ישראל נאמן | Lectures, Articles, Tours: Israel | Mideast onTarget | Elliot Chodoff & Yisrael Ne'eman | Jihadi Ideological Fathers of the Hamas Covenant

Jihadi Ideological Fathers of the Hamas Covenant

 24 January 2010

By Yisrael Ne'eman

A year after Israel's Cast Lead Operation in Gaza and countless hypocritical condemnations of Israel's use of force to halt Hamas rocket attacks and weaken that organization it appears that virtually none are familiar with the Hamas commitment to Jihad. At present Israel sent massive aid to Haiti in the wake of their devastating earthquake. Certain elements both in Israel and abroad are questioning why we do not help Gaza in a similar manner. The answer is simple, "They want to kill us." You can help your sworn enemy only after his final defeat. The example is US policy towards Germany and Japan after WWII.

Today as in the past there are many facets of Islam. The understanding gaining the most attention and notoriety is the fundamentalist bin Laden al Qaeda type, in essence defined as "Jihadi Islam." With an approximately 1.6 billion Muslims world wide estimates today are that 15% or so support this perspective, so although a minority we are still speaking in a range of a quarter of a billion people. The vast majority are not activists but rather serve as a civilian support system for these extremist beliefs. Within the Jihadi camp there are tactical disagreements concerning when and how to attack thereby exposing differences between Al Qaeda supporters and other Muslim Brotherhood loyalists such as those in Gaza (Hamas). Over the past year this led to armed clashes where the former were massacred. Due to a liberal democratic education, Westerners in particular try to differentiate between the two groups, often declaring those in the Muslim Brotherhood to be "realistic" and "willing to make compromises to remain in power". What is not understood is the temporary nature of such policies. Much more important in the long run are the fatwas (Islamic judgments), "The Charter of Allah" as the Hamas Covenant is known and the ideological - theological tracts written by Jihadi thinkers. Concurring Hamas Covenant articles will be indicated in parentheses.

When focusing on the Hamas Covenant many believe it to be a Palestinian national document more than anything else. This is what Hamas leaders Khaled Mashal and Ismail Haniya would like us to believe. Palestinian nationalism is only a veneer for the Covenant. The scope of the document relates to the need for world Islamic conquest (Art. 7: The Universality of the Islamic Resistance Movement and Art. 9: Goals). More so the Hamas is at war not just against Israel but identifies the Jews as the enemy and pushes a harsh anti-Semitic policy (Introduction and Art. 7). This will be discussed in a subsequent article. Many believe Hamas to be "only posturing" as if a Jihadist movement would concede Allah's objectives. Below is a review of the ideologues Hasan al-Banna, Sayyed Qutb and Abdullah Azzam, upon whom the pillars of Hamas ideals are constructed.

Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), founder of the Muslim Brotherhood (Egypt, 1928) in his tract On Jihad demands a full fledged physical Jihad to crush all those refusing to embrace Islam even should they show no hostile intent. Hamas is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood (Art. 2) and by definition supports the following quote from al-Banna's work:

Jihad in its literal significance means to put forth one's maximal effort in word and deed; in the Sacred Law it is the slaying of the unbelievers, and related connotations such as beating them, plundering their wealth, destroying their shrines, and smashing their idols," and "It is initiated by us as a communal obligation, that is, it is obligatory on us to begin fighting with them after transmitting the invitation [to embrace Islam], even if they do not fight against us. (Five Tracts of Hassan al-Banna, Translation – Charles Wendall, Univ. of Calif. 1978, p. 147)

For al-Banna to engage in Jihad is an obligation (Art.3), to avoid Jihad is a sin. For him those explaining Jihad to be non-violent and akin to a cleansing of the heart and spirit are accused of cowardice and refusing the honorable death as a martyr. The entire world must be conquered through Islamization as well as Arabization for the Arabs are superior and understand the true message of Islam better than all others. The People of the Book being Jews and Christians are sinners and will be defeated (Preamble).

The Islamic State is to be established by force if necessary throughout the Muslim world and then the Jihad continues to non-Muslims. This Holy War in the name of Allah breaks down into two parts: defensive and offensive. The defensive Jihad involves personal obligation where all are to participate including debtors or slaves, women and children, none of whom need permission from creditors or masters, husbands or parents accordingly. Defensive Jihad is defined as battling those who have captured territories having belonged to Islam previously and thereby defined as "Waqf lands" or Muslim land endowments (Art. 11, 12). Today this includes a large portion of the world – The Balkans, Spain, the sub-Sahara, India and more.

When moving over to offensive Jihad, Sheikh al-Banna speaks of Islam, combat and tribute as the three pronged status of Muslim relations with the world. All three agree that one either lives in the realm of Islam (Dar ul-Islam) and fights for world dominance, or one is the adversary residing in the realm of war (Dar ul-Harb) and must either convert or die. The People of the Book (Jews and Christians) are allowed to survive provided they pay the special jizya head tax to their Islamic patrons. One can live in peace by accepting Islamic sovereignty (Art. 31). Offensive Jihad is a community leadership obligation whereby there is a decision to field an army for further conquests. The personal obligatory defensive Jihad does not apply since Islam is not under attack but on a march of conquest. Islam is to be offered to peaceful non-believers and should the offer be rejected Jihad is declared against the offenders. Refusal by the inferior People of the Book (dhimmis – second class peoples) results in war where according to one commentary used by al-Banna, all those who fall as martyrs in battle will receive a double reward for the efforts. The opening lines of the Covenant condemn the People of the Book who rightfully suffer Allah's wrath.

The Egyptian philosopher and theologian Sayyed Qutb (1906-1966) emphasizes the overall Jihad against the "Jahili" or ignorant world, this same polytheism and lack of belief held before the advent of Islam in the seventh century. Writing in the 1950s he was doubtful whether a true Islamic society or even community existed. Recounting Islamic wars and battles throughout history he makes the case for a continual Jihad in his book Milestones. He is anti-democracy and anti-West, reviles communist/socialist ideals, declares Holy War against any society where men rule in place of Allah, allows for no co-existence of religion and the secular state (Allah would have a competitor for human loyalties) and believes the People of the Book must be defeated and subjected to the jizya tax by a victorious Islam. Like al-Banna, Islam is to be offered to all, should they refuse yet remain peaceful such a rejection is to be answered with Jihad.

For Qutb the Muslim world is mixed with Jahili (ignorance) because those societies have adopted secular ways and at best have reduced Islam to "religion" or "belief" instead of a full way of life governed by Shariah law as given by Allah. Hence he attacked Nasser's revolutionary regime, spent over ten years in jail for doing so and was eventually executed by the authorities. In differentiating himself from al-Banna and Abdullah Azzam he claims all can be equally devout Muslims with full understanding whether one be an Arab or not. The others believe in Arab superiority.

Most important is his emphasis on the offensive Jihad. The Muslim community leadership is meant to be leading a Jihad against all non-Muslims until Allah's authority reigns supreme. Any person or society not counted among Islam's true believers is to be attacked regardless of threat or common border. Qutb is the true theological father of 9/11. Jihadi Islam is to bring freedom to all men through submission to Allah. Qutb's homeland is any community where Allah's authority rules, this through the Koran as a constitution (Art. 5) or Shariah law. This is understood to mean the establishment of separatist Islamic communities in Europe, Asia, the Far East - anywhere.

Qutb is emphatic concerning women and their fully domestic role. They are to raise the family and inculcate Islamic values into their children. They are their children's guardians against anti-Islamic Jahili influences (Art. 17-18). According to the Koran women are inferior, subject to the commands of their husbands or male relatives and may even be beaten if need be (Koran 4:34).

When battling Jahili societies one is to annihilate them without seeking personal gain. Whether one is martyred or not, Jihadists will gain their true rewards in the afterlife (Art. 36). Qutb has a visceral hatred for Israel and even more so for Jews (Art. 7) but more about that at another time.

Abdullah Azzam (1941-1989) was directly involved with those who wrote the Hamas Covenant but more significantly he is said to be the single most influential person in Osama bin Laden's choice of world Jihad. Azzam was born in Mandated Palestine and left the West Bank after the 1967 Six Day War, refusing to live under Israeli rule. With a doctorate in Islamic law Azzam went off to lead the Jihad in Afghanistan against the Soviets where his forces were victorious. His two most important works are Defense of the Muslim Lands and Join the Caravan. It is in Afghanistan that he worked closely with bin Laden. This was a defensive Jihad whereby all Muslims are personally responsible for the Islamic victory over the invader (see above). He emphasizes the compulsory obligation of every Muslim to engage in Jihad unless excused due to physical or economic disability. Even women can participate by helping civilians and caring for the wounded but not as combatants. For Azzam except for the dedicated few, the Muslim world is viewed as cowardly, only caring for material pleasures and sinning grievously against Allah in evading its Holy responsibility.

Defensive Jihad is characterized by the bravery and generosity of its combatants. With the holy Waqf under attack or occupied by outside invaders all are drafted into the purifying Jihad. Similar to Qutb he understands Jihad to be fulfillment of Islamic law and in essence to be part of a "constitution" - omnipresent, compulsory and never transitory. He too, like al-Banna and Qutb condemns those who speak of a spiritual Jihad, claiming Jihad is exclusively physical land based conquest. All other interpretations are excuses placing those who avoid Jihad in the same category as homosexuals and adulterers. Martyrdom and 72 maidens (houris) await the Jihad warrior as rewards for his efforts.

Azzam focuses on the Afghan Jihad first and the Russian unconditional surrender. The next obligatory step is Palestine and the expulsion of the Jewish presence (Art. 14, 15). No compromises can ever be made in Jihad (Art. 13). He had taken part in the early stages of Muslim Brotherhood attacks against Israel immediately after the 1967 War but was sorely disappointed after realizing the Palestine national movement was secular and bereft of religion. Only an Islamic struggle would be victorious (Art. 26, 27). Even worse yet many came from Christian backgrounds such as George Habash and Naif Hawatma. But after Afghanistan the Palestinian Jihad was next. Other future battlegrounds include Lebanon, Kashmir (India), sub-Saharan Africa, Burma, Caucasia, Indonesia and more. This only recounts 20th century Islamic setbacks which need to be rectified in the continuing defensive Jihad. Like his two predecessors the offensive Jihad will eventually envelop Europe, the West and the world.

All three ideologues agree that Islam is a full way of life which includes Jihad, both defensive and offensive. The Hamas Covenant speaks outwardly of a defensive Jihad, first against Israel but once the principle is accepted any non-Islamic sovereignty over previously Muslim held territories is a God given reason for a universal draft in the name of a defensive Jihad. Large portions of the world will be attacked. When the defensive Jihad is completed the offense begins, or as Qutb would have it, both can be engaged in simultaneously. Article 36 concludes the Hamas Covenant:

"The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] depends on Islam as a way of life, its faith, and religion and supports whoever adopts Islam as a way of life"

World Jihad is intrinsic to the Islamic way of life, the next step after the destruction of Israel and the defeat of the Jews.

Finally there is the issue of "hudna" or the Islamic cease-fire agreed to while battling the Jahili societies. All three thinkers agree that it is only a temporary arrangement permissible when the Islamic side is in danger of losing. The hudna is a temporary lull to allow for rearming, retraining and military reorganization of the Jihadi forces. The Jihad begins anew according to the Muslim military timetable. The example given is the ten year hudna agreed upon at Hudaybia between the Prophet Mohammed and the Meccans. After two years the hudna was broken by the Muslim forces and Mecca captured. Because the Jihadi forces are battling in the name of Allah any agreement reached between humans is subservient to the need to spread the Divine religion of Islam. Agreements must be broken if it serves the interests of the Muslim side. Any hudna is a delay in the eternal battle for universal subjugation to Islam.

To summarize, the Hamas is the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Banna, Qutb and Azzam were all Brotherhood ideologues and activists whose main emphasis is Jihad – the defensive flows into the offensive naturally. The Hamas Covenant fully explains the defensive Jihad and demands of all to live a fully Islamic way of life. The Hamas motto (Art. 8) is:

Allah is its goal

The Messenger is its leader

The Koran is its constitution

Jihad is its methodology

Death for the sake of Allah is its most coveted desire

This is a clear call for offensive Jihad and martyrdom as is known from the Muslim Brotherhood reading of the Koran. "Islamic" Palestinian nationalism is a façade or at best a temporary stage. None should expect the Muslim Brotherhood to halt its march for world conquest should they succeed on the Palestinian front or any other.