March 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Senior Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa Against Hamas

March 13, 2023 | Flash Brief

Senior Muslim Clerics Issue Fatwa Against Hamas

Latest Developments

The Islamic Fatwa Council — a non-governmental clerical body headquartered in Najaf, Iraq — issued a fatwa, or religious edict, last week condemning Hamas’ repression of Palestinians in Gaza and calling on the terrorist group to make peace with Israel. The council stated that Hamas was responsible for racketeering, extortion, the use of child soldiers, and falsely accusing Palestinians of treason. The fatwa dictates that Muslims should not “pray for, support, finance or fight on behalf of Hamas.” An animated series of videos released in January detailing harsh living conditions in Gaza under Hamas rule — produced by the U.S.-based Center for Peace Communications and titled “Whispered in Gaza” — spurred the religious ruling.

The Islamic Fatwa Council is a judicial body that specializes in Islamic law, represents both Sunnis and Shiites, and is chaired by Grand Ayatollah Shaikh Fadhil al-Budairi. Among several key mission objectives, the council says it strives to “reclaim the Islamic legal system from extremists, Islamists, and supporters of terrorism.” The fatwa is the first against Hamas by an accredited Islamic legal body.

Expert Analysis

Since its brutal takeover of the Gaza Strip, Hamas has trained child soldiers, jailed activists who dare expose its corrupt authority, and stolen aid money to fund its military activities. The fatwa is welcome news, as it demonstrates increasing recognition among some Muslims in the region that Hamas’ extremism and repression are key drivers of Palestinian conflict with Israel.” — Joe Truzman, Research Analyst at FDD’s Long War Journal

A Call to Respond

“Our faith, in its wisdom, enjoins us to be an enemy to the oppressor and an aid to the oppressed,” said Muhammed Ali al-Maqdisi, the council’s spokesperson. “That is why the fatwa was issued against Hamas.”

Noting the public outcry after the release of “Whispered in Gaza,” al-Maqdisi added, “Nearly everyone who follows Palestinian affairs saw these videos in which numerous inhabitants of Gaza — men, women, and children — described what they had been subjected to by Hamas’ corruption. They testified before the world to the many forms of extortion and intimidation they have suffered.”

A History of Human Rights Abuses

Hamas has a long record of repression. In a report on human rights practices in Gaza in 2021, the U.S. State Department notes that Hamas’ human rights abuses include, among others, “credible reports of unlawful or arbitrary killings by Hamas personnel; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by Hamas personnel; unjust detention; political prisoners or detainees; serious problems with the independence of the judiciary; [and] arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including violence, threats of violence, unjustified arrests and prosecutions against journalists, censorship, and the existence of criminal libel and slander laws.”

In one prominent case, on November 1, 2021, Hamas arrested peace activist Rami Aman for holding a Zoom call with Israelis. The terrorist group criticized Aman for “holding a normalization activity,” a charge Hamas official Iyad al-Bozom described as a crime.

Related Analysis

FAQ: Hamas,” by Joe Truzman and Toby Dershowitz

What Would a Third Intifada Mean for Palestinians?” by Jonathan Schanzer


Israel Palestinian Politics