Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq

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Hayat al-Ulama al-Muslimin
هيئة علماء المسلمين
Formation14 April 2003; 20 years ago (2003-04-14)
FounderAbdul Sattar Abdul Jabbar
Harith al-Dhari
TypeReligious organisation
Region served
Muthanna Harith al-Dhari

The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq[1] (Arabic: هيئة علماء المسلمين في العراق Hayat al-Ulama al-Muslimin Fi al-Iraq) is a group of religious leaders in Iraq. It was formed on the April 14, 2003, four days after the U.S.-led invasion demolished the Ba'athist regime of Saddam Hussein, by a group of scholars who aimed to represent Sunnis in Iraq.[2] Though not a political party, the association is considered to be politically influential. It also administers a charitable fund set up for the upkeep of religious buildings.[3]


Prominent members include Harith Sulayman al-Dhari (Chairman), Muthanna Harith al-Dhari (Chairman's son and spokesman, secretary-general as of 2018),[4] Abdel-Salam al-Kubaisi, Abdel-Sattar Abdel-Jabbar (founder, and senior official),[5] Dr. Muhammad Bashar al-Faithi, Abdel Hamid Al-Ani, Ahmed Abdul Ghafour al-Samarrai, Mahdi Ibrahim, Abu Bashir al-Tarousi, and Umar Raghib.

Political stances[edit]


The AMS did not join the newly formed government because it believed the political process to be illegitimate whilst Iraq remains under occupation. The group believes that: "True democracy is impossible under occupation.”[2]

According to the association's spokesman in 2005 Muhammad al-Kubaysi, Iraq's problems can be attributed to "the presence of a foreign power that occupies this country and refuses even the mere scheduling of the withdrawal of its forces from Iraq."[6] Members of the AMS met a senior US embassy official in January 2005 and asked for a timetable for US troop withdrawal. When this was refused, the group called for a boycott of the elections.[7]

The AMS has been the group most critical of the occupation since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Sheikh Harith al-Dhari, the Chairman of the group, has said: "Iraq’s ordeal will not end unless the occupation ends. We must get rid of the occupation which is the cause of Iraq’s misery and pain. It acts as a cover and fuel for outsiders to meddle."[8]

The association has been called an important force in giving the anti-occupation Sunni insurgency religious sanction in Iraq, with some of its leaders, such as Ayyash al-Kubaisi, openly endorsing the Sunni resistance as legitimate.[9] However, they have consistently condemned all indiscriminate attacks on civilians, distinguishing between 'terrorism' and 'honorable resistance'[10] and have negotiated for the release of Western hostages, as well as helping to arrange aid convoys to the city of Falluja when it was under siege.[3]

When Al-Qaeda in Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi called for "a full-scale war on Shiites," at least one member of the association, Abu Bashir al-Tarousi, objected, pointing out that "although sectarian war in Iraq may have been provoked and sparked by the Shia ... killing according to sectarian affiliation is not justified by Islamic law," and Muslims should not take "justice into their own hands." He also expressed concern that the attacks would cause the "legitimate Iraqi resistance" to lose its credibility in the eyes of the Islamic world"[11] In 2018, the AMS reaffirmed its opposition to foreign forces in Iraq, while maintaining its denial of organizational links to al-Qaeda despite Chairman Harith al-Dhari's inclusion on a terrorism list released by the Dawa Party-led government in Iraq.[12]

The association has condemned the 2016 assault on Falluja as "an unjust aggression, a reflection of the vengeful spirit that the forces of evil harbor against this city".[13]

Religious stances[edit]

The AMS is a group of Sunni scholars. Many of its members favor the Hanbali school of fiqh law over the Hanafi school, which has traditionally been dominant among Sunnis in Iraq.[14]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^
  2. ^ a b Meijer, Roel (2005). "The Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq". Middle East Research and Information Project. No. 237. Archived from the original on 7 August 2021. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  3. ^ a b "BBC NEWS | World | Middle East | Who's who in Iraq: Sunni groups". 17 June 2004. Archived from the original on 2006-06-28. Retrieved 2008-03-27.
  4. ^ "Association of Muslim Scholars refutes 'terrorism' charge". Middle East Monitor. 9 February 2018. Archived from the original on 18 June 2018. Retrieved 22 December 2020.
  5. ^ "French Muslims Rally in Support of the Kidnapped Journalists". Muslim American Society. 30 August 2004. Archived from the original on 2005-05-07.
  6. ^ "Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera". Archived from the original on April 17, 2007.
  7. ^ "Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera". Archived from the original on April 20, 2007.
  8. ^ Aljazeera - 'US the main irritant in Iraq' Archived 2021-08-07 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p.207
  10. ^ BBC - Iraq blasts mar Muslim holy month (16 Oct 2004) Archived 2006-06-14 at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Abu Bashir Tartousi, "Hawl al-Harb al-Ta'ifiya fi al-Iraq," Tajdid al-Islami, September 17, 2005 (originally on but was closed down after the July 2005 London bombings), quoted in Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p.209
  12. ^ "Association of Muslim Scholars refutes 'terrorism' charge". Middle East Monitor. 2018-02-09. Archived from the original on 2018-06-18. Retrieved 2020-05-16.
  13. ^ Chmaytelli, Maher (26 May 2016). "Reuters: Top Shi'ite cleric urges restraint in assault on Iraq's Falluja". Reuters. Archived from the original on 2017-03-18. Retrieved 2017-07-02.
  14. ^ Nasr, Vali, The Shia Revival, (Norton, 2006), p.207-8

External links[edit]