What is TARUF Association?

It is in the continuation of the rich Islamic tradition of mutual acquaintance that the TARUF Association was conceptualised and established in 2009 in London, to promote understanding and knowledge of issues that divide and cause friction between people. It is through the recognition of differences as well as understanding the context and dynamics of conflicts which provide hope for minimising tensions and distrust.

The TARUF Association was founded by Shaykh Abdullah Anas Bashir, a veteran of the Afghan Jihad. Anas was instrumental in mobilising the Arab mujahideen from all over the world through the Maktab al-Khadamat, which he helped set-up along with his father-in-law, the Palestinian scholar and warrior Shaykh Abdullah ‘Azzam.

The TARUF Association believes that the concept of ta’aruf had become deeply embedded in the personal experiences of mujahideen who struggled in the Afghan Jihad spanning three decades, beginning with the struggle against the Soviet invasion. Formidable figures like Shaykh Abdullah ‘Azzam and Ahmad Shah Masud helped bolster and inculcate the spirit of ta’aruf amongst fellow mujahideen and amongst contending factions. However their influence was not restricted to the battlefields of Afghanistan but it was prevalent at the international level too, including in the Algerian conflict, which claimed nearly 200,000 lives. It then expanded into the European context, as former mujahideen settled in European societies where they were forced to grapple with the realities, diversity and challenges of their host countries. Rather than seeking to antagonise people or isolate themselves, these former mujahideens not only sought to understand their new realities but tried to provide unique perspectives and insights gained from their experience in Afghanistan, to advance better understanding and recognition of the “other”. It was also to nurture future generations from repeating past mistakes.

In furthering ta’aruf this does not however mean people will not differ over issues and beliefs. This is natural and expected but sometimes it is driven by fear of the other and apprehension towards one’s real ambitions. Occasionally, it is the struggle for power that opens the door for disputes, which has the potential of rapidly escalating into conflict and bloodshed.

To watch a video clip of an interview with Shaykh Abdullah Anas Bashir, taken from the PBS documentary Jihad: The Men and Ideas Behind Al Qaida click here.