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Hamas

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The Oxford Dictionary of Islam What is This? Covers the religious, political, and social spheres of global Islam in the modern world

    Hamas

    Acronym (meaning “zeal”) for Harakat al-Muqawamah al-Islamiyyah (Movement of Islamic Resistance). Most important Palestinian Islamist organization in the occupied West Bank and Gaza. Established in December 1987 at the beginning of the Palestinian uprising (intifadah) as the organizational expression of Muslim Brotherhood participation in the armed anti-Israeli resistance. Founded by Abd al-Aziz al-Rantisi with Shaykh Ahmad al-Yasin as spiritual guide. Has an armed wing, called Izz al-Din al-Qassam Forces or Brigades. Explains the anti-Israeli engagement in terms of jihad, which is specified as an individual religious duty. Accuses Jews of seeking to destroy Islam; the consequent threat to Islam means that no Jewish state (Israel) can legitimately exist. Portrays the military option embodied in its interpretation of jihad as the only one available for the liberation of Palestine. Characterizes Palestine as an Islamic waqf (pious endowment), so no portion of it can be relinquished. Heavily emphasizes the religious importance of Palestine and Jerusalem, making land a major religious issue that cannot be compromised for political reasons. Rejects the political program adopted by the PLO. Refuses to recognize the peace process. Claims the support of 30 to 40 percent of Palestinians as members. Devotes the majority of its budget to educational and social welfare activities.

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