Wednesday, January 12, 2011

IN PICTURES: Target: Twelver Shi'i Polemicist Yasir al-Habib

"It is a requirement for the soldiers of the Islamic State of Iraq to slaughter one of the Rafidah dogs, one of the children of mu'tah (temporary marriage) and disbelief..." Mut'ah is approximately translated as "temporary marriage" and is a practice unique to Twelver Shi'i Muslims. Essentially, it permits a man and woman to have a relationship akin to dating, with licit sexual relations, that is recognized as legal in Twelver Shi'i law. "Rafidah" (plural: Rawafid) is an Arabic term that literally means "rejectionist" or "one who rejects" but is used as a derogatory term for Shi'i Muslims by some Sunni Muslims.

A recent topic of cyber jihadi-takfiri web art has been the controversial Twelver Shi'i polemicist Yasir al-Habib (Yasser Habeeb), a Kuwaiti living in Britain. He is infamous for publicly insulting 'Aisha and other companions of the Prophet Muhammad who are revered by Sunnis but condemned by Shi'is for not supporting 'Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, in his failed claim to be the Prophet's successor. Al-Habib has also slandered Twelver Shi'i scholars with whom he disagrees, including the late Lebanese grand ayatullah Muhammad Husayn Fadlallah. Al-Habib accuses some of the Prophet's companions of "assassinating him." His inflammatory statements have led to the Kuwaiti government banning "sectarian gatherings" in a bid to tame rising Sunni-Shi'i tensions in the country.

Al-Habib practices a form of the Shi'i practice of tabarru' ("disassociation" or, in some practices, cursing) of those individuals believed to be (or have been) against 'Ali ibn Abi Talib and other Shi'i Imams and holy figures. It is not dissimilar to the Sunni-Salafi concept of al-wala' min al mu-'mineen wa'l bara' 'an al-kafirin (loyalty to the believers and disavowal of the unbelievers). He is a controversial figure among Twelver Shi'is too. The practice of tabarru' has been debated among Twelver jurists for centuries, including during the Safavid period in the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries.

In September 2010 the small Gaza-based jihadi-takfiri group Jama'at al-Tawhid wa'l Jihad fi Bayt al-Maqdis (Group of Absolute Monotheism and Struggle in Jerusalem, literally "the Holy House" and generally Palestine).

Al-Habib, who speaks with a lazy drawl that often is scarcely above a loud whisper, issues video-taped polemics via his Al-Minbar (The Pulpit) Media in both Arabic and English.

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