by Sarbaz Roohulla Rezvi (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 7, Dhu al-Qa'dah, 1435)
The so-called Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham is not interested in fighting Zionism; it wants to destroy Hamas. Not surprisingly, it did not utter a word against recent Zionist crimes in Gaza.
“We will build this Islamic Emirate on our dead bodies and will implement Shari‘ah in there, so that we will taste the joy of living under Islamic rule once again and we swear by Allah that we will obey His orders and will avoid from those acts that He has commanded us to avoid.”
Thus spoke Abdul-Latif Moussa in Ibn-Taymiyah Masjid in Rafah, South Gaza five years ago. It was Friday August 14, 2009. Also known as Abu al-Noor al-Maqdasi, Moussa delivered the speech while armed men of Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Followers of God) dressed in black stood beside him. He announced the creation of “Al-Emirate al-Islamiyah fi Aknaf Beytul Maqdas” or the “Islamic Emirate in Jerusalem” and declared himself the first amir of this Islamic Emirate.
Jund Ansar Allah was a takfiri movement that was established in Rafah in 2008. During Israel’s war on Gaza in December 2008–January 2009, this movement announced that like Israel, Hamas is also beyond the pale of Islam and thus there is no difference between the Islamic Resistance and the Zionist occupier. They raised the issue of the superficial implementation of Shari‘ah by Hamas and their leniency in this regard. The takfiris used this as a pretext for their opposition to Hamas comparing it to a secular government.
Tensions between Jund Ansar Allah and Hamas first erupted into armed conflict when in July 2009 Hamas police attacked one of their hideouts. Although Jund Ansar Allah conducted a few operations against Israel, the vast majority of them were quite ineffective and unsuccessful. Then the Jund Ansar Allah started targeting public places like internet cafes in Gaza for what they called publishing “immoral material.”
After the public declaration by the leader Abdul-Latif Moussa, they converted the Ibn Taimiyah Masjid into their headquarters. In response, Hamas surrounded the masjid and asked the members of Jund Ansar Allah to surrender but they refused. Hamas tried to negotiate and sent Muhammad Jibril al-Shemali, one of the commanders of Izz Al-Din Qassam Brigades, but the Jund Ansar Allah killed him as soon he entered the masjid. A seven-hour battle ensued with heavy firing from both sides. The masjid was destroyed and all members of Jund Ansar Allah were killed. Hamas also suffered numerous casualties.
Abdul-Latif Moussa was killed in a suicide attack by a member of the Jund Ansar Allah. This particular incident aroused great anger among the takfiris against Hamas. They declared this incident as the massacre of those mujahideen whose comrades were fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Somalia.
When ISIS entered Syria years later and invited thousands of international “jihadis” to join them from around the world, the small number of Palestinians who joined ISIS in Syria adopted the name, “Abu al-Noor al-Maqdasi Brigades” for themselves.
The division between Hamas and the takfiris is rooted in their ideological differences and strategic objectives and priorities. Hamas as the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, in spite of salafi trends within it, and believing in armed struggle as one of the options for the liberation of Palestine is different from takfiri groups. Hamas, like Hizbullah, does not believe in targeting anyone except the Zionist occupation forces.
On the other hand, the takfiris consider “cleansing” the Ummah from what they believe is shirk, and corrupt leaders as their main priorities. Thus, they are practically silent about Israeli aggression and crimes. This takfiri ideology revealed its stand on Gaza in the recent war that was launched only a few weeks after the ISIS attack on Mosul in Iraq (June 10). ISIS has not only kept silent on the Gaza war but unofficially it has called the resistance to Zionist aggression in Gaza illegal!
The takfiris have a simplistic understanding of Islamic principles. They believe that jihad can only be launched by the permission of an amir or khalifah. While this is correct, what they fail to consider is how the amir or khalifah is to be chosen? Can any person declare himself a khalifah? Are there any qualifications for assuming this post; what are the rules and mechanisms whereby a person is elevated to the position of a khalifah? The takfiris are completely silent on these points. All they say is that any movement that is not headed by a khalifah is not Islamic!
Based on this simplistic notion, they claim that since the Palestinians and the people in Gaza do not follow an amir or khalifah, their struggle has no legitimacy. Talat Zahran, the well-known Egyptian takfiri preacher has declared that Hamas’ struggle against Israel has no value because they do not follow an amir. If one were to follow this takfiri logic, the Saudis would be most “Islamic” country in the world because they have a king, whom they consider to be the wali al-amr (the preeminent decision maker).
Hamas has repeatedly announced its different ideological basis from the takfiris. The prominent member of Hamas politburo Osama Hamdan mentioned in an interview with Tasnim News, “The stand of Hamas regarding the importance of Islamic unity is crystal clear. We are a unified Ummah and this Ummah shall have a unified trend against its enemies. Whoever spreads sectarian issues is burning his own house and Islam. We in Hamas believe that our main fight is against the Zionist regime that is being supported by the US, and that is the real struggle. Whoever thinks about Muslims and Islam and supports them and tries to benefit them shall take practical steps against the Zionist enemy because this is the basic struggle.”
While addressing the question of relationship between Hamas and some takfiri groups like ISIS, Dr. Khaled Qadoomi, Hamas’ representative in Iran, emphasized, “It is possible that some members of ISIS were members of Hamas in the past who have left this movement but there is no room for extremism in Hamas’ ideology… it is our desire that ISIS instead of pointing their guns at Muslims, will point them at the Zionist occupiers.”
The close relationship between Hamas and Islamic Iran and Hizbullah, despite different analytical views on Syria, has been another reason for the takfiris’ harsh attacks against Hamas. The Islamic Republic of Iran, one of the most powerful countries in West Asia stands out as the only country that has supported the Palestinians’ armed resistance officially and openly declared the idea of arming the resistance across Palestine. The Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei in his sermon during Eid ul-Fitr prayers (July 29, 2014) announced, “The President of America has issued a ‘fatwa’ saying that the resistance should be disarmed. Of course, it is clear that you want it to be disarmed so that it cannot deliver any blow against these crimes. But we say that the opposite should happen. The entire world — particularly the world of Islam — should provide the people of Palestine with as many weapons as they can [to enable them to fight against the Zionist occupiers of their land].”
The reality is that the resistance bloc especially with Islamic Iran is the only alliance that has supported resistance in Palestine beyond the mere supply of food and medical aid. Further, Hamas’ relationship with Iran is rooted in its taqribi (Shia-Sunni unity) Islamic ideology that was supported by Imam Hasan al-Banna and other influential figures in the Muslim Brotherhood. On this basis they consider the main enemy of the Islamic Ummah to be US imperialism and Zionism.
The Israeli aggression on Gaza and the Palestinian cause have once again distinguished right from wrong and showed that mere mobilization in the name of “global jihad” by abandoning normal life has no value in Islam. In fact, any struggle even if erroneously termed jihad that divides the Ummah and empowers the enemies of Islam not only carries no value, it will result in committing great sins.
(Sarbaz Roohulla Rezvi, originally from Indian Occupied Kashmir, is just as dedicated to the liberation of Palestine as he is to Kashmir)