their own problems should they ever go into power. They realise fully the position of Egypt, and its effect on its neighbours, and on the region as a whole. There is no doubt that the establishment of an Islamic government in Egypt will have direct effects on the countries in the region, and indirect effect on the Islamic world as a whole.

Indeed, Israel will confront us at that time, and America will besiege us, and the West will boycott us, infact the entire world will attack us as one. However, Allah is with us; "Those to whom the people have said: The people have gathered for you, so fear them. This increased them in faith, and they said: Allah suffices us, and blessed is our Patron. So they turned, with a bounty from their Lord, no evil touched them, and they followed the pleasure of Allah, and to Allah is the great bounty."

We do not fight them - in reality - with overwhelming numbers, or arms, we infact fight them with this religion, so we ask Allah - Almighty - to be obedient to Him to deserve His succour: "And victory is only from Allah, Allah is indeed Independent Wise."

We recognise that the future Islamic State will inherent the accumulated ruins of Jahili regimes, however Allah Most High says: "Had the people of the towns believed, and became pious, we would have opened for them blessings from the sky and the earth, however, they lied, so we took them with what they did earn." This blessings is only understood by the people of faith. This talk is not accepted by the secularists and the materialists, those who ignore that some of this blessing is the secret of the progress of the Muslims when their will is freed. Indeed, when the Muslims take the reins of science and progress, they will achieve many multiples of what others have achieved.

The nation which we seek is not a nationalistic materialistic one which worships the world. It is a nation that if it was to face a calamity, its people will be patient and rely on Allah, because they embraced Islam because it is the religion from Allah, before it became a solution to their problems.

The Copts in Egypt, the media represents them as being the victims of the operations of the Jama'a, what is the policy of the Jama'a Islamia towards the Christian Copts as a minority, and what are the Islamic restrictions with respect to dealing with them?This is a good and important question.

We wish that a Muslim minority anywhere in the world would receive as many rights as the minority of Copts in Egypt..

Our position towards the Copts is clear, our people do not target them, unless they commit something which classifies them with the governing regime, or unless they reveal conspiracies against Islam or the Muslims. Our target is the regime as it is represented in its upholders and its supporters. We would not fight any Copt unless he fits into this category, otherwise, they are not our target, not because they are people of Dhimma - as some say - as the Dhimma of the ruler who throws out Islamic law is not our Dhimma, and is not an obligation on the Muslims in any way (people of Dhimma are people under the protection of the Muslims and the Muslim state.)

Islamic media in London has mentioned that Intelligence services belonging to Arabic regimes went to the West to confine the work of the Islamic movement. What dangers does this effort pose? How do you link it to the kidnapping of the Mujahid Sheikh Abu Talal Al-Qassimy and his transportation to Egypt, and what is his condition today?

This conspiracy is indeed aimed at removing Islamic opposition outside, either by killing them, or kidnapping them, or infiltrating them in order to drag them into some problem or another. This was evident with the spy ' Imad Salem and what he did to Dr. Omar Abdul Rahman.

We say: we have nothing to hide, we do not aim to commit any acti vity in Europe or any other country. Our goals are open and clear, to bring down the Egyptian regime, and to support the internal conflict through advertising our plight externally through our members who live in the West. We practice our activities in the open in front of all the people.

Yes, some European countries such as Britain have gone through the required procedure to confront this effort, they have infact forced some of the Egyptian regime's members to leave and never to return to Britain. However, this does not mean that Muslims in Europe are secure; infact, there continues to be a danger, and there continues to be some conflicts. Further, the Egyptian secret service continues to send its agents to commit certain crimes and start tongues wagging in some Islamic centres.

We have learnt that the Egyptian secret service are recruiting members from other nationalities to ambush our members so that these attacks appear as normal crimes without political aims.

The kidnapping of Sheikh Abu Talal Al-Qassimy has its own clues, and there is every likelihood of a repeat particularly as there is co-operation between the European countries and the Egyptian secret service.

As for Sheikh Al-Qassimy, we ask Allah to have mercy on him, whether he be alive or dead. The last we learnt about him is that he had been handed to the Egyptian secret service in Paris with the help of the Americans.

How does the Jama'a Islamia view the Taliban movement in Afghanistan?

The Taliban movement sprang from scholars and students, the way to judge them is in accordance with their adherence to Islam and the establishment of its laws. The Taliban came with Afghanistan burning and the war crushing the bones of the Islamic groups, and killing the Muslim Afghan people. Through their effort, security and justice returned to the country, so why should we not bless their government as long as it continues to establish the religion of Allah and fulfill His laws?

This does not mean, by any stretch of the imagination that we deny the efforts of the Islamic Mujahideen in Afghanistan. We do not forget their sacrifices and their role in defeating the communists. However, it was necessary for an Islamic government to be established to take advantage of the achievements of the Mujahideen and bring peace and justice to the country through an Islamic government, and to end the ironic situation of tribulations which had hurt Islam greatly.

The rules of Islam apply to the apparent. Anybody who wishes to criticise Taliban must bring his proof, otherwise, sacrifices in the path of Allah do not grant their makers immunity or holiness. Further, we are not required to continue to offer loyalty to the leaders if someone more qualified was to become available. The day that Taliban depart from the path - May Allah forbid - on that day they will lose the support we are giving them today.

What is the responsibility of the Muslims and their scholars with respect to the continuing struggle between the Jihad movements and the Kafir regimes, whether in Egypt or elsewhere?

The responsibility of the Muslims is to support these striving movements with their selves and their valuables and to accept its injunctions when this is in obedience to Allah Most High.

For the entire body of Muslims is addressed with the words of Allah Most High: "Establish the religion and do not divide it." And Allah will ask us concerning this religion, as we have been placed in a time where the rule of Islam is not practised, and we are facing what no other Muslim community faced in the history of human ity. There is no effort, or power, except from Allah, the Most High the Most Great.

As for the scholars, we regard them as our masters, our leaders, and our advisors with respect to our religion, we direct to them the following words:

If the scholar talked in circles, and the ignorant talked with ignorance, how will the truth be known?

When some of the old rulers deviated, and oppressed, we would not find the honest scholars except in the prisons undergoing torture, or exiled to strange lands. How would it be if they were here now, and the rulers are denying Allah 1000 times every day, and you have thousands of proofs for this?

My respected scholars, Allah will protect you from the governments, however, the governments can not protect you from Allah.

Scholars of Islam, the salt of the land, who would establish the religion, if the salt was to rot?

And Allah is the Guide to what He likes and is pleased with.