SHEIKH ABDULLAH AZZAM.
Dr. Sheikh Abdullah Yusuf Azzam. Palestinian. Assassinated on 24 November 1989 in Peshawar, Pakistan, Aged 48. 1st Hand Accounts.
Time Magazine wrote about him that ‘ he was the reviver of Jihad in the 20th Century’. Abdullah Yusuf Azzam was born in the village of Ass-ba’ah Al-Hartiyeh, province of Jineen in the occupied sacred land of Palestine in 1941 CE. He was brought up in a humble house where he was taught Islam, and was fed with the love of Allah, His Messenger (SAW), those striving in the Way of Allah, the righteous people and the desire for the Hereafter.
Abdullah Azzam was a distinguished kid who started propagating Islam at an early age. His peers knew him as a pious child. He showed signs of excellence at an early age. His teachers recognized this while he was still at elementary school.
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was known for his perseverance and serious nature ever since he was a small boy. He received his early elementary and secondary education in his village, and continued his education at the agricultural Khadorri College where he obtained a Diploma. Later he joined Sharia College in Damascus University where he obtained a B.A. Degree in Shariah (Islamic Law) in 1966. After the Jews captured the West Bank in 1967, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam decided to migrate to Jordan.The sin of the Israeli tanks rolling into the West Bank without any resistance made him even more determined to migrate in order to learn the skills necessary to fight.
In the late 1960’s he joined the Jihad against the Israeli occupation of Palestine from Jordan. Soon after that, he went to Egypt and graduated with a Masters Degree in Shariah from the University of Al-Azhar. In 1970 and after Jihad came to a halt by forcing PLO forces out of Jordan, he assumed the position of teaching in the Jordanian University in Amman. In 1971 he was awarded a scholarship to Al-Azhar University in Cairo from which he obtained a Ph.D Degree in Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Usool-ul-Fiqh) in 1973. During his stay in Egypt he came to know the family of Shaheed Sayyed Qutb.
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam spent a long time participating in the Jihad in Palestine. However, matters there were not to his liking, for the people involved in the 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. Sheikh Abdullah Azzam 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 that 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. Sheikh Abdullah Azzam left Palestine, and went to Saudi Arabia to teach in the universities there.
When Sheikh Azzam realised that only by means of an organised force would the Ummah ever be able to gain victory, then Jihad and the Gun became his pre-occupation and recreation. “Jihad and the rifle alone: no negotiations, no conferences and no dialogues,” he would say. By practising what he was preaching, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam was one of the first Arabs to join the Afghan Jihad against the communist USSR
In 1979, when he learned about the Afghan Jihad, he left his teaching position at King Abdul-Aziz University in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and went to Islamabad, Pakistan, in order to be able to participate in the Jihad. He moved to Pakistan to be close to the Afghan Jihad, and there he got to know the leaders of the Jihad. During the early time of his stay in Pakistan, he was appointed a lecturer in the International Islamic University in Islamabad. After a while he had to quit the University to devote his full time and energy to the Jihad in Afghanistan.
In the early 1980’s, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam came to experience the Jihad in Afghanistan. In this Jihad he found satisfaction of his longing and untold love to fight in the Path of Allah, just as Allah’s Messenger (SAW) once said, “One hour spent fighting in the Path of Allah is worth more than seventy years spent in praying at home.” [Authentic, At-Tirmithi and Al-Hakem].
Inspired by this Hadith, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam immigrated with his family to Pakistan in order to be closer to the field of Jihad. In Peshawar, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam founded the Bait-ul-Ansar (Mujahideen Services Bureau with the aim of offering all possible assistance to the Afghani Jihad and the Mujahideen through establishing and managing projects that supported the cause. The Bureau also received and trained volunteers pouring into Pakistan to participate in Jihad and allocating them to the front lines.
In Afghanistan he travelled throughout the country allowing him to witness first hand the heroic deeds of these ordinary people, who had sacrificed all that they possessed -including their own lives – for the Supremacy of the Deen of Islam.
He prayed to restore the Unity among the divided Mujahideen commanders; called upon those who had not yet joined the fighting to take up arms and to follow him to the front before it would be too late.
Abdullah Azzam was greatly influenced by the Jihad in Afghanistan and the Jihad was greatly influenced by him since he devoted his full time to its cause. He became the most prominent figure in the Afghani Jihad aside from the Afghan leaders. He spared no effort to promote the Afghan cause to the whole world, especially through the Muslim Ummah. 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, such as Join the Caravan and Defence of Muslim Lands. Moreover, he himself participated bodily in the Afghan Jihad, despite the fact that he was in his forties. He traversed Afghanistan, from north to south, east to 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 Sheikh Abdullah Azzam.
Alhamdulilah due to his efforts, the Afghani Jihad became universal in which Muslims from every part of the world participated. The Sheikh’s life revolved around a single goal, namely the establishment of Allah’s Rule on earth, this being the clear responsibility of each and every Muslim. So in order to accomplish his life’s noble mission of restoring the Khilafah, the Sheikh focused on Jihad (the armed struggle to establish Islam). He believed Jihad must be carried out until the Khilafah (Islamic Rule) is established so the light of Islam may shine on the whole world.
Sheikh Abdullah Azzam made Jihad in every possible way, 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.” [Quran, 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.