Hamas, Islam and the Conflict with Israel

Hamas fighters with captured Israeli hostage, 7 October

By Ali Aziz:

To the sound of the TAKBIR “Allahu Akbar: God is Greatest,” Hamas fighters with long, thick beards put a naked Israeli female in the back of a pick-up truck with their feet on her while holding machine guns and shouting “Allahu Akbar.” The incident was violent and embodies the full meaning of brutality and lack of morals. It was just one of many that took place with the Hamas forces’ storming of Israeli villages and towns. People around the world question: Do these brutal actions, such as killing and mutilating civilians, represent Islam? Does Islam allow this type of crime to be committed? The Jews were and remain an important part of the Eastern region, its civilization, and its history. Wars do not solve our problems, and there is no escape from the need for lasting and comprehensive peace among all factions, including Israelis and Palestinians. Due to my experience and research in Sharia and Islamic history, I will detail Islam’s position on the war and conflict that is taking place today between the Palestinians and Israel. I will address three important points in this regard. First: Do Jews have the right to claim the land that is today called Israel as theirs, and what is the consequent position of Islamic Sharia law? Second: Is fighting on the land of Palestine (Gaza Strip) against the Jews considered a jihad? Third: Do the Palestinians themselves follow Sharia law or do they use Islam as a card for an ethnic and national issue that they want to internationalize with the hope of greater gains?

The first point: Do the Jews have the right to claim that they are the owners of the land over which Israel rules? There is a fixed law in Islamic Sharia jurisprudence that has not changed a day for more than fourteen centuries, which is that “a right does not lapse by statute of limitations,” which means that the claim of a right does not lapse with the passage of time. There are a few Sharia scholars who have a different opinion (and their opinion does not represent the consensus of Sharia because the principle of consensus eliminates individual opinions). These scholars say that a right lapses by statute of limitations, if a long time has passed, and there is no one to claim it. In this area, Muslims and non-Muslims are equal, because the rights to property, honour and dignity, in Islamic law, are protected for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. That is, a Muslim cannot attack a non-Muslim (whether he is a follower of other religions or an atheist) and deprive them of their right and property. An important question arises here: Were Jews present in present-day Israel before the advent of Islam? Does their expulsion by the Romans give the Arabs and Muslims the right to seize what was already usurped? Islamic law tells us that it is forbidden to benefit from usurped land, and the jurists even went further than that, saying that it is not permissible to worship on usurped land. There were many scholars who issued a fatwa in 1990, that the prayer of Iraqi soldiers on the land of Kuwait was not acceptable, because it had been usurped from the Kuwaitis, knowing that the usurpation of the land did not include the expulsion of the Kuwaitis from their land, but rather it was a political-military occupation that only removed the existing authority in Kuwait at that time. Have the Jews ever given up their right to return, and have they given up on the dream of their return since they were expelled from the land of Israel? The Jews, not me, must answer this question. But if the Jews’ answer is that they have never given up this right, then their right to return to the land of Israel and live there in peace remains legitimate, from the time they were expelled from their land until the last day in this world. This is the principle of Islamic Sharia law, even if many scholars are afraid to declare it, for political and populist considerations, and out of consideration for their personal interests and status among their people.

Secondly: Is fighting today on the land of Palestine considered jihad according to the principle of Islamic Sharia law? The concept of jihad is complex, but here we mean the part that pertains to fighting. There are two types of jihad in Islam. The first is the jihad of demand and the second is the jihad of defence. The first type, in brief, is to convey the call of Islam to the people, and if a force interferes with the delivery of this call, Muslims use force to remove the force that rejects the delivery of this call. That is, the fight here is for freedom of speech in the contemporary sense. That is, if the spread of the Islamic call was allowed (as in Western countries today), then the jihad of demand would become unnecessary. The second is the jihad of defence, which means repulsing the aggressor who attacks Muslims, steals their lands, and assaults their dignity and property. In this type of jihad, Muslims confront their aggressors. Here, Muslims must defend themselves, and if they are unable, the Muslims closest to them geographically must help them until the aggression against them stops (this principle, with different terms, is universal and has been recognized by contemporary countries and organizations). In both types of jihad, there are strict controls that Muslims must adhere to. For example, their strength must be at least equal to the strength of their enemy. They must not torture or humiliate a prisoner, nor kill civilians in any way, and they are forbidden from killing women, the elderly, children, runaway soldiers and non-combatants. They are also forbidden from damaging property or cutting and burning farms, orchards, and forests. Hamas’s wars with Israel do not fall into either of the two mentioned above. Above all, the strength of the Hamas movement, and behind it the Arab and Islamic countries, cannot be compared to the strength of Israel. For example, Iraq was considered the strongest Arab country in all aspects, including the military, politically, financially and economically, etc. In 1981, Israel was able to destroy the Iraqi nuclear reactor with F-16 aircraft (known as operation Babylon). However, we did not hear of this type of aircraft until 1991, during the Kuwait War, when these aircraft were able to destroy Iraq, and despite its enormous potential, Iraq was unable to do anything to counter the advanced technology of the Western Allies. Today, F-16 aircraft are considered obsolete weapons for Israel, but Arab and Islamic countries are still unable to manufacture even much older models. So where is the parity in the balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians? What is more important is that the entire world today, excluding a few, stands with Israel, which means that everything that the Hamas movement considers an achievement will evaporate tomorrow in the field of international relations. This aspect is given top priority by Islamic law and is called the principle of preponderance between harm and benefit. But let us see which of the two powers, Israel or Hamas, regards the rules of Islamic Sharia law during fighting and clashes. In fact, over the course of decades, Israel has proven that it has respected the rules of engagement and fighting in accordance with international laws more than the Hamas movement, and there is no comparison between them (this is what many Lebanese and even Palestinians told me). Hamas and other extremist movements did not hesitate to target and insult civilians in Israel, as we have seen in recent days. If the power that Israel possesses was in the hands of the Hamas movement, the Jews would have been subjected to horrific genocides, just as different groups in the Middle East were exposed at the hands of organizations such as ISIS and Al-Qaeda, with which Hamas shares extremist ideology. The clear goal of the Hamas movement is to “liberate” all the lands that it considers to be Palestine, that is, to expel the Jews from it through fighting. This means making great casualties and sacrificing the lives of thousands and even millions of civilians. Within fourteen centuries, Islamic Sharia law did not allow any Islamic force to risk many lives (the lives of Muslims) in order to liberate a land or win a battle, because the priority in Islamic Sharia law is to save lives, the lives of Muslims and then the lives of others (and the intention of saving the lives of others [non-Muslim people], so that they can live in peace and receive the Islamic call, so that they will be saved from the torment of the afterlife). As for ending their lives, it means missing out on the opportunity of salvation for them, which is an unwanted matter in the Islamic faith. Does Hamas care about the rules of Islamic Sharia law in confrontation with Israel? The answer is NO. Today there are heated discussions amongst Muslims, especially scholars, due to their great shock at some of the scenes we saw, such as the naked Israeli woman being led away by gunmen from Hamas while the gunmen shouted “Allahu Akbar.” Many Muslim sheikhs could only say that these are individual actions, but how many actions like this have occurred and are occurring continuously at the hands of so-called Islamic parties, militias, and regimes? I think the answer is clear to everyone: this absurd war does not care about the rules and principles of Islamic Sharia law, neither from near nor from afar. On top of all of this, what drives Hamas is Iran, which has nationalist-sectarian political agendas in the region. Hamas is nothing but an obedient tool for these agendas, which has never even cared about the slaughter of Muslims and Arabs, especially in Syria.

Thirdly: The Palestinian issue between Islam and contemporary international relations. Palestinians play on both tracks in international relations and Islam as a religion to promote their cause and gain more. There are many contradictions that occur if we try to shift the Palestinian issue along the political tracks in the field of international relations and the religious tracks at the level of Islam. I will address this topic in the next article because there is not enough space to explain this topic in this article.

While I was writing this article, and before the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas, Turkish planes, drones, and cannons were bombing villages, countryside, and towns in the Kurdistan region in Iraq, and in the Kurdish region of northern Syria, which is called Rojava. The bombing continues to this day and has left at least dozens dead and hundreds wounded among civilians, in addition to severe damage to property, agricultural fields, and residential homes. The killing of Kurdish civilians by the Turkish and Iranian states has been almost a daily occurrence, since 1991. There are thousands of Kurdish civilian victims, but the Arab and Islamic media is as silent as the dead in graves, despite the fact that most Kurds are Muslims. What is strange is the position of the Hamas movement and Palestinian organizations towards the Kurdish people. The Palestinians stood by Saddam Hussein, which is understandable as he strongly supported them. But today they support the Iranian regime, which suppresses the Kurds in the most horrific ways, knowing that the Iranian regime is Shiite and considers the Sunnis to be infidels (i.e., Palestinians and Kurds). Instead of standing with the Kurdish people, the Palestinians stand with the Iranian regime and consider the Kurds as “traitors”. The Palestinians stand with the Turkish state against the Kurds and do not care about the demands of the Kurds and the oppression against them. Additionally, in 2017, when the Kurds expressed their desire for the referendum that took place in the Kurdistan region, the Hamas movement and other Palestinian parties did not hesitate to consider this as a kind of betrayal, secession, and collaboration with foreign powers. This was despite the fact that the Kurds expressed their opinion peacefully and did not wage war against the countries that occupy them and treat them with the worst types of injustice and aggression! On the other hand, Hamas is expecting the Kurds to give up their right as a people who want independence, and instead to harness all their potential for the Palestinian cause, which the Palestinians are struggling to keep as the number one concern for all Muslims and Arabs!

The Palestinian issue is essentially a national issue in the sense of contemporary politics, using Islam as a card for power and pressure. Considering the international equations that exist today, and in light of the lack of any balance of power between Israel and the Palestinians, there are regional powers in the Middle East that push the Hamas movement to engage in adventures with uncalculated consequences. Unarmed civilians on both sides are the unfortunate victims, in exchange for the Hamas movement receiving financial and military aid by several countries. There is a common will between Hamas, Palestinian organizations, and certain countries and parties, in the Middle East, that requires keeping the Palestinian cause as a priority issue and always at the forefront. This common will has multiple political goals that contradict the principles of Islamic Sharia law and the interests of peoples in the region. As for the Palestinian militant organizations, this generates money and power and keeps them at the forefront of Arab and Islamic attention. Therefore, most Palestinians stood against the Syrian revolution in 2011, as the Syrian revolution and the injustice of the Syrian regime against its own people pushed the Palestinian issue into oblivion. What the Syrian regime has done to the Syrian people from the beginning of the Arab Spring until today, Israel has not done against the Palestinians since 1948.

As for the countries and parties that share this common will, they are among the countries that commit war crimes against their people and do not allow the slightest recognition of the rights of civilians within them. By supporting the war against Israel, these countries export their crises abroad, and cover up their crimes and actions by initiating and perpetuating wars with Israel, thus buying more time and oxygen for themselves. This common will does not care about Palestinian civilians, but rather enjoys turning them into free victims, without conscience whilst ignoring the most basic rules of Islamic Sharia law, which the parties that participate in this evil have always praised.

This article was written on 12 October 2023.

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