As part of the ongoing intelligence monitoring that goes into this blog, I was watching a recent propaganda video from al-Shabaab, a terrorist group in Somalia that is affiliated with Al Qaeda. Al-Shabaab, like many of its fellow terrorist organizations today, puts out videos with slick production values. But among all the footage showing their strength and their message, the video tries to compel people to join by pitching it as a no-brainer deal: all you have to do is stand around and you get into paradise!
An al-Shabaab spokesperson, who helpfully speaks in English, explains the sweetheart deal you get just for joining the terror group, making a pitch that sounds more like that of a car salesman than an Islamic militant. He cites the hadith, the word of Muhammad spoken through someone else, as narrated by Imran bin Haseen:
Imran bin Haseen narrated the message of Allah [he says something in Arabic I believe is a variation on “peace be upon him”] said, “Standing in the ranks of the army in the battlefield is better to Allah than the worship of sixty years.” Just standing there, without doing anything is better than the ibada [worship] [he clears his throat] sixty years…so with this leverage you can basically end up on the Day of Judgment having 500, 600, 700 years of ibada on your scale, depending on how many times you stood in that battle before it actually happened.
Can you imagine? As long as you stand on the battlefield for al-Shabaab, even if you don’t fight, then you get the equivalent of 500-700 years of prayer in your favor on the Day of Judgment! How could you not take that deal? You’re going to stand anyway, so you might as well do it on the battlefield.
It does come across as a bit cynical on al-Shabaab’s part, in that instead of saying people should join out of religious devotion or political belief, they should join as a get into heaven quick scheme.
But, hey, who am I to tell al-Shabaab how to market themselves?