Join the Caravan: Translator's Foreword

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Join the Caravan
By: Imam Abdullah Azzam
Translator's Foreword
Preface To The First And The Second Edition
Reasons For Jihad
Oh Islam!
Clarifications About The Issue of Jihad Today

Praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. The Hereafter is for the pious, and there is no enmity save toward the unjust. I bear witness that there is none worthy of worship save Allah alone, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His Slave and Messenger. May Allah bless him, his pure Household, his noble Companions, and all those who follow them in goodness upto the day of Judgement.

I am pleased to present this translation of the martyred Shaykh `Abdullah `Azzam's "Join The Caravan" (Ilhaq bil-qawafilah) to our English-speaking brothers and sisters. The Shaykh has done an excellent job of informing Muslims about jihad, the topic which is so much misunderstood and neglected today. The book focuses on Afghanistan, but most of what is mentioned is applicable to jihad in general.

`Abdullah `Azzam was born in Palestine, and earned a Ph.D. in Islamic studies from Al-Azhar University in Egypt. He spent the early part of his life in Palestine, participating in the jihad there. However, matters there were not to his liking, for the people involved in jihad were far removed from Islam. He told of how these people used to spend the nights playing cards and listening to music, under the illusion that they were performing jihad to liberate Palestine. Shaykh `Abdullah mentioned that, out of the thousands in the camp he was in, the number of people who offered their salah in congregation were so few they could be counted on one hand. He tried to steer them towards Islam, but they resisted his attempts. One day he rhetorically asked one of the "Mujahideen" what the religion behind the Palestinian revolution was, to which the man replied, quite clearly and bluntly,

"This revolution has no religion behind it."

This was the last straw. Shaykh `Abdullah left Palestine, and went to Saudi Arabia to teach in the universities there. When he learned about the Afghan jihad, he left his teaching position at King `Abdul-`Aziz University and went to Islamabad, Pakistan, in order to be able to participate in the jihad. He travelled all over the world, calling on Muslims to rally to the defence of their religion and lands. He wrote a number of books on jihad. Moreover, he himself participated bodily in the Afghan jihad, despite the fact that he was in his sixties. He traversed Afghanistan, from north to south, east and west, in snow, through the mountains, in heat and in cold, riding donkeys and on foot.

Young men with him used to tire from such exertions, but not Shaykh `Abdullah. No other Arab has worked for the Afghan jihad in such a manner. At an age of more than sixty years, he performed jihad in every way possible, truly responding to the call of Allah,

"Go forth, light and heavy, and strive with your selves and your wealth in the path of Allah. That is better for you, if only you knew." [Qur'an, 9:41]

He reared his family also, in the same spirit, so that his wife, for example, engaged in orphan care and other humanitarian work in Afghanistan. He refused teaching positions at a number of universities, declaring that he would not quit jihad until he was either martyred or assassinated. He used to reiterate that his ultimate goal was still to liberate Palestine.

Naturally, such a pride to Islam caused great distress to the enemies of this religion, and they plotted to eliminate him. In 1989 CE, a lethal amount of TNT explosive was placed beneath the pulpit from which he delivered the sermon every Friday. It was such a formidable quantity that if it had exploded, it would have destroyed the mosque, together with everything and everybody in it. Hundreds of Muslims would have been killed, but Allah provided protection and the bomb did not explode. The enemies, determined to accomplish their ugly task, tried another plot in Peshawar, shortly after this in the same year.

They planted three bombs on a road so narrow only a single car could travel on it. It was the road Shaykh `Abdullah would use to drive to the Friday prayer. That Friday, the Shaykh, together with two of his sons, Ibrahim and Muhammad, along with one of the sons of the late Shaykh Tamim `Adnani (another hero of the Afghan jihad), drove along the road. The car stopped at the position of the first bomb, and the Shaykh alighted to walk the remainder of the way. The enemies, lying in wait, then exploded the bomb. A loud explosion and a great thundering were heard all over the city.

People emerged from the mosque, and beheld a terrible scene. Only a small fragment of the car remained; the young son Ibrahim flew 100 meters into the air; the other two youths were thrown a similar distance away, and their remains were scattered among the trees and power lines. As for Shaykh `Abdullah himself, his body was found resting against a wall, totally intact and not at all disfigured, except that some blood was seen issuing from his mouth.

It was in this way that this great hero and reformer of Islam departed from the arena of jihad and from this world, never to return. May Allah accept him as a martyr, and grant him the highest station in Paradise. The struggle, which he stood for, continues, despite the enemies of Islam.

"They seek to extinguish the light of Allah by their mouths. But Allah refuses save to perfect His light, even if the Disbelievers are averse. It is He who has sent His messenger with the guidance and the true religion, in order that He may make it prevail over all religions, even if the pagans are averse." [Qur'an, 9:32-33]

Since the book was written, the Soviets have been expelled from Afghanistan, by Allah's grace, and the entire Soviet Union has disintegrated. Yet, the fighting in Afghanistan continues, as those who are striving to raise Allah's word battle against others whose motives were not purely Islamic. Doubtless, the struggle must continue until truth emerges distinct from falsehood, and the true Mujahideen attain triumph and defeat the Communists and other enemies of Islam who are trying to destroy the fruit of the Afghan jihad. It is particularly important for Muslims to acquaint themselves with the true state of affairs in Afghanistan before making unjustified, rash statements and accusations. Let us remind ourselves of the folly of speaking without being properly informed.

"When you were propagating it with your tongues, your mouths uttering that of which you had no knowledge, thinking it to be of little consequence, whereas it was serious (indeed) before Allah" [Qur'an, 24:15]

May Allah bring benefit by means of this book, and grant us all the courage and ability to respond to His call. May He grant success and victory to all those who strive in His way the world over.

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