Friday, May 27, 2011

The 1987 Intifada

                                                   The 1987 Intifada

Many think that the first intifada, in 1987, was a ‘spontaneous event’. (Indeed many think that about the following intifadas.) If it was spontaneous, then that spontaneity required a lot of organisation! And that organisation was primarily supplied by Hamas. And it is far being the case that Hamas has actually denied this. Hamas’s Ibrahim al-Quqa has said that it was the

‘decision of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas), which set the precise zero-hour in the sanctuaries of the mosques.’

The leader of Hamas at that time (1987), Sheikh Yasin, also claimed that Hamas helped set off the intifada and that it was Hamas that led and controlled it thereafter. More specifically and Islamically, as it were, the intifada basically began in the mosques of the West Bank and Gaza. These mosques worked as a rallying point for militants and ordinary Muslims as well as the launch pads for demonstrations and other intifada activities. Hamas thus utterly transformed the mosques into centres for Islamic learning as well as the places for all political organisation.

The timing of the jihad, and therefore the first intifada, also proved to be a problem for Hamas and Yasin. They debated about whether or not it should begin after Palestinian society was fully Islamised or before that. Yasin decided that it should begin after the full Islamisation of Palestine. That explains the Muslim Brotherhood’s, and therefore Hamas’s, quiescence in the early days. That is also why the Israelis took Hamas to be a thoroughly religious group with no political aspirations and no interest in political violence. The Israelis were wrong in big way. Hamas was simply preparing the ground for jihad and therefore for the 1987 intifada.

Part of Hamas’s Islamisation project was the propagation of the position that those Muslims who were silent about the occupation of Palestine were actually committing an Islamic sin. That is because Islam requires that every Muslim must engage in ‘holy war’. (And for those who care to look, this Islamic imperative is indeed there in the Koran.) It followed that if certain Muslims failed to act, or to become jihadists, they would be committing ‘fatal treason’. And treason is, of course, punishable by death. Not only that, Hamas stated that if any ‘philosophy’ was seen to be justifying submission to the Israelis (or to any non-Muslims), or encouraging Muslims not to ‘sacrifice their souls’, then it would be seen as an ‘heretical’ philosophy to be immediately stamped out. And every such philosophy was indeed stamped out by Hamas.

More concretely and specifically, Hamas got to work on producing, as well as distributing, thousands of leaflets. All these leaflets began with passages from the Koran and included within them other such Koranic passages. They also contained accounts of various episodes in Islamic history. As for graffiti. The following is a small sample of the graffiti which could be seen before, during and after the 1987 intifada:

“Our land is Islamic, this is the identity.’
‘Islam is the way to return.’
‘Islam is the solution.’
‘Khaibar, Khaibar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return.’
‘The land of Palestine is an Islamic waqf, Islamic law forbids its abandonment or bargaining over it.’
‘The destruction of Israel is a Koranic imperative.’
‘There is no solution except by the Koran.’
‘The Koran is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.’

So the 1987 intifada was a thoroughly Islamic event, as it were. At the very least, it certainly began in the mosques. As Hamas leader, Dr. ‘Abd-al-‘Aziz, put it. The intifada began

‘with one fixed outcry, allahu akbar [God is great], and took off from the mosques, where the Koran was being read, and the Islamic songs sung, and the people provided with guidance…’

Not only was the 1987 intifada utterly Islamic in nature, it was also only a small part of the larger jihad. That jihad had known many conflicts and battles over the centuries. The 1987 intifada was just another ‘phase’ in this ‘eternal jihad’. It was only one mechanism to mobilise the masses into the spirit of Islamic jihad. In effect, the fight against Israel was, and still is, only one part of the Islamic battle against all non-Muslims and all non-Muslim states. (Another part is the re-conquest of Andalusia – Spain.) In other words, the intifada was, and was seen as, only one form of jihad which was itself was a preparation for the later jihads which would then be fully armed.

Apart from the war against Israel, which is Islamic, and the various forms of jihad that war takes, what about the Islamic nature, as it were, of the Islamic soldiers themselves? They too were to be thoroughly Islamised by Hamas. As one commentator put it:

‘The fundamentalist groups offered a special kind of activism that combined patriotism with moral purity and social action with the promise of divine grace. Sheikh Yasin offered the young Palestinian something far beyond Arafat’s ken: not just the redemption of the homeland, but the salvation of his own troubled soul.

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