Long Article – An Analysis of Bai`ah Al-Mawt (Pledge of Death) in Jihadist Groups’ Practice and Islamic Tradition (CTTA, vol. 14, no. 3, June 2022)

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Dr Muhammad Haniff Hassan examines the notion and practice of Bai`ah Al-Mawt (pledge of death) among contemporary jihadist groups through the lens of Islamic Sunni intellectual tradition and security studies. His work has three important implications for the Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism (P/CVE) initiatives. The author notes that conceptually and theologically, Bai`ah Al-Mawt is not problematic from the standpoint of Islamic Sunni intellectual tradition. However, the jihadist application of Bai’ah Al-Mawt  is highly problematic and a deep cause for security concern because: a) the pledge can only be employed by the right authority or by groups officially sanctioned; b) jihadist groups who are rebellious and cause strife do not fulfil the “right cause” criterion for waging armed jihad in the Sunni tradition; and c) jihadist groups employ this concept for suicide operations, in contrast to the conventional understanding of “fight till death” and “no retreat/surrender” (i.e. daring missions where death is probable but not certain). The author suggests that P/CVE stakeholders work towards mainstreaming the understanding of the pledge as defined by the Prophet’s companions as a means to counter the jihadist groups’ blatant misinterpretation.” (The Editorial)