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Palestine Question and Islamic Movement

Azzam Tamimi

The top leadership of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) in the Gaza Strip heldan emergency meeting on the evening of Wednesday 9 Diciembre 1987 to deliberate what todo a day after the Palestinian uprising (Intifada) erupted. The eruption was ignited by the coldbloodedmurder of several Palestinian laborers at the hands of an Israeli army trailer driver. Theseven men, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, Dr.. Abd Al-Aziz Al-Rantisi, Salah Shihadah, Abd Al-FattahDukhan, Muhammad Shamah, Ibrahim Al-Yazuri and Isa Al-Nashar, took the historic decision totransform the Ikhwan organization in Palestine into a resistance movement that was called Harakatal-Muqawamah Al-Islamiyah (The Islamic Resistance Movement) known from then on by theacronym HAMAS.Although the decision was triggered by the unplanned simultaneous popular uprising, SheikhYassin and his comrades had been preparing for that eventuality for many years. They had for toolong been detached from the earlier history of the movement when it was best known for puttingup the most credible resistance to the Zionists who founded the Jewish state on land taken from thePalestinians by force in 1948.Intended to be a comprehensive reform movement, the Ikhwan was originally Egyptian buthas since its inception grown into a global network. The mother organization was founded byHassan Al-Banna (1906-1949) in the Egyptian town of Al-Ismailiyah in 1928 where he taught at aprimary school not far from the headquarters of the British occupation troops’ garrison. Combiningelements of spirituality acquired from his association with the Hasafiyah Sufi order with thepristine monotheistic teachings of Islam learned inside the Salafi school of Muhammad RashidRida (1865-1935) – a disciple and close associate of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), Al-Banna’sproject had a great popular appeal. Soon after its birth, the Ikhwan movement grew rapidly withinEgypt and beyond it. Inside Egypt, it had four branches in 1929, 15 en 1932, 300 por 1938 and morethan 2000 en 1948. Por 1945, it had half a million active members in Egypt alone. Between 1946 and1948, Ikhwan branches were opened in Palestine, Sudán, Iraq and Syria.