Hamas – Radical Islamist Roots in the Muslim Brotherhood



To understand the current situation in Israel one needs to understand the two main contrasting factions amongst the Arab Palestinians; the (1) secular nationalists and the (2) Islamist / Jihadists, such as Hamas.

1. The secular nationalist Palestinian groups in Israel include Fatah, the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority (PA) and their founder Yasser Arafat and current chairman, Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen).

2. The Islamist Jihadi factions in Israel are fundamentally opposed to the very existence of Israel and seek its annihilation.  The main Islamists group in Israel is Hamas, which is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and which rules the Gaza Strip. Other groups in operation in the ‘West Bank’ include Islamic Jihad, and the al-asqa Martyrs Brigade.

In this article we trace the modern radical Islamist movement to its roots in a group known as The Muslim Brotherhood, as well elaborate on the ideology of this group. We then tie this into Hamas, an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, which rules in Gaza.

In a later article on the Palestinian’s claim to be descended from the Philistines, we begin to trace the secular nationalists / Pan-Arabists.

In Israel, as elsewhere in the world, each Islamist / Jihadi group has their own ‘flavour’ of radical Islam but what they have in common is roots in the parent group called the Muslim Brotherhood (founded in the 1920’s). To understand radical Islam in any of its manifestations worldwide, including Hamas in Israel, necessitates understanding the origins of the Muslim Brotherhood.

The Muslim Brotherhood

The Muslim Brotherhood was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Sheikh Hassan al-Banna and is a revolutionary fundamentalist movement that exists to restore the caliphate (which had ceased to exist under the Ottoman Turks) and impose strict shariah (Islamist) law in Muslim lands . If a land is not Islamic, the goal of the Brotherhood is to conquer it and make it Islamic . The larger goal is to do so throughout the world — country by country. Their goal is nothing less than world domination of Islam by the restored caliphate.

The Muslim Brotherhood is without a doubt, the most important Islamic organization in the world.

The Muslim Brotherhood slogan is:

“Allah is our objective. The Prophet is our leader. The Qur’an is our law. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope. Allahu akbar!”

[source: Lorenzo Vidino, “The Muslim Brotherhood’s Conquest of Europe,” Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2005]

What is the Caliphate?

The caliphate (Arabic: خِلافة khilāfa) is a form of Islamic government led by a caliph who is considered to be the political and religious successor to the prophet Muhammad and leader of the entire Muslim community. The caliphate administer everything according to the teachings of Mohammed under Sharia law.

Here is a quote by its founder, Hassan al-Banna:

“It is in the nature of Islam to dominate, not to be dominated, to impose its law on all nations and to extend its power to the entire planet.”

~Hassan al-Banna, Muslim Brotherhood founder

[source: The Muslim Brotherhood,” The Investigative Project on Terrorism, http://www.investigativeproject.org/profile/173]

Sharia Law

Sharia ( meaning “way” and “road”) developed early on in Islamic conquests of lands as a means to oversee their rule. It is important to understand that in Islam, there is no distinction between politics and religion. Courts in Islamic ruled lands were all conducted  according to Sharia dictates.

The Caliph, according to Sharia was obligated to wage war, or jihad, on his non-Muslim neighbors.

Al-Banna’s Egypt

The Egypt that al-Banna lived in, while Muslim in its roots, had for two hundred years become very westernized. Most Egyptians knew little more about Islam than the five pillars (faith, prayer, giving charity, fasting during Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca once in a lifetime).

Al-Banna and his followers realized that at least at first their message needed to mobilize Muslims and as such involved  both activism and propaganda.   This combined role resulted in a complex, multi-layered organization attracting members from all walks of life — from the poor labourer to the most educated professional. The Muslim Brotherhood involved themselves in existing organizations; politicized them, Islamized them and finally mobilized them but no matter how humanitarian or social the group, Banna’s message and that of the Muslim Brotherhood’s, always used Islamic terms. Health-related issues, education and nationalism were all articulated through an Islamic framework. It was in this way that the Muslim Brotherhood very subtly Islamized the local worldview — starting initially in Egypt.

One of the early leaders in the Muslim Brotherhood, was none other than Haj Amin al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem who in 1941 aligned himself with the Nazis during the war (see 2 previous posts on al-Husseini, as well as upcoming articles).  The Mufti became known as the Arab Fuhrer, leading ~ 30,000 Muslim Nazis during WWII, and was closely affiliated with infamous Nazi, Heinrich Himmler.  Al-Husseini’s experience in heading Arabic Nazi propaganda during WWII became very helpful to the Muslim Brotherhood.

It was Al-Banna’s ultimate goal to restore the caliphate and so major themes of his talks included reference to the loss of the caliphate, the weakness of the fragmented Islamic world, and the need to restore the caliphate and enforce Sharia law, as this was the Islamic “way,”.  In all of their activities, this was always portrayed as the basis to justice. In impassioned speeches directed at Muslims, al-Banna described the fate expected for heretics and the need for Muslims to return to their purest religious roots, to re-establish the caliphate and resume the great and final holy war, or jihad against the non-Muslim world.

Al-Banna is credited with restoring some traditional practices and terminology. For example, the word jihad which embodied the idea of aspiration, self-strengthening, or making an effort — a form of ‘striving’ to be a better Muslim had come to be thought of as an intellectual and personal pursuit, not necessarily a violent activity. Al-Banna, however insisted that ‘jihad is an instrument in order to battle against the enemy‘ and defined the enemy as non-Muslims who were occupying Muslim lands — such as the British in Egypt and the Jews in ‘Palestine’. Thus, al-Banna insisted that Muslims were duty-bound to help the Palestinians fight the Jews and prevent them from usurping Muslim territory.

Creation of the Islamic Martyr

Al-Banna claimed that if a Muslim were to die in the ‘holy cause’ of liberating Muslim land from occupiers (i.e. jihad) such as the Jews in Palestine, that it would be considered the death of a martyr (Arabic, ‘shaheed’) and they would be rewarded by going straight to Paradise.

Believing al-Banna, the people volunteered for the Muslim Brotherhood and were not afraid to die — in fact, were eager to martyr themselves for the cause of Islam and take the short cut from this tormenting life to Paradise.

The Marriage of Nazism and Radical Islam in Egypt

In the early 1950’s, a blend of Nazi ideology and Muslim-based hatred of Jews, inspired by the preaching of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna and former Nazi and Grand Mufti, Haj Amin al-Husseini (who died in 1974) began to grow in influence, most notably under a leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Sayyid Qutb. More on Qutb, below.

Qutb wrote Our Struggle Against the Jews, putting the blame for the root of all evil on the Jewish people. The Jews, Qutb maintained, were responsible for moral decay, materialism and democratic individualism and as such were the perpetual enemies of Islam. The essay was distributed in millions of copies throughout the Islamic world and forms a central part of Islamist Anti-Jewish ideology, today.

After completing some study in the US, Qutb returned to Egypt, joined the Muslim Brotherhood and became editor-in-chief of its weekly publication called al-ikhwan al-Muslimin and later headed its propaganda section. He soon rose to the highest levels of leadership in the Muslim Brotherhood, continuing to spread Islamic hatred of Jews to others.

Qutb – Father of the Islamist / Jihadi Movement

Sayyid Qutb is often viewed as the “father of modern Islamism” and the one who popularized “the jihadi movement“.

Qutb wrote prolifically and voluminously producing two Islamist classics still in wide circulation in Islamist / jihadi groups.
His large multi-volume work translated in English would be called “In the Shade of the Quran” and the second is a short book which translates as “Sign Posts” and captures the step by step or ‘stage’ approach of the Muslim Brotherhood.

While Qutb stressed the need for ‘stages’ on one hand, he argued strongly that the Islamic world was not Islamic enough and that ultimately only jihad could overthrow “jahiliyya” — which is the state of unbelief and ignorance used to describes the non-Muslim world. This same term is used for the period of ignorance prior to the revelations given to the prophet Mohammed.

Three basic themes emerge from Qutb’s writings which are very important to understand if one is to understand radical Islam / Jihadism.

Three Fundamentals of Islamism / Jihadism

[source: National Commission on Terror Attacks Against the United States; http://www.911commission.gov/report/911Report_Ch2.htm]

According to Qutb and adopted by Islamist / Jihadi groups are the following three fundamentals;

1.The world is beset with barbarism, licentiousness and unbelief (“jahiliyya”) and that humans can only choose only between Islam and jahiliyya.

2. More people, including Muslims, are attracted to jahiliyya and its material comforts than to ‘true’ Islam and as a result jahiliyya could triumph over Islam.

3. There is no middle ground in the struggle between jahilyya and true Islam and all Muslims must take up arms in this fight. Any Muslim who rejects these ideas is to be considered no different than any other nonbeliever and is worthy of destruction.

Goal of Islamist / Jihadi Groups

The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist / Jihadi groups are preparing the way for the coming of the Caliphate; which judging from history is much more problematic than any single Islamic state or terrorist organization.

History stands as evidence that all Islamic conquests of non-Muslim, lands occurred under caliphates, including the Umayyad, Abbasid and the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

Fundamental Ideology of Islamist / Jihadi Groups- problematic for Westerners
  1. There is no distinction between religion and politics; this is very difficult for people in the West who for centuries have separated religion from politics. The Muslim Brotherhood (and its offshoots, such as Hamas in Gaza) are both a political group and a religious group.

Historically and doctrinally, Islam is politics.

The idea of sharia law is the Islamic way of conducting one’s affairs and governs every aspect of the believer’s life (including the Islamic five categories: obligatory, recommended, permissible, not recommended,  forbidden).

2. Muslim authorities are either ‘legitimate’ or ‘illegitimate’ based on whether they enforce Sharia law on society or not.

The importance of this should not be overlooked as this has historically been what motivates various Islamist and jihadi group, including the Muslim Brotherhood to support or oppose ruling governments or regimes of even so-called Muslim nations.  If those ruling parties are not enforcing Sharia law in their society, they are deemed to be ‘illegitimate’.

3. The primary goal of all Islamist and jihadi groups the world over is the establishment of “Allah’s rule” on earth.

This has been the Muslim Brotherhood’s goal from it’s inception and is the goal of all Islamist and jihadi groups from al-Qaida, Boko Haram, Islamic Jihad, Hamas — you name it.

The Only Difference is Tactics

The primary difference between the more violent Islamists and jihadists with the more ‘moderate’ Muslim Brotherhood has only to do with tactics. That is not to say, the Muslim Brotherhood is not a terrorist organization.  The Muslim Brotherhood most definitely advocates violent jihad:

“The change that the [Muslim] nation seeks can only be attained through jihad and sacrifice and by raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life

~Muhammed Badi, Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide, September 2010 sermon.

As for their view of Israel;

“as far as the movement is concerned, Israel is a Zionist entity occupying holy Arab and Islamic lands…and we will get rid of it no matter how long it takes.

~Muhammed Mahdi Akef, 2005 & 2007, former Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide

As evidence of there direct role, the Muslim Brotherhood claims responsibility for the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981 for making peace with Israel (which it calls the “Zionist entity“).

They also sent troops to support Hezbollah’s war against the Jews and in 2006 Brotherhood leader Mahdi Akef pledged 10,000 jihadi fighters to fight at the side of Hezbollah’s war against Israel.

During the second intifada, the Muslim Brotherhood sanctioned “martyrdom operations” against Israel saying;

“they do not have bombs, so they turn themselves into bombs. This is a necessity.”

~ Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Dec. 17, 2010, Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual leader

All Islamist and jihadi groups share the primary vision of the establishment, enforcement and spread of Sharia law the world over.

The only difference is how they go about it.

But…Most Muslims are Peaceful

We’ve heard people say that Islam is a ‘peaceful religion” and that it is only a handful of radicals that are Islamists / Jihadist.  As we elaborated on in a previous article, assuming that 90% of the world’s Muslims are peaceful (against armed Jihad), how may Muslims make up the remaining 10% (Jihadi / Islamists)?

Current estimates are that there are 1.57 billion Muslims worldwide of which 80 – 85% are Sunni.  Sunnis are divided into 3 streams; Political, Missionary and Jihadi.  Assuming that 90% of Sunnis are non-Jihadi leaves 10% of Sunnis as Jihadi, although many experts say that number is on the rise. If only 10% of Muslims are Jihadi and looking at only Sunnis (which represent 80 – 85% of Muslims), the number of Jihadis Sunnis totals 125,600,000 – 133,450,000 people…125.6 million – 133.5 million people.  Let’s round that number off to 130 million Muslims who believe and support armed Jihad.

To envision how many 130 million Jihadis are, it is 35 times the number of individuals in the entire US Armed Forces (including the Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard) or 3 1/2 times bigger than the entire population of Canada! Remember, that is assuming 90% of the world’s Muslims are peaceful.

It is important to know that just because a Muslim says they are peaceful, does not make it so because intrinsic to Islam is the doctrine of lying to non-Muslims.  Yes, you read that right.  It is called ‘taqiya‘.

Taqiya – Mandate to Lie to non-Muslims

Many people do not realize that entrenched in Islam itself is the concept or ‘taqiyya‘ which is an Islamic legal term  under Sharia law which defines when a Muslim should lie.  

This need for a Muslim to lie comes from Sura 3:28 in the Quaran which says;

“Let not the believers take the unbelievers for friends rather than believers; and whoever does this, he shall have nothing of (the guardianship of) Allah, but you should guard yourselves against them, guarding carefully“.

The word for ‘guard‘ or ‘guarding‘ in this passage is defined in al-Bukhari (a hadith ) that ‘believers are allowed to show friendship to the disbelievers outwardly, but never inwardly” and “we smile in the face of some people although our hearts curse them“.

The practice of taqiya falls under a section of Islamic law with regards to dealing with unbelievers.  For Sunnis (that represent 90% of all Muslims, a person who feels their faith may be jeopardized in any way they can lie to “conceal their faith” / what they believe.

Consider this: in the face of those that say 90% of Muslims say they are peaceful, 100% of those are permitted to lie to “conceal their faith”.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Israel

Hamas, is a Muslim Brotherhood offshoot, founded during the first Intifada in 1987.  Consistent with the tactics of the Muslim Brotherhood, it became popular with the Arab Palestinians initially because of its charitable activities in Gaza — and like its parent organization, used its charitable works to indoctrinate the Arab Palestinian Muslims by means of its propaganda.

Hamas took over leadership in Gaza after Fatah lost the parliamentary elections of 2006. Hamas fighters took control of the Gaza Strip and violently removed Fatah officials by throwing them off buildings and executing them in front of their wives and children, by means of a bullet to the head. The result was the de facto division of Gaza governed by Hamas and the ‘West Bank’ governed by the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Hamas, like its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood is dedicated to the establishment of the caliphate, which ultimately involves conquest of the entire Middle East (including Muslim countries that do not impose Sharia law) as well as the eradication of the state of Israel, replacing it with Muslim rule and Sharia law.  For Hamas, their role entails the elimination of the state of Israel.

Interestingly, according to many Muslim Brotherhood leaders, the very seat of the caliphate must be Jerusalem (which leads many evangelical Christians to postulate a link to end-time events and the rise of the anti-Christ).

To Islamists / Jihadists, the very idea of a Jewish state, no matter how small is considered a sacrilege and as a result, a so-called “two state solution” is not even an option.  So as far as Hamas is concerned, they do not want a two-state solution, they want the final solution.

Eradication of Israel is their primary goal.

Other Jihadi Groups operating in Israel

There are also other Jihadi groups operating in the ‘West Bank” area under the ignoring eye of the Palestinian Authority, including the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (‘resistance fighters’ of Fatah) and Islamic Jihad.

Islamists / Jihadi Groups and Islamic Doctrine

We’ve heard people assert that the teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Jihadi / Islamist groups such as Hamas lie outside the doctrines of Islamic authoritative texts (Quran, Hadiths), so we would like to highlight just a few here.

1. The highest calling a Muslim can engage in is armed jihad:

According to the Hadith (authoritative Islamic book accompanying the Quran) “Muhammad once was asked: ‘What is the best deed for the Muslim next to believing in Allah and his messenger?’ His answer was: ‘To participate in jihad in Allah’s cause’” (al-Bukhari 1:25).

2. Martyrdom in jihad is considered the highest of goals

“So narrated Anas bin Malik, ‘The prophet said, “Nobody who dies and finds good from Allah …would wish to come back to this world even if he were given the whole world and whatever is in it except the martyr who, on seeing the superiority of martyrdom, would like to come back to the world and get killed again” (al-Bukhari 51:6).

3. Decapitating unbelievers is totally acceptable in jihad

“When you meet the unbelievers (in battle), strike off their heads; then when you have made wide slaughter among them, carefully tie up the remaining captives. Afterwards either set them free as a favor or let them ransom (themselves) until the war terminates” (Surah 47:4).

4. Terror is a necessary psychological weapon to intimidate and crush non-Muslims

Allah says, “I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers. Therefore strike off their heads and strike off every one of their fingertips . . . Strike terror (into the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies” (Surah 8:12, 60).

5. Jihad continues until full world conquest

“Make war on them until idolatry does not exist any longer and Allah’s religion reigns universally” (Surah 8:39).

5. Martyrdom is what mujahidin look forward to

“(For) the believers …theirs (in return) is Paradise. They fight in his cause, so they kill (others) and are killed … (al-Bukhari 51:1). “So narrated Al-Mughira bin Shu’ba, ‘Our prophet told us about the message of Allah that “… whoever amongst us is killed will go to Paradise” (al-Bukhari 51:2).

[source: Avner Boskey, David’s Tent www.davidstent.org]