Hamas's Islamism



Agam Goldstein-Almog, 17, is an Israeli teenager who was kidnapped by Hamas on October 7. She spent 51 days in captivity until she was released during the Israel-Hamas hostage/prisoner exchange. 

Among other horrors she experienced, Agam testified that she was forced to recite prayers from the Quran, was given an Islamic name, and her captor threatened to marry her. 

This made me think of Islamism, forced conversions, and Islamic imperialism, all of which are a painful part of Jewish history. Forced assimilation into the identity of the colonizer — including forced religious conversions — are a tool of colonialism and imperialism. 

There are a number of dimensions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islamism is one of them. For one, the father of Palestinian nationalism, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, was an Islamist. Islamism is not the same thing as Islam; for more on that, I will elaborate in an upcoming slide.



Colonialism is the practice of a country or empire imposing control and power over other peoples or territories through the establishment of colonies. Colonizers impose their religion, language, economic systems, and more on the colonized population.

Just as the Americas were colonized in the name of Christianity, North Africa, Southern Europe, the Middle East, and much of Asia were colonized in the name of Islam. This is a historical fact. 

Following Muhammad’s death in 632, the Arab Islamic empires conquered lands exponentially quickly. As a result of this rapid colonization, the Muslim authorities were faced with the “problem” of how to handle the conquered Indigenous peoples that resisted forced conversion to Islam. They established the dhimmi system, which granted second-class citizenship to some religious minorities in exchange for heavy taxation. In order to free themselves from this second-class status, minorities had to convert to Islam or fight alongside Muslims in battle. As such, many were also coerced to convert to live a better quality of life.





In 1012, Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah constructed the Hakim Edict, which decreed that all Jews and Samaritans living in Palestine must choose between conversion to Islam or exile. The Hakim Edict fundamentally changed the demographics of the Land of Israel, turning the Indigenous Jews and Samaritans into tiny minorities. 



In the 12th century, under the Almohad dynasty, Jews living in Al-Andalus (the Iberian Peninsula under Muslim rule) and North Africa were forced to convert to Islam. The first Almohad ruler, Abd al-Mumin, granted Jews a seven-month “grace period” to convert. Many Jews refused to convert and instead chose mass martyrdom. 

The famous Medieval Jewish sage Maimonides, who wrote of the brutality of Islamic rule, urged Jews to choose “superficial” conversion (i.e. pretend to convert but not really mean it) over martyrdom.  



Jews in Persia and Iraq were periodically forced to convert to Islam, such as was the case in 1291, 1318, 1333, 1344, 1617, and 1622. The most infamous forced conversion, however, took place in the city of Mashhad in 1839, when a Muslim mob attacked the Jewish community and forced them to convert at the sword. A number of Jewish girls were abducted and turned into child brides. While the community converted, many continued practicing Judaism in secret and eventually moved to Jerusalem. 



There is a long history of forced conversions in Yemen, dating back to the 12th century. During the period of Muḥammad ibn Ali ibn Muḥammad ibn Abd Allah (1759-1834), known also as al-Shawkānī, a law passed decreeing that Jewish orphans were to be converted to Islam. The law was reintroduced in 1922 and was implemented aggressively for the next 10 years. 




First, a disclaimer: Islam and Islamism are not the same thing. Islam is a religion. Islamism is a political ideology. 

Islamists believe in a number of things: (1) the implementation of Islamic law, known as sharia, (2) pan-Islamic political unity, (3) Islamic states, which will eventually unify into a Caliphate, meaning, an Islamic Empire, and (4) a rejection of non-Muslim influences. 

The Islamist movement can be traced back to the late 19th century. During this period, the Ottoman Empire spent massive sums of money on Western civilian and military technology, and as such, got into major debt with European colonial powers. Eventually, this led to the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire.

In light of all this, various Middle Eastern publications wrote of Islamic “alternatives” to the decline of the Empire. For example, some preached of a return to sharia law or a the (re)-establishment of the Islamic Caliphates.

Among the first Islamist groups was the Muslim Brotherhood, founded in Egypt in 1928. Hamas, the governing group in the Gaza Strip, began as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, it functions as a proxy of another Islamist, imperialist influence — the Islamic Republic of Iran. 

Other Islamist groups today include the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, ISIS, and Boko Haram, among hundreds of others.



Hamas began as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, was one of the most influential Islamists of the 20th century. The Muslim Brotherhood preaches as its ultimate goal the establishment of a Caliphate (empire) ruled by Sharia law. 

The very foundational document of Hamas outlines its Islamist aims. 

“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day…This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.” - Hamas Charter, Article 11

Palestine is an Islamic land.” - Hamas Charter, Article 14

On December 8, 2023, Hamas leader Fathi Hammad said on Hamas-run Al-Aqsa TV: “The [Palestinian] people have been soldiers throughout history. They are now preparing to liberate Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, and I am saying this loud and clear: [The Palestinian people] are preparing to establish the Caliphate, with Jerusalem as its capital city, Inshallah. Jerusalem will not only be the capital city of Palestine as an independent state — it will be the capital city of the Islamic Caliphate…”

While 98 percent of the Gaza Strip is Muslim, Gaza’s Christian minority has suffered tremendously under Hamas rule and some have reported forced conversions to Islam. In 2009, for example, Hamas was found exhuming Christian graves because they believed they were “contaminating” Islamic land. 

Hamas’s Islamist roots go even deeper than the Muslim Brotherhood. Hamas now functions as a proxy of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Islamic Republic’s first supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini, was one of the most influential Islamists of the modern period. 

Khomeini’s vision was blatantly imperialist. He believed, for example, that “establishing the Islamic state world-wide belong(s) to the great goals of the revolution.” He spoke of conquering the whole world under the banner of Islam: “Islam makes it incumbent on all adult males, provided they are not disabled and incapacitated, to prepare themselves for the conquest of [other] countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country in the world.”

True to Khomeini’s vision, Iran now has its claws in just about every war in the Middle East via the use of proxy militias, including Hamas, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Ansar Allah (Houthis), Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata'ib Sayyid al-Shuhada, Badr Organization,  Al-Ashtar Brigades, Al-Mukhtar Brigades, Liwa Zainebiyoun, and Liwa Fatemiyoun.





Sexual violence as a tool of colonialism and imperialism is as old as colonialism and imperialism themselves. 

Europeans used sexual violence — including forcibly marrying minors — in their conquests. So did the Islamic conquerors. 

Please note: I am not going to argue in the comment section over whether Hamas weaponized rape as a tool of war on October 7. The evidence is extensive. Deniers will be blocked. 



Hamas is not interested — per their own admission — in improving the quality of life of the Palestinian people. As Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya told The New York Times, “Hamas’s goal is not to run Gaza and to bring it water and electricity and such.”

Hamas is also not interested in the idea of two nations living side by side in peace. Instead, they believe that Palestine “from the river to the sea” is Arab and Islamic land, as outlined in their own charter. 



Beginning in 688, the Arabs constructed the Dome of the Rock and later the al-Aqsa Mosque atop the ruins of the destroyed Jewish Temple, the holiest site in Judaism. It was customary for conquering armies to build religious monuments atop of the ruins of the sacred sites of those they conquered as a demonstration of power. 

Since the 1920s, Palestinian nationalists have spread the libel that Jews praying at the ruins of the Temple are planning to “storm al-Aqsa” as a guise to incite violence against the Jewish population. This happened in 1929, when the ancient Jewish community of Hebron was massacred under this premise. It also happened on October 7, which Hamas said was an operation to “defend” al-Aqsa. 

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