This study discusses the relationship between the religious and the political in the thought and practice of the Islamic Resistance Movement Hamas in its struggle with Israel as it views it. It critically investigates the thought and the religious framework of the movement and its mother organization, the Muslim Brotherhood. It explores the overlap between the religious and/or the ideological dimensions of the theory and practice by revealing how Hamas draws inspiration from Islam, a framework it describes as "religious". It analyses the ground on which Hamas’ ideological convictions are based, and how they developed. This is being done by attempting to understand the role of religion in the formulation of the convictions (i.e. ideology) of the Muslim Brotherhood – and therefore those of Hamas - in their comprehension of the conflict with Israel.
This research has sought to fill a void in the context of studying the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas by trying to explain the mechanisms of religious and political interaction and the role this interaction has played in shaping the ideological convictions of the two movements in the context of their conflict with Israel. Reviewing the religious reference of Hamas helps us to understand that any change in one of Hamas’ positions does not imply the abandonment of its religious reference, but rather a shift from one considerable Islamic fiqhi (jurisprudential) opinion to another.
Thus, the thesis examines the accuracy of many of the Brotherhood's and Hamas’ positions and ideological beliefs, as well as comparing them to the other authentic Islamic view points. The study further highlights in detail the impact of the movement’s adaptation to fixed “religious” principles and their implementation within a set of complex situations, as presented by the current state of affairs in Palestine. Moreover, the research examines Hamas’ application of the Prophetic and Islamic historical experiments, as they relate to the current conflict with Israel from the movement’s point of view.
A Doctoral Thesis. Submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the award of Doctor of Philosophy of Loughborough University