Fatah’s “Spiritual” Opposition to Hamas

Here is a remarkable development. According to an article in the Chrsitian Science Monitor (“West Bank Scholars Push for Spiritual Reply to Hamas Extremism”), Muslim supporters of Fatah like Shaikh Sad Sharaf of Al Rawda College have engaged in ideological confrontation with Hamas on religious grounds and lobby for the creation of a spiritual association attached to the nationalist movement.


That the Palestinian nationalist movement is finally waking up to the fact that religion cannot and should not be ignored is a welcome development. That spiritually minded Palestinians from the mainstream are interested in combating deviant claims such as that religion advocates the slaughter of civilians is more than welcome. Even the desire to remove religious misunderstandings and distortions that have been marshaled to prevent negotiation over land issues should be considered a positive development. Hamas’s insistence that all Palestinian land is a trust for the Muslim people is as incorrect and unjust as the Israeli claim that all the land is a trust for the Jewish people.


Nonetheless, there are two aspects of this development that prevent me from jumping up and down with optimism. (1) Why do the advocates of this new development feel they must misrepresent Hamas’s position to advance their cause? (2) Are we the only ones disturbed by certain extreme statements made by the so-called “moderates?”


The Christian Science Monitor article correctly states, “Hamas’s rise has coincided with growing disillusionment with the secular ideologies that dominated the Palestinian national movement starting in the 1950s.”  It notes that Shaikh Sharaf “criticizes Hamas’s advocacy of violence against Israeli civilians.” Excellent. So does any Muslim who obeys the commandments of the Qur’an. Arguments like this will not only win over the “swing votes” among Palestinian Muslims, but would impact even those Hamas members who sincerely wish to live a good Islamic life. But then Sharaf goes on to criticize the Hamas takeover of Gaza. This seems disingenuous. Both Hamas and Fatah were equally responsible for the violence that ended in the Hamas victory. It was Hamas that, even while victorious, insisted it did not wish to separate from the Palestinian Authority and wished to remain in a power sharing arrangement with Fatah. It was Fatah that scorned this offer in order to court the cynical and largely illusory backing of the U.S. and Israel.


But this is the least of the problems with this new development. After all, political partisans always engage in that kind of distortion against each other: look at the smears between the Republicans and the Democrats in the United States. The real problem is that Sharaf, the “moderate” calls for “the creation of one Islamic kingdom as laid out in the Koran (sic).” When we actually take the trouble to read the Qur’an, however, we find this choice characterization of kings in the mouth of the Queen of Sheba: “Kings when they enter a country despoil it and make the noblest of its people its meanest: thus do they behave” (27:34).


The closing sentence of the article quotes Sharaf as saying, “Let’s return to the caliphate.” Advancing this ambition as an example of moderation demonstrates a lack of familiarity with the text of the Qur’an. The word “khalifa” is NEVER used to mean a king. In every single instance in the Qur’an it refers to the office God has bestowed on mankind, every male and every female, to be the vicegerent of God, God’s steward on the earth.


“Behold thy Lord said to the angels: ‘I will create a vicegerent on earth.’  They said “Wilt thou place therein one who will make mischief therein and shed blood?  Whilst we do celebrate Thy praises and glorify Thy holy (name)?’  He said: ‘I know what ye know not.’” (2:30).


The Qur’an is warning us against those who like the kings who despoil the country and demean the noblest of its people will shed blood and spread mischief on the earth, whether in the name of religion, moderation, or democracy.

One Response to “Fatah’s “Spiritual” Opposition to Hamas”

  1. Jane Goody says:

    I follow your posts for a long time and must tell that your posts are always valuable to readers.

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