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(24): Hamas is ‘un-’ if not anti-Boko Haram

Muhsin Ibrahim
@Muhsin234 (Twitter)

I was prompted to briefly clarify the dissimilarity if not dissension between the Palestinian armed group, Hamas and dreaded Nigeria's ‘Islamists’ insurgence, Boko Haram (BH).  As the ongoing Gaza conflict escalates further and the death toll, especially among children and women, rises, many people obviously seem to have not known, or know but deliberately choose to spread falsehood, about the two aforementioned ‘Islamist’ groups. Israel’s officials, including the Prime Minister, Netanyahu, and numberless other people on the social media are always quick at pairing the two, chiefly to justify the bloodshed in Gaza.

Hamas was established in 1987 to fight, by political and military means, for the freedom of Palestine over Israel’s growing land-grabbing and occupation of their territories and persecution of their people. The U.S, however, listed them as a terrorist organisation. They are also called so in the American and other pro-American media due to, apparently, their reportorial imbalance. Boko Haram, on the other hand, emerged in 2009 following a bloody crisis with the Nigeria forces in which an uprising by some extremists in Borno state, in the northeast, was relinquished. Their unchartered aim is to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and achieving that, they believe, requires getting rid of democracy and western education. Thus people call them Boko Haram, loosely translated as “western education is sinful”, but their actual name is Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, meaning “people committed to the propagation of the Prophet's teachings and jihad (Chothia, 2014)” 

Much unlike BH, Hamas agrees to western education in general and democracy. In fact, they organized and contested in various elections in Gaza. Hamas do not kill Palestinians whether Muslims or Christians. BH kill at will, for you are either with them, ideologically-wise, or against them. Their leader, Shekau, often describes some prominent Islamic scholars as infidels and calls for their death. Some more than 200 school girls BH abducted over 100 days ago are still with them. They slew hundred other schoolboys in their dormitories. This clearly makes their ideologies very widely apart.

Hamas, on the other hand, only resists their oppressors, though by all means that include suicide bombing, a modus operandi equally deployed by BH and other fanatics groups. We can, however, forgive them, for psychological reasons. The trauma the Palestinians have been through for decades is indescribable in words. That’s why many world’s leading scientists, academics, artists; politicians in even non-Muslim countries like South Africa, Cuba, Chile, India, UK, etc; and so on (except the US) have in numerous instances unequivocally condemned Israel, some even described its regime as apartheid, others boycott it. A few days ago, a British MP said he would fire rockets at Israel if he lived in Gaza!

Israel has a phenomenal military, and Hamas aims to fight them. Suicide, which many simply see as sacrificing oneself to save many others, realistically speaking, can easily be resorted to. After all, non-Muslims Tamil Tigers rebels of Sri Lanka reportedly started suicide in this contemporary time. Religiously speaking, nevertheless, more Islamic scholars outlawed suicide than the very few who approve of it. I also subscribe to the former. But in the case of Hamas, I stay on the fence. But for BH, ISIS, Al-Shabab, Al Qaeda, etc, I see no motive to carry out suicide by anyone of them. For instance, Muslims have freedom, even a boundless one in many parts, to practice their religion in Nigeria, lack of which might warrant ‘Jihad’. Likewise in all the places, those other groups operate, so why the rebellion that leads one to pay the highest price—of his life?

Hamas is, therefore, more or less against the BH practice and ideology. But sadly enough, even some Muslims see them as one and the same. The members of the political wing of Hamas display a monumental moderation in their day-to-day activities. I believe even the members of their military wing have moderated Islamic views. One thing I will like to shed light on, nonetheless, is the fact that they passionately hate Zionists-Jews and often call for their death. This is a common thing, historically speaking, for the Zionist-Jews equally downright despise not only the Palestinians but also any Muslim on this earth.

Note: I say Zionist-Jews, not ordinary, or all, Jews. There are peace-loving people among the latter, and who respect people of other race and religion. I recently saw on the BBC that a Jews group had an iftaar (food after Ramadan fast) feast with Muslims in the UK. With such a move, peace will someday reign in the Middle East. I am optimistic that we shall someday see a contiguous and developed state of Palestine, existing side by side in peace with Israel.

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