Madkhali Salafism in Morocco

History, Interaction and Consequence


The present study aims to investigate a phenomenon related to activist (Haraky) Salafi version of Islam. As Salafism includes various forms, as elaborated later, we here speak specifically about the Madkhali Salafi trend, only in its Moroccan version, to avoid indulging into the details and features of the phenomenon at the regional level, given the presence of the phenomenon in many countries of the Arab region.

The present Study is divided into introduction, and three topics. The first topic investigates the contexts of the emergence of the phenomenon in Morocco. The second topic explores the most important features of its theoretical and field interaction in Morocco over the last two decades, that is, from its establishment until the end of 2019. Finally, the third topic aims to review some forward-looking prospects, or in other words to review scenarios of the consequences of the phenomenon.

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Moroccan mode of religiousness has a peculiarity which is associated with the Moroccan culture, as is the case in the rest of the countries of the region. This is highlighted by the institutional or official religious discourses through the promotion of the three components of the Ashʿari creed, the Maliki school of Jurisprudence and the Sufi practice. However, The features of this religiousness are not, on the ground, separable from other different patterns due to the presence in a region marked by producing many religious projects, including for example, but not limited to, the Wahhabi Salafi project, the Muslim Brotherhood project, and the Shiʿite project.

As we notice a degree of impact on the Moroccans’ religiousness by the Brotherhood’s pattern of religiousness, the same applies to the influence by the religiousness coming from the Arab Gulf, under the name of “Wahhabi Salafism”. An exception here is that this later one is divided into different groups, and each one of these “Wahhabi Salafism” groups claims to be the “the Surviving Group”. There is the “Albani Salafism”, which follows “Muhammad Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani,” and the “Bazi Salafism” which follows “Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz”, and so on. Another one, which concerns us more here, is the Madkhali Wahhabi Salafism, named after Rabeeʿ Ibn Hadi Al-Madkhali, who was regarded by Sheikh Nasir Al-Din Al-Albani  as “the carrier of the flag of [knowledge] of Jarh wa Ta’deel (Science of Hadith states the degree of truthfulness of scholars”.

However, we see these divisions even within the one and the same trend, as is the case with the Madkhali Salafism, where we find among the list of divisions: Salafism classified as “Murji’tes”, a second one as activist, a third one “partisan”, a fourth one “Qutbi” (attributed to Sayyid Qutb), a fifth one “Mu’tazilites”, and even “Madkhali Madkhalism”, according to the basis of the critical classification stated by the Madkhali Salafism literature known for its strictness in criticism.

It is clear that each one of these Salafi Wahhabi factions establishes what looks like a “school” based on a Sheikh, literature, followers, communication channels, giving support to certain stances, attitudes, opinions and issuing fatwas. It is necessary in this context to note that issuing fatwas here only matters the targeted Salafi project, for example, whether it is Madkhali or Jami, etc., but it does not matter peoples, regimes and countries of the region.

However, the most important factor of division among these Salafi Wahhabi factions lies in the interpretation of the famous Prophetic Hadith which says: “The people of the Previous Scriptures split into seventy-two sects. This nation will split into seventy-three sects; Seventy-two of them will be in the Hell, and one of which will be in Paradise. This is the main Community”. Each faction claims that it represents the “the Surviving Group”, and all other factions are in the Hell. The “the Surviving Group” will only be the one adopting that approach of the Prophet, his Companions, followers, and those who follow them perfectly in speech, belief and deeds.

There is no authority for identifying this “the Surviving Group” except through the completion of the second part of the Hadith, which describes the “the Surviving Group” as the one “that always follows the path of the Prophet (PBUH)”. One will not actually find a group that decalres that it disagree wih the path of the Prophet (PBUH).[i] That is why we have the right to emphasize that whether it is related to the “Scholarly” or “Jihadi” Salafist trends, they all draw from one ideological and sectarian authority, but differ in terms of applying this belief. Let’s say that we are facing a difference in degree, not in type. This is a very problematic point that requires further deconstruction, and makes us wonder: Is the Wahhabi Salafi activist affiliated with “Scholarly Salafism” mostly expected to be an activist affiliated with “Jihadi Salafism”?

This is all about the context of naming of “Madkhali Salafism” in the region in general. As for the context of its emergence in the region, it is not separable from a historical turning point in the Arab region. Its first spark came with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, with all strategic consequences that this turning point has caused. This includes the consequences of inviting the US forces to the Arab Gulf in order to expel the Iraqi army. This military support has caused religious debates in the region, and the Salafi discourse was -in particular- at the top of these debates, by consulting the scholarly heritage when adopting this opinion or that, and in the course of discussing the option of inviting foreign forces to the region. This all came within the framework of the so-called “Shariʿah Grounds.”[ii]

As a result of these discussions, the first signs of the split of the Salafi discourse into two distinct patterns began: a traditional or scholarly pattern, and another combating or “Jihadi” one, which will later give rise to the “Salafi-Jihadi” phenomenon.

Within the folds of traditional Salafism, religious attitudes differed regarding inviting foreign forces into two standpoints: one standpoint that defended this option and another opposed it. The Madkhali Salafism was at the top of the Salafi trends that stood against the Salafi authorities that condemned the entry of foreign forces. It was even against the position of the official religious institutions in Saudi Arabia, namely the Council of Senior Scholars, which considered the entry of foreign forces as an interest, but they did not criminalize those who condemned this entry. The Madkhali or Jami Salafists isolated themselves from both parties, to establish a middle-ground trend that defends the legitimacy of the entry of foreign forces and attacks those who consider this as forbidden or those who disagree with the State.

We see this same attitude in the Moroccan case because the activist Islamic religiosiousness in Morocco in general is dependent on its counterpart activist trend in the Eastern Islamic World, whether we are speaking about the Salafi, Brotherhood, or Jihadi religiousness.

Leaders of the Movement of Al-Tawhid Wa Al-Islah

However, the Madkhali trend in Morocco remained on the margin because the lights of media, research and security platforms were focusing mainly on the others trends of the Activist Islamic project, whether it was related to the Brotherhood represented by two trends, namely: The “Al-Tawhid Wa All-Islah” Movement (the Daʿwah wing of the “Justice and Development” Party), and the banned “Justice and Charity” movement; or the Wahhabi Salafist trend, represented by the “Scholarly Salafism” in particular, which has been, and still, represented by Salafi preacher “Abd Al-Rahman Al-Maghrawi”, while the Madkhali Salafism in its Moroccan version was in an embryonic stage, and is still today when compared with the rest of the Islamists.

Madkhali Salafism in its Moroccan version appeared immediately after the doctrinal interactions that resulted from events of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the entry of foreign forces into the Arabian Peninsula. These interactions adopted the views of “Rabeeʿ Ibn Hadi Al-Madkhali”, a specialist in Hadith Sciences, who was praised by the symbols of the religious Institution in Saudi Arabia, particularly Sheikh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz and Sheikh Saleh Al-Fawzan, before they promoted their thought based on several wrong principles, in particular, the principle of attacking great scholars.

The significance of this presence did not exceed the significance of the rest of the Salafi groups in Morocco, especially the large group that has been, and still, represented by preacher “Abd Al-Rahman Al-Maghrawi”. Nevertheless, it was noted that the research, or in other words the critical works of the Moroccan Madkhalism  was significant compared to the nature of its modest organizational presence, and this is what we will address in the second topic of this study.

There is a point that an observer of the performance of the Madkhali Salafism in its Moroccan version can notice, with the need to take into account the modest position of the Group’s organizational significance compared to the rest of the Islamists including the Brotherhood and Salafists, as mentioned above. This observation, regarding the performance of this Salafi group, spans from the outbreak of the Second Gulf War (January 1991) to the events of the “Arab Spring” (January 2011). We will not talk about the events in New York and Washington (September 2001), due to the political, religious and security unrest that has arisen, especially on the regional level, because this is the level that concerns us, in relation of course with the Moroccan case in particular.
We noted semi-absence of the followers of the Moroccan Madkhali Salafism in the arena throughout that period. We speak about the field absence when compared to the presence of the rest of the activist Islamic project. The performance of the Moroccan Madkhali salafism did not exceed what was issued by preacher and researcher Ali Al-Gharbi, or Ali Ibn Salah Al-Gharbi Al-Soussi Al-Samlali, as he signs his works. He excellently summarizes the discourse of Moroccan Madkhali Salafism and its roles as we note this through the titles of his works, which will be discussed later.
Immediately after the outbreak of the “Arab Spring”, in its Moroccan version, with the “February 20 Movement”, we will see a sudden activity in the field initiatives undertaken by the Moroccan Madkhali Salafism, to the extent that it provoked the activist Islamic writers, including Brotherhood and Wahhabi Salafi ones, forcing them to come out from time to time with clear critical articles against the Moroccan Madkhalis.
Here, we mention some of these activities, which came immediately after the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” events:
– In the beginning of January 2011, the month that marks the outbreak of these events, the municipality of “Tekween” witnessed a conference of “Madkhali Salafism”, which included more than 2,500 male and female participants, in an informative course, the third of its kind within six months. It lasted for five days, at the invitation of “Dar Al-Hadith” in Tekween. The Course was about the explanation of the Introduction to Risalat Ibn Abi Zaid Al-Qayrawani, the head of the Malikis of his era, called as Malik Al-Saghir. The lecturers were senior Sheikhs who came from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Sheikh Saleh Ibn Saʿd Al-Suhaimi (former Head of the The Department of Theology), and Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Ramzan Al-Hajri.

Rabeeʿ Al-Madkhali

In April 2012, the followers of the Madkhali Salafism organized the fourth Course on “Imam Dar Al-Hijrah Malik Ibn Anas” in Tekween, Agadir. They brought the most prominent Sheikhs of the movement from Saudi Arabia, and received lessons via phones from Sheikh Rabeeʿ Al-Madkhali.

– Between 19 and 24 March 2014, the Madkhali Salafists organized the “King Solomon’s Second Session” at the headquarters of Dar Al-Hadith in Nador, for which they invited Sheikh Muhammad Ibn Hadi Al-Madkhali and others.

– Between 20 and 24 May 2015, the Al-Safa Association, following the Madkhali Salafism, in Meknes organized the “Sultan Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al-Alawi First Course”, at the headquarters of the Youth Hostel, and the lecturer was Abdul Karim Al-Khattabi.

– Between 18 and 24 November 2015, the same Association organized the Sultan Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al-Alawi Second Course at Sidi Baba Stadium in Meknes.

– Al-Safa Association organized the third Course of Sultan Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al-Alawi, in January 22-25, 2017, in the Tollal covered Hall in Meknes.

In interaction with these initiatives, we will review several articles by activist Islamic symbols from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi Wahhabi movements, with an explicit critical attitude, along with some follow-ups by the media platforms affiliated with the authorities of these trends. It is necessary to note here that this activist Islamic movement that criticized Madkhali Salafism in Morocco is the Salafist trend that allied with the Muslim Brotherhood immediately after the outbreak of the “Arab Spring” events.

Here we are speaking about a part of the followers of the “traditional Salafism” or “Scholarly Salafism”, as known in the media, which is led by preacher Abdul Rahman Al Maghrawi, which had been far from political partisanship and often upheld peaceful positions with the political authority, similar to the attitude of “Salafists of Alexandria” at some point before the “Egyptian Spring”. However, the events of the “Arab Spring” caused a theoretical and organizational rift within this trend in Morocco. One of the results thereof was that group of this trend declared separation from the project of Abd Al-Rahman Maghrawi, and the establishment of a new organization that was not officially announced, but practically present. This group had a direct political affiliation with the project of “Justice and Development Party”. This group was led by a group of young preachers, including the Salafi preacher Hammad Kabbaj in Marrakesh, who became a member of the Islamic party, and even participated in the legislative elections in October 2016. The Ministry of Interior, however, prevented him from participation because he “spreads hatred, discrimination and violence among the Moroccan society”, according to the official communiqué issued at that time by the Ministry of the Interior.

This Salafist movement, allied with the Brotherhood project, has several media outlets, including the “Al-Sabeel” newspaper, a bimonthly newspaper, “Howiyapress” website, in addition to its presence in the digital world via social meida. Therefore, these platforms assumed the duty of issuing explicit critical views against Madkhali Salafism in Morocco, out of defending the Brotherhood movement on one hand, and, on the other hand, defending the Salafi option adopted by this project which had separated from the scolarly Salafism that was and still dominating the Moroccan Islamic activist arena in its Salafi version exclusively.

Ahmed Al-Shuqeiri Al-Dini

These are some critical remarks before exploring the theoretical clues that help to read the reasons for this critical interaction between writers with an activism Islamic ideology, and directed to another activist Islamic discourse too, not a modernist, secular, or atheist ideology.
– An article by the Muslim Brotherhood preacher Ahmed Al-Shuqeiri Al-Dini, a member of the “Al-Tawhid Wa Al-Islah” movement and the “Justice and Development Party”, entitled: “The Madkhali Salafism n Morocco: From Support to Employment”, He establishes his article on an assumption that he considers to be true. He thinks that there is a semi-formal support for Salafism, including the Madhkhali Salafism, presenting three scenarios that explain this support:
A- The first scenario: Confusing the Islamic activists, because this trend can play the role of confusing “Justice and Development Party” which has an Islamic background, because Madkhalis direct their criticism only against Islamic groups and parties, especially the activists.
B- The second scenario: confronting “Justice and Charity” group because the security policy applied with the group since 2006 gives an image that violates the State of right and law, especially for the external observer. So the alternative policy would be to confront it with a more extreme thought, and this is guaranteed by the Madkhalis.
C- The third scenario: besieging “Al-Qaeda” whose activity is increasing in the south of the Sahara, which is the scenario that we prefer, because it explains the significance of choosing South of Morocco to hold this conference with this huge audience”.
– A critical follow-up of the news for one of the Madkhali activities that was organized between November 18 and 24, 2015. This follow-up was published by the aforementioned website, with an explicit reference in its content to the most prominent ideologists of the project, namely “the controversial Sheikh Rabeeʿ Ibn Hadi Al-Madkhali and Muhammad Al-Madkhali” who supported what they considered a coup in Libya and Egypt, “and accusing this discourse of Madkhali Salafism as “ a dangerous thought that does not differ from ISIS ideology in terms of the manufacture of extremism and models that appear to be religious but actually they are not”.
– An article by Salafi preacher Hammad Al-Qabbaj, with an explicit and indicative title: “Who Stands behind the Promotion of the Sedition of the Madkhali Movement in Morocco?” mentioning several references, we mention some of them:
– It was stated that “King Muhammad VI (May Allah grant him success) advised Moroccans to avoid learning their religion from other than their scholars”. However, this does not mean calling them to isolation and refusal of the other. Rather, he guides them to what immunize them against the calls of extremism, including the call of Sheikh Rabeeʿ Al-Madkhali, who ignited sedition among Muslims, divided the Salafists, and incited religious young people to attack their scholars in many countries of the Islamic world”. The editor of the article did not notice that the discourse that he promotes applies also to the religious discourse that he adopts, and which is promoted by Al-Sabeel newspaper and “howiyapress” website, as evidenced by inciting of radical religious tendency by these platforms on several occasions by researchers and followers, whether in seminars, articles, or on social media.
Al-Qabbaj also believes that the Madkhali Salafism in Morocco “has become an anarchist party that follows Sheikh Rabeeʿ in his opinions and positions. Whoever is declared as innovator by Rabeeʿ, he should be an innovator, and who is praised by Rabeeʿ is the true Salafist, even if they say that they are against partisanship and against groupins, and they call their work “brotherhood for the sake of Allah”, however, the reality proves that they are partisans and fanatics”.

Salafi preacher Hammad Al-Qabbaj

Al-Qabbaj leveled some points of criticism against Madkhalis, which include the following: showing insolence to speak ill of scholars and preachers; unearthing and exaggerating errors of others, while disregarding and concealing virtues; delving into and expatiating on issues they believe to be violated by Islamic groups, while briefly dispelling the misconceptions raised by atheists and secularists; criticizing reformist scholars scathingly no matter how great their service to Islam is and flirting with oppressive ruthless rulers however grave their hostility to Islam is; restricting themselves to disseminating and elaborating on very few issues of Islamic knowledge in which they claim to be well-versed while disregarding other important and more comprehensive issues which can significantly show how Islam is universal and coping with the latest developments; extravagantly adulating those who share their views and overlooking their deviations and openly holding grudge against and rejecting those who disagree with them; and finally, severely attacking the global project of the Muslim Brotherhood while being extremely lenient towards the global project of Zionism”.
– “Al-Sabeel” newspaper published a feature about “The Madkhalis Trend: Origin and Mission”, in which you find the following titles: “The Madkhalis Trend: Origin and Mission”; “the eminent scholar Muhammad bu Khabzah: Madkhalis are biased and their only aim is to destroy [others]”. “The approach of the radical followers of tabdiʿ (declaring others innovators) on issuing shar’i judgments on scholars, preachers and individuals”, “Salafist Scholars Disavow Radical Madkhali Thought”, and “Al-Basira satellite channel: a platform for promoting Madkhali thought”.
– The same website features a critical media follow-up to the project of Salafi Madkhali trend in Morocco entitled “The Madkhalis Trend: Origin and Mission”. In this follow-up, the followers of the Moroccan version of the Madkhali thought are accused of “disregarding the scholars and the official religious institutions of their own country, forming close relationships with some Saudi individuals who are utterly unwelcome to Morocco, and holding conferences and workshop to which they invite the heads of their movement from among the Moroccan or foreign scholars, under the banner of promoting knowledge and books of scholars”. In addition, the media follow-up criticized the discourse of the Salafi Madkhali project after the “Arab Spring”, especially what is broadcasted by the “Al-Basira” satellite channel, run by the Egyptian Sheikh ‘Abdul Razzaq Al-Radwani, because it “incited hatred and animosity [by] airing special episodes about Morocco whose main topic was the Plotting of the Muslim Brotherhood in Morocco for abolishing the monarchy, demanding the viewers to renounce the ideologies of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hassan Al-Banna”.
– A few months after the release of the previous research on the Moroccan Madkhalis, another one is published in the same newspaper, delving into the Libyan version of Madkhali thought, entitled: “Libya between ISIS Extremism, the Madkhali Trend and Western Division Plans”. It discussed the following issues: the Libyan crisis and the weakness of international will; critical information about Katibat Al-Tawhid Al-Salafiyyah “The Salafist Al-Tawhid Brigade” supporting Haftar; a map of the deployment of armed brigades in Libya; the Association of Maghreb Scholars urging Libyan youth to beware the advocates of sedition and discord; Al-Ghiryani: ISIS and Haftar are not but one entity; alternative plan to divide Libya into three states; and once again…Rabeeʿ Al-Madkhali incites hatred in Benghazi and the Libyan Scholars Association is calling for the intervention of the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Council of Senior Scholars.
– An editorial of “Al-Sabeel” newspaper, written by its editor-in-chief, the Salafist preacher Ibrahim Al-Ṭalib, was published under the title: “Madkhalis, Shiites, and Implementing the Map of the Greater Middle East”.
– In an article entitled “Madkhalis: Undermining Salafism from within”, it is indicated that “no one has distorted Salafism as severely as do many of its affiliates”. It refers to the way Madkhalis have distorted Salafism by means of “distorting the concept of Salafism itself”, To its scholars and theorists, Salafism is a term that implies following the Quran and Sunnah according to the rules and principles agreed upon by the early generations of the Companions, Followers and Imams. However, it is perceived by Madkhalis as a way of manipulating religious texts to legitimize the policies and visions of the Saudi royal family”.
– The aforementioned website published a video entitled “The Madkhali Movement: An Intelligence Creation to Confront the Muslim Brotherhood”.
– On the sidelines of the aforementioned “Al-Safa” Association symposium about the third edition of Sultan Muhammad Ibn Abdullah Al-Alawi’s course, a critical review considered that Morocco “has become a model of confronting terrorism and radical movements. On the other hand, the writer of the review states that those who permitted the advocates of the Madkhali thought to freely disseminate their ideologies in Meknes and to mobilize people from all the cities of the Kingdom to gather in Tollal hall are not aware that, over the course of five days, the mobilized masses, especially young people, will have their minds filled with dangerous ideas as well as radical ideologies that never promoted throughout the Islamic history”.

Ahmad Al-Raysuni

– In his article “Saudi Madkhalis: from the Reverence of Muslim Rulers to the Reverence of Intoxication Rulers”, Al-Raysuni, a Muslim Brotherhood preacher and the former chairman of the Tawhid and Reform Movement; the peaching arm of the Justice and Development party, who heads the International Union of Muslim Scholars, based in Qatar, maintains that the Madkhali movement is a paralleled politico-religious structure, established by the Saudi Ministry of Interior and its intelligence, to be a “propaganda tool” in the face of what was known in Saudi Arabia as the “Tayyar Al-Sahwa or Al-Tayyar Al-Sahwi” (Awakening Trend), which appeared and flourished in the eighties and nineties of the twentieth century and was calling for political reform as well as leveling criticism or “offering advice to Saudi Monarchs”.
Following the panoramic review of critical remarks, specifically by the followers of the dynamic Islamic movements, against Moroccan Madkhalis, here we present some possibilities that may help one to comprehend the reasons for this critical commentary, which are summarized in three points as follows:
A- Moroccan Madkhalis strive earnestly to attract followers of other Salafist strains of thought, and thereby winning “symbolic capital”, a term coined by the French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, which gives them the authority to represent dynamic Islamic movements in general and Salafist movements in particular.
b- Religious critique by Madkhalis needs to be thoroughly elaborated on. However, the critique directed at the secular, modernist, Shiite, or Sufi authorities is beside the point, being a common ground between all Islamic movements. Rather, what is intended here is the criticism directed at the rest of the followers of similar strains of thought, namely the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafists.
As regards the critique directed at dynamic Islamic movements, it is known that the literature of Madkhalis in general focuses on criticizing the literature and works of Sayyid Qutb, as well as the literature of Islamic movements involved in political action, or “legal political action” as termed in Al-Siyasah Al-Shar’iyyah (the politics of Sharia Law). It also condemns the discourse of preachers and scholars who explicitly manifested critical positions against Saudi Monarchs during the developments of the Second Gulf War and the misery of occupation by foreign forces. In this context, responses are directed by Moroccan Brotherhood and Salafists against Madkhalis, considering the latter as a counter-Islamist movement that has the potential to affect the prevailing Salafist ideologies, and could generally disrupt the performance of the dynamic Islamic project in Morocco, given that the followers of this project belittle secular and modernist critique, but take it seriously when it comes from a dynamic Islamic authority.
c- Some of these apparent criticisms against the Madkhali discourse are not highlighted as they are related to promoting some indirect political stances of the concerned authorities in the decision-making circles. The Moroccan Brotherhood and Salafist leaders believe that these authorities support and promote Madkhali discourse with the intent of pulling the rug from under the dynamic Islamic project, on the one hand, and for gaining support from the dynamic Islamic movements in order to establish the legitimacy of the government in making political decisions that concern the state, or rather, the higher interests of the state.
It is not a coincidence in this part that we read explicit references to Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and the Emirates, that is, the countries that the party considers a political and strategic axis in the region with open hostility to the Brotherhood. Such is the case since the above media platforms, which published these criticisms, are attributed, as mentioned above, to a Salafist project that got involved in a political alliance with the Brotherhood’s project, as can be perceived from the published opinion articles, whether in the newspaper or another platform.

There are several scenarios related to the future of Moroccan Salafism, taking into account the developments through which the religious discourse and religious work in general passes, whether it is related to the discourse of religious institutions, the discourse of Sufi orders, the discourse of Islamic movements or the discourse of Salafist trends, in its traditional and militant (or rather Jihadist) forms.

The most important scenarios can be summed up in the following two trends:
– A trend that refers to a subtle and sensitive part of all active members in religious action today, after the development of the “Arab Spring” events, which does not concern Madkhalis only, but also the rest of the dynamic Islamic movements along with Sufi strains of thought and the discourse of religious institutions. This part is related to the future of religion in general, and religious activities associated with Islamic movements in particular. Thus, this part is entitled “the dilemma of beyondness, such as “post-Islamism” in its Muslim Brotherhood version, or “post-Salafism”, including Madkhali Salafism.
In other words, Madkhalis cannot be far from the disturbances of this trend, regardless of the nature of the political investments or external links to this project, which, unlike most of the active Islamic movements, is considered explicit in defending the national state in morocco without referring explicitly to the concept of the “national state”. However, the nature of the discourse and positions of this trend on the ruling political authority, which is also a religious authority in the Moroccan case because it bears the name the institution of the Emirate of the Faithful [Imarat Al Mouminine] authorize us to talk about pledging allegiance to this institution in its religious and civil sense.
In contrast to the first scenario, there is another scenario, which is more likely, that is to maintain the weight of this trend without being exaggerated or underrated by decision-makers, due to several considerations the most important of which is that it is modestly organized compared to the Brotherhood movement that occupy many state institutions and civil society organizations. It should also be noted that the political power, given the modesty of the religious works concerned with criticizing the opponents of such power from the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist-jihadi movements alike, places this trend at the forefront of those qualified for this mission.
Abd Al-Rahman Al-Maghrawi

In this context, we have a practical example that is Ali Ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, whom we may consider as the researcher spokesman of this trend in Morocco and the Maghreb region. He composed a plethora of critical works against the leaders of Islamic movements and Salafist jihadism. He even went too far as to criticize the most prominent leader in the scientific Salafist movement in Morocco. Al-Gharbi has many books, of which we state are the following:
– “Irshad Al-Haʾirin wa Tanbih Al-ghafilin li ‘Ijtinab ḍalalat ʿAbd Al-Salam Yasin” (Guiding the Perplexed and Alerting the Oblivious to Avoid the Delusions of Abd Al-Salam Yassin), which was published in three editions: 1999, 2001 and 2003.
– “Ṭawaghit Al-khawarij bi Al-Maghrib bayn Al-fatawa Al-Takfiriya wa Al-ʿAmaliyat Al-Intiharya (The Tyrants of the Kharijites in Morocco between Takfiri Fatwas and Suicide Attacks)”, 1st edition, 2006.
– “Qawmat Al-Madʿu Yasin Al-Fattan Bayn Resalat Al-Ṭufan wa Al-Kẖuruj li Al-ʿIṣyan” (The stance of Yassin Al-Fattan, between the Pamphlet of the Flood and Inciting Disobedience), 1st edition, 2006.
– “ʿlam sufahaʾ Al-Ahlam bi Tahrim Al-Tafgirat Al-Intiharya fi Al-Islam” (Informing the Fools about the Prohibition of Suicide Bombings in Islam), 1st edition, 2011.
– “Tanbih Al-Anam bi Tahrim Al-Iḍrab ʿan Al-Ṭaʿam fi Al-Islam” (Alerting People of the Prohibition of Hunger Strikes in Islam), 1st edition, 2011.
– “Al-Kawi li Mathalib Muhammad Ibn ʿAbd Al-Rahman Al-Mughrawi” (The Caustic to the Defects of Muhammad Ibn Abdulrahman Al-Maghrawi), 1st edition, 2013
– “Iljam Ahmad Al-Raysuni ʿan Al-kalam baʿda Ibahatihi Al-riddah ʿan Al-Islam (Forbidding Al-Raysuni from speaking after authorizing apostasy”, followed by “Waqʿ Al-Sinan ʿala Muṯhabbiṭ Al-Raʿiyah ʿan Al-Sultan” (Unsheathing the Sword against Dissuading People from the Ruler), 1st edition, 2014.
-“Mataʿin Al-shia Al-kẖasirin fi Umnina ʿAʾishah Umm Al-Muʾminin” (The Accusations of the Shiite Losers at Our Mother Aisha, Mother of the Believers), 1st edition, 2019.
Out of these publications, “The Tyrants of the Kharijites in Morocco between Takfiri Fatwas and Suicide Attacks” is brought up for discussion. It is, in reality, more like an applied model for a preacher and researcher who works outside the official religious establishment, but has chosen to engage in a doctrinal clash with the literature and positions of some prominent figures in the Salafist-Wahhabi hardline strain of thought, namely Salafist jihadism. The book under discussion is considered the first literary work that deals critically and clearly with the jurisprudential details of the theses and literature composed by the leaders of the Salafist-Jihadi movement, at least on the date of its publication. It is based on pure Salafist references, and the author describes Sheikh Ibn Baz as “one of the greatest imams and most prominent scholars of this time, and this is a matter of Consensus of the Ummah”. To gain more support, the author refers to the figures of the official religious institutions in Saudi in his attempt to refute the theses of jihadists dealing with the concepts of “loyalty and disavowal”, “jihad”, “bombings”, and others. In his citations, the author refers to the following scholars: Saleh Al-Fawzan, Obaid Ibn ‘Abdullah Al-Jabri, Abdulaziz Ibn Abdullah Al-Rajhi, Abdulaziz ibn ‘Abdullah ibn Baz, Rabi’ ibn Hadi Al-Madkhali, Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al-Sheikh, Muhammad Saleh Al-Uthaimin, and Saleh Al Sheikh.
The first chapter is devoted to the definition, hadiths and scholars’ opinions regarding “the Kharijites”, followed by a chapter on “The Salafist Call and views on the Rulers of Muslims”, then another chapter entitled “Salafi Jihadism: a journalistic narration”, and followed by a chapter on “the Three Institutions that Contributed to the Emergence of the Kharijites in Morocco”. The author makes a special mention of the Ministry of Endowments and Islamic Affairs in Morocco, the Academic Councils and the Ministry of Culture as well as classifying some newspapers under the category of “defamation and mercenariness”. The chapter begins with a list of hadiths referring to the Kharijites before alluding to the testimonies of Sunni scholars in the same context, such as: Al-Bukhari, Muslim, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah, Al-Darami, Ibn Hibban, and Al-Shaybani. Their statements can be summarized under two points:
– Emphasizing the consensus of the scholars on the “deviation of the Kharijites from the way of Sunnah”.
– Asserting the fact that they adopt takfiri ideologies and thereby allowing the bloodshed of Muslims and the plundering of their wealth on the basis that other Muslims live in the abode of war whereas they are in the abode of Islam.

Abd Al-Karim Al-Shadhly

The author directs a harsh criticism at the cultural decision-makers in the guardian ministry, on the grounds that they have licensed the publishing and release of the following books, edited by some of the “Salafist-Jihadist” figures: “ʿUmlaʾ la ʿUlamaʾ” (Agents not Scholars) (1997), “Al-Fawaʾid fi kashf ḍalalat baʿḍ Al-Jaraʾid” (Benefits in Exposing the Delusions of some Newspapers) (2002), “Al-Salafiyyun wa Al-Hukumat Al-Maghribiyyah: Muwajahat damiyah” (Moroccan Salafists And Governments: Bloody Confrontations) (2002), “limaḏha la nusharik fi Al-‘Intikẖabat Al-Dimuqraṭiyah” (Why Do We Not Participate in Democratic Elections” (2000), by Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Fizazi before adopting (Al-Muraja’at) “The Revisionism”; as well as “Ikhbar Al-ʾAwlliyaʾ bi Maṣarat Ahl Al-Tajahum wa Al-Irjaʾ” (Informing the Awliya of the annihilation of the Jahmi and Irja’ Doctrines) (2000), “Jamʿiyat Al-Rifq bi Al-Ṭawaghit fi Qafs Al-Muhakamah” (Association for Kindness to Demons in the Trial Cage) (2000), by ‘Umar Ibn Masʿud Al-Haddushi. However, the author acknowledges somewhere else that Al-Haddushi is considered “the best jurist and the most-knowledgeable of all of them”.
Also, in the literature of this trend we find works such as: “Faṣl Al-Maqal fi ‘anna man Tahakama ila Al-Ṭaghut min Al-Hukkam kafara min ghayr Juhud wa la Istihlal” (The Decisive Treatise on the Infidelity of the Rulers who Refer Legislation to Taghut (tyrant) without Denial or Affirmation of Permissibility) (2001), and “Taʾsis Al-Naẓar fi radd shubah mashayikh Murjiʾit Al-ʿAṣr hawl Al-Hakimyah: Al-Jihad” (Consideration of dispelling the misconceptions of the Murji’te Scholars about Sovereignty: Jihad” (1999) by Abdel Karim Al-Shazli before adopting (Al-Muraja’at) “The Revisionism”, and finally “Maratib Al-Walaʾ wa Al-Baraʾ” (The Ranks of Loyalty and Disavowal) (1998), and “Maratib Al-Kufr bi Al-Ṭaghut” (The Ranks of disbelief in Taghut) (1998) by Zakaria Meloudi.
The second chapter deals with the most important Islamic Takfiri groups in Morocco, according to the author, and are summarized under four groups: “Al-Takfir wa Al-Hijra”, “Taikfir without Hijra”, the extremists of “Takfir without Hijra”, and finally “Takfir based on Al-Hakimiyya”. The doctrine they have in common is that they all belong in theory and practice to the founding father of the Takfiri movement in Morocco, Maymoun or Musa, who rose to prominence in calling for the Takfiri movement in 1979, right after the shocking incident of the Holy Mosque in Mecca, perpetrated by Juhayman Al-Otaibi.
As for the third chapter, it touches on the groups of “Takfir based on Al-Hakimiyyah”, by reference to the literature of Muhammad Ibn Al-Hassan Al-Fizazi (the father), and Muhammad Ibn Muhammad Al-Fizazi (the son), to conclude the chapter and the book at the same time by a list of jurisprudential fatwas of the Salafist Wahhabi scholars, particularly those issued by “contemporary Salafist scholars”. as he described them, regarding suicide operations, assassinations, hijackings, and hunger strikes.

In sum, this book is of valuable content. Regardless of the severity of criticism that characterizes the works of Ali Ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, this work can be considered one of the most important Moroccan publications that centered on criticizing the Salafi-jihadi project in Morocco from the point of view of creed. Although the work was published in 2006, and the date of the present study is the beginning of 2020, no other work has been published by any of the official religious institutions in Morocco of this quality in criticism. Yet, the reservation that must be noted in this critical context is “rigidity of criticism”, not to say that this rigidity is closer to the state of extremism, exaggeration and takfir (declaring Muslims disbelievers). The “excuse” that may be quoted in favor of the author for falling into this doctrinal trap is the fact that he had previously gone through the experience of belonging to the Salafi Takfiri movement. Soon after he abandoned the theses of this trend, in the form stated, for example, in the literature of ‘Abd Al-Karim Al-Shazly and Al-Meloudi Zakaria, which Al-Gharbi criticizes in this work. The following passage may indicate the extent of the doctrinal rigidity of the author. In the context of stultification of those who go on hunger strike as a human rights option, that the Salafi detainees in Moroccan prisons resort to, he states, “they made fatwa allowing their followers inside the prisons to go on hunger strike in order to fulfill their demands. But, when was hunger strike an act of the Sunnah of the Master of the Messengers (Prophet Muhammad), a teaching revealed by the Almighty Allah, or even a practice by the Rightly Guided Caliphs? [If not,] then it is religion of the infidels, atheists and slaves of the tyrant”.

The conclusion of this study is that the Madkhali Salafi trend in Morocco is classified within the dynamic Islamic movements, the Salafi side in particular. Yet, it is still an organizational minority compared to the rest of the Islamic movements, the Brotherhood and Salafism. This trend is known for declaring loyalty to the national state, and theoretically confronting and criticizing all Islamic action projects which criticize the regime. This, in turn, allows it to maintain relative chances in the theoretical competition with these projects, and to win the favor of an elite of decision-makers, as long as it remains away from criticizing the national state on political and religious grounds.


[1] Abdullah Al-Ghadhami, The TV Jurist: The Transformation of Religious Discourse from the Pulpit to Screens, Arab Cultural Center, Beirut – Casablanca, 1st Edition, 2011, p. 121.

[1] It is known that the issue of “Shariʿah Grounds” is always present in the discourse of the Islamic movements concerned with interacting with the events on the arena, whether related to engaging in political action or Jihadi action.

[1] It is a small community in the south of Morocco affiliated with the Urban Community of Agadir- Ida-Outanan, South of Morocco.

[1] Ahmed Al-Shuqeiri Al-Dini, Madkhali Salafism in Morocco: From Support to Employment, Hespress, January 12, 2011:

[1] Abdallah Mukhlis, Madkhlis are Freely Working in Morocco and Holding a Course at the Stadium in Meknes, “howiyapress”, November 17, 2015: D8% B4% D8% B7% D9% 88% D9% 86-% D8% A8% D8% A3% D8% B1% D9% 8A% D8% AD% D9% 8A% D8% A9-% D9% 81% D9% 8A-% D8% A7% D9% 84% D9% 85% D8% BA% D8% B1% D8% A8-% D9% 88% D9% 8A% D8% B9/

[1] In our discussion with the former Salafi preacher Muhammad Abd Al-Wahhab Rafiqi, who is involving in the “revisionism” project , and who isolated himself theoretically and finally from thistrend, especially the Salafism in its combating version, he considers that the speech of the “howiyapress” website is not different from ISIS religious discourse. From a meeting with him on Thursday 28 November, 2019, in the Moroccan capital, Rabat.

[1] Hammad Al-Qabbaj, Who is Behind the Promotion of the Madkhali Movement’s Fitnah in Morocco? “Howiyapress”‎ Website, November 25, 2015, see:

The same article was also published on the “Hespress” website, on November 25, 2015. [Available at:]

[1] “The Madkhali Movement: Origin and Mission,” published in “Al-Sabeel” Newspaper, Salé, Issue 212, April 1, 2016.

[1] Nabil Ghazal, “The Madkhali Movement: Origin and Mission,” “Howiyapress”‎ Website, April 4, 2016. [Available at:]

[1] “Libya between ISIS Extremism, the Madkhali Movement and Western Division Plans,” “Al-Sabeel” Newspaper, Salé, Issue 219, July 1, 2016.

[1] Ibrahim Al-Talib, “Madkhalis, Shiites, and Implementing the Map of the Greater Middle East,” November 15, 2016.

The article can be viewed on the Howiyapress”‎ Website, [Available at:]

[1] ‘Abdullah Al-Masmudi, “Madkhalis: Undermining Salafism from within,” Howiyapress”‎ Website, November 17, 2017 [Available at:]

[1] A video entitled “The Madkhali Movement: An Intelligence Creation to Confront the Muslim Brotherhood,” “Howiyapress”‎ Website, November 17, 2017 [Available at:]

The link was blocked from the “YouTube” due to the digital communication war between the Islamic projects on the one hand, and the dynamic Islamic projects and counter projects on the other hand, but the link is still available on Facebook at:

[1] ‘Abdullah Mukhlis, “Again … Madkhali freely disseminating their ideologies in Meknes and holding a course in Tollal hall in Meknes,” “Howiyapress”‎ Website, January 6, 2017 [Available at:]

[1] Ahmad Al-Raysuni writes: “Saudi Madkhalis: from the reverence of Muslim rulers to the reverence of intoxication rulers,” “Howiyapress”‎ Website, August 7, 2018 [Available at:]

[1] We have come to this conclusion after some meetings with the researcher and preacher Ali Ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, in Rabat, Morocco.

[1] It is not a coincidence that a website close to the decision-making department publishes a media follow-up in the context of interaction with this book, especially since the Brotherhood preacher Ahmad Al-Raysuni, being criticized in this book, is known for his critical stances against decision-makers, by virtue of his links with the Muslim Brotherhood abroad, because he was Vice President of the “International Union of Muslim Scholars”, before becoming its current Secretary. Look:

Sheikh Al-Gharbi Al-Susi calls for Al-Raysuni to repent before death and to stop publishing the jurisprudence of evil, “” Website, September 4, 2014, at the link:

[1] ‘Ali ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, “The Taghut of the Kharijites in Morocco between the Takfiri Fatwas and the Criminal Suicide Operations,” “Repelling the Kharijites” Series, Rabat, New Knowledge Press, 1st Ed, 2006.

[1] ‘Ali ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, op. cit., p. 275.

[1] ‘Ali ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, op. cit., p. 34.

[1] He was arrested after the Casablanca attacks on May 16, 2003. His works include: “Ignorance and Criminality in the Justice and Charity Party,” “The Islamic Alternative to the Justice and Charity Group,” “Considering Atheistic Laws,” “Ruling on Shaking Hands with non-Mahram Women,” “Refuting the Misconceptions of Al-Qaraḍawi, and Abdel-Halim Abi-Shuqqa and Abdul-Bari Al-Zamzami,” “Forty Hadiths Encouraging Following the Sunnah,” “How to Understand your Doctrines without a Teacher?” “Quiet dialogue with Professor Abdul Salam Yasin,” “When Abu Jahl Becomes a National Hero,” “Boycotting American and Zionist Products is an Effective War Weapon,” and “Arab, not Islamic, Anthems.” He was released on February 4, 2012, by virtue of a royal pardon, in the context of the decision-makers’ interaction with the requirements of the “Arab Spring” events.

[1] ‘Ali ibn Saleh Al-Gharbi, op. cit., p. 358.

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Montaser Hamada

A Moroccan Writer and Researcher


Ahmad Beka

Ahmad Beka

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