Like the Islamic State, Syria’s al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra has its own department responsible for the distribution of da’wa [religious outreach] literature. This department of Jabhat al-Nusra is called the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad (Da’wa and Guidance Office). However, whereas the Islamic State has unsurprisingly made many of the da’wa pamphlets it has produced via its al-Himma Library available online since 2013 as part of its strategy of flooding the Internet with propaganda and heavily encouraging foreign recruitment, Jabhat al-Nusra has not done so, preferring to focus its materials on local distribution.
Therefore, publications distributed by the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad must be obtained from the ground. Not all of the publications that can be acquired from the office are original Jabhat al-Nusra works. In keeping with the group’s ideological alignment, the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad also distributes works by figures like Abu Mus’ab al-Souri, a jihadi ideologue well-known for pushing the gradualist strategy to build jihadi influence in societies, and Abu Qatada, a Palestinian-Jordanian cleric who stands out today as a leading al-Qa’ida-aligned intellectual heavyweight in the Islamic State-al-Qa’ida schism of today’s global jihad.
A 2004 work by Abu Mus’ab al-Souri on the Algerian jihad of the 1990s obtained by a local contact for this author from a Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad branch in Idlib province. Souri was critical of the extreme tactics of the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) and in this work he also wished to disavow “the evil role that some of the supporters of that jihad played in London during the period 1994-1996”- referring to cheerleading for the GIA back then by some jihadists (including Abu Qatada).
The pamphlet below- obtained from the Maktab al-Da’wa wa al-Irshad the branch in Hureitan in the north Aleppo countryside- is actually plagiarised from Dr. Iyad Qunaibi, an Islamist preacher in Jordan. The pamphlet fits in with the idea of a more gradualist approach to implementing Islamic law in society, with the title emphasizing the need for people’s hearts to submit willingly to the Shari’a, rather than mere outward compliance that leaves room for nifaq (hypocrisy). Also of note is the pamphlet’s point that the hudud (harsh punishments for serious crimes like cutting off the hand for theft and executing adulterers) should only be applied in rare and exceptional cases in a society under the Shari’a system, likely an implicit contrast with the Islamic State that makes a show of implementation ofhudud in its propaganda as one aspect of its supposed ideal society. Occasionally, the Jabhat al-Nusra judiciary in the form of the Dar al-Qada in Hureitan has implementedhududpunishments, though that has only been made public knowledge through Dar al-Qada documents on the cases, rather than high quality photos and videos that are the norm of Islamic State propaganda. It should also be noted, as Sam Heller points out, that the Dar al-Qada in Hureitan enjoys the clear backing of other factions in the area, which fits in with the conception of willing acceptance of the Shari’a as advocated in this pamphlet.
The pamphlet is translated in full with occasional explanatory notes.
Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a
Da’wa and Irshad Office
Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a
We may disagree or agree with a program here or there that says it is “applying” Shari’a, but our aim here is not supporting any of the human programs or disavowing them, but rather that we should continue loving the Shari’a of God and not reckon for a moment that it is no longer just for our time, or doubt its justice or mercy. And whoever disparages “applying it,” his sin is upon himself, and it is not reckoned against the Shari’a of God.
Our aim here is that we should continue loving the Shari’a, longing to realize it, striving for that, being honoured through it, and that we should meet God with a heart sincerely amenable to the Shari’a that He has approved for us.
The Shari’a that we speak of is the Shari’a of the Compassionate, the Merciful, the Benevolent, the Mild, who says: “Does He who created not know, while He is the Pleasant, the Knower?” (al-Mulk 14)- [Qur’an 67:14].
It is what its Revealer- the Exalted- commands: “Justice, ihsan and giving to relatives, while forbidding immorality, the condemned and oppression. He warns you, perhaps you will remember” (al-Nahl 90)- [Qur’an 16:90].
It is what God Almighty has revealed to lighten the burden on His servants, for He knows of their weakness. For He has said: “God wants to lighten your burden, for man has been created weak”- (al-Nisa’ 28)- [Qur’an 4:28].
The Shari’a that we speak of is not something rulers “apply” on those ruled, as though we are not in conversation with it, and as though it is thrown on us from above our heads! But rather the Muslims “establish it” in their lives, in all that is possible, for it is their cause, spirit and that by which they draw near to God, and they strive for it to be established on the level of rule and for there to be a state for it.
The Shari’a is that which orders the father to be merciful to his children, and the children to be respectful of their parents and attend to their mothers’ feet, and the ruler to be gentle with his subjects and establish justice on himself before establishing it on them.
It is that in which the Ummah becomes one body and is freed from the chains of the global system that oppresses it, humiliates it and plunders its resources.
It is that in whose state the affair of the Muslim individual is dignified in a way in which the affair of any individual in any other state is not dignified, for the Islamic state aids the individual and mobilizes the armies to take up his rights and liberate him from his captivity and avenge his blood, just as the Messenger of God (SAWS) mobilized the army of Mu’tah, ousted the Banu Qaynuqa', and his companions pledged to death in the Pledge of Ridwan and the dispatch of Osama was prepared, and all that for the sake of individuals.
The Shari’a that we speak of is that which prevents the sowers of corruption from plundering the Muslims’ wealth and storing it in Switzerland, while their neighbours eat from rubbish bins! It is that which strives to meet the needs of the woman, the man, the young, the old, the Muslim and the Christian in food, drink, healthcare, security, dignity and education.
It is that which ennobles the woman and ensures her body is not taken as a cheap commodity. It is that which is made known among males and females in society as the bond of brothers of faith, cooperating on piety and awareness of God and building the glory of the Ummah, not voracity stripped of all restraints…
It is that in which minds are sustained and talents are encouraged to set forth to build up the land and be distinguished in the fields of sciences and benefiting mankind.
It is that in which the Muslims are chosen as the ones to be ruled by God’s law, so He has mercy on them but sets down His harshness on the disbelievers waging war.
It is that in which soundness of thought is spread, and in which the qualities of treachery or disbelief are not attributed to anyone without legitimate, considered evidence, and in which the accused is given a fair trial in which he is given his opportunity to defend himself.
It is that in which people are given what they need to satisfy their instincts lawfully, for no hadd is established in it except rarely: on those who have been kept in check by what is lawful and insisted on sowing corruption and assaulting the gates of what is forbidden.
This is the Shari’a, esteemed folks! Clean air in which the people live and on which children are raised and all participate in protecting it.
This is the Shari’a: purity, decency, honour, piety, mildness, gentleness and blessing. If the society of the Prophet that attained the pinnacle in establishing the Shari’a had been susceptible to the likes of Abdullah ibn Abi ibn Salul, the head of hypocrisy- despite the fact that he harmed the Prophet (SAWS) and conspired against the Muslims, there was susceptibility to him because he did not declare his disbelief openly but rather embraced outwardly the rule of Shari’a– will not our societies be susceptible on the establishment of the Shari’a to the delinquents from the Muslims, whose noses’ dust is better than Ibn Salul, whatever their faults?
The impudent used to say to our Prophet (SAWS) out of desire for more than their lot: “Be just, oh Muhammad, for you have not been just.” Despite that, he would be patient and say: “Woe upon you, and who will be just after me if I am not just?” In the Shari’a that we speak of, the impudent may deride the Muslim ruler openly so he tolerates them and is patient in the face of them because he does not take revenge for himself, but he should be angry if the taboos of God are violated.
This is the Shari’a that we speak of: so if there is after that one who is choked by this clean air, his nose catches a cold and his eyes are burned from the light of the Shari’a, and purity irritates him just as it irritated the people of Lot because he cannot live except in open adultery, making it easy to be come upon by four witnesses, and he cannot live except by drinking alcohol that appears for society from the odour of his mouth and thoughtless conduct and filth on his trousers, and he cannot live except by stealing from the livelihood of others despite the fact that the Shari’a has provided for his bare existence, he has every reason to fear the Shari’a! But let him free us from his wailing, screaming and scaremongering about the Shari’a, for he is not representative, not even of the rebellious of the Muslims whose eyes may tear up at mention of God or the Messenger of God (SAWS) and who love the Shari’a that we speak of in the depth of their souls, so also they will participate in its establishment.
“Our aim here is that we should continue loving the Shari’a, longing to realize it, striving for that, being honoured through it, and that we should meet God with a heart sincerely amenable to the Shari’a that He has approved for us.”
Until our hearts submit to the Shari’a
Da’wa and Irshad Office
 Referring to the Battle of Mu’tah of 629 CE. A Muslim army was dispatched in revenge for the execution of an emissary sent to the Byzantine Empire.
 Referring to the expulsion of the Banu Qaynuqa’, one of the Jewish tribes of Medina. The alleged trigger incident was a trick played on a Muslim woman by one of the Banu Qaynuqa’, prompting a series of retributions and counter-retributions that culminated in Prophet Muhammad’s move against the Banu Qaynuqa’, who had also openly rejected his call to Islam.
 The pledge of Ridwan refers to a pledge of allegiance given by the Muslims under a tree to fight to the death after news came of the killing of Uthman bin Affan, who was sent to inform the Quraysh of Mecca that the Prophet was coming to visit the Ka’aba.
 Osama bin Zayd, the son of Zayd bin Haritha (killed at the Battle of Mu’tah). Osama was subsequently sent by the Prophet on an expedition to the Palestine area in 632 CE.
 Hence the derogatory reference among jihadis to the Saudi royal family as “Al Salul” (The Family of Salul). Though Saudi Arabia might implement hudud rulings in public and enforce aspects of Islamic law, the state is seen as a client of the West.